“For those who insist on cherry picking a few favorable ‘quotes’ from the mythical Jesus, I think it is an insult to the listener who is ignorant about the Jesus character. Would they do the same with Mao, Hitler, Trump?”

Question from our Rational Doubt curmudgeon … that catches me this time, gives me pause, makes me think.   Maybe it’s not ethical to just overlook or bracket the bad stuff in the stories of Jesus…  maybe along with lifting up the good, one is responsible to explicitly counter the bad.

Also, the sudden jolt makes me want to go back again to my take on historicity.  It’s not necessary insofar as teaching values is concerned —  as Borg or Crossan said, Jesus told parables, and the bible tells parables about Jesus.   But I need to think again about a possible historical figure, and what my relation to it might be.

At Presbytery today, communion was celebrated.  What was up?

Number one —  I will never know.   Even if I should have a blinding vision, likely I would be suspicious of it  :  )

I think there was a historical character, probably “Jesus.”  How much of what is reported as his sayings actually originated with him, I don’t speculate.  Recently learned of good books on the Q sayings, so will order at least one of those…  might make me lean one way or ‘tother.

It’s possible the tradition of common meals goes back to Jesus, as people like Crossan and Kaufman think…  that would be a good thing, I think.

There are good traditions (Quakers, UU’s, peace & justice communities) that trace themselves back to Jesus, and terrible ones, like the Inquisition.  The one I grew up in, the Presbyterian one, I think has been too legalistic (and it’s having a hard time coming out of that).  So if, as we celebrate communion, I think about meal-sharing as the possible connection to a historical person, that may be it, and a possibly good thing.

As I listened to the official receptions of members, I realized that if I happened to move from one situation to another, I would have to do some thinking in order to re-affirm “Jesus Christ is my lord and savior.”   Earlier I thought of it as “Jesus is a freedom lord —  he frees/saves me from answering to any authority except God.”   Now, thinking of myself as a freethinker, on first glance that earlier understanding seems not to work, maybe.

So sounds like my ringing affirmation might be — I look back in history to a figure, and affirm some of what is attributed to him —  blessed are the peacemakers, etc.   I strive to shape the tradition I’m in to conform more closely to my version of “the good Jesus” —  peace, justice, and all that  :  )

Because of the what-I-conceive-of-as “bad” traditions of Jesus, I have an obligation to counter those as vigorously as I can, in order to lessen the harm they do.   Two major items for me are substitutionary atonement (what it says about the character of god or goodness), and biblical literalism.

So…  is curmudgeon right, and no one should stay in a “Jesus” tradition of any stripe?  in order to preclude any of the evils that have ensued?

That is what I’m wondering.



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