No Narrative

The following brief post from PJMedia brings up thought-provoking questions on the Galilean peasant whose birth was recently celebrated around the world.

Return of the Jesus Wars

“The fact that the Asian’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious.

“Part of the lure of the New Testament is the complexity of its central character — the mix of gentleness and zeal, strident moralism and extraordinary compassion, the down-to-earth and the supernatural.

“Most “real Jesus” efforts, though, assume that these complexities are accretions, to be whittled away to reach the historical core. Thus instead of a Jesus who contains multitudes, we get Jesus the nationalist or Jesus the apocalyptic prophet or Jesus the sage or Jesus the philosopher and so on down the list.

“There’s enough gospel material to make any of these portraits credible. But they also tend to be rather, well, boring, and to raise the question of how a pedestrian figure — one zealot among many, one mystic in a Mediterranean full of them — inspired a global faith.”

http://pjmedia.com

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I love my Australian friend’s response:

“Ah, the answer to this guy’s observation is St. Paul. The original, dull Jewish believers didn’t have a clue how to turn the story into a global faith – but Paul brilliantly did it. He forged the most compelling myth in human history. According to Paul it fulfilled Jewish Scripture. But not only that, it fulfilled all the ancient myths of Osiris, Tammuz, the dying and rising divinities aplenty, the mystery religions of Dionysus and Mithra, the apocalyptic tradition going right back to Zoroaster – Paul brought it all together as a faith to break down all the old religious walls between Judaism and the rest.

“As Luther looked at the religious expression of Jewish Christianity which he found in the book of James, no wonder he called it “a strawy epistle.” Nothing to see here, move on folks! Peter, John and James (the brother of Jesus) did not have a narrative to capture the imagination of the world – they were a pretty dull bunch who had no idea how to turn their Jesus story into a narrative to conquer the Greco-Roman world. Paul left them all in his dust and they did not know how they should deal with his cosmic Christ-figure. It was all completely beyond the ken of any Jewish messiah-ism. Of course Paul never got this new world-faith from those dull apostles of the first Jerusalem Church. He got it from his own visions and cogitations. He did not even get it from the historical Jesus.

“I too understand the criticism raised against the Jesus Seminar and their fellow travelers – the presentation of the Historical Jesus as a Jewish Cynic (Funk, Mack), a social revolutionary (Crossan), a religious mystic (Borg) – and more…..none of which can capture the imagination of a wide human audience. Better to retreat to the old myth of St. Paul than end up with an impoverished looking historical Jesus that neither works great miracles nor has an exciting apocalyptic vision about what is about to happen to this world.

“Of course the apocalyptic worldview of Paul is two thousand years out of date now – his reworking of the Zoroastrian drama of a great contest between God and Satan in the arena of this world – well John Milton and EGW reworked that too – but in this Universe of space/time that is beyond the capacity of our imagination, billions of galaxies with the possibilities of billions of world’s with intelligent life, the image of God playing the game of chess with the devil concentrating on this little world that becomes the centre of the universe drama, of a God in the sky who pulls all the strings to control what we humans do (in answer to the prayers of his special few) – and perhaps above all, of a God who makes everything right by having the Romans carry out a gruesome execution of an innocent man all of which magically gets rid of sin and makes us right in the eyes of God – well, none of that is going to make sense to the mind the has to deal with the realities of the Hubble telescope…” (RB)

Much better said than I could have said it…

Henry Hasse ~ December 30, 2013

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Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Think More Like God

Too many folks have forgotten (perhaps they never learned it) that our country was first settled by people who escaped the tyranny of religion. They not only believed in freedom OF religion but also in freedom FROM religion.

In America, under our Constitution, we enjoy the right to believe as we please. And we have the right to share that belief publicly with anyone willing to listen and consider what we believe.

But that privilege does not give us the right to threaten and eventually punish those who do not accept our beliefs. That would be tyranny again, the very thing our founders escaped from.

Unfortunately, the very nature of any religion carries with it the need to threaten and finally punish outsiders. Study any of them and their histories. Notice their demands. And learn their methods of punishment. At least they are no longer allowed to publicly whip, burn, drown, stone, hang, behead, etc. in America. But they have more subtle methods of punishment.

All this threatening also keeps members in line and discourages questions.

Heretics, unbelievers, outsiders and their like are barred from membership, ridiculed, generally ostracized, and threatened with a judgment and a hellish payback punishment in the end.
Fundamentalist, Orthodox, Radical, and Extremist religions, even GLAAD groups, are especially outspoken concerning their beliefs, and they are always ready to demand some sort of punishment for anyone who disagrees with them.

The Duck Dynasty father and founder, Phil Robertson, recently pushed his brand of Christianity and its threats of a hellish punishment for unbelief in Christ’s salvation payment for sin, including homosexuality and other sinful behaviors as mentioned in the Bible. To his credit, he also spoke of love and forgiveness, but the threats of punishment in hell were already out of the bag. He claimed to make no judgment and added that God would judge in the end. Typical sidestep – like passing judgment off to God makes judgment OK. Some comfort that is with the threat of hell still hanging in the air!

Love and forgiveness and acceptance are non-judgmental. God is non-judgmental. Always has been from the beginning. Retaliation and punishment would not even enter God’s mind. God’s thoughts are purely humane thoughts. He patiently waits for humans to begin thinking like him. What people think governs what people do. When people think more like God, they will do more like God.

A certain Galilean peasant taught the above and challenged the Jewish scriptures for saying otherwise. (an eye for an eye) And the NT scriptures need to be challenged for saying otherwise as well. Their teaching of an end-time judgment and hell does not fit with Jesus’ teaching of our Father’s unconditional love for all humanity.

Retaliation is the opposite of God’s way.

When will people learn that tyranny does not work when trying to establish and maintain human relationships? Threats of punishment will never build anything!

Under freedom, human interactions always leave room for growth and development through mutual acceptance of each other’s right to own their personal beliefs, beliefs which may then be only temporary as they learn more and more along life’s journey.

Always remember that the opposite of love is fear. Love and hatred are choices so close to each other that humans get them confused at times. But if what is called “love” retaliates and conjures up fear, it is not love at all. It is hatred.

Henry Hasse ~ December 29, 2013

Published in: on December 29, 2013 at 11:13 am  Leave a Comment  

My Gift to You

God is the ultimate good, the Unconditional which humanity can image somewhat through offering forgiveness without conditions. Jesus told people about such an Unconditional Love at work through our offering forgiveness to others. He spoke of the “kingdom of God,” which is among us here and now. It is in us, not out yonder somewhere. Our struggle to enter God’s unconditional realm in this life is a daily one. And it seems that we are always just beginning. Offering God’s unconditional forgiveness to all is a real challenge for humans. It is living by paying forward, not asking for anything in return, no payback, no expectations to have the favor returned.

Unconditional forgiveness and unconditional love come from the same Source. Unconditional forgiveness makes it possible to forgive ourselves and then forgive others right here and right now. But unconditional love is not entirely realized or even entirely possible for humans in this life. It is only practiced. Some are better at it than others. But all improve as they practice. This is God’s dream for all of humanity. It is like the “kingdom of God” is here, but the “kingdom of God” is also coming.

Again, the great “I am…” lives within us as if we are his temple. God has promised to never leave us, not even as we pass through death. There is more love coming, more than we can even imagine right now.

The thoughts above were a present to me from the niece (Julia) of my dear friend (Robert) in Australia. She knows that the great “I am…,” the unconditionally loving, accepting, and forgiving One is near to my heart. There is no other Savior/Father to fill me with joy. The gift of such a Presence within me is the reason for all my celebration and giving these days and every day. I implore you, please do not permit all the words and songs and images of the season to hide this Love, this Presence, from you. This Source’s dream is to make us the Light of the world!

My Canadian friend, Wendell, added: If you note carefully…. the point made was about the teaching of Jesus in contrast to the teaching of Paul – two very influential people in history and about the central ideas that they promoted.

The good news I shared above concerning the Unconditional love of our Father/God was the Galilean’s passion. However, Paul’s news was his dream of a Savior/Christ, but it was exactly the the opposite of Jesus’ passion, and with the help of the Roman government and church authorities, it finally became the message of Christianity. They succeeded in making a savior/god out of the Galilean peasant.

The core themes of these two historical figures (Jesus & Paul) have changed subsequent history. At this moment in time, Paul’s message only appears to be winning, especially around the Christmas and Easter holidays. But Jesus’ message will finally prevail because it is God the Father’s dream for all who are oppressed by their own behavior, by their enemies, by their governing authorities, and by the hellish threats of their churches that are laid on the minds of all who refuse to accept Paul’s message of a Christ crucified for their sins.

May we learn to pray with David, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from old. According to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”

Henry Hasse ~ December 25, 2013

Published in: on December 25, 2013 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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