Where did Jesus go?

Over the Easter weekend a Facebook friend posted links to a youtube archive of a BBC documentary about the possibility that Jesus lived out his post-crucifixion life in Kashmir.

A little research shows that the thesis has ancient roots, revived for example in modern times by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and more recently by Helger Kersten. Kersten also follows the evidentiary trail marked by Notovitch in arguing that Jesus traveled to India for a spiritual education during his 15 or more “lost years” prior to his campaign for Messiah, a thesis that is the subject of another film by Paul Davids.

Perhaps the most radical and most recent elucidation of the connection between Jesus and India is Christian Lindtner’s website, jesusisbuddha.com, “the first and only website devoted to the original Buddhist sources of the New Testament Gospels.” According to Christian Lindtner’s Thesis (CLT) the Greek Gospels are modeled upon classic Buddhist scriptures. Lindtner goes so far as to argue that there is no historical basis whatsoever for the Gospels other than the Buddhist literature.

Lindtner’s scholarship raises interesting possibilities for a history of theology, including a new way of thinking about the emergence of trinitarian dialectics.

Was there a historical Jesus? Did this historical Jesus travel to India for education and then return to Kashmir to work among the “lost tribes” of Israel? Or was there no historical Jesus, but simply a story created by inserting “Greekskrit” names into classical narratives about Buddha? The questions are fascinating and dizzying.

Even supposing that Lindtner is correct to identify Sanskrit and Pali models for the Gospel writers, it would not settle the question of fact or fiction, since the Gospel writers could have been seeking a perfect model of expression for an authentic spiritual journey.

At the very least, I think these approaches to the story of Jesus help us to understand that the world of ancient Palestine does not have to be approached provincially. Travel, commerce, and ideas were flowing in several directions.

From an ethical point of view, these researches indicate that the teachings of Jesus and Buddha have something important in common when they stress our duties to alleviate suffering in this world. In this case, the question for ethics remains the same. Is there a better approach than this?

And from a religious point of view, one could argue that the cross currents of swirling interpretations are exactly what Kierkegaard addressed when he said to the Christian that it hardly matters what are the facts of the matter, because the really important question of Christianity has nothing to do with any fact whatsoever.

Where did Jesus go? With Kierkegaard we would answer that depends entirely on where you were looking for Jesus in the first place. And it’s still true today as it was in Kierkegaard’s time that mostly the name of Jesus is understood in terms of the letters that spell it, not the spirit that defies spelling, grammar, and historical justifications for a life of radical love.

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Transgender Evacuee Arrested at Texas A&M

30 September 2005

Office of the President
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Dear President Gates:

I am writing on behalf of the Brazos Progressives to express our dismay
upon learning that Sharli’e Vicks, a transgender evacuee from New
Orleans, had been arrested and imprisoned earlier this month after
being told that she couldn’t use the shower facilities designated for
females at Reed Arena. While we are very relieved that Ms.Vicks was
released from jail, that all charges against her were dropped, and that
she was reunited with her family in Houston, we believe that the Texas
A&M officials who were involved in Ms. Vicks’ arrest acted
insensitively and aggressively. The Brazos Progressives would like to
see Texas A&M issue a public apology to Ms. Vicks, along with a
public assurance that Texas A&M is doing everything it can to
ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again. As a coalition of individuals, groups, and businesses working
together to build progressive community in the Brazos Valley, the
Brazos Progressives strives to create awareness of and support for all
forms of diversity in order to create a community that welcomes
everyone. We applaud the efforts of the many volunteers from Bryan and
College Station who have worked together in a spirit of unity and good
will, helping those who have been devastated by recent hurricanes.
Certainly, many individuals and organizations in our community have
acted selflessly and have been sensitive to the needs of all
individuals.

At the same time, we are troubled by the University’s treatment of Ms.
Vicks. We encourage the University to work closely with the Office of
Institutional Assessment and Diversity, the Women’s and Gender Equity
Resource Center, and the GLBT Professional Network at Texas A&M
University to educate the University community so that transgender
individuals will be treated with compassion and sensitivity. University
administrators set an example for the citizens of our community; we
believe that creating a welcoming atmosphere for all individuals should
be a priority of the University and our larger community. We encourage
Texas A&M to work towards healing the divisions in our community by
developing procedures and policies that ensure fairness and equity in
the treatment of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity,
sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability,
religion, or political affiliation. The National Center for Transgender
Equality (NCTE) has developed guidelines that would certainly serve as
a useful reference for formulating such policies: Making Shelters Safe
for Transgender Evacuees (http://www.nctequality.org/SafeShelters.pdf).

Brazos Progressives works hard to promote and celebrate diversity
in our community, and we invite the University to join us in this
effort. We are happy to do whatever we can to help Texas A&M in its
efforts to create a climate that is welcoming to everyone. Please do
not hesitate to contact me at the above mailing or e-mail address if we
can be of any assistance.

Thank you for taking our concerns seriously.

Sincerely,

Krista May
Chair
Brazos Progressives
College Station, TX

cc: James Anderson, Vice President and Associate Provost, Office of Institutional Assessment and Diversity

Becky Petit, Assistant Vice President, Office of Institutional
Assessment and Diversity

Brenda Bethman, Coordinator, Women’s and Gender Equity Resource
Center

William Perry, Vice Provost, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

Leah Devun, President, GLBT Professional Network at Texas A&M
University

Harris M. Berger, Faculty and Staff Committed to an Inclusive Campus

Chris Danos, President, GLBTA

Mitzi Kaufman, Making Aggieland Safe for Everyone

A King's Easter

Pausing to Reflect on Jesus and Eggs

CounterPunch / DissidentVoice / TheRagBlog

by Greg Moses

This year–for the second time–the sad anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. falls on Easter, a day that according to Google Trends brings annual peaks of interest in the search terms Jesus and eggs.

Easter is a perfect context for thinking about King’s death in a Kingian way because as a preacher of Easter sermons he would insist that after we pay death its due we should not neglect the fact of life which after all makes death possible in the first place.

Likewise with movement. For King life was movement. And half the hope for life was bound up in hope for the next movement which in his case would have been the Poor People’s Campaign of summer 1968. I say half the hope because as a Sunday preacher King warned against placing your whole hope in human effort.

Paradoxical as it sounds, the great maestro of social movement insisted that human effort could never completely do for itself. That would be like saying Jesus resurrected himself or the egg laid itself. There’s something besides all the things you can do–which you should do–for yourself. Something the movement needs which is not the movement itself.

David Rovics sent out an email yesterday reflecting upon the growing anticipations that people are having. Something is badly needed which is not being provided. Or as the Secretary of the Treasury says, unemployment will remain at unacceptable levels for many more years to come.

A movement of some kind is in the making. What’s not so clear is how people are preparing their half of the responsibility for it. King died while doing too much. Paradoxically the preacher of Easter sermons who said human effort was only half the ingredient of movement was exhausting himself in that half trying heroically to make up for the rest of us who exhaust ourselves doing too little.

In a book of spiritual teachings I recently ran across the term “personal work” and I think King would have liked that term. In the process of nonviolence as practiced by King, “personal work” was required. During the Easter campaign of 1963, protesters were required to meditate on the life of Jesus. They had to sign cards saying they had thought deeply about the example of Jesus. Jesus was required reading.

With our common life scooped out and replaced by mass media velocities–and considering the pattern of our recent debates about health care–there is reason to think that movements have been replaced in the internet age by virtual flame wars. And the thing about flame wars is that they lack all evidence of “personal work.”

Capitalism, once again, has imploded out from underneath millions of people whom it pretended to serve. And socialism even under these conditions finds underwhelming support. Between the cracks of two deflated ideals, a necessary movement grows roots. With so much death around us, King’s Easter reminds us that if we don’t neglect “personal work” there is always hope for birth and rebirth through righteous, organized, and disciplined social movements.

Retired Generals Campaign for Health Care Equity for all Children

Operation Tiny Tim

by April Z. Fool

April 1 — A new association of retired military generals plans today to announce “Operation Tiny Tim” to secure the dignity of affordable health care for all children, not only in the USA but in all countries where US bases are located.

“Whether we have to open up our military hospitals or extend the Pentagon budget for health care to civilian facilities, we are determined to share with the children of the world nothing less than the quality medical care that our own children received as military dependents,” said General Samuel “Upright” Justice from his home in northern Virginia.

General Sawyer “True Blue” Edgemont, who served three years as Director of Medical Operations for the Joint Chiefs, said he couldn’t be more proud of the record that the military has established for quality, accessible, and affordable health care for American soldiers, spouses, and dependents around the world.

“Medical care is mission critical for us in times of war and peace,” said Edgemont. “Assuring the right to a healthy body is something we can be honored to stand for wherever Old Glory flies”

Speaking from Pasadena, California, where he serves as volunteer coordinator for a food bank, Edgemont said the idea for Operation Tiny Tim came up in a casual conversation during a Dickens reading circle last summer.

“We have the experience and commitment to excellence in federal health care,” he said. “Why not build from the strengths that we already have?”

General Lucinda “Boots” Billingame said the idea comes at a time when Americans are needlessly divided over health care reform.

“Nothing succeeds like success,” said Billingame, “so I think we can make a lasting contribution to authentic patriotism if we show ourselves and the world that America is very much a can-do country when it comes to efficient delivery of best practices in health care for coming generations.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was unavailable for comment at the time of this report, but a spokesman for the Pentagon, on condition of anonymity, suggested that the active-duty uniformed services would respect whatever mission that Congress and the President should decide to order.

“We’re here to serve the national interest,” said the Pentagon spokesman.

Meanwhile, reporters and producers at the international finance channel CNBC were rumored to be scouring sources and experts to determine which companies would be most likely to secure lucrative federal contracts when the campaign goes operational.

Aides for Republican Congressmen who opposed recent reforms known as “Obamacare” were quick to point out that the program proposed by the retired Generals would be expensive.

“War is not cheap,” said one well-placed aide. “Especially when you consider that the war they’re talking about will never end.”

Aides for Democrat supporters of “Obamacare” expressed concern that the Generals’ proposal would raise the spectre of a “public option” during the upcoming election cycle.

“We’ll be lucky enough to survive voter wrath for the modest expansion in health care insurance coverage,” said one insider, referring to the health insurance bill that passed in March. “I’m not sure the American people will tolerate the idea of No Child Left Behind applied to health care.”

“There is a lot of anger and mistrust out there,” added the insider. “But if an association of Generals says that they can win this Operation Tiny Tim, people on both sides of the aisle might give them a hearing.”

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When he is not writing April Fool’s fantasies, Greg Moses is Editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and a lifetime student of what William James called the “Moral Equivalent of War.” Moses can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com