Thursday, October 13, 2011


If you know me, you might be surprised to see such a title and/or topic. 

But a longtime friend of my brother Brian, good ol' Tom Stafford, has started a website asking this very question.  I'm not sure what he's after, though based on his survey monkey survey, uh, monkey (department of redundancy department?), he just wants you to answer the damn question.

Anyway, Tom's a good earnest guy and he says he's trying to learn.  Good enough for me.

Entrance to an old mine in Death Valley.
And even though I have read the New Testament word for word (because I once took a Bible as Literature course at UCLA), I don't know much about Jesus.  I know (if that's the right word) and am certainly much more interested in how Jesus is used (utilized?) in the (American) public arena.  That is, in politics and culture. 

But this blog post is not about that gigantic topic and I'm not even going to mention, for instance, the latest smiling charlatan--Robert Jeffress--to burden us all with his myopic and hateful views on religions/sects that are, coincidentally, not his own, such as Mormonism or Catholicism.  No, why waste my argumentative time on this guy?  Won't even mention him.  Jeffress.  Or his website

Lotus flower, Chinese Garden, Portland.
Instead, I just wanted to post, for the helluva it, what I wrote on Tom Stafford's website:

   I think that what Jesus teaches in the Bible, or what others have written that he teaches, constitute an amazingly progressive body of ideas about human interaction.
   Especially ideas like who will be blessed (peace makers, the meek, etc., in Matthew 5.3-12).  Simply  amazing teachings, given his historical milieu.  Such messages resonate with us to this day and are ideas from which we can all learn.
   What I regret about Jesus, especially as an American, can be more or less summed up with one of my favorite bumper stickers:
   "Jesus, save me from your followers."
   This is certainly not Jesus' fault, but Jesus is usually more exploited than not in the American political arena.
   For example, this statement, attributed to Jesus:
   "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24).
   This is just one of many statements which directly contradict the American Dream ethos (or, what it's become) of more materialism, more money, and an ever-increasing wealth redistribution to the extremely wealthy in our society.
   I have no idea whether Jesus is the Son of God or whether God exists, but I do know that Jesus is heavily exploited by a large segment of the wealthy and powerful in the U.S.
   And for what? 
   If what Jesus is alleged to have said above is true, this exploitation is for earthly concerns only and not for getting into Heaven.
   What a waste.

Tom responded by thanking me for my post and throwing out this quote that has been attributed to Gandhi:

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.  

By the way, whether or not Gandhi actually said this or not, it's a genius piece of arguing, and for one word.  What is that one word: "appears."  Very difficult to argue with because of this one well-placed word. 

Gandhi keeps watch over San Francisco Bay

Now for the standard caveat: clearly, I am not discussing Christians in general.  No, I am interested in how Jesus' teachings are largely ignored and/or manipulated by many people for their own narrow political concerns.  Need examples?  Watch Fox News.  Don't see them there?  Watch Fox News with me.  Then you'll see them.

Also, Tom says he welcomes your own take on this, so please go to his website if you're so inclined and answer his question.

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