Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …
The Author’s View of god
I’d like to make it easy for people who’ve read this piece to understand my view of religion. It is private. I don’t belong to any organized faith. I subscribe to the belief that god is a concept, not a being.
Humans will, do and should argue with the concept, in this view. To place ones’ self in the person of god, as some have done, is considered sacrilegious by many non-Christian faiths. For those who do so, the most common sanction has been martyrdom. That state of being was achieved in the most prominent case, that of Jesus, on secular grounds. Romans knew what to do to keep civic order. The Apian way was lined with the bodies on crosses of those who thought they could defy that civic order with impunity. With an impending anniversary presenting an opportunity for those with hopes of undermining the civic order, demonstrations were forbidden. Those who acted in defiance of the orders were given the punishment of the day – crucifixion. The results were left hanging in public view for all to see to help the message sink in, and so Jesus met his fate. [See obituary extract of Dr. Flusser, below.]
Was it “civilized” to behave thus, using the power of the state? I think not. And the method of “keeping order” ultimately did not prevent the collapse of that “order.” But by martyrdom, people can become leaders of the cult of belief in their properties as all-knowing interpreters of “God’s Will.” To me this is the highest order of B.S., especially given that the competition for the souls of worshipers so often centers on property ownership. Control the land – the means of production – and you get the souls (and can collect levies). When you fall behind it can be shown that you were one of the “Godless,” deserving to fall behind.
For sure, those were not the messages Jesus was agitating against. At the time it hardly mattered. It took about three centuries for his disciples, writing independently and at length, to get (their version of) his word more widely disseminated. Their added touches are no longer visible as ‘license’ of their own, but what the hell, editing still had a long way to go for establishing verifiable copy. And folks could be pretty original in their own right. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, writing decades apart from each other, were instrumental in following up Moses’ version of monotheism being advanced in the first millennium.
There were not only no editors to speak of, but limited means of transmittal to the wider population. In fact, the Egyptians’ use of tablets saved the day for all time. Because of their existence we have the first and best example of what it means to humanity to be able to refer to a primary source. David Flusser’s death at age 83, resulted in an obituary written by Laurie Goodstein for the NY Times of September 23, 2000. She details his accomplishments succinctly and definitively. I extract from it in the interest of brevity, but urge the reader to look up the complete version in the new library we know as the Internet.
“After poring over new archaeological discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Flusser popularized the idea that Jesus was born and died a faithful Jew and never intended to found a new religion. The fruits of Dr. Flusser’s research were published in 1965 in an influential book, “Jesus,” which was translated into 11 languages. A second edition incorporating new research was published by Magnes Press in 1997….An Orthodox Jew, he applied his skills in Talmud study to examining ancient Roman, Greek and Arabic texts. [He] strove to separate the historical, verifiable life of Jesus from the version put forth in the Gospels and the writings of his later followers….he [and Shlomo Pines, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University,] offered evidence to support the idea that a description of Jesus as messiah by the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus was probably forged more than two centuries later by Christian church leaders.
“Dr. Flusser was conducting his research at a time when many Jews were blaming Christianity for Nazi-ism, and he stepped into the discussion, with an article in The Jerusalem Post during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Gestapo officer. In court, Eichmann had refused to take an oath on the New Testament, and said he would swear only in the name of God. Dr. Flusser wrote: ‘I do not know who is the God in whose name Eichmann swore, but I am certain that it is neither the God of Israel nor the God of the Christian church. It should now become clear to the strongest Jewish opponents of Christianity that Christianity per se imposes limitations and that the greatest crime against our people was not committed in the name of the Christian faith.”
Falling behind includes many things – such as limiting access to better land, higher social standing and so on. It pays to be “God Fearing.” And it helps those who are God Fearing to instill fear in others, especially if those “others” can be seen to adhere defiantly to their own interpretation. And so begins that endless process of lethal behavior over whose “God” is the good and all-knowing one.
I hasten to add that I respect the positive role religion plays in the lives of millions of people. It should be celebrated as a stabilizing force for civilizing behavior, noted above by Carl Safina, and as in the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
A. Robert Johnson
September 14, 2011