paft (paft) wrote in talk_politics,

It's All About the Brand Name

Bill O’Reilly on Christ’s Message on the Poor:

I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive.

The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?

From the Gospel According to O’Reilly 19:20-22 (New Fox Version, ©2010)

“All the commandments I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack for eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, acquire as many possessions as possible, occasionally giving a modest amount to a respectable charity that will only give to those poor who deserve help. Then come follow me, because we could really use some contributors. Foot oil, loaves, fishes, and wine don’t pay for themselves, you know.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had already frittered away a great deal of his wealth on helping lepers, beggars, cripples and other deadbeats.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, there’s a capacity problem for compassion. Helping the poor is one thing, but if you open your door to those people, they’ll tear the place up.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is poor to enter the kingdom of God. The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

From Jordan Sekulow’s recent blogpost in The Washington Post:

The government should encourage charitable giving by easing the tax burden on individuals who have money to spare after paying their expenses…The government acknowledges the importance of these organizations by grants of tax-exempt status. Remember, in America the richest also give the most money to charity.

The Gospel According to Sekulow 12:41-44 (New Fox Version, ©2010)

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, those rich people give a lot more to charity than that single mother. She, out of her lack of personal responsibility, could put in but a measly two cents. They, however, gave of their wealth. Shouldn’t they get a nice fat tax break from Caesar?”

I’m beginning to understand the outrage from many on the right over what they consider to be the co-opting of Christmas. It’s about branding. The same motivation drove Bill O’Reilly on his doomed mission to claim the phrase “Fair and Balanced,” -- regardless of its actual meaning -- the intellectual property of Fox News.

How else to interpret wealthy Christmas boosters like Bill O’Reilly or Jordan Sekulow?

Or millionaire Rush Limbaugh? Surely a pundit who publicly sneers at the plight of poor people standing in the freezing dark for aid has little in common with the man described in the New Testament. Nor does Limbaugh’s expressed view of Christmas jibe with what most of us have been taught to believe is best about the season – good fellowship, festivity, and a willingness to share. Rush recently declared that all he really wanted for Christmas was a government shut down. “Does this mean there’s not going to be a government shut down” he asked plaintively on Friday. “That’s the only thing I really wanted for Christmas. I got everything else! My Christmas is giving stuff. All I wanted was a government shut down!”

Geeze, the man gives, and gives and gives -- and yet isn’t going to get what he truly wants! Would it really have been too much ask, in the spirit of the season, for just a few old people, unemployed parents, and veterans to wait in vain for their government checks to arrive? A few parks to close? A few museums to be shuttered? A few million furloughed workers to add to the ranks of the jobless?

I may be an unbeliever, but I remember enough of what I learned in Catholic school to know that Christ’s message did not include reviling the poor and boosting the wealthy. Which brings up the question of why people like Sekulow, O’Reilly and Limbaugh are so attached to the word “Christ.” It's obviously not the message about rich and poor reflected in the Gospels, which would have gotten Jesus denounced by these pundits as a long-haired hippie Marxist left over from the ‘60s. It must be the sound of the word “Christ,” and the way it looks when written or printed on a page. Or an advertisement.

To them, “Christ” is a logo.
Tags: article, fox news, religion
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