BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Jesus Without the Miracles

Good morning.

Just drove by the Chinese Theater (9:15 am).

The Elton John-guy was already working the sidewalk - alone. Him: Pasty white-guy, late 30's/early 40's, orange hair, bowl cut, bad suit, dime-store boa, big sunglasses covered with aluminum foil, and a plastic bowler covered with silver sparkles.

Good luck, buddy!

Now...

US Jews feel threatened by religious right

Some Irish Catholics feel threatened by the religious right, too:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Jewish leaders say they are increasingly worried that Christian conservatives want to turn America politically and culturally into a country that tolerates only their brand of Christianity.
Check out this old Harper's article ("Jesus Plus Nothing") for more info on that particular plan: Folks are trying.

Back to the first article:
"There is a feeling on all sides that something is changing," said Abraham Foxman, director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League.

*

Foxman recently arranged a meeting in New York involving six Jewish organizations to discuss the problem. He said that while participants did not agree on the exact level of the problem, they felt a strategy was needed.

"It's not a war room strategy," he added. "It's to understand what's out there."

He said Jews are a people of faith but are opposed to anyone who would say only they know the truth and want to impose it on everyone else.

While every December brings disputes over what to call the "holiday season" and its trappings, the level of lobbying by those who fear Christmas is becoming something generic has been particularly high this year.

But the issues raised by Foxman and others goes much deeper into American society, ranging from challenges to teaching evolution to bans on abortion and same-sex marriage or deciding what kind of people who should serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dr. Dobson's "War on Spongebob" comes to mind, as well.
"Every room (from bedroom to classroom) in the American mansion is under assault to impose either de facto or de jure a Christian theocracy -- I call them Christocrats," said Rabbi James Rudin, former head of interreligious activities for the American Jewish Committee.
Air America's Mark Maron calls them "Christo-fascists."

God loves you: Deal with it!

Read the whole piece.

Hey, speaking of Jesus, the new Harper's has another great piece on the Son of God:

"Jesus Without the Miracles"

It's the tale of Thomas Jefferson (yes, the Thomas Jefferson) and his efforts to find the true story of Christ in the New Testament:
Jefferson cut out the virgin birth, all the miracles — including the most important one, the Resurrection — then pasted together what was left and called it The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth (fifteen years later, in retirement at Monticello, he expanded the text, added French, Latin, and Greek translations, and called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth).
Why?
Jefferson believed that an authentic Christianity had long ago been hijacked by the Christian Church.

The teachings of its founder had become so distorted as to make "one half of the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."
This game has been going on for some time, hasn't it?
By stripping away the gospelers' claim that Jesus was the divine son of God, and by strip-ping away the subsequent miracles they invented to prove it, Jefferson boasted that he had extracted the "diamonds from the dunghill" to reveal the true teaching of Jesus for what it was: "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."

(To read) Jefferson's version (what Beacon Press now publishes as The Jefferson Bible) is to face a relentless demand that we be much better people—inside and out—than most of us are.

Which leads, as Jefferson must have suspected, to this unfortunate conclusion: the relevance of Christianity to most Americans—then and now—has far more to do with the promise of eternal salvation from this world than with any desire to practice the teachings of Jesus while we are here.

But Jefferson's gospel also leads to an impressive clarification of what those teachings are. One can make a list, and it need not be long.

* Be just; justice comes from virtue, which comes from the heart.

* Treat people the way we want them to treat us.

* Always work for peaceful resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with compassion.

* Consider valuable the things that have no material value.

* Do not judge others.

* Do not bear grudges.

* Be modest and unpretentious.

* Give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid.

In all of his teachings, the Jesus that Jefferson recovers has one overarching theme—the world's values are all upside down in relation to the kingdom of God.

* Material riches do not constitute real wealth;

* Those whom we think of as the most powerful, the first in the nation-state, are actually the last in the kingdom of God;

* Being true to one's self is more important than being loyal to one's family;

* The Sabbath is for men, men are not for the Sabbath;

* Those who think they know the most are the most ignorant;

* The natural economy followed by birds and lilies is superior to the economy based on Caesar's coinage or bankers who charge interest.
JC does not talk about "showering with your son" in TJ's Bible.

Dobson's people came up with that concept - all by their lonesome.

Please read the whole piece - or pick up the December edition of Harper's; I will get back to this subject in the next few days.

More later...

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