Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
What terrifies people most about Christianity? Pope Francis is just winding up his tour of the US and from a Quaker standpoint, his call to US Congress to withdraw from the Arms Bazaar (its main activity) and to focus on helping the people (what a concept!) seems entirely benign. My mom is clucking happily about it, and she's a world famous nuclear abolitionist. So what's the problem?
Catholicism is still smarting from the Galileo episode when the church was caught squarely on the wrong side of history. Christianity became too easy to demonize as anti-science, and what's worse, scientists began withholding discoveries (Descartes) or sharing them with others first! The Vatican could see itself paying a palpable price, and a big one, for its attack on Galileo and his astronomical views. They were losing the Cold War of their day.
Fast forward and the Vatican has built a state of the art observatory in Arizona (VATT) and its staff astronomers are second to none in participating in contemporary scientific conversations. The Vatican had as much input into the decision to demote Pluto from full planethood (or did they bring it back, I heard a rumor?) as anyone. Nor does the philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit, make it hard to talk about evolutionary theories of the human being. Science and the Vatican seem more at peace with each other than ever.
Ah, but what about the Protestants, or lets call them the Sunnis of our Western Civ (Catholics being Shia). Or shall we go with Tutsi and Hutu?
Protestants are more like ISIS in wanting a Christian State in the Americas, and what they embrace, in their sectarian core, is their Book of Revelation, a map of the End Times, expected any day now.
Yes, that's what's most terrifying about Christianity: the mostly US-based End Timers who want to see God's Will for our planet in their own lifetimes. For this reason they need those nuke weapons to remain at the ready, as (clearly!) they're to play a role. Protestant End Timers are pro nuke because they expect God to push the button (through His instruments, his servants on Earth).
You'll notice how Liberal Quakers, even those who allow lots of space for the Bible (including Multnomah, with Bible Study every Monday morning, well attended, well led) still manage to avoid the topic of End Times and the Book of Revelation.
If you're shopping around for an End Times church, one that will give you a map to the End of the World, you'll find Quakers of all stripes mostly don't fit that bill. The hallmark of an End Times church is its people are on the lookout for an Anti-Christ. Just talking about Christ is not enough. You'll know you're getting warmer, closer to the radioactive core of Apocalyptic Christianity (the terrifying kind), when you start hearing about the Anti-Christ (and some horsemen).
Like the Catholics, I expect Protestants of this ilk, who alienate their religious peers willy-nilly, by saying we all (or most of us) deserve to die in a fiery all-consuming war -- because we're sinners and God wills it -- will pay a price. I'll be watching the upcoming Parliament of World Religions in Utah to see if there's any religious leader brave enough to take on the whole topic of Religious Terrorism, including of the Christian variety.
However, I'm not going to take the view of Official Washington and say it's OK to bomb religious terrorists, as that tends to be self defeating. On the contrary, I believe in religious tolerance and think small communities should be allowed to experiment with alternative laws and customs within their own sphere -- but we need to discuss limits. I was aghast when Texas took it upon itself to invade that Mormon compound and steal away all the children, what a travesty! So what if this sect practices polyamory in some form -- that's their religious freedom!
As one of the logistics supervisors (an overseer) for the Occupy Portland operation, I was never under the illusion that we could stay put for long. This was not Rajneesh Puram and we were not seeking permission to cremate our dead. The hallmark of a permanent community is it includes taking care of dead bodies. This is not anything terrifying and all religions deal with that aspect of mortal life. Occupy was a social movement, not a religion, but we wanted an opportunity to experiment with building community nevertheless. That's a strong hunger that humans have and we deny it at our peril.
Those practicing End Timer religions should be free to manage clinics, nursing homes, and mortuaries, not just schools. Bombing ISIS, rather than treating it more like a branch of Protestant, is Official Washington's big mistake. I'm hopeful the Eastern Orthodox, more cozy with the Russians, will prove an offsetting force that gives Official Washington an opportunity to rethink its dangerous policies. Don't bomb religious fanatics but don't arm them either. Listen to Pope Francis. Find another way to make money.