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those wacky Christians. Ghandi had it right.

“I love your Christ, but I hate your christians” (slightly paraphrased from the big G).

Speaking as a Jew (actually, as a Jewish Carpenter, I feel particularly qualified to spout on this topic, seeing as I have pretty much all the same qualifications as that Jesus dude…)

Anyway, the whole idea of what being a “christian” means is a good sight different from what Rabbi Jesus suggested. See, Jesus was would today be considered a conservative (or maybe right wing reform) Jew. He took the Torah and ‘modernized’ a couple parts of it – mostly as an intellectual exercise – the same way rabbis have been doing for the past 6000 years (give or take a few). The problem is what happened after he died.  See, there was all this political turmoil, and J’s followers (who still identified themselves as Jews) had a couple of radical rabble rousers, who figured that he small differences between the sects of Judaism (and there were a ton of them -maybe even as many as there are now) presented a pretty cool tool to use to advance their political agenda. The whole “Us” and “Them” concept. Politicians have been using it for ages – from Bush, t0 the Muslim Jihadists, to the Nazis, to pretty much every political leader in the history of the modern world (including our own revolutionary war folks, and the folks on both sides of the civil war, war of 1812, Spanish American war, etc. etc. etc.).  So, as these rabble rousers started to gain a foothold, they felt that it was time to start identifying themselves as something other than Jews (this wasn’t until a few hundred years after the Big J bit it).

So, these guys get together, write a collection of Jesus’ “sermons.” Really, after 100+ years of political posturing, they hadn’t changed a bit, and were still the same exact words… Really. trust me on this. I have a college degree, and besides, God told me it was true. Don’t get me started on that whole virgin birth thing – my bet is that either Mary was getting a bit (or maybe a lot) on the side, or Joseph finally got fed up with that whole “saving myself for god” thing, and set her straight. Anyway, suddenly a set of documents appear that really prove that Jesus’ followers are really not Jews (even though J kept insisting that they were, and the4 Jewish population pretty much agreed that they were too). But hey, who cares what reality is when political power is involved? To make a long story short, these guys succeeded. The following few thousand years of “christian” history pretty much continued this trend, with the church completely ignoring any and all of its tenets in order to secure and maintain political power. Holy wars, crusades, even the fun witch hunts within the different sects of christianity make the Muslim Brotherhood look like a couple of guys out on a street corner having an argument. The christians have the blood, terrorism, murder, rape (it’s not rape if the victim isn’t christian – check out your history – particularly during the crusades and medieval period), and otherwise nasty stuff down pat. And when they’re not actively involved, they’re sitting on the sidelines either ignoring, or quietly supporting the actions (recent examples include the vatican’s response to the Holocaust, the KKK, and other hate groups).

So, what IS there to love (or even like) about the christians? There are actually some of them that have managed to bypass the history and teachings of the church, and are dece3nt human beings. ‘Course, that can be said for any group, so it doesn’t really hold much water. Probably the best thing that can be said is that they’ve finally started to realize (as their political power has slowly slipped away) that they have to start playing nice, or they’re going to quietly get laughed into oblivion. They’ve already (in most of the world anyway) slipped from a major political power to a  fringe group that is mostly laughed at. Yes, there are local concentrations of them that continue to cause problems (the wackos in Texas and other parts of the deep south that are still trying to force schools to teach creationism are good examples). Yep, ignorance is the only way to continue to try and force folks to buy the christian point of view. Course, that has ALWAYS been the case – if the masses are too uneducated to actually read the bible and question it, the mother church can fob off whatever blather suits them at the moment. However, for the most part, the truly ‘dedicated’ have faded into the comics page of life.

So there ya go: the basic premises of Jesus’ teachings are pretty much universal, and for the most part taken directly from the Jewish Torah: treat others as you wish to be treated, be accepting of other points of view, and in general just be a decent person. Sounds like most major religions, which is not surprising as the monotheistic religions are the main religions now, and they all originate in Judaism. Maybe that’s why the christians have such a hard time with the Jews – they don’t like to admit that the ‘christian’ ideals are really the same as the Jewish (and by the way, Muslim) ideals. Anyway, christianity has become a great example of a good idea that completely failed in execution. Of course, ‘execution’ is an idea that the christians really liked – they are the only monotheistic religion that has consistently given people the option of “convert or die”…..

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6 Responses

  1. The exact quote, in case you were wondering, is “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are very unlike your Christ.”

    I do not disagree with the Mahatma

  2. yep…. Smart guy he was….

  3. interesting article. Their right to choose (I actually had a very interesting discussion at our temple board meeting about if our organization should officiate at gay marriages, but you’ll have to read the blog post on that to see what happened)…

    I have to say that this is one of those places where I’m not sure if I prefer the hypocrisy of claiming to be (insert religion here) while participating in ceremonies that are specifically verboten in your “source” document, or looking the other way and acknowledging an individuals right to do whatever the hell they want (as long as it doesn’t cause anyone harm). More on that one later too….

    Gotta say though, that when the christian fundies get their undies in a knot about gay marriage, I HAVE to put it into the context of all the other (much more important) tenets of their religion that they choose to ignore, so no matter how you slice it, they’re hypocritical, ignorance-encouraging slime bags, without a moral or ethical leg to stand on. They are loud though….

  4. Ghandi said it well.

    I usually refer to the Bible as a the telephone game with a political agenda. Add in the multiple translations and that it’s open to interpretation…. During Mary’s time, virgin meant unwed, which is quite different than today’s meaning.

    Here’s something in reference to the Golden Rule I’ve kept around. It appeared in Dear Abby and is in the 1999 Old Farmer’s Almanac:
    Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)
    Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Varga 5:1)
    Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Analects 15:23)
    Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
    Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah)
    Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowman. That is the entire law; all the ress is commentary. (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
    Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. (T’ai Shang Kan Yin P’ien)
    Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-I-Dinik 94:5)

  5. yep, but a coupla clarifications: the whole “virgin” thing – the word used in the Torah and Bible translates literally as “young girl” – it is used to refer to any female from the age of about 3 to adulthood (almost always marriage, in those days, but there are legal definitions for the physical development that would also qualify a female as a “woman”, even if unwed).
    There is a fascinating body of literature on the whole “Mary” thing, with conclusions ranging from Joseph being impotent or Mary being frigid, “mistranslations”, the idea that at some point Mary had taken a vow of chastity (a legal obligation, but always with a set expiration – never for life). Some people accept the whole virgin birth thing too.

    On the Judaism translation: It was actually Hillel who made that quote. It IS in the Talmud, but Hillel is the original source. Back story: Hillel and Shammai were two of the leading rabbis of their time – Hillel was the “easy” rabbi, Shammai, the “strict”. An individual approached Chammai asking to be converted, but only if Shammai could teach him all he needed to know in the time he (shammai) could stand on one foot. Shammai refused, and sent him away. The individual then approached Hillel, and got the response you quoted….

    thanks for the input!

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