Samual Clemens, popularly known as Mark Twain, was, as nearly everyone is aware, an American writer, philosopher, and hero to many on the political right and left. He was well-known during his life not just for Huckleberry Fin or Tom Sawyer, but also for his plain-spoken, direct ways. He was well-loved and well-respected by many in this vast country because, while his words were not always those with which everyone agreed, he spoke to a simple, common-sense philosophy which was hard to argue against.
One quote of his I recently stumbled across is this:
"I am plenty safe enough in his hands; I am not in any danger from that kind of a Diety. The one that I want to keep out of the reach of, is the caricature of him which one finds in the Bible. We (that one and I) could never respect each other, never get along together. I have met his superior a hundred times-- in fact I amount to that myself."
I could hardly agree more with Mr. Twain (Clemens). Anybody who advocates for religion which elevates itself, trumpets superiority of the clergy or of their religion for that matter in a way which says others are lessers, inferior, even subordinate, is to my mind a person who has severely missed their guess about what was intended. The greatness of Christianity, where it shines best, is when we recognize that we are asked to treat ALL as equal, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It is not a message of superiority vs. inferiority, it is a message of equanimity and compassion. Mr. Twain's comments here and elsewhere suggest that a God which by design "tests" us, causes us to suffer, while sitting idley is not one he can respect. Yet, he believed in God, but he believed in a God that set out a plan where we lived decently, acted decently, and sought not to be uncaring about suffering but to recognize our responsibility was to address it. If we didn't, and moreover if it was God's design that we were acting upon and which he, the omnimpotent could change, then not only were we currupt, but so was that God.
We run down two paralell paths in this thing we call Christianity,
One elevates God, venerates him as omniscient and all powerful, excuses all suffering as either a test, or a design, elevates itself, elevates it's clergy and says they should not be questioned, doesn't question thier word is the word of God when they say gays are bad but turns a deaf ear when told to not use birth control. It builds a heirarchical world of Good vs. Bad, Christian vs. Muslim, White vs. Black.
The other feeds the prisoner, doesn't believe the Christian word is the only way in which faith can be expressed, cares about the sick man, the addict, quite simply because it sees the message as one where we are asked to accept the value of all, and through it to care for all as we would want to be cared for and so doesn't build excuses to hate the "lesser" or the other because there are no "others."
I know which faith I accept and I am reasonably certain I understand which Mr. Clemens seems to embrace. Do you desire to take money out of the hands of the needy in order that the "great job creators" not feel disappointed they won't pocket 40% return but instead will have to suffer with 35% return, or do you feel asking the poor to pay more is unconcionable and fundamentally against the idea of loving our neighbor as we do ourselves?