Jesus, Darwin, Dostoevsky

A Note to pk Motives module: / Personal / Overview / pk “Motives” /
@ K. 1998 04 28

Some of my points, however important, were distracting from the simple shape of this section: /Overview / pk “Motives” /. I’ll figure out where to refit them.

See what the baby is doing and tell him he mustn’t.
anti-Vctorian joke

Imperial Capitalism has fed us an egregious neo-Darwinism since the 1860’s. Nature, red in tooth and claw. The survival of the fittest.

Who’s the fittest? Arnold Schwarzenegger? He will be in the Darwinian sense only if his genes are found to be common in a future population. (If we’re extinct, then none of us were fit.) (Or, maybe we fitted, but we didn’t remain fitted.)

Biologists have been telling us for the better part of the century that Hollywood has it wrong. Anthropologists and paleontologists have added that we have the rest of it wrong too. Our species has always competed against some species (but obviously we’ve also cooperated with others). Within our species the evidence now supports the view that precivilized man was more cooperative than competitive. Psychologists and economists have joined the echo. See Science News, March 28. 1998, Let’s Make a Deal. Civilized man has to be trained contrary to his natural disposition.

We think of Jesus as living in “ancient” times. But civilization is approximately ten thousand years old. Civilization has been falling apart (while continuing to expand) for the second half of that time: overpopulation, the bestial behavior that comes with overcrowding, desertification (largely through the salinization of the land through irrigation), escalatingly lethal and destructive competitions for territory … The Genesis story remembers the past as a garden, a garden which was a paradise. Creation didn’t start with a garden. The garden is ten millennia recent. It was the paradise aspect to the garden that was lost, and at about the time that Bishop Usher said. The Bible is right on the money in that detail.

I continue to value Jesus for my sense of how pro-“natural man” and anti-“the perversions of civilization” some of the remarks attributed to him were.

Give to him that asketh thee,
and from him that would borrow of thee
turn not thou away.
Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you …

I say this Jesus wasn’t just modern; he was avant garde. An avant garde reactionary. The best kind.

Does the Church represent this Jesus? Not that I can see. (Why do you think they call it “Roman”?)

If Jesus is Christ, and returns with a sword, all the heavens trumpeting his Second Coming … well, I don’t imagine today’s priests and tax collectors would have much choice but to accept it. But what if he paid another visit as a carpenter’s son, skilled in the Torah but not an entrenched elder priest of the Sanhedrin? Dostoevsky imagined such a scene in Ivan Karamazov’s “poem,” The Grand Inquisitor. The 15th-century Spanish population, the day after hundreds of heretics have been burned at the stake, recognizes Jesus. They throng after his compassionate radiance. But they yield instantly as the Grand Inquisitor arrests Him. The Inquisitor chides Jesus for interfering, forbids Him to say anything new, and promises to burn Him the next day!

The Brother Karamazov, Chapter V

Monsignor Ivan Illich, the main mentor of my early thirties, was the most famous priest in the world (after the Pope) when he made the following suggestion in print:

If the Catholic Church wished to become Christian,
it would have to first:

give up all of its property;

and second:

deprofessionalize its priesthood

Illich was forthwith defrocked.

Another example of literature at the crux of things:

Looking for the Father-Killer
& Finding the Mother-Fucker

King Oedipus, in Sophocles’ tragedy, is conducting a criminal investigation: who murdered his predecessor? As the evidence comes in the royal detective realizes that he’s the perpetrator! Is that coincidence merely odd? or does it suggest something important to the rest of us? Imagine Pontius Pilate chairing an investigation into who killed the King of the Jews. Would the accusation against Jesus ring a bell ten or twenty years later? Would Pilate have weighed the evidence as honestly as Oedipus? How honestly do we human beings of the 20th Century weigh evidence?

For centuries the West has joined the Middle East, maybe gone them one, maybe two better, in persecuting the Jews. (Well: we stole their religion. Don’t people always further punish the victims of their crimes? How about what Americans did and still do to the Iroquois and their Great Convention?) We blame the Jews for killing Jesus. Benighted literalism again! We don’t get it until we see that we killed God. (And continue to cannibalize him: cannibal vampires: drinking his blood too.)

Now, seen another way, it was all God’s intention. That’s how, for love of us, he sacrificed himself for us. All very common. Jillions of religions are full of the god who comes in the form of an animal to be ritually sacrificed. Bull fighting has the same origin.

OK. So, if we see it that way, then wouldn’t we logically have to credit the Jews?

If we did it, then we get both blame and credit.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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