"Never lose sight of it." Losing sight is what makes thinking all of life is a series of carnival rides does. Not merely enjoying something. And then there are Christ's words about it not profiting to gain the whole world and losing your own soul. Not a good trade off.

Comment by Shari


It's interesting how AFKAN and myself are more and more taking Shari's comments as our starting point. As we say down South, That gal is about half BRIGHT." I read her summation and it gets my brain into action.

As usual, I am not agreeing with or disagreeing with what she says. There's too much common sense (common sense is never common) in what Shari says to leave any room for disagreement. Good comments provide a springboard. The above statement hit me between the eyes because it reminded me of how professional preachers use Christ's words as a springboard for them to prove their own importance, their own detailed Biblical knowledge, and how little they read what he said and then THINK about what HE meant.

Take the Lord's Prayer. We are told that the thing to do is to repeat it endlessly, or, as Jesus said, "Many think they will achieve salvation by much saying." But if you look at the context, that is exactly what he was NOT advocating.

What Jesus was saying when he recited the Lord's Prayer was, "It is enough to call a fish a fish." He was contrasting what one should say to God to what was being done at the Temple, where endless hours were spent praising God and talking, talking, talking.

No wonder they ended up having to crucify him. Nothing could have been as infuriating to the Temple priesthood as Jesus' reducing all their endless chants to a simple, bare, stark petition to God for what a person needed while he DID good things. We need bread to keep us going, forgive us IF and to the extent that we do the same for others and provide as few temptations to us weak humans as you can.

One minute long. All those endless hours Temple priests made their living on meant very little.

Then there is the rich young man. How many sermons have been devoted to Jesus's instructing the young man to give all he had to the poor? They build whole social systems and Marxist Liberation Theology on that. But what Jesus said was, "If you would be PERFECT, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and FOLLOW ME." Listening to the average sermon you would think the last three words were never spoken.

The question Jesus was answering was NOT, "Lord, what is the ideal socioeconomic system?" The question was, "What must I do to be SAVED?" The answer was, "Follow me, and nothing else." The man's property was a detail, and earnest of really abandoning all and following Jesus.

Modern "Christians" intensely dislike the idea that Jesus really meant it when he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." One of the perversions that have destroyed the "Christian" right has been their turning him into a fanatical Israeli nationalist. That was precisely what frustrated the Jews of his own time. The rejection of Zionist nationalism is EXACTLY what Jesus was renouncing when he said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

The Modernists were terribly upset with the idea that Jesus was really as obsessed with the Next Life. Now the "Christian" Right is rejecting that same idea. They are deeply upset at the idea that Jesus was betting everything on the Next Life. How can they keep their dues-paying congregation in church if they don't give them a Guide to Better Living and Political Truth, and just keep talking about some Next Life?

Sorry, gang, that is what Jesus WAS obsessed with. Every word he said to the rich young man and to everyone else had nothing to do Political Relevance. When he speaks to us, he speaks of what is needed to save our particular souls. It is altogether personal.

Frankly, I have not the slightest need of one more political philosopher. If Jesus was wrong about the eternal future of the soul, he was openly, totally, gloriously wrong. The woods are full of worldview philosophers like me. But Jesus, to use Lawrence Brown's words, "towers above history" precisely because he had a unique message, a total, uncompromising commitment to the idea that he, and he ALONE, knew how to save my personal soul.

Jesus was that absolutely unique phenomenon, a man who was either totally right or totally wrong. And he put EVERYTHING on the line for it. No Buddha, no Confucius, no Aristotle is fit to tie his shoes in terms of pure moral courage.