Years ago, I had a personal conversation with a Catholic priest, and I asked a question about the Gospels. Specifically, why are there noticeable differences between the text written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the life and times of Jesus Christ.
His answer was simple and clear.
“Imagine a car accident on a street, and the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians. The police begin asking the witnesses what they saw to begin their investigation. Each witness would describe the big picture, but add differences from their viewpoint. What one witness saw may be completely different from another witness, or another witness may have had a better viewpoint to add additional information to paint a better picture”.
Makes sense to me.
Now, I am not a Christian scholar or historian, but it is my understanding that the Gospels were written several years after the death of Jesus Christ. Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John write based on what they were taught, or what they were told to write? How could they write about someone’s life many years after the fact?
For a long time now, I’ve accepted that the opinions of those that preach and/or teach religion go off their understanding of scripture. The word “religion” basically means “belief”, so once a person reads text from any bible, he or she is going to comprehend what they want and/or are capable of understanding. That being said, it scares me that any one person can wield so much power over a group of people based on their interpretation of religious text.
Religious leaders have always had some degree of influence over politicians, but today, in my opinion, it is getting way out of hand. Until churches and their spiritual leaders pay taxes, they should stay out of politics. Directly instructing congregations to vote a certain way should be explicitly forbidden. Stick to interpreting the bible, not the U.S. Constitution.
Consequently, more and more people, due to the onset of the Internet, are beginning to see through a lot of the vitriol spewed from pulpits across the world, and think for themselves. Before the development of the World Wide Web, people relied mainly on network news and Sunday sermons. Back then, each remained on script and focused on their direct message. Some may argue that networks leaned “left”, and to a degree I would agree, but I would also add that just because intelligence and facts were leveraged during broadcasts isn’t a bad thing. When I went to church, the Priest would read from the Gospels, and his sermon would focus on what he had read.
Now we have news broadcasters casting their opinions on the state of the world, political leaders, etc., and church leaders are more focused on politicians and their actions and ensuring that their flock vote a certain way.
Listen, I don’t need a bible or minister to instruct me on how to be nice, not steal, cheat on my wife, murder another human being, etc. Nor do I care how a news anchor feels about President Barack Obama; that’s now why I watch the news (or used to). I think it’s common sense that just because my neighbor left his car running in the driveway doesn’t mean it’s mine to take and use however I like.
Now, I understand some folks need something to hold on to; they need to believe that a better life is out there somewhere. Me? I think once my heart stops beating, I’m done. I’ve got one life to live, and while I’m here, I want to have fun, earn a good living, raise my son to be a good citizen, and add to the community however I can. I also want to be the best husband I can for my lovely wife. Again, I don’t need the King James Bible to tell me how to do that. I don’t need to confess my sins to God via a priest to clear my consciousness. Just like preachers like to tell us; we are all sinners. I know that. I learn from my mistakes, try not to make them again, and move on.
If you or anyone needs religion to get through this thing called life, I have absolutely no problem with that. We all need a helping hand, that’s for sure. Unfortunately for me, I feel religions were designed more of a societal control mechanism than a guide to salvation. Was Jesus Christ a real man? Yes, I believe he was. Was he crucified? Yes, I believe that. However, the reasons why are different in my opinion than the ones taught on Sunday morning.
I believe Jesus Christ was a man that preached good teachings for the common man. The Virgin Mary? That one is up for debate. I do, however, wish I could have seen the look on Joseph’s face when he found out Mary was pregnant. Surely, that was an interesting conversation, if Joseph truly wasn’t the “real” father.
Once Jesus had enough followers, he must have become a grave concern to the leaders of the day. Good old Pontius Pilate must have gotten an ear full from all the powerful men in ear shot. Control, once gained, is both hard to maintain and even harder to release. They decide to eliminate Jesus, so they beat him half to death, then hang him on a cross with two other poor SOBs. His mother and followers watched and cried while he died on the cross.
He dies, is prepared for burial, and placed in a tomb.
No, he did not rise. He was either cremated or buried elsewhere, and the story continued.
I’m sorry, but once a following is created, people will find a way to leverage it. Now I understand why leaders want to keep society controlled and not allow it to get out of hand, but like everything else, people take things way too far and the original purpose becomes an afterthought.
Today, racism is still an issue, and many in this country are afraid that minorities, i.e. African-Americans, are gaining too much power. They cannot fathom that by 2050 Caucasians will be the minority. African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic minorities are growing in numbers, and the 1% are panicking. Why do you think the GOP has become a puppet and the wealthy are their masters? They are absolutely terrified that good old Christian values are falling by the wayside.
The LGBT community are made up of human beings that want to be treated just like everyone else. They want to love. They want to thrive. Why is that such a hard thing to understand? What is wrong with any human being loving another human being?
Now, if you believe in a religion that calls for you to be a heterosexual or else you will rot in Hell, that’s your business and choice, and I respect it. Do not, however, force your beliefs on me and society. You made your choice now live with it; the rest of us will live with our own personal beliefs.
Again, when I die, I want my family and friends to get together, bury me, and have a party reminiscing over the good times. Once the party is over, go on living your life and think about me from time to time. I want to be buried so my body, when it deteriorates, adds something to Mother Earth so she can continue on. If you believe in the after-life, then good for you. I hope it exists for you. I, however, believe that once I die, I’m dead.
But that’s the point to all of this diatribe. We are individuals living together to get through our lifetime. Understand we are different. Understand we think differently. Understand we have different tastes. Understand we will have strengths and weaknesses, and for the most part, will try our best to do what’s write for themselves, their families, and their communities. There will always be outliers, and must be dealt with accordingly. Hopefully, common sense will take over the insanity we are buried in daily and we will all live happily ever after.