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  • Writer's pictureDavid Williams

The New Missing Years of Jesus, by David Williams

I was raised in the Evangelical church, my parents having come from southern Missouri, in what’s known as the Buckle of the Bible Belt, even though we moved to Chicago when I was two and left the Buckle behind.  Nevertheless, I spent my early years steeped in fundamentalist culture, as an absolute believer, but it was not the same Evangelical Christian church as today’s.  Back then, we never heard a thing about abortion, or guns, or being against people who were gay.  My folks were both hard-core Democrats, because they believed people deserve a fair shake, and they saw that the Democratic Party as the one that offered people a shot at the American Dream, and the party that followed the commandments of the social gospel—such as do unto others.  While I eventually left religion, many of my siblings still retain their faith and stayed with the fundamentalist church.  But when I look at fundamentalism today, I wonder where Jesus has gone.  None of the things that I was taught, believed in, and still carry with me as sacred (like turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the earth, and blessed are the poor, the humble) can be found inside the churches and megachurches of today where the current clarion call is for Maga, Trump, and Christian nationalism.  Jesus seems to have utterly disappeared, at least the version of him that I liked—the one who spent his time healing the sick, feeding the hungry, taking care of the downtrodden, and saying things like—it is harder for a rich person to get into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  Instead, we get these churches with praise and worship new age hymns proclaiming Jesus’s glory, while forgetting he was a man who suffered and cried out on the cross to God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Hmm. 

 

Where that Jesus went, I have no clue, but instead he has seemingly been replaced by Donald Trump and the Maga movement, where the hatred for the poor and destitute runs rampant, as Trump continually screams, calling them “vermin,” usually referring to those thousands of poor souls fleeing corruption and injustice in Central and South America, mostly of Indian descent.  Trump kidnaps their children and puts them in cages—many children of which have lost their parents for good or parents whose children are forever gone.  Instead of asking, who will throw the first stone, when it comes to putting a woman to death, we have Trump bragging about his abuse of women, his misogyny, his grotesque groping of women’s genitalia, and his utter disregard for the dignity and rights of women.  What would Mary, the Mother of God have to say about this?  Then there is the Right Wing Christian movement’s utter disdain for women’s rights, taking away abortion as an option for women who have true medical emergencies in desperate need of surgery, with their lives at stake.  Most people might be shocked to know that the New Testament says nothing at all about abortion, that this  is only a very recent concern for followers of Christ.  By putting the life of an unborn child over the life of a grown woman, what does this say about the value of women?  Jesus was known to associate with women and to consider them as equal to men, to the chagrin of his male followers (the rivalry between Peter and Mary Magdalene is well documented in early Christian texts, as Peter had extreme jealousy of Jesus’ attention to Mary, a mere woman).  Jesus broke with tradition over and over again, standing up for all those who society portrayed as outcasts, lepers, Samaritans, women, and others who were “different” and without power.  And when it came to sex, Jesus says, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by people; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” Eunuchs were males who were castrated in order to serve the concubines of kings so they could not have sex with the women the royalty owned.  But Jesus goes on here to explain that there is a range of sexual behaviors that should be accepted, and that all these people will get into the kingdom of heaven, regardless of whether they adapted their sexual behavior through choice, birth, or force.  It’s a very liberal notion.  And after all, didn’t Jesus come into the world to remake the ancient word of God, to move humankind away from the odious laws of the Old Testament that were based on punishment and shame, an eye for an eye?  According to Jesus, at the Sermon on the Mount, obeying the letter of the law but not its spirit was anathema and made those who passed judgement upon others the ultimate hypocrites.  “Love your neighbor as yourself,” were Jesus’ words, and “turn the other cheek.”  But none of these sentiments are remembered in the current fundamentalist tradition, where all emphases are places on punishing those perceived of as being in the “wrong,” or “outsiders,” or the “poor and downtrodden.” 

 

In many Christian circles today, Trump has taken over as Savior.  Trump himself has said that he had done more for Christianity than Jesus, and he has taken to portraying himself as mirroring the suffering of Jesus, a martyr who the Deep State Government is out to crucify.  Millions of Christians, apparently brain dead, have fallen into the Trump cult, incapable of ascertaining what is true from what is utter nonsense—the beliefs in QAnon (where Trump is portrayed as the current savior going forth to rescue the world from tyranny), from believing in the lies of election fraud, and denying Trump’s planning of Jan 6th insurrection, wherein Trump tried to overthrow democracy in order to stay in power.  Mania is afoot.  Though Trump continually aligns himself with despicable dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un, the Religious Right are unable to see how fascism is rapidly gaining ground in America.  Even when Trump says that he will persecute those who have gone after him (in legitimate legal trials), making a mockery of the law, the ministers and congregations choose not to listen.  The Right has made Trump into their savior and kicked Jesus out.  They have chosen their own Barabbas, the criminal, the thief, the con-man, the sexual abuser, the corrupt money-changer, the persecutor of innocents, the scammer, the  liar, the foul-mouthed deceiver, the mafia boss, and kicked Jesus out onto the streets, where no doubt he still is out there, working his way through the barrios and alleys, working to help the underdogs, the very people Trump loathes and calls Losers. 

 

When the devil confesses that he is indeed the devil, Christians should pay attention and believe that in this instance the devil is actually telling the truth.  They need to look around and ask where the real Jesus has gone, and seek him out, find out where he is still practicing his gospel of good, discover where he is still fighting the Philistines, the Trumps of this world, who do nothing but suck the life out of the losers Jesus loves.  

 

 

 



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