2051: a space monstrosity (part vi)

“Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear hellfire,” I informed the crew. “The Sagan’s communication beacon has been pinging mission control for the last 50 years, ever since we entered hibernation stasis. We haven’t received a response back. It is safe to assume that all nuclear powers on Earth have indeed initiated Mutually Assured Destruction, leaving the planet in a radiated mess, meaning it won’t be safe to return there for the next 250 years.”

“279 years to be precise,” Dr. Jackass interrupted.

“In all likelihood,” I continued, “we are the last remaining members of Space Fleet, and possibly the last Earthlings.”

The crew looked at one another.

“When did you learn about this?” Valdez asked.

“Not long after we departed Tranquility Bay,” I replied.

“So we could have aborted the mission, returned to Earth, and Smashhouse would still be alive,” Valdez retorted.

“My orders were to continue with the mission and initiate population measures on the planet orbiting Tau Ceti. We have a responsibility not only to Space Fleet, but to humanity as well, to maintain our race.”

Valdez threw up her hands in frustration. “What about our responsibilities to the people of Earth?!” she cried, then stormed out of the briefing room.

Patel spoke up. “What about that ‘God’ thing?” he asked.

“Patel, you don’t seem to be too disturbed about this news,” I said.

“Sir, I’m in Space Fleet. We all knew the risks when we signed up.”

I nodded. “Forget about the ‘God’ situation. The being they have captured underground is indeed an intelligent life form, but I believe its intentions are deceptive. In my assessment, it’s too dangerous to bring it on this ship and back to Earth. Therefore, that thing, whatever it is, is the Ishnarian’s problem. I believe our best course of action is to remain here, under the good will of the Ishnarians.”

“Sir,” Hanson interrupted. “I’m in agreement with Valdez. We must return to Earth and assist in recovery efforts.”

“Hanson,” I said, “there may be nothing to return to. And that’s to say nothing about surviving hibernation stasis.”

“Earth is our home sir! We must do something!”

“Now I am the captain! And my orders are to remain here. Is that clear?”

“How can you be a captain when there is no Space Fleet?!” Hanson said and left the room in protest.

“I guess the meeting’s adjourned then,” I said. As everyone left the room, I pulled the Doctor aside. “Check on Valdez,” I told him. “Confirm that she’s pregnant. Run a medical exam if need be. We need to investigate the veracity of Yah’s claims.”

“Aye sir.”

I returned to my quarters and pulled out a bottle of bourbon. There was a knock on the door. “May I speak with you sir?” the voice asked.

It was Mwangi.

After my encounter with Yah, I had been reluctant to make eye contact with her. I took a big swig from the bottle and invited her in.

“What can I do for you Commander?” I asked.

“Sir, I didn’t want to bring this up in front of the crew,” Mwangi said, “but launch thrusters are blown in addition to the hydrogen drive being depleted. And with hibernation chambers being iffy at best, it appears that we’re stuck here.”

I started to rub my temples. “I can’t believe that Space Fleet sent us up in this piece of shit,” I said. “Is there anything you can do?”

“It’s normally a simple refueling process,” she replied, “but because we’re on a planet stuck in the 14th Century, it might take decades before I could develop the materials to even begin the process. I’m sorry Captain.”

I sighed. “It’s not your fault Commander,” I said.

“I guess you can call me Nia now.”

“Can I offer you a drink Nia?”

“I would love one sir.”

“Please, call me Bill,” I said as I poured her a glass. After I handed it to her, she stared at it for awhile in deep thought.

“I also want to tell you that even though you’re the captain and have to maintain a stoic distance away from the crew,” Nia said, “I have supported your decisions 100%. And I know these last few days have been difficult for you. But you don’t have to be a stranger. You have my support.”

“A captain is only as good as his crew, specifically his Chief Engineer,” I joked.

“Then you must not be a very good captain,” she laughed.

“Nonsense,” I said, “I’m thankful to have your support.”

There was an awkward silence for a few moments as we sipped our drinks. Finally, Nia smiled and spoke up. “So how are you going to spend the rest of your days on this planet?”

“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” I laughed. “I guess I’ll be a farmer. There’s nothing else to do on this forsaken planet.”

Nia leaned forward to touch my hand. “I could be a farmer’s wife,” she said.

I clasped onto her hand. “Now I just need to talk to the Ishnarians,” I replied.

2051: a space monstrosity (part V)- meeting God

“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.

“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”

“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.

“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.

“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”

“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”

“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.

“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”

“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”

I rolled my eyes.

Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”

When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”

Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”

Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.

I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.

He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.

“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”

Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.

Then a strange voice came over the monitor.

“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.

“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”

“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.

“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”

“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”

“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”

“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”

“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”

“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”

“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”

“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”

“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”

“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”

I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”

“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”

“Hold it-“

“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”

“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”

“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.

“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.

“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.

“What happened?” Hazov asked.

“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”

The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.

“Bill,” Jackass said, “Yah may have a point.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

2051: a space monstrosity (part iv)- 1st contact

“So you’re telling me that God is actually a gas being…as opposed to a liquid and solid being like we are…comprised of mostly radon and xenon IN ADDITION to an energy source fundamental to the universe that has yet been discovered? So he’s basically a floating brain that can disappear and reappear through subspace, thus giving the appearance of being omnipotent and omnipresent. But he is actually locally bound by gravity, just like normal matter in the universe?” I asked Hazov.

“That is correct.”

“That’s crazy. If he’s gas and can disappear into subspace, then how did you capture him?”

“He’s not the only one ya know? We had help from members of his species. This particular “God”, as you call him, has been on the run for millennia. After we rebelled against Yah, as we call him, we were discovered by this particular alien race and they helped us capture him. This race of beings, or “gods” if you will, instructed us to put Yah on trial for his crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and placed within an inescapable gas chamber deep beneath the surface. The Gods recommended that we reach out to Earthlings, so that Yah can face his crimes there.”

“Why didn’t they reach out to us directly?”

“The Gods have a strict “no-interaction” policy with humans, a rule which Yah broke and the Gods temporarily suspended, which is why they helped us capture him.”

“I don’t know Hazov. If what you’re saying is true, there’s is no one alive today on Earth that could testify against him.”

“The Gods feel that there is no statute of limitations on such crimes. They’ve also provided evidence.”

“No court on Earth would accept this case. There’s no precedent and no direct testimony.”

“On the contrary. Yah is prepared to return to Earth to answer for his crimes.”

“Pardon?”

“He wants to right his wrongs.”

I laughed and threw up my hands. “In the last 20 minutes, I learned that there are humans on another planet and that God exists…in fact, MULTIPLE Gods exist…and this particular God was actually the Devil and he wants to repent. None of this sounds real. And besides, how did you guys get to Ishna? Are Earthlings descended from you, or are you descended from Earthlings?” I asked.

“We are descendants from the followers of Yah on Earth. The Gods were onto Yah’s activities there and he had to go on the run. A number of his followers went with him on a crude starship 1500 years ago, and that’s when they discovered this planet.”

“Why did the people of Ishna turn on him?”

“He was a tyrant. He stated that there should be no other gods before him. Strangely everyone assumed that he was the ONLY god. But this came under question by my grandfather, who challenged Yah’s authority. Yah was about to bring a plague onto Ishna for retribution but the Gods caught up with him. His rule was toppled, he was brought to trial, and then he was imprisoned.”

“What happened this God alliance that was after Yah?”

“They disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared.”

I rubbed my forehead. I was starting to have a headache. “So can I visit with Yah?” I asked.

“You can meet with him whenever you’re ready,” Hazov replied.

“I’m not ready,” I replied. “I must meet with my crew first.”

“Take your time.”

I returned to the Sagan and summoned the crew. “If you have religious convictions, I have some good news and bad news,” I said. “Good news is God exists. Bad news is he’s imprisoned on this planet.”

Patel and Hanson were shocked. “The fuck your talking about, Captain?” Patel asked.

“God’s an evil bastard apparently,” I replied. “He tortured the people of Earth and the people of this planet. But he’s wanting to change his ways and is prepared to face the people of Earth. Plus there are humans on this planet too.”

Everyone was confused. “How do you know they’re telling the truth?” Hanson asked.

“Well I just talked to the humans,” I replied. “As for other part, there’s only one way to find out: I’m gonna go talk to God.”

2051: a space monstrosity

To avoid alienating my audience with discussions on politics that are completely boring and academic, I’ve decided to make a return to fiction.

Once again, I will challenge myself by writing in a genre that I’ve never done before. This time HARD science fiction (if you know what I mean 😉) a la Arthur C. Clarke, albeit in first person because that’s the only way I know how to write.

And instead of descending into pure action schlock, as my stories tend to do, I will try to end this one on a hopeful note.

Per usual, I will be winging it and make no guarantees that it will be good.

“Fuck space!” I said to my executive officer while we were docking at Space Station Tranquility Bay orbiting earth. “This will be my last mission, so help me GOD!”

“You said that 5 missions ago, Bill,” the XO replied. “Personally, I love it out here. It truly is a never ending frontier.”

“Speak for yourself, Jackass!”

Dr. Sergei Jackass and I served together for 15 years. I was a military man. He was trained astrophysicist from some dump of a university in east Europe. We came from two different worlds, but together we made one hell of a team.

After our ship, the USV Jim Varney, completed docking maneuvers, Dr. Jackass and I were ordered to meet with Admiral Stockdale for debriefing.

“Captain Kananga, I trust that your mission was a success,” the Admiral said.

“Yes sir,” I replied, “the two years studying the black hole around Uranus was money well spent.”

“We gathered all the sufficient data sir,” Dr. Jackass interjected.

“Good. You men will have a fortnight’s rest and then report USV Carl Sagan for your next mission.”

“Wait a minute, sir,” I said, “with all due respect, there’s a reason why the Sagan is called the Starship of the Imagination: because your imagination is the only thing that works on that piece of shit. If you want to send me into deep space in that thing, then you can have my resignation.”

“Captain Kananga, I understand that you want to be on the front lines in the war in North Africa, but this is important. We need you out here.”

“What can be more important than fighting for peace and democracy?”

“Because this information is classified, I was going to wait until you reported to the Sagan. But I will tell you now. We have received a strange transmission from a planet orbiting Tau Ceti.”

“Admiral,” I said, “I’ve been on one end of the Solar System to the other, and let me tell ya: there ain’t no aliens.”

“Space Fleet Command disagrees. STRONGLY,” the Admiral replied, “take a look at this report.”

The Admiral handed me a folder filled with charts and graphs I didn’t understand. “You know I can’t read this shit,” I said, “I’m a soldier, not a mathematician.”

Dr. Jackass took the paperwork and was stunned. “My god,” he said, “Captain, this is for real this time.”

I paused and rubbed my face. “Tau Ceti is over four light years away,” I said, “there’s no way the Sagan could make that kind of journey.”

“The Sagan has been updated and outfitted with all the necessary technology for interstellar travel,” the Admiral added. “We need you Captain. Damn it Bill. We need you. BADLY.”

The Admiral extended his hand.

“Okay Admiral,” I said as I shook his hand, “one more mission.”

***

I celebrated my birthday while on leave. I was somberly drinking myself into oblivion when Dr. Jackass stopped by my London flat.

“Doctor, I don’t want to be lectured,” I said.

“All I said was ‘happy birthday.’”

“With all the heavy interstellar objects that we’ve spent so much time around, we’ve aged so much slower than people on Earth. I’m the same age as my son now! Nobody told me that was gonna happen!”

“Is this about not being able to fight in the war?”

I took another drink. “I don’t know doc,” I said. “I feel like I’ve let so much time on Earth pass. This planet’s gone to shit and I’ve been wasting time flying around space doing nothing about it. The resources dedicated to Space Fleet could have been redirected to fight this war. I feel useless. Old.”

The doctor poured himself a glass of Irish Whiskey. “Captain, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” he said, “but the exploration of space is Earth’s destiny. War is a machine of humanity’s past. It’s time to put childish things away and build a future.”

“Dr. Jackass, you’re an idealist. I’m a realist. We don’t live in the future. We live in the present. And presently I’m drunk as shit, depressed, and want to kill people.”

“You’re too short sighted.”

“No, I see the universe for what it is: a vast empty wasteland, void of any meaning or God. And if there is a God, he has to answer for creating this shitty planet. I swear.”

“I think you need to sober up.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

lamentations

Think hard enough and you’d realize that life is pretty stupid.

Sure it’s easy to marvel at the miracle of consciousness, but when you consider the immensity of the universe, there’s nothing miraculous about it.

Your suffering is pointless.

The universe is the totality of all there is, all there can be. All possibilities are both infinite and determined.

God has abandoned you.

All is vanity, all is darkness. Consider Voltaire: we live in the worst of all possible worlds.

In this world void of hope, there is one beacon of light:

Arby’s: Put Some Meaning in Your Life

sublimate well

Sorry, I was high on gas fumes and aerosols when I wrote my last post. It kinda went off the rails there towards the end.

So allow me to muddy the waters a bit more.

Fundamentally, I think that “everything is ideology“ (a lot of people have thought about this long before me). And I mean EVERYTHING: objects, sex, relationships, beauty, art…everything. To break these things down to their smaller components would reveal true horror: your food is dead animals and vegetables, sex is exchanging of gross bodily fluids, etc. So we have to sublimate these objects into ideas…hence “everything is ideology”.

Which is perfectly acceptable! Humans are both blessed and cursed by logic and reasoning because these functions often reveal the nothingness behind everything. Thus, REAL truth is terrifying and ultimately meaningless, so the “mask” of ideology is the only “reality” that matters. Sometimes existential dread ensues because of this. Therefore sublimation, in the Freudian sense, is helpful in constructing a healthy view of the world.

Which is why I sometimes praise religion and SOME politics, provided they promote peaceful coexistence and openness. Clearly sublimating into certain ideologies can lead to straight up derangement. So, therefore,“sublimate well”.

poop

woyzek and ninth configuration

I swear that I don’t plan what movies I’m gonna watch. I sit on my ass and scroll through some app on my smart TV and find random shit.

Oddly enough, the two movies I watched back to back were Werner Herzog’s Woyzeck and William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration. Both films are about military personnel dealing with insanity and philosophy….not subjects that you find in most films.

This is probably not one of Herzog’s more appreciated films and I wasn’t entirely certain what to make of it. If you watch it, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to you that it was shot in 18 days. For a period piece, it’s very small scale and stage-like. But knowing this might help on a second viewing.

Klaus Kinski plays the titular character Woyzeck. He’s a lowly soldier that’s essentially being gaslit by his commanding officer and a quack doctor. He’s a loving father and husband, but his wife sleeps around with another officer and that officer publicly humiliates Woyzeck. Finally, he murders his wife.

Other reviewers called this an “anti-Enlightenment” film. I think that’s apt. The two men egging on Woyzeck’s decent into madness are obsessed with science and philosophy. The officer even mocks Woyzeck, stating that he lacks “morals” due to his status in society. Woyzeck defends himself, claiming that as a man without money or education, he simply does what’s “natural”. When viewed from this perspective, the Enlightenment ideals espoused by the Officer and Doctor come across as abusive, while Woyzeck is actually the only sane and moral person in the movie. The small scale of the movie contributes to the anti-enlightenment narrative, as it isn’t flashy or self-congratulatory like we’ve come to expect with these kinds of films.

Meanwhile, The Ninth Configuration couldn’t be more different. I could tell you what it’s about, but then I’d be lying. I just know it takes place in a castle acting as a psychiatric ward for Vietnam vets, Stacy Keach is in it, and there’s a bar fight. The movie is totally disorienting. At times it’s a psychological drama, other times it’s a comedy, and at one point it becomes an 80s action flick. The tone is all over the place. Perhaps that’s by design but I’m not totally convinced. Either way, this disorder contributes to the overall mystique of the film.

It should also be noted that The Ninth Configuration apparently exists in The Exorcist expanded universe. Not that it has anything to do with those films, except that one of the characters is in the first one.

To be honest, if I watched these movies in isolation, I wouldn’t be a fan of either. But they work very well in tandem. The military aspect of both films seems trivial, but when we consider the discipline and order that the military provides, it contrasts with the chaos associated with insanity. Additionally both films expose the problem of insanity in different ways. One is very plain and straightforward. The other is a complete fucking mess. Woyzeck proposes that insanity is brought forth by the imposition of morals, logic, possession, and science. Ninth Configuration says that it’s the absence of such ideals…or more precisely, the absence of God… is it’s true driving force. Woyzeck is nihilistic. Ninth Configuration is hopeful. Yet both might agree that insanity arises out of the eternal battle between chaos and order.

what dreams may come

I’m a hard sleeper.

Nothing can, nothing will, wake me up. Construction, gun shots, home invasions, house fires, nuclear holocausts…nothing.

So I get to have incredible dreams. Last night, for example, I dreamt that I was a football player buried deep down the depth chart. The team boarded a plane en route to a game with the pilot both coked up and drunk. The pilot thought it would be cool to do a barrel roll in a passenger plane which caused some concern. I brushed it off and took a nap. When I awoke, the plane had to make an emergency landing onto a road but ended up crashing into an apartment building. No one was killed,miraculously, and the people in the building didn’t think anything unusual about it because it was in Mississippi and apparently things like that happen all the time. Nevertheless, one player thought this was the perfect opportunity to exact revenge…for whatever reasons…on the head coach and a few other players. So it was up to me, some nobody, to save the team.

Once when that was done, I had to book a flight home but chose to fly to London, England instead. The price came to $20,000 and I didn’t have the money. Then the dream ended.

There were dreams on the periphery, one which includes me fighting a rabbit in Monument Valley and sending it to a highly mechanized version of hell.

I guess dreams are just a hodgepodge of shit stored in our heads and when we sleep, our brains randomly throw things together which we later attempt to make sense of (or in my case, project a story onto). Does it ever mean anything? Probably not.

At least not most of the time.

But I do have recurring dreams. Not dreams where the exact same things happen, but they share similar themes, people, places, etc. I suppose that there are shreds of truth in these kinds of dreams: a revelation of regret, dread, loss, and so on.

I find the subject of dreams fascinating. It reveals the chaos that exists in our own minds. Even the purest of people will experience a gruesome nightmare. Despite their outward practices in real life, even in their minds they will produce true horror. That emanates completely from them. We try to project some sense onto our dreams, but the fact is that there isn’t any whatsoever.

We do the same thing to our reality.

hard work has killed millions of people

I once knew a psychopath that loved saying “why do tomorrow what can be done today?”

Nah.

More like “why do today what can be done tomorrow?”

As my father always said: “if you want something done right, get someone else to do it.”

Allegedly William James said “act as if what you do makes a difference.” But the truth is you should “act as if what you do makes absolutely NO difference.” Because it doesn’t.

You’re only here for a small blip in humanity’s history. And humans will only be around for a very short time in comparison to the immensity of the universe. So don’t worry about it, nothing we do here matters 😎

Even the history books will return to dust.

“Falling down is an accident. Staying down is a choice.”

And a good choice 👍

last temptation of Christ: a deeper revolution

The Last Temptation of Christ unsurprisingly stuck with me. Usually when I complete a novel, I think “hmm, that was nice” and I move on to the next thing. But Kazantzakis’s interpretation of “the Greatest Story Ever Told” is rewarding and leaves a lot to think about, especially if you’re obsessed with early Christian history.

I mean, obviously it’s not historically accurate. That’s not the point. The point is that the book brings these familiar characters to life. Jesus begins the book as a sickly carpenter before transforming into the messianic figure we’ve come to know and love. However, his humanity is emphasized. At times, Jesus comes across as a jerk with megalomaniac fantasies. This helps contextualize Jesus the man and the era he lived in.

This is best demonstrated by his relationship with Judas Iscariot. Judas is a true revolutionary with a hatred for the Romans and is often frustrated by Jesus and his message of love. Jesus feels that Judas’s revolutionary ideals don’t go far enough: the concerns for the body are temporary, Jesus wants to bring salvation to the world…Jew and gentile alike.

The various characters are often puzzled by this. This universalism is too lofty, too radical to ever be realized.

And this sort of remains true today. I’ve expressed my admiration for John Dominic Crossan views: Jesus was responding to the imperial authority of the Romans. Jesus and his followers might not thought of it in that way, but that was effectively what he was doing. I don’t think enough scholars, both Christian and secular, stop to appreciate this. Not even Bart Ehrman.

I think this is best demonstrated by the cross as the official symbol of Christianity. Jesus unquestionably died by crucifixion, perhaps the most ruthless form of punishment by the Romans. And none of the early Christian apologists deny that it happened. Stop and think about that: their very leader got “owned” by the Romans. In fact, it HAD to have happened so that he could be resurrected. So Christians took this event and chalked it up as a win for their beliefs, and a loss for the ruthless rule of the Romans.

Scholars often wonder how Paul was able to convince so many pagans to convert to Christianity (or, to be more historically accurate, his form of Christian Judaism, as Paul still thought of himself as a Jew), well maybe here’s an answer: Roman rule under the Pax Romana pissed off enough people that when they heard of a man who was resurrected after a crucifixion, conversion was a way to subtly stick it to the Romans. This could be why Paul put so much emphasis on death and resurrection in his theology.

Yes, I know there are plenty of problems with this theory, chief among these is how little the Romans are criticized in the New Testament. In fact, the Gospels explicitly blame the Jews for Jesus’s death and not the Romans, even though the Romans certainly DID execute Jesus. My response to this is that you don’t have to spend more than two minutes following populist/leftist politics before realizing that they hate each other more than they hate their opposition. It is my opinion (maybe more on that at another time) that this is fundamentally rooted in these kinds of movements. Even though the Romans were THE existential threat to life in the Mediterranean world, it would have been mainstream Judaism that were the primary theological/ideological opponents of early Christianity…even if the Jews were as much under the thumb of Roman rule as they were. This is heresy in the world of radical movements, what leftists might call “class traitors” today, and it wouldn’t take much for Christian writers to switch out Romans for the Jews in regards to who was guilty for Jesus’s death.

It is this narcissism of small differences that plague radical movements, religious and political alike, and I doubt early Christianity was any different. (See Monty Python’s Life of Brian)

It is difficult to tell if the real Jesus actually preached this message of universalism, or a peaceful coexistence of all people under one God. Crossan might, but it’s more likely this was extracted by later thinkers and is now considered the ethical message of Christianity IF people could move past their short-sightedness (maybe not under “one god”, but you get the idea).

Anyways, I’ve spent too much time on this post, forgot where I was going. The end.