Rich Jesus

Philosophy

Dollar sign

Ole’ Jesus said one of the quickest ways to get rejected from heaven is by being rich. The text is pretty clear. Odds of a camel sashaying through a needle are better than an affluent CEO moseying through paradise.

This is one of the greatest hypocrisies in American life. If you ask any “God-fearing” American they’ll tell you about how much God favors our great nation. But so much about America is also the brass ring. We’re all about being the next Capitalist King.

It can’t be both. Sorry. If we want to be rich, fine. But if you’re a Christian fundamentalist, accepting the Bible literally, then you have to consider the consequences for lusting after the dollar.

I’ve read it before where some argue Jesus was a capitalist because he told the parable of the servants who were trusted with their master’s riches. When the master returned, he punished the one servant who didn’t invest and grow his money while he rewarded the two who did.

Nope. Not a capitalist endorsement. It’s a parable for using talents that God bestows on someone. (Notice how the parable didn’t include a servant who lost money when he tried to invest it.)

The more frightening facet of the camel comparison is determining exactly who is rich. How do we define that? Jesus didn’t craft his message around the federal poverty level.

Aren’t we rich? The vast majority of Americans go home every night in a warm house with a variety of meats in freezers, funds in their 401(k)s and nice, gas-powered vehicles to get to work every day. We can get just about any type of fresh food on demand no matter how good or bad the weather affects the crops. We actually spend money and effort to make sure we have different color shoes to match the rest of our clothes. Even the poorest in America can watch DVDs and get ahold of all types of entertainment.

Yet if someone isn’t in the “1 percent” they don’t consider themselves rich. Sorry again. We are rich. Jesus never expected his teachings to apply country by country. He preached to the world. Compared to other nations on this planet, America IS the 1 percent. The lowest of the low can still get food, water, shelter and even cell phones. Our poor have options.

In third world countries, the poor can’t run down to Wal-Mart and get ahold of some new shoes, an iPad or a fresh packet of USDA-inspected beef.

We are rich. If we believe in Christ as a savior, then we should all be worried.

So we either need to reconsider how literal we take Christ’s teachings or we need to shed our riches and start wearing rags.

Which is it?

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Borderline Accomplice

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“A bird flying south, you think he sees this line? Rattlesnake? Javelina? Whatever you got. You think halfway across that line they start thinking different? Why should a man?”

-Chucho Montoya, “Lone Star”

One of my biggest issues in illegal immigration is the inherent complicity by the U.S.

This is simple.

Why are people risking life, limb and their children to get across the border to America? Well there’s a whole host of reasons but chief among them are better opportunities and to escape violence.

What is the source of full-tilt violence in Mexico, Central America and South America? Easy. It’s all related to drugs, in some form or capacity. It could be territory. It could be smuggling routes. It could be competition. The bottom line is cartels and gangs are slaughtering each other and everyone around them for a share in the drug market.

Where exactly are the cartels and gangs trying to ship their product? Well, they’re certainly not trying to get across the U.S. to sell their wares in Canada. America is the end consumer. We are the ones who buy the product. Whether we will ever admit it or not, the violence in Mexico and Central America is funded by profits from drug sales in the U.S.

Where are the cartels getting their weapons? America. The vast majority of firearms confiscated by police originate from the U.S. So not only are we giving them the money to fund their war, we’re also putting the guns in their hands to wage it.

The last question.

We fund the war in Mexico by buying their drugs. We sell them the weapons to kill. How can we then turn a cold shoulder to the people who are trying to get away from it? We help create some of the worst violence in the world and yet tell the refugees, “No, no, no. You stay on your side of the line.”

There definitely are other factors to the scores of immigrants trying to come into our country. But the raging fire of the cartel wars will continue to smolder. And that will cause a swelling tide of immigrants trying to drift across the border.

Acceptance Finally

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Does reality really matter anymore? I may have covered this somewhat already. Well, I’ll go over it again.

There’s been a long battle for centuries about the foundation of all knowledge. There are rationalists who believe we learn everything through reason. Then there are the empiricists who think every byte of brain power is by experience. It’s like the epic philosophical rivalry. Think Yankees v. Red Sox, Soviets v. Americans, Archie v. Reggie.

In the rationalist corner: Kant and Descarte, etc. In the empiricist corner: Locke and Hobbes, etc. Many philosophers who never had a dog in the hunt are often classified as one or the other.

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I’m not really sure where I fall though I’ve always leaned more towards the rationalists. In my mind, the idea of all knowledge based on my senses makes me feel more like a hybrid ape than a human being. (Who knows, maybe at the end of the day that’s all we really are)

Empiricists argue that we all learn first from touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. Then at some point reason comes along and processes those sensations. Seems reasonable to me. How can you define a pure idea without any kind of empirical knowledge to back it up?

But then rationalists argue that all sensations are first processed by the reason filter. Which I take to mean, reason is there first. Your senses can deceive you. You can see a watery-looking image on the horizon on a hot day. But your reasoning capabilities helps you understand it’s a mirage.

Yeah, I’m going with the rationalist camp here. There really is no such thing as reality anymore is there? Maybe it was never really there. At the end of the day, we can’t really prove anything about what we perceive. Because it’s all perception, that pretty much belies empiricism doesn’t it?

A schizophrenic has all kinds of perceptions. What’s real to them? Is reality to a schizophrenic patient the reality we tell them after they take medication?

And if that’s the case, what’s real to us? This quickly devolves into that childish notion that we are all really living in our own play, with everyone around us merely being characters.

The true test for any reality is a result, I think. We can choose to believe perceptions that global warming isn’t real. But that’s not really going to stop global warming is it? It’s very much a tree-falling-in-the-forest-without-a-sound kind of thing.

Well, if that tree falls on your head and kills you, then the whole reality vs. perception thing doesn’t really matter anymore does it? The dead don’t perceive.

I say reality doesn’t matter anymore because it seems that people have given up trying to discover the truth of things, whether it’s politics, religion, science, etc. Every day we can log onto Web pages and read the things we like read. We can watch TV and listen only to the voices we agree with. It seems to me we have all withdrawn inside ourselves and in that case, perception is all we really know.

There is no such thing as reality.

And I think I hear the sound of a tree falling.