Religious Context

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Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 3.31.55 PMThe following fresco is being cleaned and restored, in Rome.  It is, thus far, one of the earliest known representations of the Apostles.  The top right is Paul.  I seem to remember the top left is Peter.  One of the lower images is of John, who was a cousin of Jesus of Nazareth.

This is making its way around Facebook.

Stop Americanizing Jesus
He was a Jew.
He was Palestinian.
He was brown
He was anti-colonialism.
He was anti-cultural appropriation.
He taught socialism and sharing.
He loves sinners, including prostitutes, tax collectors (thieves of the day), divorcees (sluts of the day) and murderers.
Some of the people he respected and loved the most were women.
He was for racial equality.
He was not apple pie, white, blond, capitalist, meninist, anti-immigration, shaming, antisemetic, racist, gay-bashing, or a fan of basically anything Donald Trump.

The problem is that the person who wrote this was not writing about Christ, but writing it as an insult. The next problem is that well-meaning Christians who take it as fact, are spreading it all over Facebook, without examining the source or what it is about. The person is full of hatred, from what I can tell.

Let’s be honest here, the worst problem is that well-meaning people who love the Lord and are trying to be politically correct. People fall for shit like this, not bothering to check sources. It took me a good hour to find who wrote it. What is fascinating is that others took what was written and ran with it at face value, not bothering with sources. The author is twenty, and is writing from a specific political view-point, that has nothing to do with faith.

The Good Shepherd c 250AD.
The Good Shepherd c 250AD.

It is truly tragic because this person claims to be ‘Christian’, yet the web site from which it comes is not my idea of wholesome. Here is my quandary. Do I condemn this, because I know it is completely bogus, or allow the lies to continue? It is designed to be racist. The person who wrote it claims to be a modern young Christian, but doesn’t like white people. If a white person had said what they did, that person would be condemned as a racist. It wasn’t written out of love, or as about Christ but as a racist attack on people who support a specific politician.

This is so sad in so many ways. People who consider themselves progressive Christians will reach out to it, and quote it as true, without bothering to fact check. If anything is said, then the person who points out the real reason for it is now a racist. It is a trap. Something like 627 people on shared it on Facebook, alone, from only one posting.

(The image of the Good Shepherd is a metaphor for Christ.  It is probably the earliest known image of him or how he ‘looked’ yet discovered.  It should be noted he is not Palestinian nor brown, and had light colored hair.)

What is a Christian to do?

We are told to practice discretion. We are also told not to be stupid, in other words, fact-check. In my fact checking, I discovered that the vast majority of people sharing it are not Christians, but knew what had been written was absolutely true. What is truly annoying is how ignorant the author is, and that the people who are sharing it are falling for it.

The person had a right to write this. I have a right to criticize because it manipulates the teachings of Christ leftward just as the Christian Reconstruction propels to the right. Both are wrong because they change the story. If the person who wrote this wants to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a brown, Palestinian, socialist, who hates white people like Donald Trump, then that’s their right. I guess what really bothers me is this same person will condemn the loudest the faith of a Ted Cruz, Pat Robertson, or a Michele Bachmann. They all have a right to believe what they want to believe. It is our duty as Christians not to fall for their shit.

  • Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew.
  • He was not Palestinian in that today’s genetic Palestinian did not exist at that time.
  • He was not ‘brown’. Jews are not ‘brown’. Sarah was blond. David had red hair. Nothing is said of his appearance. If you study the earliest renderings of Christ, he had short hair, no beard, and his skin color was the same as the Romans. He most likely wore a tunic, and would never have worn a toga.
  • There was no such concept as ‘colonialism’ during his life-time. This is a concept that is only about 500 years old.
  • He lived in a world where Judeans adopted from the Hellenic Greeks and from the Romans. They were very adaptive and assimilated many aspects of the cultures, which conquered them.
  • He did not teach socialism, which is a concept of the past 200 years, at best. The only instance of true socialism in the Bible ended in disaster, in the book of Acts.
  • He loved sinners. He did not hang out though, with murderers.
  • There was no real concept of racial equality in those days. It was not about race, but nationality as in Greek, Roman, Jew, etc.
  • From what we can tell, in the early frescoes out of Rome, his hair was light brown, maybe even red.
  • The concept of capitalism did exist, and he hung out with very rich people. He also told them to pay their taxes and not revolt against the government. He did tell the rich young ruler how difficult it was for a rich man to get into heaven. The eye of the needle may have been a small gate, the only one opened in the walled city of Jerusalem at night. Joseph of Arimathea, who was either his step-father or maternal uncle, was literally the richest man in the Roman world.
  • There was also no concept of immigration. It was the Roman Empire for gosh sakes. Anyone who does not comprehend the concept of how large it was is an ignorant fool.
  • They did a hell of a lot of ‘shaming’ in those days.
  • How the hell could a Jew be antisemitic?
  • There was no concept of ‘race’ as we know it today.
  • And, he condemned homosexual relationships – sorry about that. So did Rome.

I am so tired of historical ignorance.

As Christians, I think we have a duty to be as accurate as possible in what we write and say about Christ and the Bible.

I could be wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Religious Context

  1. Back in 1978 when I was stationed in Germany, some of us traveled down to Turin (Torino in Italian) to see the “Shroud of Turin”, purported to be the burial shroud of Jesus. It was a very uplifting experience.

    Some have tried to say it is a fake, but it has been carbon dated to around the time of Jesus.

  2. There are some questions about the carbon dating on the Shroud. I once thought it was authentic. I swing the other way with it now, after reading some of the latest science on it. Parts of it do date back two thousand years, but there are far too many questions. I’ve been in some of those old churches. The feeling of at least 1500 years of prayers is staggering, and humbling, that’s for sure.

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