Monday, January 31, 2011

I love Jesus, he's my teacher, and yes I know about his church . . .

I love to go to church! Hands raised, heart full, sharing with others a passion for a god, I sing ‘till my throat is raw and then I fall back into my chair with my head on my knees and pray. Oh, Christians, you have so much! Why have you sold it all away?

I love Jesus and the Christian faith. Perhaps, coming to it with the eyes of a Jewish outsider, I was able to seeing its flowers and fruits as beautiful, and its trinity and saints as polytheism, and all the shining promises of a loving and personal god as preferable to the abstract monogod of my childhood, but after my first, clean experience of Christianity, its filthy layers of power and wealth became quickly apparent.

It’s no secret that the church lasted barely 60 years before falling prey to internal politics, that Constantine chained it to empire in the early second century and that the Catholic Church colluded with worldly powers and produced more than its share of state-sponsored murders, wars, and oppressions before it bowed to the capitalist reformation. Okay. I know all that. And I know about the genocide of native people in the name of the church and I know about manifest destiny and the rise of the religious right in the United States. And I know that the corrupt Christian church in America, empowered by politicians, bloated with money, and bowing to its own celebrities, leads its people astray . . . but all of this is our doing, foolish humans that we are! That’s not Jesus.

Jesus, himself, whether as a teacher or a god, is as wise and righteous as any teacher or deity I’ve ever known. Champion of the poor and oppressed, he taught us that the light of the Creator shines in each one of us and the Kingdom of Love is all around us, ours for the asking. He’s marvelous, wonderful! It’s not the Christian religion that’s fucked up. It’s the church! The church sold out long ago, and continues to prostitute itself today. Any power that buys the church is purchasing the blind obedience of its followers, and is able to set cultural norms through the church's claim to ultimate authority, including norms of sexuality, health, politics and economics.

Wake up, Christians! You are being used! Look at all you have: the love of god! Eternal life! Why the hell would you get involved in the world of wealth and power?

Love and mercy rule the Kingdom of Heaven and there’s room enough for everyone. The Kingdom of Heaven is inside of you, all around you. All you have to do to go there, said Jesus, is to love one another. Christians, what are you waiting for? Didn’t he show us the way? Why don’t you vote for universal health care in Jesus’ name? Didn’t he ask us to heal one another? Wealthy Christians, why don’t you sell all you have and give the money to the poor? Isn’t that what Jesus told the rich man to do? And didn’t the rich man hold tight to his bank account and fix for himself a place in hell?

Why would Christians lust after celebrity and money, if they have love and god? Why would they sell out the earth's fragile garden ecosystem? They are selling Eden away! They are selling their own grandchildren’s right to life for cheap sneakers and SUVs! The churches, aligned with political and corporate powers, are blinding you, but Christians, you are the children of love! You’ve been redeemed from the dominator world, bought back from the dominators with the blood of Christ Savior, god-in-flesh, Emmanuel. You are safe. You have nothing to fear. What do you need with armies and guns?


masterymistery said...

very interesting and thoughtful piece that covers the main issues in a complex debate.

As a pantheist I believe we are all children of deity, alongside Jesus and others.

I gotta say, though, in relation to Jehovah, it's not pretty or attractive for a god to be self-admittedly wrathful and jealous, and demanding that people sacrifice their children to him.

And if there are no other gods, why would Jehovah take such great pains to impress upon the children of isreal that they "...shalt have no other gods before me"?

From what I know about Jesus, he seems a very wise, loving, enlightened human being, to an unprecedented extent.

But one story in the new testament raises a few eyebrows (well, at least mine): Jesus comes to a fig tree. There are no figs on the tree. It is not the season for figs. But Jesus demands a fig, fruitlessly, from the fruitless tree. And then gets so angry that he "withers the tree" which I presume involved putting some kind of hex on it, or blasting it with a ray of special energy power.

Of course, someone is bound to say, ah yes but that story is not intended as the literal truth but should be taken metaphorically, to be as lesson in faith. That faith can see you through an episode involving a fruitless tree?

What then is the metaphor or lesson from that particular episode? Or is it intended as a counter-lesson, "don't do what I do --- I'm just doing it to show you how bad it is".


masterymistery at cosmic rapture

puny human said...

Thanks for the cts. I'm with you on all of us, Jesus included, being children of our Creator god, however you understand that. In my pantheon, I welcome all gods of love. I reject gods of greed and fear and cruelty. The Jesus who whithers the tree does not sound like a god of love, and the story is inconsistent with the character of the NT Jesus. But we can't count on any particular story in the NT being historically accurate. That's why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, and NOT a book. If we listen to the spirit, he guides us to accept or reject a story like that.

As for the OT god, you're right on, he's a nasty dude. The biggest mistake the early Christians made was to saddle themselves with Jehovah and his rulebook.

Heather Awen said...

The problem with religions is that people are in them.

My Mom is an Episcopalisn Priest, she was in Haiti for the revolution to overthrow the US backed murdering coke dealers, Papa Doc and Baby Doc, that was led by the church. She has protested war - was even tear gassed at the WTO stuff in Quebec City. To show the Christ wants people to live she usually lives in a one room cabin with a tiny solar panel and no running water and a composter toilet.

I love people like Dorothy Day and the Catholic anarchists and the liberation theologians and the Quakers. I have no relationship with Jesus and nor do I need one, I have Gods that dig me and are there for me. A Christian friend tells me that there are black magic Christians and white magic Christians depending on how they use the Bible. The Bible is an odd thing for me, since it has been rewritten so many times and poorly translated (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live actually was Thous halt not suffer a poisoner to live, but the translator sucked at Hebrew.) I have issues with the intense anti-sexuality of the very early church, where even married people are not allowed to have sex EVER, and the anti-body stuff of the Gnostics. But it was a religion a slave and women were allowed in - Unlike the more popular Roman religions! People forget that many times.

My Mom says that Christians are hung up on the cross - the Sacrifice has already been made and the ressurection is what we're meant to be doing - resurrecting our love for our innocent bodies, the earth, and each other - letting shame and original sin lies die. It's the ressurection that frees us.

I am also not a big fan of the dualistic thinking of Judeo-Christian thought that comes from Zoraster and his creation of the very strange and unhealthy notion of monotheism. But I don't really like Buddhism or any other huge religion that denies the beauty of the earth and body and soul and ego.

Aron said...

I guess this all depends on how what works with your imagination and thus how you interpret the world. Although I recognize the harshness of the jealous Jewish God dynamic in the Torah, I value the entire process of the Jewish tradition in ways it attempted to soften that rhetoric by the rabbis, even if I don't think it's perfect.

Jesus on the other hand, with all the God of Love talk, has caused more abuse historically than the Jewish God ever did in my mind. But I can respect that you view him differently outside of the church, somehow. (How you separate the Church's cannon of narratives from the character of Jesus seems rather difficult to me.)

Alternatively , what works for me is a re-imagined sense divinity related to the Uragit pantheon (sometimes called Canaanite)and their complex family dynamic between a fatherly El and wife Asherah, and Baal Hadad and Anat (as father/mother and son/daughter figures reflected somewhat in Kabbalah) as well a as a bunch of other celestial figures that might reflect Israel's polytheistic past.

Regardless of this, what matters to me is what people do with their view of the divine, not the specific religious roots of them.
If you're gonna talk about love, then you need to treat your fellow humans and nonhumans with respect, etc.

puny human said...

I love these comments, with their respectful honesty. Talking about religion this way is what the world needs.

Aron's right. I've managed to separate Jesus from the churches, and what Jesus are we talking about after all? The warmongering fascist pig god? or the meek and mild lamb? Or one of a thousand other manifestations . . .? I just create my own Jesus and love him as a teacher. Hey, I'd be delighted to hear about your teachers. Rumi, Lao Tzu, Raymond Chandler (ok, different league) are all teachers of mine.
Best wishes,

Green Man said...

I once had a bumper sticker on my car that said, "Please, God, protect me from your followers!!" Ha!! So, true. I find Jesus to be a very likable fellow and I appreciate his radical ideas of societal equality. The idea that Jesus was anything but a near socialist is laughable to me. But, to each their own.

As for Buddhism, it is my main belief system. Zen Buddhism in particular; though I also am keen on nature based beliefs. Anyway, I can tell you that they respect nature very much--especially Zen, which was formed in part from Taoism. Taoism is extremely interested in protecting and honoring nature. A lot of Buddhist tales and lessons involves nature: rivers, mountains and the sky, etc.

So, I don't mean this to be rude but it's just not true that Buddhism denies the beauty of the Earth. They do have some restrictions upon sexuality but mostly for monks. The ego is something they do see as an obstacle but nature is very much honored.

masterymistery said...

Love the David Bohm quote.

Have you read his "holographic universe"? What he refers to as the "implicate order" is very much the vibrant, alive, "ground of being" that underlies (in fact comprises) everything. Hence his "Everything is alive."

The specific and explicit parallels between quantum physics and "Eastern" metaphysics (especially Hinduism) are quite striking, eg the equivalence between "we are all one" and the quantum physics concept of "entanglement".

Or, David Bohm's implicate order / hologrpahic universe and the beautiful metaphor of "Indra's pearls" in which every pearl is reflected in each pearl, which is fundamentally the concept of holography in which a piece of something can stand for t he whole something, albeit at a degraded resolution, possibly.

Think Princess Leia

masterymistery at cosmic rapture

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