“Then Jesus said . . .”The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they touch you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.”

After my parents became disillusioned with the Catholic Church back in the 1960s, I mostly became a “home-schooled” Christian, sometimes with the help of distance learning technology: ie: the old clock radio sitting on the kitchen table.  (Remember when a new-fangled digital clock had little flip numbers?)

Anyway, my mom’s favorite radio show and our own “church service” on  Sunday morning was the Oral Roberts family. I can still hum tunes Richard and his first wife, Patty Roberts, sang . . . “Something Good is Going to Happen to You” and “Greater is He That is In Thee, Than He that is in the World.”  

As I grew older, it appeared to me the Roberts family was perhaps more interested in building their own kingdom on earth than the kingdom of God.  Yet, I can’t discount the role they played in nurturing my early interest in the faith.

Some people turn their back on Christianity, pointing to the holier than thou attitudes of Christians who can’t live up to their own preaching.  Being a healthy skeptic to anyone trying to exercise authority, the lesson I learned from the people on the radio on my parent’s kitchen table was to listen to, and evaluate, the message–but never, ever, worship the messenger.

I’m a bit cranky on this last day before the 2008 election at all the voices shouting at me about how I’ll vote if I’m a Christian.  (I’ve already voted, by the way, so save your breath.)  I’m increasingly troubled by the tendency for the average church-goer to soak up whatever doctrine the preacher or denomination spouts without searching and researching Scripture themselves to get God’s take on the world.  I’m also a little grumpy at the non-church-goers who reject Scripture based on man’s say-so instead of reading it for themselves.  (Or listening, if you want to make good use of commute time.  James Earl Jones does a great job of reading the Bible–the voice of Darth Vader as God, which really gives some punch to the judgment and condemnation passages in the Old Testament.)

Perhaps my biggest gripe about the conversations this election year is that Christians come off looking like terrified, racist, self-righteous radicals.  If we’re practicing what we preach in church, we look to Christ as our savior, not the president.  Jesus said, “Fear not”–so what are we so afraid of?  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be preaching and practicing?

P.S. #1: The Internet Monk has written a great essay on the Bible at http://www.internetmonk.com/articles/B/bible.html. 

P.S.#2: Read the rest of Matthew 23:1-12 to explain why I am so adamant about NOT being referred by any Religious Title that starts with a Capital Letter. 

P.S. #3: Yes, I happen to be a woman who preaches in church every Sunday, which I know some people consider to be among the seven deadly sins.  (Note to self: find out what the other six deadly sins are, and why they are deadlier than any of the other thousands of sins we can commit.)  If this is bothersome to you, listen for Christ’s message, even if you aren’t so wild about the messenger. It ain’t about me.