Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wahrheit oder Fiktion?


"And Jesus said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's," says Mark 12:17. The Gospel of Mark is considered almost universally to be the oldest of the New Testament gospels, the source of the rest of the synoptic gospels. It's also one of the most willfully misquoted and misunderstood (if not overlooked out of convenience) outside of the parable of the chances of a rich man getting into heaven and a camel passing through the eye of a needle. When you look at the majority of statements attributed to Jesus in the NT, most of them address that the priority is to care for the poor, the vulnerable--you can't miss it, yet many do because they're hatefully bonkers.

This is not a debate over whether Jesus was the son of God--I don't believe that and never have. That's irrelevant to me, unimportant like whether Paul Bunyan's Ox babe was blue or not, that's about mythology and missing the point because you're an asshole.

What did Jesus mean by the "render" comment? We've had the answer for almost two millennia now, right in front of our faces, just like the Nazarene's stupid disciples who almost never understood what he was going on about. God would have chosen a better lot than those dummies. When you look at orthodox Christianity's many flaws and horrific mistakes, look no further than these small-minded, patriarchal idiots. This was the best God could do? It had to be the Demiurge, but that's a bedtime story for another time. What did he mean? Common sense should be a guide here by posing a few questions: What did Caesar want? What did the Roman emperors want? First, they wanted taxes, but most of all, fundamentally, obedience to their rule and its proscribed laws. For the Jews, this was a tall order, because they had their own set or religious ones, hence why there were money changers in Herod's temple, for example, one of many, and frankly, not an especially big deal, more neurosis that became codified tradition. 

I think what Jesus said was pretty simple. Tell the Romans what they want to hear, go through the motions, but never give them your heart, never yield your soul. That's not a very difficult prescription for living under the occupation of another culture. To be sure, the Romans were brutal occupiers, we don't need to retread over that ground, it's settled. However, when it came to tolerance of indigenous cultures and religions, they weren't all that bad--better than what came after them in most cases in fact. There was a rub for the Jews: like all Roman subjects, they were supposed to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor. After that, they could worship pretty much as they wished. Just as there's always some asshole heckling at a concert, this wasn't good enough for some people, and like the Christian martyrs that would come decades later, what they were about to engage in was pretty pointless: fighting an uphill battle nobody wanted over abstract concepts that weren't and aren't rooted in reality. When you're a fanatic, you do these things. Politics and religion were inextricably-linked in those days, and this is how one should read the synoptic gospels as well as the esoteric sects of Judaism and the region in that day in general.

Jesus wasn't telling anyone to take up arms here, quite the opposite. He was suggesting the power of ideas and how they cannot be killed, how people can basically lie to their oppressors and keep the lamp lit in their hearts and minds. Yet, so often, this quote is used as an excuse by authoritarian-minded fools calling themselves Christians (they aren't by a long shot) to obey authority under all circumstances, one more divine cop-out exhortation to blindly serve evil.

The last time I checked, Jesus never said, "Give the boss man a blowjob," only to tell the asshole what he wants to hear and to go on doing what you would anyway out of view. But hey, that's must just be me. I must have missed that after I got kicked out of Sunday school for asking too many questions...