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Jesus and All Fools Day

April 3, 2012

After yesterday’s Dropkick Murphys-fueled celebration of complete buffoonery, (the completely absurdist nature of which escaped some commenters), I have decided to abandon any further “political” ruminations and think about the deeper nature of All Fools Day and its relation to Christianity.

Imagine this scenario–you’re a member of an oppressed minority group in a backwoods province of the global superpower of your time. You are ruled by a government that is both powerful and corrupt. You long for the day when you can throw off the chains of your oppressors and live in your own nation, free from the tyranny of the outside oppressors. Some of your friends are trying to make it happen already, joining a movement called the Zealots which is like Occupy meets the Tea Party on steroids. An ancient prophesy tells you of a Messiah who will come and deliver your people. You eagerly await this man, hoping he will save you and your people from the oppressive government.

Then one day, a popular religious figure comes on the scene. He hails from a small town in your province, but soon it becomes obvious that he was destined for great things. He is a dynamic speaker, speaking to rapt audiences of thousands. More than that, he turns water into wine, heals the sick, even casts out demons. He goes even so far as to call himself the Messiah. This, you think, is the man who you think will save your people from the imperialistic government that has been oppressing you for the last hundred years.

Then he tells you to pay your taxes.

Jesus Christ is the figure who subverts everyone’s expectations. Just at the moment when you think you’ve figured him out, he turns and does something unexpected. Think Jesus was a proto-Occupy protester-type who hated all material possessions? Check out Jesus the capitalist in the story of the talents. Think Jesus was pro-Big Business? Check out the story of the rich young ruler. Got the mental image of the wimpy, lovey-dovey Jesus, the meek mild milksop? Check out the story of the time that he cleansed the temple of the moneychangers with a whip of cords. And after Jesus does this, he’s liable to turn right around and say something like “love your enemies.”

People love to turn Jesus into a poster-boy for their causes, whether he is a Tea Partier Jesus, a government intervention social gospel Jesus, a straightlaced Baptist Jesus, a punk rock rebel Jesus, a Black Power Jesus or an effeminate Aryan Jesus.  But the problem with trying to make Jesus fit a human agenda is that sooner or later you will run across something that he says or does that will go completely against your agenda. Jesus wasn’t here to further the agenda of Tea Partiers, liberal Socialists, Baptists, Punk Rockers, Black Power Supporters or Effeminate Aryans or whoever you want to put on your list. Jesus was here to further the kingdom of God, an allegiance that goes further and deeper than all other allegiances and makes them look silly and petty by comparison. You cannot mold Jesus to fit your agenda–He molds you to fit His agenda.

By the world’s standards, Jesus is a comic character–a blue-collar worker who think’s he’s out to change the world. But the thing about Jesus is that he subverts the world’s standards. He’s like the awkward kid in the comedy movie. The entire time it looks like the cool jock is going to get the girl–after all, he’s got money, muscles and social skills. But then, the carpet is pulled out from under him, and by the end of the movie everything has been turned upside down and the girl is dating the awkward kid. It’s the same with Jesus. The world wants a savior who is like a mix between Brad Pitt and Barack Obama–smooth, sophisticated and good looking, with enough of a social conscience to make us feel good without challenging us. We want to watch our Messiah solve all our problems on the big screen instead of following him through the dirty, poor parts of town talking to beggars, blindmen, and bores. We want our Messiah to say “vote for me,” not “Take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus is not a Messiah from Hollywood or Washington. He doesn’t hang out with the cool, the influential, the powerful, with an occasional photoshoot in a poor neighborhood for a trendy cause. Jesus is different–he’s a minister to the freaks, the losers, the people with the gross and uncool diseases, poor white trash, drug addicts, streetwalkers, blue collar factory workers and low-level bureacrats and farmers and religious teachers and punks and illegal immigrants and skeptics and political fanatics. The world wants a hip, rich, powerful Messiah–Jesus is a poor, weak prophet from a backwoods Roman province. The world wants a Messiah that will make them feel good–Jesus condemns the world. The world wants a Messiah who they can fit to their cause. But Jesus has a cause that’s bigger than their causes–the kingdom of God.

In a way Jesus is a joke, a joke that the world doesn’t get. He’s an elaborate practical joke played on an unsuspecting world, a world that is confused by everything he does. They call him a madman–the truth is that he’s the only sane man in an insane world. The Jews want him to be a warrior who will kill some Romans; he tells them to love their enemies and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. The Greeks want him to be an immaterial Socrates 2.0, a rescue from the dirty world of material reality; Jesus lives so much in the material world that his enemies call him a glutton and a drunkard. I believe that part of the joy of Jesus was the joy of the inside joke, the joy that we get when we watch comedy movie and know that the awkward kid is going to get the girl and know that the cool kid doesn’t know it. Jesus was going to change the world in a way that no one would expect, even though it had been prophesied for centuries. He was going to be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. He was going to play a joke that would turn the world upside down.

And after this joke, nothing would be the same.

Current listenings: mewithoutYou, It’s All Crazy etc., Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon,  Radiohead, OK Computer. It’s good to listen to the classics, mainly because it keeps me from listening to “Shipping Off To Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys multiple times in a row.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 3, 2012 2:46 am

    Great post.

    You start listening to the Dropkick Murphys albums and you just cannot stop.

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