The Great Successor

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Dear James:

We have, at length, discussed your difficulties understanding your problems with Sunday morning. It isn’t all that surprising to me, yet you continue to behave as if you are surprised when the same problems regurgitate time and again. I want you to consider the great impact that the Sunday morning culture has had on Paul Ryan’s career.

Normally a man with two first names would not be so likely to advance his career, but it seems all to Biblical, doesn’t it?—since everyone in the Bible only seems to have a first name. With the constant fighting and “me against the world, goin’ down swinging, doomed-to-loose” attitude brought by Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan’s predecessor was driven out just like a divided congregation drives out its pastor. Were it a Sunday morning parody, it would have been a play well-rehearsed, and Cruz played his role perfectly and on cue. Would there have been a contested Republican convention, it made all too much sense for a man who should be Ryan’s rival, John Boehner, to recommend him to be president. Once, again, Ryan is in the spotlight, all thanks to the hopeless fighting of Ted Cruz and his victoryless Sunday morning supporters. And, as the inefficient economics and the presumption of constant failure that the Sunday morning culture presumes every week, the religious community jumped all too gladly on the Cruz wagon. They even pretended to be surprised at yet another foreseeable defeat.

No, Paul Ryan does not owe his fame and career only to the doomed efforts of Ted Cruz, even more than that, Paul Ryan owes his fame and position to the brain-checked voting bloc of Sunday morning. It seems to elude Paul Ryan, however, that if his career has been bolstered by a bloc of weekly losers, he is already one of them. Having the popular vote of the unpopular House, he may not even be re-electable in his own congressional district. He seems to have forgotten the election that actually matters, a disease that Washington and Sunday morning seemingly hold in common.

I thought we went through this when you were disappointed with the controlling pastor—well, “pastors”, since we last discussed the previous five pastors you bounced through. I know that some people tend to be controlling hypocrites. I thought you would have figured out how to recognize them by now.

Remember how angry you were that Georgie W. pretended to be Evangelical, and that Karl Rove marketed him that way, all just to get your vote? Remember how the White House staff were cracking jokes about how easy it was to sell you their Sunday snakeoil? True, you don’t always fall for that “gullible is written on the ceiling” line, unless a pastor says it. And, see, that’s the thing about pastor culture…

The pastor job, if you haven’t noticed, is about as efficient at spreading the gospel as the gas mileage of a steamroller in reverse. Clergy have been running things since Emperor Constantine commissioned them by the sword and backed them with his invention of “tax-exempt” status. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that “non-profit” probably shouldn’t set well with a religion based on Jewish teaching. Christians only seem to increase outside of the walls of Church Majhals, hence the term “tent” revival. They seem to do better when the Church gives money rather than takes it.

What will it take, my dear James, for you to discover Jesus’ teaching to judge according to fruit? Many a good man wastes his talents in the vocation of being a clergy when he could go into business, mentor more people, and donate much more money to much better causes that explain Jesus more accurately than Constantine’s system of non-profitability for God’s people who worship on the wrong day of the week—a day on which they should be working.

Sunday morning is repetitious for a reason. Once people feel like they are in a rut, it rebrands itself in defense, but doesn’t change the fact that it occupies the first day of the work week and keeps Christians too busy and too segregated to talk to each other. They get quite good at accusing each other over things they would know they agree on if they actually listened. This forms asocial micro-cliques which, in turn, become emotionally dependent on routine with the delusion of change. They need to have a mystical medicine man with a Bible-sounding title in order to justify their inability to work well with other people during the rest of the week. And, oh, do they need numbers! They are more efficient at drafting Sunday minions than Amway, and the only ones who get free are the rich at the top—or do they actually get free?

In all this, people elevate that Constantine-defined pastor, whoever he happens to be. They expect him to be Jesus’ proxy to the local crowd and just as sinless—just as they had viewed Ted Cruz. They claim he is a sinner, but once he proves his sin he’s taken off payroll. In my purview, working as a pastor is akin to being one of Darth Vader’s admirals in search of the elusive Han Solo. Their job isn’t to succeed, just to keep a line at the guillotine so everyone feels like someone is being properly punished.

Each and every time the next pastor messes up, you still manage to act totally, completely surprised. You complain about his hypocrisy, yet you never consider Constantine’s system that caused it—the system that you demand everyone to contribute to lest you accuse them of being “outside the Church”.

So, along comes “Tex” Cruz, playing the same administrative games as the lot of them. He talks with the same rhetoric as the preachers from Dallas Theological. He reminds people of Chuck Swindoll. You blame Trump mostly, but you ignore Cruz’s apology to the good doctor without restitution. You don’t care about his borderline-illegal scare tactics that impersonated government citations. That makes sense, when Cruz talks it feels like church. Those contradictions are normal in your Sunday morning lineup, after all. So, the pied piper plays his tune, and off march all the church children who drank the cool-aide and ate his bread—you right along with them.

I do hope, my dear James, that you wake up and understand that when Paul—the apostle, not Ryan—said, “Let us not give up coming together,” he wasn’t referring to times strange, distant, factioned, costly, profitless, and failing. He paid his own way and was one of the greatest evangelists the world ever knew. Perhaps, if you followed the right Paul, you might have more victories and less dismay.

The Denialist: Edition 64


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