Friday, December 15, 2006

Anderson Cooper 360 Blog: What is a Christian?

Last night, Anderson Cooper and crew will dabbled talking heads style in answers to the question, "What is a Christian?" There's a decent little plug for the program at Cooper's 360 Blog (see under Dec. 14), and the blog moderators are taking comments.

This morning, I left this comment, here revised for the readers of A Better Nation:

What is a Christian?

A Christian is someone who, I feel, above all else, does not harm others, perhaps not even in self-defense. Even Google, the owners of Blogger which hosts A Better Nation, has the very Christian tenet "Do no harm" as its mantra, trying to keep the soul in the machine.

Whether historical preacher or deity, Jesus was a notable and seemingly absolute pacifist who put peace and compassion above fighting back, much less starting a fight. Indeed, in this way, the Dalai Lama is more of a Christian than any fundamentalist and most of us regular folks, too.

If we are to emulate Jesus' life (or the declarations attributed to him), we exhibit kindness and compassion above getting what we want, above safety, above many worldly diversions, above businesslike schemes and ambitions. Christians are patient in traffic and while waiting for others. They take personal responsibility for themselves, no matter how overwhelmed or outnumbered. An example: we might perform acts of civil disobedience when the government (Roman or American) acts immorally, instigates violence, for example, or profits from the sale of weapons. I do not think a Christian could work for a weapons manufacturer or hold stock in such a company. I do not think that Jesus would side with the businessman to profit over the needs of people to receive basic amenities such as housing and medical care. Jesus was not interested in free enterprise, much less capitalism and consumption. Often just the opposite. He was a socialist, wanting the crowd to act as a whole as well as the best person in that crowd might act alone.

I am not a religious person, but I am a deeply moral person, and I think Jesus may well have said (or at least inspired) some very honorable values. And I think he meant what he said, not just for his time but for any time, for our time.

Jesus was not a rat race kind of guy. He wasn't corporate, for godsakes. He wasn't even a family man. He was a loner, a bohemian, and an iconoclast who (insert Irony here) became an icon himself. In the end, he became an outspoken, radical outlaw who put the Golden Rule to the test, even at great personal risk.

I would suggest that, if not as Christians by label then at least in the Christian spirit, we live less by desire and demand and more by compassion, peace and patience. These are the keys to the kingdom here on Earth, the best paths we have toward satisfaction with our mortal lives. Rather humble virtues, mixed with some bravery, some personal fortitude and peace of mind, are the real prosperity we seek in our pursuits of happiness.


At 12/15/2006 10:03 AM, Anonymous peterpaul said...

i'll probably get more out of reading about it than the show itself. peace be with you and your readers.


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