Sunday, March 23
Five O’clock in the Evening
Series on the Teachings of a Galilean Sage: The Sermon on the Mount, PART III
Jesus and the Ultimate “Selfie”
An Inward Journey to Examine the Externals of Economic Justice, Earthly Possessions and a Little Charity
The Arizona governor vetoes a state assembly bill that would have allowed businesses — based on religious convictions — to refuse service to members of the LGBT community. Some would argue she did not do so on any moral or ethical grounds; but rather under pressure from the larger business community who – based on public opinion polling — feared such a law would hurt profits by offending a larger consumer base.
The only thing that beats religiously-driven bigotry, I thought to myself, is a threat to the profit margin. But is that just human nature, or a distortion of our true self?
Pathways began a series on the Jesus Ethic found in that compilation of teachings known as the Sermon on the Mount (Mt.5-7) with the so-called beatitudes, originally meant to convey comfort and reassurance to those who found themselves on the margins of society and at the very bottom of the economic system. The constitute those “invisibles,” which societies typically prefer to remain out of sight and out of mind.
Last time we explored just how deviant this message was, with the non-sensical invitation to “turn the other cheek,” and “love one’s enemies.” (see Commentary summary at right.)
In our next gathering we’ll proceed to that portion of the Sermon on the Mount that noticeably returns to Jesus’ instructions on matters of economic justice, charity and earthly possessions. Rather than simply dealing with externals, we’ll consider how it is, in fact, an introspective journey; and requires more depth perception than the average “Selfie.”
Join us as we explore this different path.
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Jesus: The Ethical Teaching of a Social Deviant
Part II in a Series on the Teachings of a Galilean Sage: The Sermon on the Mount
“Sermon on the Mount” – Hungarian artist Kalroly Ferenczy, Budapest, 1896
“Don’t react violently.” “Turn the other cheek.” And, “Love your enemies.” - Matthew 5:39,44
The social world order seems to erupt in chaos and violence on a regular basis these days. Regimes hold on to political power at all costs, while those who are more often than not economically oppressed demonstrate and confront government forces with little more than their willingness to stand in opposition.
If sounds like pure political commentary, consider this: The socio-political landscape in first century Palestine, CE, wasn’t much different. The practical means by which the imbalance of power was wielded by some over others may have been rather primitive by today’s technological standards; but the end game was the same.
The itinerant Jewish peasant teacher and sage who would long be remembered as uttering such impractical non-sense as “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy,” was the same historical figure that was executed as an insurrectionist, not a “resurrectionist.” As I’ve put it bluntly elsewhere, Jesus didn’t die for our sins, but because of them.
But the historical Jesus’s message deviated so radically from the “you have heard it said, but I say to you” literary device employed that it constituted a world view that did not simply turn everything upside down; but attempted to right what becomes a distorted “default” assumption of human nature that too easily concedes it is only human instinct to regard ourselves as prejudicial and self-centered creeps.
Jesus’ teachings to “turn the other cheek” and “love one’s enemies” is an invitation to an inward journey of the self; and a call to reclaim our true human nature.
You can read this latest commentary Here.
In the last four decades, John Bennison has been a teacher, preacher, lecturer, trainer, carpenter, coffin builder, counselor, spiritual advisor, ethicist, writer and lyricist, musician and entertainer, assembly-line union worker, small business entrepreneur, residential real estate specialist, corporate cog and executive director of a faith-based non-profit organization.
He’s authored eight publications on faith and values, and as an ordained minister served as a parish pastor over 25 years. He earned his Doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, as well as his BA degree in philosophy and religion from Lake Forest College.
Throughout his career he has helped groups, as well as individuals, discover how to both express and embrace those values they hold most deeply in their own lives (www.wordsnwayscommunications.com).
John contributes his leadership experience as Executive Director and Lead Teacher at Pathways, as he writes the Words & Ways commentaries and blogs on The Christian Progressive, engaging others everywhere in meaningful dialogue. He also volunteers as Acting Director of the Mountain Shadow Film Society.
Meanwhile, John also continues to provide professional client services to buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Bay Area area market (www.imaginecominghome.com).
Having raised two daughters, he resides with his spouse and golden retriever in Walnut Creek, California.