Jesus Yeshua and Totalitarianism - Clearer, I hope, for Richard
Richard, in reply to my last post notes he does not understand it, so let me try and break it down...
Aba Eban said once, and I am paraphrasing from memory, that the wrong of fascism, and other totalitarian systems, is the creation of a world of absolute truths, a world where ambiguity is outlawed. Who can forget George Bush, stunned by the question, whatever did you do that was wrong? In a totalitarian world, there must be a place to go for the perfect answers, answers that are never a mystery, never an I don't know. The subscribers to the totalitarian state are allowed their ignorance of the nature of mystery, as long as they say, but the perfect man, the perfect system IS the answer and IT knows and is always the answer and always right.
The Perfect Man.
Karl Marx writes that there is a system by which we can know. We can transcend the abstractions of language and approach an understanding of the meaning of things as opposed to words. Our abstraction for the concept of chair then includes the chair in time and place, the materials which made it, the history of chair, the place of chair in the future... It is a brilliant mind opening thought. Along come communist parties and proclaim it the most important thought and more, that Karl Marx has given us the single road to understanding, and that to deny the correctness of Marx in every application, and more in the application of perfect Marx's perfected man in form of Lenin, or Stalin, or who ever the perfect interpreter of Marx is at the moment, is to be in absolute error and to be a heretic worthy so dangerous - the state can kill thee.
This perfect man, the source of all knowledge and right thinking is found in Mao, all the while he is decrying the cult of personality, in Hitler, and in the central figure in all totalitarian systems.
Objectification of the Perfect Man
In modern times the objectification of the perfect man happens while that person is alive. Marx might be the exception. I get the sense that Marx was a man of fairly well developed ego, but that he would be horrified at the way his person has been elevated by modern "Marxist" states to that of a perfected man. Like many philosophies, Marx interned his method to be a path not an outcome. Once one makes a world of solid immovable answers, one creates an end of progress of the mind, a world of outcome where process is an expression of the crime of questioning, as we saw when the Marxist students were killed in Tiananmen Square.
The founder of the faith in a totalitarian system is made into an idol, not the imperfect human who adds a sign on the path, but the image of the perfection at the end of the road and the proof that the system works. When this is done to a human without their consent often good teachers best work is destroyed beyond all recognition and it is a terrible thing to have done. It is a taking of their most treasured aspect, that they are one of the rest of us. The pedestal they are placed upon robs them of the treasure of humanity in the same way that placing womankind on a pedestal robbed them of their place. We tell the philosopher, "be quite, thy original thoughts don't count anymore, only those words I place in thy mouth..." the philosophical version of, "don't bother getting a job, my dear, I will take care of you, don't worry your pretty little head. You are a Goddess to me - so shut up and stand on your pedestal."
Yeshua the man becomes Jesus The Christ
I think, we can burrow into the gospels, and find traces of Yeshua the man... but they are like footsteps in the sand, washed out in places. Paul and the Christian churches have robbed the grave of Yeshua who lived and died for Judea ... and for God, and pointed to the empty grave and said, "look, evidence of the perfect man."
Did this lead to totalitarianism? Well, let's look at the history of the Christian movement once Yeshua slipped back and Jesus was pushed forward. State institutions began to use the myth of the perfect man to conquer land. When struggling for power, interpretations of the word were used to kill one's poetical enemies, and heretical movements and millions of marginalized people... a bloody purge of the crime of questioning resulting in one catholic and apostolic church, one protestant perfection of the word and being of the perfect man, one road... of ... Christian ecumenicalism which worshiped together while still divided. All because at the root is that which can never be questioned.
The cost to Yeshua
And what of poor dear Yeshua, who suffered so for his beliefs. All value to his conquered people has been obscured by this movement who grabbed him away from his place between Hill el and Bar Kochba, to make him a stranger to his own people. Don't worry thy perfect head about it, Yeshua, we don't care what you lived and died for, your image is too important to us to prove the rightness of our faith to care about why YOU lived and died. Yes we do give a damn, to any who inject a question into thy life, Yeshua. Thee no longer exists or ever existed, other than as the sand under the foot of our idol. In the world of Romania, the way of Roma (Gypsies) there is no greater curse than, may your name be forgotten.
Fox, Penn, as perfected men and the totalitarian world
We must be very cautious that we don't make our own ancestors perfect. We point to the Christianity of Fox and Penn as proof that Christianity complete with Jesus as perfect is a cornerstone of our Quaker faith. In doing this we close the door on the unfolding of process and make Quakerism a stagnant faith with two of the chief errors of totalitarianism, perfection and the end of process.
Why might Fox and Penn thought of Jesus as the perfect man, instead of Yeshua, one of us all. Well, they were born into a totalitarian world where the concept of the error of the perfect man had not yet seen the example of the rapid rise and fall of totalitarian states. In the last centuries, with the rapidity of change, we can witness the creation of Christ figures as a function of the empowerment of totalitarianism. I can no more say with confidence that Fox and Penn would have been Christocentric Friends today as I can say WWJD ( what would Jesus do ) about anything. We are made by the times in which we live, and to look back for perfect truths... well, lets see the effect...
I was asked, as one with some expertise in Irish History to give a talk about the cease fire in the Northern counties of Ireland, early in that cease fire. I was sent by an organization, I even forget which one now... to one of the alphabet soup communists parties, I again, even forget which set of letters defined them. I began to tell the story of NATO in Ireland and the times changing with the fall of the Soviet Union. The leader of the group ( and they really did look to this young energetic man as a leader ) leapt up next to me and proclaimed, "What Mr. Otway means is that the peoples uprising in Ireland succeeded because... " "No, I said, the Irish working class were tricked into fighting a war in order to keep NATO bases in a non-aligned nation..." There was some shock, I was told I was wrong, that this young man who had never walked the streets of Belfast or seen a shot fired in anger, was more informed about Ireland than I... I said, well, hear me out then we can go to discussion ... but I am not into some angry debate with thee. After the talk, a member asked me to recommend a good book. I began to apologize that the book I was going to recommend, Too Long A Sacrifice, was a bit out of date, having been written in the 70s, but provided a good background to study the situation in Ireland, when their leader said, ?Marx and Engles on the Irish Question..." One hundred and ten years older than the book for which I was apologizing.
Hmmm... look back ... out of context... and find the truth?
Sure there are truths in the bible, old and new... but THE truth... to make it thee truth, have we engraved an image of that which is above us?
The Ten Commandments
"You shall have no other gods besides Me...Do not make a sculpted image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above..."
Any likeness. What would Yeshua say was done with his likeness...
"You shalt not swear falsely by the name of the Lord..." -
What would Yeshua say was done, when prayers and oaths are said in his name...
You shall not steal"
What does thee take from Yeshua, and from the Hebrew people in taking Yeshua from his place in this world...
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"
And the Jews did not accept him, killed him. Dear Friends, it was not the Jews... he was killed by Rome. No doubt about it. He was not stoned, he was crucified.
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house..."
What part if the temple of Jerusalem have you claimed.
And Yeshua, as Jesus is said to have done, I rather believe gave us one more, that we should love each other. So, in love for each other, is meeting the place to hash out all this? It is not a matter of one side or the other being silenced... just understanding that unity is not possible on the facts of this issue if one side or the other is presented in a forum where one can't answer the other.
Presented with God's love.