Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jesus in the New Yorker, letter to editor, who knows


if they'll take it.



I greatly appreciated Adam Gopnik’s essay “What Did Jesus Do?” As a participant in an evangelical and extremely good hearted Christian Church, I often feel that I’m a little crazy for having the sorts of thoughts that, from this article, I realized many people have been having for many years.

Like: If Jesus knew He was God, or really, really close, and the obvious end to all human life is death, and He knew his place after Death was a lock, what is the grand tragedy, other than a day of extremely unpleasant suffering? We all die. Many with more that a day of intense and awful suffeing. He got to join humanity in that. Good.

But the main craziness I feel is the contradiction between a gospel of Love Your Enemies; Cast not the First Stone; Judge Not that Ye Not be Judged, and then all the judgment that Christians have about those who don’t believe that this is the one route to …. Whatever. Heaven let’s say.

“My Way or the Highway” is certainly a favorite human attitude, and more than one of my ex-mates would gladly testify to my shortcomings in this area, but to base a religion of love and freedom from judgment on a premise that yeah, yeah, love is great and all that, but by the way: if you don’t do it our way: judgment, damnation, eternal suffering. Tough cookies for those who don’t line up on our side.

Which could be summed up something like, Christianity is really great, and wouldn’t it be even greater if Christians were Christian about those who didn’t subscribe to their take on the path to salvation (or their idea of what salvation is. OR, their ideas of what the “sins” are that bare the route to “salvation,” and so on.)

Okay, that’s a mess, to my mind, and then this article helped clarify that this isn’t just a trait unfortunately adopted by the Church under Paul’s zeal and guidance and organization building. This lack of tolerance is conveyed in the Gospels by Jesus Himself.

Which is to say: along the way Jesus isn’t very Christian. Gads, what to do with that?

Well, I’ve pondered down these roads many a year, and in reading this article a number of times come to a possible conclusion that Jesus, as a real man, born into a real time in history, was like most real humans, deeply dependant on his cultural biases in his perception of the world.

So he’s divine, maybe all along, or maybe he discovers what enlightened people have throughout history, that in a certain state He is divine. But he’s in this tradition of a people of the Book, and all these prophets, and a tradition of My Way or the Highway, our Way is right, we are the Chosen People, you all other people don’t really cut it, too bad, repent, get your act together, become just like us.

“Why can’t a woman think like a man,” says Henry Higgins. Why can’t you think like me, thinks every wife of her husband, every husband of his wife, every leftist of those on the right, every Republican of every Democrat.

We can have humor about this, or get serious, life and death, what a temptation if you can walk on water and whatnot, to let those who don’t buy your way know that they are going to suffer eternal damnation.

Alas, perhaps the damnation of anyone to and or in “hell” is the suffering that we all suffer, in the good old here and now, in this daily life on this ongoing planet, whenever we condemn, judge, feel superior to, angry at, dismissive of any other human. I.e., when we forget to “Love Our Enemy.” Righteousness is such a tempting poison, but when we feel what goes on in our hearts, minds, spirits, behavior, breathing even when we are busy in the world of “Me Right, You Wrong,” we are certainly far from happiness, and close to hell, if not well dammed / damned up in it.

There’s a thesis in here, which I’m in no hurry to round out. And, thanks so much Adam Gopnik and the New Yorker for giving me, and I hope many others, so much nourishment in the possibilities of real faith combined with real intelligence.

Chris Elms, Orcas Island, Washington.

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3 Comments:

At 3:53 AM , Blogger 紹軍紹軍 said...

真正仁慈的人,會忘記他們做過的善行,他們全心投入現在的工作,過去的事已被遺忘。 ..................................................

 
At 8:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

成功招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友........................................

 
At 8:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

弱者等待時機,強者製造時機........................................

 

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