For many years I've been here as "The Angry Gnome." I suppose for the most part I've lived up to (or down to?) the name. Recently I have written here very seldom, not being quite sure what to do with a blog these days, most of my Angry Rants went straight to Facebook and I pretty much never bothered with more than a line or two of introduction to material written by someone else. I will readily admit to having a quick fuse and a pretty angry demeanor, but inside I'm not like that at all!
Obviously the name Angry Gnome had a nice ring to it and aligned nicely with the way I tend to present to the world at large. I am under no illusions about changing the name of my seldom used blog having any real significant impact on my cranky nature... but it certainly couldn't hurt. :-)
I'll tell you what has brought this on, it's the recent regrettable election for president we've all had the misfortune to experience for the last year and a half or so. This has reminded me that, yes, I am most certainly an anarchist. But not the stereotypical bomb throwing chaos inciting type of anarchist. I'm an anarchist only because I was first a pacifist and because, as Leo Tolstoy wrote, "Government is Violence."
But I was a pacifist because I read the New Testament and took it seriously.
Over the years I've allowed myself to drift from that understanding of the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of love and nonviolence especially. It is easy to go along with the crowd on things, but I've always retained a core belief that violence is wrong, especially for a follower of Jesus.
But then many wise men and teachers have claimed that "just war" is OK with Jesus, that he certainly never intended for us to be pacifists... and even though I didn't agree with the logic of it I went along. Both the Lutherans and the Catholics are OK with war and violence in general, though naturally they claim that it must be restricted to "just wars" and "legitimate governments" whatever those terms might mean. When you look at history what you find is virtually every war and every act of every government has been "justified" by Christian theologians on one side or the other or even both.
This election has reminded me of how very evil governments and their wars, both external against supposed enemies in other lands and internal against their own people through "laws," really are. I've been venting and ranting about it on Facebook with abandon. But this morning when I woke up I remembered my pacifist side, the side of me that drives my need to be an anarchist in the first place. The side of me that hears Jesus preaching on the mountain and says, "Yes Lord!"
I wanted to believe that Jesus founded a church, the Catholic Church, and I wanted to believe too that maybe Luther was right and it needed to have the errors that had crept into it over the centuries "reformed." I wanted that and I went along with teachings about evolution and war and other things that I really didn't agree with at all, because who am I to say what Jesus really meant when he said "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." How do I know he didn't mean to insert, well unless you are a government worker, then it's just A-OK? Who am I to say what Jesus really meant when he said "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"? Maybe he meant that loving your enemy involved ripping him limb from limb and burning his house to the ground! Who knows? Maybe I am just dense.
Obviously I don't buy that, I really have always thought, since I was 19 years old and serving in the United States Army, that Jesus actually meant what he said and managed to say what he meant. When I was in the Army I applied for conscientious objector status. They thought I was nuts of course. I stopped carrying a rifle though and since I was a clerk it wasn't all that noticeable. I had a poster in my barracks room that showed a young boy in an Army uniform with a toy gun sitting in a military cemetery with 1 Corinthians 13:11 as the caption, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." My first sergeant tried to make me take it down but I claimed religious freedom for it. :-) They never granted me the status but when my time was up I didn't re-up. :-)
Somehow along the way I kept going back to liturgical churches, although I briefly went to a Mennonite church in Idaho. I suppose it has been a matter of familiarity, I was raised in a Lutheran church and liturgical forms are very enjoyable and comfortable for me, even though I've had major issues with the theology of pretty much every liturgical church I've ever gone to, Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic. So now, here I am, having been reminded by the particularly unpleasant election process of 2016 that I don't have to go along with this stuff, I can stand aside from it and follow Jesus in my own way. No, the Catholics and the Lutherans don't have a monopoly on "Truth" in any way, there are other paths that are closer to the path Jesus both walked and told us to walk after him. I'm not at all sure where I'll end up, but I'm not going to betray my conscience on this any longer.