August 06, 2004
When Comparisons Attack

LaShawn Barber brings us news that Jesse Jackson has determined that Jesus was, in fact, a liberal. As I noted in her comments, claiming any sort of parallel between the political aspirations of a 21st century industrialized nation's party with those of a Jewish peasant in 1st century Palestine is rather like greeting a Martian as it walks off the spaceship and asking what brand of cigarette it smokes.

Jesus lived in a time, place, and situation so far removed from our own as to be nearly Martian himself. He lived in a time when 95% of the population was within one bad harvest of starvation; a time when women were property and one fifth of all children died before their first birthday; a time when effective law enforcement was reckoned by the number of people nailed to posts on the road into Jerusalem. The accounts of his death in the gospels are an after-the-fact elaborate reconstruction. If records of all the other executions Pilate ordered are taken into account, Jesus's own end was almost certainly decided with breathtaking speed and a ghastly lack of drama. And he was just one of thousands.

That his message still speaks and moves people so powerfully in such an utterly different cultural milieu really does give you a sense of the uniqueness of this person, and the import of his ministry. That a modern political figure would try to twist such a profoundly different belief system in line with his own would be beneath contempt if it weren't so depressingly familiar. Constantine himself did far worse violence to Christian doctrine for much the same reasons, and that was nearly two thousand years ago.

Posted by scott at August 06, 2004 11:12 AM

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