Exclusive: The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset by Rocket Kirchner

by Rocket Kirchner
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
March 30, 2009

St Mark

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Many literary critics have said that in the theocratic age of literature, that the gospel of Mark is the most radical and important work of antiquity.  It took me years to see that. I always saw Mark as a wallflower gospel, not yielding its secrets so easily. I mean there is no sermon on the mount, no Magnificat, no Pilate/Christ juicy repartee. And yet there is no doubt that Mark’s gospel was the first one to be written. The plethora of books on recent Markan studies, however, have convinced me that it is indeed the most revolutionary document against the imperial mindset in the common era. And for all eras.

Mark wastes no time with genealogies and blood lines. He starts off with a bang, “Tte beginning of the good news of Jesus Messiah, Son of God”. These words alone if taken in context are a slap in the face to the mindset of Caesar being the Son OF God that was written on every Roman coin. Then comes Jesus from nowheresville Nazareth, a nobody, with no credentials, blowing the whole concept of a messianic overthrow of Rome choosing rather to preach being a servant, and to love instead of being violent. Talk about a “reversal of expectation” that Israel was waiting for!

Then Mark’s Jesus has to break all the social taboos; healing on the Sabbath, treating woman equal to men, destroying private property, enraged at the religious leaders of his day for asking for a sign that he is the messiah. Oh yeah, and about those family values…forget it. He speaks of his mission to bring division to the family unit right at the axis of its power, between the generations. Because that is where the abuse is. And if that’s not enough, he denies his own family by stating that his family is “those who do the will of God”. What in the world is Mark trying to tell us? Hang on.

As the tension mounts in every great story, Jesus is taken into custody by the authorities for blasphemy. He is condemned by the Romans. He is crucified. A dishonorable way to die. a rabble rousing peasant dies with no honor in the eyes of anyone except a Roman soldier who sees the way in which he dies and commits treason by stating that Jesus is the real SON OF GOD. Bang! There is Mark’s tectonic plate paradigm shift. The defining moment of his gospel. And by the way, we get no great sayings from Jesus on the cross like in the other gospels. We get only, “my GOD my GOD, why have you forsaken me?”

Now this would ordinarily be the ultimate Greek tragedy. But rumor has it that he was raised from the dead in ch 16 and therefore Mark inverts tragedy into good news, hence blowing all despair away, and yet it ends with those who hear about it running away afraid telling no one. This is stripped down writing at its best.

All notions of messiahship and divinity are redefined in this short book. They are not defined in terms of empire, might makes right, physical deliverance of Israel from the Romans. It is the divinity and messiahship redefined in humility, love, servanthood. It is the document of the ultimate revolution and good news to the oppressed. And good news is always good.


Hedges: I Don’t Believe In Atheists, review by Rocket Kirchner

The Crossing: The Event That Changed My Life by Rocket Kirchner


19 thoughts on “Exclusive: The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset by Rocket Kirchner

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  13. i have seen the Bill Maher movie . weak at best. he does not cut to the core. and the very thing that he accuses religious people of concerning the bomb , and then he offers as an alternative rationalism and science , he must be reminded that it was the reason and science that gave us the bomb . he would do well to read Oppenheimer’s post Manhattan project laments.

    it is rather hard to find fault in the area of pure social justice verses injustice in Mark .

    Lova, 35 years ago i was convinced of the whole we are jesus narcissistic archetype stuff. steeped in carl jung , ram dass , and many others. that was until Christ appeared to me and showed me differently . this is all explained in my testimony on dandelion salad called ”the crossing ”.

    i guess you could say i was that roman solder that saw the same thing and at the exact moment i was transformed .

    i dont worship a symbol . this is the real deal . and it is now . it is the heavenly mindset on earth , that brings about the very social justice that Mark puts the emphasis on –being a servant to all .

    • There’s an incredible Carolingian ivory triptych in the Cloisters depicting St. Mark and his symbol…

      Since nobody remotely resembling ‘Jesus’ has ever ‘appeared’ to me, I guess I will have to be happy appreciating the amazing artifacts left by those who’s works grew from ‘belief’, as evidence of the best of our creations, in a godless, faithless world of modern industrial mediocrity.

      Of course, it’s doubtful ‘jesus’ ever appeared in all his bloody thorn-punctured tragedy to the other earthly animals and plants who, like humans, make this earth the true garden of eden.

      Like the squirrels, bats and lemurs, I can never feel guilty shlomo the hasid tries to wrap that box of leaches around my forehead to garner gods favor, nor will I feel nostalgic for the vile meats of dead animals they ridicule me for not eating at passover.

      But really, how is the obliteration of the earth by fire, regardless of whether god nukes it or his followers do it for him out of ‘family’ devotion to ‘doing the will of god’ , how is that ‘non-violent’ and the threat of god’s annihilation of all who don’t follow his will, not ‘authoritarian’?

      And what then of the vast legions of so-called Christians who did these horrible deeds, from Spaniards in spain and the new world, on up to Botch and the war against arabs which ‘jesus’ told him to carry out?

      I don’t think combining jesus and politics is safe any more, even in theory. Christianity more than thoroughly ruined itself as any sort of righteous social organization principle.

      If individuals feel they’ve been presented with a vision of ‘jesus’, then that is a private affair, and preaching about it, in light of the vast, irreparable damage done by Christians to humanity and the earth in the name of ‘jesus’ makes it too dangerous of an ideology to promote as newsworthy, politically appropriate, or of general beneficence to anyone but the ‘epiphanist’.

      No amount of ‘believing’ will make ‘jesus’ appear to anyone else, so if he appeared for you, good for you, but it’s hardly a glorious thing to sing about (except, of course if you’re Mahalia Jackson or Mavis Staples, or Aretha Franklin, then anything you sing about will be glorious!).

      I will endeavor to make this my last long-winded comment about the very scary realities I see expressed in society by religion.

    • i read your testimony, “the crossing.” i found it very intriguing. however i have heard quite a few extremely profound religious experiences in my time so i’m a bit jaded in that sense. i was raised pentacostal which was never boring. i can’t even remember how many times i asked jesus into my heart or partook in communion. i never did speak in tongues or get “slain in the spirit”, as they call it. there was always something missing though and i always seemed to discover and find things that didn’t quite go along with the bible and the teachings in it. it was always a disappointment for me. asking jesus into my heart never seemed to change anything, being baptized i really expected something amazing and was again disappointed. i was always told i had to believe more or something along those lines and something amazing would happen.

      one of the biggest shocks was when i took communion for the first time. i really honestly believed it would be blood inside my mouth, the blood of christ and the little cracker thing would be flesh. i was so confounded when it just ended up tasting like grape juice and the cracker was a cracker. i guess i don’t know how to transubstantiate either.
      for many years i still held on to some of the beliefs even though they didn’t fit my internal philosophy at all. i was so amazed once i started delving into eastern philosophy in my late teens. i couldn’t believe other people had pondered the same things as me and even further. despite that for many years i still had christian beliefs in the back of my head but over time they have grown and changed and i have been fairly happy with the understanding i have come to towards that religion in general. i have had so many profound revelations through the story of jesus. but that has also happened for me with many stories in other religions too. but i think having been raised in christianity that religion
      i always relate to. it is like the first language you learn but i definitely don’t think in that language or at least by what most christians consider the bible to teach.

      my destiny though doesn’t involve becoming a christian and worshipping jesus in any traditional sense and it took me many years to realize that. i simply outgrew most of the ways of christianity, thats the only way i can explain it. i have had a few profound religious experiences myself but the ones that stick out the most don’t have any doctrine attached to them exactly. one in particular i may never know what it means. i mean i’ve read various things on what people say it is or similar experiences but that doesn’t mean it is exactly what it was.

      i have seen many people that have one experience beyond the ordinary and have it shape their entire life afterwards whether or not they derived the right meaning or not who knows. but what always seems to happen is their thoughts are always clouded by that event. they see everything with a new filter and that to me is a stumbling block. i like to have various perspectives. studying hypnosis a bit has also helped me realize just how people get stuck in “reality tunnels.” a simple example might be if you ever seen a hypnotist convince someone they are eating an apple when they are actually eating an onion. they sit there and talk about how sweet and juicy the apple is and of course everyone else can see it is an onion and laughs. you plug your nose though and an onion can taste a lot like an apple.

      from my vantage point i’m more convinced of subjective truth than objective truth. that is to say no ultimate truth the same for everyone. would that be an ultimate truth then? i’ll never bridge that paradox in words.

  14. there are many problems with christianity to be sure. you have the common historical atrocities perpetrated in the name of god/christianity the crazy ideas of drinking the blood and eating the flesh of god/son of god. To be sure there is plenty of creative ancient superstition in the bible. but to me, after years of pondering, the message seems clear when you look at it in mythological terms. to grasp mythology you need to look at things symbolically and this is of course my interpretation.

    jesus is the hero in the story and one has to identify in some sense with the hero to unlock the sort of mystical secret but i’m going to just blurt it out. you, me, everyone is jesus in an archetypal sense. this is a symbol of the higher self or buddhahood and that path. unfortunately modern christians think that if you just worship a symbol that is good enough and you get fun fluffy rewards when you die like a mansion in heaven with streets of gold and crap like that. to me that is disturbing and destructive to mankind in general, that sort of mentality. this world is where we are for now and we should attend to this world by doing something similar to the hero in the gospels. to me that would mean helping people, service to humanity in some regard. it could be as simple as signing a petition. one word seems to sum up the message and that is, “LOVE.”

    • That is an encouraging interpretation, certainly Rev. King spoke of god as love, and Joseph Campbell had much to offer re the commonality and wisdom of myth. Unfortunately modern christians would likely see you as a ‘pagan’. Buddha seems to advocate a discipline more than a faith, one that many sects seem to forget…

      But love, compassion, peace, concepts apparently preached by Jesus, echoed in Islam (Rumi…), are secular humanistic ideas that transcend indoctrination, and the mass-murder theft and oppression done in the name of religions are common to secular fascism and capitalism as well.

      So it would seem that the true conflict in our hearts is not about biblical literalism, it’s about basic secular psychology, compassion vs. selfishness, peace vs. war, open-mindedness vs. conservatism.

      Religulous is an excellent analysis of how religions have allowed otherwise rational people to pursue the irrational dark side in our hearts. Thos who dabble in devotion and faith in the ‘big three’ to any degree whatsoever need to see this film before ever advocating and proselytizing literalistic interpretations of various scriptures, it’s a slippery path to indulgence of our darkest psychological impulses and behavior. They must be absolutely their objective, rational, secular humanistic health is intact, so that scriptures can be interpreted in the proper context as myth, and so that they don’t fall victim to blind faith and the perils of hypnotic devotion to false prophets.

  15. Certainly the books of the bible have many interpretations, unfortunately like the Quran, mostly sinister ones which Jesus would not approve, and which cause vastly more harm than good, and will likely end our times for real.

    Rarely do we get peace and justice or good works out of Christians as we did with the Catholic Workers, or MLK.

    The best contributions of Christains and Islamists are art and architecture, hardly ever enlightened social behavior, not in the the three thousand years of these monotheistic patriarchal human inventions written in bibles, etc.

    If such belief systems can be so often beget disaster and strife, abuse and intentional apocalyptic torture of the planet, women, animals, and life on earth (because, after all, the glory is in the afterlife, the earth is just a misery limbo-land for us to prove our worthiness to live in the glory of god after he destroys it all anyway, and what’s here is put here by god for our consumption…), then why even consider them?

    If you want to believe in Jesus and his compassionate ideas, study Jesus, not Mark, Luke, Paul and the rest of these heretics. Dod they know Jesus? Study only the actual quotes of jesus, or you are victimizing yourself to abusive interpretations, bastardized by sribeners and monks in (albeit beautiful) manuscripts and scrolls.

    Have you seen Religulous yet? I downloaded it from Amazon, all followers of organized religions should see it.

    I’d be interested in your objective review.

    • i have seen religulous and i wouldn’t say i can be objective about it but i really liked it. i also am a fan of dawkins. i guess i believe more in the einsteinian version of “god”, as dawkins puts it. in a sense the christian mythos destroys god and creates man as god all in one cleverly veiled fairy tale. in that regard the real purpose of christianity has gone unfulfilled. the crucifixion is an illustrated “dark night of the soul” jesus becomes an atheist and god at the same time he utters, “father why hath thou forsaken me.”

      i was looking for another passage when i stumbled upon this:
      John 10 (New International Version)
      33″We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

      34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods'[e]? 35If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—

      Psalm 82 (New International Version)
      6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
      you are all sons of the Most High.’

      7 But you will die like mere men;
      you will fall like every other ruler.”

      on a final note (cause this is getting time consuming)
      mother teresa was pretty much an atheist:

      Mother T:

      Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

      there is a correlation between the idea of god and the ego. for some reason in many asian cultures they don’t have as big a problem getting past the ego but in the west it seems to look a lot like the crucifixion.

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