I’m going to keep this entry short ‘n’ sweet and get you thinking about something. (If you end up coming to the same conclusions I have under your own steam, the insight will be more truly yours than if I simply serve it up fully-cooked.) I want to spill just a little metaphorical ink over the most important verse in the Bible. I’m not talking about John 3:16. I have in mind a different saying attributed to Jesus, one that can be found in that compendium of aphorisms and apothegms known as “The Sermon on the Mount:”
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, NRSV)
If I pull up my Microsoft Word thesaurus and search “meek,” here’s the list of synonyms I’m offered: humble, timid, submissive, gentle, docile, modest, compliant, mild, quiet, lowly, weak, cowed, fearful, and tame. That thesaurus suggests “assertive” and “overbearing” as antonyms. (Nominal synonyms for “assertive” and “overbearing” tend to be gender-specific: “leader” for the males, “bitch” for all the rest. Funny how that works, ain’t it? But that’s another essay.)
Meek. It’s a telling word, is it not? What message do you suppose “Jesus” was trying to send here? Let’s not forget there’s a good possibility that such a character never actually existed and the only reason we have these sayings of “Jesus” is that a powerful institution collected/concocted them to be promulgated to someone’s advantage. Whose advantage might that be? Isn’t it obvious?
There’s a reason that Nietzsche called Christianity a religion of slaves. There it is, in black and white (or red, if you’ve got one of those), straight from the mouth of Jesus of Nazareth, sitting right there like a shiny new dime on one of the gilt-edged pages of the Best Book Ever Written. And as Nietzsche understood full well, Christianity’s not the only religion designed to enslave its devotees. There have been hundreds, and plenty are still on offer.
From the time the ruling class was born in the earliest Bronze-Age cities, the pacification of the masses has been of utmost concern to those who have either clawed their way to the top or been born there. If you were a powerful monarch, the securing of whose prerogatives depended on an acquiescent proletariat, could you imagine a more effective way to manage it than to get the priesthood to communicate your own desires to the proles as though they were the wisest of sayings straight from the mouth of an incarnate god?
“Listen up, people! It isn’t that the King (may he live forever) wants you in a timid and shell-shocked condition of arrested development to make it easier for him to hold onto power: it’s that Jesus (PBUH) knows that the way to be happy is to be compliant. It’s not in your interest to ask questions – just obey. Your reward will be great in heaven.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca saw right through that charade: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
This is what I wish I could get my devout friends and family to understand: religion’s actual role in the history of the human species and in their lives, as handmaiden of the ruling class, both serving and reflecting the lusts of narcissists at ruinous expense to everyone else. How can anyone not see through it? But don’t think I’m unaware of what an awful thing it would be, to have to admit to oneself late in life that one has spent one’s precious, one-time-only gift of years pursuing a phantasm. I suspect that’s the true reason that the status quo will be doggedly maintained clear through to the end, and I can’t be sure that by the raising of questions that to me seem perfectly innocent and reasonable, I’m not doing my loved ones a disservice.
It can’t possibly be that any of those I care for, but with whom conversation is so difficult, believe the Bible because it seems credible to them, can it? (DustManRibWomanTalkingSnakeNoahSodomAndGomorrahTenCommandmentsMannaFromHeavenWallsOfJerichoJonahInTheBellyOfAFish.) Merely to raise the question is to be confronted by the potency of childhood indoctrination. They believe those obviously made-up fairy tales because when they were very young they were taught not how to think but what to think, and were warned on pain of unimaginable eternal torment never to doubt what they were taught. The child is father to the man. (That’s why “Jesus” also said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” I’m told the Jesuits notoriously say something very much like that.)
The only thing that could possibly be worse than having your ass owned by The Man is for him to hold clear title to your mind. Needless to say, in the latter case he also gets your ass into the bargain. That’s the purpose of religion. I understand there’s some serious money to be made in it to boot.
That’s about all I’ve got to say about it. I’m just raging, raging against the dying of the light as usual.
Take a load off and listen to some tunes. Here’s some music that was written with thinking people in mind, and you’re one of them or you wouldn’t be reading this essay in the first place.
(Beethoven was a nominal Christian. What if he’d taken that saying of “Jesus” seriously?)