MANY PEAS IN A POD, A SUNDAY SERMON
Schonfield’s study, “The Passover Plot”, draws the picture of Jesus’ plot a little too fine for my liking, but he does, I think, demonstrate pretty well that Jesus (fictional? or real?) knew what he was doing when he chose lines from the Old Testament to add prophetic power to his words. I don’t think that Jesus planned every last detail of what happened to him, as Schonfield suggests, but I do think that Jesus, through his reading of Jewish history, believed it was his purpose to die, as a holy one, so that the expected kingdom of heaven could realize itself on the earth in a timely manner and that he did everything possible to insure that he would die, and he succeeded. Just as Jesus interpreted Jewish texts to give himself the idea that some holy person must die in order for prophecy to be fulfilled and the kingdom to come, many Christians, through the centuries, have followed Jesus' example, feeling they must die to bring about some final end. They're all copycat suiciders.
Jesus, if he existed, was mad, of course, like David Koresh, like any of the leaders of the death cults we witness century after century and in our current world who pray for and hope for the end of their lives of misery and the imagined coming of something better for themselves. According to Schonfield, Jesus thought the kingdom of god was nigh and so fulfilled his part in Jewish history, imagining that as he did so, god’s world would quickly arrive on earth. How else do we explain his words in the gospels which foretold that the kingdom of god would arrive before many who knew Jesus met their own deaths?
Mark 9:1 “And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’”
Mark 13:30 After Jesus describes the last days and what will happen at that time, he says, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
There’s no explanation for his words if what Schonfield says is not true. Those are pretty plain spoken words from a plain spoken carpenter, turned prophet. I believe that Schonfield is correct when he explains that Jesus certainly believed his own words but was, of course, like so many after him, quite wrong. He died, like so many cultists after him, for nothing.
[I employed only Mark’s words because whoever wrote Matthew, Luke and John, as so many scholars have shown, copied from Mark's story and added details to suit their own political purposes.]
BANK ROBBERY OR WORSHIP?
Our local paper, the Spokesman Review, is trying its damnedest to add numbers to the Christian faith. I’ve never seen a major city paper in my whole 66 years of life and travel which puts religion on the front page so often (unless the paper was an arm of the church). But my question is why does its pictures always make these little groups of Christians seem such fools? Time after time, Christians are shown with eyes closed, hands in the air like terrified victims of a bank robbery. To skeptics, like myself, such a posture is too symbolic of people of faith not to be remarked. Eyes closed symbolizes that they are shut off from reality and shut their senses down which is the only way that science and reason gets in, through that which can be sensed. Hands in air toward empty space, still believing there is a heaven up there in directionless space. Hands up as if being held up or conned into believing in that which does not exist. I think the Spokesman would do them a favor if they weren’t shown in that ridiculous pose.
The Spokesman article was about very small groups of people who are starting their own churches without buildings or expenses. One sign of an unhealthy mind is the impulse to shut oneself off from mainstream culture. Those little churches in private homes, shut off from the healthy influence of mainstream church life, are easy pickings for pedophiles and cultists. I know of at least one case here in Spokane where people met in each others homes and in which one of the chief members had incested all his own children. Incestuous groups and families like that are often shut off from the larger culture because the authoritarian figures who take charge in small groups of course want to keep their secrets in the group. Those shut off, isolated house churches are probably the most unhealthy sorts of environments possible.
WHAT DID WE EXPECT? ARE WE BRAIN DEAD?
As far as abuse goes—to understand a behavior pattern is not to condone it, but what do we expect when we send young men and women into situations where killing is a normal way of life? Do we expect normalcy? If the normal job is to kill or be killed, why would torture and humiliation seem abnormal? You take young people, separate them from their normal way of life, isolate them from their normal values, put them into an “us versus them” situation, and you are bound to get abnormal behavior. You can’t get any worse than the environment of the killing ways of war.
This prison abuse was another thing anybody with a smidgen of info about psychology would expect to come along, so I hope no one is surprised. I’m sure that anyone who’s seen a little combat would know exactly what to expect. Of course, that wouldn’t be Bush and his chickenhawk cronies. Now Kerry, McCain, Max Cleland and Gore would know something about what goes on in a war. They’ve been there. That’s why you expect them to be able to show a little restraint when it comes to starting wars. They know that war “is the last thing in the world” you want to resort to in order to achieve your objectives.
“I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.” —Jane Austen