Sunday, October 04, 2009

That "Jesus Left Christianity" Post

On TPM, there's a post on Jesus leaving Christianity that was written by William K. Wolfrum during the 2008 election campaign.
. . . [I]n an announcement that has left his followers shaken, the Christ himself has come forward to announce that he is leaving Christianity, effective immediately. The reasoning: The 2008 Republican Platform. Reached for comment at a West Hollywood coffee shop, Christ said that he couldn't deal with a world that so misinterpreted his words and actions.
I should emphasize that I'm not myself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, or someone who's very enthusiastic about Jesus in any way, shape, or form. Many of the ideas in the New Testament are worthy of respect and the texts have a great deal of moral depth. But the doctrine is so bizarrely self-abnegating that it can't really be taken seriously. People can complain about "actually existing" Christians not really following Jesus, but seeing salvation in such enormities of suffering as the story of Lazarus or the invocation to "turn the other cheek" is too much for any society like our own that does not have a primary commitment to inflicting and suffering pain. Nobody with half their sanity could believe in the Jesus of the New Testament. So, "Christians" have softened his edges, forgotten his crazed disgust for most of what's human, and made Jesus seem more "normal" according to our visions of normality. The only way anybody could be a Christian is to follow "our" version of Jesus and that's just as true on the left as the right.

With these things in mind, it should be clear that Jesus wouldn't be caught in a West Hollywood coffeeshop any more than he would have taken in a corporate junket to Barbados or run for president as a Democrat. Who would Jesus have preferred in this world? The same people he preferred in the ancient Jewish territories--the absolute bottom of society. Jesus would have identified with dying Aids patients covered with lesions, the gay kids being kicked out of their families and beaten by their peers, psychotic homeless people shuffling from grate to grate, the inmates at all our super-max prisons, and all the desperate crack, heroin, and OxyContin addicts. These are the people Jesus viewed as blessed. These are the people Jesus viewed as models for his own suffering and self-sacrifice. These are the people Jesus wanted his disciples to emulate. Everyone else was damned.

It's not Jesus wouldn't have come to America, but he would have found his home in all of the "Other Americas" that dot our landscape. The people in the West Hollywood coffee shops are just as much strangers to those Other Americas as Rush Limbaugh. Jesus would have damned them just as much as he would damn Dick Cheney. The only difference is that Dick Cheney knows he would have been damned and is probably glad there's no god to hold him accountable.

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