For Christians, the search for the real Jesus can be a challenging pursuit, given the two millennia of doctrine, dogma and distortion that have built up around his teachings. For some followers, the key has been to strip away those traditions and find a purer historical understanding, says Rev. Howard Bess.
The failure of many mainstream Christian churches to embrace social movements of recent decades – from gay rights to women’s equality to peace activism – has alienated young people who see the contradictions with Jesus’s teachings of tolerance. Is it too late for established churches, asks Rev. Howard Bess.
In life, Martin Luther King Jr. was often demeaned for his radical vision of peace and justice – and not just by crude racists and warmongers but by well-spoken members of the elite. Then, in death, King became a national icon but with his sharpest criticisms dulled down or forgotten, writes Gary G. Kohls.
Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth and the immediate events around his crucifixion, but less attention is given to the clearest sign of his political activism, his overturning of the money-changing tables at the Temple in Jerusalem, the likeliest reason for his execution, as Mark Manolopoulos explains.
Some Christian churches observe a near-month-long preparation for Christmas known as the Advent season, but its origins are not Bible-based and not well understood. Advent traces back to the Middle Ages when some Christians thought Jesus’s return was imminent, explains Rev. Howard Bess.
The prevailing view on Fox News is that everyone in America, regardless of his or her religious beliefs, must join in the lavish and lengthy celebration of the birth of Jesus – or be accused of warring on Christmas. But the real assault on Jesus’s teaching comes from gross materialism, says Lawrence S. Wittner.
From the Archive: In the month-long (or even longer) “Christmas season,” there is much faux outrage from Fox News and the Right about a “war on Christmas,” even as public places are adorned with Christmas decorations and Christmas music fills the air, as Robert Parry noted in 2005.
An irony of modern politics is that many conservative Americans view themselves as devout believers in the Bible yet they ascribe to right-wing, dog-eat-dog economic theories that Jesus and other Biblical figures would condemn. The contradiction has pushed Biblical economics out of mainstream debate, says Rev. Howard Bess.
From the Archive: Christian conservatives are cheering Mitt Romney’s attack on a 14-year-old comment by Barack Obama endorsing a limited “redistribution” of wealth, but they ignore that Jesus called for a far more radical wealth redistribution – and it may have led to his crucifixion, as Rev. Howard Bess wrote in 2011.
Popular psychology, in discussing self-love, sometimes references Jesus’s edict to “love your neighbor as yourself,” noting that you can’t love others unless you love yourself. But Rev. Howard Bess sees that logic as missing what Jesus meant when he talked about love.