Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Jesus: His Life after Death": glossy timeline book from Newsweek on supermarket checkouts

I picked up a Special Newsweek Edition of “Jesus: His Life after Death”, by Topix Media Lab, Johnna Rizzo and James Ellis as principle editors, 96 pages, glossy paper – at a Harris Teeter checkout.
Of course, the edition reminds me of the books of my childhood, but I don’t present it here to proselytize. There are (despite the title) three heavily illustrated chapters: “The Way and the Life”, “The Passion”, and “He Is Risen”. There is a particularly detailed timeline chart on pp 10-11.
I can imagine if I were a young adult male living at that time, with a chance to “follow Him”.  We didn’t have access to modern science yet.  We wouldn’t for another 1900 years or so. “Truth” was indeed connected to scriptures and passed down through chains or religious (or secular political) authority.  There was nothing else, other than order. It almost sounds like the mentality of some of the Islamic world today, or of Vladimir Putin for that matter.
Jesus is often presented as a physically fit and attractive young white male (even by modern “gay” standards).  He might have been a few years older (if born around 4 BC), but still his demeanor and appearance would have invited the “upward affiliation” process that I have often talked about.  It seems to be ironic to say that it would be virtuous to “drop everything”, give everything away to the poor (like the Rich Young Ruler) and “follow me”.
In fact, earlier in my adult life (especially before my “second coming” in 1973, as I describe in my DADT-1 book) clinging to people was a big deal.  I suspect that some people who knew me during that period could attest to this.  So the “follow me” has always sounded like a moral paradox.
But the parables and stories all seem to point to some kind of personal “right-sizing” (or “point of humility”) as a moral necessity, not so much out of scripture as out of logic – if all human life is to be valued.  There is emphasis on finding interactions with others who don’t seem “intact” (read privately, “worthy”) to be a valuable experience.
The political trial is grotesque (with many modern history parallels with dictators) as is the crucifixion. The disciples may have been “armed” when they went to the Garden – again, that tracks to some modern issues.  The events surrounding the body and the resurrection Sunday morning, and the days that followed, would have seemed miraculous to anyone wired like me living through that time. They would have seemed like the equivalent of an alien landing today.
There is something else about the actual “Life” of Jesus – all the miracles.  In the CWTV (WB) series “Smallville”, that ran for ten years, we called them “powers”.  In fact, once he got away from red kryptonite, the teenage Clark Kent came across as almost Christlike in many episodes (especially in the earlier years, when Christopher Reeve appeared).  Yet, he was a teenager, capable of enjoying adulation, too, and exploiting attention for his own purposes.  I thought it interesting that Jack Andraka mentios the idea near the end of his book (previous review) when he mentions telekinesis (short of self-teleportation) and speculates as to a base in physics.  Do these things really happen sometime? Is there some connection between DC Comics and the Gospels?  Remember, the Temptations were about turning down the "opportunity" to misuse "powers" for one's own selfish purposes. No, normally you can't cheat the time arrow of physics, in our universe. (Vladimir Putin doesn't believe that.) 
Although Stephen Hawking might disagree with this, I think that modern cosmology, with quantum mechanics, branes, and string theory actually support the idea of an afterlife, that consciousness precedes everything else in our universe, and we are part of continual consciousness.  Maybe the Monroe Institute, tucked away in the mountains near Charlottesville, VA, is on to something. 

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