Saturday, January 9, 2010

Revolution as the true spirit of Christmas

Christmas, navidad, natividad, the nativity, the birth of a powerful and holy being. You do not have to be Christian to acknowledge that the Jesus whose birth Christians celebrate at this time of year was a powerful and holy being, one who worked throughout his short life to ‘revolutionize’ the times, worlds without end. He came to enforce perennial principles, such as truth and love and beauty and yes, peace. As any revolutionary, he threatened the status quo, threatened the ‘business as usual’ of the time, because with his every word, he demanded a fundamental change, not in perennial principles but in the way they are conceived, understood, acted upon. For this, as with so many others who threaten ‘business as usual,’ he was imprisoned, tortured, and horribly put to death. Shades of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.

Often the simple way of seeing things is truly the best way. Then as now, the custom was to use simple words but to paint and clothe them in different fashions, what we call today, the spin or framing of issues. Thus, you could take a word such as peace and wage war ‘for’ peace. You could say that all men are created equal and then use that lofty principle to ensure unequal treatment based on race, nationality, gender, or even sexual preference. In the name of universal love, you could spread hatred far and wide.

The concepts were there, as Plato saw them, lofty and supreme, but it is what was done and what continues to be done with them that Jesus wanted to change; he wanted to ‘revolvere’ which is the Latin for revolve from which the term revolution issues; to turn something on its axis and bring it back to the starting point. He called for a change in paradigm, meaning, a fundamental change in how something is seen or visualized.

As I write this on December 23rd, millions go about shopping for gifts that they may celebrate a holy day honoring the birth of a man who was born in poverty and spent most of his life preaching with no recognition, no congressional seat, no official status or university doctoral dissertations. Millions more will die today and tomorrow and on Christmas day and on the day after that, including many new born babes, because they will lack the wherewithal to sustain life while others will exchange frequently meaningless gifts and engage in an orgy of food and celebration. In the US, some will jeopardize their continued existence, mortage payments, health, in the frenzy to have a “merry Christmas.”

For all who want truth, peace, love and justice for all, let us consider the spirit of this man of Galilee and what it is that he spoke about, what he represented. We have pallid representations of the things he said, for they were taken down by human messengers and translated, and things are frequently lost in translation, but we can glean even from the imperfect renderings the true message.

In one of his most famous speeches, which has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, he blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled, and those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He blesses the merciful who shall obtain mercy and the peacemakers who shall be called sons and daughters of God.

We are living in dire times, when more than ever we need the strength to seek righteousness, mercy, and peace. A time when, lacking leaders who stand firm on principles, we must be our own leaders. Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the law, eternal law, that which cannot be clothed or framed or disguised. It is time that we demand that the law, without spin or framing, be fulfilled to its last jot and tittle. That we demand an end to death, and torture, to war and the profiteering from war, to poverty in all its guises, and that we seek to secure the just punishment of all those who have broken the law. That we ask, as he asked, for true revolution. For only then may we be called the children of Spirit.

A thoughtful and revolutionary holiday to each and all of you, my brethren.

Main Entry: rev•o•lu•tion
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English revolucioun, from Middle French revolution, from Late Latin revolution-, revolutio, from Latin revolvere to revolve
1 a (1) : the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course; also : apparent movement of such a body round the earth (2) : the time taken by a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit (3) : the rotation of a celestial body on its axis b : completion of a course (as of years); also : the period made by the regular succession of a measure of time or by a succession of similar events c (1) : a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position while remaining parallel to the axis in transit and usually at a constant distance from it (2) : motion of any figure about a center or axis (3) : ROTATION 1b
2 a : a sudden, radical, or complete change b : a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology

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