"Love those who love you"
March 23, 2021 11:33 AM   Subscribe

"Blessed are the proactive, for they shall achieve success. Blessed are the cheerful, for when you laugh, the whole world laughs with you. Blessed are the assertive, for they shall win friends and influence people." is the start of one "reading from the Gospel according to the GOP." For Lent, artist and writer Tealin (who is a Christian) is posting each day to "tell the Bible stories as if they had been written about the version of Jesus that Republicans seem to believe in". Her satirical series inverts the wedding at Cana, the Prodigal Son, turning the other cheek, the birth of Jesus, the lilies of the field, the woman caught in adultery, and more.

From "Treasures":
Work hard in righteousness and your Father will reward you with plenty upon earth. Therefore hold these gifts close, as a reminder that you have earned his love, to keep your faith strong. ... For your treasure is an outward sign of the love you have earned from your Father, and that is where your heart should be.
From "The Good Shepherd":
Indeed, the wayward sheep's lifestyle choices will reap their reward; it is not the shepherd's job to save it from its own stupidity, but rather to ensure the wellbeing of the flock, which will be a stronger and more successful flock for losing its stupid, self-destructive members. When the shepherd and his flock later come across the carcass of the sheep, devoured by lions, the shepherd will say to his sheep, 'Look you, this is why we do not leave the flock.'
From "The Wheat and the Weeds":
He replied, "Yes, clear out every weed, and put down mulch so that no new weeds will sprout. If you find a stalk of wheat whose roots are so entangled with the weeds that pulling up the weeds will uproot the wheat also, then that wheat is no better than a weed and shall be cast into the fire with them. For the weeds will only choke the wheat, and clearing the field, even if some wheat is lost, will allow the rest of the crop to flourish."
Her "family values" inversions are particularly noteworthy.
posted by brainwane (22 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Thou shalt stay away from the self-blessed for they are damned.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:56 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]

I feel like this is dangerous. Remember all of the wingnuts that think things from the Onion and other parodies are real? Some low-information christians are going to read this and think 'Finally, a translation I like'
posted by overhauser at 12:18 PM on March 23 [34 favorites]

do not resist an evildoer
It would have been cute if she found a way to keep this part verbatim.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:19 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]

The thing about irony and sarcasm is that all-to-often people don't get it and suddenly you are being quoted as an ally of people you would otherwise repudiate.
posted by nathanfhtagn at 12:55 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]

don't cast your pearls at all, for they are yours.
posted by 20 year lurk at 1:04 PM on March 23 [9 favorites]

I think this is great.

I'm not going to worry about people who will take what was said or written in the most self serving way possible no matter what was said or written. It has and will never work to try to outflank their bad faith. You can't appease abusers.
posted by Horkus at 1:07 PM on March 23 [8 favorites]

Years ago I went to a talk by Brian Houston (from the Hillsong church, an Australian now global Pentecostal megachurch, and who is close to the current Aus government). He was discussing Christian approaches to politics, and explained the parable of the Good Samaritan in a way that shocked me.

The point of the Good Samaritan’s help to the beaten traveller, he said, was that his wealth enabled him to do good things; with some wealth one’s able to do help a few others, with a lot of wealth one is able to do a lot more, and that it was a Christian duty to get wealth for that purpose of charity. That’s obviously completely at odds to the ordinary Catholic interpretation I knew (that we have a shared humanity—categories like ‘Samaritan’ and ‘Jew’ are irrelevancies, we are all each other’s neighbours). It struck me then and now as a break with very old Christian tropes associating money with the profane, even thinking of personal success and wealth as holy.

My point is, this satire can’t ever be as cutting as the real deal.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:18 PM on March 23 [29 favorites]

Hoo boy, those family values ones. I do genuinely wonder if some Christians would even notice if these were read from the pulpit.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:31 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

I immediately cackled when I saw this premise.

I'm a lapsed Catholic, and while I have a fair amount of hatred for the Catholic church, the GOP has broken with even the good aspects of Christian teachings that people have pointed out here - humility, love for mankind, not being money-grubbing assholes.
posted by Drowsy Philosopher at 2:03 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]

Not wanting to create an account at dreamwidth myself, I still wonder which Bible translation tealin is using. But not so much that I'm willing to do the googling to figure it out.

Also, yeah, parody has proven to be a two-edged sword, and also too the fundamentally bad faith of the Christianists really renders moot any questions about risks it creates. In my humble opinion. They will find things to rant about with or without help, and if they can be induced to make asses of themselves doing it, so much the better.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 2:12 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]

Also also, that bit at the end of today's marginalia is a new insight for me. I am aware that Abrahamic monotheism has deep (and mostly-unrecognized) influences on how people see the world and their relation to it, but I've mostly focused on the ways in which it raises obstacles to insight. The claim that it's uniquely Christian influence that manifests as instinct to root for the underdog is not something that would ever have occurred to me. I find myself wondering how to decide whether it's true or not.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 2:20 PM on March 23

But if you look at other ancient cultures, they are not. The victim of collective violence in mythology always deserves what is meted out to them; it is a necessary driving out of evil in order to purify society, or a sacrifice to placate an angry god.

[citation needed]

Wow, no. This is a calumny on ancient Middle Eastern religions... the last place one should go for an understanding of them is the Bible. I'm not aware of a scrap of evidence that Canaanite, Akkadian, or Egyptian polytheism was concentrated on "scapegoating". (Their wars were violent, of course, just like Christians' wars.)

Nor is the Bible the origin of caring for the underdog. Hammurabi says he established his law code so that "the strong might not injure the weak, in order to protect the widows and orphans". Mesopotamian kings normally began their reigns with a forgiveness of debts. The Babylonian text "The poor man of Nippur" and the Egyptian "Tale of the Eloquent Peasant" show that at least some writers criticized the injustice of the rich and stood up for the poor. A Canaanite text ("Kirta") criticizes a weak king because he "does not drive out those who burden the yoke of the poor" and does not feed widows and orphans.

As for "driving people out", the Bible itself harshly criticizes the Israelite and Judahite kings for not persecuting non-Yahwists. But the kings were just doing what every other Middle Eastern king did: support all the gods of their subjects. This is one way polytheism arises: the easiest way to build a national religion is to slot every city's major god into a pantheon.
posted by zompist at 4:19 PM on March 23 [15 favorites]

Tealin is summarizing René Girard's writings on the history of scapegoating (I mention this per zompist's "citation needed").
posted by brainwane at 4:39 PM on March 23

Another excellent post, brainwane.

This project hits home for me- one of the toughest parts of the pandemic for me has been seeing what people really think as they post more to facebook and the like- not so much a crisis of faith but a crisis of church. I'm just so disappointed with my community. I'm also kind of disappointed that I didn't see it properly earlier- oh there were glimpses, for sure, but the standard "don't talk about sex, politics, or religion" (yes, even in church) hid a lot.

I know many of you will perhaps point out that I probably had it coming, possibly even that if I was deluding myself to believe in some kind of sky wizard, of course I would delude myself about the community. Can we not, though? my faith is personally important to me. I want to stay and work for change on the inside.

I'm so sick of the assumption that Christian = will vote this particular way. Recently in church the pastor was mentioning something, added "and that's not for or against either state or federal politics" and then "we should be careful who we worship" (meaning not to be so enamoured with a political person- uggghh saint scomo) and I just about stood up and said heck yes and amen.
posted by freethefeet at 4:56 PM on March 23 [7 favorites]

Aardvark Cheeselog - looks like NIV to me.
posted by freethefeet at 4:58 PM on March 23

Related, but maybe not a satire (it's hard to tell since Harper's strips out all the context), John 8:3–11 as rendered by the CCP:
Once upon a time, Jesus spoke to an angry crowd that wanted to kill a guilty woman. “Of all of you, he who can say he has never done anything wrong can come forward and kill her.” After they heard this, the crowd stopped. When the crowd retreated, Jesus raised a stone and killed the woman, and said, "I am also a sinner, but if the law can only be executed by a spotless person, then the law will die."
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:32 PM on March 23

An answer on translation.
posted by brainwane at 3:13 AM on March 24

It struck me then and now as a break with very old Christian tropes associating money with the profane, even thinking of personal success and wealth as holy.

I wonder if that kind of mindset had its origin in the book The Man Nobody Knows - from back in 1925.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on March 24

While I no longer share their faith, I've been following tealin's blog for a very long time now (first started for harry potter fanart). They have a fascinating story, and I'll plug their Antarctic graphic novel while I'm here.

The Worst Journey in the World
posted by rubah at 8:19 AM on March 26

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