c/nc: jesus as radical

i bring this up cuz i scored my dad terry eagleton’s contribution to this series, in which eagleton makes a rather nuanced but seemingly dull argument that 1) yes, jc is a lefty, but 2) no, not like le Lenin or la Trotsky.

my question is to you activists out there: what sort of accomodation can/do you reach with old jesus? do you cite him as an influence, or at least think of him as a kindred spirit?

does he strike you as a revolutionary, or, rather, as the epitome of moderation? centrist jesus?

maybe a more significant question: should “we” concern ourselves with “reclaiming” jesus + christianity for the non-white, non-right and anti-capitalist? if so, how much so?

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5 Responses to “c/nc: jesus as radical”

  1. dave3544 Says:

    I once wrote a paper where I attempted to apply Prasenjit Duara’s ideas about hard and soft boundaries of nationalism to labor’s attempts to appropriate the symbols of American nationalism on the early 20th-century. Labor basically advanced that the radical left (I was writing about syndicalists in Woonsocket, RI) was the true heir to the American Revolution as finished by Abraham Lincoln. Labor Day was more of a patriotic celebration that the 4th of July. And this worked up to a point…that point being WWI when the government stepped in and helped establish a very narrow definition of what it mean to be an American.

    All of this is my way of saying that we could attempt to do the same with Jesus, although in many ways we’d be seeking to re-soften the definition of what constitutes a follower of Christ in the midst of a hardening of that definition. Jesus and his religion have functioned as a way for the right to regain power, they will not let it go.

    My inclination is to let Jesus go, as he carries a lot of baggage…such as belief.

  2. lexdexter Says:

    ain’t this a return of our problem, i.e. apparently being farther left than the crowd we’ve thrown in with?

    one thinks of the civil rights movement, in which communists were active, sure… but in which it was a christian, and christian motifs, that made a “mass movement” out of things.

    more broadly, isn’t some sort of revisionist “reclamation” always evoked while we make politics? aren’t we always “getting back to” something, or “fixing” something or “making” something “work for us again.” and in this context, isn’t rhetoric of “change” itself just as backward-looking, to some extent.

    in other words, to what extent does our formal reliance on discourse of continuity and change negate, or obviate the importance of any and all substantive change? and what does that form/content distinction even mean if we’re accepting that politics are hegemonic, which is to say discursive, which is to say something you make by using what’s in front of you to gesture towards one ideological horizon or another?

    if that’s the case, won’t we always be “returning” or “reclaiming,” regardless of whatever it is we think we’re doing.

    walter benjamin’s “theses on the philosophy of history” comes to mind.

  3. nutting for « The PrisonShip Says:

    […] December 17, 2007 — lexdexter nobody has anything to say about jesus? Posted in […]

  4. minx Says:

    I’ve been afraid to touch this one because I wanted to avoid flashbacks to my M.T.S. degree at Vanderbilt. As you can imagine, discussing the revolutionary potential of Jesus looms large in the classrooms of a pretty liberal Religion program (with many gay faculty members, a big Judaica collection, atheist faculty members, and strong leaders of various black churches) inside of a conservative institution.

    When I read the gospels accepted as mainstream (the four usually included in the New Testament, which nonetheless have numerous inconsistencies, differing characterizations of Jesus, and so on) I’m always struck by how Jesus is simultaneously in favor of reversals (blessing the poor over the rich, afterlife over this world, etc.) and a fire and brimstone sort of message about what will happen when Judgment Day comes. He gets pretty intense about “bringing the sword” and describing the woe of those who will be gnashing teeth if they don’t follow the Lord properly.

    Liberation theology… I was going to start in on that, but fuck it.

  5. EZ Says:

    Of course Jesus was a radical.

    The hard part is trying to figure out what really happened. The inconsistencies that Minx points out are artifacts of the different constituencies that the testaments were written for, and the message that the “cult of Christ” that built up after his death wanted to put forward.

    I think people don’t want to touch the subject, because the church and the bible “taint” if you will the ability to weigh his degree of raditude.

    We are all sons of god
    overturning the money changers in the temple
    rewriting the ten commandments
    the sermon on the mount
    etc

    Merry Xmas everyone!!!!


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