Sunday, August 21, 2016

If I Wanted to be Seen as God (Sacred or Secular)

If I wanted to be seen as God… to be seen as the ultimate authority, I’d want to have the whole world be subservient.  I wouldn’t be happy until I had amassed the masses under one collective umbrella – mine.  So, I’d set about however necessary to denigrate the individual, and elevate the group.  I’d begin a campaign of promises with the false humility of a democratic fascist, and I’d whisper ‘it’s for the greater good.’

To the ignorant or the too-busy, I would state that I’m ‘here to help’.  I would convince them that my institutions benefit the people, instead of the other way around.  I’d speak in contradictions, but not speak too definitively so I could always state ‘you misunderstand’ and I could direct them where I want for the moment. 

And then I’d get busy.  I’d emphasize how weak the individual is, and how in isolation he is nothing, so the individual achievers have nothing but luck to give credit, after giving credit to everyone else.  The saying ‘they didn’t do that on their own’ would be common, and as we all are part of society, we all are owed a portion, that I’d promise to take from them and give to the rest.  Among the promises I’d make would be violations of supply and demand, ignoring scarcity, and for any problems of all getting what they’d want, I’d blame those who take ‘too much of the pie’ and say they need to lose some.  I’d be working with those among them who are aligned with me, setting up programs that ensure my status quo remains.  They, after all, have the means to help implement what I want.  They’re allowed to benefit by benefitting me.  All the while, I’d devalue the wealth you do have, making my help more needed. 

I’d push classism, as having an ‘enemy’ – someone who’s guilty of sin for being too light or dark, feminine or masculine, rich or poor, or whatever else, is too useful to redirect the forced inequality I create.  Nature is indifferently not egalitarian; I am intentionally not egalitarian.  I’d make exceptions the rule.  I’d use narratives over numbers, for people can be more easily swayed by emotion than by reason.  A feeling cannot be argued.  Reason points out contradictions, and takes away from my mysterious ways, so it is to be abandoned. 

I would also do away with ‘objective truth.’  The only truth is that which is relative.  Truth is a social construct; society is my construct.  When I say 2+2=3, 4, 5, or any other number, or all numbers, it will be accepted.  For those who have problems accepting it at first, I will have it said that ‘I work in mysterious ways,’ from which any rationalization and justification can be made.  Critical thinkers are outliers and to be expunged.  They are not needed.  Independent thought is not a virtue; conformity is.  Paragons in my society will be those who follow my path, regardless of how cruel it might seem.  Those who share my purpose will be ready to sacrifice one and all to my truth, whether it’d be the taking life of a child to prove love, or spy and betray family, in loyalty to me.

Criminalization of harming another would be secondary to threats to my order.  I’d set up zones of speech, differentiate between speech types including making illegal and immoral criticism of me and my system, and even make it so thoughts could be deemed as wrongful as actions.  As I would be the victim of these victimless crimes, I would set up paths through which one could pay me to get back in my good graces, and their unorthodoxy and sins would be forgiven.  Love comes from the promises I make and the purpose I give, which ultimately are just to serve me.  Emphasizing my love, my righteous cause, and how they hurt me or harmed my cause by not following rightly, I’ll make the people feel guilty.  It is not enough to obey, and they must love me – that obligates them.  Obligation and dependency will shine me in a positive light.  Cattle follow and get their feed from the rancher who will slaughter them.

In other words, I’d just keep on doing what I’m doing.  Good day.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What was Jesus [Christ]? – humanitarian or hypocrite?

WWJD, or What Would Jesus Do, is a colloquialism.  The purpose behind it is in the assumption that Jesus [Christ] was a perfect being, and would act perfectly.  In our imperfection, we are to seek what the perfect being would have done; in our flawed manner, we try to emulate Jesus and choose rightly – what would he do?

We must ask then: what is the model that Jesus provides?

Perfection is label that if given a priori, is because the behavior afterwards is expected to meet a certain standard; perfection is a label that if given post hoc, is because the behavior met a standard so the one earned it.  Whether or not perfection was held beforehand or afterwards, the behavior seen is how we judge.

It is the behavior that we must examine to see what type of model Jesus provides.

Was Jesus a humanitarian, or a hypocrite?
In this review, we will stay with the canonical gospels, and not gnostic gospels: the traditional/dogmatic Jesus.

Was Jesus compassionate to those who had trouble in their hearts?

The answer is yes, Jesus is compassionate and giving.  See Matthew 11:28-30: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The answer is no, Jesus is cold and dismissive.  See Matthew 8:21-22: 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

What should the wealthy do with their wealth?

The answer is that the rich are to sell their possessions, and give the money and their wealth to the poor.  See Mark 10:21 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  This is a repeated statement in Luke 12:33 that begins with ‘Sell your possessions and give to the poor.’

The answer is that the rich are to spend their wealth on Jesus.  See John 12:1-6 where [a] Mary, who was wealthy, anointed Jesus with a perfume that ‘…was worth a year’s wages’ and it could have been ‘… sold and the money given to the poor’.  Jesus’ reply was John 12:7-8 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 

Jesus, after all,  was a transient; he and his followers walked the land as they ministered, and sought places that would accommodate them, see Matthew 10:9-15, where he spoke of his people not carrying anything with them for they should find ‘… some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave’ and in condemnation for those who do not give hospitality, verse 15 ends with “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah [towns God had destroyed] on the day of judgment than for that town.”  Jesus was well pleased with the rich who kept her riches to anoint him with what could have fed many.

Is patience a virtue to Jesus?

The answer is yes, see Matthew 18:21-22 ”21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Additionally, earlier in Matthew 18:12-14, where he mentions the importance of finding the one lost, and how dear it is to have that one redeemed.  There is the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8, where in verse 11, he did not follow the letter of the law, but said to her “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The answer is no, see Mark 9:19, where after a crowd brings a ‘possessed’ child to be healed by Jesus, they first get a scolding “Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”  To his followers who were concerned about how to live (be clothed and eat) while following Jesus, they were scolded in Luke 12:28 “8 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”  In Matthew 8:26, Jesus chastised the apostles’ fear of being at sea during a storm ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Mark 14:37, after he returns from praying to find the apostles who were to be on guard had fallen asleep, Jesus chastises them “37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?”  To a crowd that was not following his meaning, he berated them in Luke 12:56 “Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

Is family important to Jesus?

Family and honor was important to Jesus.  He followed the Law of Moses.  Jesus was not there to change the law, as he specifically stated in Matthew 5:17-18 “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”  Exodus 20 begins the list of commandments, and verse 12 states “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”  Being one of the primary commandments, family and honor would be of great importance.

Family and honor was not important to Jesus.  Beginning with his words when calling for followers in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”  When Jesus was preaching, his mother and brothers came and waited for him; however, when Jesus heard his family was waiting for him, he dismissively responded in Matthew 12:48-50 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  John 2:1-4 has a more hostile Jesus to his mother.  On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

Did Jesus come to bring peace?

The answer is yes, see the proclamation of Jesus’ birth announcing in Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Jesus promises peace and the Holy Spirit in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The answer is no, as he did not come to bring peace, but division.  This is stated in Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  Speaking prophetically on the end times – which must come for fulfillment – in Luke 21: 22-24 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  Luke 22:36 Jesus advises his apostles to sell their cloaks if necessary to buy a sword.  The clearest example of not being for peace, or at least a peace that was akin to Pax Romana, is at the end of the Parable of the 10 Minas in Luke 19, that ends with 27 “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

So what was Jesus? – humanitarian or hypocrite?

Jesus explicitly stated he had not come to change the law, but he challenged the law repeatedly.  He said in Matthew about not changing the law (easier for Heaven and Earth to disappear than for the law to change), Jesus did not follow the law about honoring his father and mother, and he did not stone the adulterer, as the law said was to be done.  Jesus came to give and leave us with peace, but then he also said to trade in cloaks to purchase a sword, and he prophesized about the division and war to come – must come to fulfill his prophesy.  He told all to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor, but when a rich one pampered him, he gladly accepted.  The admonition of Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God, turns out to be conditional.  Otherwise, the benefactor, the one who had a house and goods to offer those who had not, and had the funds to be able to afford the expensive gift to foist upon Jesus, would be condemned for keeping that which enabled her to offer room, board, and gifts.  It was a precursor to the church’s selling of indulgences, centuries later.

So where does this leave us for an image of Jesus?

It leaves us in the same manner of Muhammad, a picture of a man who through all his virtues and faults, was the product of his time: primitive, tribalistic, and dogmatic.  Neither one of them actually wrote anything down they were purported to have said, and their ‘word’ was advanced by vested interests (those wanting to sell stories of divinity) post hoc; in the case of Jesus, these stories were written down decades and centuries after the he had died.  As presented in the gospels, the most gentle way of putting things is Jesus was inconsistent.  Hypocritical would also be an appropriate label, as would humanitarian.  These terms are not mutually exclusive.  He was a man of his time, but still a man, who contextually advanced a more humanitarian system than was in place, but still lauded tradition.

Ultimately, WWJD – and finding an answer – is more reflective of who is asking the question, with respect to what is the best, or perfect option.  From contradictory behavior and statements, there is a way to justify most positions.  Think about what would be the best option, for there is a standard beyond Jesus that is what is used to judge his actions by.  Otherwise, it is mindless dogma, and repetition – adapted to your own preference.