I always wondered as a kid: I knew who Jesus was, I kind of knew who Caesar was; but who was this Pontius Pilat? How did he get to decide what to do with God’s Son?
As a young man I began to realize that I probably had had the Caesar part wrong all along: it would have been Tiberius, not Julius, not Augustus, whose arm Pilat was an extension of. But then I heard about Caesar Claudius hiding behind the curtains, trying to run away, to hide, to do anything but be crowned Caesar: and it was decades before I had a clue what was going on. Now I believe I know, and I’m going to tell you: because I believe you don’t know. A bit of background will precede my explanation.
Much of what I say has always been sufficiently unconventional as to be incomprehensible not only to my neighbors, but to my professors, my ministers … my senators and representatives, and also to the media guardians that watch over public gullibility (protecting Jews (and Romans) from Jesus as it were). Here’s an example, right here: I am about to treat society as an institution and society’s structure as political (and kleptocratic societies’ structures as hierarchical, the hierarchies politically imposed).
99% of what I’ll say is true regardless of my ideals but let me confess at the outset (what you may already see): my ideals concern natural structures, my revulsions are to human structures camouflaged as “natural.” I’d rather see us die with the chestnuts and the ivory billed woodpeckers than prolong human life as hierarchical power junkies: take all the dope, then scream for more.
Point one: (Please follow this no matter what your ahem “religious” beliefs are (if any).) The Christian story (it’s a story, follow the story) has “God” sending his “Son,” “Jesus,” come to be known as “Christ” (meaning something magical, something supreme: a divine beacon), to the Roman occupied Jerusalem of two millennia ago. Jesus wowed the rabbis, lived humbly, began preaching, knocked a lot of socks off a lot of feet, went to Jerusalem, God’s “capital” as it were, and tried telling the chief Temple’s chief priests a few new things “God” wanted to tell his people. The priests tag-teamed against him with the secular forces, suborned the Roman powers (which also didn’t distinguish very clearly between sacred and secular when it came to power … And arrested him, bullied him, tortured him, labeled him a terrorist, and crucified him. Note: the Roman world was hierarchical: Jupiter was supposed to rule. The Jewish world was hierarchical: Yahweh was supposed to rule. The subsequent Christian world is hierarchical: Jehovah is supposed to rule.
Now see (it couldn’t be clearer): The United States, with its supposed freedom of religion, and supposed freedom of speech, and supposed democracy (rule from the grassroots, the public dictating to the rulers) is a factitious (artificial, man-made) hierarchy! (Now with the people displacing God!)
Let’s imagine for a moment a real god sending a real christ to a real human society (on a real earth): 1) What if “he” sent “him” among homo habilis? or homo erectus? or CroMagnon man? Well, the ape-men might have had the christ for supper. So might the lion, the tiger, the big fish … any big predator (and there’s no predator bigger than a society of Homo!). 2) But what if a god sent the christ among the handy men or the upright men or the modern-men-cave-men before agriculture developed, before cities took hold? in other words before civilization? A pre-civilized group of modern humans had already shucked off cannibalism (for the most part): a human group might have offered the strange christ a bit of meat on the bone, and handful of berries … Or, they might have thrown stones at him, made magical signs to ward off evil … The one thing they would not have done, not prior to civilization, or at least to chiefdoms, would be to arrest him, ritually mislabel him, ritually torture him (enforcing the mislabeling), ritually execute him, making the public he’d just raised from the dead, just cured the blindness of, watch passively: like good citizens!
Big Brother asks Winston to tell how many fingers he, in the person of OBrien, is holding up. No matter Winston’s answer, not matter the number of displayed fingers, OBrien slugs Winston. Finally Winston, the good lab rat, learns: he says to Big Brother / OBrien, “I don’t know: how many fingers are you holding up?” And OBrien pets Winston, says Good doggie.
Note: all the public rituals we have evidence for were conducted by human priests, Homo sapiens experts in a role of secular power. The professor represents the university which represents Washington DC which represents God-All-Mighty. It’s a hierarchy: a fake hierarchy. But it pretends to be a natural hierarchy.
Notice: the society which arrested me, refrigerated me, denied me my medicine, caged me … mislabeled me, censored me, fined me … supervises me … is structurally the same as the Roman imperialism of old Jerusalem: kleptocrats telling others what to do: making a ritual display of their false credentials.