(Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Before Jesus got converted into a white evangelical Republican, he was a child of Judaism, working for social justice.
(No justice. No peace.)
He was hardly original. Not even in death. The Romans crucified thousands of Jewish young men. Crucifixion was a deterrent to terrorism.
(We have other methods.)
Jesus wasn’t the first Jewish reformer. Others advocated what Jesus advocated. Others were inclusive. The holy (wholesome) way is hardly a secret. It’s shouted from every mountain top and in every religion.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
The Roman Empire wanted world peace (and would kill anyone who got in the way). Everybody wants world peace—except the military industrial congressional university research complex slurping at the trough.
(War may be easier to stop than greed.)
By the first century certain beleaguered Jews under the heel of Rome were sick and tired of a certain so-called Son-of-God-Prince-of-Peace-Savior-of-the-World, and, yes, born-of-a-virgin emperor (Augustus).
Evangelists (messengers) were spreading a gospel (evangel) to the empire’s subjects: Give your loyalty (and taxes) to Caesar, and all will be well. You will be safe. No threat will come near you. The borders will be secure.
(Lies. Lots of lies.)
In Jesus, some saw a different kind of power, a different way toward peace—a deep truth resurrected, incarnated, made flesh. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, love enemies, drop grudges, welcome everybody to the table.
(In that kingdom, love, not fear, would rule.)
And thus, “Jesus” was raptured into human imagination—transfigured into an icon of compassion, a counter to greed and revenge. I will love my enemies even if it kills me.
A handful of subversives created an alternative gospel—a different Son of God, Prince of Peace, Savior of the World, and, why not, born of a virgin, too—to counter the empire’s myth.
It was an existential choice: Caesar OR Christ. (At least until the empire co-opted Christ.)
This spring I’m teaching a class at Shepherd University: Jesus Before Christianity. (Hint, hint: He was Jewish.)
Jesus was a Jew, I once told a Catholic friend.
No way!! How could that be?!
It could be—and was—because his mother was Jewish.
Well, then, she must have been a Catholic Jew!
No. She. Wasn’t. And I should know. I’m an expert on these matters.
Still, I’m teaching a class and trying to save Jesus from my former tribe, American evangelicals, and their new emperor.
See Paula’s new photograph on the home page. Wandering in Her Footprints
Amen, brother. Jesus was a radical Jew living in a hierarchical society where a few had much and the many had little (much like our society) who had a profound insight, namely that the Creator was unconditional love, and that love should be at the heart of all we say and do, that love for our fellow creatures should be the essence of life. Sadly, we have let greed and ego and a host of other selfish desires mar the insight Jesus had.
Yep. Your key word’s “co-opt.” Jesus has been getting co-opted by others for their purposes for 2,000 years. You’d think all that co-opting would smother the flame, but the flame is inextinguishable.
Title of this picture should be “Trump Taking the Evangelicals For a Ride.”
Notice how they are holding on. The coaster is at the top of the hill about
to accelerate them all screaming into the pit below.
I think we are witnessing the Anti-Christ principle….. not person, but pattern, like a virus with a strong vector. Interesting times, sir. We live in the same spirit world.