Polar opposites. Fear and Faith. These concepts do not live together, they are never under the same roof. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons and the Catholics and the Baptists come knocking at my door I am not afraid. But they are. Fear is always obvious in their message.
The tactics employed by the religulous folks on my front porch are all about fear. The anthem of American Christians: “You are going to hell if you don’t change your ways.” Their message is full of fear, leaving little room for faith.
“REPENT! REPENT!” they shout, “Or you will become like Bill Ayers, destined to eternity in the depths of Hell.” They are much more afraid of going to hell than they are excited about going to Heaven. But fear and faith are polar opposites. If one has true Christian faith – then what is there to fear?
One of our favorite Mark Twain stories is Huckleberry Finn. Here is a quick rundown: Huck runs away from the cultured civilization of a foster home. He goes to the Mississippi River, where he has always found comfort and solace. The black slave Jim happens upon the runaway Huck and they join together to build a raft and float to freedom on the mighty river. Along the way the superstitious Huck realizes that he is an accomplice in the escape of a runaway slave. The religious thought of that time was clear – if you help a slave escape you will go to Hell. Huck pondered his predicament and decided he would have to turn Jim over to the authorities.
One evening they tied their raft to the eastern bank of the river. They could see the lights of a town across the river. Huck realized that this was his opportunity for redemption. He told Jim that he was going over to the town to see if anyone was talking about the missing boy or the missing slave. Huck commandeered a floating log and climbed on board for the trip across the river. As he began to paddle away Jim called out, “Huck, you is the best friend a man could have.”
Huck was conflicted with choice. Give Jim up to the authorities and go to Heaven, or help Jim and go to Hell. Huck turned the log around and paddled back to Jim, thinking, “I guess I will just have to go to Hell.”
Some Christians of America tell me that I will go to Hell if I vote for Obama, I will go to hell if I help a pregnant woman, I will go to hell if I help a drug addict, I will go to hell if I oppose George W. Bush, I will go to hell if I oppose Dick Cheney, I will go to hell if I do not vote ‘conservative,’ I will go to hell if I do not support American invasions of other countries, I will go to hell if I oppose Corporate Greed, I will go to hell if I do not support Rush Limbaugh, I will go to hell if I do not give money to their cause – I am not afraid. I am not afraid and I am not ashamed.
Huck Finn had the courage to oppose religulous nonsense. Huck had faith that doing the right thing was more important than the fear of Hell. Huck’s courage was the result of faith in friendship, not fear of retribution.
We are engaged in a very important election in 2008 America. Will we vote out of a sense of fear – or will we vote out of a sense of faith? This writer believes the people who promote fear are engaged in the Dark Arts.
I will vote for Obama and I guess I will just have to go to Hell.