Friday, October 28, 2016

Hypocrites, or Hissyfit Jesus versus Vulcan Jesus

I was talking online with a Christian who believes in Tough Love Jesus, which left me thinking about the Biblical Jesus calling people hypocrites. If you believe the word is an insult, it doesn't belong in the mouth of a teacher who said the greatest commandments are to love God and to love people.

That got me thinking about Hissyfit Jesus, the Jesus many Christians believe in, the furious man who rages at Pharisees and Sadduccees because they won't follow him. That's a comforting Jesus for angry and self-righteous people.

But "hypocrite" is only an insult when it's spoken in anger. It's a precise word: it means your words and deeds don't mesh. Hypocrites consist of two groups, those who lie to others and those who lie to themselves. The first group aren't actually offended by the word; they're terrified of being exposed, so they act indignant to deny the charge. The second group aren't actually offended either, though they may believe they are. Their anger comes from cognitive dissonance—they believe it's right for them to have their privileges because they're sure they're good people who do what privileged people are supposed to do to be considered good people. The only way for them to keep their comforting illusions is to rage at anyone who tries to shake them into seeing the world.

If I was writing a Jesus story, he would speak to Pharisees and Sadduccees like Star Trek's Spock. He would simply tell them that hypocrites live in worlds of their own making, so if they hope to become the people they think they are, the first step is rejecting the illusion they love.

In the Gospels, Jesus never applies "tough love" to the poor, but he constantly applies it to the rich. He tells the rich young man who wants to study with him to do what his other students did and share his wealth with the poor. The young man can't and goes away. But the story includes a bit of hope for all rich people. After the young man leaves, Jesus says all things are possible with God.

That doesn't mean God gives a pass to some rich people—the Gospels don't have any examples of that. They only tell of rich people who know they must share. They fall into two groups. Some, like Zacchaeus the tax collector, follow John the Baptist's teaching to give half of what you have to the poor. The ones who follow Jesus's teaching share everything.

The log in a hypocrite's eye makes them see anyone who tries to remove it as angry or jealous or any of the many things rich people call those who suggest there's no virtue in hoarding wealth while people suffer. If I wrote a Jesus story, I wouldn't change the traditional interpretation of Sadduccees and Pharisees leaving in a righteous huff.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Eleanor Marx explains why sometimes socialists should support liberals

From Eleanor Marx: Working Women vs. Bourgeois Feminism (italics mine):
There is no doubt that there is a women’s question. But for us – who gain the right to be counted among the working class either by birth or by working for the workers’ cause – this issue belongs to the general working-class movement. We can understand, sympathise, and also help if need be, when women of the upper or middle class fight for rights that are well-founded and whose achievement will benefit working-women also. I say, we can even help: has not the Communist Manifesto taught us that it is our duty to support any progressive movement that benefits the workers’ cause, even if this movement is not our own?

Emma's observation about Jesus and tough love

Emma: What are you thinking about?

Me: I was just in a discussion with a conservative who thinks Jesus was about tough love.

Emma: Yeah, if you were a money-changer.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Peasant or Whatever Diet, Day 4: Lost 3 pounds

Because our scale isn't the most precise, I'm not sure if I lost four pounds or two and a half, so I'm calling it three.

When I was in seventh grade, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I did it partly by having a growth spurt and partly by eating my usual sandwiches with one slice of bread instead of two and bicycling to school instead of taking the bus. Sadly, I can't count on a growth spurt now, but the rest of what I figured out then is the basis of every diet: get moving and don't eat what you don't need. The nice thing about calorie-counting is you learn what the food industry doesn't want you to think about: almost everything's more caloric than you assume. The bulk of their profit comes from selling food to entertain us instead of sustain us.