Rev. Chris Hedges: Christmas, Charity, Anti-Empire and the Revolutionary Jesus + Transcript

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

Screenshot by Dandelion Salad via Flickr
Watch the video below

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.


Chris Hedges: “…I think, [the] fundamental message of the gospel is anticapitalist, anti-imperialist. Remember when Jesus is taken to the desert by Satan and Satan offers him not only riches, but control of land, which is empire? And that is a condemnation. The Gospels are such a clear condemnation not just of the Roman Empire, but of empire.”


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:

Today, Pope Francis Issued the Catholic Church’s First Statement on Nonviolence—Ever by Rev. John Dear

The Ordination Service for Chris Hedges, with Cornel West

Lewis Logan: Jesus was an anti-imperialist

42 thoughts on “Rev. Chris Hedges: Christmas, Charity, Anti-Empire and the Revolutionary Jesus + Transcript

  1. Pingback: Roman A. Montero: Jesus Was A Communist – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Jesus against Hillel on Usury by Roman A. Montero – Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: The Early Christian Communists by Roman A. Montero – Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: If We Don’t Solve The Problem Of Economic Polarization, We’re Going To Go Into Another Dark Age by Michael Hudson – Dandelion Salad

  5. Pingback: Merry Christmas to all! – Dandelion Salad

  6. David -in regards to your Dec 22 comment about the historical Jesus . All three quests have ended in giving us not much to work with and the Gnostics are dubious because of Koestlers work ” Ancient Christian Gospels ” on cross referencing 200 of them and coming up with the Docetist fallacy as we see in books like the 2nd treates of Seth .

    Point being is that the consensus of gospels revolves around the literal suffering Messiah motif . Illuminating by contrast the one thing we know about the historic Jesus is Tacitus . Also – recent Pauline studies ( see my article on Paul – on this blog ).

    Where the Markan account stands apart is its literary brilliance and my take on the what was chosen to be canonized was this : that which was Orthodox Christology and Sotirology and … the fact that the Church Fathers just flat out loved masterpiece Literature so they went with the big four .

    • I’m familiar with the two mentions of a historical Jesus in Josephus, one of which is a obvious overwrite by the scribe(s). I will go look at the Tacitus but what little I know of his account it seems it also may be an ‘overwrite’. Paul seems the best and most contemporary account though Paul (yes, a Jew but thoroughly Hellenized) was the Greco-Roman side of that coin and his association with Peter as well as James was probably even more confrontational than he relates. The conclusion I’ve come to (or possibly the “realization”) is that the seeming disparate Jewish groups or sects in Judea at that time were more in contact and of a like mind than had been previously thought, they were all Nasserites in essence (hence the confusion with Jesus’ birthplace). I no longer believe Jesus was “God incarnate” nor that he was literally resurrected (ref: the end of Mark in the Sinaticus ) nor had any idea at the time of his crucifixion the Archangel and the host would not arrive to usher in the Kingdom of God. However, this only reinforces his philosophy to me. I only have a brief time and, being hyper-verbose, could go on for five thousand words but let me refer you to the work I that has influenced my beliefs. Can’t recall his entire name but he is a professor at the University of Ca. at Long Beach who’s thousand page book, “James the Brother of Jesus” was brought to my attention and forgive my misspelling of his name, Dr. Eissenman. Long story short is, I believe we can get a very good idea of the philosophy and behavior of the historical Jesus (Yeshua Bar Josef) yet depending exclusive on the gospels or contemporary writers (what precious little there is from them) is haphazard at best. So busy now and I have little talent for writing but after the holidays I will be more forthcoming. Great to hear from you and read your thoughts and ideas (as well as others. I have new research to do regarding the sources you mention, thank you and Merry Christmas along with a happy Winter solstice!

      • David, Josephus is not to be trusted. both remarks about Jesus are clear cut interpolation. only Tacitus is to be trusted in everything as THE Roman historian. He wrote during the early 2nd century but studied in Rome in the first century while Nero was in power. Tacitus was 17 then and was an eye witness to the cruelty of Nero and the also the Christian martyrs – both to whom he despised. Tacitus attests to Christ being condemned to death by Pontius Pilate . This puts Tacitus ”within the curve” of credibility.

        the Kingdom of God was ushered in ”within”Jesus followers after his death. When he states that a generation would see his coming that was it. That statement was followed by Jesus using ”De-creationist” terminology from Isaiah to denote the end of an old order.

        allow me to say this — Jesus did not come to teach but to reveal the hearts of men. Herein lies the mystery. Merry Christmas to you too!

        • Of course there are problems with accounts given by any ancient contemporary historical source, or modern for that matter, but I’ve NEVER heard Josephus is not, overall, dependable. He has stood the test of time and is still considered the gold standard by modern historians and archeologists alike. The one mention of Jesus that is an obvious later addition is nothing like the other either in form or content. Tacitus is another which is held in high regard as well, I know. With all respect I am confused by your assertion of the unreliability of Josephus (by past or modern historians). I’ve never heard this but am always open to arguments. The Synoptic Gospels are hardly regarded as historical documents vis a vis Tacitus or Josephus so I must stand by my analysis. I am however inspired by your comment to do further research in an attempt to support or refute your assertions. Thank you for your stimulating comment. Take care!

        • David, we have to be very careful about ‘definitive’ assumptions. Most of these questions remain unresolved open inquiries. I agree with much of what Rocket says, but personally, am not only skeptical about Josephus, but Tacitus as well.

          The fact is, it’s almost impossible to be ‘certain’ about professed indelible facts when so much is disputed, while some polemic is merely disputatious, and other critical discourses are omitted; and altho’ a good deal of research remains open to ethical scholarly review, much is sidelined or erased. There are numerous utterly ruthless “professional” battles ongoing among tenured apologists and careerist cynics alike; while the metaphysical reality, if we are honest and intelligent enough to aspire to it, lies far beyond all their reductionist, ‘celebrity’ arguments.

          Rocket frames it cogently in his beguiling statement about not teaching but “….to reveal the hearts of men. Herein lies the mystery….” This is also invokes or brings to mind, the classic Platonic golden chain of occult tradition ~ or sacred thread (in Tantra) ~ of mystic truth; that Sufi (Gnostics) refer to as ‘opening the Eye of the Heart.’

        • Yes David Foster, I agree entirely and may seem to be stating my conclusions as if they are givens. I know they are not and that history “ a lie agreed to”. Consensus must be found among a broad spectrum of historians from a wide variety of sources. Also much of what I say isn’t mainstream and that is why I appreciate the valuable feedback I receive here. Before attempting to give additional clarity and references to my ideas I must reiterate that I’ve yet to hear any consensus among modern historians as to the unreliability of Josephus as a starting point for modern scholarly research and conjecture. Much of what has been posited here concerning the historical, political and philosophical meaning of what Jesus taught or believed has been supported through a comparison, or contrasting, of New Testament texts. My only problem with that is I see these texts as not only contradictory but misleading as to what little we might know of Jesus and his group of disciples or followers and when Josephus is introduced he is immediately discounted as entirely unreliable. This mystifies me because I have never heard this from reputable historians, however, reputable historians consider much of the New Testament as unreliable historical evidence of anything but broad philosophical concepts or beliefs. I am inspired by the thoughtful and well reasoned comments made to me and hope they will continue. I know that at the heart of any disagreements we may have here is a common desire to put into action the social morality we all see implicit within the Judeo-Christian ethic. It is needed more than ever in this new-age world gone mad. Thank you all.

    • I had gone to the Pasadena Public Library to find what I could on the ‘Gnostic’ texts and was shown into a room where I allowed to read from a huge book that I was not allowed to take from the library. I was amazed. It made clear how Gnosticism and it’s philosophies were pre-Christian probably originating in Egypt. this was thirty years ago so forgive my inability to remember the name or authors.

      • Hans Jonas is the definitive on Gnostic . Pagels is second . yes – it existed . why ? becuase of mans self loathing of the body . insecurity . therefore – the Gnostics projected that on to Christ humanity to try and discount it . yet , they believed in his divinity . Arias denied his divinity . The Church affirms as you know the the Absolute Paradox of God – Man Christ .

        both the Gnostics and the Arians cant think in paradox . that is why the Apostles Creed hammered out the Christology so paradoxically perfect . One of the reasons i am a Roman Catholic .

      • Curious to speculate about that book, David B. Was it possibly Manly P Hall’s ‘Secret Teachings of All Ages?’ Maybe Helena Blavatsky’s ‘Secret Doctrine’ or ‘Isis Unveiled?’ The size, age, shape and feel of it if you recall your impressions would be interesting to know.

        • I don’t remember the authorship but it was definitely not Manly P. Hall or Blavatsky. Without meaning to sound demeaning (my mother was an adherent of Mr. Hall as well as Theosophy and tutored me on them from an early age) this was a truly rare and scholarly historical tome. If I pass by the Pasadena Library anytime soon I’m sure they’ll still have it and I can find the title and authorship then.

      • David B – in regards to your comments on Dec 23 please let me clarify my statement about Josephus . i meant in context with what he said about Jesus only . There is clear cut interpolation there where he calls him the Christ . and also where he says if it be accurate to even call him a man . Both statements imply Messiahship and Divinity . Josephus is in the main accurate, but this must have been added later because it would have been suppressed by the Empires notion of might makes right divinity , which ties into this conversation between Hedges and Bullock .

        I spend a lot of my time hanging out at a pipe shop with history professors and i can tell you that they all swear by Tacitus. Tacitus on Germania is amazing . His hostility about the followers of Christus who was condemned by Pontius Pilate is not based on the NT but rather on his credibility as an historian . His hostility ”Illuminates by contrast” a term that Kierkegaard uses in regard to Feuerbach’s unbelief. This also adds to his credibility . fact is – Tacitus in general is THE cream of the crop on Roman history besides Suetonus .

      • David, I’m very grateful to you for responding about the identify of that particular book; bibliographical material is extremely valuable and can be particularly challenging these days for those of us who are interested in multi-disciplinary research, because there is such a huge archive of available texts extant now in so many different fields. So it really helps to get feedback on rare books.

        If you do not manage to get back to the Pasadena Library, it might be possible to trace the title and author through their library online data base, or just call them and inquire as a follow-up to your earlier visit. The appearance and font might give a strong indication of the age of the book, whether it was English or American possibly; the style of binding, if cloth-bound rather than paperback, would be helpful, that is if you were able to describe it from memory. Also, the extra large size and rare book status suggests an earlier provenance unless it is a recent, expensive limited edition.

        Forgive my dogged interest, but you’ve aroused my curiosity!

        Your Mother sounds like a very interesting woman; did she ever mention this C19th rarity ? I suppose it could even be the book you mention, but it is probably tedious of me to speculate any further…

  7. “I love Chris Hedges, but I dk on this. In ◄ Mark 14:7 ►, Jesus said,
    “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”

    In other words, the person in front of you is usually more important than “the poor.””

    • that is not what Christ is saying . correlate that with Luke where Christ says ” let the dead bury the dead . follow me ” .

      burial was sacred in ancient times . he was saying that he was THE sacred . same goes in this encounter in Mark . He sets up a priority that can found in Acts – praying and fasting unto the Lord …. and then they were sent out . notice in Acts 13 Luke makes it a point to name the races and callings so different . but if you are at Christ feet all is equal . THEN … it’s when you go out in that spirit of equality to proclaim in word and deed the good news .

    • “The poor you have with you always yet I am with you but a short time..”. (from memory, think it’s the King James) Interesting about the “ can help them anytime you want.” Never heard that translation or addition yet I’ve come to suspect, in either translation, that this was an overwrite by the Greco-Roman intellectuals/scribes to reinforce their assertions the Hellenistic “Jesus Christos” was the messiah of the Old Testament prophets. Regardless, the Jesus of the New Testament has always impressed me as a radical socialist reformer and however interpreted embodied the positive aspects of Judaism’s sense of social egalitarianism vis a vis the priestly elite.

      • David – partly true. but the social revolutionary aspect of the gospel of Jesus ”comes out of” and is a ”by product” of his mission which was to reconcile man to God as sung in the line of a Christmas song Hark the herald Angels sing … ”God and sinners reconciled”.

        Jesus sent his disciples out with nothing in the Lukan account to set the stage with what Crossan calls ”Open Commensiality”. Why ? so that when he rose from the dead – these communities were already ready and in the mindset of one organic community that is not dependent on Imperialism or class structure.

        Jesus Christo Domino is both the fulfillment of the old testament prophets in their passion for social justice and their seeing the finality of the divine being incarnate . so it is not either /or but both /and . That – is the revolution . and the climax of the Markan account is when the Roman Soldier says ”Truly this was the Son of God” – which was treason to the Empire and also a statement of witness of the paradigm shift away from the the god of violence to the God of love – God crucified – God in vulnerability … the romance of the dying God in ignominity .

        Hence the symbol of shame and oppression – the cross – becomes the symbol of hope and tragedy is flipped to good news for all. This is understood in its totality as ”The Theology of Inversion”.

        • As concerns Jesus I understand and respect what you are saying however I believe the messianic/apocalyptic Jewish roots of what Jesus’ followers called “The Way” only held sway as a movement  until about 70CE after which it was translated and transformed into the Hellenized form we know today as Christianity and Judaism would only survive in the form of Rabbinical Judaism. Of course had it not been for Saul (Paul) and the non-Jewish Greco-Roman intellectuals living in cities such as Ephesus, Alexandria, etc., we would know even less, if anything, about the historical Jesus and only vaguely what he taught and believed. Vespasian, Titus and the Flavian dynasty would be instrumental (through ‘Flavius’ Josephus and other means) for the creation of a more docile form of belief which came to be known as “Christianity”. By now you must be wondering what my point is (not just the one you might be thinking is atop of my head, lol!). My point is the Synoptic Gospels (and other “Gospels”) were largely a product of the Greco-Roman intellectual mindset (the Divine made flesh, etc.) with all the political and theological considerations you would expect given the void left by the Jewish-Roman War. Therefore most, though not all, of what we consider ‘Jesus’ having said and taught has been lost to history and is survived only in re-connected fragments strung together and augmented in the twenty-seven books of the New Testament making any accurate reconstruction highly improbable. Comparison between texts becomes problematic. There is much, additionally, to be considered in light of the so called Gnostic Gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls but that will have to wait for another time because, now, I am concerned I have worn out my welcome (so to speak).

  8. Prophets have seldom been welcomed. Power is a very strange & often uncomfortable bedfellow. Whatever one believes, or chooses, or strives to incarnate morally, there will always be arguments about God. ‘My god is God therefore she/It/he must be your god/God too, otherwise ‘they’ wouldn’t be ‘God.’

    ‘Certain knowledge’ breeds hubris and intolerance, whether it be from a preferred metaphysical position or a dogmatic scientistic point of view. A more generous approach would be to listen, respect and politely increase the sum of our understanding ~ not diminish it by branding our adopted virtues as indelible badges of moral superiority.

    • Personally, I identify strongly as a communalist, altho’ one of my greatest friends, a next-door neighbour in France, was a Spanish civil war veteran who never failed to call himself proudly communist ~ whose grasp of what it really meant was utterly compelling & simply this:

      …no decent man should ever live off the sweat of another…

      ~ bravo and ‘hallelu yah’ to that Señor!

      So I think I ought to share this additional Capricorn solstice quote, maybe my favourite from the late, great, Bill Mollison ~ a real gem…..

      “The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”

      Walk on Bill !!

      • This is a very well tempered conversation, much of it I can honestly embrace in good faith ~ and I only mean that in the humanitarian sense unrelated to organized religion ~ but, there are elements of biblical literalism cited here, that I find personally difficult; because they do not really square with my own reading of this brutal period of the Jewish Wars, waged in such a savage epoch of Roman imperial dominance. What has been occurring in the Middle-east for so many years may give us some idea of what it was like in those times of extreme fanatical violence.

        As “Historical Jesus” studies are just an absolute nightmare of polemical vitriol, there is little profit or pleasure to be sought in dredging up all those accumulated hectares, of disputatious palimpsest.

        So the root and branch of the controversial matter here and now for us, is really this: did the ‘only begotten son of God’ live and die a symbolic sacrificial death of vicarious atonement for the sins of humanity in Palestine, or was a radical individual later celebrated as such; a rabbinic radical, who lived an exemplary revolutionary existence two thousand years ago, but who still may have something to say to us today….?

        …..& this, despite the fact that so little has changed over those two millennia as a result of his efforts or those of his devotees, on our/his behalf; especially given the tireless enthusiasm of those institutions who have benefited most from the corrupted fable and enjoyed such great power and worldly riches at the expense of authentic esoteric truths.

        The former theophanic aspects demand a truly gargantuan effort involving interminably complicated & doctrinally obscure hermeneutics; whereas the latter, vernacular picture is far more accessible and amenable to common sense ~ as a multi-layered story of exceptional moral courage and righteous rage against the establishment.

        My point is this, whatever our emotional commitments to hereditary beliefs, or to those religious convictions, that may even inspire great efforts of emulation, we need something truly pragmatic, entirely coherent and contextually instructive that no religious drama, branded cliches or antiquated theological conventions have provided to date.

        We need an acceptance of the real possibility of awakening the spiritual faculty itself, and consciously ~ that Wm James conceived as the proactive cultivation of Genius; but for that to occur authentically, it needs to be free to manifest in ways that are either spontaneous & unpredictable or intentional but wholly unique to each of us; both individually and in the context of progressive, transitioning communities of heartfelt understanding.

        We still have so much to learn from indigenous traditions and the ‘mystical’ experiences of those who have been persecuted for their spiritual determination and initiative across the centuries.

        • Both…and yes! I enjoyed the session with Paul Jay, & while I always value Chris Hedge’s powerful contributions greatly and admire his prodigious intellect, I sometimes find him a little thin on lesser known (probably) aspects of contemporary esoteric scholarship, especially its corrective methodology as it impacts upon comparative religious understanding…but I thought David Bullock explained the ‘class’ dilemma & reflexive double bind of the black churches very well.

          …as for the wisdom of ‘the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens’ ~ I love that sardonic wit Bill Mollison exuded so wryly; one tough cookie.

          Season’s greetings Lo…lovely picture, I’m planning to grow more squash this year, many small brightly coloured birds foraging in my little wild refuge today, even two beautiful thrushes ~ just because they like it, no special feeding tables…unexpected for the Atlantic coast…

        • Happy Holidays to you, too, David.

          Thank you for watching the video discussion and for checking out my garden harvest photo from this Summer.

          This Summer and Fall’s drought and insect damage was hard on my little garden. Squash is a wonderful vegetable to grow and eat. 🙂

          So glad the birds are enjoying your garden. I love birds!

    • I would prefer to avoid the word morality which is the only place I think where Hedges missss it linguistically .

      what these guys are saying is resitence to Empire is the expression of the real gospel of Christ . this MUST be spoken and lived in America because of the counterfeiters .

  9. Saw a post on Facebook from an “atheist” organization with cartoon of a pig sodomizing what looked to be an Arab or ? I have nothing against atheists but the rude and disgusting image reminded me very much of what I’d heard Chris Hedges speak of in an interview on YouTube. I felt much the same way as Chris and it helped me find the words for my reply which is as follows:

    Gee, can’t imagine why they feel called to cut off our heads? Hey, sorry to rain on your parade but this isn’t the way to change minds or influence others to modify their opinions. What’s the purpose of this other than satisfying your own sense of purpose and having a truly cheap laugh? I’m all for cynicism, off the wall humor and sarcasm but in their time and place. Atheism has become a religion itself along with all the dogma, blind obedience and “I can do no wrong” attitude found in other’s belief systems. That’s what it is isn’t it, a “faith”, a belief system? I find too many atheists as disgusting as the -ists and -isms they protest and degrade. Go to a bar and tell the first biker you see that his hog sucks almost as much as his mother and you’ll end up having him (or her) either buying you a beer or wake up with an uglier and very much altered face. Not much different really.

    With Chris’ comments on the great mistake of (our) not having devised a “viable form of socialism” I can only think this is one of the reasons a viable socialism has not, philosophically, as well as economically, become a reality.

  10. “If you need the promise of eternal paradise, or the threat of eternal torture, you’re not a good person. You are a moral coward.”

Comments are closed.