Who’s the Dude? The Dude Abides.

The good doctors of Ivy League Divinity Schools have concluded that Jesus wasn’t an uneducated, backwoods/backwater, itinerate preacher/healer, but was a pretty well-educated artisan who worked in the bustling trade center of Sepphoris, a city of significant Roman influence just four miles from Nazareth. According to the scholars, Jesus must have known three languages to get along successfully in his occupation in that cosmopolitan environment.

He probably stopped for happy hour at one of the fine bistros lining the streets before high-stepping it back to Nazareth with hopes of one day moving to Sepphoris, buying a little condo in an upscale/gentrified neighborhood and exploring what pleasures the big city might afford an up-and-coming entrepreneur.

Well, not that last part, (That would be closer to what my story would be.) but what are we to make of all this — that historical inquiry into the life of Jesus up until recently got most of it wrong and that what was thought to be a significant influence on Jesus forming his core value system of defending the poor and calling the powerful to account couldn’t have been because he actually was what one today would call middle-class and not a poor kid from the sticks and that his relatively well off sociological/material/economic circumstances were somehow overcome in his fight for the plight of the poor and oppressed against the rich and powerful which eventually would lead to his crucifixion?

Maybe. And that would be interesting.

Or, might it be that the quest for the historical Jesus, while a worthwhile endeavor because knowledge is always good, will ever and always be the quest for a ray of light in the darkness of antiquity and will stymie scholars and will go on and on and will never be done (thus securing job security for professors in divinity schools and seminaries)?

Regarding the usefulness of historic accuracy, for instance, I recall a visual example of the quest for the historical Jesus in a drawing of what Jesus probably really looked like as a first century Jew in an article from several years back in a popular scientific magazine. According to the researchers, he would have been fairly short, a roundish face, olive to brown skin, dark brown eyes and thick, curly black hair — not exactly Sallman’s Head of Christ or Christ at Heart’s Door, nor the image of Jeffrey Hunter, the blue-eyed, all American, white, Hollywood hunk who played Jesus in the movie King of Kings. Such a historic physical portrait has been helpful as I continue to conjure an image of Jesus, although because of my childhood scripting, Sallman’s ubiquitous take keeps sneaking in.

And might it also be that the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith ever and always will be metaphors touching the very soul of what it means to be hopeful, loving, caring, merciful, compassionate, peaceable, just humans proclaiming the Realm of God in a broken world and that, ultimately, love wins as revealed in the image of the Triumphant Lamb?

Maybe that, too.

And the journey continues and the dude abides.

Looking Longingly and Lovingly to The Good, Old Days of Just Yesterday

In the good, old days (just yesterday) of the Republic,
the one percent of one percent called the shots from
outside of government through donations and lobbyists
and often they won.

Now, they are the elected and nominated and appointed
government and the American people are the victims of
the art of the con.

As questionable as those good, old days were, in time,
we will look longingly and lovingly to them while wishing
the other candidate had won because right now only
the one percent of one percent are having any fun.

The Swamp

The hollow one who looks like a fat
flamingo squawks fast in a staccato burst
of swamp nonsense that draws laughing
critters off the banks into the water.

The cunning one who looks like a turtle,
moving slowly, deliberately, saying one
thing, meaning another, crawls in with
eyes just above the surface of the swamp.

The friendly, smiling, dark-plumed one
perched high on a branch, looking down
on the swamp whistling that he is above
it all sees his prey and dives in.

The Hollow Man’s Hair is Burning

Vanity Fair
has inflamed
the Hollow Man’s hair.
It’s standing on end
after a review
equating his restaurant
with a donkey’s rear end,
or something like that,
which, of course, was intended
to offend,
and let it be of note,
to get the Hollow Man’s goat, ‘er
donkey, ‘er ass
and it happened fast.
The long-standing feud
always elicits a reaction
from the Hollow Man
who can’t pass
on a distraction
from anything important
like an intelligence briefing.
So he twitters while seething
and starts his bleating
leaving the magazine editor
to do his own “gotcha” again
tweeting.

The Paradoxical Arithmatic: The More You Have, The Less You Are

The preacher/writer wrote
that the more you get,
the more you have,
and the more you
give away in love,
the more you are.
In America, we admire
those who get and have
regardless of the
reality that, more than
likely, they aren’t that
much except an unrealized
Child of God, which if
realized, is everything.
We give lip service to
Jesus who said it is more
blessed to give than to receive
but we don’t believe
that we will be blessed,
because blessedness for us
means getting more stuff
even if we remain, inside, not much
except an unrealized Child of
God, which, if realized,
is everything.

Wretchedness Wins

Years ago, a man heard a minister
protest the use of the word
“wretch” in the hymn “Amazing
Grace” — the minister contending
that God doesn’t make wretches.
The man questioned in his mind,
what about simply becoming
wretched on one’s own?
Sunday, the same man sang
“Amazing Grace” in worship
and the redacted hymn substituted
the word “one” for wretch. The
man thinks about the wretched-
ness appearing and the omen of
more and greater wretchedness
in the wake of the recent president-
ial election and thinks about how
wretched people can act to the point
of having to be called wretched
for all their wretched behavior —
guilt for their behavior and shame
for being that wretched. The
composer of the hymn was captain
and slave trader on a ship trans-
porting slaves from Africa to the
New World before he was convicted
of sin and embraced by grace and
was bold enough to call himself a
wretch and work for the end of
slavery. And the man thought,
If we are all just “ones” and
in no way wretches, we have nothing
to be sorry about, nor for which
to ask forgiveness and if none of
us needs forgiveness and the grace
of salvation from wretchedness, well
then, wretchedness wins.

Democrats are the Nicest Folks

Democrats are the nicest folks
on the face of the earth.
When elected to office they
kiss the babies shortly after birth.
They smile in the face of opposition
and congratulate all opposing positions.
They tuck their tails and run
and ask, “Isn’t this just so much fun?”
Meanwhile, the Republicans go for blood
and have done so since the Great Flood.
They couldn’t care less about protocol
and tell just about everybody to go to hell.
They fight and scrape and get things undone
along the Beltline meaning Washington.
Wouldn’t you love to ignite some fire
under the butts of the Democrats
and raise the consternation and ire
of all those smug, former Dixiecrats,
harboring resentment about losing
the Civil War
and, soon to be minority whites,
calling for a racial war?
Well, let’s hope the Dems to the occasion will rise
and catch the Republicans and Tea Party
followers by surprise
and effect legislation to save the planet,
women’s and LGBT rights.
Wouldn’t you just love that kind of fight —
the fight to see our precious Republic
rising to new and greater heights?