4:20 am. Couldn’t sleep after going to the washroom in the middle of the night. Every so often this happens. Guess that’s why my blog is called “Sleepless in Turtle Island”, coz this is the activity that gets me through the wee hours of the morning, rather than laying awake in bed.
Finally dared to brew up that Brazilian coffee. Sheep, I’ll be buzzing today! I’m pretty much an anti-coffee guy, but every once in awhile, yum yum. Brazilian coffee and Superstore bulk walnuts, a winning combo.
Now, guys, don’t rag on my for using the word “attracted”. Just had great sex with my wife 5 hours ago, so don’t imagine that I have a crush on a 33 year dude who died and rose again 2000 years ago. I could equally write “What Attracted Me to Gandhi” or “What Attracted Me to Rage Against The Machine”, without sounding weird, funny or inappropriate, couldn’t I?
Anyways, enough of digression. I’ve been reading rebellious author John Dominic Crossan’s God & Empire. Here’s a radical Bible scholar who seemingly denies the resurrection of the Messiah (Christ), which I don’t deny. But, honestly, Crossan’s got some brilliant insights. I’m pretty open to any author who promotes some of the key Core Values of love, social justice, non-violence, despite their theological bendings. Doesn’t mean I always agree with them.
Let’s go way back to the 1970s, when I was a young boy. Now, my parents, although not really believers, dragged my sisters and me to various Christian churches on Sundays. Dunno why, but that was the thing to do back then in my culture. I guess Sunday TV with only a handful of channels, plus no Internet or Wii, meant that we had to get out of the house and actually do something useful and interesting.
Well, honestly, church was interesting sometimes. The big sanctuaries, the robes of the choir and the reverend. The candles. The booming pipe organ. Kinda cool, actually. But as a kid, sitting there in a church service for a couple hours, ended up being quite boring. I mean, you couldn’t fart or burp aloud. Couldn’t punch my sisters too hard, coz they’d scream and everybody’d look at us. My parents were good at hushing me.
So I don’t really think I got much of an idea about who Jesus was by my church going. Just sort of got the impression that He’s important. Some kind of Super Hero. Except that He’s real. Sorta real. I mean, He lived 2000 years ago. But the reverend said Jesus was still alive, so that signified that He was extra special. Almost like a God-Man.
Later on, as a bored pre-teen (we used to get easily bored in the late 1970s in Vancouver, Salish Unceded Territories, Canada, for some strange reasons), every once in awhile I’d pick up the Gideon Society’s Bible I got in Grade 5, or the Good News Bible I “borrowed” from my parents’ book shelf. I’d read the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If I had 4 sons, it would be cool to name them like this, haha.
Better not eat too many walnuts, or I’ll get fat again, after losing 30+ pounds recently through juicing (another story). The Brazilian coffee I bought in my Iraqi friend’s shop tastes awfully fine!
Back to Jesus / Yeshua. Well, let’s just say that eventually He seemed pretty cool to me.
I mean, He just touches sick people, and BOOM, they’re cured. No hospital Emergency Room visits. No ambulance fees. No doctors poking stethoscopes into your flesh. No messy clean-up. Sheep alive, this is brilliant!
And the crowds were attracted to Him. Hordes of poor people, in particular. They thought His teaching was the cat’s meow and the bee’s knees. Think about it. No Internet in those days. No porn movies. No casinos. No UFC. No Rock Hero. No 400+ TV channels. No new James Bondage flicks. Man, what else did the sheeple have to do? Cock fights? Nicky Nicky 9 Door? Arm wrestling contests?
His teaching was pretty revolutionary. Take a gander:
– Go sell everything you own. Give it to the poor. Follow Me. I don’t even have a pillow to lay My head at night. Just rocks. No roof over My head.
– If your enemy back-hands you on your left cheek, offer the right cheek. Maybe that’ll amaze and piss off your enemy so much, they’ll leave you alone.
– When the End of the World starts to happen, run to the mountains.
– Don’t lust after young girls. Or older women, for that matter. God considers that adultery, and He won’t be too happy. Neither will your wife. Plus, you’re frickin’ well corrupting your brain.
– Be a peacemaker. Be humble. Don’t favour the rich. They’ll hardly make it into Heaven anyways. That would be like threading a huge camel through the tiny eye of a needle.
– Beware of greed. Your life doesn’t consist of how many possessions you possess. And if you are consumeristic, it’s like being possessed by the demon of More-More-More. I made up that last part.
2nd cup of Brazilian coffee with a dash of 2% milk. Sheet, this stuff’s nice! Ditched the walnuts, working on the Trail Mix now. Don’t worry, Mommy, I’ll be going jogging soon. Still too dark outside.
Back to Yeshua. He was revolutionary. He was a bit sassy. He enraged the ruling classes, the Pharisees and Saducees, the Religious Right of His day. They were into rules, Jesus wasn’t. He was into kindness, into loving your neighbours. Even loving your enemies.
He refused to take up arms. I mean, sheep (!), one back-hander from Yeshua, and the whole lot o’ Pharisees and So-Sad-U-See’s woulda been flattened. But He held back. Even before the Roman governor sentenced Him to death, Jesus told him He could’ve summoned an entire army of buff, sword-wielding angels to come and cut down His enemies. Or at least call all His disciples to come and battle. But He chose to sacrifice His life so that His revolution would go on and spread throughout the earth. A Martyr. A Rebel Leader. A Combo of Che Guevara and Gandhi. A Deepak Chopra. An Oprah. A Desmond Tutu. But even better. 10,000 x better.
So the long and short of it was that I decided to dedicate my entire life to the Cause. To Jesus. To the Revolution.
This Mysterious God was calling me. Crap, I had nothing to lose. My parents had split up a couple years before. I was the only boy and my sisters played together, usually ignoring me. Plus I treated them bad. It was hard to make good friends in that place, in that culture. Teens often got caught up in marijuana smoking, or “toking” as we call it, drinking, “Boom-boom” with the “chicks”. We were into heavy metal and hard rock. AC/DC. Van Halen. Rush. Queen. Led Zeppelin. Jimi Hendrix. Rap hadn’t been invented yet. We had mass fights where we’d meet at the “gravel pit” and one dude in Dayton’s, the heavy cowboyish boot of those days, would kick the living shit out of another guy. Life was kinda rough back then. We had been raised on Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. Charles Bronson’s Death Wish. Stallone’s Rocky. Violence was the way, the truth and life. So was lust. My Dad had stacks and stacks of Playboy and Penthouse magazines under his bed. I inherited them when I was 11 years old.
So it was the right time, the right place, the right culture, for a miracle. Hell, I needed it. My body was strong and spry, but my spirit, my soul, was empty, thirsty.
And along can this Dude who could calm the storm, turn water into wine, command the attention of thousands upon thousands of destitute and desperate people. He could tell the Establishment to f* off. He taught a Higher Morality. He forgave the Slut, the Sell-out, the Murderer, the Scammer, even His own enemies who nailed His palms and ankles to a couple of rough pieces of wood, and hung Him up to die in the hot, Mediterranean sun.
This was a Man I could respect. Very different from the role models of my day: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jimmy Carter, Billy Joel, Bobby Orr, Farrah Fawcett, Richie Rich, the Hardy Boys, Evel Kneivel, Bon Scott, David Lee Roth, etc.
Here’s where He upped the ante: He basically said that if I follow Him, I could go to Heaven forever. I wouldn’t burn in Hell. That sounded attractive. My hard rock music of that time emphasised Hell a lot. A place of partying. A time of jubilation. But Jesus said it was “outer darkness”, somewhere where there was “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Didn’t sound like Hawaii, California or Mexico to me.
Plus, He said you could know God. That was great for me. I really was curious about who God was. I remember camping out in our back yard and sleeping on the grass, under a huge, star-lit sky. Every once in awhile I’d spot a “falling” star flitting across the heavens. Sheer beauty. And I knew that the Creator made it all. No one really told me. I just knew it. I was never tempted to become an atheist. I think me and the other kids all knew there was a God. We just didn’t know how to describe. And, above all, we had no idea how He fit into our every day lives. I mean, He’s way “out there”, and we’re way “down here” on Planet Earth. How could we bridge that gap? And didn’t those who claimed they knew God seem a bit kooky, eccentric, or rather boastful, assuming?
Finally, I read the Book of Acts, the New Testament book that followed the four Gospels. That sealed the deal for me. This was a non-stop road movie. An adrenaline rush. A PNE or Disneyland roller-coaster ride.
Acts seemed to me to be Religion on Steroids. A miracle here. A healing there. Challenging the ruling class, again. The message spreading. More people of every stripe and creed beginning to follow the Man from Nazareth. Man, pure excitement.
I wanted that. Even 1% of that was good enough for me. I wanted an Alternative to my culture. My boring, empty, hollow, lying, deceiving Western culture. Warmed-over Hollywood. Leftover Hippy Culture. Post-Vietnam War Bullshit. I wanted out. I wanted more. I was only 13 years old. How much could a 13 year old understand?
It was enough for me to be able to say “Yes”. Yes, that’s what I wanted. I was all for grabbing hold of this Jesus character and not letting Him go.
So I “repented”. I decided to be His dedicated follower. I didn’t really know what it mean, or where it would take me. But I wanted in.
That was 30 years ago. Eventually I went to church with friends. I got involved in the Youth Group. I read Evangelical books. I listened to 5.50 AM on the dial, KARI from Blaine, Washington, USA just across the border from Langley, BC, Canada, where I grew up. Man, talk about confused. The Bible taught me one set of principles, and all these Evangelical preachers and opinion-makers taught me a whole wide range of bizarre ideas. And the churches were as boring as Hell, but I forced myself to go since everyone there claimed to be heading in the same direction as me. So naive was I. What alternative did I have?
30 years later. I have abandoned the “Church”, but not Jesus / Yeshua. Not the one who called me. The one who changed my life.
I finally figured out that these Evangelicals weren’t who they claimed to be. They declare themselves to be followers and yet, to me, they seem to be the opposite of what Jesus was:
– they love war and violence, just like my culture of the 197os, except that it’s less obvious. In daily life, they appear to be peaceful folks. But you get an Evangelical President who says we have to attack the Muslims or the Vietnamese or the Russians, and look out! Rambo Jesus, here we come!
– they are extremely narrow and boring people. Honestly. I’d think after 30 years with them, I would have figured this out. There range of interests is not wide.
– They love money like everyone else. They buy stocks. They probably secretly buy Lotto tickets, but they won’t admit it. They accumulate and acquire and strive and gather and stretch out their hands for MOREMOREMORE. Just like everybody else. No difference. Except they say that “God” has “blessed them” for “being faithful”. And I guess that the Devil has blessed all the unbelievers for their faithfulness too, eh?
– Instead of being out to heal people, to really care about the spiritual, emotional, financial and health situation of others, like Jesus did, Evangelicals often don’t seem to give a damn. I mean, sometimes they do. But it’s certainly not consistent. If you go to their church, they’re warm to you. If you leave, bye-bye, no more contact. Out of sight, out of mind. This is family? Shit, I think Satan Worshippers would probably care more for me!
– Unlike Jesus, who challenged the Ruling Class, the Establishment, Evangelicals seem to be it’s strongest supporters. Whenever there is a war, Evangelicals will brush off the annals of their “Saint” Augustine and declare their new adventure to be a “Just War”. Shit, every war is “just” in their eyes. Why not? Their Evangelical President can do no wrong! I mean, gosh, he HEARS FROM GOD.
– That’s another thing. Whereas I have no doubt that Jesus heard from God, coz He was in constant communication, and He had a special relationship with the Father, the Creator of the universe, I really doubt that these Evangelicals “hear from God” as much as they say. Or even ever. “God told me to . . . “, “God is leading me to . . . “, “I feel a burden for . . . ” Looking at the lives of Christians, I have no doubt their “God” is leading them. Yes: the God of Money, the God of War, the God of Convenience, the God of MOREMOREMORE.
Sorry, this blog post isn’t meant to be a diatribe against Christians or churches, but I just wanted to illustrate how completely DIFFERENT the real Jesus is, in contrast with the belief system, practices and daily lives of His so-called followers.
Conclusion: they don’t really follow Jesus / Yeshua. They follow the figment of their imaginations.
You can find the real Jesus. Just pick up a New Testament of the Christian Bible. He’s there, enjoying life in his 3 year Road Movie, from the age of 30 to 33. Sure, He gets murdered in the end, but the ride is fun, fun, fun. And you learn something too. Like loving your neighbour. Like not discriminating against other ethnicities, the poor, prostitutes, tax collectors, soldiers, or even religious folks.
Then you find out Jesus resurrected from the grave on the third day after burial. He spent 40 days with His students, His disciples, and taught them about the Movement He wanted to establish. He called it “The Kingdom of God”. Then the Book of Acts followed. Another Road Movie. And what a ride it is!
That attracted me.
That still attracts me.
Can we have this life? Can we really follow this Jesus, this Yeshua? Can we really live in “The Kingdom of God” while we journey on this planet for 70+ years?
You won’t find Jesus in church, I can tell you this much.
But if you gather a group of friends, a bunch of seekers like yourself together, perhaps you can really follow Jesus together.
Just don’t call yourselves “Christians” or “Evangelicals” or “Church”. Stay away from them. They’ll only suck you into supporting their next war. Or their next wasted trip to Africa when they should be focusing on their own f*ed up community. Or joining their church people’s next Ponzi Scheme. Or listening to their pastor who knows as much about the real world as the 4 year old kid next door.
Just be real. Be honest. Be truthful. Be simple. Don’t screw around. Don’t go about trying to set up a new systematic theology, or world religion, or Reformation.
Just do the stuff. Walk the walk.
And join the Movement. The Movement of Jesus / Yeshua.
6:18 AM. 2 cups of Brazilian coffee later. And a lot of walnuts and Trail Mix. It was fun. Time to GOYA, I mean GOMA.
Questions or comments can be directed to me: dimitri.pravdin(*a*)mail.ru
PS – I’m not out to persecute Evangelicals or Christians or whomever. I’m just telling you my perspective after 30 years of church. I totally respect the fact that you’d want to continue with the “Body of Christ” as you call it. But I don’t believe this is His true Body. As I have explained in other posts, no one who murders has eternal life in him, as it is written in 1 John. Look it up. Supporting the Iraq War, the Afghan War, the ongoing Israeli genocide against Palestinians, the war on indigenous peoples (“Indians”, as you call them), the video games, the violent movies, capital punishment, torture of prisoners, the right to bear arms. Shit, you’re the least peaceful people on the planet. You’ll go down in history as warmongers, violence-lovers. As well as Money Lovers. Who supports capitalism, the Right, the Republicans, the Conservatives in Canada, the corporations, more than Evangelicals. And the Evangelical “Left” is small, beleaguered and ineffective. And, like Tony Campolo, you still justify imperialism. Read his Letter to a Young Evangelical. Pure bullshit. The Evangelical Left is the same as the Right, only “tweaked”. You people don’t have the guts to leave, to abandon your cherished sacred assemblies, your denominations, your Evangelical culture. That’s because it’s all you know.
Let me tell you, Evangelicals, you have not seen 1% of the life of the Jesus-follower that is possible for you. You are so stuck in your American culture that you can’t see outside your bloody fish bowl.
Don’t worry, with another 4 years of Obama, the Corporate Sell-out, no different than the Romney Sell-out, mind you, and the coming collapse of your economy and military, you’ll be ready for a new brand of Biblical faith. And Canadians, once your boy Stephen Harper is exposed as the Fraudster and Gangster he is, you’ll all be sorry you supported him, and you’ll be looking for answers. Answers as to why Evangelicals in particular are so easily sucked in to every new movement, fad, politician, technology, and war.
Your gods have failed you, Evangelicals. Mark my words. I’m not a prophet, but I’m prophetic.
Turn to the true blue Jesus / Yeshua. He’ll never disappoint you.