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Monday, November 01, 2004

NOT IN THE NAME OF JESUS 

By Jack Random

If the Christian version of the word is truth, then Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and George W. Bush will have some explaining to do. I do not know what force of spirit guides the thoughts and actions of these men but they do no honor to the philosophy and character of the man known as Jesus Christ.

Jesus was not a writer or, if he was, his written word did not survive the ensuing ages. What we know of Jesus we learn from the accounts of others.

When Jesus walked the earth, he was a voice of enlightenment. In the tradition of Confucius, the Tao and the Zen masters of the Orient, he preached a morality of tolerance, understanding, peace, love and equality, reserving his wrath for the money changers, an oppressive government bent on world domination, and the priesthood that supported both.

From The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine:

“That such a person as Jesus Christ existed and that he was crucified…are historical relations strictly within the limits of probability. He preached most excellent morality and the equality of man; but he preached also against the corruptions and avarice of the Jewish priests, and this brought upon him the hatred and vengeance of the whole order of priesthood.

“The accusation which those priests brought against him was that of sedition and conspiracy against the Roman government…and it is not improbable that the Roman government might have some secret apprehensions of the effects of his doctrine, as well as the Jewish priests; neither is it improbable that Jesus Christ had in contemplation the delivery of the Jewish nation from the bondage of the Romans. Between the two, however, this virtuous reformer and revolutionist lost his life.”

In his time and place, Jesus was a dissident whose greatest crime was that he crossed the threshold of influence. His voice was being heard and the powers of the day would not allow his ideas to grow to fruition. He died not so much for our sins as for standing up against the established order.

If the spirit lives on and Jesus is walking the earth today, then I believe he has walked with me. He was on the streets of San Francisco when ten million people worldwide stood up in opposition to war. He was with a young Palestinian girl walking to school when she was gunned down by an Israeli commander. He was in the rubble of a Fallujah wedding party when American bombs were used to punish a city of resistance. He was in a crowd of some twenty civilians (who may or may not have been insurgents), walking calmly down a cobblestone lane when they were wiped from existence in the flash of an American missile.

The rightwing religious zealots (like the littlest Baldwin at the Republican National Convention), who claim to be following Jesus as they lend their support to the Bush Doctrine of eternal war, ought to have acquired a greater appreciation for the character of the man, himself. If you want to spread the scourge of war to the four corners of the planet, do not do so in the name of Jesus.

If Jesus could be seen and heard today, his sadness would be pervasive. He would sigh from the depths of his soul and say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Churches no more belong in politics than bankers belong in churches.

Jazz.

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