The booming economy and barely functioning society in America have ground to a halt. The consensus in the United States is that “the social structures, habits and ways of life we took for granted are dissolving.” Is that a bad thing?
Ignoring the drivel about closed churches, synagogues and mosques, setting aside pointless considerations about irrelevant belief systems and their traditions, can we reflect, on this Easter of private fears and public privations, on what Jesus actually taught?
Will we go back to the status quo ante, as the stunted and warped man in the White House, who mocks, by his very presence and hatred, everything Jesus stood for, desperately hopes? Or is there the beginning of a reckoning with the underside of America, which the pandemic has exposed?
Nearly 70% of the deaths from the coronavirus are in the African American community. Jesus embraced the destitute and desperate, the homeless and hopeless.
What group would Jesus reach out to and speak to, the Christian base that elected and upholds the impacted darkness in the highest office in the land, or African Americans and the poor within our borders, and the immigrants caged at and below our southern border?
Conservatives equating Jesus with “people caring for the grieving, the dying and the sick” is a cunning sleight of mind, but it just doesn’t wash. Most Christians supported and continue to be the hardcore base of a man as morally bankrupt as Pilate and the power he represented.
“Jesus issued a call for a relationship with God that would lead to a new ethos and thus a new politics,” Marcus Borg wrote in “Jesus, A New Vision.”
“To a large extent, it was the conventional wisdom of the time—the “dominant consciousness” of the day—that was responsible for the death of Jesus,” Borg said.
The voices of the ruling asses have nothing left to say to the restive masses. They extol suffering and tell the people we don’t need to understand what is happening and why. We just need to return to the medieval mind and lament, rather than ask, as Jesus did, people to repent.
Jesus called himself “the son of man,” not “the Son of God.” He asked people to follow him not as God made man, but to be like him as men and women who know God and grow beyond human darkness and suffering. Standing on false humility by saying, “because we are not Jesus” is a disgrace.
Suffering is personal and particular. Sorrow is collective and communal. Both are unnecessary aspects of the human condition, which can be met and transcended, one human being at a time.
Suffering is a psychological condition, arising ineluctably from psychological and emotional baggage. Jesus carried none, and tried to teach people to do the same, to live by dying every day. Making Jesus a bottomless container for human suffering, as Christianity has done, would be and no doubt is an abomination to him.
Jesus did not suffer, even during the scourging and crucifixion. The pain and death of the body meant little to him. He had gone beyond suffering long before he entered Jerusalem, and the failure of his mission with his crucifixion on Golgotha was a mystery to him (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). It need not and should not be a mystery to us however.
Christianity has been stuck for 2000 years in sin and suffering because patriarchal bishops fused with the power of Rome and deified Jesus. They slyly turned the failure of Jesus’ mission into success, thereby precluding an understanding of why and how his mission went so horribly wrong.
The fiction of resurrection represents the hope of failing generations following Jesus for a do-over, and the belief that for a while at least after his incomprehensible death, people had one.
But why, when so many refuse to look within and do their own spadework, would the “Second Coming” (the very phrase implicitly acknowledges the failure of the first) bring about radical change when Jesus’ life, death and alleged resurrection did not?
Yes, “meaningless suffering is the goal of the devil,” but “bringing meaning out of suffering” is its means of achieving that end, since the continuity of suffering is the accumulation and suffocation of the spirit.
Only the inwardly dead extol suffering as the cornerstone of the human condition. Truly religious people, from the Christian or any other tradition, don’t try to squeeze meaning out of suffering.
True human beings work to free themselves from suffering, by tracing its polluted tributaries to their source.
In finding and ending the source of suffering in the meaninglessness and unnecessariness of man’s fragmentation, disorder and neglect, in our separation from nature and God, one drinks from the pure springs that are the wellspring of life itself.