I’m a month late for my usual Easter time religious column. Just caught up in the issues of the time. Sorry.
One might as well call Christianity, “Paulism,” Paul had so much influence on what Christianity became. It seems rather obvious that if Jesus hadn’t been crucified Paul would, at best, been a far less influential figure: if “influential” at all.
Paul: who never met Christ, if you don’t count visions.
Paul: if you think all the disciples were perfectly inspired, all the gospels that have their names attached were actually written by them were written by them.
Paul: if you think Jesus and the disciples would have agreed with all he added.
If you do, well, OK. And this is where “belief” comes in. If not, like me, you realize Jesus had to die. Like Martin Luther King had to die, Lincoln had to die, JFK had to die and, to a lesser extent: RFK. He simply didn’t have quite the impact as a president wannabe compared to the mythical images cast by many for actual presidents, leaders of a major movement that was a necessary component of change for the time.
Hence why the assassination of Nazi leader Rockwell never had the same impact. Not even close.
”Jesus Had to Die” because, if he had lived, his ministry would never have had the impact it did.
”Jesus Had to Die” because allegories, metaphors and parables had to become more concrete: build a foundation that suited those he left behind and, eventually, support changes to what was left of the Roman Empire.
The same is true for JFK, MLK, Lincoln…
There’s not as much comfort to be found in any of this as one would think. Lincoln’s dream was corrupted by an impeachment, a reluctant VP who became president and disagreed with his own president, the South which was allowed to back door reinstitute a form of subjugation worse than slavery. Instead of living under sometimes pitiful conditions, sometimes less so, being whipped and traded regardless of family or the inhumanity of it all… sometimes, sometimes less so… former slaves were often captured, falsely accused and placed in prisons run by former slavemasters. Corrupt judges kept them there so the former slavemasters could get rich off of close to 24 hour a day prison labor. Prisoners were used up and replaced.
The “what if he had lived” alternate timelines are useless. The South was hardly likely to do any better with a wartime demonized leader in charge, and Lincoln was so into “healing the nation” one wonders if it might have been even worse.
JFK had his own demons hunting him, for sure. Would he have been able to, would he have even seriously tried, to pull out of Nam? Even if we are to believe the possibility we might never know. The reality of what actually happens, vs. what one wants, is often quite different. And if you observe what he did vs. what he wanted, even JFK would have agreed, I suspect. Plus you have his own admission that it seemed the more they screwed up the more the public lived them.
As for Jesus, where do I begin? Even if we accept the doubtful premise everything claimed, written, by those who followed him 200 years after Calvary was what he would have wanted, and accept what books were included in the Bible at Nicaea, ignored Paul’s rants about supposed “false teachings,” some by those who actual knew Jesus pre-crucifixion, followed Jesus, were disciples… we have witch trials, massacres of natives by the supposedly Christian Columbus, the Catholic Protestant rifts that were so bad Prince Vlad used to impale them through their stomachs on the same stake just to laugh at them attempting to kill each other as they died. My own family, my Aunt Arley told me, left Wales for “The New World” due to this, in part. They were tired of having sons taken by both sides, forced to fight, forced to die.
I can’t imagine anyone who justifiably refers to themselves as “Christian” would believe all this was what Jesus would have wanted.
These unfortunate events are used for good.
They are used for evil.
Such is our nature.
When I was a lot younger I worked my way through high school, and part of college, in cemeteries. I think I first noticed it when I worked at Oak Hill, in Nyack, NY. Often the graves: especially the older ones, would be lush with grass. They would coat the ground above the loved one in a beatific green that far surpassed the other well kept grounds.
This is what we hope for, pray for. Somehow our passing, and our time here, can make a better, more beautiful, world: even if in very small ways. One might even argue that small is good, for too often the deaths of the well known, the famous, are used in ways we would never wish: indeed no sane, human, person would wish. Yet, even then, great good is created sometimes, wondrous beauty, like homes for the homeless, personal sacrifice to save others, those willing to also die for the greater good.
Jesus had to die.
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.
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