Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus

On the plane this weekend, I read "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus". Author Peter Gomes has been a professor of religion at Harvard for over 30 years. The guy is not only hilarious, but I think really gets it.

The big "scandal" he writes of is the comfortable, socially and politically powerful church state we now live in, something he says was never meant to be, and how the bulk of the church has settled into secular pride and acceptance and has not followed the teachings of the man they claim as their God and leader.

It is so easy to forget that Jesus came to rock the boat, and yes, comfort the agitated, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to agitate the comfortable.

It is interesting, and his observations are telling. Often instead of following the examples of Jesus, we hold him up as Lord, then do what we think is the right thing, seek power, secular influence, use fear sort of a Christian version of Machiavellian methods, assuming He would approve because we believe our intentions to be good.

I thought it intriguing that he points out that Jesus had no real statement on homosexuality, but did have clear opinions about divorce, and how odd he found it that gay marriage is promoted as the real threat to heterosexual marriage, and even society at large, as opposed to divorce. In the wake of the recent ban on gay marriage in California, I found it riveting that Gomes talked about this years ago when writing the book.

He wondered how those who support the bans on gay marriage would react if divorce, clearly the greater threat, were included in the legislation.

At one point, he likens the fear-mongering around gay marriage to McCarthyism and the supposed threat Communism once was to our well-being, observing that in our culture, we always seem to need something to be afraid of, and to the fear around desegregation years before.

Gomes theorizes that the opposite of fear is not courage, but compassion, and when you are in fear, it is impossible to share compassion... but that was the living example Jesus set for us... compassion to those who murdered him, compassion for those on the cross next to him, compassion for the sick and poor, and even compassion for the rich.

Compassion is scary, it requires shifting of thought from me to you, and heaven knows we think to think about ourselves and how everything applies to us. It requires dropping fear-based self-preservation and appealing to the best part of me, the part which is willing to sacrifice something for the good of someone else.

Compassion was the Way out of fear, then...and now.

I am reluctant to write anything political. I am a fairly a-political dude... but I take Obama's election, whether you are Republican or Democrat, as a sign that fear is being shifted to the back-burner temporarily, and hope is being given a chance once again.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counters
Free Web Site Counters