Is it possible for Christianity to exist without the notion of God/Yahweh? Does Christianity require the existence of a deity? Certainly the doctrine of the ‘Holy Trinity’ is predicated on the notion that God exists and was made physically manifest in Jesus of Nazareth, psychologically or “spiritually” in the ‘Holy Spirit’/’Holy Ghost’, and remains nebulous as ‘God the Father’, but it is necessary to point out that this dogma was a much later addition to the teachings of the early church and certainly those of Jesus of Nazareth.
Can one have a Jesus without a God? The answer is simply, yes. Denying or disregarding the question of Jesus’ divine character does nothing to undermine the power and meaning of his words, particularly if we accept the following quotation’s author who argues that by being true to our most genuine selves, then we are being true to God. It is not a difficult leap to realize that God is not a power outside of us, but is in fact manifest in each of us. But God is not some deity or power, it is merely the goodness within us which craves honesty and openness from others and from ourselves.
Though the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth imply that through grace God forgives and saves, the notion that God dispenses love unconditionally and equitably is a lie. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses, of David — this same god is not the merciful, peace-loving deity which Jesus makes him out to be. In point of fact, the distinction between God (“the Father”) and Jesus is so stark that one is left to wonder if the act of being made mortally manifest changed the supernatural entity to be more merciful and more understanding than the temperamental, crazy-ex-level jealous God of the Old Testament. No wonder Ridley Scott thought to portray the Hebrew God as an insidious preteen who taunts the reticent Moses. Continue reading “Pt.1: Yahweh holds a grudge…”
Even in the darkest moments of the human condition, the desire for freedom and self-determination has never been extinguished. Even in societies which generation after generation kept others in bondage, time has preserved for us the aspirations of slaves seeking liberty and greater control over their fate. Roman society was particularly generous, granting the children of freedmen the full rights of citizenship, an especially coveted status that would enable the numerous descendants of freedmen to enter public life and eventually rise to positions of influence among the highest authorities in the Empire.
Individuals who today state that many slaves were “better off” in their servitude and even that they preferred bondage are sadly deluded, ignoring the evidence of history — and of their own eyes. Human trafficking in the present is simply the latest way of referring to the ongoing slave trade, one which may at times mirror low-wage employment. But any form of compulsive, imposed dependence is itself a form of oppression, and one which unwillingly restricts self-determination is nothing less than slavery. Indentured servitude is another such polite way of expressing the same basic idea, though in this case the promise of freedom is held out as motivation, like a carrot on a stick, but much like the cartoon analogy, the prize is all too often an illusion. Some see this reality, others do not or choose to ignore it, but all work towards a single common goal. Unlike most common goals, however, this particular goal is shared in name only, for despite the fact they all seek the same end-state, they work towards it individually rather than collectively.
The story of Eden contained in the Biblical books of Genesis and Ezekiel — and its variations in other ancient literature, such as that in the Epic of Gilgamesh — reflects the flight of early nomadic peoples from the “wet Sahara” some 5,000 years ago. Continue reading “Desert of Eden”
In the late 2nd and early 1st centuries BCE, the Roman army underwent major reforms which changed both its organizational structure and ideological orientation. Foremost among these was the recruitment of men from among the capite censi, a class of landless urban peasants who had previously been exempted from military service. Although there is evidence to suggest that capite censi — like slaves — had previously been enrolled as soldiers in the army, it has become something nearing scripture to see the year 107 BCE as a watershed moment. In that year, Marius, having experienced difficulty filling the ranks of the army bound to fight Jugurtha, admitted members of the capite censi. It is as that moment, the narrative continues, that the aspirations of the peasant-soldiery for land first began to hold the state hostage to their demands in a cycle that would bring about the series of disastrous civil wars which ultimately undid the republic. Continue reading “Review of ‘The Army in the Roman Revolution’ by Arthur Keaveney (2007)”