According to Christian doctrine, the only Son of God was born approximately 2,000 years ago. By rights, he should have been the last man on earth. He should have sent the last human being to heaven or hell, found himself on an empty world, and ended space and time right there and then.
That didn't happen. Instead, time has been blasphemously marching along as if it has not heard the “Good News.” In fact, every day that goes by mocks Jesus, or at least the way some Christians believe in him. Can you imagine people preaching the immanent return of the Son of God ten thousand years from now? I can't, and neither can many Christians, which is why Christianity repeatedly produces believers who are sure they are the last generation to see the earth.
Ironically, the trend today is for Christians to feel that they are not as Christian as the fundamentalists if they don't believe that Christ is about to return. Instead of religiosity being measured in piety, it is being measured in the amount of absurdity a Christian can adopt.
People who hardly gave religion a thought a few years ago are now evangelical fundamentalist. It's sort of a “keeping up with the Joneses” thing, religiously speaking. Instead of rushing to have that second car, they are rushing to be seen as extremist believers driving around in their second car. When in doubt, a fish and a “Jesus loves you” bumper sticker will affirm your faith — to others.
But days still come and go, the sun rises and sets, spiting Christian dogma with every revolution; and if Jesus will return, the fundamentalists would probably be the last to know. That's because Jesus would not send every last human being to heaven or hell and then summarily end the world anymore than he did the first time he was here.
The Jesus that ends the world is a Jesus created by ancient money and power players, who today happen to run corporations. Just as the Roman elite co-opted Jesus, the corporations have co-opted Christian fundamentalism with entertainment, news, and take-home products that target people who have had a few hits of absurdity. More than that, they have co-opted the Jesus identity, linking it to an identity with a political party that stands for corporatism run amok. Meanwhile, the real Jesus was a mendicant and mystic who, when he asked people to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, meant to give the elite absolutely nothing.
Distancing one's spiritual and social power from oneself, and centralizing it in religious and political elite bodies, became Christian dogma over the centuries, regardless of how antithetical it is to Jesus's very left-wing, decentralizing, and communal teachings. This makes Christianity extremely prone toward fascism and why it is one of history's ironies that the Republican Party, the one that once stood for decentralization, has been hijacked by fanatic centralizers. It's as if the Southern Bible bangers are finally taking revenge on Lincoln.
Of course, when materialism and religious fundamentalism join hands in fascism, the power is centralized in the corporation instead of the so-called government. But call the power center what you will, it is still a ruling body of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich.
As we speak, the rich-bought U.S. Congress is increasing the tax burden on labor while decreasing it on investments. That doesn't sound very pro-Jesus, but pitting it against pro-choice and you've got a religious war *for* poverty on your hands. The fundamentalists are basically voting to limit their income mobility.
Since it is so glaringly obvious that America is ruled by a government of the rich, and that Jesus was anything but pro-rich (he did say something about that rich guy and the eye of a needle), we can only guess that Christian fundamentalists are making enormous effort not to see the inconsistency in voting for the corporation. Luckily, for centuries all manner of Sunday schools having been instructing children in how to fail to see inconsistencies.
Sankara Saranam is the founder and president of the Pranayama Institute, a nonprofit organization that offers no-cost instruction in raja yoga techniques. His weekly Institute column reaches readers in over 70 countries. He is the author of the forthcoming book, God Without Religion: Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths.