Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
The following came my way and I share it with permission of the email's author:
"My mother has been going through and reading old family letters. My
great aunt was in Japan in 1966 and this is an excerpt from a letter
that her father sent her.
...The turmoil in the world and all around us is so confusing it is
hard to know what we think or believe at times. But if we only stop
and think about it we realize that even Christ did not change
governments or groups of people, he only preached a simple formula of
love to change the hearts of individuals and this seed sowed properly
is the only remedy for us..."
I find this both thought-provoking in a positive way, and an invitation to go down a path that I would rather not. Suggesting an answer that I don't want to be "the answer." I wonder what others think about this notion of Christ.
Anyone who's thoroughly looked into the historical background of Jesus' fatal trip to Jerusalem in the synoptic gospels -- can see that he is in fact implying a claim to be recognized as the legitimate ruler of Judea. He is not, that is, indifferent to who's in charge, or confining his mode of action to promoting individual piety and benevolence.
He didn't succeed in changing governments. He did not attempt to change them by force of arms, or worry about which High Priest might have been "a lesser evil."
He prophesied (correctly) the fall of the Temple regime he addressed "within the lifetime of people standing here," and wept over the consequences to the people of Jerusalem that would result if that government remained unchanged. And evidently hoped they would respond, as a group, to better embody God's purposes and thus escape destruction.
He didn't say we should put our faith in governments, or in any change of governments. But there's nothing all that "simple" about a message that calls for us to be "peaceful as doves and wise as serpents."
---- ---- ----- -----
We have less time to the fall of our world than there was between Jesus' message and the burning of the Temple. This might be a time to remember a saying of Kurt Vonnegut's 'Bokonon': "Pay no attention to Caesar; Caesar doesn't have the faintest idea what's really going on."
We have knowledgeable scientists estimating an irreversible shift to an uninhabitable climate within a couple of decades, "unless the world economy completely collapses first." We have governmental leaders the world over, seemingly bent on collapsing that economy within a year or so. Is that a brilliant manipulation of events -- or the same heedless shortsightedness that's put our economic systems to work destroying our habitat, applied to those economic systems themselves?
Whatever your answer, this looks like an appropriate time to be seriously preparing to mitigate that collapse.
Howard Brod said:
Wow. Can you imagine the power to influence other nations if "love one another" was the message and basis of the US foreign policy, not to mention our domestic policy.
And how well have you succeeded in influencing your own nation recently?
A beautiful vision, Howard! More on that below....
Forrest -- you said of Jesus:
"He is not, that is, indifferent to who's in charge, or confining his mode of action to promoting individual piety and benevolence......He didn't succeed in changing governments. He did not attempt to change them by force of arms, or worry about which High Priest might have been "a lesser evil."
I would agree then that God / Jesus was already in charge on another level, and knew it, and from that level commanded only love. And I agree that attempting to force anyone to change governments was not at all his method -- since (as Vonnegut says) Caesar had no idea what's really going on and was obsolete already. Jesus seems to then be saying: these principalities and powers which appear powerful to you when viewed on this one level you are familiar with, become irrelevant when viewed on Our level, and on Our level the only recipe is loving God and one another. That's the only thing that will work (whatever God needs worked).
When I read this initial note from 1966, I thought of Jesus's interactions with the zealots. They were convinced that what needed to happen was the overthrow of the government and here was this guy saying "this allll will be overthrown." To them, he was a sure thing! Coopt his message to serve their means!
But simultaneously I think of the Occupy movement and the hope many have that proper democracy can be revitalized, and whatever opposes it "overthrown" within our own collective hearts and our ways of doing business with one another, toward something more sustainable. I find myself feeling like a zealot. I want Jesus's message to confirm the people's eventual triumph in THIS World, not to confirm at this moment in history that I am to simply love those who I feel are persecuting me. To my worldly self, this aspect of simply "love one another" -- in my own fishbone diagram -- makes no sense. Feels insufficient to the task at hand: my "love one another," as one of the little people in this culture, does nothing I can detect to alter the principalities and powers. I confess that I would rather rail against them in some more significant way....but also that I am not up for that challenge.
Howard, I would love further insight from you (or others!) as to how to allow this solution you propose on my own personal level. I'm kind of a dumbfounded zealot right now.
The day after my previous post I came across this quote from GF on the Quaker Jane site:
Perhaps my struggle is that I am "to the Earth glewed" and deeply in love with it to the point that I actually believe God is too. [or is the flip side of it, in truth, just being a zealot?]
Do you really think "Christ did not change governments or groups of people" ??
Maybe the case is just as strong that Christ does do this, at least through other people, through masses of people.... Though it seems clear that it's never set out as the goal and yeah, maybe just love is the only way to get there.
We have the story of Jesus weeping over the fate of Jerusalem. I don't think that caring about this Earth and what happens to people here is a no-no. Outcomes, however, are all too karma-dependent.
No humans have been lastingly-injured in the performance of this 'world'. (But those rubber daggers can sure feel piercing!)