Sunday, January 25th
Five O’clock in the Evening
Location: 2311 Walnut Blvd., Walnut Creek
Je Suis Jésus
Blasphemy and Satire in the Teachings of a Galilean Sage
Christ before the High Priest,
Gerrit van Honthorst (1617)
“You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death.” Mark 14.64
Radical religious extremists with a distorted view of their faith commit horrific acts of terror and violence; executing those writers and cartoonists whom they regard as committing irreverent acts of blasphemy. The Western world reacts with a sense of outrage and defiance, marching through the streets of Paris, chanting “Je Suis Charlie,” in defense of freedom of speech, and on behalf of the publication’s name. At the same time, strict defamation and privacy laws in France place limits on certain forms of otherwise free expression.
While a clear distinction can be drawn between the use of words and the actions they may incite, what constitutes the differences between hate speech and freedom of expression, or even religious belief? What might one consider merely irreverent on the one hand? Or on the other hand, might violate prevailing laws (religious or secular), or found to be blasphemous and even deserving of punishment?
In the Jewish faith, the religiously observant is forbidden from even pronouncing the name of their god, let alone seeing the face of the divine. And in the Christian gospels, Jesus’ antagonists condemn the Galilean peasant preacher’s words and actions as blasphemous because he violates the letter of the law. Moreover, he continuously breaks the rules, and makes use of political satire in his depictions of the reign of god; until the mounting evidence is sufficient to condemn the offender.
How might we sort it all out with some deeper, objective insight? This next Pathways gathering will explore these thoughts and ideas. Join us!
Always a free event, open to everyone. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newcomers always welcome. The 2015 Calendar of Gatherings is here.
Taking the “Christ” Out of Christmas
and Celebrating the Holy Nativity of Jesus
Adoration” by G. Fabriano – Tempera on panel, 1453
“Every male that opens the womb is to be considered holy to the lord.” Luke 2:22
The challenge for a progressive Christian who has moved beyond such notions as virgin births and gods disguised in human form come to save us from ourselves is to remember that it is as much a historical development, as it is a theological one. That is, the attribution of a “Christ” title accorded a very human Jesus constitutes the imaginations — if not machinations — of an early Church; consisting of very human, second-generation followers of a 1st century Galilean peasant sage and itinerant preacher. And who all but drowned out the authentic voice of the one who was once born and dwelt among humankind.
Such an assertion is simply based on the fact the historical Jesus never self-identified as the “anointed one,” the Christ.
As such, if one were to remove the Christ-title from the various birth narratives of those secondary traditions of this religious movement, what would remain of the “Christmas story” that has become as prevalently assumed, as it has been unexamined? If we took the Christ out of Christmas, what might remain of that still, small voice?
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.
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 Director and President 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.