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EASTERTIME AND A BRIEF REFLECTION ON THE HUMAN CONDITION

April 20, 2014

EASTERTIME AND A BRIEF REFLECTION ON THE HUMAN CONDITION
No one (either scientist or theologian) has yet come up with a satisfactory cause for human existence. Science has a problem with replication to satisfy its “method” and theologians are relegated to magic and assumptions based upon belief rather than evidence. We are here, but why?
Some say there is no “why,” that we just are. Others attribute our existence on this tilting, whirling cinder in space to some divine plan hatched out by God. Many do not want to be bothered with even considering our murky beginnings or our collective fates in favor of living a riotous life in their brief spans on the planet.
TV preachers pretend to know the mind of God and his plan for us hominids who have graduated to homo sapiens status (or, as my old World Politics professor used to call us – homo saps). Charlatans abound in such an unknown atmosphere. The unwary, fearful of death and the wrath of some unknown superpower, fund the efforts of such charlatans. Various “holy writs” are interpreted to fortify their fears of an eternity of nothingness. Elmer Gantrys prosper from such fear and ignorance, much as some today prosper from induced political and economic fear and ignorance in human societies around the world. Kings claim the right to govern by divine right; present day capitalists have pretended to anoint “the market” as the God arbiter of their investment niche in the economic order.
Our fossil hunters discover our evolutionary trail from the Rift Valley to the art-laced caves of France. We celebrate bi-pedalism, thumbs, complex lenses, swollen brains and other such evolutionary markers on the way to where we are. We also lately celebrate innovation and invention, from the wheel to Artificial Intelligence (that may ultimately do us in). We handsomely reward those who have built a better mouse trap. We learn that even evolution is evolving; that it is measurably compressing itself within fewer years in certain areas. We are consumed with building a better world via algorithms.
We rightly recognize that we have reason to be humble, living for only the blink of an eye in geologic time, but we nonetheless spend our extremely limited time here in various pursuits ranging from acquisition of assets to solution of patterns that may lurk beyond the seeming randomness of prime numbers (the Riemann hypothesis) and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (mere measure of one quantum system disturbs measure of another). We don’t know why we are here and are uncertain at best about where we are going, but we package up stories and myths to remove such impediments to our daily interactions with other humans similarly disadvantaged, and since life is linear, plunge on.
Whatever your view of the Easter story, ranging from total disbelief to one where, like Jesus, moral believers will be bodily resurrected into some hazy nirvana for eternity, I think there is one lesson we can all know from his life and works – whatever his claimed resurrection does or does not in fact prove: Jesus repeatedly told us to be good to one another. The resurrection may be as simple as that, the idea that you can’t keep a good man down when that man promotes the brotherhood of humanity and all the Good Samaritan and other altruistic principles that proceed from such high-minded views of how to treat one another. Given such a definition of terms, I know many agnostics and atheists who could be called “Christians,” though they would insist otherwise, having been soured on the designation by the excesses in such definition by medieval monks. Such people may have acceded to  medieval interpretation of the term in order to resist its definition; I have rather resisted such monkish interpretation as overly narrow and elitist and claim to be a Christian this Easter Day.  GERALD  E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I myself claim to be Christian this Easter Day

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3 Comments
  1. As usual, Gerry, you are able to put into words the profound mystery of life and, still, be able to articulate a way forward: The Golden Rule! I would press, however, that Jesus was advocating for more than “be good.” I really don’t think that is why the religious and political powers had him tortured and executed. The fact is, being good and doing good would have been VERY acceptable to an Empire tasked with crowd control in a part of the empire that was consistently rife with revolutions for hundreds of years (think Macabees). All to say that Jesus was literally followed and hunted down (1st century NSA tactics) until the powers to be found an “opportune time” to do away with him. Why? What was going on socially and politically that made Jesus such a threat as to have him crucified, an imperial death reserved ONLY for those deemd by empire as a political threat?

    I think this is the question that separates the historical reality of who Jesus was and what he did from the sad and crazy theology that made him (and his life) a mere thing to “believe in” in order to avoid an eternal hell that a “loving” God has created and reserved for the damned!!! The latter, I believe, doesn’t “save” anyone, but just perpetuates a sick theology that keeps masses in fear of their death and whatever comes after as well as keeping the institution relevant throughout the centuries!

    Indeed, as I preach and teach about the historical reality of Jesus, guess what? He is STILL a threat! I think he is asking his followers to more than moral goodness (although there is nothing wrong with that per se). He was asking his followers to be change agents of society, the larger
    picture of our existence.

    To state the obvious, that is asking more than a belief or thinking. He is asking for action! He is asking US to turn over tables of the powers to be. He is asking us to change the root causes and conditions of life that create so much suffering and hopelessness. I find most people just want to stay in their “comfort zone.” That comfort zone is largely in Christendom what we “believe.” To move out of the comfort zone is a threat, and I really think that is what got Jesus executed and why many since (name your historical change agent) have literally put their lives on the front lines of history to make those paradigm type changes.

    Thanks for your work Gerry, it gets me to thinking and flaming my fire for change that is so desperately needed for millions throughout the world being strangled by global corporate oligarchies. Peace – Brad

    • I am persuaded by your reply to my recent blog that you should be a blogger, and what you sent me (with a few necessary changes in grammatical reference) should be blog numero uno. Go for it! I agree that the life of Jesus personified his views as an agent of change. The man lived under a dictatorship, and had to be careful of what he said lest the cross appear earlier than he did. I think, for instance, that his statement to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” was a political statement designed to placate the Romans rather than some great moral pronouncement. The medieval monks disagreed, and we have been stuck with their views of what Christ said ever since in this and many other such pronouncements. About 50 years ago (when flirting with Unitarianism) I read Sweitzer’s “The Historical Quest For Jesus.” I mentioned that I had lost the book to an atheist friend of mine, and he sent me a used copy. These German theologians of a century or two ago looked at Jesus the man and came up with some very interesting ideas about who he was and what he was about, and few of such observations are in accord with the monkish views of TV preachers today. I presume you have long since read this book, but if not, maybe the local library has it in stock. It’s worth a read. Albert Schweitzer is one of my most famous ten men in history. Anyone with three doctorates (music, medicine and theology) and the world’s most foremost interpreter of Bach on the organ who would found a tin-roof hospital in Lambarene (up the Congo River) to minister to the natives and give up millions and a life of comfort in Berlin is my kind of guy. Whatever theology he really had, he is my idea of a man who lived out the ideals of Christ. It is not enough just to recite prayers, bow to rituals and hit the plate. Christ demands more of us than that, and salvation turns out to be not our own but is found in our efforts to save our fellows in our brief span here as living protoplasm with a conscience. I have yet to find the minutes (if any) of the canonizing councils of 325 and 381 of Nicea, but I would sure like to read them. They would put the “Dead Sea Scrolls” and “Essene” movements to shame. I would especially be interested in the positive canonizing efforts in favor of including Revelations in the New Testament. (I think it fodder on a par with the Gospel of Mary.) But I wander. Be a blogger! Jerry f

      On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM, elderblogger wrote:

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  2. Reblogged this on elderblogger and commented:

    I wrote this blog last Easter and have reblogged it for this Easter for reconsideration of followers.

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