Radical Christ 28 – Good Friday Recipe: Roast leg of Scapegoat

I love pourquoi stories.  They are tales we have told through the ages to explain certain phenomena.  Pourquoi (pronounced pork-wha) is French for “why?”, any pre-schooler’s favourite word!

You know the story of the family that always cut the end off the lamb roast, before cooking. No one knew why.  On consulting great granny they discovered that in her day she had a small roaster and had to cut the joint to make it fit!

Pourquoi stories are the way cultures, religions and families pass on their rituals and sadly, their biases too.

The Crucifixion of Jesus is a multi-layer pourquoi story which like the mythical Urobouros swallowing its own tail, circles around and challenges our comfort zones.

The most common level of the story tries to explain why a peaceful prophet from Galilee was cruelly killed at the hands of Rome and the religious establishment in Jerusalem.  This orthodox answer is an extremely unhelpful one, “God planned it to be this way.” 

What! That’s a disgusting image of God! What father would kill his own son? How the church came to this brutal understanding of the horror, requires some questioning.

The Church was trying to make sense of Jesus’ unfair death and rationalised it back to animal sacrifice which was the religious forgiveness ritual then.

But why animal sacrifice in the first place?  Pourquoi?

Well, it’s preferable to sacrificing humans!  The Bible story of Abraham wanting to sacrifice Isaac, but God substituting a ram, is another pourquoi explaining the transition from human to animal sacrifice.

The pre-schooler in me continues – Why human sacrifice?  The answer to this one lies in our collective unconscious, and long before the bible was written.

Paleo-Anthropology studies these ancient myths and Rene Girard was one of its great scholars.  Studying ancient pourquois, Girard discovered that as humans began living in groups, they had to deal with troublesome people who didn’t fit in and disrupted the status quo.  The easiest, primitive solution was to demonise these characters, which then justified killing them.  

Individuals and groups were treated this way in times of stress. Medieval Jews were blamed for Bubonic plague just as recently, some blamed the Chinese for COVID19!  Ironically, right now the Christian church itself is being scapegoated for all the troubles in the world from paedophilia to colonisation. 

Yet in a strange anomaly within our mental processing, a residue of remorse lingers toward those we have scapegoated and destroyed.  

So the Greeks took Oedipus who killed his parents and they made him a god. Many of the Greek gods were rebels who achieved divine status.  We scapegoat our suspicious ones then remorsefully deify them.

Preachers proclaim that God killed Jesus, but if that’s true, we’ve been exonerated from our collective culpability in the greatest scapegoating crime ever committed!

Humans, not God, kill and destroy those who challenge and threaten us.

Jesus broke no taboos. He taught only an inclusive path of love, yet we killed him for it.  

Why in God’s name do that?

The Radical Christ 27 – The Decolonial King

Colonization has been a hot topic for a while now.  

Traditionally understood, colonization was the process whereby European powers, mainly in the 16th and 17 centuries, expanded their reach into newly “discovered” continents, subjugating the indigenous populations and replacing their cultures and religions.  

Colonization had happened before during the Greek, Roman and Crusading eras, but not on the scale of the European waves. 

The human rights atrocities and destruction of human lives, communities and environment that accompanied this process are well documented.

It would be erroneous however, to assume that colonization has ended.  

Slavery, as well as religious and cultural hegemony, may not be as blatant as those dark days, but a mutant form of colonial expansionism is currently in full swing.

No longer territorial, this colonising does not redraw the world map, but its impact is every bit as life changing and oppressive.

Continents like Africa and South America and the subcontinents of India and China, have been colonised in this process, and this time the colonists are Americans.

The USA has been amazingly successful in propagating its culture globally. 

One example is that South Africans born after 1985 now speak American English and not UK English as my generation does.  

Not only our language, but our eating habits, portion sizes, and fast food culture is decimating populations with diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyles as we sit slumped in front of the Americans’ most powerful vehicle of colonisation, our television sets.

Coupled with a rabid global consumerism of chasing the American dream by those unable to afford that dream, and we understand how families and communities have been captured in debt bondage every bit as vicious as the shackles of the old slave traders.

And if that weren’t enough, the American fundamentalism of certain churches, has added yet another a layer of unthinking anti-intellectual  brainwashing to the spirits of colonised people. We are so brainwashed we don’t even realise we have been colonised!

And none of this is new.  

When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which the church commemorates this weekend, he was entering a completely colonised city.

Read the scriptures here: John 12: 12-19 Zechariah 9:9

At all the levels described above, including religious power mongering, Jerusalem had been colonised by Rome.

So Jesus arriving as a humble king on a donkey and not on a Roman war horse or chariot reenacted ancient Jewish tradition and made a rebellious statement. 

He was protesting the physical and mental colonisation of Rome. His parade was one that recalled the servant kingship of David the shepherd, and the estimated 600000 citizens of Jerusalem loved it. “Hosanna” they cried, seeing Jesus as a new David, a liberator from the Roman tyranny that so controlled and consumed their lives.

But by the end of that same week, in fact by the Thursday night, that same crowd had been flipped by those in power. The colonists had won the battle for hearts and minds. 

Jesus had been called out and cancelled, skilfully scapegoated to be crucified on the Friday morning.

Radical Christ 18 – “Strolling through Storms”

Jesus walking on water, and then inviting Peter to join him on the stormy surface of Lake Gallilee makes our Western minds reel with incredulity. This story cannot be taken literally. Humans cannot walk on liquid water.
So as with all deep truths, we need to investigate the narrative as myth. Myths are those true stories that probably never happened historically or scientifically but remain true.

The walking on water miracle is an interesting study in overcoming fear and balancing our lives.

Join Peter as he unpacks this part of the archetypal life of Jesus as a map for our own journey in life.

Radical Christ 17 – Compassion Takes Guts

Ram Dass spoke eloquently of developing a spiritual practice that enables you to keep your heart open in hell. Mahayana Buddhists have the notion of Bodhisattvas, enlightened being who after countless rebirths are ready to enter into the bliss of Nirvana, but who vow not to cross over until they have assisted all sentient beings, to cross over before them.

Once in conversation with a Zen monk, and referencing the Boddhisattva concept, the monk smiled at me and replied, “Yes, but Jesus also was a great Boddhisattva.” In that moment my entire life changed as I realised we are all just ‘walking each other home’, another Ram Dass saying.

Compassion lies at the heart of all spiritual practice, in fact is the absolute validation of our journey. If my journey, religion and practice does not increase my compassion, what’s the point. If my religion makes me cruel, fearful and judgemental what’s the point?

This episode explores the way Jesus experienced compassion and unpacks some of his crazy wisdom that enabled his to say to marginalised and dispossessed people that they were “Blessed”.

This isn’t what you may think.

Karl Marx misread this ascpect and called releigion “an opiate”. He was wrong, It isn’t opium, correctly understood this crazy wisdom is dynamite!

Links:

Bodhisattva Vows

Ram Dass – Keeping your Heart open in Hell

Radical Christ – Saviours and Scapegoats

Early on in the narrative of Jesus’ ministry, the crowd want to make him King.

Both occasions are after he has miraculously fed them (John 6:12-15) and extravagantly made wine from water. (John 2:23-25).
In a publicist’s nightmare, on both occasions Jesus withdraws from the projection and idolization, “because he knew what was in people’s hearts”.

What was it that Jesus knew?

Carl Jung in his work Aion, has helped us understand the psychology of projection which I unpack in this video.

Understanding how we project our own gold out of the shadows of the unconscious can help us understand (if not desist), from falling in love, worshiping the wrong objects, and even from falling prey to scapegoating others when they don’t meet our unrealistic expectations of them.

We cannot blame the devil, nor make Jesus responsible for our salvation.

As the poet Mary Oliver says, “You are the only person you can save.”

Also available on podcast. The diagram isn’t (grin)


The Radical Christ 4- Pivotal Life Stages for Jesus and for Us

In this fourth video of the Radical Christ Series Peter maps the Life Stages that Jesus, with every hero in mythology, and our lives follow. Myth is understood as an “Absolutely True Story that probably never happened”
Jesus as the proto-typical (arche-typal) human life has in the stages of his life the experience and the cure for every human condition.
The key lies in being able to connect where we are in our life stage, with the corresponding stage in Jesus’ life.

You can contact Peter by emailing peterwoods.pe@gmail.com

The Radical Christ 2 – I AM Conscious, that I AM

Setting the scaffold for understanding the Radical Christ, in this video I explore the origins of religion as a consequence of the consciousness of Homo Sapiens.
Animated cave art, abstract thinking, projection and the return of God to the flesh of human being are all markers on this fascinating human unfolding.
There is no religion that didn’t begin as a human conversation trying to explain the mysteries of a conscious existence.

The Radical Christ 1 – Gnowing NOT Believing

In a joint venture with Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat and in the face of rabid fundamentalism and tired Christian ritual, Peter is launching a series titled “The Radical Christ”. Just under a year ago whist on a visit to Dharmagiri, Thanissara “downloaded” an insight during her morning practice which she wrote on a notelet and presented to me at breakfast. “PW” she said, “This is your next work”. The note read simply, “The Radical Christ”. There was an immediate resonance with Thanissara’s words. They made sense at all levels I have spent most my life speaking about Jesus in one way or another, and though I no longer preach, (over 1500 sermons done, many on this blog still getting hits late on Saturday nights): I do love Jesus. Not in the way that most angry fundamentalist Christians say they do, but in a way I would like to unpack in this series.

This offering is the product of my acceptance of Thanissara’s shamanic ancestral download (I am a Jungian and an African after all), and some months of reading and dalliance with video production software.

In these conversations we will explore a new understanding of Jesus the Christ.
Using the insights of philosophy, culture and psychology we will dig into the archetypal significance of a God-Person interconnection that could lead to global engagement and human transcendence at this time of ecological crisis.