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2000 year old mystery solved

Jesus at the first General Assembly on the Mount teaching the Beatitudes

I’m not religious, as anyone who has ever read my blog knows.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not astonished by the power of Christianity.  And by power I mean that after 2000 years, a poor peasant from Gallilee was able to transform the world.  How the heck did he do it?

The historians have looked at the archaeology and the limited historical records and the culture of the time and proposed some interesting facts about Jesus.  They fill in a lot of the missing gaps that the religious leave out, like the details of the social class that Jesus was from and the Israel he lived in and the reign of Herod.  But the facts were missing something intangible.  They were missing a narrative that would explain why the movement became so popular.  It had to be more than the Roman roads.

The religious have the Niceaen Creed, that was put together several centuries after Jesus’ death.  It emerged after a battle between the various sects of Christianity over the divinity of the Christ and how many pieces of God there actually were and other esoterica.  But they came to a consensus eventually, after they threw out all of the Gnostics and other heretics.  They adopted four gospels and some other books.  Why on earth they decided to throw in Revelations we will never really understand.  Maybe they thought fear would make Christians behave.  But their spin on Christianity never made a lot of sense to me either and I’ve seen even the most dedicated and eloquent pastors twist themselves into knots over the transubstantiation.  And the sacrifice to redeem us for our sins?  Ummmm, what?  I know a lot of people believe it and if it makes them feel safe, then who am I to argue.  I’m not saying the resurrection never happened because anything is possible.  But the symbolism just never made much sense to me.

It’s not eschatology.  Eschatology predated Jesus and existed in other Jewish sects after his death.  It wasn’t the treatment of the poor.  The Buddha understood suffering and ignorance long before Jesus came along.  And it wasn’t gnosis because the Greeks had that nailed down.  So, what was it that made this carpenter so powerful?

It wasn’t until this week that I finally got it.  When the pieces came together, I had a “oh, Wow!” moment.  Suddenly, I saw Christianity in a whole new way, one that even most Christians wouldn’t recognize, but would be completely familiar to the original apostles.

Let’s start with an empire.

The Romans were wealthy, militaristic and oppressive.  They bought up client kings in the provinces they conquered or intended to conquer. Their rule was law.  Peasants of client states paid their taxes.  They had a limited number of rights because they weren’t really citizens.  Most people were poor.  The fact that John the Baptist, prophet and eschatologist, had such a thriving ministry is a testament to the feeling of hopelessness among the poor.  Life in Judea could be nasty, brutish and short if you were born into the wrong class and people were generally unsympathetic to their plight.  The lower class, because there was no middle class, put its hopes in divine purification of the evils of the world. The average Jew lived in a country that was not his own and was barely tolerated by the Roman aristocracy and its army. This is the world that Jesus came from.

The story we have is that:

He preached to the poor.  He counselled them.  He was a great teacher.  He told parables and made his listeners think in new ways.  He fed them.  He celebrated with them.  He gave a sermon to end all sermons about peace, mercy, mourning, fulfillment, hunger and persecution.  He condemned the rich and arrogant.  He pissed a lot of people off.  The Pharisees got tired of him making Pharisees out of them.  His teachings made him famous.  He went to Jerusalem with a following planning an act of civil disobedience.  He and his closest friends pooled their money and had one last dinner where he told his friends that the day after next, they probably wouldn’t see each other again.   He goes to the Temple during a religious holiday where people from all over the country are using the place as a giant bank and he throws out the money changers who are collaborating with the Romans.  The Temple priests already overworked on a Jewish holiday and with Rome keeping an eye on them, are worried about this troublemaker his apostles making a ruckus and a mess and disturbing the peace.  So, they reported him into the local police.  He and his followers made camp in a garden and tried to stay up all night.  They were all scared, especially the head troublemaker because he knew he had broken one rule too many.  The Romans came in the middle of the night to break up the camp and arrest him. He tells his followers not to resist because they’re supposed to be all about peace.  His followers scattered.  He is thrown into jail, humiliated and beaten.

There’s some debate in the accounts of what happens next.  Did the Temple priest want him dead or just out of his hair?  Well, whoever turned him in probably knew what was going to happen next but if the Temple hadn’t turned him in, the money changers would have and business would be satisfied.  Better get ahead of the problem. The Roman governor condemned him  and nailed him up to be a lesson to all other future troublemakers.  He was killed.  His followers were disorganized and confused.  But got themselves together after some miracles and spread the word.

How strange.

Here we are in the 21st century and what do we see?

An empire, wealthy, militaristic and brutal.  It has no problem taking what it wants.  The wealthy buy the people they want to do their bidding.  The citizens live in a downwardly mobile world.  They pay their taxes but are at risk of losing everything in a poor economy.  Their votes are meaningless.  People who are poor or become poor through no fault of their own are shown no sympathy.  Eschatology thrives.

A bunch of people see that what has happened to less fortunate countries at the hands of that empire is starting to happen to them.  They decide to take matters into their own hands.  They don’t have a leader but they have a Jewish prophetess who preaches a Sermon in the Park.  But really, anyone could do this.  She just happens to be particularly memorable and moderately well known and she’s good at it.

Naomi Klein gives a sermon in the park

They feed the poor, counsel the troubled, comfort the persecuted.  They come to the great city and set up their camp near the money changers.  They try to turn the money changers out.  The money changers appeal to the police.  The authorities decide that their behavior is setting a bad example of non-compliance and is disturbing to business people.  The police raid their park and arrest them.

They must have seen that coming.

They continue to sacrifice themselves.  The number of their followers starts to swell when the people see how much they are willing to give of themselves to uphold a moral movement.

Now there are a probably a lot of people out there who are rolling their eyes and thinking this is a metaphor stretched too far.  But for me, the pieces of this puzzle finally fit.  The reason why Christianity succeeded was not because Jesus was so important.  In fact, he was just there for the beginning of what was a very long struggle.  It was so successful because it started off as a moral response to an oligarchical rule and the way it went about its actions affected so many people that by the time Jesus was made a sacrifice and an example by the Romans, his followers had reached a critical mass to keep the movement going.  He had laid out a framework of actions and behaviors that anyone could follow.  The apostles didn’t need a leader anymore because they *were* the leaders.  Of course, a miracle story is a good ice breaker but if you are a Christian because of the Christmas story and the Resurrection, you may be missing the point of the movement. It is what the early Christians did in their own communities that made the movement resiliant.  For centuries, they practiced civil disobedience, took care of one another, expanded their membership to include the gentiles and Samaritans (the other 99%), travelled from place to place, gave up what they had to minister to the poor, stayed with wealthy widows like Priscilla, and more modest followers like Mary and Martha, and sacrificed themselves over and over again until they were so popular in the empire that the Emperor himself gave in. By that time, the Christians already didn’t resemble what they started out as.  And that is a danger that a look back through history can help us avoid.

The Jesus movement is the one to emulate, not that it was the original intention of Occupy Wall Street.  It may be that successful grassroot movements have the same things in common.  Conditions for success have to be present, there has to be a tipping point and some of the other factors may not be easy to copy.   Many have tried.  But it takes more than a good communication route.  It isn’t enough to get people together at conferences to discuss politics.  It can’t be directed by a small group of people with money working behind the scenes.  The reason why MoveOn and Netroots Nation and the Tea Party have failed to move the public where Occupy Wall Street has succeeded is that the latter is a moral movement with a simple message and the people in it are willing to make personal sacrifices because they have nothing left to lose.  And the recent brutal crackdown by the authorities is a demonstration of the power of that morality.

Today, we have the benefit of hindsight.  We also know from our own personal experiences that a moral movement does not need a religion in order to succeed even if the religious decide to join it.  A moral movement also knows that it doesn’t need to have a political flavor.  It’s purpose is to lead people to a new way of thinking, new values and set of behaviors, new rules of acceptance and condemnation. When you change the way you think and behave, you become a new person, isn’t that right, Christians?  And a country full of new people becomes a new country.  The closest we have had in this country to such a movement was the Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s, lead by Martin Luther King Jr. who also made a personal sacrifice.

The tactics that this movement uses is a mix of the highly technical and the primitive.  Anyone with an iphone can record the events, and anyone with a voice can become a leader.  Anyone with a clever and amusing idea can capture the attention of thousands.  The message and tactics combined make this movement accessible to everyone while the images of sacrifice broadcast on the new Roman road can both anger and inspire.

This week, the current movement made its most significant sacrifice to date.  But there will be others.  As the prophetess said, we need to show each other kindness and take care of each other because we have chosen to challenge the most powerful forces on the planet.  And it will be hard.  It will be much easier to conquer each other.  Wise words. But in our lifetime, we may see a new generation of that movement from 2000 years ago.  That rebirth has happened before.  This time, the scale is global and echoes the economic and cultural atmosphere of the originators.  But with perseverance, it shouldn’t take 400 years to gain the upper hand.

Hold hands, look both ways before you cross the street and watch out for each other.

Look around.  You are part of a global uprising.  Don’t be afraid.  Love.  We are winning.

71 Responses

    • AND??
      Are you saying that it is impossible to have wealth and be a decent human being? Or are you saying that someone as smart as yourself is incapable of judging when a story has been taken out of context? Or are you saying that it is wrong to be successful, which is just what conservatives are always accusing lefties of saying?

      It’s not impossible to have money and not be ruled by it.

      Frankly, if I had been under the kind of stress for two months that I experienced in Zuccotti Park for 10 minutes, I’d have sprung for a room like that too. With a butler. And a deep soaking bath filled with rose petals. And champagne. And chocolate. And a big Swedish guy named Sven to give me a massage afterwards. And it would have been money well spent.

      • The clown is grasping for anything to justify his hatred of OWS!!!

        • The clown has lost the plot. Or maybe he just pretended he had it once upon a time.
          Hard to believe someone as smart and wise as myiq would prostrate himself for ignorance.

          • Congrats to Myiqutus of Teaborg on his assimilation into the Teaborg Collective. 😈

          • There is this notion among a large portion of the USAmerican people that unless you can afford absolutely nothing nice at all, you have no right to complain about the economic or political systems. Some of the harder-core adherents of this notion would even demand that you actually be missing meals and shelter first.

            “If we can’t see your ribs yet, you’re not poor, you DFH!” 😛

        • With all due respect, Red, which I hope you know I mean, and as someone who is not prone to defend myiq – as you might know too, heh (as if he needs or wants it anyway!) – as well as someone who reads both TC and crawdad daily, I can assure you that you’re wrong about the “hate”. I’ve never seen hate of OWS or of anything for that matter – ok, except for Obama maybe – at crawdad’s place. Lots of ironi, snark and yes even ridicule, but most of all I see confusion and above all skepticism expressed towards the OWS movement.

          As we (should have) learned in 2008, you never win people over to your cause by bashing and mischaracterizing their positions. And to see people, Democrats, who actually for the most part are on the same page being at each other’s throats is … mindboggling.

          • With all due respect, pips, I’ve seen what passes as irony, ridicule and snark at Crawdad and I don’t get it. Usually I get the humor behind snarky criticism. But the relentlessly negative attack on OWS at Crawdad shows a remarkable meanness and contempt. It also demonstrates a pretty high tolerance for authoritarianism that I find puzzling. Gotta give myiq credit for finally realizing that pepperspraying students in the face was a bad idea. But still, where does all that venom come from? No matter how many times we tell him that we can’t be co-opted because we don’t give a fuck about what happens to Obama, myiq just sticks his fingers in his ears and does a “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you”. The fact that I have seen maybe 2 pro-obama signs at OWS zuccotti park in the three times I’ve visited there seem to make no difference to him. He is not evaluating all of the evidence put before him.
            And he won’t visit and occupation site. What the fuck is that all about? At least I went and checked it out. And I went more than once to make sure I wasn’t just imagining things.
            What’s his excuse?
            Myiq has a problem. I don’t know what it is but at a certain point, I can’t trust his judgement anymore and this really bothers me. Nothing he says is going to make me think anything different than what I have observed personally and I think he’s reached his peak audience on the subject. We’ll see what happens next.

  1. {{{{Bravo RD!!!)))))

    And this is why I continue to come here.

    Intelligent writing!!!!!!

  2. From OWS….a report about Occupiers from all over the country occupying empty buildings for the benefit of the many…..

    “In a move similar to other recent building occupations in Oakland, Chapel Hill, New York, and London, dozens of occupiers entered the building with sleeping bags and food and declared their intent to stay indefinitely. Occupy DC announced plans for an open forum to be held at a church next Monday to discuss uses of the building with the public. Inside, they began cleaning the building to make it usable for the community. From the roof, occupiers chanted “We are the 99%!” as others dropped a banner reading “Public Property under Community Control” over the school. Meanwhile, hundreds rallied in support outside.”

    We are all part of the 99% – that’s what scares the 1% the most. Amen!

  3. Yes, RD same story, different age. Share-international.org has the details.

    • Sorry, Nancy. I’m not a supporter of supernatural prophecies. They make about as much sense as astrology, numerology and palm readings That’s not the way the universe works. Eschatology, in any form, is not my thing.

  4. So the promise of a “second coming” was quite brilliant, and the warning of an anti-Christ…

    I’ve known so many people who turn to religion when they feel their life is out of their control, wonderful insights in your post, RD.

    • My understanding of the “anti christ’ is that it was, in roman days, the energies of destruction released through Nero to prepare the way for Christiandom, released again through the deeply evil personality of Hitler and the militarists leading the Axis powers to prepare the way for the new time of Aquarius.


    • Whenever oppression, selfishness, greed and aggression reach a critical stage, righteous resistance for the poor and persecuted will happen.
      You could say this is a second coming like all of the second comings that have preceded it.
      Like I said, I am not religious but I am very familiar with the bible. My epiphany happened in Zuccotti park when that occupier told me to remain calm, that we are peaceful and that we do not resist. I felt like I was in a time warp. I could have been talking to someone in the garden of Gethsemene. I am not saying this because I have been converted by religious ecstasy. I am saying this because the moment clarified something for me that I have been wondering about for a very long time. I remain a universalist with a distinctly unorthodox concept of “god” and regard Jesus as a man and a great teacher. But what he taught was not simply to do unto others. He taught us how to resist and how to occupy. And successful movements have been following his teachings ever since. Go listen to that sermon in the park by Naomi Klein. She updates the beatitudes for a modern day. And anyone can do this. This has been shown over and over again with the mic checks by ordinary people in different places.
      And this movement cannot be co-opted by politicians. They can try and they might even latch on for awhile. But this movement is driven by a thirst for righteousness and politicians are not ready to deliver on that. If anything, I think Obama and the Democrats have the most to lose from Occupy Wall Street. Because we will not take half measures for an answer and are pretty content to see the corrupt fall out of power. When the country’s heart has changed, the politicians will also change. First the movement, then the change.

  5. But where is the person like Jeebus today that’s lifting the hearts at OWS? I like Jeebus. I see him as a great teacher whose teachings are often misunderstood on purpose for the benefit of the church. But as good as Jeebus was, the Buddha was better because he explained truth much more clearly and succinctly. Both teachers make the point that going against the powers of earth is unnecessary. Both teachers knew and taught that true freedom comes from within. The Buddha went even further, and now scientists confirm it. In a nutshell he said that it’s all in the mind. All the other stuff he teaches is to clear away habits and beliefs that clog the mind. The Buddha and Jesus would say that Wall Street is irrelevant if the mind can see clearly what is going on.

    If people really wanted to get rid of the Wall Street game, all each of us has to do is stop giving interest and fees to the banks. It’s not that difficult. Put all the 401K in U.S. Treasuries and watch what happens to the banks, hedge funds, etc. The 1% doesn’t have the most money. The 99% does. What’s worse, the 1% leverages (borrows) with the money from the 99% to make more money and siphon from the 99% every time the 401K goes down.

    • This is a point that I think most Christians miss: you don’t need a Jesus.
      His followers did just fine after his death. He taught them well.
      If Jesus were just another religious figure, I’m not sure Christianity would have gotten off the ground. As the Frontline program discusses, there were plenty of other potential messiahs who would have fit the bill and other revolutionary sects to choose from. What Jesus showed was that you don’t have to be a messiah to topple an empire. Oh, sure, his followers made him larger than life because he was a man of god. But what he did anyone could do. YOU can do it.
      This isn’t about religion and which teacher was best. This is about the struggle of the righteous against the powerful.
      Yeah, I’d pull my 401K out. The minute I have some place to invest my money in things that will help move us forward, I’m going to do it.

      • Jesus did not topple any empire. The Roman Empire continued to reign supreme past 400 A.D. Put that in perspective, 400 years ago the North America was being settled. In fact, part of the Roman Empire continued untouched through centuries in Constantinople. Christianity did not topple the Roman Empire. It was the excesses of the Romans that did the empire in, such as an stretched military. Rome was truly a great empire that’s been misunderstood by those who want to advance the idea that Christianity as the good that destroyed the evil empire. Not so. Blame the Vandals and Goths for the final fall of Rome.

        Jesus was not interested in toppling or fighting anything. The Life of Brian, though funny, has many good historical perspective. The Jews of the time were very much fragmented and fighting the Roman. Jesus was clear: “”Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.

        • This is where you are wrong. He was all about righteous resistance. You are misunderstanding the payment of taxes. He didn’t have any problems with paying taxes. He had problems with the rich taking advantage of people.
          Like I said, if his ministry had been merely about eschatology or compassion or even resurrection, it wouldn’t have been enough to gather a following before he was killed. It had to be about something more in the context of times he was living in and to the people who survived him. He had to have transmitted a way of resisting that was unique and successful and that could spread.

          • If there was “righteous resistance”, it was against the Jewish priests, not the Romans. Jesus was extremely harsh when he spoke of the elite Pharisees. But his anger (yup, he got angry), was aimed at those who pretended to be spiritual when in fact they were into money making. A good example is the money changers. By Jewish law, anything related to the Temple could not be done with Roman coins, hence there was a business outside the Temple converting Roman money for Jewish coins. Another good business that the priests had going was making sure that the animals offered for sacrifice were perfect, and those animals were the ones priests had approved. The priests got a cut from the merchants. If Jesus was to speak today, I think he would speak against the politicians, especially the Democrats who are such hypocrites. The seven woes:

            13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14] [b]
            15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

            16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

            23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

            25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

            27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

            29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

            33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

          • Dario, have you ever viewed that Frontline special From Jesus to Christ? There is a reason why Matthew was written this way. But Mark was actually the first gospel written and it is written for a completely different audience.
            Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar explains that the gospels were NOT meant to be taken literally, as John Cleese would say. The truth is sometimes obscured by the intentions of the writer for the audience. Each of the gospels was written for a different audience. Crossan says that we have been made stupid by paying attention to the wrong things in the gospels. The actual story is in there. We have to eliminate the hyperbole and myth making to uncover it. And when you get right down to it, Jesus sounds more like a healer, teacher and reformer for social justice who figured out how to incorporate gentiles into his movement.
            I don’t want to discuss dogma with you because the nature of Christianity now is to quibble over discrepancies in the new testament like they really matter. They don’t.
            The reasons I have been told as to why Christianity succeeded before never made much sense to me. Now, it makes perfect sense. The concept seems to have needed a divine leader before, maybe to make the story stick and give people hope. But we don’t need a new Jesus. We can use his format for our own purposes without being tied to a religion.

          • Yes, RD. I’ve seen that Frontline special. I’m very much aware about the issues with the Gospels. Not only that, but the best Gospel was thrown out. That’s the Gospel by Thomas. The rest of the Gospels were written with political intentions, not spiritual. That’s the unfortunate aspect of the Gospels. Intermingled with the teachings are editorials. There are errors too. I brought up one of those errors to a nun and she was shocked because it’s so obvious to people who walk the spiritual path. I disagree that Jesus was political. I say that because the real Jesus comes through from what he taught. The church had a goal, to make Jesus a god, and to do that the essence of the teacher and the teaching needed to be obscured.

            But I do agree with you that whatever Jesus did, anyone can do. It’s the getting there that takes work and is almost impossible.

          • I believe Jesus was executed for insurrection.

    • the Buddah taught enlightenment through detatchment,
      Jesus taught love.

      • I know this is not a religious post, but I can’t help answering your comment. I see a misunderstanding here. Jesus did not “teach love”. He was love. Love is a state of being, not an emotion or something that can be created. Love is like peace. One doesn’t get there through effort or making it up. It happens. To most people it happens during short periods, but to be in that place all the time takes practice. Jesus got there. Nobody can teach it, but teachers show the map, practices, such as charity, being in the now, etc.

        • This is not about love although love is part of the action. This is about a moral and righteous response to oppression.

          If you haven’t gone to an occupation, go. It may take a few visits before it hits you.

          • I’ve done what I need to do to fight the Wall Street game, or should I say the gaming of investments. I did exactly what I suggest everyone do: move the 401K and stop paying the bankers credit card fees and other bank fees. If the OWS threatened to move the 401K out of stocks, the bankers would meet whatever OWS demands. It’s that simple. We don’t need to be cold and camp out like fools when we have the power to bring Wall Street on its knees.

          • I’ve said from the beginning that this movement has a religious feeling to it. And I mean that in a good way. I think a lot of people have noticed that. I’m an atheist, BTW.

  6. WOW, amazing post! RD, thank-you.

  7. Here is a Lambert Strether article about Mayor Dog Shit Bloombastard’s authorised destruction of the 5,000 scary books. I found it on Naked Capitalism. It contains a link to the whole catalog of all the books so anyone anywhere can replicate in whole or in part the Mother Library of the OWS. And add their own resources to it of course.http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/ex-libris-about-those-5554-books-in-the-ows-library.html

    • Good find! Thanks for that.

    • It is my understanding that the books were moved to a city- owned garage and are available for retrieval by OWS participants.

    • rur — That’s one scary list of books — could be proof the readers are socialist hippies! (snark) “Paradise Lost”, “Utopia”, “Mrs. Dalloway”, “The Magic Mountain”, “Moby Dick”, “Animal Farm”, “Don’t Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards”, and can’t read my notes, but a book on capitalism by Naomi Klein — ooooooooooo! I read some of these books as a teen many moons ago and only turned into a yellow dog Democrat until June, 2008!

      Why in the hell were these books confiscated? Fascist communies!

  8. Exactly the reading of Christianity that the Established Churches, and the Governments they serve, are desperate to repress. Christianity could surge again – if it practised what Jesus preached.

    • But here’s the thing: I don’t think even Jesus wanted to become a Christian. That’s not what he was all about. His followers had to construct a narrative that would see them through some very tough times but Jesus himself didn’t plan that.
      It’s not Christianity that needs a resurgence, although it would be a very good thing if some so-called Christians got to know this side of him. And when I say “this side of him”, I am not simply referring to his treatment of the poor. I am talking about what he taught about resisting oppression and how to rally people to your cause.
      Look at that picture of the sermon on the mount. It looks like a reasonable depiction. Now, imagine how it must have sounded.
      “mic check!”
      “Mic check!”
      “Blessed are the peacemakers”
      “Blessed are the peacemakers”
      “For they shall be called children of god”
      “For they shall be called children of god”

      Holy hemiola! The whole beatitudes section is written this way. The small phrases are perfect for a people’s mic. I can almost hear the sermon echoing through the canyons of rock in waves. He did it without special equipment. He did it without a Temple. He did it without a fricking permit.

  9. Wow. Amazing post, RD.

  10. I think Gandhi is closer to what OWS would want than Jesus. In order to defeat Wall Street, one must stop playing its game, but that’s too difficult for many because, you know, we need the profits. I’m reminded of this part of the Gospel:

    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    That was the end of the man’s spiritual search. But that’s usually the case. In order to get what we want, we must pay the price. That price may be in money or letting go of something that we are very attached to. In the case of the Gospel, I think Jesus saw how attached the man was of his possessions and in order to free him, he had to give them up. Oh well, maybe in another life.

  11. I agree that Jesus was not a violent rebel, but the Roman authorities definitely mistook him for one, or else they would not have crucified him.

    The mere fact that he was crucified indicates that he was executed under Roman law. Had he been executed under the Mosaic law of the Jews, he would have been stoned to death, as Stephen was stoned in the book of Acts.

    • If you read the story carefully, the Romans didn’t want to crucify Jesus. That’s why Pilate washed his hands of the whole affair. I think those with religious power were very unhappy by the teachings of Jesus. The seven woes and the whipping of the money changers say it all. Going against any power can be deadly.

      • I have read that parts of the story were re-written by Early Church Officials to justify and teach the jewhating message as the Church was developing it. A piece of what-is-offered-as internal evidence of that is this: that one of the gospels has the Jewish Mob screaming to set barabbas free, not Jesus. But at the time these events were actually happening, the everyday language of the Jews and others in the region was Aramaic. Hebrew was the language of temple and scripture strictly and only. And in Aramaic, the words for “son of the father” are ” bar abbas”. That the early rising Imperial Churchians ( from “Churchianity” . . . get it?) did not even know Aramaic anymore and did not even know that someone would look back from the “far future” and realize that “Barabbas” and “bar abbas” are too similar for
        “Barabbas” to be the “name” of a random “thief”.

        I have read that there was a lot of “get me re-write!” leading up to the Council of Nicea.

        • Nice catch, RUR. Dario apparently still believes the official story about the Romans. In the middle of a hostile Roman Empire, the early Christians could hardly denounce Roman authority. They needed to deflect the blame.

        • I think you miss the point. The death of Jesus has nothing to do with “jewhating” as you put it. The Romans simply got rid of someone who threatened the powerful in Judea, much like the little monk, Martin Luther, threatened the church in Rome. The Romans had the troops, but the ruler was Herod, a Jew who worked for the Romans.

          • No, but the assignment of blame for the death of Jesus does have a great deal to do with anti-Jewish sentiment. Unless I misread Dario, he is assigning primary blame for the death of Jesus to the anti-Jesus faction among the Jewish leaders, rather than to the Roman authorities who actually killed him.That is the traditional narrative, which has been used to excuse centuries of “Christian” anti-Semitism. I do not think Dario hates Jews, but I think he is naively repeating an anti-Jewish narrative.

          • Both the Romans and the Jewish leaders were equally culpable. It was the powerful of both groups afraid of losing their power. It was a “business decision” as we say today.

          • I think you miss my point. I am talking about the antijewitic rewrite that the Imperial Church undertook in the several hundred years after the actual events. And I offered a piece of internal evidence showing that the Imperial Churchians did not even know the language of the people whose history and events they were “revisionising”. That’s why it didn’t even occur to the rewriters to invent a fake name for their fake thief. “Barabbas”? Please!

        • Comparative Religions, college level 101, strikes again. Why would early Christians need to get people to hate Jews? They were Jews.

          I am not sure the point you are trying to make about Bar abbas and Barabbas, I hope you are not suggesting they would have called for the life of Jesus by referring to him as the son of God. They would have called him Rabbi or Jesus of Nazareth, but at that time, never the son of the father.
          It is likely that at that time the Roman Empire felt they have little if nothing to fear from an itinerant Rabbi. The Jewish leaders on the other hand had much to fear from him as he changed/threw out their rules. HE welcomed the Gentiles. He cleared out the money changers from the temple, he told people all they need do is believe and love God. He took the winds out of the sails of the religious elite of Judaism. They wanted him dead and likely Rome went along. And is tradition they gave the Jews a choice to save someone and that someone was not Jesus of Nazareth……that is no excuse for persecution of the Jews. But persecutions is no reason for rewriting history either.
          The truth is that the official story is probably more reliable that the alternative stories people have put forth as possible other stories. It is the one people have taken pot shots at over the years. The alternative stories have never had to stand the test of time or investigation. They were never meant to be taken as fact….just as possible alternatives.

  12. Jesus wasn’t a Christian. Paul invented Christianity and he came along after Jesus. The Apostles weren’t really leaders; they were followers. Between Jesus’ posthumous appearances and goading by Paul, they eventually rose to the occasion. It was Paul who insisted on the inclusion of the Gentiles, not the Apostles and not Jesus. Most of Jesus’ followers were disappointed in him because they wanted a king–a warrior king-to overthrow TPTB.

    Pilate ordered the crucifixion because the Jewish leaders pushed him to it. He then washed his hands of it.

    • Amen Sophie. Christianity should be called Paul’s Religion. But then, Paul simply changed from being a Jewish Zealot to a Jesus Zealot. It’s like going from one drug to another.

      • As for Paul, of the 13 letters attributed to him, scholars are certain he wrote only 7 of them. Most of the reactionary tenets attributed to Paul come from the other 6 letters, which he probably did not write.

    • No, primary blame belongs to the Romans. They had the army–Pilate did not need to fear the faction of the Jewish leaders who were hostile to Jesus. Again, I agree that Jesus was not a violent revolutionary, but the Romans would not have crucified him had they not mistaken him for one.

      I say “the faction” because not all of even the Jewish leaders were hostile to Jesus. He had friends among the elite as well, such as Joseph of Arimathea, who came to Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for his body, in order to bury it.

      • Pilate did not fear the Jewish leaders–he was throwing them a bone. But he did not think Jesus was guilty.

    • I wonder if Judas Iscariot was one of those disappointed followers whom Sophie mentioned. After all, 30 pieces of silver–his price for betraying Jesus–was not a large amount of money. The anti-Jesus faction among the Jewish leaders had access to the Temple treasury, after all; Judas I. probably could have gotten 30 talents of silver if greed were his motive.

      I suspect that JI did not mean for Jesus to die. Rather, I would guess that JI thought that if Jesus were confronted with imminent capture and threat of execution, then he would drop the pacifist shtick and call on his Father’s angels to drive the Romans into the sea. After Jesus refrained from doing that, and died, JI hanged himself in despair.

    • Um, guys, we’re not really talking about Christianity the religion. We’re talking about WHY the movement kept going after Jesus’ death.
      Like I said before, I don’t want to argue about the narrative. There are 4 gospels and they all had different audiences and different stories. It’s pointless to discuss this aspect because that’s not what I’m talking about.
      I’m talking about the things that the Jesus movement has in common with the Occupy movement. Hint, hint, it has nothing to do with Pilate.

      • Hint, hint, it has nothing to do with Pilate.

        You never know.

      • The times of Christ bear similarities to our times. So, we have a few factions of entrenched power and they may not like or respect each other but they know how to use each other and oppress the general population. No entrenched power is going to willingly give it up. What Jesus taught was that no human has power over you, that His Father in Heaven had all of the power and one day, all would answer to Him. In the meanwhile, heal each other, feed each other, care for each other, and “love one another as I have loved you.”

        When the movement does that, the movement is similar, with or without a Christ figure.

        Speaking of similarities, the formerly-named PUMA movement did that: healed, loved, and cared for each other.

      • You bring up Jesus and expect to steer the conversation away from Christianity? 😆

        To quote one of my favorite super-villain lines: “You do not dream small dreams.” :mrgreen:

  13. The most beautiful, inspiring thing you’ve ever written!

  14. […] I guess that’s not as over the top as declaring that OWS is just like Christianity minus Christ, but it’s still not […]

  15. OWS’s Christ is Obie…and that will become even more evident as the election draws near and they code pink only Romney HQ’s…I’m guessing your idea is the need for a real movement is so great, this one can be eventually wrestled away from its Obama New Dem leadership. I hope you are right. The professional Left , like The Nation and my family’s union, would not praise and be up to its neck in a real movement. They are completely committed to Obama’s reinstall and his continuing to hand over the farm to the 1% of course . Part of OWS ‘s job is to disappear from the liberal mind Obama’s love of Wall St, the wars , the lack of even one liberal token from the One. This needs to be done in time for 2012 so they will not stay home in disappointment , but vote for him with that old time 2008 religious enthusiasm ….imo,OWS leadership as it now stands wants what the top 1% want : the system to be trashed. It was trashed from the right for years , now continuing the Obama deconstruction of the left, it will be trashed from the left in this manner.

    • Well, if that’s OWS’s job, it’s doing a piss poor job doing it. I have seen SEIUs endorsement of Obama and I think it was a mistake. Instead of coopting OWS, it is more likely to alienate them.
      I didn’t see one pro-Obama sign in NYC on Thursday. Not one. There were plenty of anti-Obama signs.
      In the end, this is not a political movement. And it is not our job to make sure Obama and the democrats retain their seats. They are not entitled to them. They have to earn them. It is not the voters’ responsibility to get behind politicians. It is the politicians’ responsibility to get behind voters.
      Anyway, the more I think about OWS the more I am convinced thar it is a moral movement. It is designed to change hearts, not votes. Obama and the Democrats should not count on it because they will be disappointed.

      • The Oborg really poisoned the well. Now, any vaguely leftist movement is suspected of being shills for Obummer. 😦

    • paper doll — one of the most freeing things that’s happened to me is becoming an “unaffiliated” voter. The partisan scales fell from my eyes when I no longer felt it necessary to defend Democrats and the Party. I’m doing something that ‘net users have a difficult time with: being patient and reading about the movement without prejudice. Changing the political paradigm will take time and huge numbers of loyal participates, if that mission is actual and true. Romney is a 1%er over-lord as much as Obama is. I don’t hear hope anywhere in your comment, especially now that a new organization has appeared at the optimal time, you believe, to deceive us into re-electing the Messiah for a second term. They will be touting Obama as the liberal democrat for the masses to believe, AGAIN.

      Can you substantiate your statements, or are you placing your beliefs down early so you can feel prophetic after the election?

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