Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Those Damn Vague Deities & Surprise! Might Makes Religious & Political Right

This was a blog response I made for pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow.   I like Bruce's posts and I respond to them from time to time when he posts to the SFGate blog.  He seems like nice guy and if more Christians were like him, they'd probably have an easier time in the liberal media.  But Bruce like many liberals tends to be a bit on the hippie-dippy Jesus is love kind of kick...which is fine and makes for the kind of pleasant person you like to have around to discuss things with over dinner.  But ultimately proves to be impractical and ineffective for causing the change he seeks.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

The problem Mr. Reyes-Chow is trying to mediate is as old a Christianity itself. And it's a problem that is not specific to Christianity by any means. The problem is that you have a lot of people trying to interpret the words, teaching etc...of a religion built around faith. It's not like Yahweh, Jesus, Allah or Vishnu comes down to earth from time to time (at least in the last two thousand years) and says.."no this is what I really meant). 

Over 3000 years the Egyptians co-opted gods in to their pantheon. They combined gods like Atum-Re or Ra-Horus...or whomever was the king god flavor of the month. The Romans absorbed the Greek gods. The Israelites absorbed, omitted or altered the Canaanite pantheon gods Yahweh, El, Baal, Asherah, etc...

Whoa! Divine Intervention

Right after Jesus's death (and ascendancy?), questions were raised about how Jewish Christians should be (circumcision, eating kosher, observing the Sabbath)...James the Just brother of Jesus who lead the Christians in Jerusalem was on the Kosher side and Paul (the "apostle" that never met Jesus while he was alive) didn't think so and went off to preach to the Gentiles. Peter waffled and eventually with James killed off and with all of Paul's converts...Peter went along with Paul.

Later questions about the interpretation of Christianity had to be resolved with Aryan Christianity being prominent (was Jesus just the son of God/subordinate or God himself made flesh?) and the Gnostic Christians (was Yahweh the blind ignorant creator and Jesus the representative of the higher spiritual God?). Also as Christianity traveled around in the Roman empire it picked up some things from other religions like those that worshiped Mithras and Sol Invictus.

Fuck Off Aryans & Gnostics

 It took Constantine the Great through the power of Rome to forcibly merge, edit and organize all of these competing view points. Then there was the reformation when opposing view points about how important the church was to religion and worldly affairs. 

My point is that if you remove the theology, managing different view points of religion all comes down to power. It was Constatine's victory over Maxentius that finally allowed Christianity to flourish. Now you can say that it was God that worked through Constantine but ultimately it was a political and military battle that won the day.  It was that victory that ultimately determined what view points of Christianity took hold. The Gnostics and Aryans were pushed aside. 

So organizing those with similar view points by signing a letter is a start I suppose. But I suggest looking to the Bible for inspiration and Machiavelli to make your views reality here on the worldly plain.

WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?)

It's kind of difficult to figure out what Jesus would have done. While he was a preacher of peace he was also a dynamic activist who really hated Roman influence and rule over Judea. You've got mixed messages of "loving thy neighbor" and "turning the other cheek". While at the same time speaking of "not bringing peace but a sword" and dumping over the money lenders tables at the temple and causing a disruptive scene.

How Do Ya Like My Cheeks Now?
 As to how Jesus would have Christians relate to the outside world and it's issues? Jesus primarily focused on preaching to poor Jews and to some degree Righteous Gentiles (ones that followed Noahide Laws...kind of like being a Jew lite). And unlike Paul and Peter, I'm pretty sure Jesus wasn't going to go to Rome and preach to the Roman Pagans and tell them how to live their lives. My point being I think Jesus focused his righteous activism on the Jews and those that lived with/near the Jews.

It was Constantine, the later Roman Empire, and the early Frankish kingdoms that decided to force Christianity and it's views on everybody else (converting Germanic tribes at the bloody point of a sword).

It's this dark age/medieval interpretation of Christianity that still influences it today.

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