by Fred Stopsky
December 17, 2007
Monday Essay: I Am A Jesus Man
I was raised in the Depression when liberals and radicals frequently cited Jesus Christ as a man of the people, not of corporate America. I recall one day, at the age of 12, wandering among used book stores down on 14th Street in Manhattan when I came across a copy of the New Testament. Reading the Sermon on the Mount overwhelmed me, I had been raised as an Orthodox Jew without any learning about Christ. My initial impression was that he was a wonderful Jewish man and why wasn’t I taught about him. I immediately connected Christ with the working class since he appeared most interested in the needs of poor people.
To those who read the literature of the 1930s, there is common reference to the working class Jesus, the defender of the poor and the oppressed. John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” contains powerful passages in which the poor Okies turn toward Christ because he is one of them. A central character in the novel is a man referred to as “preacher Casey” who is killed by the goons of the rich landowners. If you listen to the songs of Paul Robeson, one of America’s greatest 20th century singers, he constantly gives voice to Christ and to religion. I am always emotionally impacted listening to his version of “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”
I can never understand why liberals today have allowed Christ to become the spokesperson of bigotry and hatred. Religious right ministers will declaim and denounce immigrants and “liberals.” Could anyone imagine for a moment that Jesus Christ would be against immigrants, legal or illegal? His was a liberal voice speaking out against entrenched authority, but somehow today those in power wrap themselves in Jesus in order to justify oppression of the poor. The Jesus message of the Depression was one of compassion and love for all those who were suffering. Today, I see wealthy ministers living in luxury who appear before audiences to preach hate and fear of those who are different.
The positive side of Mike Huckabee is his personal connection to a compassionate Christ. He has a “soft side” because he embraced Jesus, the defender of poor people and the downtrodden. I rarely sense any deep religious feeling in George Romney because he speaks from his calculating mind, not from his emotional heart. I have a hunch, not knowledge, that McCain during his tortured existence in North Vietnam, focused on his survival, with or without religion. The only religious aspect of Giuliani is how much money he can collect from church going people. Strange as it may seem, I think Hillary Clinton is very religious, but she will never allow the world to get inside her heart, she only provides peeks into her mind. Barack Obama is the only current candidate who would fit readily into the liberal world of the 1930s. He is a Jesus man because his heart speaks more forcefully than his mind.
The Democratic candidate for president in 2008 should speak openly about religion, and hopefully, about his/her commitment to a Christ who is compassionate and offers sanctuary and hope to all humanity. Who for a moment believes Jesus would be on the side of those who torture in his name? Who for a moment believes Jesus would deny medical care to those without? Who for a moment doubts that Jesus would demand those with wealth should pay higher taxes in order to provide for the poor? Who believes Jesus would support policies that allow global pollution? This is the Jesus message a candidate for president should be stating. It will resonate among Jews or Muslims or atheists.
P.S. I also love Christmas songs and can never understand why anyone would object to them being sung, in schools or in public. Heck, we have Santa Claus, a pagan symbol, and songs like “White Christmas” composed by a Jew, so let’s face reality, Christmas is not really a Christian holiday anymore, it belongs to the world. It is real big in Japan which doesn’t have many Christians.
P.P.S. I have no connection with “Jews For Christ.” I am simply a nice Jewish boy who is a Jesus man because Jesus was a defender of poor people, and I have a hunch he would not readily be allowed in most country clubs in America.
Rudy’s numbers are sinking in the polls, so the man of humility was compelled to once again boast about saving America on 9/11. He told a Florida audience about his heroic stand on 9/11: ” I wondered whether we had the strength to deal with this, the worst attack in our history, unprecedented, horrific.” Naturally he trotted out images of fire fighters planting flags at Ground Zero. Well, let’s look at the record:
1. 9/11 posed no threat to the security of America. It was an attack by a group of men. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor caused more deaths and wiped out most of our Pacific fleet– that was a threat to our security.
2. Rudy ignored advice from experts who told the mayor to put the emergency command center underground, not in the Twin Towers.
3. He was repeatedly was asked to get new communication devices for firefighters and policemen. He did not take such action. The result is many died due to a breakdown in communication.
4. Rudy wandered the streets of New York with a few dozen police who probably should have been down at Ground Zero doing something useful.
5.. Perhaps Rudy can explain why every major firemen and police organization opposes his nomination.
The British withdrew from Basra in Iraq after spending four years wiping out terrorism. According to the head of police in Basra, General Jalil Khalaf, “they left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world.” He claims the British armed militia to fight against al-Qaeda, but, in so doing, created new groups of terrorists, and now the militia are better armed than his own police. He also notes during the past three months(while British soldiers supposedly controlled Basra) about 40 women were killed by fundamentalists because they did not wear the proper head covering and others were also killed due to “adulterous relationships.”
Hamas continues ranting and raving about killing Israelis if they invade the Gaza Strip. Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, promised “Jews, we already have dug your graves.” An Israel invasion of Gaza will result in the death of hundreds of innocent people. As long as Hamas remains outside the corridors of discussion and diplomacy, its leaders will engage in such wild rhetoric in order to enflame the masses. About 70% of people in Gaza lack jobs so they have time to listen to people boasting about killing the enemy. In the end, when people rant in streets, the innocent die.
I cam across a sad story in the Jerusalem Post. A Jewish town is going to construct 410 new housing units on land claimed by Arabs. Some Arabs in the area asked to be allowed to purchase homes in the development and were told by Jewish leaders they did not want Israel Arabs living among them. About 15% of the citizens of Israel are Arabs and, theoretically, they should have equal rights. The Israel High Court has ruled it unconstitutional to deny them the right to purchase homes, but local groups continue with their prejudicial practices.
President Sarkozy of France is trying his best to keep Turkey from entering the European Union. It infuriates the people of Turkey because it is so blatantly anti-Muslim. It’s OK to allow Romania to enter or Slovenia, but not Turkey. Could it be that Turkey is home to 60 million Muslims?
I am an American living in the year 2007, a time when the delegate from the nation of Papua, told off the president of the United States at the Bali Conference on global warming. Kevin Conrad told America, “If you’re not going to lead, get out of the way.” Bush finally gave in on setting goals of 50% reduction in global warming by 2050, but the USA was the only major nation which refused to sign an agreement to a 40% reduction in pollution by 2020. Oh, by the way, the other nation that would not agree was Burma.
Watch out for trouble in January when Kosovo declares its independence from Serbia. The Serbs are Christian and the people of Kosovo are Muslim. There might be fighting.
A sad story out of Kenya. A nasty war has broken out over land issues. Colonialism messed up which tribe owned which lands and the legacy of that confusion spills over into current day disputes. Hundreds have been killed and some 60,000 people forced to flee their homes as gangsters and local militia clash over power and land. It always fascinates me how we humans will kill when someone tries to take our property.
New York Daily News: “Bush Is Commander-in-Grief Over Steroids”
Yes, George, don’t shed tears for the dead bodies, but steroids, now
that is an issue that tugs at your baseball loving heart.
Czech Republic, Prague Post: “New Law Limits Prostitution To Public Places”
I guess that means brothels are a bit too private for public actions.
Australia, West Australian: “Shark Told To Cool Its Passion For Maidens”
I guess this is the reason for Mermaids.
Canada, Toronto Star: “Kyrgzstan Claims To Be Santa’s Home”
If he is coming from Kyrgzstan, don’t expect presents to be delivered on time.
Sweden, The Local: “Female Road Sign Rejected”
Are you telling me there are roads for women only?
Peace and Love