As my Christian friends settle down with their families to a blissful day of deep religious meaning and reverence, I would like, if I may, to offer one Jewish man’s view of the central figure of their faith.
Jesus of Nazareth was many things. He was a learned man. He was a spiritual leader. He was a gifted preacher and healer. But there is one thing he was not. He was not … talking to you.
He was discussing critical issues of his day that affected his own people. In particular, he was addressing whether or not the faith of the Judaean people was unique among the belief systems of the nations of the Roman Empire. Did the Talmudic obligations to Sabbath rest and dietary restriction still hold, or was it enough just to embrace those basic statutes against falsehood, theft and murder that are table stakes for any society? He concluded that these restrictions would eventually pass away, but that wouldn’t happen until the time of the Messiah — which he didn’t consider himself. Until then, we were supposed to keep the Talmudic law. If he disciple James would have won the posthumous pissing contest against Peter, that’s how it would have played out: the Nazerene sect would have remained an oddball movement of Judaism and not the world-spanning butt-inski of far-flung cultures that it has in fact become. James stayed in Jerusalem. Peter had his eye on Rome. His spiritual descendants actually co-opted the machinery of the Roman Empire. The popes are indistinguishable from the Caesars and the Catholic Church today is ruled by an emperor and, judging my the headlines the past few weeks, that emperor is Caligula.
By the way, Father Canltalamessa, don’t compare today’s criticism of a church that enables pedophiles with millennia of antisemitic persecution. Tell me something, Father: How many Catholics are there in the world? Somewhere around a billion? When for every Catholic in the world there are 10 other people who want to see all Catholics dead, then you can make comparisons. Until then, shut up.
And let’s remember why the Church was among the most ardent antisemitic organizations for so long. The Church considered us guilty of killing Christ. But Christ is risen today, right? As any defense attorney will tell you: No body, no crime. By the way, the only way to execute anyone under Jewish law is to stone him to death. Jesus wasn’t stoned. He was crucified. That’s a Roman invention. Go ahead. Walk up to an Italian guy and call him a Christ killer. See what happens.
But the Catholics aren’t calling us Jews “Christ killers” anymore. Now some of the crazier Protestant sects never got that memo, but I don’t even consider those religions anymore, at least not here in the United States. I’m also not talking about the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, UCC, Congregationalists or more forward-thinking Methodists. But some of these others are bat-guano loony. As I said, though, they’re not religions. They don’t worship Christ. They worship America, or at least their own concept of America. These churches exist to provide ecclesiastical cover for the Republican Party, period. Kind of like how Reform Judaism exists for no other reason than to rain blessings down on the Democrats.
Anyway, it’s a nice day out and I got plans.
So, Christian friends, enjoy Easter. At least until they find the body.
And buy my book, Land That I Love.