Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jesus and the Emperor

My friend Doug Hyden provides today's post.

Well, April invited me to blog, so here goes. In Mark's gospel (my personal favorite), Jesus says, "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." A very famous saying and one that the Church has used to admonish us to be good children and pay our taxes, obey unjust laws, etc. ever since the church went corporate. With this response to the loaded question of whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Rome, Jesus neatly avoids falling into the trap the Pharisees set for him. Instead of using outwardly treasonous language, he uses language that no Roman could object to. To Rome, everything belonged to the emperor. Yet, how subversive this statement really was! Jesus would have seen Rome as the brutal occupying power that it was, whose very presence in Judea was illegitimate. To Jesus, everything belonged to God, and nothing belonged to the emperor. So when Jesus advised the Pharisees to give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor, what he was really saying was, "Hell, no! It's not right to give him a dime." This episode does not provide a good lesson in high school civics; it is a clarion call to revolution and opposition to what Walter Wink called "the Powers." Jesus was far more than a Liberal. End of today's Bible lesson, chillun'.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Christianity is Dead; Long Live Some Other Word

Maybe it's time to crucify "Christian" on the lexicon-cross.  Or at the very least let the religious right have the word.  They already own the term having managed to associate it with anti-social justice, creationism, protectors of pedophile priests, anti-woman rights, homophobia, among others.  And it already had the baggage of the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust.  I don't even know how to defend it anymore and I'm tired of trying.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a follower of Jesus but too often I'm having to explain what I mean by that association because of the negative connotation of the word "Christian."

"No, I'm not one of those Christians.  I believe God blesses everyone.  It doesn't matter what religion you  practice or if you practice one at all.  If I insisted you had to belong to my religion in order to be saved, why that would make Christianity a cult."

It's happened to you too, right.  Meeting a person at a party who says, "Well," intake of breath, "I'm a Christian" as if the term makes them the most superior being on the planet or the sentence in and of itself explains, EVERYTHING.  Someday when I have real courage I'm going to say, "Well," intake of breath, "I'm Quantumlly Entangled."

I would be in good company abandoning the word, 'Christian'.  Jesus probably never intended an institution anyway, he seemed so against them in life.  I could call myself a "Progressive Christian," or a "Liberal Christian," I suppose, but aren't two words always less than one. (Yes, a paradox but a truth nonetheless.)

In my office, I have crosses, crucifixes and Jesus pictures on my wall.  I have images of a God who is woman and mother.  I have a cup for the wine and a plate for the bread but after the latest assault by Glenn Beck, the "You Betcha, Queen," Michelle Bachman, and Pat 'when is he ever going to die' Robertson, none of these symbols are Christian to me anymore.

They speak of a deep, all encompassing and abiding love.  To call the symbols 'Christian" would sully the love they attempt to portray.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human one.
Teilhard deChardin