I was raised in one of those fundie churches. I’m not gonna say which one, but we thought Baptists were gonna burn in Hell for having too much fun.
I stayed in that church from Pre-K to high school. I left the church shortly after the preacher’s daughter took me out back and showed me the holy ghost and since then I’ve only been back for an occasional wedding. But what I learned while I was there is a lot of the reason I’m a liberal.
I believe there once was a man who we know today as Jesus Christ, but it’s almost certain he was not born on December 25th 2008 years ago. If you take the Bible literally then he wasn’t even born during the winter, otherwise the shepards wouldn’t have been “keeping watch over their flocks by night.”
He may have been a composite of two or more people, but someone (singular or plural) triggered a religious movement we now know as “Christianity.” Whoever he was, his name wasn’t Jesus (Gee-zus) because that’s the anglicized version of Jesus (Hay-soos) that the Romans used as his name. His real name was probably something more like “Yeshua.”
He wasn’t a blond, blue-eyed European either. He was a Jew, and not the part-European kind, he was the full-blooded Semite type. Jesus probably looked more like Yasser Arafat than Fabio. When you consider that he was allegedly a carpenter who grew up hewing wood with hand tools, it’s unlikely he looked like the effeminate character we see in art. I’m not making a sexist observation, I’m using the English language. If Jesus was a carpenter, he would have looked a lot more like a Charles Atlas body builder than a 98 pound weakling.
The whole “born in a manger” meme is a bunch of hooey too. The Romans did use the census to figure out how many subjects they had, but they could give a shit about where their subjects were born, they wanted to know where people lived. The stuff in the New Testament about Bethlehem was just put there to “fulfill” a prophecy that the messiah would be born in the “City of David.”
The man we think of as Jesus was probably a Rabbi of the Essene sect of Judaism. A big hint is that he was frequently critical of Sadducees and Pharisees, the two other major sects of Judaism of that era. Dan Brown was correct that Jesus probably had a wife, whether it was Mary Magdalene or some other woman. Celibacy has never been part of Jewish dogma, they are into that whole “be fruitful and multiply” thing. In fact, everything we know about Jewish law and custom of that era says that a respectable adult male in his thirties would be expected to be married.
When I was young and dumb and full of shit I voted for Ronnie Raygun. Part of the reason for that was that I grew up in a church that was hyper-conservative, and even after I left I carried that baggage with me. But as I grew older I realized that Jesus was the original liberal.
If you look at the actual words and deeds of Jesus that are printed in the New Testament, there is no other possible conclusion. He spent his time feeding the hungry and healing the sick, and he didn’t ask for money first.
Jesus said a lot of things that don’t exactly conform to “Christian” doctrine. First of all, Jesus preached about minding your own business. He used the words “brother” and “neighbor” a lot (according to King James) but he used those words in the context of not concerning yourself with what your brother/neighbor was doing.
Matthew 7:5 says:
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
And then there was his position on capital punishment:
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?”
This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him.
But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”
She said, “No man, Lord.”
And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
BTW – If they caught her in the act, where was the man she was “in the act” with? Never mind, let’s move on.
Prayer in schools?
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
What about that Joel Osteen “greed is good” thingie?:
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
It goes on and on. My reading of the Gospels says that Jesus would be in favor of universal health care, welfare and desegregation, and he would oppose pretty much all of the teachings of his loudmouthed so-called followers, especially the ones making lots of money spewing bigotry on television.
I’m guessing the “Prince of Peace” wouldn’t approve of pre-emptive war, “enhanced interrogation” or domestic violence. He said “Turn the other cheek” not “shock and awe.”
Jesus consistently spoke against a top-down rule-oriented version of religion, and instead taught that religion was about a personal and individualized relationship with God:
But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, who was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him and saying, ”Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said unto him, “`Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: `Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
I didn’t see anything in the Gospels about hating women, gays or minorities. If you have the right to get married, why shouldn’t everybody have that right? If you don’t want to be abused or discriminated against, why would you want to abuse or discriminate against others?
It’s Christmas. Spread His Word.