Sunday, September 03, 2006

was Jesus a liberal?

You hear it all the time: Jesus wanted people to share, to be selfless, to act compassionately and lovingly, to give away their riches, to turn the other cheek, and so on. He was obviously a liberal!

One conservative/libertarian philosopher, Steve Burton, begs to differ. His essay makes for an interesting read, but truth be told, I had more appreciation for one of the comments that followed his piece: in the first century, no one thought in terms of "liberal" and "conservative." Such labeling of Jesus is a retroactive interpretation of the scriptures, and doesn't do much to shed light on who the historical Jesus actually was. For Jesus to be appropriated by liberals or conservatives is just a sign of what happens when a founder (or a doctrine) becomes fetishized and treated as an object, not a living reality. I've quoted Alan Watts on this issue before.

For people who insist on hammering the round Jesus peg into the square political hole, it should be noted that the scriptures offer plenty of evidence for a variety of interpretations. One frequent claim, for example, is that Jesus was a communist. I don't expect the question of Jesus' political affiliation to be settled anytime soon.


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