Jesus vs Christ

Wanted to share a Q & A from a student of mine who has particular interest in the "sociology of religion." My discussions with Oliver in class and online have always lead to more questions, a hallmark of a good student. What's your take?

Oliver J.P.: Also, I got one question that I want to ask from our religion chapter. Do you think Jesus was more on the spiritual side or religious side?

ARM 18: My understanding of the life, times and legacy of Jesus Christ is based on little formal research but I have had great experiences and discussions with some knowledgeable priests, practicing scholars of the Bible, fellow Episcopalians and my own faith ultimately.

Your question is interesting, spirituality vs religion; it could also be discussed as Jesus vs Christ...

Young Hov
This is the way I see it: the life of "Jesus" was that of Spirituality to the fullest; his spiritual principles were not a "when-it-suits-me" relative spirituality that, in general, Americans are most comfortable with. The "historical / factual" Jesus held an unwavering sense of justice and compassion in the face of tyranny and oppressive, exclusionary religious law. (Those times sound familiar, yes?) Jesus invited everyone to the table- outcasts, criminals, prostitutes, beseeching those in power to reconsider and repent as he declared that life on this plane has been created to be an equitable and loving Kingdom of God.

Salvation prevails from a
hanging cross with nails
"Christ" is the Religion of Jesus' life. Here the belief and faith in the account of Christ's resurrection after his death provides a profound understanding into the brutality of humankind, our utter inability to heed the word of God "made flesh" in Jesus; and, yet, within this tragedy is also our redemption and forgiveness in accordance to God despite our failings. Christ's resurrection forever atones for our sins.

From this "allegory" of Christ's crucifixion, the Christian faith is based. What unfolds over the next 2000 years is the practice of Jesus' Spiritual life as a Religion. And since fallible humans are involved, the Christian institution in various forms has had its share of profound atrocity (any act of violence in the "name of God") and triumphant success (any time two people or more are gathered in Jesus' name and perform a societal good- charity, shelter, inspiration, etc)

His holiness reigns supreme
over nearly everyone
In sum, I find the life of Jesus to be truly uplifting, a code of ethics we must strive to meet in order to best provide a sustainable life for all. While I am not nearly as familiar with their specifics, I believe the lives of Mohammad, Buddha, Dali Lama and others also reflect these values. As an institution, Christianity is prone to failure.

That doesn't mean I am abandoning organized religion but we must call out those who truly misuse the Lord's name in vain.  You see the "word of God" currently being abused by Republican presidential candidates; churches reluctant to open the doors to the homeless, hungry, angry and disenfranchised.  As I argue in class, spirituality has been reduced to what we "like" on Facebook; a "don't ask, don't tell" concept of religion that may render organized religion impotent in the face of calamitous social problems that must be confronted  this decade.

To quote KRS ONE: "I stand with God whether I'm paid or whether I'm cryin' broke / I like to ask these politicians would Jesus vote?"

 To sum up, I won't front, "Higher Level" had as much to influence my understanding of religion as Marx did. Peace to former Bard College professor Joel Kovel who encouraged me to present this song as topic for debate in his "History and Spirit" class circa 1995.  It is from work in that class, I have always kept my third eye open to the "spiritual nature" of institutions and history rather than reducing our understanding of the world only to quantifiable matter.

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