Thursday, July 26, 2007
How did George Bush steal my Jesus?
It sounds strange to say it this way, but if Al Gore had won Bush v. Gore, I would probably still be a believer. Maybe not a Catholic, me n' the pope were not exactly seeing eye to eye by then--a little dust up over an annulment and the rules for baptizing babies with or without said annulment-- but I think I'd still be somewhere in the Christian community.
And I was still a Christian through the first term of the Bush Administration. But on November 3, 2004 I sat at my computer, cried, and read through the election stories and kept coming across 'values voters'.
The idea that the only moral vote was one for George Bush was absolutely confounding to me. I had to find my bible and read the New Testament to find these mysterious passages that rang the clarion of God's anger against homosexuals and unwanted pregnancies.
There was a slight problem: I couldn't find my bible. I had the Catholic issue, given to me by my aunt twenty years before as a confirmation gift. We moved the year before the election and most of my books were still in boxes in the basement. (Still are, actually). I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a new bible and what a trip that was. How could it be that I couldn't find a bible that resembled my old confirmation bible? What were these bibles that used hip, updated text? Who was TNIV? How can anyone believe the infallibility of the bible when there are so many bibles to choose from? I eeny-meeny-miny-moed a selection and went home determined to actually read it.
Being raised a Catholic means never having to read the bible. You get the relevant parts read to you in three year cycles. The rest, meh. What I read in Today's New International Version of the bible was a little surprising. I found myself disagreeing with Jesus on a few points.
This began my search for information on how maybe we've misinterpreted Jesus. I read Elaine Pagels, books about the gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene. I devoured books on the gnostics. I read A. N. Wilson's book about the apostle Paul.
All my studying led to one very clear conclusion: I had stopped believing in Jesus.
I sometimes envy people for whom religion is not important. My husband is that way. I have dragged him to all manner of different churches and different denominations trying to find our fit. He never complained about going, and didn't really care what denomination we were visiting which week. I think he's happier now that I have no demands on his Sunday morning time. He uses it to fly fish. I can't sit on a fence. If I'm going to have faith then I'm going to have it, understand it, participate in it. Once I climbed over the fence from the land of superstition and became an immigrant to the land of reason it was impossible to go back.
I mentioned that George Bush stole my Jesus on the comments of an atheist website. Someone replied that no one can steal what you don't want. It's true, my faith was always one of more questions than answers. The president didn't really steal my religion. It was more like he helped me clean out my closets.