Imagine inventing something amazing, world-beating, life-changing — and not knowing it. To be clear: The Apostle Paul did not invent the idea of “Do unto others”. That is a core directive that every Jew understands as their obligation — to make the world a better place for having been here. As most people understand simply because we’re social creatures, If you treat others as you’d have them treat you — you’ll make the rest of your work a thousand times easier. “Do unto others” is “How To Live Successfully As A Human In One Easy Lesson”. It’s golden, as messages go. Best part? Literally anyone can do it — regardless of anything else they think or believe. It’s the most universal message there is…
SECOND most universal message apparently. The church’s other universal message: “no one wants to die, right? Well, WE have a way for you to BEAT death!” In order to do that however, it was going to get tricky. Doing unto others is one thing. Not dying is something else entirely — and there are rules one must follow if one wants to get it done. Hello, dogma!
In a sense, the hook is “Do unto others and you, too, can defeat death!” except it’s not “doing unto others” that buys you the “defeat death” ticket. It’s believing. That’s the church’s pitch: if you’re willing to accept that what we’re telling you is absolutely true — that by believing in our version of Jesus — to the letter — you, too, can “defeat death” and “live forever’ in a place called “heaven” where you and everyone you love can live happily and blissfully ever after!
That, really, was Paul’s invention — which sold amazingly well to the gentile world (who had no background in the Jewish mythology Paul was building upon but also changing so as to make Jesus fit better into it). It helps to know this as you look at Christianity and its effect on every life it’s touched — believer and non-believer. The Jews weren’t trying to sell their idea to the world. It didn’t occur to them that the world even wanted it. Most Jews do not proselytize because Judaism is culture and faith. You can’t convert into a culture per se; you have to be “born” into it. Jewish faith and culture are deeply related of course but one doesn’t have to buy into the faith to be deeply touched by the culture. A Jew wouldn’t ask “Have ya heard the good news?” because she’d be too busy “doing unto others”.
If the “good news” those professing Christianity spread was how to better “Do unto others”, that’d be awesome. It’s not however. It never was. The deal always is buy what we’re preaching first in order to get the magic. Accept the dogma to get the bone. Sorry, but I’m on a strict no dogma diet. I guess I’ll have to live without the bone.
In the meantime, I’ll content myself by doing unto others.