Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Sermon the "Christian" Right Needs to Hear.

I heard a sermon on Mothers' Day that was based on the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus.  It comes from the gospel of Luke which former president George W. Bush claimed as his favorite book of the Bible.  Apparently he has the Wall Street edition, (the version that has all negative references to rich people redacted).  Here's the text.

Luke 16:19-31
19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table.  Even the dogs came and licked his sores.  

22 The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side.  The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25 But Abraham replied, 'Son remember that in your lifetime you received your good things while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

27 He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers.  Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29 Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets;  Let them listen to them.'

30 'No father Abraham, ' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31 He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

This is just one of many stories in which Jesus paints a very grim picture of what awaits the wealthy.  If my only source of religious education was Glenn Beck, I would swear every page of the Bible was filled with stories of Jesus denouncing the abortionists and smiting the beggars for their slothful ways.  Instead, Jesus spent the bulk of his ministry rebuking people of privilege and religious hypocrites.  Over and over he commands us to tend to the least among us.  Somehow, I just don't see him blessing the Ryan plan.

I have spent countless hours trying to persuade my friends of the right-wing persuasion that giving tax breaks to the rich at the expense of the poor is bad economically and terribly wrong morally.  For the most part, they seem impervious to reason and some appear to actually be morally damaged.  I had someone tell me that they believed it was better to execute an innocent person than to let a crime go unpunished.  She was angry because too many people were being exonerated because of DNA evidence.  She believed her state (Texas) should kill prisoners quicker so if they turned out to be innocent it would be too late.  Her argument was that if someone was even suspected of being a killer, they had to be bad and therefore would meet the requirement of an eye for an eye.  Hum, an innocent lamb led to slaughter.  Where have I heard that before?  I think maybe she was a little confused in Sunday school.

I guess Jesus was right.  If Ronald Reagan was to rise from his grave and plead with his party to abandon trickle down economics, they would suddenly remember that he had Alzheimer's disease.  That still won't stop me from trying to find some way into the hearts of Republican and Tea Party voters.  If we all keep chipping away, maybe someday the message will get through.