[Vision2020] The Community of the Insensitive

Joan Opyr joanopyr at moscow.com
Sat Apr 8 23:41:38 PDT 2006

On Apr 8, 2006, at 10:11 PM, nickgier at adelphia.net wrote:

> As I was checking the back issues of Credenda Agenda I noticed that 
> Volumes 3-6 are missing.  Is this the equivalent of Wilson's pulling 
> the slavery booklet from the shelves?  One of Dickison's articles can 
> still be found at http://www.credenda.org/old/issues/vol3/magi3-9.htm.

I wonder if Doug Wilson has at long last realized the damage his own 
words do him?  Surely not.  But it does seem odd that he should have 
pulled any issues of Credenda Agenda; he's announced so often (and so 
loudly) that he never changes his mind.  Why such infallible certainty? 
  Because God himself has whispered the secrets of the universe into 
Doug's shell-like ear.

Never mind.  Anyone who professes to "admire" Wilson, whether it's the 
pointlessly provocative Tony or the bluff and tubby Toad of Toad Hall, 
need not read the whole of Credenda to have his/her eyes opened.  I 
would suggest that they just pop on over to Wilson' blog 
(http://dougwils.com) and read fellow admirer Dave Glasebrook's inept 
defense of The Serrated Edge.  The Serrated E is the seminal text of 
Wilson's theological world.  In it, you'll discover that Jesus was an 
ill-tempered, snotty, vicious SOB who told rude racist jokes.  An 
interesting take on Jesus, who was clearly a trouble-maker, but compare 
the rotten Jesus of Wilson's Serrated Edge to the unpredictable Jesus 
described in this piece from today's New York Times:

April 9, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Christ Among the Partisans


THERE is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, 
it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this 
present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters 
would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my 
reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or 

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, 
fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of 
religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their 
side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides 
for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the 
occupying power but said only, "Let Caesar have what belongs to him, 
and God have what belongs to him" (Matthew 22:21). He was the original 
proponent of a separation of church and state.

Those who want the state to engage in public worship, or even to have 
prayer in schools, are defying his injunction: "When you pray, be not 
like the pretenders, who prefer to pray in the synagogues and in the 
public square, in the sight of others. In truth I tell you, that is all 
the profit they will have. But you, when you pray, go into your inner 
chamber and, locking the door, pray there in hiding to your Father, and 
your Father who sees you in hiding will reward you" (Matthew 6:5-6). He 
shocked people by his repeated violation of the external holiness code 
of his time, emphasizing that his religion was an internal matter of 
the heart.

But doesn't Jesus say to care for the poor? Repeatedly and insistently, 
but what he says goes far beyond politics and is of a different order. 
He declares that only one test will determine who will come into his 
reign: whether one has treated the poor, the hungry, the homeless and 
the imprisoned as one would Jesus himself. "Whenever you did these 
things to the lowliest of my brothers, you were doing it to me" 
(Matthew 25:40). No government can propose that as its program. 
Theocracy itself never went so far, nor could it.

The state cannot indulge in self-sacrifice. If it is to treat the poor 
well, it must do so on grounds of justice, appealing to arguments that 
will convince people who are not followers of Jesus or of any other 
religion. The norms of justice will fall short of the demands of love 
that Jesus imposes. A Christian may adopt just political measures from 
his or her own motive of love, but that is not the argument that will 
define justice for state purposes.

To claim that the state's burden of justice, which falls short of the 
supreme test Jesus imposes, is actually what he wills — that would be 
to substitute some lesser and false religion for what Jesus brought 
from the Father. Of course, Christians who do not meet the lower 
standard of state justice to the poor will, a fortiori, fail to pass 
the higher test.

  The Romans did not believe Jesus when he said he had no political 
ambitions. That is why the soldiers mocked him as a failed king, giving 
him a robe and scepter and bowing in fake obedience (John 19:1-3). 
Those who today say that they are creating or following a "Christian 
politics" continue the work of those soldiers, disregarding the words 
of Jesus that his reign is not of this order.

Some people want to display and honor the Ten Commandments as a 
political commitment enjoined by the religion of Jesus. That very act 
is a violation of the First and Second Commandments. By erecting a 
false religion — imposing a reign of Jesus in this order — they are 
worshiping a false god. They commit idolatry. They also take the Lord's 
name in vain.

Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing 
morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we 
took up the slogan "What would Jesus do?"

That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never 
knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call 
him "Satan." He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to 
see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if 
they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by 
the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts.

The Jesus of the Gospels is not a great ethical teacher like Socrates, 
our leading humanitarian. He is an apocalyptic figure who steps outside 
the boundaries of normal morality to signal that the Father's judgment 
is breaking into history. His miracles were not acts of charity but 
eschatological signs — accepting the unclean, promising heavenly 
rewards, making last things first.

He is more a higher Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, than a higher 
Socrates. No politician is going to tell the lustful that they must 
pluck out their right eye. We cannot do what Jesus would do because we 
are not divine.

It was blasphemous to say, as the deputy under secretary of defense, 
Lt. Gen. William Boykin, repeatedly did, that God made George Bush 
president in 2000, when a majority of Americans did not vote for him. 
It would not remove the blasphemy for Democrats to imply that God wants 
Bush not to be president. Jesus should not be recruited as a campaign 
aide. To trivialize the mystery of Jesus is not to serve the Gospels.

The Gospels are scary, dark and demanding. It is not surprising that 
people want to tame them, dilute them, make them into generic 
encouragements to be loving and peaceful and fair. If that is all they 
are, then we may as well make Socrates our redeemer.

It is true that the tamed Gospels can be put to humanitarian purposes, 
and religious institutions have long done this, in defiance of what 
Jesus said in the Gospels.

Jesus was the victim of every institutional authority in his life and 
death. He said: "Do not be called Rabbi, since you have only one 
teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your 
father, since you have only one Father, the one in heaven. And do not 
be called leaders, since you have only one leader, the Messiah" 
(Matthew 23:8-10).

If Democrats want to fight Republicans for the support of an 
institutional Jesus, they will have to give up the person who said 
those words. They will have to turn away from what Flannery O'Connor 
described as "the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus" and "a wild 
ragged figure" who flits "from tree to tree in the back" of the mind.

He was never that thing that all politicians wish to be esteemed — 
respectable. At various times in the Gospels, Jesus is called a devil, 
the devil's agent, irreligious, unclean, a mocker of Jewish law, a 
drunkard, a glutton, a promoter of immorality.

The institutional Jesus of the Republicans has no similarity to the 
Gospel figure. Neither will any institutional Jesus of the Democrats.

Garry Wills is professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University 
and the author, most recently, of "What Jesus Meant."

Interesting stuff, I think, and all highly debatable.  But Flannery 
O'Connor's raggedy half-crazed Jesus is certainly not the nasty, 
sniping savior of Wilson's imagination.  Not at all.

Joan Opyr/Auntie Establishment

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