Monday, May 24, 2010

JTL Series: Revisiting Matthew, Chapter 6

Part 3 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series
  • Verses 1 - 4: Don't make a big, ostentatious show of your charity. Really? Why not? Conspicuous giving would encourage others to be charitable as well. Charity for the wrong reasons is still charity. What matters more: the alleviation of suffering or observing the proper secrecy in charitable acts? Plus, see the sanctions Jesus imposes on those who make a big show? Verse 1: will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Verse 6: Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. How about the internal reward of knowing that you've done something good? Jesus' version of Christianity sounds a lot like Islam to me, with this idea that in heaven you'll receive a reward for your righteous acts.
  • Verse 5: And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites...remember the criticism against many atheists these days, such as Richard Dawkins: people want to know why they won't debate religious people. The reason is that debating them gives them a forum, dignifying their position. Jesus dignifies the hypocrites by mentioning them. Who gives a shit about the hypocrites? Where is the social reform? Where are mercy and kindness? Who is this guy?
  • Verses 8 - 13: ...your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: ...lead us not into temptation...So, he knows what we need already, so much so that there is no need to remind him of our crop failure and epidemics, but still we have to remind him not to lead us into temptation?
  • Verses 14 - 15: Forgive, or God will not forgive you. What? The fact that I don't want to be friendly with the people who mistreated me as a child means that I have to burn in hell forever?
  • Verses 16 - 18: More of this reward bullshit. Fast secretly, so God will reward you. Ick!
  • Verses 19 - 21: Don't store up treasures...if he'd stopped there, it would have been good advice about not being too materialistic. But instead, he has to add, ...on earth...but store up for yourself treasures in heaven. Sounds an awful lot like telling people not to invest much in this life, but instead to invest in the next life. Even if there is a next life, it seems better to invest as much as possible in the alleviation of suffering in this life.
  • Verses 22 - 23: The eye is the lamp of the body...huh? Is Jesus trying to talk about some connection between one's eyes and one's morality? Sounds like nonsense.
  • Verse 24: You cannot serve both God and Money. The fact that this God doesn't seem worthy of my attention makes this a sort of nonsense statement. But even if we wanted to say "progressive social policy" instead of "God", it would be a false statement. Lots of rich people are philanthropists.
  • Verses 25 - 34: Don't worry, God will take care of you. Bullshit. There are so many people in the world being very badly cared for, and there always have been.

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