Friday, February 12, 2010

Episode II- Attack of the McGlone: Part 3- Final Quarrels and Comments

Last week, Pinpoint Ministries, and their banners displaying who is on God's Naughty List to MTSU, still weighed heavily on the minds of my fellow classmates. During last week's demonstration, our American Spirituality professor, Rabbi Rami, let us go early to observe, interact, and take notes of John McGlone's hateful words on the crowd. As we spoke on what we witnessed there was one thing the class did agree on: McGlone's words were indeed hateful.

[Photo by Jaysta at Chaos Coaster.]

Half the class was silent on the matter. The other half, including myself, spent the entire class period debating the theology behind McGlone's words. Pinpoint Ministries' main message: stop sinning and turn to God. That was the message, the way it was given was wrapped in a homophobic, hatred layered, self-righteous burrito. And it tasted a bit undercooked too. The talkative half of the class was split in half between those who defended the Christian message without question and those who did not (both abhorred the hatred). For simplicity sake I'm going to call these groups the Christian and the non-Christian even though this is a gross oversimplification since I have no idea whether or not anyone in the non-Christian group are actually Christians (like myself).

The debate itself was only supposed to take up a small portion of class time focusing on the topic of responding to John McGlone and friends, but it quickly spiraled into a full on debate on Christianity itself.
  • Is there a consistent picture of God in the Bible?
  • Are the images of God in the Old and New Testament the same, and how do we reconcile any differences (God of hate vs. God of Love)?
  • Does God really hate the greedy, fornicators, homosexuals, liars, thieves, immodest women, etc?
  • Does God really hate certain people, or just certain sins, or all sins?
  • Why does God hate?
  • Are we really born with Original Sin?
  • How do we come to terms with the "I'm in, you're out" concept in organized faith?
  • As 21st century Americans, what do we do with the OT laws? Are they still applicable, do we pick and choose, or follow all of them?
These were some of the questions that were tackled during the entire class period (I was personally hoping to get into some Ram Dass) and the Christians gave a basic Christian defense to all of them. Now, I want to make perfectly clear that we, the "non-Christians" and Rabbi Rami, were NOT attacking Christianity but were bringing up perfectly legitimate questions found within the faith. As I mentioned in part 2, John McGlone did not rise up out of a vacuum since there are many who believe and support his message however cruel and hateful. There was one vocal student who stated that McGlone's message was Biblically-based but that he delivered it all wrong. The student went back and forth with the Rabbi about the genocidal texts in the Bible. Can any evil be justified as long as it originates from God? In my opinion the student would argue, since he didn't come right out and say it, that if it was a part of God's plan then in that instance, genocide was OK. God knows best.

My issue is with following this image of God so blindly when deep down inside you know there's something wrong with this picture. Is it more sinful to question the image of God in the Bible or to ignore our basic sense of right and wrong excusing God for all of his bad behavior? The Christian counter-argument would have been, if we didn't run out of time, that since we are mortal we have a skewed sense of right and wrong. I would disagree, genocide is genocide. It's still wrong no matter which God ordains it. There is nothing wrong in putting your trust and faith in God, but that faith should be tempered so that it makes you into a more loving Christian. When we follow without question and interpret without a modicum of Reason we may end up like McGlone preaching hellfire at strangers.

Update: Michaela Morales, the student accused of assaulting John McGlone last semester, accepted a plea bargain to pay $80 in restitution and serve a year on probation. Read the full article here.

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