Rev. Chris Hedges and Rev. David Bullock: Christmas, Charity and the Revolutionary Jesus

Chris Hedges: Christmas, Charity, Anti-Empire and the Revolutionary Jesus

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Dandelion Salad

Originally published Dec. 24, 2014

with Chris Hedges

David Alexander Bullock on Dec 25, 2018

Rev. Chris Hedges and Rev. David Bullock discuss the real meaning of Christmas with Paul Jay.



Message of the Day

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.

― Sigrid Undset

From the archives:

The Jewish Roots of Christianity

The Promise of Messiah: What the Bible Reveals

Christmas Dawn: The Shepherds Glorified God For All They Had Seen

The Socialist Alternative to a World of Injustice by Danny Katch

Jesus Christ, Revolution and Socialism (subtitled)

Jesus was a Communist by Darren Pedigo

25 thoughts on “Rev. Chris Hedges and Rev. David Bullock: Christmas, Charity and the Revolutionary Jesus

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  4. And yet Bloom in Lit and Russel in philosophy regard Augustine as best of the lot . I concur for one reason . And that is this – he did not look outward at the problems of man but but had the courage to say this ” I have noticed a problem . It is myself ” .
    The rest is history . Fearless inventory . This one statement demolished blame shifting . Enter the antidote : Bowing before divinity in humility . Those who are projecting self loathing in the name of God are cowards who won’t do this fearless inventory . those who criticize those doing evil on the name of God are in theory correct , but are they themselves not also prisoners of the tyranny of self ?
    Soren Kierkegaard welcomed Fuerbachs critique of Christendom stating that such infidels are needed in this exposing such false hood , but S.K also did not let them off the hook for existentially rejecting the harsh landscape of faith .

    • I am not quite sure what you mean by “naturalist” & Marcionite? You seem to be implying naturalism stands in contrast to “supernaturalism” so possibly, a scepticism toward bodily resurrection; while the latter alludes to the issue of an allegedly heretical New Covenant. He strikes me as antithetical to Marcion, & leans strongly toward an inversion of his position.

      I can only quote what Bloom himself says in section (3) of J&Y Ch. 14 THE SON, O HOW UNLIKE THE FATHER p.174

      “The appeal of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be in his perfectionism, where he goes beyond the Pharisees. Rather, he is made to offer a release from death’s reality, from the way things are, and therefore also from Yahweh, who is replaced by a supposedly softened God the Father, both executioner and suicide, depending on precisely how you decide to interpret the Trinity. With no access to the historical Jesus, I am puzzled by my own split in receiving the literary character Jesus. The spiritual component in me responds to the at least proto-Gnostic Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas, while as a literary critic I am fascinated by the mysterious Gospel of Mark. Matthew does not find me, and Luke and Acts arouse only my skepticism, while John hates me and I respond in kind. Paul is utterly perplexing in my view, but stands aside anyway from whatever Jesus existed in history. D.H. Lawrence had a horror of the Revelation of John the Divine, which I share.”

      (As I do…Rocket; it persecuted my childhood.)

      So as this is Dec. 25th and while the North of England remains tragically ravaged by the fierce reprisals of climate abuse, perhaps I can proffer a gentler salve to assuage also the agonies of blind faith visited upon “unbelievers” by bigots, fanatics, their sponsors and imperialist cynics, sundry state despots and the hereditary plethora of tyrannical plutocrats. So I heartily recommend to DS readers, at this midwinter season in the Northern hemisphere, the persuasive & poignant documentary entitled A New Understanding: the Science of Psilocybin. It is available on-line.

      The beauty of these natural medicines or wild sacraments, is their power to induce praeternatural experience, at the very least comparable to any recorded mystical ascent of which we have certain knowledge from the unexpurgated literature of both theurgic & spontaneous epiphany. In the language of ecopoetics, they are the true charioteer’s (or “psychonaut’s”) biophilic vehicle of direct communication with the beneficent agencies of the Cosmos.

      • Bloom is a naturalist because he does not adhere to the supernatural in general .

        As far as the book of revelation , Kerrigan deals with that in his book Revenge Tragedy . It is not the good news of Christ .

        The preposition THE is singular and unique in this context . The word good has to do with Plato and his idea of the intrinsic value of the good .

        And news means that it is out in the open . Hence – THE GOOD NEWS – aka gospel of Jesus the Son of God ( Mark 1:1).

        The game is played in Mark between canonical and non canonical and also and inversion of Imperial thinking , using a tragedy that he flips to become THE GOOD NEWS .

        Bloom gets this . Kerrigan does not include any of the gospels in his book because they are not tragedys nor do they seek to convey revenge .

        This David is critical to understanding the whole idea of Jesus mission . Which is one of as Buddhism describes as the “open hand “.

        • Thanks R for that clarification, and cogent summary. I like the “open hand” gesture. I agree with you (I think, if I have properly grasped your sense of the enduring relevance of intrinsic values) that too much verbiage and theologizing can impede direct experience, actually prevent deeper understanding.

          My empirical frame of reference, is really that of initiation. Initiation in the very catholic sense as both universal and ecumenical, but in its original Greek, meaning the (known) inhabited world. Something Wendell Berry has captured I feel, most adequately in his wondrous description of the universe as a communion of subjects. With that in mind, I could readily amend my final sentence above, to read “….vehicle of direct communion with the….”

          The antiquity of the attribute Son of God is extraordinarily significant. As too, in my opinion, is the notion that (epigenetic) initiation is actually an evolutionary curriculum, with a pragmatic methodology; an emergent heuristic school. A metaphysically organised school, whose every attainment is but the gateway to other, ever more refined states of pure consciousness and authentic being.

          How absurd is that ?….!

  5. Jesus never excludes anyone . It is only people who exclude him and then point the finger at him and his followers . But sooner or later David one runs out of fingers . This technique of rejecting God incarnate is as old and as trite and as boring as it gets . When one FINALLY lets go and gives up they are given sight . Until then it is just more of the culture of complaint that is deeply personal because at root of it all is one’s heart that disdains divine mercy .

    • Rocket. I have no desire or intention to instruct you how to live your own life. You must do whatever you know is right. You follow Jesus, that is your will, your conviction and your faith ~ nobody has the right to counter it, interfere or obstruct you.

      As I have already stated, the moral contradiction that I find most heinous and disempowering for the human spirit and contrary to divine will, is that we are “obligated” under threat of eternal damnation, to accept a “dramatic story that purports to address the crimes of tyrants, that becomes the supreme weapon of those very forces it seeks to subvert.”

      Do you really believe that being nice to people who want to crucify others for being “apostate” is the answer? People die, horribly. All the time, and in the name of righteous holiness. This is a holocaust of insanity. Heroic figures like Gandhi & MLK get murdered. That is nothing compared to what is occurring right now. Gaza is a killing field for the arms trade. Clinton’s first option if she is “installed” will be more war in the name of God. Does ever more sacrifice deliver us from interminable political oppression and brutally cynical corruption? No, it perpetuates it!

      Submission strengthens state tyranny, it condones the toleration of violence, it sanctions obedience to the almighty powers of the criminal state; because it displaces power to the domain of the lords of death, who are always in the ascendant, because they can appeal to off-planet authority. Two millennia of murderous depravity has taught us nothing. Religion is exploited as a weapon of totalitarian control, it has to change.

      You follow Jesus. That is your choice, though I suspect you would say you have no choice, since you are compelled from direct experience. So be it. My understanding is merely Daoist and my preferred methodology Theurgic. You have read Bloom, so you will recall the extraordinary incisiveness and brilliance of his meticulous inquiry. The Names Divine is more of a meditation than an academic treatise.

      It is a work I can not be assured I shall ever read adequately. It is taking me years. It never ceases to challenge and surprise ~ a Pierian Spring of learned refreshment and profound intellectual solace; offering no easy answers, it frames sinuous metaphysical dilemmas that impart subtle nourishment.

      In a candid passage on Frye (in “Jesus” p 114) he says “I remain startled at finding in Frye’s posthumously published Notebooks (ital.) his reaction to the Gospels:

      (quoting the following…)

      I find the Gospels most unpleasant reading for the most part. The mysterious parables with their lurking & menacing threats, the emphasis placed by Christ on himself & his uniqueness & on a “me or else” attitude, the displaying of miracles as irrefutable stunts, & the pervading sense of delusion about the end of the world — those are things for intellectual ingenuity to explain away, & the fact that they’re there comes to me out of the delicate tissue of rationalization. The Christian Church with all its manias had started to form when the Gospels were written, & one can see it at work smoothing things away and making it possible for Christianity to be kidnapped by a deformed and neurotic society. I wonder how long & how far one can dodge or resist the suggestion that the editorial shaping of Scripture is a fundamentally dishonest process.

      (then Bloom concludes…)

      Many readers of the Gospels — probably most — would disagree with Frye. Since I have no personal investment in the Gospels, I neither agree nor disagree. Nothing I have ever read, and go on re-reading, except perhaps for St. Augustine, is as tendentious as the Gospels: they have a fixed design upon the reader, and as churchly propaganda may have little to do with the historical Yeshua of Nazareth. We never will know. The Gospels give us a Jesus as mythological as Attis, Adonis, Osiris, or any other dying and reviving divinity. A Messiah who is God Incarnate, and dies on the Cross as an Atonement for all human sin and error, is irreconcilable with the Hebrew Bible.”

      The error therefore, as I see it, is the assumption or conviction, however well derived from personal experience, that what “works” for me must also serve the spiritual needs of “you” my Other. I would rather say “brotherwise” in the language of Rabelais (after Aug. of Hippo) “fay çe que vouldras” or “fais ce que veulx” as it is also styled. To my way of thinking this directs us to act freely, but with informed responsibility. In other words as sovereign beings, consciously embracing our evolutionary spiritual capacity.

      • David , ironic timing on Augustine , for I just got for Christmas today “Augustine: Conversation to Confessions by Robin Lane Fox ( 2015). It’s a real tome .
        Fox work ” Pagans and Christians ” was impressive .
        Bloom is a naturalist and a Marcionite . Oh , I must continue this on top of page ..

  6. Interesting, I suppose I must proffer a comment, albeit with a degree of reluctance, but because of, not despite the enormity of the issue.

    There is a terrible irony to all this. Even a sinister and suspect aspect. A dramatic story that purports to address the crimes of tyrants, that becomes the supreme weapon of those very forces it seeks to subvert.

    Isn’t something dreadfully awry here? A mere facade of respectability that crumbles at the first touch, that fails to repel serious testing, elides rigorous interrogation. I have struggled with these obvious contradictions for most of my adult life ~ read innumerable volumes of scholarly literature to illuminate the blatant paradox, wrestled heroically with the puzzling anomalies of blind faith.

    Augustine or Aquinas, no ! Tertullian (
    admits it is all so absurd, we must believe, so “therefore” it is obviously “true;” far stranger than fiction in fact. Not an argument I am confident to endorse however. Ultimately it is a question of opinion, because authentic evidence is lacking.

    Like Coca Cola and Father Xmas. The former is certainly the real thing (without the papally appropriated indigenous coca of course) while the latter is a eye-candy for kids; a visual trope devised by Haddon Sundlom in 1931, expressly to market sexy sugary fizz. To the eternal benefit of big-pharma who now market the drugs to combat it’s effects…

    So if you doubt me about the dearth of evidence, consult Harold Bloom’s sublime masterpiece “Jesus and Yahweh, the Names Divine.” Then we can have a conversation.

    The two Revs are spinning around a moral axis that is definitely firmly rooted in ethical truth, but their logic is flawed because there is always more to everything than we first infer. Where is the sceptical method, the wise science? I love listening to Chris H. until he starts to get preachy, then I have to either “tone him down” or take my leave.

    Sound political analysis informed by pure moral intent is exemplary, but an ethical position based on any faith is entirely subject to doctrinal considerations and requires genuine mastery of deeply learned hermeneutics ~ a discipline some rare minds like the extraordinary late Lithuanian scholar Algis Uždavinys have revealed to be (in the classic Greek context) a lineage of philosophically inspired, theurgical Gnosis.

    Without those pragmatic intellectual buttresses, traditional insights and empirical protocols the edifice cannot stand. The symbolic architecture is inadequate to the task of sustaining the metaphysical temple. The enterprise of faith lays open and vulnerable to both exploitation (as in enduring Roman-style sophistry) & at the same time, post-modern atheistic refutation. Islam is no different in this respect ~ only the mathematics, the sensuous culture and sumptuous caligraphy are, or were (intrinsically) more sophisticated.

    So Solstitial greetings one and all, as the Northern hemisphere once more greets the slow return of our life-giving Sun. If only it were possible, for this sacred source of planetary illumination to kindle the true renaissance of enlightened mindfulness we need in Washington DC. But then, sadly, that is a preposterous miracle that far exceeds the wildest conjectural optimism of even the wisest in our midst.

    • Happy Solstice to you, David.

      There is proof of God, and it’s our changed lives. Truly I was a different person before being saved by Y’shua (Jesus). I have a dog. To anyone who knew me before my conversion, knew that I very much disliked dogs (not individual ones but in general). God changed my heart and I found a puppy to love. Anyway, conversion is a changed heart more than a changed mind, but sometimes we let our minds take precedence. It takes both, you do have to allow room in your mind that this just might be true/real/whatever, do some readings in the Bible, ask lots of questions and then allow God’s spirit to connect with you. What I can tell you is that amazing things will occur after this transformation/conversion.

      • Of course, Cornel W. is deeply genuine, and he speaks in the way he does that is endearingly characteristic of the tradition he extols. It is persuasive rather than dogmatic, and I enjoy his authenticity. CH is at his Socratic best when he invokes classical sources.

        There are many paths to spiritual realisation. Our duty is find our own way.
        I am not levelling personal criticism at believers or berating those who have experienced life-changing epiphanies, when they are real & enduring.

        I am simply pointing out the irony inherent in the double standard and cynical lip service that so many Western “leaders” (read ~ demigods) pay to the ideological demons of social control, and the hubristic benefits conferred by pretending to be dutiful, pious and caring. That to me is fundamentally repulsive and disgraceful hypocrisy.

    • David, there is something awful here if one seeks to remain the little tyrant of their own life . That awful was is this: the divine invasion in humility.

      Christmas is a confrontational as the cross. From birth to death divine humility incarnate in Jesus just won’t let us go .

      So , we rationalize , and intellectualize , and make excuses . All to no avail of course as Rome still burns. The brilliant lawyer Tertulluan saw right thru his pagan detractors with their lame objections and challenged their reductio ad absurdism with the credo qua absurdism .

      This statement was the foreshadowing of Kant’s Critique of pure reason and Kierkegaard’s leap. And yes I have read Bloom’s work on Ywh and Jesus . Bloom also concurred that the gospel of Mark is THE most important document in the Ancient Theocratic Age of lit.

      As the Rumanian living saint Petre Trutea said after years of being tortured for Christ ” I don’t even compare to the woman who lay face down on the floor without question and worship God . ”
      They were wise woman . Just like the wise men who knelt before God who crept into the world as no flags were unfurled into the arms of a girl named Mary .

      So I will continue to use my illusion and wish you a jolly Christmas.

      • Thanks Rocket.

        HB’s astonishingly brilliant book is exceptional, a work of profoundly holistic charm. As you must know, he was a student of Northrop Frye.

        I can only say this ~ notwithstanding the myriad subtleties that diverse hieratic interpretations bestow, I still keep reverting to the same issue; the literal fact of depravity, that the world of our fathers is simply not virtuous.

        No matter how hard we advocate “gospel truths,” gross error persists & multiplies. Moral crime has been raised to the level of a hereditary reflex. The suffering in the Middle-east alone is enough to drive anyone with critical sensibilities, insane with despair.

        Don’t you think Islam has something to say here?

        • Islam has a lot to say David. But where Islam misses it, where Judaism misses it, where Gnostics miss it, is that God would dare take skin, live and die in humility and ignominy.

          Ironically though, that is exactly what not only took place, but is taking place in those who follow, and stands for everything that the human race deeply longs for. The secret gnosis is out: the story is really true after all, and the goal of the follower is not virtue but sainthood.

        • So cutting to the chase, are you expecting imminent Armageddon and the apocalyptic agenda of Antichrist, the Rapture, the return of Christ triumphant, the binding of Satan and so on?

          Bloom concludes (in Omens of the Millennium) that American Christianity is so pluralistic and diverse, it is well and truly authentically Gnostic. Do you actually believe in the devil then or is God omnipotent? If so, why should God be exclusively Christian?

          I mean, that isn’t a particularly Christian sentiment, to arrogate authority to one’s own projected identity as a Deity that monopolises all Truth. That seems to me to be uncharitable, and charity is the living heart of humanitarian religion, isn’t?

        • Lo, I’m not intending to scold, quite the contrary; I’m only trying to clarify what strike me as certain moral, esoteric and mystical inconsistencies.

          One can be genuinely moral in the name of a particular sacred formula, if it is perfectly understood and exercised; but it is not possible to brand or package authentic mysticism ~ since as you explained, it is about direct experience, personal truth…not reductionist interpretation, or theological dogma; and so is extremely intimate & therefore essentially private.

        • David , I will leave the notion of Satan to Milton , and the analysis of revenge tragedy to Kerrigan . My job is to follow Jesus , which means to feed and clothe and house and visit in prison the least . This is the joy of justice . This is mercy . The obstruction of divine mercy is full of prattle .

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