Monday, March 31, 2008

Joining the Green Party

Joining the GREEN PARTY

Yesterday, around the world, people were encouraged to turn off the lights for an hour in an attempt to raise awareness of how our lifestyle is damaging our earth. Good job. But how feeble and small the attempt. Better than nothing, but barely.
Judy and I have recently joined the GREEN PARTY in the realization that the issue of our environment is really the only issue. All other problems and topics simply are not important unless our world is taken care of. We have voted for all of the main parties in the past. They all have good people and good ideas that make sense. But right now they simply do not stand for anything that counts.
The Conservative Party of Canada is laughable in its name because it clearly represents the interests of those who are least interested in conserving. What do they stand for? Making the wealthy more so, as far as I can see. What about the Liberal Party of Canada? They’re only purpose is getting elected. They will adopt any policy that they feel will get them votes. They claim to be the most ‘centered’ party and therefore the most meaningless. The N.D.P. have often gotten my support in the past but their focus on middle class families and jobs is putting the cart before the horse. If you don’t care for the earth, there will be no middle class.
What do the Greens say about education, economics, foreign policy, transportation, equalization payments or anything else? As far as I am concerned, they don’t have to have any definite policies in any specific areas other than to view and act on all issues through the lens of what is best for our world. That issue is the concrete of the foundation of all else. What is good for the world is good for all of us and what is good for all of us is good for the world. Protecting the poor and needy, urban development, trade practices, justice issues, all issues, can only take on their proper perspective when viewed in total with it’s place in the world and our environment. The Green Party of Canada is the only group that is trying to do this.
The four by-elections of a few weeks ago (I actually got off my butt and helped in one of them) showed that about 15 % of the people agree with me. Maybe we’ll wake up enough to allow the Green Party to take part in our public debates on TV. They (we) have as much support as the N.D.P. after all!
Not many of us think that enough M.P.s will actually be elected to form a government but that’s fine. Already the Green Party is getting enough votes to scare the politicians of the other parties and a scared politician is a good politician. When a few M.P.s are wearing green and the national numbers for support is around 20 %, them we’ll really start to see some uncommon sense and policy.
If you’re following my writings you know that for me, taking care of the world is an expression of my spiritual belief. But even if it wasn’t, I hope I would be smart enough to realize that it is also the best thing to do from purely a selfish motive. Continuing like we have been and putting up with government that seems powerless to DO anything meaningful in this most essential area, is just stupid. Whatever your motives, I encourage you do send out a small shock wave in the political arena and join the GREEN PARTY OF CANADA. There probably isn’t any more important thing you could do today. Or tomorrow.
All for now on March 30. Have a good day. Work and hope for a good tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Tragedy of Palm Sunday

The Tragedy of GOOD FRIDAY

This coming weekend hundreds of millions of Christians around the world will celebrate Good Friday, that pivotal event when Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem, being welcomed by cheering crowds as their Messiah. In tens of thousands of churches of most Christian denominations there will be hymns of triumph, children waving small palm branches (made in Sunday school of paper, or purchased for the occasion). It will definitely be a happy time and well attended, a great start to the traditional Holy Week which will, of course, end in Easter Sunday. This week holds the entire basis and reason for Christianity. Get this wrong and it’s a farce. That’s what we’re doing. Tragedy number one.
To help get it right let’s look at the event historically and with the knowledge and brains that we have been given. Jerusalem is a fortified city.
The Romans rule, have ruled in fact for about fifty years and have had a military presence for twenty years. The largest building inside the city is the Fortress Antonia, located just inside of and controlling the main gates. Next to the Fortress is the Temple - directly next to it, sharing a wall even. You can look down from the fortress wall directly into the temple grounds. There is a legion of soldiers stationed in the Roman fortress, one thousand of the best.
Since King Herod died, the land has been ruled by a governor appointed directly by Rome. This small land is so strategically located that its rule cannot be in any doubt. It’s present ruler is Pontius Pilate, one of Rome’s most able (read ruthless and cruel) administrators. He has been there for several years. Several years before this over three thousand unarmed men, women and children were massacred in front of the Temple when they came to peacefully demonstrate against the Standards of the Roman Legion that had been erected within the holy Temple grounds.
There are three ways to view the event that is celebrated on Palm Sunday. One, it is entirely a fabricated tale. Two, it was such a small and insignificant event that the Romans never even noticed it, just a few scragglers from out of town doing some shouting as they joined the others who were coming in for Passover celebrations. Three, it was a very large event indeed, one which the Romans chose not to challenge immediately. I believe the third is the truth.
The city of Jerusalem had a live-in population of about fourty thousand. At Passover, the population swelled to four or five times that, most of the people camping out in the surrounding hills. From all over the eastern Mediterranean Jews came, if they were able, to celebrate this most holy festival in the Holy City. A city that belonged only to God. A city sworn to pay no tribute to any other god. A city who now paid taxes to a tyrant in Rome who claimed to be a god. (It said so right on the Roman coins. To say, “Hail Caesar!” was indeed a statement of belief and worship.)
Revolution was not just a political choice or option. For the religious it was a necessity. For many and perhaps most of the Jews, it was just a matter of time before the Romans were thrown out. And also the matter of having a Messiah. There had to be one who was called by God to lead. One who was recognized as chosen.(the title ‘Messiah’ means ‘Anointed by God’) They would wait until there arose such a person, otherwise their efforts would be in vain. When he was found, they would follow him against the hated Romans, against all odds, knowing Yahweh would be with them.
But at the moment the odds WERE with them. There were only one thousand Romans soldiers, mainly hiding within the fortress walls. They were hardened and capable soldiers, but were not suicidal enough to come out and mingle with crowds that were so antagonistic, where there could be a sword or dagger under any robe.
And here was Jesus of Nazareth! Nobody had excited the people as much! He spoke out against the wealthy and proclaimed a kingdom of justice and love. There was healing and understanding of God’s Way. Surely he was the longed for Messiah!
At least twice before people had tried to get Jesus to declare himself to be the Messiah. He had roundly refused. When Peter had named him as the Messiah, Jesus had told him in the rudest New Testament language we have (cleaned up in translation) to shut up and never say it again. Yet his followers persisted. The people persisted. They simply could not evision God acting in any other way. The Romans must go. God would act by enabling a just and loving king (Messiah) to rule, a Son of David, a true Son of God, whose kingdom would dominate and bring good times to the People of God.
Try as he did, Jesus just could not make them understand that God’s WAY was not the way the people wanted. He had simply done all he could to make them see. He had failed. His closest, his disciples, argued among themselves who would have the most power, sit at his right hand, when Jesus came to the throne. Since they refused to understand his words, maybe they would understand if he showed them. How to show them? Become the Messiah and then reject it! That’s what he did.
Jesus allowed his followers to literally take over the city. Everything was planned out. It was not a secret. He WAS welcomed into the Holy City as the Messiah. In the traditional way, obvious to all. Especially, the Romans, who looked directly down on the procession from the Fortress Antonia. So, yes, there were crowds of people. They ARE cheering. Everyone is happy. But look closely at Jesus. Does he have his arms raised high? Is he beaming? Does he look victorious? You know he doesn’t. He isn’t. There are tears in his eyes. He knows what is to come. He knows what must lie ahead, what must happen before the people can begin to understand God’s WAY. Why couldn’t they be more aware? Why does this have to be part of his awareness? But the decision had been made, in Garden the night before. He knew that this was the only way. That is ministry would be meaningless if this wasn’t played out to the last. The die was cast. Here he was, gaining the throne of violence in order to reject it. So be it. Abba, thy will be done.
He entered the city gates, went to the Temple and literally closed it down, calling the High Priest a theif in the process. (The Roman Governor appointed the High Priest to the highest bidder - he and his family were Roman stuges.) The Romans fearfully waited behind their walls, wondering how long it would be before they would have to make a break for it. They were certainly too outnumbered to make a stand or to go on the offensive. For the time being, they would wait and hope for the best. These crazy Jews - You never know what is going to happen!
The the unexpected DID happen. That night, when he had the city in the palm of his hand, after sharing the traditional Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus just up and left the city! In doing so he rejected the palace, the crown, the way of the Messiah. He went back to his camp in the hills. To a place that was unprotected and easily accessible to a Roman commando raid a short time later.
What comes later is for later. What is for now is hopefully, an understanding of how the followers of Jesus saw what they wanted to see, how they ignored the message of Jesus and re-made him to suite themselves, how their blindness and stupidity killed him. That was tragedy enough. But we do the same. Even though we now have not only the words of Jesus, we have the lessons of his DOING, we repeat, again and again, the mistakes of those blind and stupid people. We turn Palm Sunday into a time of triumph and celebration. We dress up in our best, drive to church in our cars and SUVs, ignore what Jesus said and did and are content and even proud to claim him as our own. Be believe. And continue to support the ways of power, privilege and violence that enables us to live the way we are. Jesus is on our side. He MUST be. We simply cannot comprehend any other way.
What a tragedy! For us and for all the world. What needless waste of our lives of of the lives of others, now and for many tomorrows. That we should cling to our lies and yet claim to follow one who has so plainly shown us the WAY!
So, to all of those who are having (or had) a great Palm Sunday, I hope your good times make up just a little for the sorrow of Christ, the sorrow that his followers then and now are perpetuating and causing throughout the world.
Just once in while, though, take a moment to question your life, comparing it to the life of Christ. Look at Jesus. He is still weeping.