While some want to keep Christ in Christmas, others desperately want to keep Christ in America.
Oh for Christ’s sake! We are not a Christian nation.
Well, except maybe at Christmas when it is hard to avoid the 24/7 onslaught of Christmas commercials, creches, and lavish decorations, making it feel like a national holiday.
Even Alexa seems determined to pull me into the Christain holiday cheer.
For the past week, at precisely 4:30, Alexa has mysteriously been playing Christmas music totally unprovoked. I can’t say that I mind it, but it’s a bit pushy since she’s a guest in a Jewish home and never once asked.
One Nation Under God
But Christians aside, many Republicans support declaring the U.S.A. a Christian Nation.
Marjorie Taylor Green the Georgia hardliner Congresswoman and a proud Christian feels they should be the party of Christian Nationalism. If she had her way, the GOP would no longer be the party of Lincoln but Jesus.
They have corrupted faith and fractured a nation,
The rise in Christian Nationalism- the belief that the U.S. was founded as a white Christian nation and that there is no separation between church and state -is an alarming one.
There is however a real separation of reality from facts.
Who could forget Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s insistent claim that not only had God created this nation, He wrote the Constitution too, thus sealing the deal that we are a Christian Nation, making separation of church and state a moot point.
The religious right love to rewrite history.
A Leap of Faith
It follows then that they continue to reshape Jesus in their image, transforming the peace-loving compassionate Jew into a war-loving, wealthy Republican preaching selfishness and right-wing capitalism.
They don’t just want to put Christ back in Christmas this holiday, they want to put him back in the USA where he belongs.
In keeping with the right-wing Christian’s attempt to recreate a world that never existed, let’s take a leap of faith.
If God created this nation doesn’t it makes sense that his only son be born here?
What if Jesus was really an all-American boy?
The Boyhood Of Jesus
An earlier generation of Americans were presented with one such fantastical notion in a series of charming paintings that ran in a Christmas issue of Life Magazine in 1938 depicting the boyhood of Jesus as if he were born and raised in New England.
The beautifully rendered paintings painted in the style of illuminated manuscripts were the work of Lauren Ford a devout artist who wanted to bring the teaching of Jesus to the modern world.
In the familiar setting of her farm in Bethlehem Connecticut among barns and silos, pumps and rails fences she depicts the birth of Christ.
By painting the Holy family as if they were country neighbors, Miss Ford followed in the traditions of the great Renaissance artists who also painted the son of God and His followers as if he lived in their own towns and times. Her paintings are supplemented by texts from Mathew and Luke.
“Far from sacrificing any of its majesty,” Life explained to the reader, “Ford has brought new truth and universality to the immortal story.”
These eight paintings were published in a children’s picture book called “The Ageless Story” that Lauren Ford wrote. Printed in 1939 by Dodd Mead and Company it won the Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 as the most distinguished American picture book for children that year.
Visually transforming the brown-skinned Middle Eastern Jew into a white-skinned blue-eyed blonde Yankee, Jesus’s re-imagined childhood is straight out of a Currier and Ives print.
Of course, there is no mention that if Jesus was an American, he was an American Jew.
A few years later in its Christmas issue of 1944 Life featured a portfolio of Laurens Ford’s religious paintings and said of her art:
“Once in every generation of painters ever since the first story of Christ was told in pictures one artist has emerged who can tell the ancient story better than any contemporary. Today in the U.S. Lauren Ford is such a painter.”
“Portraying Christ as if He were born and raised in New England,” the article explains, “a devout artist proves that his life is timeless and universal.”
Can we save the savior from Christian nationalism? Rejecting Christian Nationalism is exactly what Jesus would do.
Indeed, Jesus’s message of sympathy to the poor, enmity to the rich, and love for humanity is more timely than ever.
And one needn’t be a Christian to have that faith.
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Copyright (©) 2022 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
Sally, there is a quote I heard many years ago that has been incorrectly attributed to Sinclair Lewis that says “When facism comes to American it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Quote Investigator found the possible origin of the quote of this quote dating back to 1923.
“In 1923 Lonnie Jackson, mayor of Central City, Kentucky and president of District No. 23 of the United Mine Workers of America described the Ku Klux Klan using a matching phrase:
‘The Ku Klux Klan comes wrapped in the American flag, as it were, advocating the American principles openly, with a Bible in its hand, and the very next day they are passing their neighbors with a mask over their faces. My conception of the fundamental principles of Americanism is that a man should have nothing to be ashamed of.'”
As a Christian, I firmly recognize that we have a separation of church and state. I also find the inclusion of the illicit acting former president in the picture with Jesus offensive, as if Trump is an equal paragon, I must be reading from a different bible. Even though I love John Wayne movies, why he is in the picture brandishing a gun makes no sense either, especially with the guy on the other end preaching “turn the other cheek.”
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What would Christ have said about ‘Christians’ who, for example, seemingly unconditionally support Donald Trump, a kazillionaire who has done nothing that remotely resembles Christ-like conduct?
Though no pushover, Jesus fundamentally was about compassion and charity. Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty. He clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people — especially while so many others go hungry and homeless.
I’m talking about Jesus through his teachings and practices, not pragmatism, politics or conservative/liberal goals. Really, can anyone seriously imagine Jesus rolling his eyes at the likes of Trump and his grotesque ideology/extremism, and then sigh, “Oh well, I’m against everything the man stands for, but what can you do when you dislike even more some of what his political competition stands for”?
Christ’s teachings and practices epitomize so much of the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty; and he clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people — especially while so many others go hungry and homeless.
While many Christians have rejected Donald Trump and his politics (though mostly quietly), regardless of his tempting conservative politics and pro-life professions, there nonetheless remains a vocal and politically active ‘Christian’ element celebrating Trump conservatism.
Yet that blatant contradiction appears to take a muted back seat to Trump’s successful nominations of three conservative justices for the U.S. Supreme Court; and, from my understanding, he was strategically doing likewise with a number of lower courts. There also was his politically/diplomatically destabilizing (fire-stoking?) move of the U.S Embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Genuine Christians really need to loudly call out the denominations that abominably ardently support such men and non-Christlike causes.
One can imagine Jesus spinning in heaven at all of this disgrace.
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Both Wayne and Trump wrap(ped) themself in the flag yet neither volunteered nor served in the war of their generation, Both made an effort to avoid that service, as a matter of fact.
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Jesus the Jew born in ancient Palestine with three wise men from Persia, India and Egypt makes for a compelling story. When I was in high school I argued that Jesus was a Jew in a debate. I lost because saying such truths was not allowed in that Catholic School. Sally you hit so many nails on the head your article needs to shared everywhere possible. For me it is time to celebrate the first day of the Winter Solstice and wish you blessings from the Universe.
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I’m glad you enjoyed this post. That is so fascinating that you had to debate in HS whether Jesus was Jewish or not. He certainly could not have been a Christian. Was he Muslim, a Hindu?
I’m all for celebrating the first Day of Winter Solstice…for me that means we are one day closer to Spring!
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I read a social media comment stating that, “Christianity started moving away from the teachings of Jesus the moment he died.”
I feel that fairly accurately describes it, unfortunately. I also feel that institutional Christianity/Christians, i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth, INSIST upon creating their God’s nature in their own fallible and too-often angry, vengeful image — e.g. proclaiming via publicized protests that “God hates ______”, etcetera.
Often being the most vocal, they make very bad examples of Christ’s fundamental message, especially to the young and impressionable. This is why I openly critique those in public life who claim to be Christian yet behave nothing like Christ nor his basic teachings.
Many institutional ‘Christians’ may find inconvenient, if not plainly annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator. (Personally, I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, like to picture Jesus enjoying a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then. Imagine a Creator with a sense of humor!)
Quite ironically, some of the best humanitarians were/are atheists or agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings than too many institutional Christians (i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth); and, conversely, some of the worst human(e) beings are the most devout preachers/practitioners of institutional Christian theology.
Though no pushover, Jesus fundamentally was about compassion and charity. Therefore, Jesus may have been viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful, and sometimes even bloodthirsty, behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be.
I understand that Jesus’ nature and teachings left even John the Baptist, who believed in him as the savior, troubled by his apparently contradictory version of the Hebraic messiah, with which John had been raised. Perhaps most perplexing was the Biblical Jesus’ revolutionary teaching of non-violently offering the other cheek as the proper response to being physically assaulted by one’s enemy.
Jesus also most profoundly washed his disciples’ feet, the act clearly revealing that he took corporeal form to serve, which of course included saving. As such a hopeful example of the humility of the divine, Jesus joined humankind in our miseries, joys and everything in between.
Followers of Islam and Judaism generally believe, however, that Jesus did exist but was not a divine being [albeit Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet]. After all, how could any divine being place himself/itself down to the level of humans (and even lower, by some other standards)? How could any divine being NOT be a conqueror — far less allow himself to be publicly stripped naked, severely beaten and murdered in such a belittling manner?!
But, for me at least, all this makes Jesus even greater, not less divine.
He was/is meant to show to people that there really was/is hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — seeing hopelessness in a fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator requiring literal pain-filled penance/payment for Man’s sinful thus corrupted behavior. Fundamentally, that definitely includes resurrection.
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Thank you for your excellent and thoughtful explanation. Observing from the sidelines, it appears to me that Jesus has been erroneously hijacked by those who bear the least resemblance to a man filled with such deep compassion and kindness. Though Judaism does not recognize him as a messiah, we always recognize him as a profoundly important and wise spiritual leader.
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Very well written. Politics has weaponized the Lord as a means to secure their own selfish policies by saying “Think about what Christ wants.” Many of their stances are not biblical. They’ll take numerous scriptures and mold them into false teachings to push. This is why we must know the Bible for ourselves and find real teachers of the Way.
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