Who would Jesus align with in the political America of 2010?
“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), U.S. reformer, suffragist
“Every man thinks God is on his side. The rich and powerful know he is.”
– Jean Anouilh, French dramatist, playwright
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do.” -Anne Lamott, Author
Someone forwarded me a recent blog on readersupportednews.org, an overtly liberal political site. In the blog, an unknown author writes a “humorous” piece in the form of a news article about Jesus being selected as a Supreme Court nominee. In the article, the GOP is rallying in the press to reject the nominee (or should I capitalize it, “Nominee”?) The vitriolic, tongue-in-cheek point of the post is that the political right will distrust and oppose anyone whom Obama selects. From my perspective, this is true, although none of the conservatives I know are as hateful and blind as pictured. Still, there is a clear undercurrent in the article which raised my concerns far more than this. To the unknown author, and to those who commented on the blog, Jesus would clearly be a progressive Democrat based on his stands on abortion, immigration, free enterprise, and community organizing. He fits with their platforms, it seems, and is on their side. Is this true? An interesting question: Who would Jesus align with in 2010 political America? Might I offer a speculative option? Jesus wouldn’t. Instead, he would make everyone hopping mad. My creative, push-the-envelope, politically incorrect “what if” take is offered below. – Brad
An Interview with Jesus
Editor’s Note: Some have said that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the recent Obama nomination for Supreme Court Justice, is hard to pin down. Since his nomination, he has taken a low profile, and has turned down countless interview offers from many renowned programs: FOX News, CNN, ABC, NBC, Rush Limbaugh, Jay Leno, and Larry King. This has, as to be expected, raised questions about Mr. Christ, his personal beliefs and political stands. Last week, however, Mr. Christ contacted NPR’s Morning Edition. He personally asked to sit down with Cokie Roberts for an NPR interview. The discussion which followed was both ground-breaking and controversial. The transcript follows. (At least in my mind. BRS).
NPR: Thank you, Mr. Christ, for talking with me today.
Jesus: Thank you, Cokie, for making room in your busy schedule. And I’m more comfortable on a first name basis. Please call me Jesus.
NPR: Certainly. Jesus—it seems a bit odd for me to call you that, but thank you for the privilege—I wonder if you are aware of all the questions that are spiraling around your nomination to the Supreme Court?
Jesus: (Laughs) Of course I am aware, Cokie. Growing up, I was taught to be a good listener. I care a lot about what people say. And about what they don’t say out loud. I work hard to understand what people are really thinking and feeling, too.
NPR: Your reputation is certainly one of care and concern for the common person. Let me ask you, how do you feel about being nominated to the highest Court in the land?
Jesus: (Pause) Well, Cokie, I am honestly divided. I am thankful that President Obama would consider me, and I humbly believe I could add some wisdom and clarity to the Supreme Court. (Laugh) It may sound silly for a carpenter to say, but I think I would feel right at home as a judge. But at the same time, I have grave concerns about the nomination. I sense it might be used by some people to advance their own agenda. Its too easy to both “label me” and to try to make me just another political poker chip in America.
NPR: I think I understand your concerns. Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have been stating for a long time that, quietly and behind the scenes, you are on their side. That you believe what they believe, and support their policies.
Jesus: In a way, Cokie, I am on their side. Both sides, actually. You see, I really pay attention to them—Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents, the unregistered, and the skeptics alike. I listen to their words and their hearts. I desire many of the things they desire to come true. Cokie, beyond the rhetoric, both parties want healthy families, and so do I. They want love and intimacy in their lives. I want this for them. They want economic security and a world which is completely at peace. I so desire this. Like both parties, I want what is best for the American people. Peace and purpose and happiness, for the long term. For the long, long term.
NPR: (Laugh) You sound all-American, Jesus.
Jesus: Actually, I am Israeli, a Palestinian-Jew. And I feel connected to the people of the whole world, not just America. But I feel a burden for America, too. So much has been accomplished here. And so much more is possible. America can again be a change agent for good in this world.
NPR: I hope you are right, sir. But I do have a few concerns, too. How can you align yourself with two opposing parties?
Jesus: Cokie, I did not say I am aligned with both parties. I said, “I am on their side.” As people, not as organizations. (Sigh) I know this can be confusing, Cokie. I care about people, rich and poor, of all backgrounds and skin colors, in every city and town and farm of this land. It is the people that I love, every beating heart and every dreaming hope. From the youngest to the oldest, I feel a burning guardianship to protect and help every human being, regardless of citizenship, faith, or political party. It sounds strange, but I see us as one family. Different, yes, but closely related. We need some more community builders. To your listeners, I say: Republicans are worthy of civility and love. Democrats are worthy of civility and love. Non-voters are worthy of civility and love. All people are worthy of genuine respect and love. But—let me really clear here—I do not love or “buy into” any one party or political strategy, no matter how hard they try to make it seem as if I am on their side.
NPR: Does that make you an independent?
Jesus: (Laugh) I have been called that before. “Too independent,” was the phrase. I have often stood against the political mainstream and its leaders. But I am not behind any political ideology. None. More strongly even, I am seriously concerned with the political landscape of America. I am deeply frustrated with both the left and the right.
NPR: How so?
Jesus: (Pause) Do you really want to know, Cokie? Honestly?
NPR: I believe we deserve to know the truth about what you think, sir.
Jesus: So be it, then. Since I’m not really interested in pleasing people to get some job or office, I can be really frank, can’t I? The truth. Where do I begin? Well, with pride, the odious arrogance I see in the hearts of women and men, of all political persuasions. Politics is so swollen with pride. As if, even with your limited perspectives and own wounds, you can determine what is right for all people. I say to you, wipe the smugness from you face, Republicans, and humble yourselves! I say to you Democrats, face your conceit and self-importance, and humble yourselves! To all of you, truly I say, stop delighting in your shallow sound bites or precocious talk shows, and seek deeper wisdom! Don’t you know that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble? Make your humility practical. Clean your own houses. Stop finding fault with your sister, exposing her poor vision, and look in the mirror for your own blindness! Stop trying to whip the waves of fear and anger against each other in the name of being right and gaining votes. You bend the truth, spin it, or ignore it to look good. “Whatever it takes to gain or maintain power.” This is the sign which hangs, unbidden, over American politics. (Pause.) You sow the wind, not realizing that the tornado will grow until it destroys you. Become learners, not set-in-concrete political bigots. You all think too highly of yourselves! You claim I am one of you. Truly, truly, I am embarrassed at the cesspool of Washington. It stinks to high heaven. I love you just like a mother loves her wayward children, but is time to change your ways. All of you.
NPR: (long silence) Hard words, sir. Many in Washington are squirming right about now. I’m not sure you are gaining many friends. But can you give us more specifics on what you believe? What, exactly, are you for, Jesus?
Jesus: Cokie, I am for loving people, even when that is costly or unpopular. For example, I am for the alien, the one who has no papers and who must sneak across your border to gain a new tomorrow. I say to each of you: Don’t mistreat or take advantage of an alien or migrant, for your forefathers came to America as aliens, too. Find a place for them, and integrate them into your land. Give them hope. Once you cried to the world: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretches refuse of your teeming shore.” And so you became a shining place for the oppressed. Graciousness and generosity have been a part of your short history, and you have been richly blessed because of it. Look deep within you, and find this graciousness again. God will honor you if you take care of the alien among you.
Cokie, let me say it again–I am for loving people. Especially people who are weak or struggling. I am for the poor, and the powerless, the widow and the orphan. So many of you work hard so that you can build wonderful homes, take vacations, and educate your families. But your abundance has become greed, and you are never satisfied anymore. Capitalism has moved from a wonderful means of opportunity toward an excuse for gluttony and consumerism. And all the while, there are others in the world who are hungry and crying for justice. I say to you, truly, do not be tight-fisted or hard-hearted toward those who are poor and have little. Feed others, and God will bless you. Seek justice for the poor and oppressed, for God is watching. Work hard for your families, but share with those in need, even if it means you yourselves must have a little less. In Washington, high government workers treat themselves like kings. I wonder what would happen if politicians not only spoke about the poor, but gave from their own pockets and pensions to feed them?
One more example, Cokie, of what I am for. I am for all human beings. I am for the elderly, and the college student. But, honestly, my whole life I have had a special place in my heart for kids. I love children, and this includes the unborn. Each human life and each heartbeat brings me joy. Politics has made children, whether in the room or in the womb, a political volleyball. It is time to be honest with yourselves: real life grows inside a mother. A heart beats. Any child does not need to be defined in the courts to be human. Inside, you know this is true. Much evil has been done in our history when one human defines another as less than fully human. In selfishness, many of you have condoned the erasure of much of a generation so as to have more freedom for yourselves. You want to control your future and yet you seek to avoid the consequences when you lack sexual control. Driven by your bodies and bravado, you shout, “freedom of choice, freedom of choice!” And yet you give no choice to the heart inside the womb. This, too, is selfishness and pride run rampant. I say to you, truly, God cannot bless the fruit of your factories if you will not let him bless the fruit of your wombs. Be generous in all areas of your life, and become lovers of life, more than just a plank in someone’s political platform. Cokie, the bottom line: I am for the value of all people and all life. Perhaps that makes me a poor fit for American government service.
NPR: Wow. You speak more like a prophet than a politician, Jesus. Time will tell about your nomination, and I expect much discussion and conflict ahead for you in the confirmation process. But I am honored you have spoken to Morning Edition today. Perhaps you would be willing to come back and speak to us in the future?
Jesus: Of course. I have some similar thoughts to offer to the religious leaders of the world, too. And these might be even harder for them to hear.
NPR: I can’t wait, sir.
Author’s Note: Jesus’ positions here come directly from Bible passages in modern language. For example, see Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34 & 23:22, Numbers 15:15-16, Deuteronomy 10:18 & 24:17, Psalm 59:12, 73:1-12, 101:5, 106:38, 137:13, 146:7-9, Proverbs 31:9, Ecclesiastes 11:5, Jeremiah 7:6, 20:17 & 22:3, Ezekiel 22:29 & 47:23, Isaiah 10:1-4, 26:5, 44:24 & 57:5, Matthew 18:4 & 19:21, Luke 1:41-44, 12:33, 14:11, Romans 12:16, Galatians 2:10, James 2:3-6, and 1 Peter 5:6.