Thanks to Jim for allowing me to post his video here.
Speech to Kairos group, Union, Columbia
[Edited version for clarification, January 23, 2017]
The focus of my talk today will be Jesus’ first sermon and the long background behind it that helps explain what he was talking about and what he sought to bring about. I’ve been associated with Harvard University’s Peabody Museum for over thirty years in Babylonian economic archeology. And for more than twenty years I’ve headed a group out of Harvard, the International Scholars Conference on Ancient Near Eastern Economies (ISCANEE), writing a new economic history of the ancient Near East.
In 1933 Dorothy Day, a progressive journalist and Catholic convert, and Peter Maurin, a French peasant and philosopher, founded an anarchist-pacifist movement and newspaper they called the “Catholic Worker.” The paper was meant to be the Christian answer to the Communist Party paper, “The Daily Worker.” Not affiliated with the Catholic Church, the movement aimed to follow the Christian gospels by promoting peace—nationally and internationally—and serving the poor and homeless. It urged a culture where the scholar could be a worker and the worker a scholar. It advocated non-violent changes in the very structure of society, based on social justice and economic equality.
Today, Pope Francis released the annual World Day of Peace Message for January 1, 2017, called “Nonviolence—A Style of Politics for Peace.” This is the Vatican’s fiftieth World Day of Peace message, but it’s the first statement on nonviolence, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—in history.
To be buried was just as much of a sacred right in Ancient Greece as it is today in North America. What is being played out in real time in North Dakota with the desecration of Native burial sites is on the same level of Sophocles’ Greek Tragedy Antigone.
I was recently rereading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense the other day, and it was making a great deal of common sense. Yes indeed it really was making a great deal of common sense until the very end where he addresses specifically his fellow Quakers. He is very diplomatic in his wording that seeks to assure his reader that he never dishonors religion in any way. However, by the time he was finished it hit me that he was attempting to seduce in a very sly and subtle manner his fellow Quakers to the unthinkable: Violent revolution.
Stephen Fry has an argument with God. In an interview he was asked what would he say to God as he approached the pearly gates. Fry’s response was, “Bone Cancer, children? How dare you?” Of course, he is referring to the vexing issue of Theodicy: If God is so good, if God is all powerful, how come there is so much evil in the world? He went ahead and clarified that if they were pagan gods who never claimed to be love, he would not complain, or at least not much.
The DNC Protests You Didn’t See on TV: Sanders Delegates Chant and Walk Out on Clinton Speech
Democracy Now! on Jul 29, 2016
http://democracynow.org – Protests continued on the floor of the convention, as chants of “No more war” could be heard throughout the evening. Some delegates walked off the floor of the DNC in protest. Democracy Now! was on the floor when protests began as retired four-star Marine General John Allen took the stage.
As strange as it sounds, the Gospel of John annihilates religious legalism not by confronting it, but rather by ignoring it. It begins by stating, “In the beginning was the Word.”
Well, there goes the Genesis account as the beginning. Creationist beware. Then you got water turning into wine. Got to keep the party going. So belly up to the bar boys, the drinks are on Him.
Mark Twain once said that there was nothing worse than a man who sets a good example. To invert Twain’s aphorism we end up with “there is nothing better than a man who sets a bad example.” Why? Because it lets us all off the hook of having to live up to such a lofty and noble standard. Let us put this in the dynamic of the perspective of today’s prevalent Christian hypocrisy and the perception of it in the good ole US of A.
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. Continue reading
I have always found it an interesting contradiction that some of those who oppose empire building also oppose the great document in world history that is anti-empire, namely the Bible. It is also just as contradicting that many who say they believe in the Bible are promoting empire. Something seems out of whack here.