MY JESUS vs RIGHT WING JESUS
I do not necessarily reject the unprovable dogma that other Christians hold near to their hearts… that Jesus is the Messiah, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Atoner of Sin, etc. I don’t necessarily disbelieve. Who am I to know ??? But, more importantly (at least for me, a layman), why posit my entire spiritual journey on “unprovable” mysteries and dogma that have nothing to do with how we “humans of vulnerability” treat one another ???
Well then, you ask… who is my Jesus ??? My Jesus is an Historical Hero, a revolutionary Champion of the Underdog, a “Do unto Others” Jesus who took on and railed against the unfairness of “patriarchal dominance” of his Jewish people by Rome and by the Jewish religious leaders of his time. My Jesus ran the risk of rejection and death on the cross by holding up a mirror to the religious leaders of his time, and exhorting them to be wiser, fairer, kinder, more supportive, less critical, less judgmental and more inclusive of a vulnerable humanity (the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, the weak, the lame, the lepers, the reviled tax collectors and the women of Judea). Jesus was always urging fairer treatment for and forgiveness of the struggling masses of Judea.
My Jesus was also a brave heart, social activist, continuously engaged in both “spiritual revolution” and “civil disobedience”… all to accent his Gospel of fundamental change. He touched lepers (violation of Jewish law). He interrupted the sanctioned, capital punishment of the adulteress (a violation of Jewish law) with those famous words of non, moral judgment… “who is without sin, throw the first stone.” He threw the money changers out of the Temple (an explosive violation of Jewish law). When my right wing, Catholic critics judge me as a “Cafeteria Catholic” who “picks and chooses,” I simply remind them that I picked up my “cafeteria” style from my leader Jesus who was a “Cafeteria Jew”… a Cafeteria Jew who urged the religious leaders of his time to Stop in the Name of Love !!!… stop exalting form over substance, and start forgiving as you would be forgiven.
It is this revolutionary, civilly disobedient Jesus who ultimately inspired the non-violent, “Civil Disobedience” of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Claudette Colvin (“I ain’t sittin’ in the back of the bus, so the law be damned”), Rosa Parks (“me neither”), Martin Luther King, John Lewis (No permit, no problem. I’m walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge), Vietnam protestors, Black Lives Matter protestors, invasion of the Ukraine protestors and the numerous others throughout history who have stood up for God’s children, and held a mirror up to Authority when Authority walked the path of erroneous judgment, and exalted form over substance with their “absolute power, corrupting absolutely.” Why aren’t more Christians following that courageous path of Jesus by standing up and being counted, and voicing their opposition to Christian organizations who exalt the self importance of their power and dogma… over the importance of the Message of Jesus ???
Father, you once took me to task for my choice of words in distinguishing between those Bleeding Heart Liberals of my camp (following the Bleeding Heart of Jesus) and the Right Wing Conservatives of the other camp. You suggested that my choice of words “right wing” may be name calling. I agree name calling doesn’t work, but the rather bland phrase “right wing” is the least condemning thing I can say about those Christians who claim the power to lord it over the rest of us, morally judge us, and dictate what we must believe, what we should think and how we should live our lives. God didn’t give me “free will” so I could give up “critical analysis” and be subjugated.
When I say “right wing” Christians, who am I talking about ??? I am talking about televangelist Pat Robertson who now tells us that Putin is being “driven by God” to invade the Ukraine and bring on Armageddon. See below. I’m talking about his Eastern Rite counterpart, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus with a global congregation of 140 million plus). Patriarch Kirill is now urging Putin on in the Ukraine with his incendiary language, “If we see the [Ukraine] as a threat, we have the right to use force to insure the threat is eradicated.” See below. Both of these Holy Men, Christian leaders exhorting Putin… “Thou shalt kill.” For more “Thou shalt kill,” consider “born again,” Evangelical Christian, George W. Bush, who in 2002 (on recklessly flawed intelligence), pummeled Iraq with America’s “Shock and Awe”… killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. America’s “Shock and Awe” and its invasion of Iraq eviscerated Iraq’s ruling Ba’ath Party and Iraq’s minority Sunnis, leading to the creation of ISIS… who went on to kill tens of thousands more innocents over the ensuing decades. Reminds me of the Crusaders heading off to reclaim the Holy Lands. “Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to War with the Cross of Jesus going on before.” May the Peace of Jesus be with you… but just not today because we got some killing to do today.
These right wing Christians put the emphasis on authority and power, and on the right to control what others say, how others think and how others should live their lives and die their deaths. I have read many parts of Irish priest, Father Diarmuid O’Murchu’s book, Christianity’s Dangerous Memory (a rather tough read). Father O’Murchu says the worse thing that ever happened to Christianity was Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 330 A.D… declaring Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. As Farther O’Murchu indicates… with the Edict of Milan, Christianity went from the message of love, inclusion, acceptance, do unto others, human rights, forgiveness, peace and non moral judgment to the power structure of Rome, a power structure of forced beliefs, a power structure that ferrets out the heresies of non-believers, and a power structure that metes out death for those transgressors who dare question Christianity’s unprovable belief system…
* Like Galileo when he correctly said… the Sun is the center of the Universe (really our solar system), finally recanting his supposed heliocentric heresy just to avoid Roman Catholic, Capitol Punishment, so he could live to fight another day.
* Like Joan of Arc when she was burned at the stake at age 19 for the crime of dressing like a man. See below. Can you imagine the horror of death by fire… inflicted by Christianity on a 19 year-old kid in the name of Jesus ???
* Like the supposed Witches of Salem (rapture gone wrong) with so many innocents put to death in the name of Jesus. See below.
* Like John Scopes convicted in Tennessee in 1925 (despite Clarence Darrow’s brilliant representation), all for the crime of teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution along with the story of Adam and Eve. See Inherit the Wind starring Spencer Tracey. Thank heaven for… Pope Pius XII and Basilian priest, Father Ned Donoher, who taught his 1957 theology class of 14 year-olds that evolution and the story of Creation in Genesis (Adam and Eve) are not incompatible as God stepped in at some point… in the evolutionary process, and imbued mankind and womankind with (1) cognitive powers that far exceed those of the animal kingdom and (2) with a free will that gives all of us the right to self determination of our own “Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness.”
No doubt that, along the way, Christianity of old (including the Roman Catholic Church) lost its centerpiece… the Message of Jesus. It replaced that salutary “Do unto others” centerpiece with a Roman power structure that was not opposed to a reign of terror. That “brook no dissent” Christianity of old is still around today, and is still seeking to control with the power of Rome. You think not ??? Just get ready for the “Roman Catholic ride” the United States Supreme Court, Roman Catholics (John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett “I like beer” Kavanaugh, Neal Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett) are going to take the rest of America on… with their ever expansive interpretation of “Religious Freedom” under the “Free Exercise” clause of the 1st Amendment. Translated “Let’s violate the 1st Amendment’s non-establishment of religion clause, and firmly establish America as a Christian nation, and the rest of the non-Christian heretics of America be damned.” Case in point… the Little Sisters of the Poor (my Father’s favorite charity). The Little Sisters of the Poor objected to their female employees having “birth control” medical benefits under the Obama Care Health Law (even though the Little Sisters of the Poor didn’t have to pay for those benefits). The good Sisters won the Supreme Court’s approval to flat out deny their women employees the right to birth control insurance coverage under Obama Care.
In substance, the Little Sisters of the Poor used a veto power over the Obama Care law passed by Congress (a veto power the Constitution doesn’t give them) to deny birth control benefits to their women employees because, well because, as the good Sisters tell us… birth control is a sin. In short, the United States Supreme Court has allowed the “unprovable” belief of the Little Sisters of the Poor (birth control is a sin) to trump the rights of their female employees who don’t believe birth control is a sin. Can’t married couples take the edge off marriage responsibility and the endless, exhausting effort of raising children… so they can have a little sexual intimacy without the fear of conceiving another child they can ill afford to clothe, feed and educate ??? See the March 19, 2012 New Yorker Magazine report (page 23) on the reputable Guttmacher Institute, poll analysis in a spring 2011… which indicates that 99 % of women and 98% of Catholic women engage in the practice of birth control.
Father I mean no disrespect. But, I think it apparent that the right wing, Roman Catholics (especially the conservative Bishops and their supporting cast on the U.S. Supreme Court) have co-opted the Catholic Church, and are doing their very best to stifle dissent and discussion by insisting it’s their (“subjective”) way or no way. In doing so, I question whether they are the Pharisees of old, elevating form over substance and dogma, doctrine and ritual over the Message of Jesus.
Recently, I asked a fully indoctrinated, St. Scholastica, grade school classmate of mine… “What if Jesus was not the Messiah who died for our sins” ??? “What then” ??? Seeing a dazed look on his face, I repeated my question. “If, hypothetically speaking, Jesus was not the Messiah who died for our sins, what’s left of Christianity and Catholicism” ??? His answer, “There is nothing left.” My answer, “Oh, contrar… everything is left.” What is left is the “Do unto Others” Message of the revolutionary Jesus… the man sandals who walked from Nazareth to Jerusalem to spread his Gospel of the good news and the message of “Doing unto others.” That, in and of itself, is enough to sustain us all, for a lifetime, and thereafter.
FINALIZING… MY GAME PLAN
I am not going to let the right wing Christians or the right wing Catholics… take over the Church without a fight. I am not going to let those who seek the power to morally judge the rest of us… take over without a battle. I am not going to let those who would put dogma and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church on the front burner while putting the Message of Jesus on the back burner… take over the lives of the rest of us without standing up. I am not going to do like many other Catholics have done… and leave the Church. I am going to stay. I am going to stay and fight, and continue to expose, and continue to write… until, when my time comes, there may be no one one left to bury me on the lone prairie, but you Father.
I am not enthralled (as my Irish Mother was wont to say) with the Catholic Bishops… especially our own Detroit Bishop, Cardinal Alan Vigneron, who insists on cancelling all Sunday, high school sports for Catholic schools because we the faithful need to pray more on Sundays. Now, by a fiat of one, a once glorious “family day” tradition of Sunday, Catholic League, High School Sports is derailed… because our Detroit Bishop (a voice of one) judges the Detroit faithful in need of more praying on Sundays.
WHO’S WHO… IN THE MESAGE OF JESUS
Long live the “Message of Jesus.” Long live the Catholic Nuns who toil in the streets of hardship and injustice on behalf the poor and down trodden. Long live the Capuchin Soup Kitchen that feeds the disparate masses of indigent Detroit. Long live the memory of Blessed Solanus Casey, the Porter of St. Bonaventure, a Capuchin Priest… soon to be a Saint. Long live the memory of Father Livius Paoli, a Benedictine Priest… who first taught me the Message of Jesus. Long live the memory of Father Clement Kern and Father Russ Kohler of Holy Trinity in Detroit’s Corktown area… both of whom who supported and uplifted the common man and the forgotten woman with the Message of Jesus. Long live the Basilian Priests at Catholic Central. Long live the Jesuits at the University of Detroit Mercy. Long live the memory of my Father, Fred Lauck, and my Irish Mother Jean, and all those other kind souls who furthered my grasp of the Message of the Man who walked in Sandals from Nazareth to Jerusalem… spreading his Gospel of love, inclusion, acceptance, do unto others, human rights, forgiveness, love and non moral judgment.