Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zacchaeus

The Zacchaeus story appears in Luke 19:1-10. The story actually begins, or the stage is set, in Luke 18:35-43.
I need to refer you to Jeremiah 34. In Jeremiah 34:8 King Zedekiah, in the face of an oncoming Babylonian invasion has proclaimed a Jubilee, a release of all the Hebrew/Jewish slaves. But, once the Babylonian threat passes, they revoke the Jubilee, in Jeremiah 34:11 they have reenslaved those who they have set free.

The Lord speaks to Jeremiah again and has him deliver a message to King Zedekiah:
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the LordThus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, ‘Every seventh year each of you must set free any Hebrews who have been sold to you and have served you for six years; you must set them free from your service.’ But your ancestors did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. You yourselves recently repented and did what was right in my sight by proclaiming liberty to one another, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name; but then you turned about and profaned my name when each of you took back your male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them again into subjection to be your slaves. Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by granting a release to your neighbours and friends; I am going to grant a release to you, says the Lord—a release to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And those who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make like the calf when they cut it in two and passed between its parts: the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf shall be handed over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives. Their corpses shall become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth. And as for King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials, I will hand them over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. I am going to command, says the Lord, and will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire. The towns of Judah I will make a desolation without inhabitant. 
Jeremiah blames the Babylonian invasion and exile on the revocation of the Jubilee.

When the Babylonians invade King Zedekiah flees to the plains near Jericho and there he is captured. The Babylonians gouge his eyes out and kill his sons.

I don't know if the blind man Jesus heals outside Jericho is King Zedekiah or represents King Zedekiah, or alludes to him, but it's something to think about.


Zacchaeus

The Zacchaeus story is pretty incredible, especially in light of the 2008 economic catastrophe.

Jesus is passing through Jericho.

All right, let's look at this from Zacchaeus' perspective. What is that guy thinking?

Zacchaeus is a very rich man, the 1% of Jericho, a bonafide kleptocrat, a looter. 

Zacchaeus knows he is hated, that the people of Jericho resent him, but he doesn't really care, they can take up any issues they have with the Roman soldiers and see how far they get.

What is Zacchaeus thinking when he hears that Jesus is coming?

First of all people aren't saying Jesus is coming, they're saying "Yeshua is coming", "Joshua is coming". Zacchaeus hears that Joshua is coming to Jericho. He's heard this story before. What is that story? Joshua comes to Jericho and the former Hebrew slaves are returning to Israel from bondage in Egypt. They come to Jericho, saying "let us in", "give back to us our wealth."  The Hebrews are ordered to circle Jericho blowing ram's horns. Well, that's not quite right, and where are english translations do an extreme disservice. They were ordered to blow "yobel" horns, Jubilee horns. The Hebrews are circling the city demanding a Jubilee. They are demanding to be let in, to be given what is rightfully theirs. The Jerichoites are hard-hearted and refuse to enact Jubilee. The walls fall down, and what happens in most revolutions when Jubilee is not enacted there is slaughter.

Zacchaeus knows this story. He knows this "Joshua" has also been proclaiming Jubilee. It's Joshua coming to Jericho blowing the trumpets of Jubilee. Zacchaeus readily identifies himself as "Jericho" in this story. "What the bleep is going on, is this for real, is this some kind of joke."

Zacchaeus goes out and the story says he climbs a tree. How convenient. The mob is there. Zacchaeus is their scapegoat, who just happens to be already up a tree. Is there a noose?...of course I'm just speculating, and just to speculate some more, I think the mob/crowd wants this "Joshua" to approve of the lynching, come on Joshua we have "Jericho" surrounded, just the say the word and we'll commence the slaughter. The crowd wants their Jubilee.

Jesus, of course, goes much farther. Jubilee is not just for the little people, it's for the rich. It's for both the "Hebrew slaves and "Jericho". Jesus tells Zacchaeus to come down, I'm going to your house. Zacchaeus by now has seen the wisdom of this Jubilee thing, to enact Jubilee before it comes to him getting killed. Zacchaeus returns the money he has stolen and looted. So Jesus says Zacchaeus is also the son of Abraham. Jesus' Jubilee includes everyone, the rich and poor, that Jesus has come to save those who were lost.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Barack Obama for President

I'm endorsing Barack Obama for President of the USA. Barack Obama has shown the leadership, character and wisdom to be the next President of the United States.

The last eight years of Republican rule have been a disaster. John McCain has only shown that he fully endorses the foreign policy disasters, economic mismanagement and corruption of the Bush administration. As the Republican National Convention has shown the Republican Party is morally and intellectually bankrupt. There is nothing to their party platform except envy, insults and exploitation of military and religious symbols.

As McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis stated, "This election is not about issues... This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” Their convention was almost totally without substance. Nothing but the stock insults of strawmen "Liberals" we've heard so much over the last 20 years on talk radio/Cable News and the shameless/cynical exploitation of military and religious symbolism.

The mainstream media doesn't have the ability to say it, for whatever reason, but Sarah Palin as vice president is ridiculous. I grew up in authentic small towns and I've lived in big cities. Being Mayor of a town of 5000 people does not provide you with the experience to govern the United States. It's laughable. The media, if they were'nt owned and operated by the Republican Party, should be openly mocking McCain's lack of judgment.

I'll concede the fact that Palin is not as deranged as Minnesota's own Michelle Bachman, who she reminds me of, but she certainly represents all that is bad with conservatives (and almost all of it is bad).

Barack Obama has impressed me from the very first time I heard him speak. He is someone I can relate to, having lived in small towns and big cities. He has thought a lot about the issues, and though I don't agree with him on everything he is closer to what needs to be done than the alternative. Barack Obama knows his stuff.

Obama has shown the judgment and seriousness which our nation needs. Joe Biden was a tremendous pick for VP. I was totally shocked that the 72 year old, cancer survivor McCain would recklessly choose a person with almost no experience and even interest in foreign policy or macro domestic economic issues. The McCain/Palin ticket scares me. The Obama/Biden ticket shows the seriousness, judgment, vision and smarts to meet the challenges the United States will have to deal with after the disastrous Bush Presidency.

I'm going to try to write more over the next few months and see if I can contribute my own Girardian/Alisonian/etc views on the election. I thought I would get this whole endorsement thing over with right from the beginning. I like Obama, even though I'm usually very wary of politics. He is the first candidate in my life time that I have felt really positive about.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Little Drummer Boy

Could the Little Drummer Boy be the most Girardian Christmas animation out there?

Little Drummer Boy Part 1 of 3



Little Drummer Boy Part 2 of 3



Little Drummer Boy Part 3 of 3

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Neo-Conservatism is the Rise of Neo-Paganism

I was reading this article by Glenn Greenwald, and it he unknowingly gives a great Girardian critique of neo-conservative ideology. He states the following:
On a different note, is the curriculum for history classes in some American states restricted to learning about Hitler and the Nazis and 1938 and Hitler and Germany? It must be, because there are many right-wing fanatics whose entire understanding of the world is reduced in every instance to that sole historical event -- as though the world began in 1937, ended in 1945, and we just re-live that moment in time over and over and over:

Love war? You are Churchill, a noble warrior. Oppose war? You're Chamberlain, a vile appeaser. And everyone else is Hitler. That, more or less, composes the full scope of "thought" among this strain on the right.

This is great Girardian analysis, from an obviously non-Girardian. He has really stumbled on the truth of the situation. For Neo-Conservatives World War II was the founding murder. The great collective violence that unified the nation. Neo-conservatism isn't just a political movement it is a pagan religion. It wants to keep repeating this founding, collective and unanimous violence. Their rituals aren't working very well, people are just too skeptical of this new religion, they aren't joining in. So Neo-Conservatives keep rehearsing the ritual, finding new Hitlers, hoping they find someone sufficiently evil to make their rituals, incantations and human sacrifices work. A successful ritual would gather all believers and all dissenters into a cohesive, unified group, focused on the designated evil. Neo-Conservatism is the ideology of the lynch mob, it's this continuing search for an evil that we can all agree on and that we can do away with unanimously. Each event has the same characters, the evil man du jour is Hitler, the Neo-Conservatives are always Churchill and anyone who doesn't believe in these charades are appeasing Chamberlains. Greenwald is right, that's the entirety of Neo-Conservative "thought". World War II has been turned into this mythical event by which all else must be interpreted. This is obviously in stark contrast to Christianity. Christianity holds that the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great interpretive event.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Do They Really Need Another Massive Human Sacrifice?

This is awesome evidence for the contemporary American reality of mimetic theory.



I don't think this yearning, expectation, and hope for another large scale human sacrifice similar to 9/11 is something that's outside of conservative thought. I believe the need for human sacrifice is at the very center of contemporary, Fox News conservatism. They need the power of a televisual spectacle to unite people. They need the blood to flow, so they can feel the love.

They really don't care that much for fighting "terrorism", what they really care about is the unity that comes about after a large scale terrorist attack/human sacrifice. I don't think they're capable of actually conducting the sacrifice themselves so they must rely on the "terrorists" to don the sacrificial mask.

Mr. Bykofsky thesis seems to be that we need continuing human sacrifice to maintain unity and keep internal conflict at bay. We need human sacrifice. Some kind of massive human burnt offering to maintain our unity. He realizes that massive sacrifices, conducted by outside executioners, that unveil an evil that we can all agree on will give us the ability to project our internal disagreements, violence, disunity, psychosis and whatever else may be keeping us from being at one with our neighbor and place these negativities onto an outside other, as we did in Iraq.

There were stories about people celebrating 9/11 and it was understood that those celebrations were conducted by "Islamofascists", but Mr. Bykofsky column puts in doubt the notion that it was only "Islamofascists". Ancient human sacrifices were indeed celebrations, which relieved great stress. We are dealing with a very primitive religion here, a religion of human sacrifice. The greatest threat to American Christianity is Fox News conservatism.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Sick Longing for Massive Destruction

The Iraq War is a conundrum. No one can figure out the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. People from across the political/theological spectrum have put in enormous effort and have set forth the most creative and far-fetched reasons behind the invasion. The WMD thing was plainly bogus from the start. That Saddam was behind 9/11 was just plain ludicrous. The grab for oil was a plausible reason, but definitely not an immediate justification for the invasion of a country and the 100's of billions of dollars thrown away.

The great question remains "Why?". I think we must stop trying to come up with strategic or rational reasons. The pro-war neocons are not rational people, they're ideology is a reversion to the pagan past. A past filled with human sacrifice and witches, of darkness and demons, of pogroms and persecutions.

I read this article by Stu Bykofsky, I don't know who he is and I don't believe the article is satire (you never know anymore). Actually some of the stuff I think is most likely satire usually turns out not to be.

Mr. Bykofsky doesn't believe the human sacrifices of 9/11 and the Iraq War have been sufficient. He thinks Americans are separated from each other, that we don't have any common bonds.

There was a large thread going through the pro-war movement (movement is the wrong word, mostly it was just people sitting in front of their TVs) of this need for unity. Like the whole thing was a big football game. We all had to cheer for the same team, and if you weren't cheering loud enough for our team you must be for the other team.

I'm still not getting to the point I want to make. The conservative movement is obsessed with "Liberals". They can't stand this separation from the "Liberals", they want us all together, all tearing at the same meat. All cheering for the deaths of whoever has been designated by Fox News as the "bad guy(s)". They want to feel the electrifying thrill of unity, of all the differences and barriers falling away, everybody for once playing by their rules, holding their opinions and playing their game. They want to belong to the crowd, the unified crowd. They're sick and tired of confrontation and disagreements, of arguments and conflict. They long for large-scale human sacrifice, some kind of horrific spectacle of human death and destruction that unveils an evil that we can all agree on. That all these happy people doing their own thing will finally feel the anger they feel, that they'll finally have a purpose that they can pursue without being checked by laws or the opinions of others.

They want to stick the sword into somebody and let out the primal scream that cleanses one of low-esteem and loneliness. Instead of it being lonely me and the "them" who thwart me, it can be the beautiful and exhilarating "Us" against the evil "them".

It's the longing to be part of a lynch mob. The freedom to unreservedly thwart whatever you happen to see as evil at that moment. To be around people who wholeheartedly agree with you, who are thinking the same thoughts, who, as the mutilated "evil" lies dead before them, feel all their insecurities and the barriers between individuals dissolve. To stand around the mutilated corpse of a person or a country and finally be able to call the people around them "buddies" and sing some kind of macabre version of "Kum By Yah". To finally have society ordered to their liking.

They long for sacrificed dead bodies and the mob unity that is always found around them. They long for decisive violence and death that clearly delineates good and evil, a human sacrifice that will bring us all together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mercy Now

This is a great song by Mary Gauthier.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rene Girard on YouTube

Haven't actually listened to this, but certainly seems pretty interesting.

COV&R Conference

The 2007 Colloquium on Violence and Religion conference is coming up in July. The list of abstracts looks pretty interesting, can't wait to read the actual papers. As an extra I'll link to video of Rene Girard's speech Violence, Victims and Christianity.

King Josiah

The latest scholarship and research seems to show that King Josiah had an enormous influence on Biblical history. This is related to our recent discussion on Achan, because it seems that Joshua in the Book of Joshua was actually a not-so-well disguised projection of King Josiah. King Josiah instituted sweeping reforms and the Book of Joshua seems to be propaganda for those reforms. Margaret Barker, though not dealing with Joshua or the politics re the Book of Joshua, has a great speech on the the symbolic reforms of King Josiah. What Did King Josiah Reform?