Friday, July 23, 2010

What Most Christians Don't Want You to Know about Jesus: a Top Ten List

[image of poster is from here]

In this post I am bringing Jesus Home, from Those who Stole Him, 
Misunderstood and Misused Him to Promote Their Homophobic, Patriarchal, 
White Supremacist, and Corporate Capitalist Agendas of Atrocity.

It's time. Or past time. Perhaps it is centuries past time. Or perhaps someone ought to have had a good talking to with Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, giving those Jewish men a heads up about how people who would come to call themselves "Christians" would almost completely misunderstand and misuse Jesus-the-person to promote their own patriarchal agendas and project their own needs for a Father-God who is also a Son.

A month or sometimes a week cannot go by without someone approaching me--a Jew who is neither atheist nor theist--with the idea that "You need Jesus". What they mean is "You need to believe in this cultish religion I've decided is The Truth because I've taken in the delusions and distortions human beings have spoken and written about Jesus and I MUST believe they are true--my faith in my cult depends on it." That's what they usually mean. Some are more good-hearted. Some approach me with a kind of condescending compassion that makes me want to vomit. Some with an arrogance that makes me want to spit in their faces.

Regardless of their reasons and anti-Jesus-while-"Christian" ambitions, they won't get away with it here at A.R.P. Jesus will be spoken about respectfully here as the Jewish person he was, not the Christian God he wasn't.

Let's begin with a few basic truthful facts, as opposed to the kind many Christians preach, promote, and proselytise.

Jews in the time and region of Jesus (while he walked the Earth) didn't tell history the way contemporary Western Christians often do--as a set of facts that are understood to have actually occurred in ways that are not open to interpretation and contradiction, discussion and disagreement.  

Christian Fundamentalism is a deeply and dangerously anti-Jesus phenomenon.


What most Christians don't want you to know about Jesus: a top ten list.

1. Jesus was not ever a Christian, nor did he ever advocate that anyone be a Christian.

2. Jesus was not THE son of G-d. He was, as all of us are and each of us is, a child of G-d if we're going with the metaphor of G-d as parent.

3. Jesus used metaphors to make his beliefs and experiences more comprehensible to his audience. Making G-d a "Father" was not something Jesus believed a "truth". He used the language as a device to convey deeper meaning to his listeners. Jesus was a Jew, and while Jews frequently defaulted to various patriarchal metaphors, any rabbi who has studied and experienced G-d, knows that G-d does not have a gender, a sex, or a patriarchal personality.

4. Jesus was not pro-capitalist, and anyone who honors and respects capitalism as a social good that should be made sacred or should be worshiped is behaving in a way that is anti-Jesus.

5. Jesus was not a white supremacist or a racist. Jesus was also not ever white. (Whiteness didn't exist when he lived, for one thing. And Jesus was Semitic, or what would now be called a person of color.) Anyone who believes Jesus was white and behaves as though whiteness is better than any other politically constructed and enforced racial identity is not behaving in accordance with the teachings of Jesus.

6. Jesus was not homophobic and was not an anti-gay or anti-lesbian bigot. He didn't speak on the subject but he did stand with the oppressed, the marginalised, and the socially ostracised and disempowered, the castigated and degraded, and not with the corrupt power-brokers of society. If you are homophobic, heterosexist, and anti-lesbian or anti-gay, you are behaving in a way that is anti-Jesus.

7. Jesus was not anti-woman . He was pro-woman; he held Mary Magdalene as his closest disciple, an equal to him, not beneath him. He never said she was a prostitute. A comma in the New Testament has been ignored, as Jesus, according to that biblical story listed people he encountered including Mary Magdalene and a prostitute. He stood with women enslaved in systems of prostitution, not in patriarchal, misogynistic judgment of them. If you are anti-woman, including against women who are trapped in systems of prostitution, you are behaving against the teachings of Jesus.

8. Jesus was not born from the womb of a woman who was "a virgin" if by "virgin" we mean a woman who had never had sexual intercourse. She may not have had sexual intercourse willingly: she may well have been raped. Joseph, quite possibly, was not his biological father but was a man who took care of Jesus' mother, Mary, after she was raped. Regardless, Jesus had a biological father, not a heavenly one. A sperm and an egg combined and Jesus was born, like every other human being on Earth. The notion of Mary the Mother being a "virgin" is a misread and mistranslation of a term that more accurately means "maiden" or very young woman.

9. Jesus was opposed to the worship of Man, of Mankind, of Men and of Patriarchal societies, particularly and outspokenly against the one he lived in that was governed and ruled by the Roman Empire, which, as all ought to know by now, was lethally anti-Jesus. The Roman Empire was coercive and corrupting of some of his people, the Jews. If your values and practices are pro-man-worshiping, believe in the man as the only appropriate head of household, or head of state, or if you are in any other ways pro-patriarchal, you are anti-Jesus.

10. Jesus was not resurrected in any way that is different than any other human being. In other words, he was not uniquely resurrected. The Resurrection spoken about in the New Testament is metaphorical, and a device to communicate something about our spiritual nature, not only Jesus'. He was not a kind of human being metaphysically different than others but he has been made into one who is metaphorically different. He was a human being, like me and like you, who noted that we are not just animals as "animals" were understood in that anti-Indigenist framework and culture: all beings are and all being is divine. All of Life is Divine. He welcomed people to know and experience this. If you believe Jesus was qualitatively different in his humanness; if you believe he was a fundamentally more metaphysical being than anyone else; if you believe he was "more spirit" than any Indigenous, Wiccan, Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, agnostic, atheistic, or pagan person, you don't know Jesus.

Now spread THAT word.

Peace to us all, collectively, when we realise we are not entirely separate beings who need warfare, social hierarchies, rape, racism, and civilisation. When we join with revolutionary feminist women and revolutionary Indigenous warriors in the effort to radically transform all patriarchal and genocidal societies, we may begin to collectively know peace on Earth--if Earth survives what industrial and corporate patriarchal civilisation has done to it.

We may know peace, love, and joy in the mean time as well, in a way that is sometimes termed "individually" by those who may limit our being to the distortions of a kind of living-experience not promoted by Jesus. We may know peace, love, and joy by reminding our apparently individual selves who we really are: waves on the sea of non-separate Being that are simultaneously and paradoxically Many and One.

We may know peace, love, and joy when we accept and experience, against much Christian mis-teaching, that G-d, which is not male and is not a man; which doesn't live only in (as) the sky--which lives equally as Earth; which doesn't look down upon us as a patronising father might; which is not in us, or outside us, or above us, or beyond us.

G-d is not a being who is fixed in some sort of sacred portion of outer space. G-d is Being and Becoming. In this sense, G-d is not theistic and theists are wrong about G-d. G-d is non-theistic, not atheistic as that term is commonly used by that arrogant bunch who call themselves atheists.

G-d is us--all of us, and is all that is not us' G-d always has been and always will be becoming this in ways that our limited human minds register as paradoxical and perplexing.

G-d is not Giant Ego that cares one bit whether G-d is referred to as Jesus or "Christ" or Buddha or Krishna or Abraham, or "Allah" or "God" or "Great Spirit", or Goddess, or G-d or any other name that humans can speak or write. For G-d is authentically unspeakable and ultimately unknowable by humans who believe they are not part of all Being as a wave is part of the sea.

To promote one name for G-d, including the term G-d, or Christ, is to not understand AT ALL what Jesus was preaching about and experiencing. It is, rather, to be egotistical and arrogant, lost in one's own private being and ego while often pretending one is doing what Jesus spoke about as seeing and knowing G-d. Delusions about G-d, or about Jesus, or about other human beings, or other Life, will not serve us in our collective quest to find peace, love, and joy on and with Earth and its Biosphere, which is, metaphorically and not-so-metaphorically speaking, our parent.

There is no heavenly Father. There is "us" living in a nightmare of our own making, in part by not understanding what Jesus and Buddha and Indigenous Spiritual Guides were, are, and said.

Wake up from the nightmare. Now.

Know yourself as Being. Sit humbly in the knowledge that G-d is not absolutely or objectively knowable to you, and that you have no moral business going door to door or nation to nation to proclaim that you, and your people uniquely know what G-d is and wants better than any other people who know G-d or Buddha-nature, Goddess or Great Spirit.

16 comments:

Patti said...

Thank you for posting this, Julian, and exposing the lies. As I paraphrased in one of my comments to another of your blog posts, I really don't think that we can totally deal with the WHM Supremacy without taking a good hard critical look at "White Christianity" and all that it has perverted and distorted about the man, Jesus (who was probably the first feminist). In fact, it is with considerable embarrassment and shame that I refer to and reveal myself as a Christian because it tends to be auto-assumed that I align with "White Christianity", when really, the
"White Christians" ought to be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves, in my humble opinion. I don't even know what New Testament they are reading, as it's certainly not the same one that I have read!! For instance, the insistence that we must return to "Christian family values"
(Read: Patriarchal family values) is not exactly in keeping with what Jesus purportedly spoke as written in Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Must be that troublesome 'hate' word that blinds them to this, as hyperbole as well as metaphor are not permitted in the logical and rational world of the WHM Supremacists and "White Christians". And the "head of household" is a misinterpretation of lines in a letter that Paul wrote, not something that Jesus was purported to have spoken; and Paul didn't say that either parent was the head of the household, that has been read into Paul's having written "For the husband is the head of the wife" (note, not head OVER the wife). Again, this is part of a metaphor that some people take as literal because it fits in with their egoistic worldview.

Ah, if only the amazing Kreskin had been there to inform Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul of how people who would come to call themselves "Christians" would distort and pervert the preaching and teaching that was meant to bring us all together as children of the family of God (I mean no disrespect when using my spelling for YHWH, I am simply not accustomed to using the traditional spelling that you use). And when all else fails, they turn to these distorted views to uphold their perverse ideologies.

Julian Real said...

Hi Patti,

I use the spelling G-d, for a few reasons. And I wouldn't expect or want anyone who doesn't feel the way I do to use that spelling, unless that is their own way to spell it.

I write it that way because that's one way, in English, to write "that which cannot be known fully or with absolute certainty by any human being", without writing all those words! lol

And that which cannot be known fully or with absolute certainty ought not, in my tradition, be spelled out, for many reasons.

But, again, these are my views and traditions, not yours. So I'd hope and expect you to use the spelling that feels right to you.

But, as this is a radical Jewish blog, I won't uncritically accept G-d as a synonym for "Christ", as, in my view, to do so is to effectively (if not also intentionally) make G-d into some sort of Christian, generally speaking. And, as noted above, I don't believe G-d is or has an ego, or a mind in the human sense, or the kind or form of being that humans assume have such things, such that G-d "wants" us to call G-d by one name and one name only or even "preferably". I find it is very difficult for humans to not envision some anthropomorphic version of G-d that is created in the image of the Egoic Male-Man who, more than anything else, is the deliverer of "his" willed messages, often with some form of postage due.

I reject these understandings as androcentric and unbecoming.

Patti said...

"But, as this is a radical Jewish blog, I won't uncritically accept G-d as a synonym for "Christ", as, in my view, to do so is to effectively (if not also intentionally) make G-d into some sort of Christian, generally speaking."

And not ONLY that, but it is used as justification for what you wrote that follows the above in your paragraph. How often have I heard that, for those who believe that he was the Christ, Jesus HAD to be of male personage in order to reflect God's "male-ness"? Dunno, I've run out of fingers and toes to count on.

"I find it is very difficult for humans to not envision some anthropomorphic version of G-d that is created in the image of the Egoic Male-Man who, more than anything else, is the deliverer of "his" willed messages, often with some form of postage due.

I reject these understandings as androcentric and unbecoming."

I, too, reject those understandings. In fact, I refer to them as 'When man tries to re-create God in his own image', because that is exactly what they are trying to do. I not only find it unbecoming (as it is quite obviously androcentric), but find it blasphemous as well.

Jordi said...

I have grown in a catholic family, I have studied philosophy (yes, that patriarchal stuff) and a lot of christian theology, and I can say that you are... right!

Scholars know about it, many openminded theologians would agree with you. A few heretical "christians" like me defend a feminist Jesus and an inclusive and dialoguing way of understanding his teachings. In fact, I defend that his social message was even "matriarchal" in some way (read the first two chapters of Luke, they cannot be imagined by a patriarchal man, but by a single and independent woman called Ann; a patriarchal divinity would not silence men to allow women speak in such way an antitraditional way). Both Mary/Joseph and Elisabeth/Zachary are matriarchal families, by divine will!!!
No, they don't say that!!! Ha! Caught them!! :)

Thanks for posting this. There is a place for dialogue between peoples, even with different cultural backgrounds, if we agree in the importance of overcoming patriarchy in all its forms.

Patriarchy is our common enemy, that can unite us like never before!

Take care, Julian.

Jordi.

Clarissa said...

This is a brilliant post.

I remember once in grad school a colleague of mine heard me say that Jesus was Jewish. Her indignant response was: "How can you say something like this about Jesus?!?" When I insisted, she stormed out of the room.

Julian Real said...

Hi Jordi,

Great to hear from you!

Thanks for your comment, and I'm interested in knowing more about Ann, Mary & Joseph, and Elizabeth & Zachary.

Please feel free to write up something and I'll guest post it, if you'd be open to that. Or, if you'd prefer, you can write to me at the email address in the top right corner of this blog.

Very cool stuff you wrote!!! I'm all ears.

Patti said...

I'm happy to see other "heretics", opposed to the dogma of 'Churchianity', commenting on the subject matter that Julian posted!

I hope that Jordi has time and is open to writing up something that might be guest posted here, as I'd love to read his learnings. This is a HUGE topic of interest to me, as the spread and solidification of 'Churchianity' propagates and justifies, in the name of Jesus no less, all that Jesus did NOT stand for or behind.

Jordi said...

Thanks to all of you for your nice comments. Thanks Julian for offering me the chance to publish here. I might do it after my holidays. :)

Take care,

Jordi

Anonymous said...

Less than half of this is blog post is true. I was planning on ignoring this post, but since you've unfortunately been able to somehow convince at least three people that these gross misunderstandings which you have put forth as facts (though you clearly indicated in the post that you do not think much of facts) are true, I believe I must take it upon myself to point out where you are correct and where you are incorrect in your understanding of this historical figure.

1. True, Jesus never used the word "Christian," but he did demand that people follow him. I'm not sure what one would call a follower of Christ if not a "Christian." Likewise, it is difficult to see how Christ himself could be said to be a follower of Christ. I was not aware this was something "Most Christians Don't Want You to Know."

2. Perhaps not, but he certainly believed himself to be the only son of the Hebrew God as prophesied in the Old Testament.

3. I cannot find fault with this point, though I'd like to hear your definition of "patriarchal personality" (I imagine it's something quite nasty).

4. This point is an absolute affront to logic. Indeed, Jesus was not pro-capitalist, but this is only because he concerned himself with spiritual, not macroeconomic matters. There is quite a burden of proof on you to say that by virtue of not being explicitly pro-capitalist, Jesus was anti-capitalist, and that any true follower of Jesus must therefore be anti-capitalist.

5. While it is true that Jesus was not a white supremacist or a racist, no Christian has ever tried to convince me of this. So this point can only be said to be half true, given the context.

6. Jesus spent most of his time with people whom he saw as sinners because he sought to help them, not because he advocated for such practices as extortion or prostitution. And given the social mores in which he was raised, it is likely that Jesus counted homosexuality as one of these sins.

7. Mostly true, though the assertion that Mary Magdalene was closer to Jesus than any other of his disciples only has as evidenced the New Testament Apocrypha, which were written much later than the canonical gospels.

8. Here your obsession with rape is brought to light. There is no more evidence that Jesus was born as the result of a rape than there is of his being miraculously conceived. And the notion of a virgin birth is not the result of a misreading, such an assertion is ridiculous. Even the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was born to a virgin, a detailed description of it is given in two of the four canonical gospels.

9. The Roman Empire was not unique in being a patriarchal society. Ironically, the people to which Jesus belonged, the Jews, whom the Romans oppressed, were a patriarchal society as well. You have no evidence on which to base the idea that Jesus was openly opposed to patriarchal society. Your attempts to assimilate this historical figure for your political views are nothing short of shameful.

10. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the idea that Jesus was physically resurrected. I do it all the time. However, you cannot lie about what the writings concerning Jesus' life say. The people who wrote the canonical gospels—all of them—believed that Jesus was physically resurrected from the grave, no metaphor intended. Regardless of how they came to this conclusion, the writers of the new Testament believed in a totally unique physical resurrection that proved that Jesus was the son of God.

The next time you decide to re-imagine a renowned historical figure as a spokesperson for your bizarre ideology, you should do it more subtly and also read about him or her more carefully to prevent yourself from making mistakes a child could have easily avoided. Of course, it is more likely that you were simply lying to advance your agenda.

CapnBazza said...

Why did you feel it necessary to call atheists arrogant?

Julian Real said...

Hi CapnBazza,

Because overall that's been my experience.

Sorry to paint with too broad a brush.

Anonymous said...

Not even half of this is blog post is true. I was planning on ignoring this post, but since you've unfortunately been able to somehow convince at least three people that these gross misunderstandings which you have put forth as facts (though you clearly indicated in the post that you do not think much of facts) are true, I believe I must take it upon myself to point out where you are correct and where you are incorrect in your understanding of this historical figure.

Anonymous said...

Any reason you refuse to post my comments? You know what I'm saying is true.

Julian Real said...

If you took the time to read my comments policy, you'd know that I don't post anything offered by someone without a name.

I believe you should be accountable for what you say.

Anonymous said...

As do I. I believe you should be held accountable for intellectual dishonesty. And you already have my email address, is that not a big enough invasion of privacy for your taste?

Julian Real said...

I don't have your email address, fool.

And given your obnoxious, disrespectful behavior here, you can kiss good-bye seeing any of your pseudo-Christian nonsense here on this blog. Go post it to your own.