FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Christians I Know

by JOSÉ M. TIRADO

For the 3 years I have lived in Iceland now, I have had an ongoing debate with my friend J. in Illinois about our differing lives. In addition to politics, food and culture, we have regularly compared the remarkably different dominant strands of Christianity as practiced in the two countries.

Iceland being a Lutheran country with the State giving financial support and backing to the church, one might expect a dreamy American Christian nowadays to envy the high place Christianity has here. Think again. (Though there does exist a 24-hour Christian channel here, dominated by American evangelical preachers and their regular rants against Islam and liberals alike, most Icelanders hold a much different set of Christian views than what is seen there.) For example,

None of the Christians I know here think George Bush is anything but a boor and a bully, fearing him much more than any tin pot dictator the US supports then disposes of with growing fickle regularity.

The Christians I know might be against abortion, but they do not impose their opposition on women. In fact…

The Christians I know here founded the first women’s political party in Europe and successfully elected the first woman President who was a single mother at the time.

The Christians I know are by and large socialists believing that poverty should be eliminated, hunger eradicated and that social equality should be the primary purpose of having a government.

The Christians I know oppose war, and regard it as evil. Period.

The Christians I know don’t believe in oppressing anyone and that includes Palestinians.

The Christians I know value the Sermon on the Mount more than they do the Book of Revelations and it shows.

The Christians I know give to the poor without asking for allegiance to their version of God in return.

The Christians I know engage me and others in real interfaith dialogue, enjoying the comparative jostle while retaining a healthy respect for others of differing belief systems.

The Christians I know are actually curious about Islam and take seminars and courses on it and other religions regularly in order to know and understand more about the world they read about.

The Christians I know take none of the millennial, “end of the world” talk seriously, regarding it as silly, outdated and dangerous.

The Christians I know value reason and uncertainty, science and doubt and wear their faith in their hearts and not out on their sleeves.

The Christians I know don’t think there is anything admirable about guns or militarism.

The Christians I know do not attempt to convert me nor do they attempt to convert anyone around me, respecting my freedom to be who I am and loving me nonetheless.

The Christians I know are worried about global warming (they see it daily here near the North Pole) and are constantly working to convert their economy towards more renewable sources of energy.

The Christians I know don’t necessarily go to church often, if at all, but they are good, decent, hard-working people who are moved by their consciences not their ideological rigidity.

The Christians I know have differing political views but they are respectful of each other and don’t engage in any of the viciousness I saw regularly in the States.

The Christians I know are not superstitiously afraid of practicing meditation or yoga and find that when they do it complements their own faith rather nicely, teaching them even more respect for traditions outside of their own, something they value as important in this modern world.

As much as I love living here, Iceland is no utopia and there are many reasons why I am a Buddhist and not a Christian. However, as I told my rigid, fearing-for-my-heathen-soul cousin recently, one of the biggest is that I was raised around them my whole life. Had I been raised here in Iceland though, things might have turned out differently.

Rev. JOSÉ M. TIRADO is a poet, writer and Green activist. He is also a Shin Buddhist priest teaching in Iceland. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Swans Commentary, Dissident Voice, the Magazine of Green Social Thought: Synthesis/Regeneration and Gurdjieff Internet Guide. He can be reached via his website: www.thepathofmyexperience.com

More articles by:

José M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet, Buddhist priest and political writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, La Respuesta, Op-Ed News, among others. He can be reached at tirado.jm@gmail.com.    

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail