of St. Michael
La espada de San Miguel
By Israel Shamir
In The Dune, a visionary film that predicted the US invasion of the Middle East, the spiritual leader of the Resistance is asked: "Will we ever have peace?"
"We'll have victory", he replied.
Indeed, the invader may relent and seek for peace; an attacked must seek victory until the invader will seek peace. Thus, during the Vietnam War, good Americans demanded 'peace', but people of Vietnam and their supporters elsewhere sought to defeat the invader.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our heart, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence."
- Mohandas K. Gandhi
The rule is often forgotten by modern proponents of pacifism and non-violence. They preach non-violence to the oppressed as the panacea for their troubles. Not surprisingly, non-violence gets very good media coverage and is supplied for downtrodden in great abundance.
The Holy Land received recently a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who went teaching non-violence to the Palestinians in Ramallah. Good idea, wrong place: non-violence is the daily bread of vast majority of Palestinians, while their 'violence of the oppressed' is a
rare and precious thing; without it, non-violence has no meaning. The lion's share of violence is done by the Jewish state, though it is often "suspended violence", as an Israeli philosopher and a friend of Palestine, Adi Ophir, has called it
"-- violence suspended as the Damocles sword, as a suspended sentence ready to uncoil any moment. Pacifiers leave the suspended violence in place; that is why instead of seeking peace we may seek victory."
more annoying is an attempt to establish non-violence as the only acceptable way, as a religiously orthodox norm of dissent. "Nothing justifies violence", or "Two wrongs do not make a right" - one hears these pseudo-wisdom cracks daily. It is not true from any point of view; even from the highest moral ground, violence is justified and commanded in order to save another person's life and dignity. A saintly man may follow the Sermon of the Mount advice to the dot and turn his right cheek to be slapped; but he may not pass by a rapist or a
murderer at his vile deed and leave him unchecked. He must kill him, if there is no other way to stop the murderer. We are free to give up our life and dignity, but we have a duty to defend others. Equally, justice is "doing wrong" by imprisoning, fining or executing a man for he did "wrong" by murder or rape; in such a way "two wrongs make one right", indeed.
This simple rule is sometimes forgotten, often intentionally, by non-violence preachers. In the T-net discussion (reproduced below), a pacific Indian-Canadian,
Ardeshir Mehta claimed that: "One can be a Christian, or one can advocate violence, but one can't be both."
He was neither, but words of Christ are often quoted with the same ease Nietzsche quoted Zarathustra. The radical South African, Joh Domingo retorted: "Do I justify Palestinian violence? No, I support it".
Is violent resistance wrong and a non-Christian act?
This question brought to my mind a picture I have
seen in Medina del Campo, a small Castilian town that hosted an exhibition in memory of Isabella la Catolica, the Queen of Columbus and Granada. The picture by her contemporary El Maestro de Zafra (Alejo Fernandez) was one of the most striking and impressive of the art of his period, of any period, period. In the midst of an Apocalyptic battle, amongst saints and angels, devils and dragons, on the deep blue background, shone a handsome, calm, serene countenance of St Michael with raised sword in one hand and the embossed shield in the other.
A visage of supreme beauty, somewhat androgynous as angels are, the serene St Michael knew no hate; fury clouded not his calm blue eyes. Anger furrowed not his brow crowned with cross, but his sword was not a toy and it was raised to smite.
Tucked away in a deep valley lies the Palestinian village of En Karim, where red and purple bunches of bougainvillea embrace its delightful Visitation Church, which marks the meeting of the two expecting mothers. In its second storey, there is a big painting of the Lepanto maritime
battle, with the Virgin as the battle spirit, the Commander of the Celestial Army and the Defender of Faith, akin to the St Michael of Castilians, to Nike of Greeks and to Valkyries of the North; a manifestation of Christ, who said, 'I've brought you not peace but sword', the sword of St Michael.
The Christian faith contains seemingly contradictory ideas; this is one of its unique qualities. It includes the example of St Francis of Assisi who considered it his best pleasure to be humiliated and thrown into
snow. But it also includes the risen sword of St Michael. These two opposites are harmonized by our love to God and to our fellow human being. This love can cause us to give everything including our life, and it can cause us to take life, as well.
As our friend and philosopher Michael Neumann eloquently stated, "Christianity is a religion of love, but not of cloying, hippy-dippy love. The repentant sinner is loved. The sinner persisting in sin is abhorred, but receives God's love if or when he receives the grace to
repent. Think of Tertullian: what we learn on Judgment Day is who, in the end, is hated. We must always love our enemies, but not the enemies of God."
Too often, non-violence grows not out of humility and self-sacrifice, but out of self-preservation and fear, fear of supporting the right side in the war. It is easier to be "against wars and violence" in general than it is to stand against an aggressor and invader, especially if your country happens to be the aggressor and invader.
Thus, in Italy,
Communist leader Fausto Bertinotti has proclaimed that he is "Against the Iraqi War for he is a pacifist and against wars in general'. After such a statement, he had no reason to demand the return home of Italian soldiers. And he did not. What a change for a party that had once taught the ringing words of that great rebel, Chairman Mao, "Power grows out of the barrel of a gun"!
True, the Italians have found themselves in a tight corner. For the second time in the last sixty years their country has chosen a
wrong partner - two times too many! Sixty years ago, young Italian soldiers went with Hitler to Stalingrad; today, their sons and grandchildren proceed with Bush to Baghdad. Still, then as now, a painful duty of an Italian man of conscience is to wish the speedy victory to the people who shoot at Italian troops, be it Russian soldiers on Volga River or Iraqi resistance fighters on Euphrates.
Some wars are silly: nobody knows why the WWI was fought - there was not even a Helen to be brought home from the banks of Spree
River. In such a war, one should not fight. But in this war we have a right and a wrong side, and we are duty bound to support right against wrong.
Regarding the Third World War waged in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, it is not enough to be "against the war" and preach non-violence "to both sides". One has to give full moral support to the fighters who resist the invader just as the Russians resisted the German and Italian aggression in WWII. In the same way, good Americans supported the Viet Cong against
their own army; and good French - like our friends Ginette Scandrani and Serge Thion - supported the Algerian resistance. Pacifism offers a coward's escape from facing moral choice.
The moral record of pacifism is far from perfect. Many readers have heard of a wartime American book by a Dr. Kaufman who proposed to sterilize the Germans to get rid of the war drive. The German propaganda ministry reprinted this book by the millions to steel the spirit of their fighters and to remind them that they were defending not only
their Fatherland but their Fatherhood as well. Not many people know that the same Dr. Kaufman proposed to sterilize Americans, too - he was a convinced pacifist and thought there was nothing like mass sterilization to bring universal peace.
Another great pacifist, Lord Bertrand Russell, advocated nuking Soviet Russia in order to bring peace. Father of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi advised the Jews to commit mass suicide to shame their Nazi oppressors, while his political career ended with one of the biggest massacres in
human history. In short, pacifism is a quirky, doubtful and unsuccessful idea.
In the past, the enemies of Christ tried to convince Christians (in my view Muslims are Christians too, for they believe that Jesus is Christ) to accept non-violence and pacifism by various sophisms. The entertaining (if anti-Christian-to-extreme) Judaic best-seller of the fourth century, Toledot Yeshu, tells us of a cunning Jew who came to the first Christians and told them he was sent by Christ. He indoctrinated them (the
book says) in the name of Jesus:
"Christ suffered in Jewish hands, but he did not resist. Likewise you should suffer whatever Jews do to you and not cause them any damage just like Jesus. If a Jew demands that you walk a mile, walk even two miles; if a Jew hurts you, do not hurt him back. If a Jew strikes your right cheek, offer him your left cheek out of your love to Jesus and do not cause Jews any trouble, big or small. If a Jew insults you, do not punish him but tell
him: "It is your arrogance that speaks;" and let him go freely. If you want to be with Jesus in the Better World, you should suffer all the evil caused to you by Jews and repay them with good deeds and mercy".
We do not know whether such an indoctrination attempt ever took place in the murky years preceding Constantine's conversion, (the 4th Century AD is when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and Christianity became the official faith of the Roman Empire), but if such an
attempt was made, it failed profoundly as many an insolent Jew learned to his peril. It is not that Christians forgot the words of Jesus (his pacific message did not relate to Jews in particular), but the Christian faith is not a collection of his sayings; it is manifested in the living body of the church, in her doctrine and praxis, and it includes the flowers of St Francis and the sword of St Michael.
The society, like everything in the universe, is in the best state when there is a balance between the yin
(the passive, female principle) and yang (the active, masculine principle). Christendom was powerful when its yang was strong. Then, the church blessed many warriors and was blessed by them. St George the Dragon Slayer and St Joan of Arc wielded sword. The Western Church knew Knights Templar and St John's, and the Eastern Church venerates St Alexander Nevsky who defeated the Germans and St Sergius who prayed for victory over the Tartars. For war may have a spiritual meaning; and we
may acknowledge that "war is a possible ascetical and immortalizing path", as Julius Evola summed up the medieval Christian tradition. Our Muslim brothers implied it by their double concept of a Minor Jihad (war for faith against the oppressor) and the Major Jihad (war for faith in the soul of man).
Now yin element won over the spirit of the west, while its natural un-subdued yang parted with harmony. The Peace movement is dominated by women, and it is not a coincidence. In his article Little Old Ladies
for Peace, the reviewer of the Pardes, Owen Owens notes the makeup of the Peace Camp crowd as "female, old and short". For sure they are blessed, but their prevalence is a sign of misbalance. Beside the Yin Peace Movement, there is - or there should be - the Yang Victory Movement. They, the fighters with AK machineguns cautiously treading the narrow streets of Nablus or Faluja, the French farmers of Bove crushing McDonalds with their bulldozers, the demonstrators of Seattle and Genoa, partisans of Che Guevara and rebels of Mishima are
the latter day Christ warriors, holding out against the ultimate anti-Christian force in the history of Christendom. Hail the warriors; hang not on their shooting arm. Maybe we won't have peace; but we'll have victory.
The T-net discussion on Non-Violence (edited):
From Dutch free thinker Joost van Steenis :
If you are a poor black man serving a long prison sentence in an American jail, you may not agree that violence pays. But in many cases even small
groups of mass people get results by using some violence. Anyhow, violence brings something about that never can be achieved by peaceful means. Shocks, that contain always some violence, are indispensable to advance society. The American army was chased away from Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. Saddam Hussein and Noriega were arrested by American violence. The Spanish and the Philippine army left Iraq after violent incidents against their citizens. Jordanian, Saudi and Turkish firms stopped their business in Iraq after employees were abducted.
Many hostages were freed after the payment of ransom. The list can be made very long and includes many small acts of unknown people that never reach the News.
Nations and governments often use violence to confirm their leading position and their superior power. Relatively small groups of mass people, who seem to have no real power, also can get positive results by using some violence (including the threat with violence).
It does not matter if you agree with what is wanted or with the used violent methods
(I often do not) but I have to confirm that violence sometimes (or is it often?) pays. Successes are numerous. The positive results - the perpetrators get what they want - are in flagrant contradiction to the results of peaceful actions in which many more people are involved. These activities demand much more energy than violent and direct actions. Peaceful, decent or dignified demonstrations against the Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars and the ABC-weapons or in connection with human rights, genetic manipulation of crops, the continuing existence
of widespread poverty and preventable illnesses have had hardly any positive result.
I support Joost. Not only on the practical plane - soldiers, knights, warriors are as important as priests in their own place. The propaganda of non-violence goes against the very order of things by trying to undermine the spirit of chivalry. On this question, Lenin agrees with the Knights Templar and with the Upanishads. Even on this list, more given to
priests than to warriors, we may acknowledge that 'War is a possible ascetical and immortalizing path', as Evola summed up the medieval Christian tradition. As our great task is to restore harmony between male and female, Yin and Yang principles, we should not overlook the Yang concept of war.
Joh Domingo quoted:
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch
them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression." --002:191-193 Qu'ran.
Ardeshir Mehta responded:
"Sorry, here is precisely where I and Hazrat Muhammad, peace (and not war!) be unto him, part ways. I am with Christ, who did NOT resist tumult and oppression even when practiced against him personally!
How can Shamir call himself a Christian, and then take the path of war? Has he forgotten that not only Christ himself, but all, without a single exception, a-l-l! - of his disciples, and that too for several hundred
years after his crucifixion, practiced non-violence, and endured "tumult and oppression" rather than indulge in slaughter, because THAT is what Christ unambiguously taught them to do? One can be a Christian, or one can be on the warpath, but one can't be both. Christ has taught so himself, MOST clearly. Once the Churches turned militant (and they did so as soon as they acquired military might!), they ceased to be Christian, and instead turned into instruments of Satan. How much blood was spilled by them? Their history makes that of the
Jews look positively benign in comparison ... as the Jews themselves never cease to point out to us when we criticize them! Christ also clearly and unambiguously taught (as per Matthew Chapter 7) that to be considered a Christian in CHRIST'S eyes - and not merely in one's own! - one must do the Will of his 'Father which is in heaven'"
Joh Domingo (short-tempered):
"But really Ardeshir, your neo-Christianity is getting tiresome. This is not even a question of non-violence vs. violence; yours is the posture a dog takes when threatened by a bigger dog - on its back, tail between the legs and legs in the air."
Ardeshir Mehta (AM) (responding unabated):
"It is not NEO-Christianity, it is the ONLY
Christianity! Show us where Christ advocates physical violence in the gospels. We are all ears! Christ NEVER advocated physical violence to be undertaken by his disciples. And he said words to the effect that if a person does not do as he says, he will repudiate such a person even if that person calls Christ "Lord". Check it out! One can be a Christian, or one can advocate violence, but one can't be both. This message of the gospels is even more abundantly clear than the genocidal racism of the Old Testament!
It is the violence-advocating position that continues to leave the oppressed in Palestine perpetually oppressed - whether oppressed by Zionists or by other Palestinians! Remember that the winner in a violent conflict is not, in most cases, the kinder, gentler person or party: he is normally the more vicious of the two. The winner will almost always be worse to those over whom he gains power than the loser would have been!" (See what has happened in Iraq.)
"Did Jesus not flog the moneychangers in the Temple? Perhaps he only beat them lightly with a twig? Is violence harmful? Of course it is harmful, and adopting a counter- violent posture is safe, nobody will ever condemn you for it. But to be non-violent in the face of extreme violence is not necessarily noble. It is taking an ideological position when you are not in the firing line. Do I justify Palestinian violence? No, I support it."
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our heart, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence." - Mohandas K. Gandhi
Gandhi knew that non-violence also provoked violence.
As for non-violence, it is the weakest position there is. The implication is that Zionist would dearly love Palestinians to continue their violence; nothing could be further from the truth. While it can be argued
that the strategy of violence can seem to be counterproductive, no oppressor prefers violent resistance, especially reactive violence; which violent resistance is. Palestinians have wholeheartedly supported the violent resistance to Israeli oppression. They are on the ground and the victims when the 'retaliation' kicks in. Who are we to second guess them? If you cannot support the strategy on the ground, support the opposition. Without the armed resistance, we would all be whistling in the wind.
This is the reality;
Palestinians are getting killed on a daily basis. No strategy to date has included a solution not requiring or seeking alternates to death. Whether there is violence or not, Palestinians have been getting killed. It is not only happening because of the Intifada, it has been happening before OSLO, during OSLO and after OSLO. They do not have the option of surrender. What does surrender entail? They get killed when they bow and scrape and they get killed when they resist. In such circumstance, there is no other option but to resist. Talk
of Palestinian non-violence is propaganda, and Shamir is absolutely correct when he states this evident fact. People do not fight and die for no reason at all; this talk defiles the blood sacrifice on the battleground.
From intrepid Hal Womack in SF, California:
Is Ardeshir being too modest, again? Should he come out & tell us frankly that he is the Second Coming, after having learned from his mistakes the first time around? Only such an exalted position could justify his otherwise ridiculous attempt to block out the sun for all of the rest of us by holding up his hand against the sky. Really "pontificates" too weak a verb for brazen balderdash such as:
"One can be a
Christian or one can be an advocate of violence, but one can't be both."
Will AM give us the exact number of Christian denominations which provide chaplains to the U.S. military? Christianity has been the official imperial religion since the Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century promoted the slogan "In hoc signo vinces". The traditional doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church on the seven necessary conditions for a just war constitutes an intellectual cathedral next to which AM's smugly false assertions amount
only to a fart in a small paper bag. Loath though I am to fall in with the millennially-discredited Bible-thumping school of political argument, I will answer AM's caps-lock rant with recollections culled only from the old noodle: Am I merely hallucinating or does the Gospel have Jesus saying something like, 'I come not to bring peace, but the sword, to set husband against wife and children against parents' ? In the run-up to his arrest, does Jesus tell his disciples to sell their garments in order to buy swords?
"Let's suppose the Palestinians do win militarily against the Israelis, in other win by violence, and thereupon establish THEIR rule in Palestine. Why do you imagine it will it be a better rule?"
Because the Palestinians wish to have their children educated rather than shot, as the Jews do every day. Does AM recognize the name of Raghda Al-Assar of Khan Younis? She is eleven years old and until yesterday was in the 4th grade where she was sitting
at her desk in the classroom when the Jews shot her in the head. Now she is on life-support machines at the near-by Nasser Hospital which the Jews also regularly shoot up.
Was the Mullahs' rule in Iran better than that of the Shah?
"Was"? Did I miss something? Has AM been invited to assume the Peacock Throne?
Was the rule of the Bolsheviks better than that of the Tsars?
The coup d'état of 1917 did split the White Man's world empire, thus allowing the immense colored
majority of humanity to gain its political independence. We note that China under Mao Zedong and his successors has followed our Planet's most enlightened foreign policy, whereas India --laboring under the burden of Gandhi's intellectual muddle-- is still slaughtering large numbers of its own Muslims, holding Kashmir captive and threatening atomic war. I have previously recommended on the list Mao's essay "On Revolutionary War" as the leading contemporary text on the question of violence. Evidently AM has yet to make it all the way through
Luke. Perhaps with a little more time.
Omnibus on The Sword of St Michael
From Neil Bishop
It appears to me that much of the difficulty associated with Christ's injunction to "turn the other cheek" comes from the assumption that he intends being struck on the cheek as a metaphor for every sort of violence whatever, so that one can say, for example, that this injunction means that if your enemy cuts off your right hand, you should offer him the other. But what if Christ meant what he said literally, and not metaphorically? Then he was simply saying that if your enemy insults you (for a slap on the cheek is really a form of
insult, not a serious act of violence), do not respond. All the apparent excess or unreasonableness of Christ's saying simply disappears if we eschew the metaphorical interpretation.
From Maureen Quinn:
Dear Mr. Shamir,
I have read and enjoyed many of your writings and never dreamed I would have the occasion or nerve to write to you - but now there does seem some necessity, because it concerns one of my great heroes, St. Francis of Assisi.
I did a lot of research on the man and his message. He was both soldier and knight and never shirked this duty in defence of his city. He was a POW, freed after ransom was paid by his father and then could hardly wait to go off to war as a knight - it was only his illness that made him turn back. Depressed, he roamed the countryside and one day came upon the ruins
of an old church, in which he came across a cross - the Damian crucifix of the Eastern church - and according to legend, it was this cross which "spoke" to him the words "repair my church". (Obvious now that it referred to the schism between East and West or Constantinople and Rome)
At the same time, he was filled with an overwhelming joy and
desire to be an instrument of the Suffering Servant, and I think it was this joy that made him indifferent to his own physical security - in fact he called himself the joyful fool of the Lord and referred to his body as Brother Ass. Yet he didn't expect anyone to follow - they just did, because his inner joy was contagious and made people feel free.
He even went on a crusade to
Jerusalem and it was only when he saw with horror what his beloved ideal of knights of chivalry had become, depraved and mad with blood-lust, that he was so distraught he wandered into enemy territory and taken to the Sultan as a POW once again. Surely you know of this encounter and that they parted as friends with Francis given safe passage back to Italy, where he died shortly afterwards, a broken man full of suffering for what his beloved Church had done in the name of Christ. Have you not read Dante's Divine Comedy - (Dante apparently
died wearing a habit of the Franciscan Third Order) What would he have said about the Ustashi movement in Croatia - the horrors done in the name of St. Francis!
Why do you pick on short old women who are pacifists? Surely there are a few short old men who feel the same, and maybe some of other sizes and ages?
Dear Mr. Shamir forgive my boldness, but did Mahatma Ganhdi not imply that the Jews would be better off committing mass suicide because he knew that under the system of Fascism, the state makes no allowances for human compassion towards those it has called the enemy? Gandhi never called for pacifism as I understood it, but rather non-violent resistance to injustice, even if it means having to sacrifice your own life to fight for the justice of
another. In fact he considered it a duty. Isn't that what some of those short grannies are doing when they take police blows and jail to resist injustice of state-sponsored terrorism?
Please forgive me, but I had to write this. Your talent is so great and the word pictures you create so beautiful, I couldn't believe what this article was saying.
Shamir responds: I admire St Francis, he was certainly brave and wonderful man. His Fioretti is my favourite book. But i recognise Don Quixote as a valid Christian example, too.
This comment is about turning the other cheek. I am part of some interfaith work in the USA. I will try to keep it generic. At a coalition meeting of various christian denominations (I am Antiochian/Syrian Orthodox) an Orthodox priest from Serbia shared with me and others about this quote "turning the other cheek". Fr. said it was the most
misunderstood quote of the Christ. He said the church is partly responsible for this misunderstanding but also translations did not reflect it's appropriate meaning that being if someone strikes you for what you know is right when you give them the other cheek it is not for more abuse but rather that you take a stand for what you know is right. Sort of you hit me once - now give me your best shot - or bring it on. the Christ did not die because he was weak and surrendered his life to abuse, but rather He GAVE his life what what was
right meaning he did not back down or shink in fear but no matter what his opponents could do to him -take his life even - he would not be swayed from the truth. Death not being fearing but truth being victory - just thought to share this alternative understanding to this very mush used quote. God Bless The Whole World,
From Artem Kirpichenok, Jerusalem
Please do not repeat the Gandhi Myth, that his non-violence movement forced the British to leave India. This line of thought is very useful for the
ruling class. Resist non-violently, fast, immolate yourself and you will get what you want. It is nonsense. The Brits left India after 1942 when India was about to switch to the Japanese side at the war; in many states the guerrilla war went on incessantly. Gandhi was a soft guy towards colonisers, like Abdullah the Emir of Transjordan. That is why the colonisers chose him and transferred him the power. India is the land of myths - the myth of the biggest democracy, the Gandhi Myth, Mother Teresa Myth...
From Rowan Berkeley:
I regret that ISH simply brackets my views with those of 'zionists and hitlerites' but he is not really being very
frank. He knows Catholicism itself has a hollow center and two very lively extremist and potentially schismatic 'wings' just like practically everything else does. He also, I'm sure, realises that people like Rowan Williams can go on quoting Dispensationalist passages from Paul to neutralise Substitutionist ones until Kingdom Come (which itself is a notion which will take diametrically opposed forms depending on which of those views one subscribes to). The best sites to get the gist of critical New Testament studies are:
http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/jhcbody.html and http://www.hermann-detering.de/
You will see that these critics tend to pursue on the one hand the question of the
historicity of Jesus, and on the other that of the authenticity of Paul's letters. Actually these two questions are not intrinsically related to one another. Whatever the real origin of Paul's letters (and the argument in a nutshell is that they contain a core of proto-gnostic material rejecting the Old Testament altogether and claiming that Jesus was an emissary of a different and better God than that of the Jews - this is their 'Marcionism'), it is obviously not based on any reliable traditions about the 'real Jesus', who cannot
possibly really have been anything like this, but to judge from the huge number of anti-Pharisaic statements attributed to him, seems to me to have been a sort of proto-Karaite, no more and no less.
In other words, the fact that early Christianity was not based on the most reliable Jesus traditions, and that the more pro-Jewish, Roman-Christian recension of it does get
marginally closer to what the 'real Jesus' probably taught, is actually irrelevant. The power of Christianity lies in the fact that it is able to ignore the 'real Jesus' and posit a complete rejection of the Jewish God. This is the power or potential power of Christianity which everybody longs for, flirts with, and through various mechanisms either pursues or runs away from, even though it has nothing to do with what the 'real Jesus' taught. The power of Christianity lies not in Jesus at all but in Paul (specifically, in the original core of
Paul's letters, minus the proto-Dispensationalist additions - in lines like "who shall deliver me from this body of death?" which are clearly proto-gnostic). Because we naively assume that fidelity to the 'real Jesus' is the key to understanding the power of Christianity, we always miss this point.