I grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical family, Plymouth Brethren to be exact, and my dad was a well known Christian writer. I am now writing a childhood memoir about our travels around the world, called INTO THE WORLD: the truth about fundamentalist Christianity and a young girl’s journey to free herself from it. So, one of the things I have been thinking about is that we are supposed to be a “Christian” nation and I just wonder what that means. What does it mean to be a Christian? If you believe in the Bible and you believe that Jesus existed and the Bible is the Word of God, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? I hear all these Christians talking about politics rather than Jesus’ teachings. I hear horrific statements to the point that someone close to me actually suggested we should nuke all the Palestinians. Just obliterate every man woman and child with a specially made bomb just for them. I have heard statements that Michael Brown deserved what he got. Now, I know that not all Christians believe this. But how many Christians live by the teachings of Christ–actually live by his teachings in their everyday lives, not just at a Sunday church service (where is there any mention of worshipping God in a building on Sundays with all those rituals anyway–but hey, that’s okay, as long as you don’t try to say such a practice is proof of your faith) So, again, where are the Christians? I don’t personally know any, which doesn’t mean there aren’t a few in the world. If you really are a Christian, it means you give up everything to follow Jesus. It means you feed the poor, go into the prisons, speak out against the corruption of the elite, it means you love and forgive your enemies, you do good to those who hate you. It means you have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with good works. Jesus did not fight back, he stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves. And he gave up his life because of it. He was tortured to death (again, if you believe the Bible), and I repeat, he did not fight back. To be his disciple means being persecuted the way he was persecuted, because anyone who actually lives the way Jesus lives will not be accepted in our society, they will be despised and rejected as he was. If Jesus showed up today in New York or Los Angeles or wherever, the same thing would happen to him. And very few people would have the courage to stand up and say that it was wrong. We love to kill those who refuse to be cowed by the system, who stand up for peace and for the poor and downtrodden. And then, we love to turn them into martyrs or saints or deify them. The human race, whatever ethnicity or religion, is greatly flawed. We are a violent, greedy people and we turn on one another out of fear and self-preservation rather than embracing one another in love and acceptance. Let’s all write out the Sermon on the Mount this holiday and put it in a prominent place in our homes. Or, if you are Jewish or Muslim or whatever else, write up something similar from your faith and put it in a prominent place in your home. Let that guide us in our daily lives. Call me naïve, but really is there anyone out there who can say that this would be a bad idea? Now, I unfortunately have to add that Jesus talked more about burning in hell than about the joys of heaven. So, was he really all that loving? Anyway, did he even exist? Does it matter? What were truly his words and what were added as part of some political agenda? Can we just pick and chose what parts we want to take to heart because they resonate with use and then discard the rest? Are any of us in a position to make that kind of determination? Do any of us have the right to judge those we think are beneath us simply because they believe things differently? Isn’t that absurd? Shouldn’t we all just do our best to live decent lives?