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Focus on love, and family values will follow

In the end, I think God played one heck of a nasty trick on poor Jim. It was the mean kind of practical joke you’d see perpetrated on a television show like Spy TV. It was the kind of a joke you’d never really laugh at, but like at a train wreck, you can’t look away.

I believe that Jim believed God had put him on the earth to save my soul.

I hadn’t seen Jim since high school and then one day while I was sitting in my college dorm room, possibly studying, though I doubt it, I heard a knock at my door. It was Jim, and even though I was surprised by his sudden appearance, I let him in.



Right after our initial hellos, Jim just couldn’t wait to tell me he had found Christ, and then he asked if I’d like to join him in prayer.

After our first meeting Jim would occasionally show up at my door, usually on Sunday afternoons, for lengthy religious discussions.



He actually appeared one Saturday night, but my room was so packed with women and liquor that he took one look before scrambling away clutching his crucifix and screaming, “My eyes. Oh God, how they burn. How they burn.” So Sundays became his visiting day.

Before continuing with this train of rambling, I want to say that over the years I’ve known many loving, kind, truly Christian Christians who embody the idea of Jesus’ love for humankind.

That said, during the time Jim appeared like a slightly annoying angel of mercy, I must say I learned a few things, which, unfortunately for him, drove me further away from his version of religion and, in particular, fundamental Christianity.

Jim’s idea of Christianity, I discovered, came with a price. And the price was a quiet kind of hate bred in a feeling of superiority at being one of the saved.

Jim never came right out and said he despised homosexuals or Muslims. But since his religion told him that Jesus did, that was good enough for him.

Over the years, I’ve discovered just about every fundamental religious group, if you muckrake deep enough, comes with it’s own fundamental hate. Whether it’s Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers or al Qaida, they all have a focus group for their anger and religious fervor.

Promise Keepers, for instance, is based on a terrific premise. Men should take responsibly for their families by living with integrity. Now what could be wrong with that?

The idea sounds magic, and if you could take it at face value everything would be fine.

But Bill McCartney, the founding father of the PK movement, is known for some pretty notorious gay-bashing and worked into the group’s belief system the lovely, 16th century idea that men should not only work for the good of their families, but also that men were the sole head of the household and that their wives should submit to their authority.

Yeeeh ha, honey, throw on your burka and pass me a beer.

Then there is Focus on the Family. Any group that banters around the term “family values” to describe its focus frightens the liberal right out of me. It is, after all, family-value types that in the past burned innocent people as witches and that are now willing to destroy the minds of their children because they believe homosexuality is curable.

Don’t believe me? Go to the Focus on the Family Web site.

American family – toss in the word “Christian” here – values are an illusion I’m positive were created by some white guy attempting to gain back his sense of power in an enlightened world that was swiftly leaving him behind.

True American family values flow from all religions and all families that strive to love each other, whether they are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant.

And our country’s greatest family value arises when we adapt and accept different cultures and lifestyles. When we look at everyone without judgment or hate or a superiority bred from a misguided translation of the Bible, then we are truly of value to our own families and the world around us.

For those of you who might, at this point, be quivering with a rage of Biblical proportions and thinking of writing a letter to the newspaper, please remember when you jot down your ideas, don’t endlessly quote the Bible as the one and only source for your argument.

First off, I probably know the good book a little bit better than you do – years of Catholic school as well as several years spent studying world religions helps. And second, quoting the Bible to prove your narrow Christian view is a lot like answering “because,” to every question “Why?”

It shows a lack of conscious thought.

Andrew Gmerek fills this space every Friday in the Summit Daily News.


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