Christian church in Ethiopia
“Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. ….
That one line is enough to seal Jesus’s claim to fame as a prophet for me, even as much or more than the commandment of all commandments to “love your neighbor as yourself”, because it speaks to the heart of belief, and belief systems, which, of course, are at the very heart of religion, all religions. It even foresees the current degenerate state of ‘celebrity sickness’ that consumes the West in which everyone pursues his fifteen minutes of Warholian fame, and for which nothing else will suffice.
When pilots crash planes and kill passengers just so they will be remembered, then we have a problem. When school-kids murder classmates for the same reason, then it’s obvious that the disease attacks at an early age. We chastise and castigate Muslim fundamentalists for their misplaced martyrdom, but offer no such cultural indictments upon our own celebrity-sick suicides, manipulative marketing techniques nor the ubiquitous hero-worship that populates social media to the gills. The desire for celebrity is the desire to be worshiped, the height of egotism.
Jesus could foresee all that as easily as he could see that he himself would find scarce acceptance where people knew him as Joseph the carpenter’s son. He could see that people would become bored with Rome and seek knowledge in gurus and mahatmas and eventually even the parables of a mysterious carpenter’s son, but that his own family would never see that in him. Such is the price of enlightenment; it is selective.
Jesus is possibly the greatest religious figure of all time, but he was a lousy religion-builder. That’s why we don’t sit around reading his great writings. He didn’t write. Buddha, Muhammad, Lao-tse and Confucius did much better at systems-building. That’s not Jesus’s failure, though, if he never intended such. What we study as Christian doctrine is as much Plato and Aristotle as Jesus. I think Jesus’s mission was to remind us of what we were about to forget as nomadic tribespeople as what we were about to learn as civilized city-folk, something he could see clearly while gazing upon Rome from Palestine.
Jesus was a shaman, a Jewish one. Everything he did was shamanic, the communion with spirits and the performance of miracles. This was a rare commodity around the beginning of the Common Era, but it may have been much more common much earlier. Jesus could have intuited much of that, if not picked it up outright from one of many nomadic people still unassimilated at the time.
Little or nothing is known of Jesus’s missing eighteen years, during which time it is imagined that he hang with the Essenes, Sadducees, or Pharisees, or even ventured as far afield as India to receive enlightenment; anything but the likely truth that he drove nails: all the better to appreciate the irony of having them driven into him a few short years later (and possibly developing some resentment against the conquering Romans).
Easter is all about Jesus’s resurrection, his supposed return to life after death, every bit as miraculous as his supposed virgin birth; veracity optional. His magic act depended as much on suspension of disbelief as it did on physical transformation. That’s what shamans do. So do doctors, as in placebo effect. His healings are proof of his divinity for us otherwise-rational pharma-weary Westerners, whereas Christians of different backgrounds might find a different emphasis. His teachings pretty much boil down to one word: love. Duh.
Now that’s revolutionary, but hardly a system of religion. Buddhist may have been a Buddhist and Muhammad was probably a Muslim, but Jesus was never a Christian. That’s the attraction, the call of the wilderness in us Europeans who scarcely even existed as a definitive group in Jesus’s times, Christianity and Europe coming into being together, in some sort of symbiotic relationship, developing a creed much different from that more aboriginal style still to be found today in Ethiopia, Armenia, and yes, even Palestine. Jesus is the wild crazy guy inside us, speaking in that still small voice. Now there’s food for thought. Happy Easter.