Religion and Spirituality

Christianity and the Worth of People

It is that time of year that contains my birthday and Christmas so I receive my two annual communications from my grandmother: cards containing tracts.  My birthday tract this year explained to me that without god, people will see me as worthless trash.

The tract, conveniently available in its entirety here, starts with a poem, written in 1921, about the auctioning of a violin. The instrument is initially offered for $1 or $2.  Adjusted for inflation. that would be about $12 or $24 in 2015 terms (according to automatic calculator tool). I do not know what the average range of violin prices was in the 1921.  However, the point is that this violin is old and not worth much.  Until some old man comes out of the audience and plays the violin beautifully.  At this, the auctioneer suddenly bumps the price from $1 to $1000.  If you are cynical and suspect  the auctioneer of running a scam and the old man being his partner, you are missing the point, which is that we are like trashy violins and no one thinks we’re worth anything:

Many a man with life out of tune,

And battered and torn with sin,

Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd,

Much like the old violin.

Fortunately, there’s always god :

But the master comes and the foolish crowd

Never can quite understand

The worth of a soul and the change

that’s wrought

By the touch of a master’s hand.

So our less than subtle moral is that people can’t appreciate good things and people are worthless without god.   That people look at other people as worthless hardly requires sin, I experience it as a woman in a public place every time I get cat called.  My experiences at church were almost as blatantly dehumanizing, given the blatant double standards and gender segregation that goes, so god doesn’t exactly fix seeing other people as worthless.  Though, of course that Christians are comfortable saying that no one can be treated with value without god is both frightening and insulting.

That humans can’t automatically see other people as people to treat with respect is one of our many moral failings as a species, and the response is more compassion and empathy, not more god.

What about you, darling readers, are you converts to Christianity now because of this tract?

Featured image credit: Jason Hollinger via Flickr

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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