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"Fight Jesus with Jesus"

A good post at Legal Fiction about the role of Christian values in progressive politics, and how atheists like myself can learn to understand them. A highlight:

...try to forget what you know and start from a blank slate. Approach it from a new perspective. And here's the perspective I want you see - Christianity can be appreciated by people who don't believe in the divinity of Christ, or that don't believe in God at all. First, approach it just as you would approach studying some religious practice in a foreign country or from a past era. It's strange that so many big-hearted progressives extend so much respect to the religions of foreign cultures, but fail to extend that same respect to the exurbs of Atlanta. Second, take a hour or two one night and go read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). These four books are the foundation of all Christianity. Consider it an exercise in anthropology.

I think many of you (especially those who don't know much about the religion) will find it a fascinating insight into the minds of the Red Americans that seem so foreign. It will help you understand them. And once you understand them, you can begin to have a dialogue with them, rather than a screaming match. I went back and read them this weekend for the first time in many years. I wanted to make sure that the Jesus I remembered from childhood was the opposite of the intolerance I'm seeing today. And he was - in spades.

Again, for those of you actively hostile to American Christianity, don't read it as a religious text. Read as you would read the teachings of Plato or Emerson or Thoreau. One can be a complete atheist and still find wisdom in the words and stories. As for the miracles, treat them as parables or allegories, just as you would the Garden of Eden story (which is a beautiful work of literature and nothing more).

This resonated very strongly with me; in fact the other day I was thinking of doing something like that myself: going through the key texts of Western Monotheism from beginning to end like Dave Sim has done, and finding meaning and value where they can be found. Of course, Sim made up a weird hybrid religion out of his readings, which is one place where I don't want to go. I'm still mulling over which language to read it all in, and which translation, though.
I'm pretty sure that if and when I get around to doing this, I'll find some inspiration in it; at worst it will result in some more biblically-themed comics like When We Had Tails (OK, Geir wrote that. It's still one of my faves and I've wanted to do more like that one ever since).

Comments (2)

Hey there! Thanks for adding my comic, Liliane, to your list of favorites! I noticed I was getting hits from here so I decided to visit! Nice place! :) As for reading, the Brick Testament (google it) is excellent for remembering Bible passages... it cites them and has them "animated" in lego. Totally cool. Unfortunately much of the the Bible, treated as an anthropology study, DOES say things that the red state people say, and worse. It really is a mishmash of tolerance and smiting. Anyways, thanks for the reading suggestion, and I'm glad you're enjoying liliane!

Branko Collin:

The heading of this entry created the wrong impression with me: I thought you were going to talk about things like why http://www.godhatesshrimp.com . :-)


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