Christianity 101

This is the ‘About‘ page of course.  But About Me?  Or About This Site?  Well, we’re one and the same. I read somewhere that the answers will come if my own house is in order.  But I cannot transmit something I haven’t got.  I cannot love if I don’t love myself, I cannot have compassion if I don’t have compassion for myself, I cannot have empathy for others if I have none for myself.  But is it really all about me? Well, I guess that’s where it starts, with me.

I knew a guy who was a lifeguard. He told me once that if you’re in the water, wether it’s a pool or the ocean, and you’re trying to save a drowning man, there is a small dilemma. If the man grabs onto you, flailing and kicking, there’s a problem. You’re both going to go down and drown. So before you help him, you have to keep a level head and help yourself first. So you let him go and he’ll get a lung full of water, he’ll calm down a little and then you can drag him in. Sounds counterintuitive, but yes, you have to help yourself before you can help him or you’ll both drown. It’s why they tell you when you board the plane to put on your own oxygen mask first before you help who’s next to you. Even if it happens to be your child or your wife. Put your own mask on first. Or you won’t be able to help them!

Now I’m not a religious guy, but I have come to do my best at being spiritual.  That being said, one of my favorite pieces of the new testament is from Gospel of Matthew. I’ve always like Matthew; he was pretty much one of the hated criminal types of the day; a tax collector.  Basically those who collected taxes for the Romans would keep a bit of the ‘tribute’ they collected for themselves.  They were thieves. Jesus hung out with the dregs of society; thieves, prostitutes, fishermen.

For a long time I’ve felt Christians give Christianity a bad name.  Probably the same could be said for Islam or Buddhism, but at least the Buddhists are not pretentious, they know they’re fucked up. So back to the Gospel according to Matthew. The story is pretty usual; Jesus is arguing with lawyers. Imagine that. Actually, there were a couple of political parties at the time, neither of whom liked much of what Jesus had to say. Their goal was to keep peace with the Romans, who at the time pretty much ruled ‘the world’. The two parties were called the Sadducees and the Pharisees; not completely unlike Conservatives and Liberals.

One among their members was considered an ‘expert in the law’. So lets call him a lawyer; I expect that was his occupation. Anyway, the argument, the discussion, ensued. In Matthew 22, beginning at verse 35 (according to the King James version) this incident took place:

(35) One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: (36) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (37) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (40) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So my Christianity 101 is simply this: Love God (as you understand him) and Love Your Neighbor. But the piece everyone always leaves out is the most critical two words in this simplistic bit of spirituality. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you do not love yourself, how can you possibly know what love is or how to express it to someone else? I guess you can’t and that’s what this site, and me and my blog is about. I cannot transmit something I haven’t got…