It's an old saw, but a true one, that very few followers of Christ are actual, genuine followers of Christ.
It was that old anti-colonialist rogue Mahatma Gandhi, who nailed it in one:
I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Even poor old hapless vampire scribbler Anne Rice declared she'd had enough back in 2010:
Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else ...
...I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
If you go on a tour of St Peters, and its vast, ostentatious, profoundly vulgar and pagan display of wealth and power, you realise it has very little to do with Christ telling his followers to give away everything and follow him.
Instead, it provides a jolly good excuse to bung on a really good frock, an entirely human pleasure:
Tony Abbott is a classic example of someone who claims to follow Christ, but does a bloody poor cherry-picking job of it.
As David Pope noted at the start of this piece, he fails the good Samaritan test outright.
Don't ever mention Samaritanism or even Hebrews 13:2
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Oh okay, it needn't even involve the angels angle, since let's face it, the chance of an actual angel turning up, outside the minds of Hollywood producers and fevered, crazed American fundies is pretty remote.
So let's do the Samaritan jig, as Jesus himself explained in Luke 10 30-37 when asked about neighbourliness and who might might neighbours to a lawyer:
In reply Jesus said: “A man was on a boat from Indonesia to Australia, when the ship was attacked by pirates. They stripped the people of their clothes, beat them and went away, leaving them half dead, and then even more fearfully, the ship began to sink.
A priest happened to be going down the same stretch of ocean, and when he saw the man on the sinking ship, he passed by on the other starboard side, though taking care to put in a call to the military to ensure the ship was turned back.
So too, an angry Anglican, when he came to the place and saw the man's peril, passed by on the other side, because he was on a speedboat rushing to attend a meeting to bash up gays and the rights of women.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own boat, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers and the sea?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
It's just too bloody hard, and there's no fear mongering or paranoia or a way to power in that sordid tale of kindness.
The yarn - completely preposterous in this modern age of political paranoia and fear - applies to current Chairman Rudd too, since he purports to be a Christian but has in fact led the charge to the bottom, a charge which Abbott has now trumped, since there is no bottom of the barrel he won't scrape in the lust and the quest for his preciousssss ...
The quest for understanding the deep hypocrisy and confusion about Christ and his message becomes useful, if only because Abbott is likely to be the next chairman, and because in his youth, he showed pugnacity of a vicious kind.
Andy Beckett has done some sterling service by scribbling Tony Abbott at Oxford: fighter, networker, Thatcherite, which takes a look at the significance of Abbott's time in 'ye olde mama countree'.
It covers a fair amount of turf, but what's most revealing is the way Abbott was a fierce Thatcherite and a war monger, and the sting comes at the end of the piece:
Like Abbott, Thatcher went to Oxford. Like him, she seized the leadership of her party. Like him, she was an awkward, aggressive opposition leader whom voters did not warm to.
But she won office and used it ruthlessly. As Abbott indirectly acknowledged: after he got back to Australia from Oxford, Duffy records, he named his old wreck of a car the General Belgrano.
Now you might imagine Jesus hooning around in a vehicle named to celebrate the loss of some 323 lives, no matter what the cause of the conflict, but the pond finds it a little hard.
How about calling your car Kristallnacht, or the Twin Towers?
Now the pond doesn't have the time to go into the moot point as to WWJD, but there seems little biblical evidence for this proposal:
And a fair degree of evidence for this one, bizarrely worn as a T-shirt:
What emerges in the portrait of Abbott as a young Oxford scholar is a deeply confused, boofhead sort of guy, much like the one still doing the rounds, and about to seize control in Australia.
No doubt Freudians could do a similar analysis of the deeply confused sects on the left, from fundamentalist Maoist to Paul Howes ...
But right at the moment, Howes won't have his hand on the button. We will, as advised by alleged unsourced ancient Chinese sages, live in interesting times ...
Meanwhile, this being meditative Sunday, it would be remiss of the pond not to mention the deep superstitions of the Pellists as they enjoy their South American junket. Take a gander at this, the week-old musings from the Sunday Terror, and marvel at the way an expert in climate science - oh please, surely you've heard that Cardinal Pell is up there with the best of the brightest - could scribble this:
It makes a difference when we believe that the good God stands above the earth, even when nature is dangerous and destructive. Was it the pre-Christians without this steadying belief in God's goodness, who were reminded of the power of evil as they named the spot "The Devil's Throat"?
Or were the name givers Christians vividly aware of the power of the spirit of evil to swallow them up and destroy them? (more gibberish here).
Yep, there goes Tony Abbott's chief climate science advisor, rushing over three mighty streams in a delirium of religious awe about god saving the world from an over-heated imagination.
Meanwhile, over at the angry Sydney Anglicans, things are a little quiet - they've even kept up Phillip Jensen's waggish welcome to the new archbishop, and never mind the scars of battle:
Just below that a jocular, if aged, piece by David Mansfield celebrating the letter Z in World Peace Z caught the eye:
... despite these problems (HIV AIDS child mortality, poverty despite mineral wealth, low life expectancy) and the ever present reality of a syncretistic and nominal Christianity, God’s people abound, seeking to live lives of obedience and sacrificial service to the Lord Jesus and his Word and seeking to bring the true peace of the Gospel of Grace to fellow Zambians. It was an honour to be in their homes, their schools, their streets, their neighbourhoods.
Uh huh. The true peace of the gospel of grace?
Formerly a colony of the British Empire, Zambia inherited the laws and legal system of its colonial master upon independence in 1964. Laws concerning homosexuality have largely remained unchanged since then, and homosexuality is covered by sodomy laws that also proscribe bestiality.
Social attitudes toward LGBT people are mostly negative and coloured by perceptions that homosexuality is immoral and a form of insanity.
In 1999, the non-governmental organisation Zambia Against People with Abnormal Sexual Acts (ZAPASA) formed to combat homosexuality and homosexuals in Zambia.
Arguably the largest recipient of Fundamentalist Evangelical missionaries during British colonial times, societal attitudes towards homosexuality heavily mirror these influences. A 2010 survey revealed that only 2% of Zambians find homosexuality to be morally acceptable; nine points below the figure recorded in Uganda (11% acceptance) ... (wiki the footnotes and the rest here).
Yes, it's truly a Sydney Anglican sort of country, and truly those fundamentalist evangelical missionaries keep flowing ...
It brings us back, in the usual circle, to that thought raised by Gandhi ...
But by now the pond is too tired, and ready for a little fun, and speculation as to whether Tony Abbott's crude, with very little technique, whirling Dervisher ways as a boxer, and a willingness to use his head to block punches, might have resulted in Dementia pugilistica, or CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
The pond can merely report Tony Abbott the boxer: no style but plenty of substance, and you decide, while you wonder if Christ's chosen path to an Oxford blue would have been to get into the ring and try to belt the shit out of another human bean ...
A couple of old Kudelkas to help you in your meditation: