Inspection- Could Jimmy Jones Have Been Reinvented into the Next Jesus?
Easter has passed, the rabbit has long since rolled back the rock where they laid his bones after they made hasenpfeffer out of him, and laid his multi-colored terrorist bomb eggs for his disciple children to find. When all of them explode soon the… yolk.. will be on us.
Humor aside, yet one more time I venture into the story of, and many past myths surrounding, Jesus. But this really isn’t about Jesus. The message is less religion than how we tell our stories, and how we accept them being told as a society by society’s most official, most sanctioned, storytellers: the media…
OK, now go back to doing whatever you were doing.
You still here? Nothing better to do?
I kid, sort of, but my point here is neither to smear the historical Jesus, nor to resurrect, then un-smear, the memory of a true villain: Jimmy Jones. If anything I hope Jimmy could actually feel everything any corpse eventually must go through. For what he did, those he deceived, he certainly deserves that and more.
No, the actual points I’m making here are about the media as it is now, the media back then and the “media” in antiquity.
Back when Kool Aid Jimmy led his lambs: and many innocent children, to the poisonous slaughter, our media was still good enough to recognize him for the dangerous charlatan he was. At least one of our congressmen went there, and died, to investigate The Temple and Mr. Jones. Something, and someone, a congressman should be investigating: not mail to Socks the Cat, or Barack’s birth certificate after all forms had been released, not some image of George Bush at a school that had been photoshopped to make it appear as if the book had been upside down on 9/11.
Certainly not just one attack on one embassy when it happened to the president not on your side of the aisle.
Certainly not just the IRS investigating tax exempt status for those you agree with, and making sure all the other investigations are ignored.
And certainly not the media tagging following such partisan charades like the obedient puppy it has become.
These days some of the media would more likely do an “investigation” of why Mr. Jones was being harassed, his freedom of religion violated, then blame the liberal media or far right wing nuts.
You may notice I am attempting to be even handed here because there’s a point beyond partisanship here.
We no longer have a media, in general, that’s trying to do objective journalism. We have entertainment corporations skewed by one side or the other. We have media, rather than reporting news, that’s trying to appeal to one base or another. Or we have media so bland, attempting to be so “even handed.” we have no media at all. If this were the 30’s our talking heads might spout…
“Next up, Nazis. Some claim Hitler guilty of many excesses, but there are Nazi movements in America and other parts of the world: countries that are part of the Allies, countries part of the Axis. Antisemitism is worldwide. So… both sides do it.”
But perhaps to describe what has happened, we have to go back to the “media” in the time of Jesus. Instead of “media” we had, for the most part, word of mouth. It involved, essentially, storytelling, and storytelling that held the political, religious, social skews of the teller. Ebionites told the story of Jesus their way: Jesus was a Jew and therefore being true to Judaism and Jewish rituals was very crucial, followers of Marcion told the story so Jews were the villains, or at least being Jewish and the Old Testament no longer mattered, Gnostics told the story so Jesus was purveyor of secret knowledge and what we refer to now as “orthodox” told the story closer to what we know it to be today. But even that developed over time, with additions like the trinity.
All this is over simplification: true. There were many variations on all I have listed, especially Gnosticism. Many changes over time. And I claim no vast conspiracy in any of this, more the fact as people tell stories they do so in ways as they understand what happened, not necessarily as it happened. If you’ve ever played pass the message down from person to person as kids you’ll remember with the passing the story changes. This may explain some of the variations within the bible when it comes to stories like what was seen where Jesus was buried.
Witnesses also tend to skew what they see according to preconceived notions. And then they tell someone, who tells someone, who tells someone, and by the time it reaches print it’s amazing, in the case of the Bible, how much of the actual story got through.
It’s a miracle!
But it’s also quite messy.
Our media today is more like that than one dedicated to being as objective as possible. They tell the stories that suit their needs, the needs of sponsors, their owners, any preferred partisan skew, and edit them for the same reasons: not offending, appealing to a core base of viewers, readers or listeners. Their object, too often, is not reporting but to provide skew, perspective.
Any storyline that doesn’t fit the officially accepted skew, well those who tell the story a different way are attacked as kooks, tinfoil hat-wearing loons. Truth doesn’t matter. Knowing more about what actually happened doesn’t matter. Only the official line matters.
And it’s practically instantaneous, not a story developed over decades and centuries. Censorship is immediate.
One example of this is the mess in Crimea. It has become all about Putin and the Russians. But what about those the military coup replaced? What about the election that was negated by the military coup? Who are these people in power now who Putin claims are fascists? My guess: there is some truth to his claims because what we hear is mostly silence about them. Otherwise both the left and the right, equally outraged by Putin’s actions, would be countering his claims by proudly parading those involved in the coup and their supporters in front of cameras, up to microphones. But, kind of like the supposed “patriots” who were “like our forefathers” in Afghanistan, the truth here doesn’t match the story the media and partisans want told.
Today Jesus might become the latest Bill O’Reilly “pinhead,” have Michael Moore drive around the compound he and his disciples are trying to have their last supper in, yelling, “How do you really ‘love the little children, Jesus?'” Or Sean Hannity, or Ed Schultz, might be insisting Jim Jones was a man whose freedom of religion had been violated. Those who don’t tell either story the official way are met with insults, jeers and sneers.
If Jesus had been born into our society media outlets might treat him like George Zimmerman, or Trayvon Martin, and how the story would be spun would be lost to whomever they wish to blame, make the villain. Jesus might have been painted, historically, as a Jimmy Jones pushing his own flavor of Kool Aid.
If Jimmy Jones and the Temple were to happen today I can hear the talking head now at the airport…
“And what was the congressman doing here if not to destroy religious freedom, why did they have to stand in the way of the bullets? The poor, victimized, faithful at the Temple were so depressed by the prospect of losing their freedom they…”
The days of at least attempting to be objective in much of the mainstream news-oriented media are pretty much gone.
The days of congressional investigations with less agenda, and more concern for folks, like the concern for the folks at Jimmy’s Temple, have faded away.
Instead the mainstream media has been giving birth, in bunny proportions, to huge broods of partisan talking heads, Our politicians are part of the act where, instead of doing their jobs, everything is an excuse to get at those in the other party, or those who don’t accept your version of the story, what you want to believe must be true no matter what.
I’m not sure we’re better off for these facts.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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