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A good friend of mine is a devout Christian. He is very active in the field of social justice as well as nature preservation.

Recently, he was driving me to a medical appointment in another city, and started talking religion and politics (he knows that while I am a Buddhist I used to be a Catholic priest, so that's enough of an excuse for him).

He was wondering about the political and religious right and how they can ignore the Gospel of Matthew and just want everyone to accept Jesus as a personal savior, then keep them in poverty and disease, instead of helping them and not pushing their religion on them.

Now, mind you, I was never good at remembering what story was in what Gospel, so I asked him if he meant the story of the Judgement, where the Judge will tell to those on his left: "You're going to hell, because I was hungry and you did not feed me." (etc)

To which they will say something like, "But, Lord, we were faithful to you, and we never ever saw you hungry. How could have we fed you, we would have, honest!" And then he will tell them, "Whatever you didn't do the least of these, you didn't do to me!"

Then, the story says, he will turn to those on his right and invite them to heaven because they fed him when he was hungry (and a slew of other things).

And they will say, "But, Sir, we don't even know who you are, when did we feed you, you must have confused us with somebody else!" And he tells them, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me!"

Anyway, my friend thought it was ironic that those who will be on the right are called political and religious left, while those on the left are the political and religious right.

I told him there was nothing ironic about it, but the problem was that he was not an actor and was not familiar with the concept of stage right being audience left and stage left being audience right.

The religious and political designations of right and left are made from the audience perspective, that is how we people are positioned to each other.

But should the Matthew story ever happen, then the Judge would be facing the crowd, just as an actor faces the audience. So, the political and religious left will be on his right (and go, therefore, to heaven), but the political and religious right will be on his left (and, therefore, on the first flight to hell).

That idea seemed to make him much more comfortable.

And I just keep wondering if the day ever comes that I no longer have to teach my Christian friends how to be a good Christian. There just seems to be something to that Catholic belief that the priesthood is forever. :)

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