I Love it When the Ignorant Lecture Me About Jesus

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This is the kind of rhetorical nonsense that people who think they’re moar SMRTer then dem stoopid Xtians love to share. It’s so full of irrelevancies, absurdities, and flat-out mischaracterizations as to represent a Perfect Storm of Woke-Signalling. It cries out to Heaven for a Fisking.

Original in Bold, my responses in italic.

Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary

Lemme stop you right here. “Radical” is one of those words, like “fascist” that has been overused to the point of meaninglessness. He was certainly not a “revolutionary” in any accepted meaning of the term. In the first place, claiming to be a Messiah, the Heir of the House of David, is if anything a Reactionary position, as restoring the Davidic Kingdom would by definition be restoring a long-honored past. In the second place, dude was quite clear that his Kingdom was Not Of This World, and had very little to say on proper political arrangements, other than everyone should pay their taxes, which is the least revolutionary political statement of all time.

As for the “nonviolent” bit, we’re talking about the guy who kicked the money-changers out of the Temple and promised that he was “bringing not peace, but the sword,” right?

…who hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks…

Which, as he explicitly said, was in order that these people be healed, forgiven, and brought back into the fold. Not as a statement that leprosy, prostitution, and theft were valid choices to be celebrated.

…wasn’t American and never spoke English…

Your strawman, it burns so beautifully. I’ve heard versions of this chuckle-witted applause line a million times if I’ve heard it once, and always comes from someone mocking the idea. I have never in my born days heard a grown adult Christian of any denomination claim that Jesus was American and spoke English. Find a new line, will you?

…was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti public-prayer (Mt 6:5)

Y’all just love that line about the difficulties of a wealthy man entering the Kingdom of Heaven. True, love of money is a sin. But most of the Bible treats wealth as a blessing from God, to be dispensed with in a Godly way, but by no means wicked in and of itself.  And if we’re being honest, you don’t think YOUR money is bad. You think the other guy, who has Too Much Money, is bad. There’s a whole commandment just for you.

I’m gonna need a citation on that anti-death penalty thing. Because Jesus was real big on casting people into the fiery Gehenna, to the point of telling people to cut their hands of and gouge their eyes out to avoid it. And when Peter told Jesus NOT to go and have himself handed over to death, Jesus called him Satan and told him to get behind him. It’s almost as if this guy was working on a meta/cosmic/spiritual level, and doesn’t deserve to get shoehorned into your modern political demands. But whatever.

Matthew 6:5 does indeed tell people to pray in their homes rather than make a loud show to their neighbors of how Holy and Good they are. If you think he was talking about punishing high school kids for saying a prayer before their football games, because an atheist might be downwind, then you’re deliberately taking Matthew 6:5 out of context. A guy who publicly taught people his message about God, to the point of preaching to thousands at a time, was 100% not saying what you’re trying to squeeze out of him here.

…But was never anti-gay…

Being “gay”, like America and the English language, didn’t exist in the first century. Jesus didn’t speak about “gay issues” because there was no subculture seeking validation for them. What Jesus did say was that the Mosaic Law (which is blunt on homosexual acts being contrary to God’s Will) was to be retained and followed, and unless your righteousness exceeded that of the Phariseees, (meaning you followed the Law even better than they did)  you weren’t getting your Golden Ticket. He also rather publicly stated (Matthew 5) that marriage existed in order to bring together male and female, and that such was what God intended from the beginning, in case you’re planning on updating this screed to include same-sex marriage or the 57 new genders.

…never mentioned abortion or birth control…

Again, because this wasn’t an issue for Jews of his time. The Mosaic Law (which again, Jesus said he was all about) applies the death penalty to men who by violence cause an unborn child to die (Ex 21:22-23). No Jewish sect of Jesus’ time was pro-abortion or pro-birth control, and the Early Church was foursquare in its condemnation of Roman practices of both. He didn’t have to mention it; everyone was on board.

…never called the poor lazy…

“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

-Matthew 25:26-30

This also doesn’t sound like a guy who’s “anti-wealth”. Huh.

…Never justified torture…

See above, regarding cutting your hand off and poking your eye out to avoid Hell. Jesus’ pronouncements about Hell as a Lake of Fire and a Second Death, are pretty vivid and horrifying. But you do you.

…never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes…

Nazarenes weren’t wealthy. Nazareth was a half-Samaritan backwater that no one thought anything of. It was the Flyover Country of Judaea. If anything, Jesus endured the snobbery of Hellenized, globally-aware Jerusalem urbanites who scoffed at the notion of anything good coming from those dirty fishermen.

Sound familiar?

As for the statement that he never specifically advocated for tax relief, for the wealthy or otherwise, that’s probably because of his general lack of interest in political questions. Is that a stance you’re going to be emulating anytime soon?

…never asked a leper for a copay…

He also never demanded that Caeser Augustus and the High Priest create a control board rationing care to lepers and demoniacs. He just healed them. Because he was God.

..and was a long-haired…

Every single artistic depiction of Jesus of the last two-thousand years has shown him with long hair. What secret do you think you’re uncovering?

…brown-skinned…

I promise you, no one is shocked by this. Everyone knows Jesus wasn’t a European. I’m pretty sure Chinese Christians know that he wasn’t Asian and African Christians will admit that he wasn’t black. This is another strawman, and says way more about you than it does about whoever you imagine you’re calling out.

…homeless community-organizing…

Precisely what did Jesus organize the “homeless community” of Judaea to do?

And while you’re answering that, you can go ahead and tell me what Barack Obama’s community-organizing accomplishments were. I’ve been waiting for about 12 years for that state secret to get declassified.

…anti-slut shaming…

Tell that to the Woman at the Well. 

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

John 4:15-18

Now, I know you’re really talking about the Woman Taken in Adultery a few chapters later, in John 8. But you’re taking the wrong lesson from that story, as almost everyone does. Jesus didn’t say “The law is wrong and you shouldn’t stone her,” he said “Let him who is without sin cast the FIRST stone.” Not all the subsequent stones, just the first one. He was making a point that he often made about casting out your own sins (hence the aforementioned hand-chopping and eye-gouging) before dealing with another’s. And when the crowd dispersed, Jesus didn’t say “You Go Girl!” to the woman spared, he said “Go forth and sin no more.” As in “Get your life together, sister, or next time I won’t be here to slow them down.”

…Middle Eastern Jew.

Hey, you got one right. Good for you!

 

No, Islamic Spain was Not Tolerant

So sayeth this review of The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise. (h/t Vox Populi)

And yes, the reviewer is an Orthodox priest, if you want to ready your ad hominems, and he is positively scathing regarding the myth, even working in a Gone With the Wind reference.

As Fernandez-Morera’s book points out, the picture of a tolerant Islam can only be drawn by selecting among the facts and zeroing in on a few of the upper classes, while conveniently ignoring the mass of people and suppressing certain other facts—even facts about those upper classes.

Now, the fact that medieval Muslims forcibly oppressed Christians in their lands does not and should not surprise. Religions, if they’re worth anything, are totalizing, thus religious tolerance always has the tendency to border on being a contradiction in terms. So the status of Christian dhimmis in Muslim Spain as fifth-class subjects should not really be a revelation.

But it is, and this indicaes a broader problem, of a spiritual cancer at the heart of the West. There are those among us who are prepared to believe, and repeat, anything, if it makes our own culture look bad. The same people who tut derisively about the Crusades train themselves not to notice the wars of conquest by which Arab Muslims destroyed Christian Visigothic Spain in the eighth century. Their stunted ideology requires them to deplore the first thing and attack anyone who mentions the second thing as a racist (because, you know, Islam is a race. Oh, we know that it isn’t, but you’re too dumb to make that distinction). Attacking your own culture makes you virtuous, you see.

Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair climbed on the bandwagon, saying in 2007, “The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones”.

Given that the early Middle Ages were the time when Muslims attacked other lands specifically in the name of their religion, this statement beggars belief. I’d be hard pressed to think that Tony Blair even really thought this was true. It’s just the sort of thing we’re expected to say, a reading from the Catechism of the Blessed Dictatorship of Post-Cultural Relativism.

John C. Wright on The Grand Christian Conspiracy

Which is always assumed, but somehow never demonstrated.

Paul got wealth and prestige and money by spreading the doctrine of Jesus, and the Jewish and Roman authorities anointed him with honors. Peter likewise was exulted and died a wealthy man, surrounded by children and grandchildren, and John retired to a small island in the Mediterranean in his leisure years. Thomas traveled to India, sightseeing, and was well received by the natives. Bartholomew made a fortune in the tanning business. So the Church was a moneymaking juggernaut in Nero’s time, and many Christians in Rome went into business lighting the public streets. Others when into the entertainment industry. Perpetua and Felicitas  are still remembered for their animal act.

“lighting the public streets” That’s just funny, that is.

Watching Wright disembowel rhetorical commonplaces is always a pleasure.

Myths of the Great Library

In History, the details are always hard to catch, yet always worth knowing. This long post at History for Atheists, worth absorbing in full, makes a number of discordant points about the Myth that the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed by a Christian mob in 390 AD, thus setting science and technology back a thousand years. I will state them below in brief, and you may read the post in full.

  1. The Great Library of Alexandria was not the only Great Library of the Ancient World. It did not “contain all the wisdom of the ancient world”.
  2. The Great Library of Alexandria was a research institution, a Mouseion, devoted to the Nine Muses, which is to say, they were a product of Pagan religious inspiration, the worship of the gods.
  3. Consequently, most of the scholarship done at the Mouseion was focused on textual criticism and poetry, and not very much on what we moderns would call science.
  4. The Ancient Greeks and Romans didn’t really do science as we understand it today. Which is to say, their natural philosophy was largely inductive, not empirical, and they did not apply this philosophy to improving the technology of their culture.
  5. The Mouseion had almost certainly ceased to exist by 390 AD. A series of sackings of the city by Romans, beginning with Julius Caesar, greatly diminished the value of the place.
  6. What was destroyed in 390 AD was a daughter library, the Serapaeum. As with the Mouseion, the Serapaeum was first and foremost a pagan temple, devoted to the worship of the hybrid Greek-Egyptian God Serapis. It’s destruction in 390 was the result of a long series of hostilites between the pagan and Christian populations of the city. Which is to say, it was the result of a war between rival religious traditions, and not a war between religion and science. And according to primary sources, there may not even have been a library in the Serapaeum at the time.

Again, Read the Whole Thing (Hat Tip: Vox Populi)

New Fiction – The Devil Left Him: A Retelling of the Temptation of Christ

A bit ago, I happened to rent Last Days in the Desert, an indie film with Ewan McGregor portraying both Jesus and Satan during Jesus’ forty days in the desert (Matthew 4). It was an interesting take on the idea, but the script wasn’t quite up to snuff, being primarily concerned with a family Jesus encounters while on his way back to Jerusalem.

It also fell victim to the difficulties of writing Jesus as a literary character. In a story, a protagonist needs to have some kind of arc, a progression from a lower to a higher state. But the Godhead of the Christian faith is whole and complete from the moment of his birth – he has no need of growth or understanding. That’s the whole point of his being here.

So what ends up happening in non-religious films is Default Arianism – Jesus is some kind of demigod, at best, with limited understanding. At one point in Last Days in the Desert, Jesus asks the Devil what being the Presence of God is like. The Devil’s response is interesting, but I was unable to stop thinking “Oh, come on!”

I can quite understand the need to do that, but that doesn’t make it any easier for me to swallow.

Moaning about someone else’s creative work is easy. It’s better to try my own hand at such a tale.

Behold, the first chapter:

thedevillefthim Yeshua was fourteen days in the desert when the Devil came to him. He had reached the point where the hunger inside of him could no longer be fooled by the drinking of water – for water had to be consumed in the desert, daily. It was no longer an experience that his tall, lean body underwent without protest. His body was screaming at him to eat.

He felt the pain as a reality, as the raw nerve transmitting the signal – this is wrong, this is wrong – and did not deny it. He understood at last the way hermits sought to transmute this pain into pleasure. That was a way to allow the brain to survive the pain, the monotonous stab of it. But it was a lie. Yeshua had no patience for lies.

Read the rest for free at Tablo.