1/13/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S. ~
Have you ever noticed how someone who is called a “wise guy” turns out to have been the one who saw through what others missed? And usually, it turns out that that person was truly wise after all. (This site is loaded with insights from such wise guys and wise gals. ) Wise guys are those who sarcastically tell others what they don't like to hear, refuse to consider, or won't say, but suspect or even know is the truth. Wise guys have always been with us in history. Ancient Greeks wrote sarcastic plays. Well known wise guys are Mark Twain, Voltaire, Dorothy Parker, Bill Maher, George Carlin, and Oscar Wilde. In the past, monarchs would employ their personal wise guys in courts as “jesters” or “fools.” They were the royal commentators, entertainingly warning kings and queens of court intrigues and lies, the follies of reigning unwisely. By their presence, they represented the fact rulers should not take themselves too seriously. To this day, many wise guys are known as political satirists, heretics ,and blasphemers.
Let's apply this knowledge to a well-known myth played out in this season. Consider the story of the wise men from the East, but add a wise guy they're talking to. We'll call them WM, and him, WG.
WM: “We're going to visit a newborn Hebrew king in Israel. They want us be sure to bring him lots of gold and other precious stuff. We've got an exclusive on this one.”
WG: “Hebrew newborn king! Interesting. A backward people. And how do you intend to get there, to this stable you speak of, by the way?”
WM: “We're following his star to his birthplace. Shepherds will be there when he's born.”
WG: “His” star? Nobody owns the stars. And stars don't travel across the sky. You know better; you're astrologers, for goodness sake! And another thing: Think about this: shepherds witnessed the birth of our own god Mithras, so you're primed to accept false information about this god-like baby. Somebody's conning you, boys. And there ain't no census either; I checked up on it. You call it faith. I call it gullibility.”
WM, (sneering) : “ So look who's calling himself “wise.”
I can't help but be a modern day wise guy. On Dec. 29, 2014, CNN featured a family whose son donated his organs before he died. On screen was an announcement: 30 people had benefited from this single person's organ donations. One of them was present onscreen as the family members individually came to him and listened with a stethoscope to the heart of their son, beating in his chest. (I remember from many years ago, an episode on a fictional series, “St. Elsewhere,” with a young doctor listening to the heart of his deceased wife beating in a recipient's chest. )
I got an idea from that CNN account, which I relayed to my wife. I told her that I thought of writing a story about a man who has his son killed so that he could donate his son's organs to save lives. She said, “That's weird.” But then I said that I'd call the story, “Salvation.”
How is that story plot any different than that of any father's setting his son up to be tortured to death to save others from a sentence he himself imposed on them? It's what Christmas is about. Considering this, a highly regarded intellectual was present at a Christmas service. Since he was not known as a believer, one of the others present was curious to know what he would say about it. He said, “It would be a beautiful story, if it were true.” I must disagree. It's a ghastly story. It's a tale of bringing a child into the world to be slaughtered like livestock. This is his ultimate value. Worse yet, even lambs sacrificed for the gods were killed humanely, not tortured to death.
Consider those Jesus gospel stories from a different angle, not from that of this poor, misunderstood, loving, and tragic Jesus, but of Jesus as the charismatic cult leader. Maybe this guy's life wasn't so bad after all, because he must have had access to any number of women he wanted for his sexual pleasure. All religious cult leaders have that benefit, and without fail, use it. Naughty Jesus? And maybe, for all that sex and celebrity, he was willing to go through a few hours of suffering. Makes you wonder.
Now, what of that celebrated child? Imagine him spending his day-to-day life knowing that his father will one day have him tortured to death, against his will, never considering any other alternative “solution” for the entire length of his life? Would you call that a wise decision? Would you say it is worthy of praise? That's wisdom?... If it is, hey!, donate your child now.
Listen to the wise guy in your head telling you: If it doesn't make sense, don't waste your time on it.