Friday, April 14, 2017

Christ the Schismatist: How History Forged the Hammer (Part IV)

The temptations of Christ by the devil illustrate exactly the kind of corruption that power can produce, and why the 10 Northern Tribes were so uncomfortable with the idea of kingship in general, and the building of the temple in particular.

This is clearly demonstrated when Solomon builds the temple and uses it as the catalyst for Israel's rise to the height of world power. At first glance, "believers" always interpret this expansion as confirming that their God is the right God to endear themselves to (even though the archeological record shows that the Hebrews were more polytheistic than monotheists). But if we consider Solomon's accomplishment outside of the guiding light of our own confirmation biases, and in the light of the temptations of Christ instead, it becomes clear that what Solomon was doing was the opposite of what Christ was teaching.

And this is the paradox of power, that any attempt to obtain it - whether for God or for gold or for personal glory - eventually corrupts, regardless of whether it is a mandate of a "God" or anything else. It is power, after all, that the devil temps Christ with when he is fasting in the desert.

As it says in Matthew, the second temptation of Christ is thus:

"Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple (the very Temple that Solomon built), and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

Yet every war ever fought by "believers" in pursuit of advancing their "beliefs", along with every Crusade or Inquisition as well, are nothing BUT "putting the Lord your God to the test," and all for the purpose of advancing the earthly power of one sort of religion or other. In fact, in this respect, the Crusades were nothing but attempts to do for Christ the very opposite of the example Christ demonstrated before Pilate. Instead, all such desires to accrue wealth and power through the Church are simply attempts to obtain "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" - which are the very things that Christ rebuked when they were offered to him directly in the third temptation of Satan.  As it says in Matthew: 

"Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;  and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

That perspective was shared by the prophets who had come before Jesus, which is why they had so often opposed the wishes of kings and rulers, and is why there is such a large body of opinion which argued that the temple should never have been built for Yahweh in the first place. And any attempt to localize God could only ever lead to changing this, through the localization of the power of God in an earthly king (or in the case of the Catholics, a pope). 

But today, while the Catholic Church pays lip service to the traditional understanding by declaring that "the church of God is the people, not the temple," it nevertheless follows the example of the Egyptians, the Canaanites and even the Sanhedrin, by vesting itself with divine authority to speak infallibly for God. And in the same way the building of the temple eventually transformed the religion of Israel into a pagan religion that only had services to their God within that temple, so the Catholic Church today only performs mass inside of a structure or a temple (even though Christ so often preached and performed his miracles to the masses, in the open air).

 In this way, the Catholic Church follows the example of the pagan religions that the Hebrews sought to eradicate through genocide, time and again.  So while Christ rejected the temptations of worldly power offered by the devil, the Catholic Church, and virtually all other Christian Churches, see those temptations as the necessary road to survival. And because they do, the Christ who overturned the table of the money changers in the temple has led to a Christianity that worships the money changers as the means of securing every more baroque temples.

It has been said that the internet is a means of drawing people into a virtual reality, and away from the reality of the world around us. But this began when God was imprisoned in the temples and tabernacles, both literally and figuratively. It was from that tomb that Christ came to raise humanity like Lazarus, and like Himself.

That is ultimately the meaning behind "Easter Sunday," that no matter how many times the powerful crucify humanity for questioning their motives and their authority (and always only for their own enrichment) - from world wars to fighting for labor rights to fighting for equality and civil rights and true liberty from religious tyranny - humanity will always rise again, and again.  But rather than walking out of these temple tombs of power and false prophets, which most people rely on to tell them what "beliefs" should be accepted as "true" so they can wallow in our "comfort zones" of conformity, billions huddle together like Jonah in the whale, hiding from the garden of Eden all around them. For Eden is too scary a place to be. It is to "free" for us to decide what to think and how to live on our own.

So we run to religion, or anyone willing to tell us what to think, and do, and say, so we can escape the pure hell of having to figure it out for ourselves. Mom and Dad are eternally expressed in our Priests and Nuns, our God and our religion, because growing up without their stories, and their advice, is the scariest thing of all. And for a chance at Heaven, people sell their souls for the fruit of the vine, and the promise it will make them "like God, knowing good from evil."

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