Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jesus the Imaginary White Man and Donald Trump

My wife can't get over the election loss of Hillary Clinton.  As a female executive she saw in Hillary a reflection of the ideal that she sought to attain.  I think this 'dream' was very real and was as real as what voters of all colors saw in Obama, but especially 'people of color.'

Now we live in the aftermath of the destruction of that dream and we all have to move on.  My wife has vowed not to 'move on.'  She wants us to go back to Canada.  Fine.  But I want to take this opportunity to outline how to use the events of November 8th for some deeper understanding of the world.

The winners identify as 'conservatives' but I wonder, has the term 'conservative' been redefined in recent times as simply 'anti-progressive'?  In the country of my birth and throughout most English speaking countries 'conservative' has implications of 'understated,' 'traditional,' 'restrained.' These aren't things I associate with the new president.

So what makes him a conservative in the eyes of his followers?  He embodies for them 'conservative values,' 'conservative ideals' but how is this defined?  I know many young people don't remember much past yesterday so let me say that what it is they propose to 'conserve' is really an identity.  The president is for them the embodiment of a cool white male just like Reagan and all their other heroes ... a cool white man, a white man like God.

Now I know they don't come right out and say that God was a cool white male but allow me the opportunity to put that forward as their belief.  I know this isn't an explicit part of traditional Christianity but we've all seen the white skinned, blue eyed 'hippy' Jesus images.  Again, let's just accept that there are arguments for these people imagining Jesus as a 'cool white man' and that all the other other 'cool white men' these 'conservatives' adore are somehow 'made in his image.'

In traditional Christianity, the Christianity that emerged from Roman political hegemony Jesus was both a historical man and an idealized 'god-man.'  In theological terms he was both 'man' and 'God' and debates raged in the streets of the Roman Empire as to how he could be both and when he wasn't one or the other.  The absolute fusion of both these concepts doesn't make sense when we try and reconcile God being perfect with man suffering so we are left giving up trying to reconcile the two.  It becomes an article of faith, which means the idea really doesn't make much sense.

It is acknowledged by the fourth and fifth century Church Father Jerome (undoubtedly basing his argument on something written by another Christian writer from the second and third centuries) that these two absolute positions were once doctrines from two mutually hostile Christian communities.  In other words, one group of Christians believed that Jesus was ONLY a historical Jew and another community held that Jesus was ONLY an idealize Man-god.  In other words, even though Jerome thought that his beliefs in a Jesus who was both man and God predated this historical division, the more likely situation is that the doctrines of the Catholic tradition were a fusion, an ecumenical 'compromise' between two former hostile and irreconcilable understandings of Jesus in the first and second century Church.

I have always been interested in the tradition that says that Jesus was the idealized Man-god because it is the Jewish faith of my ancestors.  I know this understanding is difficult for many people to understand, but not all Jews were the followers of what my people call - the rabbanites.  There were 'crypto-Jews' in every age and every culture who put up with the inferior knowledge of their fellows and passed along a secret doctrine which they claimed was handed down from an earlier 'golden age' where Jews were an enlightened glorious race.

According to my family's understanding of Judaism all religious requirements are summed up by the informal command to 'be a Mensch.'  In German of course (the basis to much of Yiddish) mensch of course literally means 'man' or human but has much greater connotations.  At the bottom there is an understanding of the existence of an idealized Man who was God's partner at creation and is mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis before 'Adam' the material man comes on the scene.

I hope that wasn't too much of a digression.

For those of us who know, Judaism was always about the idealized 'secret' Man.  This is why he comes up so often in the earliest sources for the religion.  That Jesus (pronounced Eesu in Greek) was this is idealized God man (pronounced 'Eeshu' in Hebrew) is patently obvious to me but I will leave it out there as my second unproved assertion.  Again I allow the reader to take my word that there are very good arguments in favor of this proposition that happen to come from very, very early - the earliest - sources for Judaism.

What changed Judaism and Christianity was the collapse of the Roman Empire.  In the lead up to the so-called Crisis of the Third Century which saw the beginning of the end of the Roman hegemony in the East, the Imperial culture became strikingly 'monarchian' - a scholarly term which comes from a Greek work meaning 'one rule(r).'  In short, the government 'encouraged' all the religions and beliefs in the Empire to reinforce the veneration of a sole power in the universe in order to demonstrate their loyalty to the one ruler of the world, the Emperor.

These changes affected Judaism no less than Christianity.  Instead of being a doctrine of two powers in heaven, God and his Man, Judaism became defined in terms of what we call monotheism, that is one power in heaven.  While the understanding of a second power in Judaism were driven out of the mainstream religion they still live on in the memory of the mystical tradition.  In Christianity however Jesus made up such an important part of the religion that an irrational understanding of multiple powers being one God took hold.  Jesus was not allowed a separate identity from his Father and the rest, as they say, is history.

White people not surprising 'love' - as they say - 'the God of the Old Testament.'  But this is complete nonsense insofar as the God of the Old Testament is really a creation of Imperial 'white' hegemony.  There were always two powers in Judaism - they 'youth' who fought against Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds and stood on the mountain as a glorious warrior AND the voice that was heard on Sinai.  In other words, to speak in Christian terms, the Son was seen by all the Israelites and the Father was heard in the clouds above.

What the white hegemony has done historically was obscure the fact that - according to the original understanding - in heaven there existed a higher God who was absolutely merciful and kind while on earth a proud youthful warrior sat in judgement over his people.  Now with the white man effectively manipulating the various sects of the Hebrew religion, one God ruled the universe in the image of the white man sitting on the throne in Rome.  All that has followed since the Crisis of the Third Century has been a theological convulsion developed from this historical tampering.

To the end that the white man ultimately 'adopted' the religion of the Jews, we must go one step further.  White people changed the Jewish religion and the Jews.  The religion that was the inspiration behind two revolts against the Roman Empire eventually marched in lock step with Imperial hegemony.  It is certainly true that Jews rejected the ideal of God as a white man.  Nevertheless their religion was stamped with the image of a monarchian ideal imposed by white rulers.  Monarchianism in whatever form is a tool of the ruling class.

In truth this is what the aftermath election of 2016 is really about - the end of monarchianism or at least it's last gasp.  'Conservatism' pretends to be a reaching back to a moral golden age, but it really only represents and speaks for a golden age that once belonged to white people.  It is a collective reaction to the 'others' that white people see threatening their hold on power.  It was no different back in the lead up to the Crisis of the Third Century.  If Trump succeeds he will have attracted a few more blacks and browns to the white social coalition that has formed in this country. But let's be plain about this from the other side: the god of white men, that is an idealized white man sitting on a throne since the Roman Empire - is the true enemy of the rest of the world.

If you are someone who supports progressive change in this country you have to be aware that when you are in a group of ten white men from different parts of the country they voted for this race-based agenda that dates back almost two thousand years. They are white power supporters and their ancestors were unconscious supporters of white hegemony. My son has strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes but I identify as Jewish and my wife Latina. Unfortunately the situation has become such that whiteness is the enemy, whiteness is the evil which has started the race war in this country and there is no turning back.

The god that these people worship is a fictional white man made in their own image. The devil that they set up has dark skin. In my home country Canada we had a situation where the Liberal party could not elect a Prime Minister who did not speak French. It was a requirement to bring the country together and build a liberal coalition that ensured a pluralistic and socially just country. A similar thing will happen in this country with respect to race.

It is impossible to deny now that the Trump win was entirely rooted in race and race consciousness on the part of whites. When pollsters asked people who they would vote for, many white people knew that their true answer was socially unacceptable, racist and worthy of contempt so they lied. This is what I call the crypto-racism that has emerged in the country. In countries with a dominant religion like Christianity or Islam oppressing minorities Jewish, Christian or Muslim minorities pretend to participate in the dominant religious culture but secretly hold to other views. This is what we saw in the election this past week.

In this case however it is not Christianity under assault in any real terms but the idealized white hegemony over the country. This is the 'persecuted ideology' which was driven underground throughout the Obama administration. And what does this say about these people? That their God is white, that their ideology was always race-based and driven into a 'crypto-religion' of sorts during this past administration. 'Political correctness' is another way of saying 'I have to lie about my true beliefs.' And what are those beliefs - that white people are the best. 'American exceptionalism' is really 'white exceptionalism' and this was ideology was under assault for the last four years. Plain and simple.

How do you defeat this white male hegemony? I am not entirely sure but in the end I think it must defeat itself. By letting Trump win this election through a racist outreach effort the obvious solution to end white exceptionalism is economic collapse. This is would prove in effect to stupid people that God is not a white man, that God does not think that white people are exceptional. So we who do not believe in the white God have to sit on the sidelines and hope for economic collapse. It's that simple.

These people were not convinced by any of the pluralistic ideology that we directed against them. They were threatened by Obama and his vision. There are no carrots to 'encourage' these people to come over to our side. We simply have to allow the white man one final kick at the can and ultimately responsibility for the destruction of the country he claims as his own before we 'the others' can take our country back. These 'cultural wars' will never end until white people stop believing that they are historically 'exceptional' and see their fellow citizens as brothers rather than 'others.' In other words, change only begins with the humbling of the white man, that is, letting him humiliate himself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

First Opinion on the Handwriting

The alpha, delta, epsilon and theta are, for instance, quite similar. But the beta and the gamma are not that similar. Other differences are for instance the vertical line on mu, having a turn in the opposite direction.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Christianity: The End of the 'Two Powers' Tradition [Part One]

I haven't blogged in a while because well ... life is pretty busy when you're a parent.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about things related to the origin of Judaism and Christianity.  In fact, I think I have made a lot of headway in some respects.

Since I have abandoned this blog I've come to accept that the ur-text of Exodus - preserved in a more original form in the Samaritan Pentateuch - was the basis for 'two powers' interpretation of the Torah . To put it bluntly, the oldest copies of Exodus seem to 'combine' information from Exodus and Deuteronomy making it clear that the Israelites saw one god on mount Sinai (= Yahweh) and heard another god in heaven.  Hence the expression in the oldest Jewish exegesis of Exodus from the circle of R Ishmael 'There are two powers!'

The copies of Exodus from Qumran for instance have the same 'incorporation' (in quotes because in reality the Masoretic text is in fact the result of a 'separation') of lines from Deuteronomy (and even more).  The solution to the problem raised by the original text of Exodus wasn't just removing the Israelites hearing another god speak from heaven.  R Akiva makes up an implausible explanation that time and space effectively 'bent' and the top of the mountain was at once also heaven.

The facts are that we know that the oldest representatives of Judaism represented the Jewish godhead in binary terms.  There was a power of judgment 'Yahweh' (or 'Lord' in Greek) and a power of mercy 'Elohim' (or 'God' in Greek).  The rabbis turn around the original understanding of which god was judging and which was showing mercy but it is basically the same difference - God was two not one.
It is fascinating to me that a text could be so explicit about two powers and yet Jews and Judaism proudly define themselves as monotheistic.  How did it occur?  Why did it occur?  The usual answer of course is that Jews steadfastly devoted themselves to Yahweh even though two divine names appear in the Pentateuch.  They were apparently so devoted that they had to invent another name for their beloved and only God!

Philo says somewhere that 'Lord' (Yahweh) was the god of 'bad man.'  Surely this explains where the idea that Judaism was always a monotheistic religion.  For the vast majority of the population the religion of Israel was fear of the judgement of Yahweh.  No doubt about it.  But our democratic prejudices aside Israel was above all else a theocracy.  The opinion of the rabble was never supposed to define the religion.  The priests had the final word.  They were effectively 'the true Israel.'  The reason otherworldly promises were never made to the canaille was - quite frankly - because they were deemed unworthy of any reward by their religious overseers.

To this end, we can begin to see that the twofold nature of Israelite society (= 'the good' portion being the priestly families, 'the bad' being everyone else) was clearly aligned with each of two separate powers.  As long as the original religion of Ezra continued with its sacrifices, the majority knew of only one God, those of priestly lineage knew of another better god.  This is clearly Philo's interpretation of the Bethel narrative.  After seeing god standing before him suspended from the two 'stairways to heaven' Jacob sings 'now "and the Lord (Yahweh) shall be to me as God (Elohim)" which Philo interprets to mean Jacob realized that there was a higher power beyond the one he was formerly devoted to (Yahweh).  That Jacob began to venerate Elohim in his place.

Readers of this blog will know that I have always found this passage fascinating but because of my Jewish upbringing I could never imagine another Jew knowingly put forward Yahweh as a lower power.  Now I see this presupposition on my part as the building block for the famous attack on Marcion - namely that to describe Yahweh as something less than all powerful was necessarily (from the stand point of a monarchian or monotheist thinker) tantamount to blasphemy.

For the angels going up and down two ladders were imagined by at least one prominent reader of Philo to mean that Yahweh stood at the center of a cross - a massive saltire (= X shaped) object.  To this end, the vision that the Pentateuch describes Jacob as partaking becomes the experience of the beloved disciple.  That Jesus was Yahweh was of course the 'great secret' (not a 'messianic secret' because there was nothing messianic about Jesus, he wasn't like David) of the early religion.  The early Christian mystics undoubtedly saw 'God on the (saltire) Cross' as the mystery prefigured by Bethel.  The way Jacob became divine, becomes the pathway for humanity to attain perfection.
 
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