The Rendition of Christ:
Winning the Battle for their Souls
By Jason Miller
America as the beacon of human
rights and dignity is but a dream yet to be realized. While the dream has lain
dormant, amoral opportunists have busily unleashed their nightmare on billions
of human beings. And all the while they have trumpeted the many virtues of the
United States as a Christian nation.
There are many admirable aspects
to our country, but these are often over-shadowed by the actions of the
Machiavellian, ruthless, and avaricious individuals who have long dominated
the social, economic, religious, and political institutions comprising the
power structure United States of America. While a nation is an abstraction
encompassing many aspects and dynamics (i.e. its people, culture, government,
resources, etc.) that are in a constant state of flux, there are at least four
elements of the
United States which have remained relatively consistent throughout much of its
1. A wealthy White patriarchy
has monopolized most of the power and wealth.
2. An economic system resting on the pillars of greed and self-interest has
driven the United States to enslave a race of human beings, commit genocide
against another, and to commit virtually innumerable crimes against humanity
in the pursuit of growth and profit.
3. Disseminating powerful propagandistic messages through a corporate-owned
media and a public school system designed from the top down to produce
obedient consumers and workers, the ruling elite in the United States has
convinced generations of citizens that their nation is a moral icon and that
American Exceptionalism justifies the slaughter of millions of innocents.
4. Many in the United States assert that the United States is a Christian
nation. “Christianizing” the “heathen” Native Americans and the
Filipino “savages” provided a rationalization for annihilating millions of
Self-righteous hypocrisy and the banner of Christianity have been staples of
the ruling elite in the United States as they have led their followers on a
200 year spree of economic and geographic expansion at the expense of those
unfortunate enough to stand in their way. Exemplifying their latest crusade,
in October 2003, newly appointed undersecretary of defense for intelligence
Lt. General William Boykin emphatically proclaimed that fundamentalist Muslims
hated the United States “because we’re a Christian nation,
because our foundation and roots are Judeo-Christian…and the enemy is a guy
Given that the psyche of most Americans has been battered with the notion that
our country was founded by Christians intending to form a Christian nation,
and that many of those besieged psyches have acquiesced and accepted this
assertion as dogmatic truth, perhaps an analysis of the founder of
Christianity would be instructive.
Jesus Christ. Was he deity, man, or myth? The answer to that question depends
on one’s point of view. Christians embrace him as the son of God and a
member of the Holy Trinity. Followers of Islam consider him to be a prophet
and holy man who performed miracles, but do not believe in his divinity. Some
of us in the “pagan” realm simply view him as an inspirational moral
leader. Others doubt that Christ even existed.
Whether he was god, exceptional human or legend, almost all of our knowledge
about Jesus Christ is derived from the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and
Luke. And these three books of the Bible do reveal a story of a remarkable
Jesus was a radical agitator and social outcast who challenged the
establishment of his day. A carpenter by trade, Christ would have been
considered one of the working poor. As is common knowledge, he defied the
Sanhedrin’s insistence on strict adherence to religious law to the extent
that they eventually saw to his crucifixion.
In his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus was stigmatized as a bastard and shunned as
the son of an adulteress. Joseph is believed to have adopted him, but that
apparently did little to alleviate the situation. Jesus eventually embraced a
new “family” in the sect that followed John the Baptist. Jewish leaders,
whose power was largely dependent upon their Roman occupiers, came to view
John as a serious threat as he preached loyalty to God over Caesar. Jesus’
equally tenacious commitment to placing the will of God above that of a
political leader ultimately led him to martyrdom too. Both men represented
serious threats to the social order and it was virtually inevitable that the
ruling class would kill them.
Aside from the fact that he claimed to be the Messiah and seriously threatened
their authority, the Pharisees feared and hated Jesus because he developed
such a mass following throughout much of Galilee during his three year
ministry. He won hearts and minds with his messages of redemption and
compassion. Whether it was through the placebo effect, alleviation of
psychosomatic illnesses, or true divine intervention, Jesus performed many
miraculous cures and exorcisms. Encouraging his considerable throng of
followers to follow the spirit rather than the letter of the law and asserting
corruption in the Temples, Jesus demonstrated that he was an anarchist capable
of initiating a successful rebellion against the status quo.
Excepting his martyrdom, perhaps his crowning achievement as a spiritual
leader was the Sermon on the Mount. As he spoke, he shocked his listeners with
the Beatitudes in which he defined the blessed in ways that defied orthodoxy.
According to Christ and his Beatitudes, the blessed and the inhabitants of the
Kingdom of Heaven include mourners, the hungry, the persecuted, the merciful,
the meek, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
Note that his criteria for blessedness did not encompass the aspects of
humanity which Americans have been programmed to worship, including winning;
accumulating wealth; attaining power; being thin, youthful and beautiful;
succeeding; heterosexuality; regular attendance of church; being Caucasian;
Besides the Beatitudes, Jesus Christ gave us several other gems of moral
wisdom. His “turn the other cheek” metaphor inspired the powerful
non-violent spiritual leadership of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The Golden
Rule has acted as a cornerstone of civilized behavior. And Christ’s
hyperbole concerning rich men, camels and eyes of needles has served as a
largely unheeded warning about greed and the accumulation of excessive wealth.
Were Jesus Christ incarnate today and living in America, what would he think
of a nation inhabited by many who claim to be followers of the spiritual
movement he founded? And how would the ruling elite of the United States
Imagine this scenario:
Jesus Christ returns to Earth as he was portrayed in the Gospels at
the height of his ministry. Geographically, his manifestation occurs in a
blighted urban core in a large American city. Despite his humanity, he is
endowed with omniscience and omnipotence. But he will not use them to change
the course of humankind. He is here to act as a mortal agent of change.
Jesus’ initial reaction to the knowledge flooding his mind
and the assault to his senses is a catatonic state. Horror at the rapacious
and avaricious nature of the United States’ social order overwhelms his
Shaking off the initial shock, he succumbs to a wave of uncontrollable nausea.
Thoughts of institutionalized racism, the wealth chasm, and the military
industrial complex evoke a burst of primal and toxic hatred. He retches
Having purged his loathing, Jesus sits back and rests
quietly on a soiled mattress someone had dragged into the garbage strewn alley
where he finds himself.
Surrounded by broken bottles, hypodermic needles, and used prophylactics
containing their repulsive spent payloads, Christ falls into a deep state of
reflection which is unhindered by the scurrying sounds of rats and roaches. As
he contemplates the many horrific atrocities committed in his name, a resident
of the alley brushes past him in a drunken stupor, urinates in his pants and
promptly passes out.
A country claiming to practice his spirituality spends $600 billion a year on
its behemoth murder machine while over two million of its own people live on
the street and eat from dumpsters. Rage surges through Jesus’ being. He
grabs a chunk of broken brick, hurls it with abandon, and shatters what is
left of a broken window. The thought that his ministry and martyrdom had
spawned such inhumanity infuriated him.
Regaining his calm and composure, Jesus resumes his
What is this abomination called Capitalism? Permeating
nearly every facet of the United States (including his churches), exploiting
human beings and the Earth, demanding perpetual war, and ensuring the comfort
of a few through the suffering of the many, Capitalism is a cancer that
reduces its blind adherents to empty, soulless shells.
Greed is good? Had his flock truly strayed so far that they enshrined
selfishness, mean-spiritedness, ruthless competitive instincts, and avarice as
virtues? What chance would his message of compassion and peace have competing
with the clever propaganda and allure of immediate gratification purveyed by
the likes of Fox, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Rush Limbaugh?
Grief-stricken, he cries in despair for the Native Americans, Black Americans,
and the tens of millions of victims of the imperialist United States foreign
policy in Latin America, Africa, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, and
Palestine. He smiles briefly at the thought of Judea and Galilee and feels a
twinge of home-sickness. Joy and nostalgia are short-lived as thoughts of
Palestinian suffering at the hands of the merciless Israeli government quickly
intrude on his nostalgic reminiscence.
It perplexes him that the United States has not lived up to the rich promise
spawned by the American Revolution that broke the shackles of tyranny against
tremendous odds. Early Americans had created a phenomenal instrument with
which to govern a nation when they wrote the Constitution. They even included
a mechanism to amend its inherent flaws (i.e. the legalization of slavery).
But despite the valiant struggle of many poor, working class, and minority
Americans, the de facto tyranny of wealthy elitists has endured.
Jesus concludes that many Americans were amongst the blessed
he had enumerated in the Sermon on the Mount and that many Americans would
enter his Kingdom. Yet he agonizes over those millions who had succumbed to
the propaganda and sold their souls for the hollow rewards offered by the
“American Way”. Torment consumes him as he realizes that conspicuous
consumption, aggressive militarism, overt and covert racism, abject
inhumanity, torture, theft of land and resources, corruption, “win at all
cost”, survival of the fittest, and pathological self-absorption are the
hallmarks of the social and political systems of the United States. Jesus
marvels that so many people would fall prey to such obvious spiritual cancers.
Limping severely, a one-armed man with a very bad
prosthesis, matted gray hair, and a badly tattered Army jacket flops himself
onto the mattress next to Jesus. He smells of alcohol and stale urine. Vacant
eyes transfixed on the alley wall before him, he mutters unintelligibly as he
pulls a rancid-smelling piece of meat from his pocket and begins gingerly
munching with the remaining stumps of his severely decayed teeth.
Christ feels overwhelmed with compassion and embraces the man. There is little
response, but he does feel a slight shudder. This coupled with the fact that
the man does not reject the embrace satisfies Jesus that at some level of his
being, the hapless itinerant welcomes human contact and kindness. Jesus
realizes that this man had answered America’s call to “fight for his
country” in Vietnam. Abandoned by the government he had served, this lost
soul had been condemned to suffer a living hell of homelessness, untreated
PTSD, and substance abuse.
Suddenly Jesus had an epiphany. Despite being one of the
wealthiest societies in human history, the United States has a homeless
population of about two million. As a fisher of men, he would troll
America’s cities, reaping a bountiful harvest of loyal followers from
amongst the homeless and other disenfranchised groups. And he would start with
the human derelict he had just embraced.
Jesus begins laying out his strategy to his first disciple. As Christ talks,
the despondent man’s vacant expression is replaced by a crooked smile and a
look of enthusiasm. He feasts upon a small loaf of fresh bread from Christ’s
goatskin bag and listens to Jesus’ message of hope and redemption. Jesus
talks for several hours. His willing adherent absorbs his words like a
Jesus speaks of his vision to cast out his net, gathering
millions of loyal followers from amongst the homeless, poor, gays, minorities,
the working class, and other people who felt powerless to stop the momentum of
the corporatocracy in Washington. Reminding his disciple that the strength of
his moral revolution will lie in the sheer number of participants, Jesus
predicts that tens of millions will abandon working and shopping to join him
in a triumphant non-violent march on Washington. Crippled by the loss of its
cogs, the profit and war machine would finally grind to a halt.
Feeling mildly annoyed, Jesus pauses briefly to brush away a fly that had been
persistently buzzing about his face.
Continuing his monologue, Jesus reveals that he plans to expose the true
weakness of the iniquitous corporate militarists ruling the United States by
awakening the millions of Americans it had psychologically enslaved. He would
free those who had been deluded into giving their blood, sweat, tears, and
children to expand a malevolent economic empire. He would lay the nightmare to
rest and awaken the dream.
A sharp screech of tires gives Jesus and his newly anointed apostle a jolt.
Two powerfully built men with close-cropped hair and serious expressions
emerge from an ominous-looking black SUV with heavily tinted windows. With the
quick precision of a trained assassin, one of the “men in black” snaps the
disciple’s neck. The other snatches Jesus by his hair and hurls him into the
back of the Escalade…
Awakening in a mental fog induced by heavy sedation, Jesus
struggles to remember what had happened. Barely lucid, he slowly takes in his
surroundings. He is in a small cell dimly illuminated by a lone flickering
candle. It is chilly and the air is dank. Seated at a small table in front of
him, a simple-looking man is glaring at him with deep contempt. Jesus notes a
rotund male figure wearing a permanent snarl and a cruel looking woman with
dark skin hovering nearby. He senses that wickedness and deceit are habitual
with this trio.
Despite his significantly inferior intellect, it is obvious
to Jesus that the two others maintain the pretense that the man at the table
is their leader.
“I am George W. Bush. I am President of the
United States and the leader of the free world. Our spies at the NSA were
monitoring your conversation in the alley. We know of your terrorist plot to
destroy freedom and democracy in America. I am declaring you an enemy
Brimming with smug arrogance, Bush leans back in his chair
and locks his fingers behind his head. He trains his gaze on Jesus with the
air of one studying an insect and contemplating whether or not to squash such
an inferior being.
Finally he returns his attention to the script laid before him. After several
minutes of careful study, he gives Jesus, Cheney and Condoleezza a start by
forcefully slamming his fist onto the rickety wooden table. Feeling triumphant
because he is about to vanquish a tremendous threat to the established power
structure, he begins speaking again,
“You are a threat to national security. Like
that MLK bastard, your goal is to empower the poor, minorities, and the other
groups we keep oppressed to protect our selfish interests. You would awaken
the masses to our moral bankruptcy and to the foolish self-destructiveness of
I cannot let that happen. My wealthy base has spent years selling Americans on
the virtues of war, greed, free trade, free markets, tax cuts for the rich,
cutting social programs, surrendering their rights for security, and mixing
religion and government.
Millions of Americans need to remain indifferent
to our wealth obtained by exploiting billions of people, the prison system we
have used to replace slavery and Jim Crow, the millions we slaughter to feed
the military industrial complex, and the torture of enemy combatants like you.
Many of my people believe that I have a personal relationship with you and
that your Father guides me on a divine mission. They must continue believing
these atrocious lies.
We learned from the mistake of the Roman and the
Jewish leaders. You will not get a second chance at martyrdom. I have decided
to rendition you. You will simply disappear and die anonymously in a torture
dungeon in Syria.”
Wearing a confident smirk, the self-satisfied little man
fires a question at Jesus,
“Well, Jesus? What do you have to say?”
Shedding tears born of profound melancholy, Jesus responds,
“In the words of the inimitable Russian novelist, if God does
not exist, then everything is permitted.”
Jesus then sighs heavily, looks heavenward, and makes a quiet appeal,
“Father, forgive them. Despite the fact that they know what they
do. And Father. I beg you to have mercy on the souls of their many wretched
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in
liberal arts and an extensive self-education (derived from an insatiable
appetite for reading). He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid
supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses
at [email protected]
or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian