Saturday, April 30, 2016

Can I Get a Witness?

One of the contributing factors in the difficulty (I almost wrote impossibility) of  that "discussion" about race in America we're constantly told we need to have is that victims in America have tended to set themselves above advice or criticism  and thereby gain the right to direct any conversation in it's course or conclusions. "for are we not victims and are not our critics all evil?"  I'm sure that by this sentence the gavel is already descending on the verdict that I'm a racist,  But enough of that, lets talk specifics.

I read in the Daily Kos just now that African American poet Crystal Valentine was deeply offended by Megyn Kelly's assertion that Jesus was a white man. Now any statements about Jesus  need to be qualified as to whether we're talking about Jesus of Nazareth, the failed Jewish revolutionary or Jesus Christ of myth.  Obviously Megyn and Crystal are engaged in equivocation, or more specifically, the fallacy of equivocation.  Those are two different characters.  Those who come to Jesus through Sunday school or through Christian education are talking about  someone either half god or entirely god or even, like Gilgamesh of Uruk, one third divine. He was a man of peace come to mysteriously erase inherited sin that without him could never otherwise be erased.  He died and was resurrected, although the family of myths diverges in the details.

There's absolutely no historical evidence for this Jesus so perhaps one can call him Chinese or a Swede or African with equal authority.  If I were part of that "conversation" I might have pointed out that the Jesus that might actually have been wasn't Celtic or blond, he was a Jew without any physical feature we know of to distinguish him from other Jewish men at the time.

It is this mythological Jesus Ms. Valentine refers to when she says:
“How can she says Jesus was a white man when he died the blackest way possible? With his hands up, with his mother watching."
The answer is easy and history gives weight to her statement, all the poetry and passion, all the sound and fury notwithstanding. It's just as valid and more so to say he died in the most Jewish way possible. In fact the notion that only descendants of American slaves have ever been persecuted and oppressed and no one elses experience can be referenced or compared  is a bit obnoxious. Jewish lives matter.

So I'm sorry, all poetic references to the child saint of Ferguson notwithstanding, Jesus was a Jew from the Northern Kingdom and likely from a tiny hamlet called Nazareth and came to Jerusalem to oust the Romans and their collaborators with divine help.but we really can't be sure.  He may be fictional, he may be a composite of the many rebels seeking God's help by purifying the people.  His ethnic background is not irrelevant, it's essential and the image of him as a persecuted ex American slave is poetic license with no power to influence objective views of history.  Jesus the man belongs to the Jews, Jesus the Savior is anyone's because we make him up as we go along, whether or not you call myth as a witness, and by doing so se forfeit the right to claim that he was or was not anything at all.   

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