“Whatever you do, don’t offend my friends.” That was the essence of the private message I got from somebody on Facebook last Friday when I responded in a supportive way to a comment he had made. It seems he was worried his fundamentalist friends might have their little feelings hurt when I characterized Focus on the Family and similar groups as “fundienuttalist,” one of my favorite expressions for fundamentalists who have gone round the bend and seem no longer capable of basic human compassion or kindness. I responded and said I would pull the post if he hadn’t already, and confessed that I don’t pull any punches but would refrain from commenting on anything he posted. I checked it out, saw my comment was still there, and deleted it.
That wasn’t enough for Mr. Goodie Two Shoes, however. He felt compelled to admonish me for making what he called “blanket accusations,” saying, for example, that he would never be critical of “all Roman Catholic bishops.” I didn’t bother to tell him that I would, because the ten or twenty who are worth much of anything are banished to dioceses so small they probably don’t have electricity and so would never see what I wrote. I did say that I hadn’t made a blanket accusation, that I had specified Focus on the Family. He said he recognized that, but his friends wouldn’t.
So his friends are not only sensitive, they are also stupid.
I reminded him that Jesus was intensely political and didn’t care who he offended when he encountered people doing wrong, and cited the example of him calling the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs.” That earned me a “whatever,” which – especially from a man in his late forties or early fifties – is pretty much an admission that he doesn’t have either the will or the intellect to have a intelligent discussion – or both.
You see, the problem is that we have turned Jesus into a nice little butler who goes out of his way to make sure all of our guests are comfortable. The truth is that the real Jesus was about as far away from that as one can get. He confronted injustice, small mindedness, systematic oppression and corruption, and he did it so effectively they killed him for it – but please, church leaders, let’s not take a stand. Let’s just be Wussies for Jesus, slithering about as if we have had our spines surgically removed (a prerequisite, by the way, for being elected Archbishop of Canterbury) and exist only to placate and enable the faithful. That may by why those who are truly faithful have long ago exited the church.
Jesus characterized those I would call Wussies for Jesus as lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, and said he would spit them out of his mouth. John Mellencamp said you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. I want to know what kind of friendships won’t tolerate divergent opinions – oh, wait, I remember now, it is fake friendships that won’t tolerate diversity of opinion, ones wherein we sit around going out of our way to avoid the elephant in the room. Participants in such friendships often suffer from profound self-esteem issues and believe nobody will like them if the don’t comply with everything their pseudo friends ask them to do. Such relationships become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because in the end their pseudo friends are nowhere to be found when the chips are down or the going gets tough – providing the wussy further evidence of his unworthiness.
For his part, Jesus would stand with Mr. Wussy against his fair weather friends, calling them to stop being manipulative and enter into authentic relationship. Mr. Wussy would probably find that not very genteel on the part of Jesus and would admonish him as he admonished me. When Mr. Wussy is in actuality Rev. Wussy and is celebrating Mass on Sunday, that’s a bit hypocritical for my taste – but to each his own.