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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

CHAPTER SEVENTY NINE. A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM




Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Mar 30, 2010 9:59 PM PDT



This essay is dedicated to Quincy, the precocious tweenager who represented Jesus in the Passover processional at my favorite UCC church in the Portland area.



This was Quincy's second year portraying Jesus, but it was a bit different this year, thanks to our ever-inventive pastor. This time, she went to the alter in procession with followers waving palm leaves, while other parishioners approached from the opposite entrance dressed in helmets and carrying swords and shields, representing the Roman soldiers come to guard against rioting they feared might be provoked by this radical new rabbi who had found an eager following of those eager to hear his message.

I was asked if I wanted to participate. Looking at our young angelic Jesus smiling in anticipation of her role in the first joyful Act of the Passion play, I readily agreed. When the procession started. I followed close behind her with a palm leaf in my left hand and a Roman sword in my right, held at my side but at the ready to defend the Princess of Peace should she be threatened in the midst of her triumphal entry into “Jeruselam.” I walked behind her with respectful attention, my eyes kept ever on her until I saw the approach of the Roman guard. I moved a step closer to her, now watching the Romans with unflinching gaze as they approached menacingly with swords drawn. As expected, I did not attempt to engage them but stood at the ready for the young Master's order.

I don't know if anyone there understood the message I was trying to convey. I saw myself as a Roman convert to Jesus' teachings, keeping my aggression in check but ready to defend his/her right to speak the truth to the subjugated people of Israel, if only they would listen. I knew that in the final act of the Passion play Jesus would willingly go to the cross, but I wanted to convey that never again should we give in to forces seeking to subjugate us without raising a hand in self-defense. Jesus died for a higher cause, since his death inspired millions and his thinking changed the world, though it was not enough to save the temple from destruction at the hands of the very invaders of whom Jesus tried to warn his fellow Israelites.

The lesson was not lost on Mohammed, who stated that he had received a message from an angel sent by God and whose words are said to have been written down as they were recited, rather than decades or centuries later. The Qua'ran clearly states that it is not permissible to fight and kill unless no choice exists but to submit to slavery. Only when escape is made impossible and the faith is not allowed to be practiced is it permissible to fight to defend one's freedoms of belief and of conscience.
 
Mohammad (bless his Holy name) taught that if an enemy tries to enslave you then it is your moral duty to resist. In victory, it is your moral duty to forgive and welcome as friends those who had chosen to be your enemies. This is how Islam spread during Mohammed's life, though the lesson was too soon forgotten, just as many people who think themselves Christian have forgotten that Jesus' central message was to love others as one would want to love herself. This was the only message necessary to understand the rest of his teachings, which were merely elaborations on this theme.

One does not have to be religious to believe in the golden rule, though some version of it is to be found in Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism as well. Secular humanists point out that one need not believe in God or the holy spirit to act in accordance to this simple principle. Why, then do so many professed Christians rationalize their failure to even attempt to fulfill this one simple wish of the man they call God on Earth. Confident that their belief alone will save them, they miss Jesus' clear teaching that it is not enough to believe, but one must act on that faith to bring the kingdom to Earth.

Where fundamentalist Christians get the idea that Jesus is going to save them from their own selfish decisions is beyond me. It seems clear that Jesus has already taught us how to free ourselves from enslavement by the corporate Puppet Masters of the Universe. As we were created with free will and life is about choosing between right and wrong, it seems clear to me that Armageddon is but one possible result of our choice, and the other is to assure that the Kingdom will come to Earth if God's will be done on Earth, as Christians pray every time that they recite the Lord's Prayer.

Faith led to the Passover and saved many children of Israel. We must have faith in ourselves and our collective power to save Israel, America and the world from the threat of permanent slavery. We have nothing to fear but fear itself if we accept the idea that the good must necessarily triumph over evil if good men choose to act rather than pray for salvation from another. For the religious, it is taken as a given that God is more powerful than evil, so why do they fear death or even more trivially, loss of Earthly possessions? For the faithless, why do you fight so hard if you do not believe that you can win? Take it from someone who will never accept the words of another man as absolute truth. Whether God exists or not is not relevant to moral decision making and morals are essential for integrity of the self, if not the soul. The important thing is to act in accordance with the Golden rule if you wish to leave your children a world worth inheriting.




In the words of Ray Stevens:

Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world.
Red, yellow black or white,
they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Everything is beautiful,
in its own way.
Like the starry summer night
and the snow covered winter's day.
If there's God in Heaven,
the world's gonna find a way.

There are none so blind
as they who will not see.
We must not close our minds,
we must let our thoughts be free.

For every hour that passes by
you know the world gets a little bit older.
It's time to realize that beauty lies
in the eyes of the beholder.

And everybody's beautiful
in their own way.
If there's God in Heaven,
the world's gonna find a way.

We shouldn't care about the length of his hair
or the color of his skin.
Don't worry about what shows from without,
but the love that's there within.
We're gonna get it all together now
and everything gonna work out fine.
Just take a little time to look on the good side my friend
and straighten it out in your mind.

Everything is beautiful
in its own way.
Like the starry summer night
and the snow covered winter's day.
Under God's Heaven,
the world's gonna find a way.



Rick Staggenborg, MD
Roseburg, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. This is the first of three Easter season essays that I intended to write and post. It was actually written after I attended Passover services at my United Church of Christ church in Cedar Hills, Oregon. For those who don't know it, I also attend the Rizwah mosque most Sundays when in Portland and the Nevah Shalom synagogue when I am able to make it up on time for Friday service.

    I have come to believe in both revealed wisdom about the true nature of reality and prophesy based on this understanding. I do not have a religion but try to supplement my understanding of science by the study of the great religions and other spiritual belief systems.

    Like many fundamentalists of various religions, I believe that it has become obvious that we are in what what the Bible calls the time of tribulations.

    Unlike fundamentalist Christians, I do not regard Armageddon as a prediction, but a warning. It is time for us to choose faith, love and freedom over fear, hatred and enslavement by the ruthless, self-appointed Masters of the Universe who will destroy us all in their relentless quest of power over others.

    I have no illusions that Christ or the belief in his divinity will save us from our own failure to preserve and spread the democracy so many have died to create. Christ's gift was that he came to Earth to show us the path to saving ourselves. It is the same path spoken of by Krishna, Buddha, and Mohammed. Abraham knew that the tribes hadd to unite to survive, but Israel must recognize that we are all one family and join with the other Semitic and non-Semitic tribes in a spirit of mutual respect and love if they are to avoid triggering the final showdown of good versus evil played out on this plane of existence, as it always has played out on the other side.

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