Tag Archive for Jesus

Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution

Jesus, driving the money-changers from the Temple, in a painting by El Greco.

From the Archive: Over the centuries as Christianity bent to the interests of the rich and powerful, the story of Jesus’s fateful week in Jerusalem was reshaped to minimize its pivotal event, overturning the Temple’s money tables, a challenge to religious and political power, says Rev. Howard Bess.

MLK and the Curse of ‘Moderation’

A mug shot photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

When Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail to focus national attention on the injustice of segregation, he was stung by criticism from Christian clergy who feared upsetting the status quo and urged “moderation,” prompting his historic rejoinder from the Birmingham jail, as Rev. Howard Bess recalls.

The Weapons of the Poor

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

Many on the American Right define themselves as Christians and angrily defend the religion’s symbols and myths, but this Christian Right ignores a core reality about Jesus, that he spoke to and for the poor, decried the rich, and demanded social justice for all, as Rev. Howard Bess recounts.

Making Nelson Mandela ‘Safe’

White South African leader Frederik deKlerk shaking hands with Nelson Mandela in 1992. (Copyright photo by World Economic Forum -- www.weforum.org)

The great tragedy of Nelson Mandela’s life was that his revolution only passed political power to South Africa’s black majority, not economic power, which remained in the hands of the old white ruling classes, both domestic and global. That is a reality now lost, writes Gary G. Kohls.

Mandela, MLK and Jesus

Nelson Mandela.

The death of Nelson Mandela offers Christians a chance to reflect on the great protest leader at the center of their religion, the historical Jesus, with his anger at ostentatious wealth and his disdain for social inequality, as Rev. Howard Bess reflects.

Does Christmas Obscure Jesus?

Jesus of Nazareth delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted by artist Carl Bloch.

The Christmas season celebrates the regal myth of Jesus – his supposedly miraculous birth and royal lineage as a king of kings – but that loses sight of the historical Jesus and his revolutionary message of justice for the poor and powerless, as Rev. Howard Bess reflects.

Warring Over the ‘War on Christmas’

The 2012 National Christmas Tree with the White House in the background. (U.S. Government photo)

Despite America’s over-the-top, month-long celebration of baby Jesus – topped off with a government holiday ignoring the Constitution’s separation of church and state – Fox News and the Right have conjured up a “war on Christmas,” now as much a tradition as eggnog, Nat Parry notes.

Jesus’s Idea of God’s Kingdom ‘on Earth’

From the gospel accounts, Jesus was a fierce critic of the economic injustices of his day, demanding – within his Jewish tradition – a radical redistribution of wealth and a recommitment to Israelite teachings about caring for one another. That was his point about God’s kingdom “on earth,” writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Was Jesus a Zealot?

The turning point of Jesus’s fateful week in Jerusalem was his protest at the Temple, which the Jewish priests saw as a challenge to their authority and which led to his trial and execution. But was this disruption violent or non-violent, a question posed by Reza Aslan in Zealot, a book reviewed by Rev. Howard Bess.

Would Jesus Love Ayn Rand Economics?

Many on the American Right say they’re strong Christians, but have bought into Ayn Rand economics which disdains government help for the poor and needy. Other Christians, like Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, see Jesus’s teachings enshrined in the Constitution’s commitment to the common good, writes Rev. Howard Bess.