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Would They Call for Christ's Crucifixion?

History has shown the Mob is capable of most anything.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

-Talmud


As I write this, my friends and neighbors are celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and beginning a period of self-examination. This process includes asking forgiveness for those wrongs, and meditating on ways to continue Tikun Olam, the work of repairing the world, by attending to their own spiritual needs and the needs of others in the new year.

Even though I am not Jewish, I find that fall is naturally a time of reflection, when the weather mellows, the days begin to shorten, and nature withdraws from the exuberance of summer. It is a time when we are reminded of mortality, when we draw inward, when it is appropriate to take stock—of the “harvest” we’ve labored over and are bringing in, of where we are on our life’s journey, of the state of our world and our small place in it.

The state of the world right now is enough to send anyone running for cover.  Today I read an article by Leonard Pitts, about the strength of the Tea Party, the organization and big money interests behind it. Last night I saw again the clip from the Republican debates in which Wolf Blitzer, asking Ron Paul if an uninsured man should be allowed to die, and the mob cried “Let him die.” 

I was reminded of nothing so much as the Passion Play we do every Good Friday, in which the mob cries out to Pilate “Crucify him!” when Pilate asks if they want to release Jesus. Another mob at the debates cheered at the high number of executions in Texas. Today, walking the dog on a pristine fall morning, I passed a car with a bumper sticker which read, “It’s time to get rid of those masquerading as Americans!” And who might that be? I thought with a shudder. Get rid of them (us) how?

Perhaps the most troubling thing about all of this rhetoric—calling Obama a Nazi, a Marxist, or the Antichrist—is not only its lack of historical accuracy, but also the inflated righteousness that masks baser emotions.

It was the Nazis who wanted an Arayan nation, unblemished by the weak, the sick, the different, the uninsured.

It is social Darwinism which seeks to leave to fend for themselves the sick, the weak, the different, the uninsured.

That the Tea Party can claim itself to be the party of Christ—who said feed the hungry, tend to the sick, love your neighbor (even if your neighbor is Hispanic, Black or gay)—is frightening.  Whether they know it or not, the Tea Partiers would be right there screaming for Jesus to be crucified, would be throwing people into gas ovens.

Well, that’s pretty harsh, you might say. I don’t think so. The kind of righteousness now on display, untroubled by introspection, by nuanced thinking, by facts, is the kind of unalloyed certainty that fuels mob actions. It is the kind of hate and blood lust that seeks to project all uncomfortable feelings on some hated “other,” be they Jew, immigrant, or the weak. It is a frightening, complex world, and this kind of certainty allows people to simplify it.

We all long for an ordered life. We are all frightened on some level. I think those things are given.But how we choose to deal with these givens makes all the difference. Here is a quote about the work of repairing the world by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine:

'We in the Tikkun Community use the word "spiritual" to include all those whose deepest values lead them to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that has led people into a frantic search for money and power and away from a life that places love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence, social justice, awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation, thanksgiving, humility and joy at the center of our lives.'

In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, I hope we can find humility within ourselves, and the courage to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that threatens to poison our country.

 

 

 

Note:  Find Sara's writings at Word Medicine, www.saratbaker.wordpress.com

 

Thanks to Rebecca Corey for the quote from the Talmud

Count Raoul October 03, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Sara you are brave to post this. I will monitor the comments here to see if others take offense. For me, no offense taken. I applaud the Tea Party for it's ability to rally Americans outside of normal political boundries.... but it's rhetoric - or at least some of it - is nothing less than obscene. Democracy is under attack around the world and it is certainly not a process without flaws, but speaking loudly at the ballot box should result in the government that the majority of us prefer. My guy doesn't always win, but I keep my voter registration up-to-date.
Lane Norton October 03, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Brave, indeed, and morally responsible... thank you, Sara. Self reflection is so very difficult for most of us. Following the essential rule Christ took from his jewish background and made his central message, "Love your Neighbor as yourself", is proving equally as difficult.
Crystal Huskey October 03, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Wow. Nicely done.
Milton Leathers October 03, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Sara, have I missed something? The Tea Party folks claim to be "the party of Christ," you say? I thought these people were mostly fiscal conservatives. I realize that some lunatic fringe fundamentalist Christians are along for the ride. Though I have not studied the Tea Partiers
Milton Leathers October 03, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Oooops...(continuing from above) .....as I might study something under a rock in the woods that I picked up, I thought most of them were more Libertarian. Am I wrong? I remember watching our sons play Army in our back yard. Our middle son, Cobby, did, in fact, pick up such a rock as I mentioned above. There must have been something horrible and squirming and roiling underneath. He was only about 6 or 7 years old, but -- one by one -- he brought about five playmates over to JUST SEE what is under this rock!!! When his buddies looked at the grossness on the ground, Cobby didn't look with them. He looked at THEIR faces....as tell-tale signs of horror and a bit of nausea crossed over his friends' contorted brows. I have watched some of my best friends' faces as they "studied" the Tea Partiers. I don't plan to study these voters myself; I can learn all I need to know second-hand -- just looking at my friends' faces as THEY look directly under this rock.
Milton Leathers October 03, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I don't want anybody looking directly at me under the rock where I am, either!
Carol Myers October 09, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Sara, You write so well and so thoughtfully about the world around us and inside of us. This shouldn't be your last article. You should be nationally syndicated.
Milton Leathers October 10, 2011 at 01:46 AM
You may have forgotten, Sara, but many years ago I asked you to write a piece for the Banana-Herald comparing and contrasting the old Oconee County conservatives and the new Oconee County conservatives. Are you looking for topics? Would you write such a piece for Patch nowadays? At that time, you and I agreed, maybe smugly but without much real conviction, that the oldtimers in that originally mostly agricultural county were quite naturally "old Georgia conservatives" -- but they knew full well that the person or family down the way might or might not be conservative. That was none of their business, really, and they would be friendly enough whenever they met that "neighbor," of course. On the other hand, concerning the many NEW (newly-arrived, anyway) Oconee County conservatives, like some in Gwinnett, Cobb and such Atlanta suburbs, you and I thought those people might seriously expect everyone in their recently built subdivision to be conservative in the same way that they are. And if they were NOT, these newcomers could be a bit stand-offish. And they had no plans to mix much with any dangerous moderates (or liberals)! You and I laughed about these stereotypes, and we figured that the real situation out there was much more nuanced than we could figure out on the spot. Well, what have you figured out out there? Would you care to comment here? Or may I phone you? (I think I have my verb tenses all balled up in this post, but I'm too tired to go back and repair it this late.)
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) October 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Milton, I wasn't in on that conversation, but I agree with how things used to be. I covered Gwinnett County in the late 1980s, and there were Republicans and Democrats mixing and attending churches together and school games together, and doing it all very nicely, thanks. When I went back there in 2008, things were very polarized politically, with Jesus coming into just about every sentence. It reminded me of how friends described what happened in Yugoslavia: former friends and neighbors at odds over religion and threatening to destroy their country.
Milton Leathers October 10, 2011 at 03:54 PM
& RM f u eva thot 2 c how a post wld look @ ful characts limit thas it abov @9:46

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