zaterdag 15 maart 2008

Easter and Pesach

This is my first entry in this blog.
I intend to write in English, though I don't exclude the possibiltity of posting some Dutch lines, my mother tongue.

An appropiate subject is the coming holiday of Easter and for this occasion I introduce an earlier written outcry about religious entanglement, focussing on Jesus. Thus it goes.

Easter and Pesach are coming soon. Jesus.
Jesus: what demonic warp has inculcated for ages upon the minds of that part of mankind, that is denominated Christian. What fiendish crack runs through twenty centuries of Christianity. When one comes to think of it, what absurdity, what strange twist the Christian power politics and religious zeal has given to Jesus and his compatriots, the Jews…
The gifts of the Jews on a religious and spiritual level to mankind are many.Not the least is the notion of a divinity, that is not embodied in a host of idols, but which is characterized by a universal oneness, emanating the qualities of justice, love, compassion and demanding of his people to pursue likewise and to deal with each other in a decent manner.All this recorded in the Torah, the Prophets, etc.

No doubt Jesus was in this tradition a man with unequalled qualities as an original master and a teacher with a renovating message.He may be considered a second gift, a teacher whose Jewish message had the quality of appealing beyond the scope of the Jewish audience.
Yes, a cruel fate befell to him in the midst of religious and political turbulences of its time. Most probably he was the victim of the ayatollah's of that time, the Sadducee priest caste, whose bastion was the temple in Jerusalem. They were tolerated by the Romans at the price of keeping the populace subdued. Of course they felt menaced by the forceful message of Jesus and no doubt they had the Romans on their side, the Romans who didn't want to run any risk at political unrest.Probably the Sadducee priest succeeded in mobilizing a mob roaming along the Jerusalem alley's.

But equally probably the greater part of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee formed an inquisitive, if not sympathetic audience to Jesus, many of them consoled by his practical though not soft teaching of honesty and compassion and many longing for freedom from the Roman suppression and harbouring expectations of Jesus being a liberator of the Roman yoke.

The whole process found its logical culmination during Pesach, the holiday of freedom, in which the Jews commemorate their liberation from the Egyptian suppressors of the past.Fear for riots and uprising played an decisive role in the minds of the Romans and their Sadducee allies.Maybe Jesus was sweeped up in a process beyond his reckoning, maybe he consciously used the process to explain with his life that spiritual power far surpasses the worldly power of the rulers of the moment and that the kingdom of God is not to be built on suppression and politics of violence.
Nevertheless: an event like the crucifixion of Jesus, incisive, sorrowful and distressing as it may have been, is an event to be found in all times and in all nations.( Examples can be found all throughout history, examples in which in many cases the Christian Church is the perpetrator.) And the heroic, noble, dignified way Jesus endured his fate is to be deeply respected, but it is not unique.

But then - after the crucifixion - the process took a momentum not foreseen or intended by Jesus. Disciples like Paul and John made him the Messiah, the Son of God and in the course of time in the eyes and opinion of the brand new Church - given a fateful boost by the emperor Constantine - all these unthankful Jews became the murderers of the Son of God, though by murdering him they were instrumental in making it possible for this newly forged Christ to take upon his shoulders the sins of especially the non Jews.

This is a paradoxical, and unintentional third gift of the Jews to mankind: the drama of a (super)human scapegoat, making it possible for many humans to relief the depths of their heart of a profound feeling of guilt.For this poignant and sorrowful gift the Jews had to pay dearly.
The event of the crucifixion has been simplified, deformed, warped to a kind of myth, apparently satisfying a profound need for redemption of a guilt deeply seated in the (unconscious part of the) soul. For dealing with this guilt a new myth was needed and - alas for the Jews - found in the myth in which Jesus figured as the redeeming holy victim. The myth also required demonical perpetrators on whose back the botttled up guilt could be projected: the Jews. So far for the spiritual-psychological side of the matter; the previous paragraph is a book in a nutshell.I leave aside the political Church interests of detaching the Christian belief from its Jewish roots which have played a paramount role.All this is superbly unravelled in the book "The sword of Constantine" by James Carroll

The common denominator of Easter and Pesach is the renewal of nature and freeing of the soul of old burdens, the liberation from slavery, be it from factual or existential guilt or social suppression.So I wish you, reader, a refreshing renewal of the soul, may you be freed of oppressive feelings and patterns without needing fellow men as scapegoats.

March 15 2008

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