Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Religion / Christianity /
Mission: To argue that the story of Jesus is true in essence whether or not its facts are true.
2006 04 20
The church killed Jesus — but not before it had slicked the state into helping to tag team him.
So Jesus was killed by Church & State.
God knew that this would happen, so Jesus was prepared: almost.
The Bible is the Jews’ record of God never being able to get a word in edgewise anyway, but by Jesus’ time church and state were into a whole new level of kleptocratic ambition: the church losing the sprint big time, but not by enough o evaporate.
We think we’re different? We think our church has learned anything. We think our state is a pussy cat? cares about anything but money and power? Ha Ha Ha.
I’ve tried to make that point again and again already. After a life time of talking and writing, pleading and turning purple, I have very little come back to me that I can recognize as understanding. It’s impossible to “learn” how to “communicate” without feedback. I’m forced to guess. In my guessing I imagine that related points are hard to make with regard to literature: where fiction is a category. I guess it’s even harder, perhaps impossible to communicate with regard to religion: where the word truth is so irresponsibly bandied about.
If I say similar things with reference to a story not regarded as important, or with reference to a news item on page eight of last week’s Podunk paper, it will be understood. If I say it with regard to a sacred text: the report from the Warren Commission, the Book of Luke, the Bill of Rights … it will generate more heat than light.
In the story of Jesus, the rough story, the story we get from reading more than a few verses in more than one gospel, Jesus showed miraculous success at healing. Incident after incident is reported to suggest that Jesus was special, inspired, magical, was acquainted with spirits like the “Devil” as well as intimate with spirits like “God.” This Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover in the third year of his ministry. Jerusalem all hearers of the story are supposed to know was the location of, not just a temple, but The Temple: the heart of Judaism. The priests there, the theoretical representatives of this God, gave this Jesus a hard time there. There are no stories in the same gospels of those priests healing, performing miracles, being tempted by the Devil or inspired by God.
There’s at least one story in those gospels of those priests and rabbis extolling the young Jesus’ excellence as a Jew: he really knew his Torah. Why is the same prodigy treated as so remiss as an adult?
God’s messages come from the stable,
not the cathedral
I regard this story as obviously truthful. I don’t mean that I believe that this man Jesus actually lived, or preached, or performed miracles. I mean that if he had, whoever had, had he gone to the theoretical representatives of the theoretical whatever, he’d be treated badly. The officials of everything more than a century old are all frauds. In no case will they tolerate anything genuine. And they always have all the weapons. They are never subject to discipline themselves. (Except by time, evolution … within which we all die (and occasionally reproduce) no matter what we are.)
In other words, if some well-fed guy in silks, bedecked with jewelry, tells you that he represents a poor carpenter convicted and executed as a felon, zip your pockets shut and keep your own counsel.
If you’re a Samaritan giving succor to an injured Jew and some armed oaf comes along with a badge and calls you a terrorist, guess whose story will stand up in court? Guess which of you will be judged in court to represent God, charity, Love, the Law, the People …?
In other words, whatever Jesus was or wasn’t, the Temple of Jerusalem was fraudulent. As was the kingdom of Herod. As was the Empire of Tiberius Caesar’s Rome. Notice that in this story both church and state, normally at each others throats, united against whatever had the faintest odor of the god. Notice that in this story the core culture united with the barbarians, the kosher with the non-kosher, against its own integrity.
Whatever Fred Hampton was or wasn’t, the FBI is a murderer. Whatever I am or am not, Florida Environmental Protection Park Officer Lisa Yokem, who pulled rank to interfere with my cleaning trash from the creek, is an enemy of life.
The story of Jesus is utterly true regardless of its factuality.
2001 04 21 Of course there’s more than one way for a story to be true. Stories have less than lasting interest if they lack a mythic dimension. Good myth relates to the basics of the species’ core set of survival strategies. One good reason for religion is to convince dangerously clever and devious Homo sapiens that something bigger than we are is watching us. Who’s witnesses if I rape the girl in the woods and then kill her? The idea of the truth will deter few of us. The idea of God deters some of us.
The story of Jesus relates to some of our core concerns in ways hard to contemplate unless you are practiced in anthropological detachment. I work at that. Here’s a result or two.
The gods are supposed to be immortal. The god in Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King loses his attribution of deity when a spear wounds him. Could King Herod, the priests, and the cooperating Romans have been testing the claims about Jesus’ divinity by crucifying him? If he dies, then he’s not a god.
Could Christianity be a revision of the belief? He died, but is a god anyway. See? he’s resurrected. (If you believe our “witnesses.”) The Christian story (superstition?) would refute the earlier belief (superstition). I like it. don’t kill anybody or any thing. They might be a god. “Quotes” of Jesus support this reading: What you do to the least of my brethren you do to me. (So how come we still kill so liberally?)
Freud lists three taboos as our main ones:
I list them in the order of the apparent success of the taboo. We’re fairly accomplished at avoiding human flesh in our diet. We’re somewhat reliable with regard to incest however numerous the exceptions. We stink at the taboo on killing, but at least we feel bad about it sometimes.
Could Christianity help to palliate our cannibalism taboo by offering us the god’s flesh and blood instead: not as an option but as an imperative? don’t eat each other: look, you can eat the god. Cannibals believe that they absorb the vanquished’s virtues by eating the flesh: if your victim was brave, then you’ll be brave: strong, strong … By that logic we ought to prefer the god flesh. Then we get what Eve was tempted by after all: we become as gods, repeatedly eating the god.
Uhh … I don’t think so.
Confucius is credited with ending the practice of human sacrifice at important funerals by suggesting that clay human figures be buried in the place of servants. Previously the king had taken his slaves and concubines with him. Of course they were chopped up by the process. The king wakes up dead surrounded by toy soldiers. (Good luck.) Maybe something analogous is (in part) what the story of Jesus does for us.
Those who’ll say that all of that is irrelevant since the story is true (a different meaning of truth from that in the upper section of this file) are not likely to be reading this module. I answer anyway: it doesn’t matter: my point relates to why the story is compelling more than to whether it’s true in that pedestrian sense. Pedestrian truth isn’t what makes stories live. Deep relevance is.
If you’ve followed any of my many invitations to Macroinformation and actually followed any of what you find there, you know that information is significant difference, you know that the significant difference must be somewhat unpredictable, and you know that macroinformation is information that crossed a certain threshold of complexity, emerging as a multi-dimensional abstraction, a highly unpredictable different difference. In the context of Jesus, I invite you to consider the macroinformation implicit in the differences between say Jesus’ words as reported in the gospels as the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate.
Whatever our skepticism about the veracity of the gospels we may still believe that there was a Jesus who preached and that that Jesus was railroaded into a conviction for a crime for which he was executed: with prejudice. Maybe Jesus said all of the things attributed by Matthew starting at Chapter Five. Maybe Jesus said some of those things. Maybe he said them while seated on a mountain, a multitude gathered before him; maybe it’s a semi-fictional setting imagined for him by the author, the matrix for a “Best of Jesus” anthology. There’s no telling how many other voices intruded between the uttering and the recording. My point here is that we may imagine some of it to be actually Jesus and additionally that he said a lot (however hard it is to scan or comprehend) (or agree with). In contrast, before Pilate all he’s recorded as saying is two words: “Thou sayest.” That latter statement I understand as a sarcasm:
Now macroinformation is new information that emerges from a juxtaposition of other information.
One the one hand we have
Blessed are the poor …
followed by three chapters of red ink. On the other we have an irony-redolent reticence:
Macroinformation has no data until someone articulates it, creating from new information still newer data: information breeding information.
Needed elsewhere at the moment, I interpret only briefly. The Jesus of the story tried to communicate with the multitude; arrested in Jerusalem (after failing to communicate with the priests) (no surprise: no macroinformation), he merely underscored his disbelief that communication with the suborned Roman governor was worth his breath. No pearls before swine while detained.
I remember in the Vietnam years President Johnson inviting critics to speak up. It was like the great scene in Catch-22 where Lieutenant Scheiskopf invites the officers to criticize his policies, promising immunity. Clevinger starts to speak: Yossarian pulls him back down. Without the book at hand I paraphrase.
But he invited us to speak …?
He told you to shut up.
But he said he wouldn’t do anything …?
He told you he’d castrate you.
Communicate? With a kleptocrat? don’t be ridiculous.
The trouble is: all those multitudes? They’re kleptocrats too. Wannabes if not actual.
The Jesus of the stories didn’t go to Borneo or to the Kalahari or to the mountains of Laos … where he might have found some non-kleptocrats: what was he wasting his time for in Palestine? Making a point. Just the same.
Why do I waste my time trying to communicate with Americans? with government? with professors? with “scientists”? I make my points. Just the same. It’s not my fault if all but a few don’t hear.
2003 04 30 Information is difference; Macroinformation emerges from meta-difference: logically orthogonal differences. The concept Christ, our (varying) ideas of a man named “Jesus” … and Christianity, despite their common associations, are meta-different, orthogonally different. Being confirmed does not in itself make one Christ-like. (Churches’ assertions that it makes one saved are moot, unconfirmed (and, being unconfirmable, it makes them meaningless).)
My enthusiasm for (my sense of) the man Jesus together with my quondam enthusiasm for the concept Christ, my juvenile rapture over the (macro-)concept of the cross (particularly the Protestant cross, the empty cross, together with my present addiction for Stephen Hunter novels (reading now number thirteen (Tapestry of Spies) after “discovering” him not that many months ago) today prompts me to insert here a profound truth, not about Jesus or about Christ, but about Christianity:
Christians worship a symbol of an instrument of torture!
How absolutely perfect! Christian theology is hierarchical: even in the Protestant versions: God’s at the top: in all cases. God is the boss, the owner: the ideal religion for kleptocracies. A perennial symbol, graphically utterly simple: a line, perpendicular to a line, of state terror. The state can torture and kill the individual! Appropriating the divine terror!
Sure: we turn it around. We say, bad states did that: Rome, Palestine … They killed God. They got everything backwards. Not us.
If we really meant that wouldn’t we eschew instruments of torture? of execution?
Ask a state, “Have you killed any gods lately? persecuted any saints? any geniuses? How many new sciences did you repress this year?” They’ll all say No. Just as Rome and Palestine would have said No. Indeed, in the United States we have laws to say that we don’t do those things.
Does that mean that map matches territory? If all were known, perfectly, no errors, as at a Judgment Day, would attempts to falsify our answer prove futile? How about when the United States burned Wilhelm Reich’s books? How well was Timothy Leary able to defend himself against our institutions ganging up on him: the university, the law, the media, the public …?
The young Oedipus killed a man on the road. Unknown to him, that man was both the neighboring king and Oedipus’ father. Upon ascending the throne of that neighboring country (not knowing that he was himself born there, in the palace), Oedipus was indignant about his predecessor’s “murder.” shouldn’t we make sure that we’ve kill no one before we go around declaring our innocence?
(Wittgenstein [On Certainty], has a delicious consideration: can we know for example that we’ve never been to the moon? Nearly any of us will say that we haven’t been: but how can we be sure? Did we never sleep? Did we never have a lapse of attention? Couldn’t some god (or demon, or advanced AI …) have carried us to the moon and back while we slept?)
2001 10 05
Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis invents a nice example of the impossibility of communicating with kleptocrats in story two. Stoke spray-painted an insult to President Johnson in the snow. A dorm monitor and a dean of men want to get him. But of course they have to show a pretense of justice. Stoke’s fellow students are prepared for this and muddy the waters, slowing the inquisition only slightly.
See my History of Schools for a parallel example in the Columbia riots of 1968. Yale University founded itself first as its books, then as its faculty. The Columbia of the 1950s informed Columbia President Dwight Eisenhower that he was an employee of the faculty: the faculty was the university. In the ’60s, the students were claiming that they were the university: or at least a core part of it. But for the riots, Columbia University proved that the kleptocrats had taken over. The university was neither its books, nor its faculty, nor its students, nor was it some synergy of the three; the university was its administrators, working hand in glove with the kleptocracy waging a disgusting military action.
The US showed Hitler how to isolate and control minorities: Hitler showed the world how to be Nazis. Unfortunately, the world already knew.
2001 10 05
My module on proof repeats Bateson’s lesson that though nothing can be utterly and finally proved, many things can be disproved. Falsification of a new paradigm does not reestablish an old paradigm. Discovering that the earth is not a perfect sphere does not prove that the flat-earthers were right after all.
Was Jesus really Christ? Was Jesus really the Son of God? Is there really a God? Could he have such a Son? Such questions look for proof: foolishness. What we can do is use unprovables to disprove other contentions. The story of Jesus does not prove that Jesus was Christ. The story of Jesus does prove that King Herod, the Temple of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, the might of Rome … were illegitimate: fraudulent.
The administrators of Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis do not prove that Stoke painted an obscene response to a political obscenity, but they do prove that they’re unworthy of association with anything called a university.
2006 04 21
Another angle on the same thing: no matter who you are, no matter WHAT you are, no matter what you have to say, no matter what your intentions are, the group can sandbag you.
And the group will never think that it has no right to its power. The swan mistaken for an “ugly duckling” has little chance among the indignant ducks. Eve’s sisters would have thought her a freak, not the mother of the future. Eve’s sisters could not imagine that the freak would mother the future, naturally they thought it was them. Caiaphas would have know he was bending the rules, but would not have known he was a villain.
@ K. 2001 03 30