Hale: Real Christians

David Hale
Special to The Aspen Times

I am not a Christian. Since I teach a class at Colorado Mesa University called Philosophy of Religion, you would think that I would at least know what a real Christian is.

This presents a problem. When students volunteer they are Christians, I have no idea what they mean. Do they have some sort of God-knowledge? Do they go to church? Are they spirituality superior? Do they refuse drinking, dancing, sex or something in between? I am confused.    

Just exactly what does it mean to be a Christian? There are lots of flavors out there. Do real Christians belong to the Church of Latter Day Saints, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Anglican, Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or one of fire-breathing, Bible-believing, nondenominational evangelical churches — to name just a few?

Speaking of the Russian Orthodox Church, did you know that Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev, aka Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, is a full-throated supporter of the invasion of Ukraine and the bombing, murder, rape and thuggery of their “Special Military Operation?” According to the Los Angeles Times (April 25), he calls Putin’s rule “a miracle of God.”

This reminds me of our own congresswoman, Lauren Boebert, claiming that God “anointed” Donald Trump to the presidency (see The Aspen Times Sept. 16 commentary “Boebert is part of a dangerous religious movement”).

Lately Boebert has been in the news quite a bit. In case you have been in the backcountry for a bit or abducted by aliens, she had a debate with Aspen’s own Adam Frisch, who is running for her seat.

In The Aspen Times piece mentioned above, she espouses the need for Christians to militate for a return to a “Christian Nation.”

She is not alone. There is her fellow congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia advocating the same. More importantly, our esteemed Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, has also been publicly arguing for breaking down the “wall” separating church and state so that we might return to our Christian roots as set forth by our “Christian founding fathers.”

But who are we talking about? What “founding fathers?” Benjamin Franklin? Thomas Jefferson? I would hardly call them Christians in any conventional sense.  

As you can tell, I get hung up on details. Some of those details might be who gets to choose exactly what Christian theology is acceptable and which is unacceptable. Are Mormons in or out? If we go with Mormons as true Christians, are we also going to go with the Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or both?

Are Catholics in or out? A lot of them are against abortion, which definitely gives them an inside track, but what about that funny book at the end of their Bible — the Apocrypha?

What about Jewish people? And how about their Talmud, Midrash and Mishnah? (Oops, I forgot, Jewish people are not Christian, so they are definitely out.)

And the Russian patriarch? Definitely in. He is a patriarch, after all. Maybe that is what the war in Ukraine is all about: Father Russia showing little darling Ukraine what real Christian love is.

The bestselling evangelical author James Dobson (“Dare to Discipline”) must certainly agree — real Christian fathers show real Christian love to their children by beating them.

Can we apply this thinking to Christian nation states? (George Lakoff does in his “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think.“) Doesn’t the strong Christian father make things simple for everyone? That way we don’t get bogged down in annoying details and complexity. He can tell us who is in and who is out, what is right and what is wrong.

This is especially true when a woman gets pregnant. Women can make bad decisions about pregnancy. This is where strong Christian men can help mete out punishment where needed. Don’t you think I would make an awesome arbitrator of who is in and who is out in our new Christian nation?

I could definitely winnow the wheat from the chaff. I could also help pick out the new snappy uniforms. Black knee-high leather boots. Matching black leather belt to hold that six-shooter. Maybe a short crop to remind everyone of the importance of discipline. Lots of badges and ribbons and bling to go with all that leather.   

Oh wait. I forgot. I’m not a Christian. Darn. But maybe that would make me a perfect fit for the new Christian nation.

David Hale earned a joint Ph.D. from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology in Philosophy, Religion and Cultural Theory. He is a lecturer in philosophy at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. He lives in Snowmass, where he works full time as a contractor and lives with his wife, Susan; dog-child, Bodhi; and their cat, Black Kitty.


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