The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Monday, August 29, 2011
Personal Reflections ... Religion ... Spirituality ...

Life got back to normal for me today. And it felt so very good! Oh sweet quotidian life, why do we take you for granted? Only when a nasty storm like Irene comes along and robs us of your quiet charms, do we see, and then only briefly. (But watch out, we may get another chance — there’s something called TD 12 over the eastern Atlantic, soon to become ‘Katia’; which sounds a bit too much like ‘Katrina’ for my liking).

During my lunch hour at work today, I mostly slept!! My body is trying to recover a bit from the stress of the recent hurricane watch. I have a lunch-hour book to fall asleep to, Dale Allision’s “Jesus of Nazareth, Millenarian Prophet”. After I woke and before I got back to the computer screen, I pondered a few more lines from Prof. Allison’s extremely detailed and irrefutable exposition of how and why the Gospels reflect Jesus as a ‘millenarian’, i.e. the self-appointed announcer of the imminent arrival of God’s Kingdom in Jerusalem.

(Yes, in Jerusalem in 30 CE, not up in Heaven or some other realm in the distant future; but immediately, right here on earth, pushing aside the evil Romans and the others in cahoots with them, e.g. the Temple priests. That was the real Jesus, like it or not; and I suspect a lot of Christians would NOT like it).

So it makes sense that Jesus demanded his followers to give up everything from their regular lives to follow him. The disciples gave up their jobs, their money, their families, everything. Why? Because Jesus convinced them that God was going to shake everything up with the arrival of THE KINGDOM, in very short time.

Think about that — Jesus must have been VERY charismatic, to convince a band of people to give up EVERYTHING that they depended upon in return for a stake in a promised Kingdom of God. It was a bold decision on the part of Jesus’ followers, one for which there was no turning back.

And what ran thru the heads of these people once Passover was over, once Jesus was gone, and the Kingdom had not arrived? Again, they probably could NOT go home again, could not take up their old lives where they left off. They had burned their bridges, big time! So they had to keep going — they had to keep the dream alive. They had to come up with a story that would keep public interest and support alive.

And that story was that the Kingdom was still going to happen, it was just gonna take a bit longer than previously thought. Jesus was back with God, but only for some last minute preparations before returning in glory to cast out the Romans, sweep aside the Temple and all of its corruption, and bring forth the New Zion. To boost that story up a notch, they added, as an aside, that Jesus had already given a clear sign that he wasn’t really dead; i.e., that he survived the Roman crucifixion and then left for Heaven on his own schedule.

By demanding that his followers forsake the option of ever going back to where they came from, Jesus insured that no matter what happened to him, his vision would not die even if he did. Pretty shrewd. And quite successful! The seeds of Christianity were well planted by Jesus, whether or not the plant that grew from it (Christianity) was what Jesus would have wanted.

Hey, and one more interesting thought from another book — this time, The Tao of Zen by Ray Griggs. In regard to the Zen and Taoist traditions, Griggs says that both “are assiduously mindful of avoiding the pitfalls of a word system that builds its own structure of understanding and invents its own truths.” Ah yes, “word systems” that build their own structures and invent their own truths. Sort of like western philosophy. And Christian theology (which overlap, to a large degree).

Did Jesus envision that he would inspire a huge body of philosophic doctrine, of writings and teachings, on the nature of God? I.e., a huge body of words that self-organizes its own structure and invents its own truths? Probably not! But then again, Jesus and his disciples were inventing their own truths, truths that turned out to be not-quite-true (i.e., the imminent arrival of God’s Kingdom on Earth).

And yet, Griggs points out that “there is no wordlessness without words, no selflessness without self . . . true wisdom needs some foolishness as a useful counterpart”.

And finally from Griggs: the difference between those who are enlightened and those who are not is that the enlightened ones realize themselves to be no different or better than others, and thus know nothing of their enlightened status. By offering himself to the Romans for torture and execution, Jesus saw himself to be no better than his followers; he realized himself as expendable, nothing special. In that, we know him to have been enlightened.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:44 pm      

  1. Jim, Glad to hear your life is back to normal; hope you have caught up on your sleep.

    Can’t really say I disagree with your book on Jesus–maybe some of the particulars, but I am not really in the mood for nit picking. So, I’ll say I tend to agree with Dale Allison’s assessment of Jesus.

    I would like to take a little walk down a tangential thot re Jesus being charismatic. He’s hardly alone in the “charismatic” field. There are MANY individuals who are charismatic, “good” and “bad” ones, e.g., Jim Jones of 1990s fame who led his followers to take cyanide; the current Jeff (can’t remember his last name), who I heard yesterday is in an induced coma because he has been on a fast, of the Fundamental Latter Day Saints with his many, many wives, most of them young; the David (again, can’t remember his last name) of Waco, TX, who burned to death with most of his followers in the FBI raid. Then there are the saints: Francis of Assissi, Dominic, Augustine, Joan of Arc; numerous others. I’m sure there are recent saints, but none come to mind immediately. (Shall I plead old age?) What about Mohammed who “started” Islam? Martin Luther and the various Protestant groups? The Buddah has been around for millennia. All these had their group of followers; I tend to doubt that without charisma they would not have had the followers they still have. Any religious group seems to have had its charismatic leader at the beginning.

    Policiticans are charismatic–JFK, all the Kennedys. Clinton was charismatic in his own way. Now they are talking about Perry of the GOP as “charismatic.” (At least, so I have heard recently.)

    Does Jesus really stand out in any way special when it comes to all these various people who were charismatic? Well, maybe he does as he inspired so many of them. Who knows? Perhaps none of them would have become charismatic without him.

    I don’t mean to be disagreeable here, but I really tend not to like the term “enlightened”, whether it is used in a religious sense or some other sense. It tends to put the “enlightened” way ahead of all the “unenlightened”, and I tend to think that is not necessarily the case at all. Or maybe it’s not that the truly “enlightened” think they are above the “unelightened” but only the ones who THINK they are “enlightened” are the ones who lord it over others. But then, as you say, the litmus test is if the enlightened considers him/herself enlightened.

    Just my own journey here through the points you made. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — August 30, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  2. Sorry for being a downer today, but the thought did occur to me: Maybe so many want to believe because life is really so horrible in reality, and they need some hope in a kind of ‘future’ to cling on to, regardless of how ridiculous this may sound to their logical minds, their spirits and souls and hearts are just so so weary of being logical. Religion offers a ‘way out’ of reality in some instances. Nirvana? Heaven? Reincarnation? Enlightenment? What else? It all sounds pretty cool compared to some of our lives right now. People want very much to believe, so all it takes is for someone to tell them what they are thirsting for to hear.

    Comment by spunkykitty — September 2, 2011 @ 7:30 am

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