I never mention his name because I don’t believe he was any more “God” than you or Gandhi or Babe Ruth, and I don’t want you to think my message of love is somehow tarnished by all the misinterpretation quelled in his name. I believe in God, or Rama, or Allah, or the Nameless as an absolute energy on which we place mortal attributes to get closer. But again, because of all the misery some have caused in the name of Jesus I do not aspire to know him. If his message was given more than 20 years to incubate, to take root, before Paul churned it – pressing it, distilling it into the fabric of a church Joshua bar Joseph would have detested – I think I would be more than comfortable with his sentiments and extraordinary human insights.
But men have wrenched Joshua’s words from his own mouth and buried them inside their cathedrals, painted them here red, there blue, and displayed them only for the colorblind. Frankly, Joshua railed against organized Judaism, with its ancient hierarchies and debilitating exclusionary laws. He even died for this belief.
Yet within a few hundred years Christianity, whose initial message was inclusion even for outcasts, without judgment, has become anything but that. And Jesus, if we are to believe the circumstances of two millennia, has accorded more death than any other human in earth’s history; and more people have been persecuted in his name than ever died from early martyrdom. So the name “Jesus”, and all that even the most conscientious Christians have made it, fills my heart with remorse. I, and I’m sure the purveyor Joshua of the original message, would hate what it has become.
If Satan were as cunning as Christians say, the “Prince of this world” could certainly have taken a pacifist’s body, preached love and forgiveness, knowing all along that in time humans would kill each other over interpretation and prejudice, in his name, and hate other Christians – in his name – and despise non-Christians – in his name – yet could never blame him for any of it! It’s the perfect Satanic scheme – preach love and forgiveness and universal compassion and acceptance, knowing full well that selfish humans would fail, then interpret the message to suit their own selfish needs, excluding the “heart of the Law” itself!
Am I saying that Satan took body in a stable in Bethlehem, and then prodded the unknowing mortal to devise a mission impossible, and to set the seed of unimaginable world and personal violence in the years to come? Could Satan know that the kind words would be twisted by each twisted culture and generation? Would God have known? If Satan exists, it’s a perfect plot against the establishment of a true religion based on love and compassion. Humanity will always provide the bad apple somewhere along the line, and humans have no capacity to weed out the rotten until each apple in the barrel has at least tasted the disease. Even then, if half stay clean the rest go on to infect more.
I believe that the teaching of Joshua bar Joseph is the most beautiful message ever delivered to men by a man – he was certainly inspired, and I take my inspiration to love and help men from him. The man you know as Jesus would have hated Joshua. Joshua welcomed everyone to his (and his father’s) table – any outcast or sinner. Would your Jesus? Would you? What about a homosexual outcast, or a pregnant teen outcast, or a non-Christian outcast? My Joshua saw God in every being, and worshipped every being, forgiving him his human sins. Does your Jesus?
So, to keep the record straight I can never invoke the name of Jesus, simply because he has been created by you for your own selfish needs. You may live comfortably, blissfully, estranged in Jesus’ name from those who are sinners, who are different, and you may pity the poor (or blame them for their situation), and you may fear God and retribution, and silently laugh at those you pity, those who are different, knowing in your heart that Jesus wants you – not them – in his kingdom after you die.
My Joshua loved all of humanity, taught that even sinners were children of God and would have a place in God’s Kingdom; he taught that those who could not afford a tithe could still worship, that unlike the High Priests we could worship God in a cave, or on our own – we did not need a crystal church or king’s palace to find God. All men were inherently saved, for they were all God’s children and a place in heaven was assured (what father would deny his son?).
You use Jesus for your own selfish needs. I use Joshua’s words and actions to show my brothers and sister’s love and forgiveness. I am as he, and Joshua and I are sons of God (as are all of you). I love you, and will do anything to help you.
Having read this, could you say the same for me?