taking the words of Jesus seriously

We human beings have struggled with the place, power and purity of religion and politics since the dawn of history.

Whose belief system is ‘right’ and what to do with those of opposing viewpoints have been the defining features of human history for millennia.

Who gets to define religious rules and who gets to enforce approved political viewpoints have been the cause of the murderous churnings of history.

For Jews, Christians and Muslims, the ironies could not be greater.

Murder, destruction and conquering have been the hallmarks of each of these religions as long as they have existed.

From the Crusades to the current occupation of Palestine, murder, oppression and brutality have been the hallmarks of religious traditions with a core (the Ten Commandments) specifically prohibiting murder and covetousness.

Could we even begin to imagine how different human history would be, how different our personal lives would be, or even how different our faith would be, if we had only followed these clear-cut commandments?

Related: Getting Dirty with Jesus – by Nancy Sleeth

Lust for gold, silver, oil, land and slaves has driven human history.

It would be easy to make the case that this ‘covetousness’ which has led to unparralled environmental destruction, genocide, species extinctions, and human callousness and cruelty beyond comprehension, has not only rarely been addressed by clergy or politicians, but is almost certainly our ‘favorite’ human sin.

Without covetousness, would the Europeans have looted the gold and silver from South America? (Kirkpatrick Sale mentions in his The Conquest of Paradise that Cortez told Montezuma “We Spanish suffer from a strange disease of the heart for which the only known remedy is gold” {pg 233}. Besides sounding like the words of an addict, it is odd indeed to consider greed as a disease where more, and always more, is the only cure).

Without covetousness, would we even consider fracking or the XL Pipeline?

Without covetousness, would humanity ever have been able to justify the abomination of slavery and modern-day trafficking?

There is certainly no moral or philosophical high ground in the advocacy of fracking or human trafficking, but greed, as always, seems to trump human decency.

Contrary to self-serving corporate propaganda and giddy end-times fantasies, we are not in a frantic race to exploit and exhaust the earth.

Our destiny, our calling and our identity are not based on how much (and how quickly) we can extract from the earth – or those weaker than ourselves.

Also by Morf: Traditional Ignorance

In fact we are called to love our neighbors (even those, as in Jesus’ parable, we’d rather not consider our neighbors) as ourselves – and what is more ‘loving’ than to let them live in peace as we would want them to allow us live?

Could we even imagine a world without exploitation and victimization?

Could we even begin to imagine a natural, living world that we actually cared for: and it, in return, had bountiful resources – easily enough for all?

We are not, and never have been, passive passengers on this earth.

And we have no excuses.

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

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About The Author


Faith is not a formula. And I wouldn't even use the word 'relationship' - and probably not the metaphor of 'a journey'. The older I get, the more it seems that faith is a process - a determined focus on listening to the eternal, sifting out the noise and distractions and becoming closer with each breath and each word, to the fullness - and emptiness - of the pulse, hand and purpose of our Creator, which, ultimately brings us where we belong. I'm a teacher and writer, which really means that I am a listener and I share what I see and hear.

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