December 7, 2010

Quote of the Day: Offensive? Perhaps, but Also Thought-Provoking

There is, evidently, a controversy (no, I don't normally read Fox; this was linked from fark) brewing in New Hampshire about a public high school personal finance class where Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is required reading. The article says that the book is highly offensive and has lots of foul language and a strong political and (anti-)religious agenda. It doesn't get into much detail, except for a single extended quotation, which is supposed, I guess, to be the most offensive part of the book. Perhaps this quotation is somewhat offensive, but we could all benefit from giving it serious consideration rather than a knee-jerk reaction. This is Ehrenreich's response to the experience of attending a church service in Maine:

It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth.

Setting aside Ehrenreich's particular ideas about the right way to go about caring for the poor, this is a rather stinging indictment of much of American Christianity. I think it hits its target.

Posted by Kenny at December 7, 2010 9:26 PM
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Comments

I mean Christ was not perfect, but religious morality is not about perfection? It is about the expression of light, not through darkness, but an expression of an exile from darkness....

http://thinking-time.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Diary Thinker at December 17, 2010 1:22 AM

Kenny,

When does language become sacrilegious? It more than bothers me to see the Lord referred to as a "wine guzzling vagrant."

At some level, the term "vagrant" is appropriate, but it also confers a negative connotation in my patois, at least. (The concept of begging may also be essential to it.)

But "wine guzzling?" Really?

Certainly it is possible that all too often we teach Christ the corpse, and not Christ the living, dynamic, effective God. I grasp that point.

I have other problems with her sociological lens, but that is beside the point. (I don't think Christ was a socialist, at least not in the structured, economical sense. I think all too often people politicize and socialize the personal and theological teachings of Jesus.)

My last two cents - Christ is important because of his death and resurrection, no? All that matters is his life, taken as a ransom for many, death, and resurrection, by which he redeemed humanity. I think his ethical teaching was largely (or entirely) Hebraic and unoriginal. His words are far, far less important than the historical facts concerning his death and resurrection. We cheapen Jesus when we focus too much on his words. That is a worldly behavior.

Posted by: David at January 18, 2011 7:07 PM

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