Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter.

There's a billboard in my neighborhood for a new church -- a new Christian church -- that pamphlets and direct mails my neighborhood pretty heavily.  On it, there's a crisp, clean logo that suggests an A-frame sanctuary with a tall steeple topped by a cross which is next to a quote by one of the church's new converts.  The quote appears in bright, ecclesiastical-colored purple and gold lettering with the author's age and occupation.  "Until I came to this church, I never felt God's presence," it reads.   The author is a 20-something information technology specialist.  The church's marketing strategy is clear:  you'll find what you're looking for at this church, just as others your age have, if what you're looking for is God.  It makes me want to cry each time I drive by this billboard.  Instead, I fantasize about googling the name of the person purported to have made this statement, or searching area phone directories for it, and then emailing or calling him to ask if he really said this and, if he did, if this really reflects how he feels.

It's certainly true that America isn't completely populated by Christians though according to a 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Life, 78.4 percent of American adults say they are Christians.  I find that difficult to believe when I'm confronted with statements such as the one quoted on the billboard above.  In a nation that claims it is overwhelmingly Christian, we also have an overwhelming and shocking ignorance about what it means to be Christians, apparently.  Since Christianity, because it was founded (allegedly) to teach others about the life, philosophy and work of a Jewish sage named Jesus, is based in Judaism.  Ask any one of them where G_d is and you're likely to hear, "in heaven," and by the accompanying gesture -- a roll of the eyes upward, or a wave in the same direction -- you know they mean something like, 'up there, out there, beyond the universe.'  How can that be?  Jesus knew where G_d was; the scripture developed by his people very clearly demonstrates, particularly throughout the first two books of it --in  Genesis and Exodus -- where to find G_d.  They weren't looking in the great beyond for G_d.  Here's where the scripture developed by Jesus's elders told him to find G_d:  "And Moses said unto G_d, Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The G_d of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they shall say to me, What is his name?  What shall I say unto them?  And G_d said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM:  and he said, Thus shall thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."  (Exodus 3:13-14)  Clearly, scripture teaches us that G_d is here.  G_d is now.  G_d is.  That's where and what G_d is -- here and now.

There's no picture of G_d anywhere in scripture -- I checked when I was a little girl.  Opening passages of scripture depict G_d at work.  They don't feature a Billy Mays-like, Oxyclean-pitching spokesman, who introduces himself and then launches into a pitch for the creation we see G_d making:  'Hi, folks.  G_d here.  I've just created this fantastic world and you will be amazed by everything in it!'  "G_d's not a person," I realized.  "G_d is creation."  And not just any old creation -- G_d is ongoing creation, the spark of creation here and now, the source.

We humans are creative critters, too.  That's what about us makes us "in G_d's image," ("God created man in [His] own image, in the image of God [He] created him; male and female [He] created them."  Gen. 1:27)  It's our ability to create.  But so much of the time we forget that what G_d created -- and what we, by implication of our similarity to G_d, are charged also to create -- was good for all.  "And G_d saw everything that [G_d] had made and beheld that it was very good."  (Gen. 1:31)  Just to reiterate what was known about where and when G_d is ("what" G_d is for those of you who persist in objectifying G_d), Jesus taught those in his communities the first principal of creating goodness for all and, therefore, instant G_d presence:  "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets."  (From Jesus's Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of St. Matthew, 7:12).  Here's Mark's recollection of Jesus's teaching on this particular lesson:

"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord our G_d is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy G_d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:  this is the first commandment.  And the second is, namely this, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these." And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth:  for there is one G_d; and there is none other.  And to love [G_d] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength" (as I'm doing here and encouraging you to do also by sharing my thoughts with you), "and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." (which were, as we can learn through anthropology lessons, scarce and costly)   "And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of G_d."

Jesus made it his mission in his later life to remind other Jews where they could find G_d, too, because he looked around and saw that they needed to be reminded; they were being oppressed by an invading nation again and, just as his ancestor, King David, had advised his people, "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.  It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidences in princes."  (Psalms 18:8-9), Jesus could see the corrupting influence of Roman rule causing his community to turn on one another.

Jesus died in 29 AD and just 37 years later, in 66 AD, the Romans began expelling Jews from Judea because certain of his followers (who were viewed by Roman rulers as Jewish) were agitating for social reforms.  At the time Jesus lived, there was no such thing as a free-market in Judea, where the prices of goods and services were more or less standard from one buyer to the next.  Individuals bargained the prices of everything.  Because this practice leaves so much room for exploitation, it's easy to imagine how a simple act of going to market could be the occasion for persecution if the buyer had no leverage to induce the seller to give him a good price, such as the reciprocal favor of a good price for the goods or services the buyer, himself, marketed.  Remember Jesus's protest in the Temple against the money brokers?  The persecution Jewish people experienced for their lack of wealth had fueled a fear in many that unless their community was adept at generating wealth, that community would never last.  Since these were the days that Rome was still amassing it's wealth, many citizens of the republic, Jews and Romans alike, saw it as a chance to profit.

The Roman empire is remembered today as the post-republic that imploded in on itself because of massive bureaucracy.  It wasn't able to keep up with its aspirations of empire through conquest because, more and more, private citizens -- who were once those folks that paid tributes, or taxes, to Rome's rulers in order to pursue their private enterprises -- had to become the empire's "soldiers," in other words, it's bureaucrats.  It took about 500 years for the republic to self-destruct, for all of the wealth of the Roman republic to be transferred to its government, which then became an autocratic dictatorship.  Voila!  Empire.  That's what led to the demise of the Roman republic and the birth of the Roman empire, which lasted another 1,100 years -- "Divide and conquer."  The Romans invented it, right on their own home turf first.  When most Romans became Rome's functionaries, Rome became a welfare state.  Sound familiar?  Today, our taxes go to pay for our nation's empire building -- and they'll continue to go to pay for our greed for generations to come because of our irresponsible fiscal policies, such as deficit spending.

Jesus thought it was important we remember things such as this -- that G_d is right here, right now and that, if we want to know G_d we must be involved in the creation of good for all, also known as "the kingdom of G_d."  

It boggles the mind how the majority of Americans can call themselves Christian when the political system by which the majority of us (because we live in a democracy and not the constitutional republic our founding fathers gave their sweat and lives to create) have condemned us all to live is so anti-Christic.  Health maintenance organizations that ration medicine when, in a free market system where supply is supposed to respond to demand and an inverse relationship is created in the price of any commodity to its availability, are simply communistic -- Mao Tse Tung's type of communism -- at best, and anti-Christian in actuality.  All health insurers practice the HMO model of gatekeeping in order to ration medicine, where they price-fix services.  Their disease managers are more adept at odds making than Vegas bookies, and the system they've created is in no way a free market system.  It's also inhumane -- which makes it anti-Christic.

HMOs prevent people from gaining the health they need to participate in society.  That's oppression.  And they kill people.  Is there any more exclusionary a practice than murder?  There's virtually no debate on these issues.  Scads of documentaries and infotainment programs and books and articles and organizations designed to expose and change these practices tell us these things all the time.  But this is the system that is government-sanctioned (read, "regulated" -- in the same way the SEC "regulated" Bernie Maddoff's Ascot Investments; the SEC was created specifically to prevent Ponzi schemes such as Maddoff's!).  Millions of American Christians participated in creating this communistic medical system and millions more work in it.  But it's not a system in which everyone is treated the way we all want to be treated -- with the medicine we each need.  We've been told this is the only system available to us -- the best system -- because of its utilitarianism.  There's some artificial limit on medicine out there, they tell us, and supply just can't keep up with demand.  No so.  Anyone with any will to look at the state of the science in any area of medicine can see that's not true.  No one need die from bird flu, for example; the first antiviral ever made was created in the late 1960s and acted against 9 different viruses (New York Times, September 27, 1970; IV, 14:1).  Antivirals are cheap to make -- so cheap that when George Bush said he wanted to vaccinate the world against small pox because that was one of the biological weapons he lied to the world about Saddam Hussein having, Sweden began stockpiling antivirals.  Sweden's leaders said, "No, thanks.  We don't need any of your [bioengineered to create disease] vaccines."

Every politician who claims to be a Christian is doing the work of the anti-Christ if he or she supported the creation, or today supports the perpetuation, of the HMO model of health care.  And more of this system -- so called, "Universal Health Care" -- is not what we need.  This system simply oppresses and kills Americans.  It's exclusionary.  It's discriminatory.  But it's the dominant institution in American -- the one that 78.4 percent of Americans who claim to be Christians apparently believe represents their Christic beliefs.  Massachusetts residents have no legal right to eschew participation in it.  They're even penalized with unfair taxes, if they don't participate in it.

Tomorrow is Easter.  Every year, I get melancholoy beginning on Maundy Thursday, thinking about how the Christian martyr who 78.4 percent of Americans claim as their "personal savior" is so misunderstood by them.  "Jesus died for my sins," they tell us.  If you've ever doubted the efficacy of "mind control" techniques, you need look no further than this bastardization of Christian philosophy to see it.  Here's why Jesus died:  Jesus died because he was a radical political activist who got off his butt and went around empowering people to create just communities -- the "kingdom of G_d" -- in a society that was ruled by politicians that had created an inherently unjust society.  That's why he died.  He was upsetting the status quo.   The leaders in his community didn't like it.  Let's not forget, too, who really killed Jesus:  the mob who said that he, and not the thief, Barrabas, should be crucified.  He was arrested for sedition.  He was betrayed by his friends and his community and then he was abandoned.  He was a Jew but no minyan ever said the prayers for the dead over him.  He died for the same reason Martin Luther King, Jr. died.  He died for the same reason John F. Kennedy and his brother, Bobby, died.  All of these men died because they challenged the status quo.  They've all empowered millions of Americans to look at one another not as the enemy but as people like themselves -- people who wanted freedom and justice from the elites who oppressed them.

Today, vigilantes employed through local sheriffs' offices gangstalk law-abiding, deeply spiritual people, like me.  A college girl is stalked and murdered in Vincennes, Ohio, because she reported on a campus rape in her school newspaper.   A couple's landlord in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, terrorize the couple by stealing the family's pets and murdering them -- and admits to them that he has done so.  The county prosecutor does nothing to the landlord, despite pleas from PETA's activist network.  Peace and environmental activist Robert Woodward was shot dead by Brattleboro, Vermont, police officers in All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church Sunday morning, December 2, 2001, as he lay, unarmed, on the floor.  Howard Dean's attorney general exonerated the police office after a patently corrupt investigation.   Militarily-developed technologies have long been available to the public, and vigilantes such as those seeking the social extermination of Brook Baker, the Olsons and Robert Woodward were given even more training in the tactics and the technologies used to stalk their targets by the justice department in 1991.  Subsequent laws passed by the executive branch in both the Clinton and Bush administrations have given these technologies to all local law enforcement agencies.

These vigilantes even sometimes claim to be liberals fighting for "liberty" as "libertarians," or those who want to "restore the republic," by which they mean a government that has no concern for the general welfare, one in which citizens don't pay taxes and, therefore, have even less ability to direct their government than they do today, with a corrupt suffrage, when they are really neo-cons posing as centrists (neither left nor right, but the mob in the middle that our founding fathers cautioned us against creating; haven't we seen enough of them?).  Ron Paul is their leader and he advocates a return to the gold standard -- at a time when most people don't own gold or interests in gold investments and have no ability to acquire either.  The people who hold the most Treasury notes (for which we've received the money we use to run our government, on which we pay interest that requires every cent the government collects as taxes from us) are the Chinese and the Saudis, who also control the world gold market in Dubai.  I don't understand fully the libertarians current drive to eliminate the Federal Reserve, but I do know that those of them who are vigilantes are not to be trusted.  They're liars.  They're anti-Christic.  They're the worst form of hypocrites.  These are the types of people whom Jesus encouraged us to resist and these are the people who killed him.  They don't love G_d and they are creating hell on earth for decent people.

The kingdom of G_d is at hand, Jesus and his disciples knew, when you do all that you can each moment of your lives to create goodness for all, and if you must dismantle unjust systems, then you must dismantle unjust systems.  That's the only way to have the hope of being in community with G_d.  The sins Jesus was killed for two millennia ago are the same ones we all have a choice of practicing today -- or not.  They are the sins of willful ignorance, cowardice and merciless extrajudicial terrorism and torture.  They are the sins of not seeing those who would create justice in your communities as your brothers and sisters but instead acting as their henchmen because you've been told by your leaders to do so.  Are those your sins?  Those are the ones for which Jesus died, and if he is going to save you, the only way he can do that is by offering you a model to emulate.  You have to behave as he did -- not as how the mob that killed him did.  That is where your salvation lies -- in directing your energy to do as he advised instead of proselytizing your salvation as a mere belief in any supernatural powers Jesus may have had to grant you that salvation in any other way.  Jesus didn't want you to deify him and he didn't want you to create a movement to do so.

"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did.  But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man for He knew what was in man."  (The Gospel of St. John, 2:23-25)

If free agency was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.  No one needs to be venerated like a pop star simply because she, he or it, in the case of a religious group or church, is flacked as spiritual (or for any other reason), just as no truly spiritual person (or organization) would want groupies.  Yeah -- I'm a heretic, just like Jesus.  And for apparent, good reason.  There's no such thing as an extra-mortem heaven; heaven is what you make itright here, right now.

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."  (The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, 2:12)

If free agency was encouraged by the de facto founder of the Christian church, free agency is good enough for me.  It's hard to imagine for whom free agency is not good enough.  Jesus never said to balkanize yourselves into exclusive groups and persecute others who do not believe as you believe.  Life isn't supposed to be lived by some artificial, prescribed way that directly undermines the development of the individual's own mind and soul because everyindividual is of and by G_d, including -- egad! -- homosexuals.  Everyone deserves your respect and support of their individuality.  Membership may have its privileges, but the kingdom of G_d is not one.  Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling and let others do the same.  As you can see, we do.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns and figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit."  (From Jesus's Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of St. Matthew, 7:15-17)  Is the HMO system giving us good fruit, or evil fruit?  Are those who espouse it's universality sheep, or ravening wolves?

If we lived in an America where 78.4 percent of its adults were truly Christian, we wouldn't have things such as a communistic HMO system that extorts, enslaves and murders people.  For that matter, we wouldn't have a military-run government whose leaders are ravening wolves in sheep's clothing who sanction unconstitutional invasions of other countries that have done nothing to us or anyone else, notwithstanding the immoral things its leaders have done to some of its citiziens (which are the same things, coincidentally, that our own government has done and does do to all of its own citizens, such as the atomic veterans and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study victims and the AIDS research victims).

I'm not selling a new philosophy here, or an interpretation that is any way out of line with what Jesus believed and taught others to believe.  I'm just reminding you of these very old truths.  I don't want your money, or your allegiance.  I just want you to stop displacing your responsibility to create the kingdom of G_d right here, right now onto a dead sage.  I want you to get off of your butt -- or at least stop persecuting those of us who have.

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets."  (From Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel of St. Matthew, 7:12)

All you need to know about Jesus and the kingdom of G_d is right in this message.  The rest isn't even commentary, as has been suggested; it's distraction.  If all of this seems boring to you and you already realize these things -- forgive me.  I was speaking to those of you who are not true Christians, such as the fellow who was quoted on that billboard about which I began this essay discoursing.  Those who profit from suggesting that G_d is unknowable, or so elusive G_d can only be found in church (their church) -- or is not omnipresent and omnipotent -- those who create organizations to perpetuate these untruths, are ravening wolves.  How worthwhile is something that purports to be where G_d can be found only for a few hours a week and in a few limited places?  Would Jesus -- or anyone, for that matter -- give up his or life to proselytize that?  I doubt it.  I doubt it very seriously.  It's not "normal" to not see these truths; it's propaganda that makes you not see that G_d is and that you don't have to go looking for G_d.  This is the source of your power -- in realizing that G_d is among us all.  That's why Jesus died -- because an empowered people creates problems for those who oppress them.

G_d is.  Create goodness for all and be in community with G_d, in G_d's kingdom because you do.  Empower others to do likewise -- that's what Jesus told us to do.  Create just societies out of unjust ones together.  This is what makes you a true Christian.  Period.  No multi-volume set of writings is necessary; no seminary classes are required; no membership in an exclusive club that can fast-track you to a position of power among your peers.  Just do these things and you'll know G_d -- and be a true Christian.  Going to church a few days a year, or for any type of emotional high you get from belonging to one, or from being told you're "good" for showing up at one, isn't what makes you a true Christian.  Certainly, perpetuating the wicked lie that there's some kingdom apart from the one in which you live that is more of G_d than the one you have the ability to create -- and that you'll get there if you kill or otherwise oppress anyone who doesn't believe this lie -- is about as anti-Christic as you can get, and no sage -- dead or alive -- will save you from the wickedness you help perpetuate.  What goes around, comes around.  We are all at the mercy of the HMO system, the fascists who've created it and their minions.

America needs it's own Conclave, or Confessing Church, because today, America is Hitler's dream come true.  If you want to follow Jesus -- to be 'saved' by emulating him -- here's a way you can do it:  agitate as he did in your religious communities to fight the fascists who control us all, starting with the militarized law enforcement in our local communities.  Take your grievances to your state and federal representatives and senators.  Are you a functionary of our empire's bureaucracy?  Roll up your sleeves.  You've got work to do.  Work to create good for all, as G_d is doing.

Happy Easter.
Print Page

No comments: