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Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: Revelation 10-11

Today's reading touched on one of my HUGE frustrations when it comes to the way that some traditional/orthodox Christians approach sin – particularly as it relates to issues of responsibility/accountability.

If you pay attention to the way the Religious Right talked over the course of the last three decades, they became obsessed with what they considered to be sin. What they really focused on was what most people would consider sins committed by INDIVIDUALS. 90% of these "sins" they focused on were related to sex and sexuality. About all they talked about publically for thirty years were things like same-sex behavior and abortion.

I suppose I might have paid more attention to their conversations about "sin " if they had been consistent in their approach and talked about other individual "sins" – things like greed, gluttony, gossip, arrogance – that were non-sexual in nature. In most instances, however, they completely ignored those other topics so they could turn their laser-like focus to their favorite issue: sex, sex, sex. Their one-dimensional approach wasn't a solid theological (or even biblical!) approach, but it sure did get them a lot of money and power. From a human perspective, I can see why they failed to change their tune: it worked.

In today's reading, however, the words from Revelation challenge us to move from an approach that emphasizes INDIVIDUAL sin (and the effects of sin only on the individual level) into the realm of COOPERATE sin. "The angry nations now get a taste of your anger," the author(s) wrote. "The time has come to judge the dead, to reward your servants, all prophets and saints, reward small and great who fear your Name, and destroy the destroyers of earth."

What particularly caught my eye there was the notion that the "destroyers of the earth" would be held responsible/accountable.

When I hear the language about the "destroyers of the earth" I think, for instance, about those individuals AND groups whose ecological practices/policies "destroy the planet". This would include those political candidates and parties who refuse to acknowledge global climate change and the effects our patterns of consumption have on the environment. When I hear about the "destroyers of the earth" I also think about those who promote tax policies that shift the burdens away from the corporations (many of whom exploit workers by moving jobs from one location to another based simply upon the consideration of where they can get the cheapest labor or biggest tax breaks) and onto the backs of the working class. When I hear about the "destroyers of the earth", I also think about those such as political candidates and web/televangelists who acquire their power by exploiting the general public's fear of marginalized groups (i.e. immigrants and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people). Each of these individuals/groups represents – at least for me - those who are the "destroyers of the earth". I wish the Religious Right would spend some time addressing these sins – but let's just say I won't hold my breath as some of the individuals/groups are a part of the base that props the religious extremists up.

So as you read Revelation these days, how do you experience the visions of responsibility/accountability? Do you view those words primarily on the individual level, or do you view those words on a more balanced plane – where both individuals AND groups are held accountable/responsible for their effects of the actions and beliefs?

Til next time …

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