Just trying to understand

The Atlantic has a wonderful letter sent in by a long time Republican from Wisconsin. Honestly, it sums up a number of my disappointment with this election. The one it didn’t touch on was our soul.

When I was young there was a time when I considered being a priest. My family had never been church going, but for whatever reason I had a fairly favorably view of the clergy and saw it as a possible opportunity to do good and to work with people in a way that was meaningful. Also in a way that was deeply involved with a book, which probably dovetails nicely with my eventual English degrees.

For whatever reasons I moved away from that idea. I thin most of it was around my own temperament and knowing it just wouldn’t be a long term option. Now, as I approach middle age, I find myself returning to religion in a way. I am fairly comfortable with moral choices at this point. I’m probably a secular humanist, if I’m anything, but I still have a strong moral streak, a near hardline between right and wrong, but where that line blurs the smudger is usually a healthy dose of compassion.

No, why I’m venturing back a little bit is to just try to understand my nation – especially in wake of this most recent election. I remember a poll I saw a couple of years ago that said that roughly 80% of Americans self-identify as Christian. Which is fine. It would make sense. It’s not exactly a small umbrella, and our national make-up would support such a number.

What I find that doesn’t support is what we actually do. I admit my lack of intimate knowledge with the Bible. What I attempt to learn is always a bit of a crash course. I think I have some of the basics down, though. Treat your neighbors how you would be treated. Don’t judge or persecute others. Even your enemies you treat with respect and kindness. Be kind to the poor and those in need. Do not kill.

All of which sounds wonderful. Except we don’t actually live by that. We embrace the death penalty. We heavily persecute immigrants. We are unwilling to help those who are in desperate straits either because of war, famine, or whatever (they might be terrorists!). We bristle at our tax dollars proving medical care and food for the poor and homeless.

We also are not supposed to judge for fear that we too may be judged. But there is just something about our self-identifying as a Christian nation and our lack of living up to that self-identity that is particularly jarring to me.

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