I don't get it.
See, here's the thing. I wish I could be a Republican. Way back in the 1940s, and even before, in the age of Lincoln, the Republicans had a platform I could get behind. Small government, conservative spending, keeping the official nose out of private business, letting states regulate most areas of life and only sticking the federal arm in there when absolutely necessary. That kind of thing. That's a Republican platform that's gone, baby, gone. In its place is a platform to regulate women's uteruses, let poor people die for lack of access to medical care, restrict marriage to people who are white and normal, establish Christianity as the official state religion and build minarets to issue a call to prayer five times a day. Okay, I may be wrong about that last one. Then again, maybe I'm not.
Apparently, to be a Republican candidate for high office, you have to be a Christian, and what's more, you have to be a loud Christian. You can't just be one of those guys who sits in the back on Easter and Christmas; you have to be one of those women with the big breasts and clipboards who chases other people around to form committees (you know who you are). You have to be evangelical. You have to pray out loud in public (in direct contradiction to Matthew 6:5; don't understand that, never will). You have to have big prayer dates with other evangelicals and refuse to invite people of other faiths. Unless, of course, you're Mormon. Then you sort of have to be quiet about your faith, because people aren't sure if you're a Christian or not and you don't want that to become an Issue.
Well, here's my take on that Issue. I don't care. If you call yourself a Christian, then you are one, whether you're a Mormon Christian or a Presbyterian Christian or a Flying Spaghetti Monster Christian (long live the noodle of Christ!). But why do you have to be a Christian to be President? Can't we have a Jewish President? Or, hey, maybe a Buddhist president? No, I don't want the job, but here I was just thinking that Brother ChiSing would be perfect for it. (Ducking in case he throws a Thich Nhat Hanh book at me.)
I'm gonna say it: I'm an atheist. Yes, I'm also a Buddhist, and no, that's not a contradiction. I've pondered this long and hard lately, and I've come to the conclusion that while Buddhism acts like a religion, it's really more of a philosophy. You don't need to believe in God, or any supreme being, to be a Buddhist. Buddha was a man, not a supernatural being. He found a way to be happy with ordinary things, and he taught it to his followers. If you follow Buddha's path, you, too, can be happy with ordinary things, and if you pass it on, you will be happier still. And you will not need to meditate out loud in the middle of a busy street in front of hundreds of people in order to show what a pious Buddhist you are. (I don't think it's possible to meditate out loud.) You will know what you are, and you won't need to prove it to everybody every ten minutes.
I once asked Brother ChiSing if there was a God, and he said (in a typically obscure Brother ChiSing way) that it did not matter if there was a God or not. If there was one, and He was enlightened, that was great. If there was one, and He wasn't enlightened (and to judge by the Old Testament, He wasn't, at least then) then He needed to be. Either way, that was His problem to worry about, not ours. Try running that by your local quorum of evangelicals at the latest prayer breakfast. Somehow, I don't think they'd find it at all comforting. And I have to tell you, living in a nation run by some guy (it's usually a guy) who feels the need to host prayer breakfasts for other Christians makes me very uncomfortable. I'm sure it's all about the money (Presidential campaigns can get expensive), but still, there are 300 million people in this country and only about 80 million of them are evangelical Christians. What do the other 220 million do on Saturday or Sunday mornings? And do they mind being alienated in the pursuit of the almighty campaign dollar?
I do. Just for the record. I think it's garbage. That's all.