Sunday, November 20, 2011

Was Emma Goldman the Second Coming of Christ? (July 6, 2008)

Current mood: inspired

I think one of my biggest quarrels with the Christians who are waiting for Jesus Christ to make a second appearance is that I do not think any one of them would recognize the Savior's appearance if it happened right in front of them, as happened before (Luke 24:16). Are they really expecting a swath of angelic rays, a chorus of angels, a hail of trumpets, and a guy wearing a white robe?

My own hunch is that Jesus Christ has indeed come back many times, each time making some marvelous things happen, but never recognized properly as Himself. In trying and failing to be recognized as such, after 20 centuries, He now takes other forms. Indeed, 2000 years ago the form He took was as a carpenter's son, a quite common form for that age. Who's to say that today the form would be all that different? Who's to say His divine spirit would even be constrained to a male form?

What would Jesus do, really? How would He make Himself known? Would anyone take seriously someone in robes, accompanied by a chorus, a brass band and a light show, declaring himself to be their Savior? What would He have to do to be believed? Point his finger at a rock to disintegrate it with a bolt of lightning? Sorry, people, this is Our Savior we are talking about here, not the Norse god Thor. No, He wouldn't waste His time on establishing credibility. He would just get to work. Once you accept that, the following gets a lot easier to understand.

I choose to believe something a little different, and that difference is not in disharmony with Scripture. First, though, a little framing. Listen to the song "Elvis Is Everywhere", by Skid Roper and Mojo Nixon. No, I am not saying that Elvis is Jesus, nor vice versa, but the song does have one little nugget of thought that matters:

Elvis is everywhere
Elvis is everything
Elvis is everybody
Elvis is still the King
Man oh man
What I want you to see
Is that the big E's inside
Of you and me

Replace "Elvis" with "Jesus" and you essentially have Scripture.

The way I see it, Jesus has appeared on Earth and is always appearing on Earth, because we all have a little Jesus in us, except for the occasional evil anti-Jesus and those from whom Jesus is trying to get out. That said, there have been a few over the years in which Jesus's spirit issued forth more than from some others.

Remember first and most, that the religion of Jesus followers have added one hell of a lot of religious baggage to the story and message and (dare I say it) legend of Jesus of Nazareth, over 200 decades. To understand what Jesus might do now, you have to see what Jesus did then, in the context of what life was like then, but without 2000 years of religious blath -- um, interpretation.

"Jesus was an anarchist. All good men are anarchists." So said Elbert Hubbard about 100 years ago. Let's look at an anarchist or two from modern times and see what they themselves said about anarchy. Start with Emma Goldman:

Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.

She put it a little more succinctly toward the end of that same essay: "Revolution is but thought carried into action. Anarchism [is] the great leaven of thought."

Isn't this what Jesus was about? He had a purpose, a plan for revolution -- the proper following of the Law of God -- but free of Pharisaic interpretation (Matt. 15:3), free of Roman rule (Matt. 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25), and free of monetary pursuits and constraints (Mark 4:19). Through His plan we can have great freedom, were we only to throw off all these other things.

Periodically, He comes back to remind us of this. Emma Goldman, then, was the form He took to deliver that message -- again -- about 100 years ago. Then, 37 years ago, John Lennon did the same. Different words, different methods, different audience. (It might be a stretch to think that Jesus would say "Imagine there's no heaven...", but I look at it as Him hitting us over the head with a board in the first line to get our attention. Then the rest of the song makes a lot of sense.) Goldman died at age 71 of natural causes, but like Jesus, knew what a prison cell was like. Lennon saw little of prisons but met a crucifixion of a more modern style.

Jesus is everywhere. But first, lose the damned religion. Listen to the anarchists instead. Then listen to yourself. The big JC's inside of you and me.

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