PE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> A Witness in Galilee: The Author hikes the 'Jesus Trail' and finds insight

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Offline Golden Oxen

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 By Christa Case Bryant / March 20, 2013 at 6:00 am EDT

In Jerusalem, where the conflict between Jews and Muslims dominates everything from religion to politics, it can sometimes feel as if Jesus of Nazareth and all that he stood for has been forgotten here – or at least cast aside.

Christians today make up only 2 percent of Jerusalem's population, and despite Jesus' connection to this land and many of its sites, there is little mention of the man whose ministry inspired the world's largest religion. Even when referring to his followers, Israeli Jews emphasize geography rather than good works. In Hebrew, Christians are notzrit – someone from Nazareth.

So when I heard that a young Israeli and his American hiking buddy had audaciously named a walking route the Jesus Trail, I set off for the fields of Galilee with a backpack and a Bible.

I had no illusions that roving through the pastoral landscape where Jesus led his little flock would make me more of a Christian, but I did want to peek into his classroom.

Like others weaned on the Word in far-off Sunday schools, I was familiar with the names – Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum. While I have long cherished the ideas Jesus imparted, it wasn't until I came here that I appreciated more fully the context in which he carried out his three-year ministry – and how much compassion, forgiveness, and courage it must have required.

When Jesus "went up into a mountain" to deliver the sermon that is now the cornerstone of Christianity, some say he came to the Horns of Hittin.

With its wide views of the Sea of Galilee, this windswept knoll lies halfway along the Jesus Trail, between the hills of Nazareth and Capernaum.

In the field between the rocky "horns," there would have been plenty of room to sit and hear Jesus speak. Perhaps then, as now, the grassy saddle was studded with gnarled olive trees whispering in the breeze, cooling the sweaty brows of those hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

It was from the edges of the Galilee, and often the fringes of society, that Jesus drew his followers – fishermen, farmers, a tax collector. Rereading his parables, I am struck with how thoughtful he was in using metaphors from the daily lives of such simple folk.

Someone who farmed these verdant valleys or coaxed a few grapes off the vine while tending sheep would easily grasp his parable about spotting false prophets. "Ye shall know them by their fruits," he said. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Anyone who has bitten into the soft, sweet flesh of a perfectly ripe fig could never confuse it with the spiky thistles that punctuate the Galilean region.

The ridges of the Galilee, with their whistling pines and grassy paths, feel serene – especially compared with the religious intensity of Jerusalem. But the quiet of this undulating land belies its turbulent past. When Jesus moved his ministry to Capernaum, he was putting himself at a political junction on the Via Maris, an important trade route leading to Damascus.

Jesus encountered a centurion at Capernaum, a Roman captain in charge of 100 soldiers. I've always loved the willingness of the Roman "man of authority" to recognize and yield to Jesus' spiritual authority – who then found his paralyzed servant healed.

But here I saw a new dimension: The Romans were military occupiers. To me, that makes the centurion's humility and Jesus' compassion that much more remarkable – and food for thought in today's paradigm of occupier and occupied.

Sitting on the rocky shore at Capernaum, with the placid expanse of the inland Sea of Galilee stretching into the distance, it is easy to imagine Jesus gliding through the region healing people. But in fact he encountered strong countercurrents everywhere. Sometimes they were literal currents, as in the storm he stilled on this very lake. Other times they were mental or moral in nature. All had to be met with extraordinary courage.

Up there on the left, steep green hills plunge to the sea – the hills down which a herd of pigs ran violently into the sea during Jesus' healing of the insane Gadarene man.

To the right, grassy slopes covered in a mist of flowering mustard plants rise from the shore where Jesus patiently waited until his disheartened disciples, casting about for a new sense of purpose after his crucifixion, recognized him as their risen Savior.

As Easter dawns again on the shores of the Galilee, I return to Jerusalem with a deeper conviction that Christianity can never be snuffed out by religious strife or political tension, ignorance or prejudice. As Muslim calls to prayer ring out across the rocky hills and I pass through checkpoints manned by teenage Israeli soldiers, I resolve to bear truer witness to the redemptive power of compassion and forgiveness.
                                                                       
                                                 
0325 UTRAIL 01 Holy Land GALILEE full 380
0325 UTRAIL 01 Holy Land GALILEE full 380
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Online Surly1

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GO, nice story.

Quote
The historical figure known as Jesus of Nazareth was not “white. He was not European. Based on the scholarly consensus, the historical Jesus would be a Middle Eastern Jew of medium, if not dark, complexion. He was certainly dark enough to have spent time in the Middle East and elsewhere, and not to have had his skin tone commented upon or noted.

This Jesus would be hounded and harassed by the TSA, looked at as a de facto “suspicious” person in post-9/11 America, and be racially profiled by the national security state. The historical Jesus would likely be subject to stop-and-frisk policies by the New York police and others. If it were too late at night, and the historical Jesus was trying to get a cab–especially if he were not attired “professionally”–he would be left standing curbside because brown folks in their 20s and 30s who look like him are presumed to be criminals.

Despite the “common sense” depiction of Jesus in the (white) American popular imagination, the historical Jesus Christ is not a white surfer dude with blue eyes, long flowing hair, and tanned and toned skin.
Although according to Glenn Beck, Satan looks just like BHO.

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/19/no_jesus_wasnt_a_white_dude_partner/

No, Jesus wasn’t a white dude

But you won't hear that on the popular miniseries "The Bible"
By Chauncey DeVega



The History Channel miniseries “The Bible” is one of the most popular TV shows in recent memory. “The greatest story ever told” seems to have much life left in i

AlterNetDuring an age of economic uncertainty (and even more so among Christian Dominionist evangelicals who believe Barack Obama is the anti-Christ) it makes sense that a retreat to a popularized version of the underpinnings of Christian faith, tailor-made for cable TV, has proven to be popular.

“The Bible” will likely draw more viewers following the controversy generated by a recent episode that offered up a vision of “Satan” whose facial features are almost identical to those of President Barack Obama.

The right-wing echo chamber is resonating with affirmation and joy at this discovery: the Christian Dominionists on the Right instinctively knew that the election of Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president, beckoned the “End Times.” (McCain’s campaign even offered up an ad in 2008 suggesting this very fact.) Now, the History Channel has validated their version of reality.

“The Bible” is not a “true” or “accurate” depiction of events. Like other TV shows and films, the final product is the result of the many decisions made by producers, actors, directors, writers, and editors. However, that does not mean that we should avoid asking some basic questions about the accuracy of the miniseries. For some, what follows is an uncomfortable truth.

The historical figure known as Jesus of Nazareth was not “white. He was not European. Based on the scholarly consensus, the historical Jesus would be a Middle Eastern Jew of medium, if not dark, complexion. He was certainly dark enough to have spent time in the Middle East and elsewhere, and not to have had his skin tone commented upon or noted.

This Jesus would be hounded and harassed by the TSA, looked at as a de facto “suspicious” person in post-9/11 America, and be racially profiled by the national security state. The historical Jesus would likely be subject to stop-and-frisk policies by the New York police and others. If it were too late at night, and the historical Jesus was trying to get a cab–especially if he were not attired “professionally”–he would be left standing curbside because brown folks in their 20s and 30s who look like him are presumed to be criminals.

Despite the “common sense” depiction of Jesus in the (white) American popular imagination, the historical Jesus Christ is not a white surfer dude with blue eyes, long flowing hair, and tanned and toned skin.

When I was an undergraduate and forced to take a series of religious studies classes as part of a core requirement, I was exposed first-hand to how volatile such a basic observation can be to some Christians and others who identify with that faith tradition. Our professor was discussing how the Bible is a historical text that has been edited and changed to reveal the prevailing political and social norms of a given time. I asked a question about the Civil Rights Movement and how black folks tried to use the text for purposes of political inspiration and motivation in the face of great adversity.

This transitioned to a followup question where I asked, “What color was Jesus?” Having just seen the movie, Malcolm X, I was curious as to the professor’s response. He looked around and plainly said that Jesus Christ was not white or European. He would likely be a medium-complected Jew with brown or darker skin.

Check and mate: thus my followup, “Could one reasonably say that Jesus the historical figure was black?”

Our masterful professor looked around in a contemplative manner and said, “Depending on who you ask, and in what context, one could say that he could be considered ‘black’ in a society like America where whites have been so color conscious and race obsessed.” You could have heard a pin hit the floor as gasps of anger erupted from the white (and some black and brown) students in the class.

Some students actually tried to get this professor fired. He was saved by a few things. First, his research claims, historiography on the matter, and credentials were impeccable. He had tenure. And he was white. It is quite likely that a black faculty member making such a basic claim would have had far fewer protections.

In these discussions of faith, some would likely object that race doesn’t matter. Who cares what color the historical Jesus is/was?

Here, the color of Jesus Christ matters while simultaneously being of little import. Thus, a paradox. If the color of Jesus Christ is unimportant, why then the objection to the question and a resistance to changing the images to be more historically accurate? Moreover, such a basic question about the lie that is white Jesus, is often deflected and redirected into one which ends with the power of the white racial frame enabling those invested in its distortion(s) of reality arguing that anyone, especially a person of color, asking such things must be a black “racist” or anti-white.

If a Christian is a true believer why would they have difficulty reconciling their faith with such a superficial thing as changing the historical lie that is white Jesus into one that is more accurate, a man of color, whose message would be unchanged? Would it really be that hard for some white Christians (and others) to kneel before a black or brown Jesus Christ? Are the psychic wages of whiteness so great as to distort a person’s image of God?

These matters of race, religion and politics remain potent even in 21st-century America. See how President Obama’s presidential campaign was almost destroyed by Reverend Wright and the white conservative bogeyman known as “black liberation theology.”

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo’s White Jesus were iconic images that enabled European colonialism and imperialism. In these grand projects of global white power and conquest, “Christian” became synonymous with free, white and civilized. “Heathen” meant that whole populations could be subjected to extermination, enslavement and exploitation.

The current and most popular image of Jesus as created by Warner Sallman in 1941 depicts the former as a white “American.” Here, American exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and rise as an Imperial power were ordained as being one with Jesus, and a blessing from God for a country whose elites imagined it to be a “shining city on the hill.”

This logic is perfectly cogent: a racial project of exploitation and enslavement of non-whites by Europeans, one legitimized by a belief in the natural inferiority of people of color, the pseudo-science of the Great Chain of Being, a belief in the Curse of Ham as well as other myths, must, for reasons of practical necessity, be predicated on the existence of a “white” God.

A twisted complement to how the whiteness of Jesus has been historically naturalized in the West is how the same ahistorical image adorns many African-American churches (as well as those of Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and others) in this country and throughout the world.

Is there any greater example of the twisted nature of the color line, and the power of internalized white supremacy, than how many millions of black and brown folks kneel and pray before the image of a white god — an image which has long been used to justify and legitimate white supremacy and racial exploitation? Black and white Christians pray to the same mythologized and historically inaccurate image of Jesus; yet, they do not pray or worship together in the same churches.

Research shows that white audiences will not watch TV shows or movies which they judge to have too many people of color as characters. A historically accurate version of the Bible, which embraced the demographic realities of the era such as HBO’s epic series, “Rome,” would be a revelation. Unfortunately, many in the American public would be unwilling to hear such a basic truth, for it would be too upsetting for those who have internalized whiteness and white privilege even on matters of religion and faith.

Chauncey DeVega is editor and founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes, which has been featured by the NY Times, the Utne Reader, and The Atlantic Monthly. Writing under a pseudonym, Chauncey DeVega's essays on race, popular culture, and politics have appeared in various books, as well as on such sites as the Washington Post's The Root and PopMatters.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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I am not a devotee of Yogananda, but I believe he had a pretty good handle on what Jesus was really getting at. He wrote extensively about Jesus, and anyone with an open mind who wants to get some serious insight should give him a read, imho. Below is a cut and paste from the introduction one of his books. fwiw. This should be good for a serious rebuke from some corners, I expect. I'm posting it anyway. Maybe it will touch someone, maybe not.


"I am not referring to a literal return of Jesus to earth. He came two thousand years ago and, after imparting a universal path to God's kingdom, was crucified and resurrected; his reappearance to the masses now is not necessary for the fulfillment of his teachings. What 'is' necessary is for the cosmic wisdom and divine perception of Jesus to speak again through each one's own experience and understanding of the infinite Christ Consciousness that was incarnate in Jesus. That will be his true Second Coming.

There is a distinguishing difference of meaning between 'Jesus' and 'Christ'. His given name was Jesus; his honorific title was "Christ." In his little human body called Jesus was born the vast Christ Consciousness, the omniscient Intelligence of God omnipresent in every part and particle of creation. This Consciousness is the "only begotten Son of God," so designated because it is the sole perfect reflection in creation of the Transcendental Absolute, Spirit or God the Father.

It was of that Infinite Consciousness, replete with the love and bliss of God, that Saint John spoke when he said: "As many as received him [the Christ Consciousness], to them gave he power to become the sons of God." Thus according to Jesus' own teaching as recorded by his most highly advanced apostle, John, all souls who become united with Christ Consciousness by intuitive Self-realisation are rightly called sons of God.

A small cup cannot hold an ocean within itself. Likewise, the cup of human consciousness, limited by the physical and mental instrumentalities of material perceptions, cannot grasp the universal Christ Consciousness, no matter how desirous one may be of doing so. By the definite science of meditation known for millenniums to the yogis and sages of India, and to Jesus, any seeker of God can enlarge the caliber of his consciousness to omniscience—to receive within himself the Universal Intelligence of God.

What Jesus gave as chronicled in the New Testament of the Bible very few people understand. They just read what he said and quote it; and because it is written in the biblical Scripture they believe it blindly, with little effort to realize the wisdom therein through personal experience. Realization is to attune one's consciousness with Christ; then the right comprehension will come. When persons try to deduce the meaning of Jesus' words by intellectual analysis alone, or from the perspective of a specific dogma, they inevitably distort his sayings to suit their purpose—however well-intentioned—or to comfortably accommodate their level of understanding. Christ-wisdom has to be grasped by communion, not by rationalization.

The only reliable standard of scriptural interpretation is the testimony of actual perception—to go into that state of consciousness in which the prophets perceived the truths they expounded and thereby witness the meaning they intended. The words of Jesus fully unfold their wisdom only to those who meditate deeply on the Christ Consciousness that Jesus possessed. Then one understands Jesus in the light of his spiritual experience of the Cosmic Consciousness of the Heavenly Father, realized through the Father's Christ-Intelligence reflection present in all creation.

The detailed knowledge of the heavens as discovered by great astronomers through study and the use of telescopes could not have been acquired by lay persons lacking that training and equipment. Likewise, what enlightened sages know about Truth and Spirit through the clarifying telescope of their intuition can be known by ordinary individuals only when they have similarly extended their vision by the use of their inner telescopic intuition erstwhile hidden in the chamber of their souls.

Christ did not go through the sublime drama of his life merely to provide sermon material for generations of preachers and their Sunday audiences. He lived, died, and was gloriously resurrected as an inspiration to others to live a divine life and attain in themselves his experiences of God and the afterlife.

Jesus Christ was crucified once; but his teachings are crucified daily at the hands of superstition, dogmatism, and pedantic theological misinterpretations. My aim in offering to the world this spiritual interpretation of his words is to show how the Christ Consciousness of Jesus, free from such crucifixion, can be brought back a second time into the souls of all who make the effort to receive it. Surely, with the dawn of this more enlightened age, the time has come to stop the crucifixion of the Christ teachings as given by Jesus. His pristine message should be resurrected from its entombment by Self-realization, the inner enlightened experience of truth.

In these pages I offer to the world an intuitionally perceived spiritual interpretation of the words spoken by Jesus, truths received through actual communion with Christ Consciousness. They will be found to be universally true if they are studied conscientiously and meditated upon with soul-awakened intuitive perception. They reveal the perfect unity that exists among the revelations of the Christian Bible, the Bhagavad Gita of India, and all other time-tested true scriptures.

The saviors of the world do not come to foster inimical doctrinal divisions; their teachings should not be used toward that end. It is something of a misnomer even to refer to the New Testament as the "Christian" Bible, for it does not belong exclusively to any one sect. Truth is meant for the blessing and upliftment of the entire human race. As the Christ Consciousness is universal, so does Jesus Christ belong to all...

The Bible and the Bhagavad Gita are satisfyingly complete, containing the science of life, the eternal principles of truth and philosophy of living that make life beautiful and harmonious. Philosophy is the love of wisdom; religion, as taught by the scriptural prophets, is likewise devotion to highest truth. The personal realization of truth is the science behind all sciences. But for most persons, religion has devolved to a matter of belief only. One believes in Catholicism, another believes in some Protestant denomination, others assert belief that the Jewish or Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist religion is the true way. The science of religion identifies the universal truths common to all—the basis of religion—and teaches how by their practical application persons can build their lives according to the Divine Plan. India's teaching of 'Raja Yoga', the "royal" science of the soul, supersedes the orthodoxy of religion by setting forth systematically the practice of those methods that are universally necessary for the perfection of every individual, regardless of race or creed.

There is a vast difference between theoretical religion and philosophy and their actual practice. Practically speaking, philosophy may be divided into three parts—ethics, psychology, and metaphysics. These three departments are covered in both the Hindu and Christian Bibles.

Ethics—scriptural truth as applied to material life—sets forth the science of human duty, moral laws, how to behave.

Psychology—truth applied to mental well-being—teaches one how to analyze himself; for no spiritual progress is possible without introspection and self-study by which one endeavors to find out what he is so that he can correct himself and become what he should be.

Metaphysics—truths pertaining to the spiritual dimension of life—explains the nature of God and the science of knowing Him.

These three, taken together and put into practice, constitute religion. The ethical moral principles prescribed in the New Testament are the same as in the Gita. The psychology and the metaphysics of these two scriptures, rightly interpreted, likewise coincide in every respect. The superficial difference is that the Hindu scriptures—of which the Gita is a sublime summation—were written in a higher age of civilization, against a background of greater understanding among the general populace. Though Jesus himself embodied the highest wisdom, he expressed truth in simple, concise language; whereas the scriptures of India are composed in Sanskrit terminology of extraordinary depth and scientific precision. Point by point I have compared the salient message of the Bible and Hindu scriptures, and have found only harmonious unity between them. It is from this understanding that these explanations of Christ's words have been written. By way of example, some parallel or complementary verses from the Bhagavad Gita are cited. I have given a detailed explanation of these verses and the entirety of the Gita in a separate work, to which I encourage readers to refer for additional insight into the truths implicit but not elaborated in Jesus' words that have come down to us in the four canonical Gospels. Had Jesus himself written his teachings, they might indeed have been expressed in greater depth than in the generalities of a conversation with his disciples or a discourse to the multitudes. Certainly in the Revelation of St. John we are led by means of metaphor into the profound insights of the yoga science in which Jesus initiated his advanced disciple John, and others, whose consciousness thereby ascended to the exalted Self-realized state of the kingdom of God within."


The Second Coming of Christ (The Resurrection of the Christ Within You)
Paramahansa Yogananda
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Golden Oxen

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Despite the “common sense” depiction of Jesus in the (white) American popular imagination

Perhaps Surly, Whatever the case I will always picture Him the way the great classical artists of the past mostly pictured Him. The images are ingrained in my mind. They most certainly were not Americans with a popular imagination or interested in TV ratings, that's for sure. 

Not that it matters any, the love, message, example, and sacrifice are really all that is important.
                                                     
                                                             
Raphael
Raphael


                                                             
Lotto
Lotto


                                             

 

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