But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” – Jude 1:17-18 (MSG)
In the mid-first century, when Matthew and Luke were writing down their Gospels, they both included a trove of Jesus’ sayings called the “Q source.” When the New Testament’s table of contents was compiled, it excluded other texts like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary, and gave privilege of place to Matthew, Luke … and Q.
How were the decisions made about which Gospels to keep, and which to cast away? Was it sexism and patriarchy? An attempt to exert control over the populace as the hippie Way of Jesus hardened into a state religion? Or was Q closer to the truth than Mary or Thomas’s tellings?
Who gets to decide what truth is, and what criteria do they use?
There is a new Q circulating in our culture today that has nothing to do with Jesus, although many of the people proclaiming it are Christians. I’m talking about QAnon, the “big tent conspiracy theory that falsely claims President Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles.”
There’s no evidence to the QAnon theories, but they have become gospel for many true believers, some of whom have incited violence or attempted murder in their zealotry. In fact, the lack of evidence seems to be what is most convincing – “proof” of mainstream media’s complicity.
This doesn’t leave much room for reasonable discussion in a polarized electorate. Occam’s razor says that between “two explanations that account for all the facts, the simpler one is more likely to be correct” (Britannica.com). But what if one explanation contains no facts at all?
Thing is: religion and even spirituality have never really cared much about facts. Most of our Bible is hearsay. So how do we persist past the religion of “our own whims and lusts” here in our own last days? How do we quell QAnon, which is making a joke of such serious things while also doing great harm?
God: Restore us to sense, reason, courage, and love, as the world burns. Let what is true, and beautiful, and brave, endure. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.