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Job Security

By Carl S ~

Suppose an original, unexpurgated, ancient scripture was discovered in the monastic library of EinsIedeln, Switzerland. Further on, let's say this fragment was authenticated by biblical and secular scholars as dating from 21 BCE. Let us follow then, the translation of this scripture:

“And Peter said unto the apostles, ‘Hear the word of the Lord. On the night before he died, Jesus spoke to me in the Garden of Gethsemane. Others, who pretended to be asleep, also heard his words. Jesus said, ‘I was wrong and Epicurus was right. This is the only life we will ever have. My talk of eternal life and the coming end of this world have been mistakes. Therefore, I adjure you, obey these my last commands. This is the Good News. Live this one life fully, to do no harm to others, and to love one another as I have loved you. This is the fulfillment of the law and my mission.’”

Any man who does not write his own words gives up control over what is attributed to him after he's dead. Paul was preaching a different interpretation of Jesus to the gentiles, with much success. He knew where the money was. Were they to preach what Jesus commanded, the wisdom of a pagan philosopher? So this was their problem: As his spokesmen, how could they throw away all they gained through living with him? They can't allow this. These, his final words, had to remain their secret.

Let's assume this really happened. What would have been the consequences if Jesus had changed his mind? (He might have, after all. No one else would hear of it.) Well, history would have unfurled much differently: there would be no persecutions and slaughters, no wars, over “faith,” and no “heretics” to torture and kill. Understanding the natural world and humanity's place in it through the observations of Epicurus would open up human minds, rather than cage them in blind orthodoxy. Think of the results if the Enlightenment began 1600 years ago. The Epicurean philosophy has been criticized as being selfish, but it can be extended to include all of humankind.

Originally, the mission of Jesus was for the Jews exclusively. But the Romans were ripe for the exotic religions with their mystical revelations, miracles, signs and omens. It was time for something really new, influenced as they were by exotic cultures in the empire. We observe such influences in our own times. That dusty Jew preaching heresy to faithful Jews was radical, but nothing special. Turning him into something he wasn't required some manipulation, so his becoming “Christ” was really different. Paul of Tarsus was a Roman citizen who emerged preaching of a man who conquered death, and offered a communal great society where everyone would live in harmony only when they agreed to believe what he said. It was a career with respect he wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Long before James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson, Paul of Tarsus and his cronies realized that some people are worth more after they're dead than they were alive. They become idols, and eventually, representations, so they can be trademarked. If they're popular enough, those who claim to have personal, intimate, experiences with the celebrity, have no problem doing “tell-all’s,” even if what they say is not true, if they know what their audiences expect. Get enough people who want to believe, and hold on to the good stuff about the celebrities, and you can keep the money flowing in. And so began “Christianity,” Paul's creation. All religions begin with the “revelations” of single individuals.

Maybe the apostles came to realize there was something to be gained by sticking to those old statements of Jesus. They weren't living well with Jesus, but they didn't have to work, and they got used to it. Maybe they could do better? Knowing people already believed what they claimed Jesus preached, they might continue to add more, newly invented, “sayings of Jesus.” And as for explaining their “truths” through apologists; well, each person's interpretation of lies and fantasy is still lies and fantasy.

At any rate, they would be the authorities, improvising any beliefs they wanted without debate or opposition. Without constraints their words became “inerrant” texts. Now Paul and other con men (all prophets are salesmen), speaking in “Jesus' name,” can quote their words, and be “experts on the Truth!” Inerrancy guaranteed more jobs: conned disciples were required to explain the texts, to shovel the shit with absolute insistence the texts can't ever be wrong! It's been job security ever since.

Of course, everyone who's ever been employed understands there are secrets in the workplace, and the higher up the authority system, the more secrets there are. Some of those secrets might be little white lies or office scandals, but others may cover major human rights abuses.
I once worked for an outfit in California. One day the boss' wife asked me a question about verses in Judges 7:5, regarding separating individuals who lapped water from a stream from those who knelt and cupped it in their hands to drink. She wanted my input on the reason why the Lord preferred one kind of person over the other. She was expecting an answer that conformed with her faith. As a practical man, I answered, “It probably was related to a health issue.” Later on, staff members urged me, “You should apologize to her. She takes those verses seriously.” I said I was only being honest, so there was nothing to apologize for. Now I'm thinking how fortunate I was. The boss (in his 60's), and his sons and close aide, were all freethinkers, so this incident washed out with the tide. If they hadn't been, I might have been out of a job.

Back in my monastic days, scriptural and Christian commentaries were read during meals. Sometimes, there were historical missionary accounts. I remember those, “And the king (or lord) was converted and baptized, and all of his household.” This meant his servants had to be included. I was impressed. Now I think, Sure, that's the way it was, or else you'd lose your livelihood.

Paul was preaching a different interpretation of Jesus to the gentiles, with much success. When Henry VIII decided to dump the pope's power in England, he told the Catholic prelates either to become Protestant or face the consequences. They decided to reject the “One True Church founded by Christ, with his successor to St. Peter, the pope.” History records what happened next, most noted, the execution of Thomas Moore, who also lost the support for his family and servants with his decision. How many of those “converted ones” over two thousand years were people who'd lose their livelihood or lives if they didn't convert? How many of those glorious cathedrals, were built by people who could find no other employment? Millions of human beings have been forced into the position of “believe or else” lose your job, property (if you have any), or life?

How many secrets must clergy cover up in order to keep their jobs? Secrets like ignoring or eradicating scriptural texts and passages that might call authority into question? What about cover-ups of child abuse and rapes, pregnant nuns, burials of hundreds of out-of-wedlock babies? Millions of donated dollars to religions are used to keep pedophile rape victims from revealing secrets. Christian job security depends on keeping mouths shut. What about those who preach from pulpits and on the stages of megachurches, who don't believe in what they say? They would lose power and prestige in the community, and financial security, if they admitted it's all bullshit.

Thousands of clergy would be out of jobs if they openly changed their minds. Wouldn't it be worth it for the good of all? But we aren't dealing with what's good, but what prolongs the system. Meanwhile, why should the non-Christians and non-believers be forced to support them with taxes on our hard-earned wages? Exemptions for preaching?

People are talking on cell phones, using their tablets, accessing the internet 24/7. Up above Earth, there are no gods, no heaven, but there are satellites and a space station on which human beings live and work. Every day, new discoveries bring ever more to marvel at. But superstitions are still entrenched and even respected. Why? Maybe one reason has to do with tradition. Religions set up the original system for “Star Wars“ fantasy mass merchandising, and fantasy is a very lucrative market.

Who would have imagined that in the 21st century so many would be making their living by claiming to know what nobody knows?