Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas time, so let's look at the story of Jesus again.

The story is, in many ways a classic heroic tale. A baby is born, and then it all leads to the epic heroic self sacrifice. It's the story structure that a thousand tales follow, in fact, probably a lot more.

On it's own, under different context, it's amazing. The basic structure has been tweaked and reworked into amazing stuff, but the version in the bible just seems to fall short for me, and I could never put my finger on why.

Maybe I just didn't give it much thought, but from a narrative sense, there are a few thing wrong.

Looking at things out of context though, loses some stuff. First we have to look at the world Jesus was born into. An arguably savage world, chaotic. A world of doomed people in need of a savior. This is important, There can’t be a savior without people who need to be saved? It’s like swooping down and opening a door for someone who didn’t need to go that way. If a selfless act doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s not really all that noteworthy. Imagine if, the story of Jesus was exactly the same, except his death just made glass slightly less buoyant or something. Every other detail is the same, but the result is glass sinks just a bit faster in the water. So the reason and results are important.

I’m sure you just now thought “That’s stupid, why would Jesus have to DIE to make glass less buoyant?  Who wants it less buoyant anyway? God? This is all God’s playground right? Why couldn’t God just make the glass as buoyant as he wanted to right from the start?

And there’s the rub.

In the story, Jesus, is the son of GOD, the all power creator of everything. He’s the guy that set up the dominos AND decides when to knock them down. He is said to be all knowing, all loving, all powerful, and every other positive attribute taken to the absolute extreme. Nothing is impossible to God. Nothing requires any effort for God. God can do what he wants with absolutely no restrictions. He has no limitations. He suffers no consequences. He’s above the law, no one can hold him accountable for anything he does.
So, if you look at the story as, the son of god rebelling against his all-powerful, undefeatable, maximum powerful father, then wow does the story get better. Before Jesus, God tossed fireballs and plagues and all sorts of nasty stuff at humans. He empowered armies to the point of invincibility, and sent them against people he didn’t like. He made people sacrifice things to him.

You could even take a step back and just look at the world he created. For one example, he had unlimited options, but he created hunger and thirst. Just hunger alone is perplexing.  Water, at least we can just walk to a stream or river or well or something, and drink without hurting anything. Hunger though, you have to kill to eat, or you starve and die. Just think about that for a second. God isn’t said to need to eat. Why would he? What would happen if he didn’t? I don’t think anyone could imagine the Yahweh starving to death. Or being too hot, or cold, or drowning, or falling to his death, or being murdered so something could eat him.
So we step back and look. The world was specifically designed with all these attributes.
Then God decides to have a human kid.

Ok, I can sort of see that, he wants to see what it’s like to be human, so he pops himself into a body and walks around talking to people. That alone would be a fine enough story, God is born does some cool stuff, then says his goodbye and that he’ll be back in a bit.

We need a dramatic, tragic climax to the story though.  So let’s have Jesus get killed. Why? Uh, to save humans of course! It’s the ultimate sacrifice, if you don’t think about it too hard.

So the story is said that Jesus was born fulfilling all sorts of prophesies. It’s not enough for him to just walk around and chill and say some cool stuff, he has to accomplish something huge.

But it was just theatrics. Jesus’ death didn’t do anything that God couldn’t have done effortlessly. It wasn’t needed. An extra 50 or 60 years of Jesus’ life would have accomplished so much more in my view, to let him experience a full life, have a family and a life and experience the perils of old age. Tell so many more stories and help more people.

Or maybe he was just killed, and it wasn’t the “plan”?

I suppose I should take another step back and ponder a bit about the “other side of the coin”. The forces of evil! The great “war” between heaven and hell and we’re just caught in the middle! I mean just look at the Diablo games, it’s awesome!

If you remember that it isn’t really a war. It’s the devil running around throwing pebbles at God’s adamantium wall. It isn’t a fair fight, in the story the only thing really at risk is individual humans. It’s like, God is just sitting there, letting this “evil” devil run around. It’s an extreme case of delayed sentencing. What’s with that anyway? “Yeah devil, you’re going to hell to suffer forever, eventually. Until then though just feel free to run around and do whatever you want, bring as many of the humans down with you as you can, what do I care? It’s their fault for not loving or believing in me anyway, they deserve to be punished! None of this makes sense, at all.

The devil is in heaven, before humans are even around, and he gets pissed at God, and stages a revolt or something. 1/3 of the angels join up with Satan, which must mean the angels were stupid, or Satan had some damn legitimate concerns. Any revolutionary that can get one friggin third of the population to rise up against an ALL POWERFUL foe, HAS to have some legitimate concerns. Just think about that, they knew they wouldn’t be able to win from the start, but still, almost half of Gods angels turned against him. Makes you wonder what they knew that you don’t, eh?

So, there’s a war, God versus the Devil, and well, you can’t even call it a war. More like a desperate revolution, with a foregone conclusion.

Then after all this, god makes people, and wants to keep us stupid. The devil comes and, does the nicest thing anyone has ever done, he gives us free will. True free will. The ability to make informed decisions and such. He gives us knowledge, so we can decide for ourselves what we think of God. So we don’t have to blindly call him good because we can’t tell the difference. So we don’t just have to take God’s word for it.
God gets mad at all this though,  and starts to show us exactly why 1/3 of his angels had a problem with him. He demands worship and sacrifice. He, well, he behaves like a being that can do anything it wants. When people try to build the tower to what they think is heaven, God scrambles their brains and makes everyone speak different languages. (But with a little KNOWLEDGE we can overcome that curse and speak to each other, thanks again Satan!) Then God just gets more and more pissed, turning people into salt and firebombing cities. Before just drowning everything but a boatload of people.

The world is in pretty damn bad shape.

Ok so fast forward back to Jesus’ birth, keeping in mind all the players. There’s the humans, who are being assaulted by both God, and the Devils guys, in sort of a tug of war, with us always in the middle.
Then God decides to put himself in a human body, and things have the potential to get very interesting. They really don’t, but the possibilities are fantastic. Jesus siding with his all-powerful father to “save us” from a punishment that most of us are going to get subjected to anyway, doesn’t seem all that interesting. What would have been interesting is if Jesus sided with the devil to rebel against his father, and took another 1/3 of the angels with him in the process. Now this wouldn’t exactly make the fight fair, Jesus and the devil and all the angels and all the humans and bears and aliens, still wouldn’t stand a chance against God. It’s a futile resistance, and it always has been.

The thing is, THAT would have been a real sacrifice. That would have made the story powerful. Jesus siding with US, the little guys against God. Jesus walking around, being something of a Public Relations guy for his dad, then going home to sit on his throne, where’s the sacrifice? He got a few minutes of torture, so that the one who’s calling all the shots could slightly modify things. That’s boring and pointless.
There’s a lot of aspects to the story that are confusing.

It’s actually unfortunate in a way that it isn’t real, I’d be curious to what’s really going on. “What was it that really caused the angel revolt?” is the big one for me. I don’t buy the “Well the devil wanted to be better than God” excuse. Sure that could explain one bad apple. But how do you explain 1/3 of the angels picking Satan over God? There must have been something. It’s actually not too hard to guess though, God is a dick tyrant. He sent his “son” (who is really him?) down to walk around and die, accomplishing nothing that couldn’t have just been done without the theatrics.

So yeah, the story doesn’t make sense, and it would have been a lot better if Jesus made an actual sacrifice, renouncing his throne and really fighting for the little guy, instead of just, doing nothing and siding with his all-powerful father/self.

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