Look! It's My Vampire Christ and He's Summoning Odin -He's Odins' Bitch, You Know

holly stang jannistang at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 5 22:58:11 MST 2002


I'm just catching up on a few weeks' worth of messages
and
see that a lot of nonsense has been written about
religion.
Let's start with Christianity. Two claims are commonly
made
whenever a synthesis of Marxism and Christianity are
attempted: 1. Jesus was a rebel; and, 2. the gospel
message
is somehow communistic. These claims are easily
refuted by
the text itself:

"Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes
you
on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if
any
one woud sue you and take your coat, let him have your
cloak
as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go
with
him two miles." Matt. 5:39-41

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless
those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."
Luke
6:27-28

The texts quoted above are often pointed to as
exemplary
precepts for passive resistance. What they are, in
fact, is
a recipe for masochism, and self-abuse. It is not
enough
that you comply with abuse, you must actively
participate
and outdo your abuser (go the extra mile). Jesus did
not
even call for the passive-resistence type of mass
action
advocated by Ghandi. He did not call for the
withdrawal into
the desert type of mass action of John the Baptist.
This is
not a call for mass action of any kind; it is a call
for
passive-aggressive accommodation of individuals to
"the
prince of this world." John 12:31.

The period during which the Jesus Event was alleged to
have
occurred - the first three decades of the first
century of
the common era - was a time of relative quiescence in
Palestine. A crushing defeat, during which 800 Jewish
rebels
had been crucified, was still in the memory, at least
of the
older folks, and Galilee in particular was becoming
massively urbanised and Romanized. It was a time to
hope
that the meek would inherit the earth, not a time to
try to
wrest the earth away from oppressors.

The message of the alleged Jeshua bar-Miryam is
irreconcilably contradictory. Is he a man of peace
(Blessed
are the peacemakers. Matt. 5:9) or of the sword (Matt.
10:34)? Does he promote fellowship (Love thy
neighbour. Mark
12:31) or discord (A man's foes shall be of his own
household. Matt.10:36 and Luke 12:53.) and (Ye shall
be
hated of all men. Mark 13:13)? Should we believe him
when he
says his witness of himself is true (John 8:14) or
when he
says it is false (John 5:31)? Are we to be judged by
our
words (Matt. 12:36) or by our belief and baptism (Mark
16:16)? And what are we to think of a man who tells us
to
turn the other cheek, yet reserves for himself the
right to
slay enemies? Luke 19:27 "But those mine enemies,
which
would not that I should reign over them, bring them
hither,
and slay them before me."

This brings us to a third problem: the utter silence
of
contemporary historians. There is no evidence of any
of the
events depicted in the Gospels. Evidence for the Jesus
Movement itself doesn't show up for at least a
generation
after the death of its founder. For an introduction to
the
Mythic Jesus position, I recommend Earl Doherty's "The
Jesus
Puzzle" website. Numerous authors have posited
scenarios
giving plausible explanations of how the Jesus Event
could
have arisen out of generalized Messianic expectations
current in Palestine during the centuries leading up
to the
development of the Gospels. Some have sought real
figures: a
Jeshua in the Talmud, the several Jesuses mentioned by
Josephus, several rebel leaders including a Sicarii
named
Judas, and most recently, the Dead Sea Scrolls have
been
studiously mined for potential candidates, such as the
famous Teacher of Righteousness.

The evidence requires no such originator. There are
extant
numerous collections of pithy sayings attributed to
fictive
authors (the Old Testament collections of Psalms,
Proverbs,
and Ecclesiates, for instance); and modern scholarship
has
yielded just such a collection, called "Q" after the
German
word for source, underlying our received texts of the
New
Testament. Scholars have long known that the Four
Gospels,
with which our current NT opens were written long
after the
events depicted, and indeed, long after the Pauline
corpus
had been penned. (See in particular G. H. Wells, _The
Historical Evidence For Jesus_, for an illustration of
the
textual critique involved.) Those who like to blame
Paul for
the grotesqueries of Christian thought are faced with
the
fact that these early texts are a polemic against what
the
Christers would like to call orthodoxy. Worse, we have
no
indication from Paul what that orthodoxy could have
been. In
the entire Pauline corpus, we find exactly eight words
of
Jeshua bar-Miryam. Would anyone here try to argue a
controverted interpretation of Marx without even one
citation from the accepted corpus? No one likes
excessive
quotation; but, when an interpretation is controverted
(and
Paul's controversy with the Jerusalem Church is
reflected in
various of the Epistles), we all recognize a need to
produce
a citation from which the interpretation is derived -
if
only in avoidance of a charge of false construction.

Even worse for the Christolators, Paul cites no
details of
the life of his teacher. For all the light Paul sheds
on
Jesus, the man, Paul's Christ could have been a mythic
figure from the remote past. This fact has not gone
unnoticed by promoters of various Essene figures as
the Real
Jesus, or, in some cases, the proto-type of the Gospel
Christ. These figures predated the Gospels by up to
two
centuries.

The underlying Gospel of Q also has no coherent core
message. Burton Mack, one of the foremost commentators
on
this text, has suggested that this collection of
sayings
falls within the tradition of the Wandering Cynics, a
loose
school of mendicant philosophers who wandered the
Empire
with the purpose of startling people into
unconventional
thinking, in the manner of the poets of the Japanese
schools
of Haiku. In other words, they were no more
revolutionary
than today's motivational speakers urging
up-and-coming
middle management personnel to "think outside the
box". They
were entertaining, but hardly profound.

Nevertheless, some broad generalizations can be made
about
the origins of Christian thought. Palestine was on the
cross-roads of the caravanseries crisscrossing between
the
superpowers of the ancient world. Judiasm shows traces
of
influence derived from as far away as India and as
near as
Egypt and Canaan. The Indo/Iranian god Mitra had
combined
covenantry, militarism, and the symbology of light
long
before JHWH came along; and the monotheism of
Akhenaten
predated Judiasm by several centuries. Much of the
language
of the Psalms has been lifted whole cloth from the
Canaanite
liturgy. The Messianic tradition was inherited from
Persia;
as was the dualism of the War of the Sons of Darkness
against the Sons of Light. I doubt very much that
there has
ever been a pure form of Jeudiasm, and more than there
has
ever been a pure form of Christianity.

Beginning in the 6th C. BCE, a wave of religious
revolution
swept the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India,
manifested
in such figures as Pythagoras, the Gautama Buddha, and
Ezekiel. The Pythagorean experiment is often viewed as
the
first coherent attempt to put communistic principles
into
practice. Martin A. Larson, however, in _The Story of
Christian Origins_, 1977, sees it as a reaction
against a
new social order based on the centralizing power of
the
patriarchal family, resting on private property.
"Private
property, class divisions, and economic exploitation
had
broken down the equalitarianism of the primitive
community:
it was therefore comunism which was conservative or
reactionary, and private property which was dynamic
and
revolutionary, carrying within itself an intense
individualism, constituting a new center of loyalty,
which
in time made the adhesions of communal society
impossible.
Pythagoreanism sought to re-establish communism, but
on a
higher plane than that of primitive society, which was
an
automatic growth; the communism of Pythagoras was to
be
regulated by the strictest social control. It was
intended
to achieve the greatest possible good, but for a
society
consisting of, and acting in unison as,
self-determining
individuals." Larsen traces the strictly regulated
communalism of the Dead Sea communities to Pythagorean
influence.

The buddhist communism which arose concurrently in
India is
presented by Larsen as a massive withdrawal of labour,
the
first organized mass strike. This isn't born out by
his own
telling of the story. Buddhism amd Gainism both arose
out of
the ascetic school of Brahmanism which emphasised
individual
salvation; and only later did buddhist monks begin
congregating into communities. None of these religions
attained mass followings in their early years. Gainism
has
never had a massive following, Buddhism didn't
flourish till
it left its country of origin, and the Pythagorean
movement
was crushed after the peacefull attainment of state
power in
a few Greek cities. In general, the new monks played a
role
similar to that of the Wandering Cynics or the
chivalric
troubadors of later eras.

The Jesus Movement followed the same pattern. Jesus
himself
does not advocate the formation of organized
community: he
simply prescribes the abandonment of current
responsiblities. "If any man come to me, and hate not
his
father, and mother, and wife, and children, and
brethren,
and sisters, yea, and even his own life also, he
cannot be
my disciple." Luke 15:26. Social entanglements are to
be
eschewed: "When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call
not
thy friends, nor thy bretheren, neither thy kinsmen,
nor thy
rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a
recompence be made thee." This is not a doctrine of
mutual
reciprocity, but rather a doctrine of fear of social
entanglements.

What was going on here? John Dominic Crossan has
examined
the social and economic reality of the time in his
_The Life
of a Mediteranean Peasant_. Modern archeology has
shown
that, far from being a quiet rural backwater, the
Galilee of
the 1st C. CE had been heavily urbanized by the
Romans. Long
cut off from direct connection to the rest of Judea,
Galilee
had developed its own concerns and was hardly a hotbed
of
pro-Jewish advocacy. The famous story of the Gadarene
pigs reflects the long-established coexistence of
Gentile
and Jew in this part of Palestine. Nazareth, the
alleged
birth place of Jesus, was only three miles distant
from the
thriving Roman metropolis of Seppharis. There was a
general
air of change and turmoil, as land was gobbled up by
the new
cities; but, these cities also created a demand for
products
from the countryside. Displaced peasants turned to the
cities for work as day labourers.

Among the displaced persons, were some small number of
skilled
workers. Rural craftsmen are rarely able to make a
living
from their crafts, as peasants have little disposable
income
to support them, and often take to vagabondage to ply
their
trade, in the manner of the weavers in _Silas Marner_.
There
are enough craftsman motifs in the New Testament -
Jesus,
the carpenter; God, the potter - to suggest that this
is the
social basis in which the Jesus Movement flourished.
To
supplement their meagre earnings from artisanship, and
in
the manner of Travelling People everywhere, the
movement
would no doubt "Preach a little Gospel, Sell a little
bottle
of Dr. Good." as Cher put it.

It is estimated by some historians that Christianity
was
known to less than 10% of the Hellenic world before
the end
of the second century. The Gnostic form which
predominated
in the early years was secretive and had no mass
appeal. By
the middle of the third century, however, it had
attracted
the attention of wealthier Romans looking for a tax
shelter.
The earlier Christians had congregated in private
homes, not
having the money for extensive temple-building. Those
who
left their estates to the Church avoided inheritance
taxes;
installing family members as bishops left the wealth
in
family hands. Eventually, the practice became
wide-spread
and the Church became respectable. Eventually, the
Church
became a identified with what was left of Roman
culture as
the empire disintegrated. It flourished in the
barbarian
world by flogging literacy, Roman administration
practices,
and estates management to the pagan upper classes.

Despite its reputation for culture, the Western Church
underwent a period of profound anti-intellectual
reaction
for several centuries following the fall of Rome. If
responsibility for the ushering in of the Dark Ages
cannot
be laid entirely at the door of the Western Church,
certainly we can see that the Church took an active
and
leading role in the destruction of pagan culture.
Almost as
soon as Christianity gained as a state religion, the
Church
began issuing edicts against the old religions,
shutting
down pagan colleges, and heaping vitriole on the old
culture. Hordes of black robed monks headed up
Christian
mobs to sack and destroy temples, libraries and other
centres of pagan learning. Treasuries were looted,
lands
confiscated, and countless books were burned. This
violence
had all the earmarks of government-sponsored pogrom,
not a
spontaneous uprising of the oppressed against a hated
ancient regime.

Despite Christianity's modern reputation for being a
religion of peace and brotherhood, it's capacity for
sectarian violence earned it the epithet
"self-murderers" in
its early centuries. The earliest centuries are filled
with
attacks by black-robed monks upon the congregations of
rival
communities. (A History of Christianity, Paul Johnson,
1976)
If we examine the Gospels, it is easy to see that the
seeds
of sectarianism are contained in the earliest text.

Over and over, Jesus draws an absolute line between
the good
guys and the bad guys. Matt. 12:30 and Luke 11:23 both
tell
us: "He that is not for me is against me; and he that
gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." "And
whosoever
shall not receive you or listen to your words, when
you
depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust
of your
feet. Truly, I say unto you it shall be more tolerable
for
the land of Sodom and Gomorra than for that town. "
Matt.
10:14,15. At Mark 4:11,12 and again at Luke 8:10 we
see
Jesus explaining to his disciples why it is he speaks
in
parables: so that the public won't understand, "lest
they
convert"; and at John 3:18 we are told that those who
don't
believe "are condemned already." Jesus makes it plain
he is
only here for the elect (Mark 13:27); and we are
admonished
not to cast our pearls before swine. "For many are
called
but few are chosen." Matt. 22:14.  This absolutism has
its
predecessor in the Gaina doctrine, which follows the
Bhagavd-Gita in stating that there are two classes of
men. "The wise renounce everything, but the fools heap
up
evil kharma, which  will plague them into hell, and
which
compels them to believe that they must "provide for a
mother, for a father, for a sister, for a wife, for
sons,
for daughters" and must possess "different kinds of
property
.. Longing for these objects, people work day and
night ..
commit injuries and violent acts." (Larsen)

It is not enough, however, to draw a line in the sand
between us and Them. We are encouraged to dream dreams
of
vengeance, as with the story of the harlot Bindumati,
who
reduces all men to the same level (at least in her own
mind): "This ...is the Act of Truth by the force of
which I
turn the Ganges back." "The first shall be last." Mark
10:31. "For whosoever exhalteth himself shall be
abased and
he that humbleth himself shall be exhalted." Luke
14:11. The
Gaina story of Harikesa, upon which the Christian
parable of
the sower is based, tells of the hundredfold rewards
that
come to those who sow in the good fields (give alms to
the
Gaina monks), rather than the bad fields (the
hypocritical,
greedy Brahmans), for the latter have had their
reward, but
later "There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing
of
teeth." (Larsen, also Matt. 13:50.)

The promise of reward in return for impoverishment and
self-abasement comes as a bit of a shock. We have been
taught that the Great Religions all teach selflessness
and
altruism.  "Verily I say unto you, there is no man
that hath
left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or
mother,
or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the
gospel's. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in
this
time, houses, brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and
children, and lands, with persecutions and in the
world to
come eternal life." Mark 10:29,30. And Luke 8:18 tells
us
"for whomsoever hath, to him shall be given; and
whomsoever
hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he
seemeth
to have."

All this is depicted as the natural reward for
saintliness
and self-abnegation. Just as Buddha taught divine
idleness,
Jesus taught "Take no thought for your life, what ye
shall
eat; neither for the body, what ye shall wear...
Consider
the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap .. and God
feedeth
them. ... And which of you taking one thought can add
to his
stature one cubit? But rather seek ye the kingdom of
God;
and all these things shall be added unto you." Luke
12:22-33. Similarly, the Gaina sages proclaimed: "A
wild
animal goes by itself to many places, lives in many
places,
and always gets its food.. I shall imitate this life
of the
animals." (Larsen) And so we see moral absolutes given
the
force of Cosmic Law by means of appeal to the natural
order.

And just as the natural and cosmic orders are eternal,
so is
the social order. Neither Jesus, nor the Buddha, nor
Mahavira envisioned any great transformation of
society.
(For ye shall have the poor with you always.. Mark
14:7) Nor
could they, because the livelihood of the mendicant
depends
on the whims of those moved to charity. ".. and
whensover ye
will, ye may do them good." Even the ancient Law of
Moses
will remain unchanged. We are to "live by every word
of God"
Luke 4:4, because " it is easier for heaven and earth
to
pass away than that one tittle of the law shall fail."
Luke
16:17. So that means if you were to pledge to
sacrifice your
first born in return for graduating summa cum laude
from
Harvard, you wouldn't be allowed to renege for a fee
(Lev.
27:27,28), as you could if you were to pledge only
your
second born (Lev. 27:1-8). It also means that children
who
curse their parents should be put to death. Lev. 20:9.

Jesus also thinks it's ok to beat a servant with many
stripes, unless his error was inadvertent, in which
case
light stripes will suffice. Luke 12:47,48. In this, he
is
following Exodus 21:20,21, which tells us it is ok for
a
master to beat a servant, even unto death, "for he
is his money."

Despite all the accomodation we are to make to the
evil in
this world, we ourselves are expected to excercise the
most
rigid control over our conduct, and even our very
thoughts.
Matt. 12:36 tells us that we are to be judged by our
every
idle word. We are to maintain a constant vigilance
against
an evil we are not allowed to fight, against unseen
powers
in this world, and against our own inner nature. I'm
no
psychologist, but I feel that this extreme
self-censorship
and paranoia cannot possibly be healthy.

It is also extremely difficult to censor a self that
is in
the process of God-mandated dissolution. Buddhism is
explicite in stating this goal: Nirvana is the state
of
dissolution of the Ego into the Universal Soul. In
it's
central doctrine of submission to Allah, Islam carrys
a
similar mandate, as does Christianity with its demand
that
we love god absolutely, with all your heart and soul
(See
Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30, and others).A related doctrine
- that
God is no respecter of persons - furthers this process
of
ego dissolution, in that it encourages erasure of
interpersonal differences, thereby fostering the
development
of borderline personality disorders.

This is a profoundly anti-rational message. Analysis
and
reason can only proceed on the basis of comparison of
perceived differences. In logic, it is only through
such
comparison that universals can be properly recognized
and
understood. What we have in the core message of
transcendant
universalism is a powerful mechanism for conformity,
based
on a profound rejection of the self and a determined
attack
on reason (.. take ye no thought how or what thing ye
shall
answer or what ye shall say. Luke 12:11), and a
rejection of
the reality of human suffering (Be not afraid of them
that
can kill the body... Luke 12:4. If thy eye offend
thee,
pluck it out. Mark 9:47.)

Marxists reject any politics of homogenization and
conformity because they can only lead to class
collaboration.

js





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