Thursday, January 14, 2016

A glutton and a drunkard

Chapter 2 in Michael Frost's book 'Jesus the Fool: The Mission of the Unconventional Christ' is fantastic as far as I'm concerned. It lit a fire in me as I read through it and was quite inspiring. I doubt the highlights I share will do likewise, but these are the things I pulled from the chapter entitled "Here Is A Glutton and A Drunkard." This chapter gives some background on old-time prophets, and reframes Jesus in a way many did not, and still do not, see him. Beautiful stuff. You should read it.

"Some people think it is difficult to be a Christian and to laugh, but I think it's the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy, it's just that he has so many bad actors.
- Garrison Keillor

After giving a lot of historical background on the era, Frost offers this description of hellenization:
"The process by which it contained so heterogeneous and fractured a bevy of cultures is known today as hellenization. This was a program of saturating their vassal states with the Greek culture so as to rob them of their identity and thereby make them less rebellious. It was an ingenious ploy and it worked like magic. Today, we might call it the boiling frog routine.

You know how to boil a frog, don't you? If you throw a live frog into a pot of boiling water, he will jump straight back out again. But if you place him in a pot of cool water and slowly apply the heat, he will sit there and allow himself to be boiled to death. Charming illustration, isn't it? But this is exactly what the Greeks did through hellenization. They introduced the Greek language, customs, pastimes, innovations, and entertainments and slowly converted the vassal nations. In a sense, they seduced them rather than raping them..."

"This, of course, was the desired outcome of the process of hellenization: death by atrophy."

"Jesus was fearless and he was a revolutionary. But so revolutionary was he as to be readily misunderstood by those around him."

"Here was Jesus, the Son of God, walking on earth and transforming lives and reframing his culture's perception of life and faith. And yet those who lived with him for the thirty years before he commenced his public ministry never saw anything in him that would indicate he was the promised Messiah. When he finally did embark on that ministry, they were taken by surprise and said, 'Where did he get all this stuff? He's just Jesus, our local carpenter!'

What does that tell you? To me, it says that Jesus must have been remarkably down-to-earth -- so real, so much like ordinary people -- as to not stand out from the crowd. Does that bother you? If your picture of Jesus has him as some other-worldly, cosmic holy man, you would imagine the Nazarenes responding to Jesus' public ministry with something like, 'We always knew Jesus was different. He wasn't like most people around here. It doesn't surprise me at all that he has gone public with all this religion.'"

"We often emphasize his sternness and solemnity and these were occasionally traits that we find captured in the Gospels. It is true that he drove the moneylenders out of the Temple and that he was involved in an escalating confrontation with the Pharisees. In fact, he could be quite scathing in his remarks about them (and to them). And, of course, his teaching was occasionally sobering. But Jesus was the whimsical man who took the time to watch the lilies of the field swaying in the breeze (Matthew 6:28), who laughed and played with children (Matthew 11:16), and who was often criticized for enjoying himself too much (Matthew 11:19). He was the enchanting storyteller whose parables were not only works of art but also often humorous and sometimes hilarious."

"I often wonder whether there isn't more than a touch of irony in the way that the man who could play himself down by attending his finest earthly moment on a donkey could also initiate a memorial feast like the Lord's Supper. Can you see the humor in the fact that the man who was accused by his detractors of being a drunkard and a glutton told his disciples to do two things in remembering him when he was gone? What were the two things that this so-called drunkard and glutton asked them to do? To drink and eat!"

Good stuff!