Whatsoever you do to these, the least of my brethren, you do also to me.Yeshua of Nazareth, Galilee
TRUE OR FALSE:
- Jesus of Nazareth had blue eyes and blonde hair.
- Buddha is a Christian saint.
- Christianity existed more than 600 years before Jesus.
If you missed all three, you really need to read on.
“Religions all lead to the same place,” ventured my mom many decades ago.
Subsequent scholarship has shown that dear Mrs. Barbano could not have been more correct.
The case for the unity of the world’s major religions was made convincingly in former nun Karen Armstrong’s tour-de-force of what she termed “theological anthropology.” Her 500-page masterwork “The Great Transformation” (Knopf, 2006) chronicled the concurrent confluence of our four major belief systems.
“In this killer piece of exegesis,” I wrote in the 12-10-2006 Barbwire, “the British authoress traces the roots of all the world’s great religious philosophies which began to evolve about 3,000 years ago in four countries, China, Greece, India and Israel. Guess what? They all pretty much arrived at one guiding principal: take care of each other, aka the Golden Rule.
“Alas and alack, several thousand years of greed, egos and marketing have perverted them all. In order to sell something, you have to standardize and mass produce the product, in this case fear. The apocryphal Gospel of Thomas was excised from the New Testament for saying that you don’t need a preacher to find God: The kingdom of God is within you, according to several great prophets, some of whom were executed for their trouble.
“The epistle of St. James the Less was nuked from the King James Protestant Bible because St. James said that ‘faith without works is nothing,’ the wrong message for somebody selling faith-based salvation that lets Sunday true believers into the magic kingdom no matter what they’ve done Monday through Saturday.
“Take care of each other. Regardless of how often that simple message gets sent to us, in every medium imaginable, it gets ignored by those with the most capacity to help. Somehow, attaining political power makes most leaders deaf to the principles they espoused which rallied the support to get to the top.
“All we the weak can do is whatever we can in our little piece of the world to live up to the great admonition even if our betters will not.”
Discrimination and bigotry based on somebody’s version of The Creator relentlessly plague the world. The Chinese government’s Mao & Xi Cult enslaves, abuses and exploits its largely Muslim Uighur minority. The military dictatorship of majority Buddhist Myanmar (Burma) has done the same to its stateless Rohingya Islamics. The Jews of Palestine lived in harmony with their Moslem neighbors for millennia until western military powers needed to assuage their guilt for doing nothing about Hitler’s Holocaust.
Myanmar and Israel/Gaza/West Bank/E. Jerusalem now live in a chronic state of civil war as do so many other regions which incidentally prove very profitable for the world’s arms makers.
The Hindu government of India, the world’s largest “democracy,” has institutionalized and authorized persecution of Christians and Moslems.
Here in the land of liberty and justice for some, synagogues get torched and black and brown people get lynched, although by other descriptives.
It’s not really religious persecution. That’s just the vehicle, the justification for such bloody tribalism. It’s all really about this monster mannunkind’s (props to e.e. cummings) basest motivations: power, greed, wealth and love of more stuff.
Which is why you need to get the January edition of Harper’s Magazine.
In his commentary “Dangling Man,” British novelist and author Hari Kunzru traces the curious and convoluted journey of Christian St. Josaphat, better known these days as Buddha. Buddha?! Jawohl.
This recovering Catholic altar boy has become sort of a Buddhist late in life. I consider myself quite religious and spiritual, though I identify with no organized denomination.
My Catholic schooling through high school, replete with Christian Brothers who pointed out the absurdities in the dogma, taught me the chinks in the armor. You can’t get to heaven on your Mastercard, an example of which was published in newspapers nationwide last week.
The Hobby Lobby chain, which discriminates against employees who don’t cotton to ownership’s dogma, published full page ads mostly comprised of an illustration which shows St. Joseph at his carpentry bench with blonde-haired toddler Jesus playing at his feet. You would need a magnifying glass to read Hobby Lobby’s name at bottom.
Man will accept no god who is not made unto man’s image and likeness.
How many times have you heard that God is pure spirit? So why the depiction of an old man with a beard who looks like Charlton Heston?
Same reason as the Hobby Lobby ad. He looked like the customer base.
Karen Armstrong’s book tells the tale of the Axial Age, starting around 900 BC “in which the foundations were laid for Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as the later faiths of Christianity and Islam,” noted Baltimore Sun reviewer Charles Matthews.
Once upon that time, the warring dukedoms of ancient China actually practiced make-believe war, where fully armed forces charged each other, stopped, sat down and partied. The Axial Age was a magical era when peace broke out in many places. Alas, it was eventually burned to the ground by greedy egos.
“The Axial sages put the abandonment of selfishness and the spirituality of compassion at the top of their agendas,” Armstrong noted. “For them, religion was the Golden Rule. They concentrated on what people were supposed to transcend from — their greed, egotism, hatred and violence.”
Which is why Armstrong called that time “The Great Transformation.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu died on Sunday at 90. There can be no greater tribute than if each of us goes forward doing to others, especially the least of our brethren, as we would have them do unto us.
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 53-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.