Sunday, 8 December 2013

Perspectives, Objections, and Agreements

     We enter the Uni-season now, made more efficient over the last fifty years or so by combining the depths of Winter's Solstice with the Orthodox notion and understanding of Advent, Christ's Mass or the Feast of the Nativity in my Grandmother's time, the notion of Yule-tide, Hanukkah,  and then of course the Feast of  the Epiphany.
     Parenthetically, we urge that the OROG wade into deep water at the Anglican Curmudgeon's address and work through the fairly easy to understand complexities that attend the uses of the terms Catholic, catholic, Christian, Orthodox.   In an astute and non-hostile manner, our cyber-Confessor explains how those things are intertwined in the framework of the Two Testaments, the Prophesies, and the manner by which the many-petalled flower that is Christianity came to look as it does to-day.   Those of us on the Conservative side of the issues affecting the Anglican Communion as well as the rest of the Catholic-traditioned part of Christianity are aware of the inclusive - exclusive dynamic our issues and arguments present.   We lament the willingness by the "Progressives" to have no interest in such a dynamic, but rather prefer to exclude totally any influence by the traditionalists.  The Anglican Curmudgeon's present treatise,  along with Barrack Hussein Obama's paralleling of his own understanding recently as akin to Pope Benedict's understanding of economic fairness have inspired this writer to pen a few notes on this issue....and at this time in the Church's Calendar.   

     The matter of income redistribution, social democracy, and how the Bishop of Rome fits into the issues of "social justice" as he defines it as opposed to how Barrack Hussein Obama defines it might be a topic that seems best left alone or at least dealt with at another time.   But, alas, this might be the best time of all to try to set a bit of the record straight.   Part of the confusion we in the case of the terms "redemption" and "salvation"....comes from our own efforts to make our understanding reasonable, efficient, and compatible with our secular schedules.

     But, reason mixes poorly at times with efficiency, and understanding becomes easier if we mix  comfortable phrases with scenes of how things might have been....or perhaps how they might should have been.

    And, do not feel as if this is a scolding by some ivory-tower perfectionist, who is demanding the purity of historical and ecclesiastical facts.   El Gringo Viejo was not there, and he does not know anyone who was there.  Our inventions are nothing new, as well, so no one is going to be chastised for having yielded to some new heresy of the moment.   This is not even a matter of heresy, as it is well known that Buddhists and Christians are very malleable, most of the time, in the application, practice, and employment of the tenets and/or canons of their philosophy and/or religion.
     The wonderful image above shows what has to be a collision of the plausible and the impossible.   It is the Coyote treading air for about 10 seconds before he realises that, during his pursuit of the Roadrunner, he has run off the edge of a 5,000 foot cliff and is doomed to a massive crash on the canyon-floor below.   But the above picture is still a wonderful image.  It shows the Christ Child as a new-born, being reverenced by Three Kings (or Wise Men, or Astronomical Philosophers), and lo! and behold! there is no Black King.  In fact, they all look like Mediterranean personalities, and they are expressing their reverence for the Baby at the door of what appears to be a very Sistine / Tuscan mixed-style of a boutique bed and breakfast.  So much for the cave or corral and the manger and all that messy farm stuff.

    We seize upon the above image, however, not for what might be accused of being  incorrect but rather to move towards the consideration of another reality, a greater probability in fact, that Jesus of Nazareth  was not a child of poverty leading the poor of the world to a greater reward, because the rich  were, and are, not deserving of reward.
     Analysing the nature of the sociology of the time, and wringing out the best understanding of the events surrounding the Announcement by Gabriel to the arrival of the Magi...we notice that Yeshua is frequently in close contact with people of position.  We know that he was recognised by an old man at the Temple when he was taken for circumcision and for the delivery of the thank offering....during the baby's infancy.  We also know that both Joseph and Mary were of the House of David, a royal house, and therefore, in order to be enrolled in the Census and the Imperial Revenue Service, they were required to go to the City of David for said enrolment.
     We know that Mary, although much younger, was the cousin of Elizabeth, the wife of one of the most important rabbis in all Judea.  We know that the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth was John the Baptist, who even during the childhood of his cousin Jesus, was out exhorting the Jews to turn away from issues that were not relative to the interests of Yahweh.  John was highly placed enough to engender a huge and troubling following throughout the Holy Land.  Troubling it was, both to the Roman  government, and especially in the palatial precincts of the satrap King Herod.

     We might be able to say that John was a "social issues" Tea-party type, and his cousin, the Son of God, was likewise much more concerned with the condition of peoples' souls than with the availability of government provided balanced diets for the poor of the Empire.  We also note that most of the popular "quotes" from the Bible about rich people are misinterpreted or totally misquoted.  Along with that correct statement we add another true observation that property owners, vineyard owners,  tillers, farmers, stockmen,  tradesmen, soldiers merchants, and even lawyers are advised to practice good stewardship over their possessions and professions as well as to develop their talents (monies and wealth).   In the Parable of the Talents it is pointed out that the slothful servant was scorned for not having invested his single talent, while the other two servants went and doubled their money during the master's absence.

     We also know that throughout the Nazarene's life, he dealt closely with the wealthy, often being received in homes of the influential.  We know  that his step-father Joseph was a talented man with a trade/profession who could plight his trough for the hand of Mary, who was as stated before, highly placed in the social structure of the Jews.  We could continue to point out things like the water to wine incident and the fact that Jesus had to admonish the Apostles to allow "the little children" (perhaps of the hoi polloi) to come close to Jesus.  The Apostles' understanding was reasonable in that they were trying to keep the "Important Person" removed from mundane and troublesome over-energised children.

     Other more nuanced points about discrimination, racism, ethnic "apartness", and the like were made by the Nazarene when he pointed out that even Jews could learn from a (ycccchh) Samaritan, when a rich Samaritan would risk his wealth and health to aid a Jew who had been victimised of highway robbers.  While other Jews would not stop....because of their pride, fear, and lack of willingness to spend the shekels and talents for the restoration of the fallen "fellow Jew", the Samaritan did.  The story about the incident actually reads like a police report, and one has the feeling that it was an incident that most certainly actually happened.

    To summarise, it can be demonstrated that the Son of God came to this Planet on a mission to restore souls to the favour and pleasurable service of the Creator.   He came and dwelled among the rich.  He had, if anything, an extreme upper-middle class background, with overtones of aristocracy and even royalty.  He was literate and well-studied.  Even with his comforts he lectured all to do good unto others in the same way one might wish to have the well and good done to ones self.   He was comfortable with the common people, and even the lepers and the wayward.  In his own anguish, He could make a friend of the malefactor suffering the same fate during His crucifixion.
    He asked us to care for the poor, the bereaved, the sick, the naked, the homeless, and  the prisoners and downtrodden.   He did not ask us to turn the task over to the government.   Or to a government.


      It would appear that the Argentine Pope, after years of fighting, in his way, against the liberation theologists of that poor-in-spirit country, is searching for a third or fourth path for the Roman Communion and perhaps even for the entirety of Christianity as a social, worldly force.  His first months have seemed to be full of new messages that are hard to interpret from any perspective.
    We must have faith, however, that there be no resolution into a common focus about the present Bishop of Rome's view of economic fairness and the marxist predilections of Obama.  

    As an aside, El Gringo Viejo was raised on a farm, under rules of austerity, because both parents had been through the Depression and two world wars, the Spanish Flu, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the polio epidemics.  Although I was last born and terribly spoiled to no good end, there was no great splurging even during those times when my parents thought that we were in a strong economic position.
    We did splurge on a Christmas tree, however, and we did share a few gifts on Christmas Eve, saving for the morning such that might have been left behind by Santa Claus.   The tree was put up normally during the last week of Advent to commemorate the journey to Bethlehem, and then the tree would remain for the entire Twelve Days of Christmas, to be taken down on the night of the 6th of January, the first day of Epiphany.  That was to commemorate the arrival of the Three Kings and their delivery of fine and expensive gifts from afar.  My parents would normally have some relatively expensive or what could be styled as "the best"  gift reserved for that day, and only for the children.
     Perhaps in moving towards a second childhood, we have tried to prohibit and/or preclude gifts for the last few years from any source,  to us.  We will give small things to our children, but most if not all  of the gift-giving we do is to the grandchildren.   I would prefer to give them their things on the 6th of January,   but that is a difficult matter when they live 360 miles away.  So we take it up during Christmas Tide, because it just doesn't make sense to send a half of a cup-cake, a strange looking rock, two jelly beans, and a quarter by FED EX to each granddaughter for 30 dollars.  So we drive it up instead.