Living At The Mercy Of A Lie

Though the news media has placed Donald Trump’s “final lie tally” above 30,000 (that means Trump must have lied on average 21 times a day), the truth is, Trump lied every single time he opened that anus-shaped mouth of his. For starters, there’s “The Big Lie” itself. We have a political party hewing to what everyone agrees is “a big lie”. Think about that! But then, Trump’s entire presidency was a lie. Trump was never, EVER, the legitimate POTUS. That’s not a political assessment, it’s a criminal justice assessment.

Just because we can’t officially call a car thief “a car thief” until he’s convicted for his car thievery, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a car thief every moment before we convicted him. In fact, he was a car thief the entire time. For reasons of fairness to the thief, we refused to acknowledge the stone cold truth about him until late in the game. In a sense, we were living inside a kind of “lie-adjacent” that the car thief was an honest actor and a good citizen when the truth stayed the same the whole time: he was and remains a criminal. At least, that’s a lie with a higher purpose.

The authority to govern flows from the election process. We elect people to govern us on our behalf. The assumption, of course, is that our elections are free and fair as is their tabulation. I’m not sure that’s ever really been the case here in America. White people have actively worked to keep everyone not them from voting since the founders stood by “All men are created equal” without actually meaning it. The truth of America has always been “E Pluribus Unum”. But white people — the descendants of white, Christian, mostly Northern European heritage — have always seen America through blinders of their own invention. That’s why America remains a great idea as yet unrealized. Because we persist in living not just one lie, but multiple lies — and every last one of them is a product of racism.

As Virginia holds an election today, our (always perspective-free) news media has made the tightening poll numbers for Virginia’s governor a referendum on Joe Biden, completely ignoring the fact that the Republican candidate — Glenn Youngkin — has made “critical race theory” the entire thrust of his campaign. The news media understands — they report it — that everything about the “critical race theory” debate is utter horse shit. More to the point — that it’s racist! But, because our news media never aggregates stories about Republicans (they still think Republicans — even as they stand beside insurrection and insurrectionists — are “honest actors”) and never questions their motives the way they question every Progressive’s, Youngkin tossing overt racism into the mix is just another “legitimate campaign strategy”. It’s not! It’s racism,, pure and simple! And that means that the reason the gubernatorial election in Virginia is close has zero to do with Joe Biden (who our news media insists this is about) and everything to do with racism.

But then, our news media thinks it’s up to racists to decide if they’re racists — so, when it comes to the whole topic of racism, our news media remains intensely white in their framing and viewpoint. Why would a journalist ask a racist if they’re racist? How the hell would they know? Unless they want to be a pariah, of course they’re going to deny being racist. FFS, Trump still insists he’s the “least racist person ever”. Anyone buying? No? So why ask this racist his opinion about anything related to race?

Right — because we insist on living inside a lie that racists can determine whether or not they’re racist.

Having been born in 1959, fourteen years after the death camps were liberated, I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust in a large, upper middle class Jewish suburb of Baltimore. My community didn’t shy away from the murder that had just been visited upon us. Even Jews who couldn’t point to an actual family member, felt the camps’ breath on them. I grew up identifying completely with the boy in this famous photo —

“Why me?” his eyes shout. “What did I ever do?”

The Holocaust was the product of nearly two thousand years of aggregated Jew hatred. What made Germany’s take on genocide so much more successful than any previous genocide was industrialization. Germany applied factory work dynamics to the murder of human beings. Jews became a commodity. If an individual Jew had value as a slave worker (that’s what you are when you work for free — a slave), they were kept alive (and then worked to death). If they had no value upon entering the camps, they were disposed of in the cheapest way possible. My first Hebrew School teache had a number tattooed into her forearm. She wasn’t shy about reminding us that she was among the “lucky ones”.

Where did such intense, homicidal anger come from? Why, it came from a lie, of course…

Ask almost one hundred percent of Christians where Christianity came from — what it’s actual origin story was — and they will get it wrong. More likely, they have no idea. The Truth was made irrelevant at the start, having been replaced by pure, unadulterated mythology. Jesus did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He taught Jewish lessons and mythology to other Jews who understood the context in which Jesus taught and spoke. When the priestly Saul of Tarsus “came to Jesus” on the road to Damascus and reinvented himself as “The Apostle Paul”, he set out to spread what he said was Jesus’s message. But, when he arrived in Jerusalem, Paul got pushback from Jesus’s family. The Jesus Paul had in his head wasn’t actual Jesus (Jeshua ben Joseph).

But, Paul persisted. Whether Jesus’s family believed (as Paul did) that their family member was the messiah, we don’t know. Regardless, Paul was better at it. And, when Paul turned away from the Jews (who’d rejected him and his version of Jesus) and took his version out to the Gentiles, he did it knowing he now had free rein to make “Jesus” into anything he wanted “Jesus” to be. None of the Greeks or Romans living in the far flung communities of Asia Minor to whom Paul wrote his letters and epistles were familiar with any of the Jewish mythology Paul was altering to make his version of Jesus fit into the larger accumulated Jewish messiah myths.

To appreciate Paul (and I think the guy was an absolute genius!), you have to see the world he was marketing his ideas to. He was, mostly, converting polytheists to monotheism (well, a kind of monotheism). Polytheist gods weren’t divine the way Yahweh (the Hebrews’ God — the one we now call “God”) was. And polytheistic gods weren’t really concerned with humans in any significant way. They certainly didn’t see humans as their creation the way Yahweh did. That was the first major disruptive change: Yahweh was a god who cared about humans because he personally created us.

Paul took that spiritual innovation and improved upon it. By the time Paul was done reimagining the Jewish mythology, he had this construct. All human beings are sinful because of Eve’s original sin in Eden. The only redemption available to sinning humans is via Jesus, who died in order to redeem humanity’s sins. And — bonus points (the point of the whole exercise in fact) — if the believer is willing to believe in Jesus and his story exactly the way the church teaches (to the letter!) then that believer can, like Jesus, conquer death.

That, in a nutshell, is Christianity’s sales pitch: believe in it and beat death. You can’t take away from its genius because we’re still talking about it.

Now, once you get into the actual tick tock of Jesus’s story (as cobbled together by the early church fathers from various third, fourth and fifth-hand accounts), you bump into myriad contradictions and fractured logic. Just for starters, if the whole point of Jesus is to redeem humanity via his death, then Jesus NOT dying would be a problem for Christianity. Does Paul have the same vision on the road to Damascus if Jesus dies in his bed, an old man surrounded by his loved ones (including wife and many children)? What’s his basis for Jesus’s messiah-hood then?

For the story/mythology logic to work, Jesus must die. Well, if that’s the case, then Judas’ betrayal is as essential to eternal life as Jesus’s dying. No betrayal, no crucifixion. No crucifixion, no Christianity. I won’t even bother with all the factual problems Paul’s (and the early Church’s) version of events presents. But then, Paul didn’t care about historical accuracy. In fact, historical accuracy was Paul’s enemy.

As it was the enemy of the church Paul’s letters and epistles was forming.

“Do unto others” is a simple teaching with profound implications. That did not interest Paul. In his defense, new religions need new rules. If new rules are going to stick (or be held out as divine), they have to carry weight. Ritual is essential to religion (as it is to most things humans do). But, the moment ritual becomes dogmatic, it starts to service itself and not the person performing the ritual. “Do unto others” becomes “Do what we say — or else!” Those aren’t the same messages.

“Jews killed Jesus” is, top to bottom, no true. Paul spreading it — knowing it wasn’t true — made it a lie. It has always been thus. The entire history of European anti-Semitism is based on this lie. The Holocaust was that lie’s biggest, ugliest, cruelest, most successful iteration.

So, lying on a cultural level is nothing new to us. Hey, “War On Christmas” anyone? “All men are created equal” is a bit of a lie if you consider that the men who wrote and stood by it didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “only men”. Our news media is a product of white hegemony culture. That’s what pays the bills and their salaries. So, it’s hardly surprising that they frame everything from an embarrassingly white perspective. But, part of that bad framing insists that bad actors are good actors and criminals acting for political purposes are no different from the victims of their criminal behavior; a vote suppressor and the voter being suppressed “both do it” by this thinking.

That is a stinking lie.

Living a lie is exhausting. Living the GOP’s lie is potentially lethal to the republic. We The People need to call this lie out for every bit of the lie that it is. For the majority of Americans, the Truth will absolutely set us free. That same Truth will put a whole lot of Republicans behind bars forever.

There’s No Such Thing As A “Fake Christian”; There Are Only “Christians”

Want to know what makes an atheist laugh? Hearing one Christian call another Christian “fake”. FFS, that’s what the whole Protestant Reformation was! One group of Christians calling the other group “fake“. From the vantage of point of non-Christendom? What are both groups talking about? Hey — ever Google “Protestantism sects”? There are more than you can count (if you count them all!) And then there’s Catholicism. And all the national churches and Eastern churches… And then there’s Mormonism — and its offshoots. From outside that tent, everyone INSIDE the tent is a Christian!

Look, I’m one of those Jews who’s always been fascinated by Christianity. Originally, I needed to know how and why tens of millions of people hated me and wanted me dead simply because I was Jewish.

Can we be honest? The answer you get back — why Christians hate Jews — it’s not especially satisfying.

Or logical.

Having grown up in the shadow of the Holocaust (I was born in 1959, fourteen years after the camps were liberated), I’m keenly aware where extreme anti-Semitism leads. That’s what the Holocaust was — Jew hatred taken to its most horrifying, industrial conclusion. This perverse, genocidal compulsion is based on a poorly thought-out story that was invented by Paul and the early church fathers. The former Saul of Tarsus never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. That’s why Paul’s version of Jesus didn’t play in Jerusalem or for anyone who knew Jesus or who actually did hear Jesus speak. That’s why Paul took his version of Jesus — and a thousand years of made-up Jewish messiah mythology — to the Gentiles (who had no background in it as Paul did and so accepted what the Jews in Jerusalem rejected).

It’s Paul — a real person — writing about Jesus — that makes me think someone “like” Jesus probably walked the earth. But, Paul revised Jesus to suit the needs of the newfangled offshoot-of-Judaism he was inventing on the fly. Paul was doing something else too — and this is where his real genius lies. The Roman world was polytheistic. Judaism was monotheistic; it rejected all of the Roman gods because, Judaism believed, only one god — Yahweh — existed. Roman gods, like most polytheistic gods, were very different in nature from the Jews’ Yahweh. They weren’t made of different material. Their lives only occasionally intersected with mortals’ lives. Though divine, polytheistic gods offered humans nothing of the divine.

Yahweh on the other hand was different. Not only was he divine, he (sometimes) liked humans (when he wasn’t flooding them out). He seemed to want to like us; we just kept disappointing him. Paul reinvents Yahweh by making Jesus Yahweh’s son. That’s not a big deal in and of itself. But then — here’s the genius part — Paul has Jesus rise from the dead, defeating death while also dying for humanity’s sins (the original sin being Eve’s)! Paul’s God (not entirely monotheistic since he can replicate by breeding with humans), unlike polytheistic gods, promises to actually DO something for humans other than just punish them. And that thing God will do for you is something only God can do — all you have to do is believe in Jesus exactly the way the Church (God’s now-infallible spokesman on earth) tells you to.

“Do unto others” has become “Do what we say — or else”. Not that the institutional church ever had the least interest in Jesus or any of his teachings. If Jesus were to return from the dead, the biggest enemies he’d have would be the institutional churches who’d race to the media to declare this “Jesus Guy” a total fraud. Oh, the irony — how it burns! Jesus taught that no one needs a corrupt temple or its correct priests in order to have a relationship with “the father”. “Talk directly to God,” Jesus taught. Anyone — atheists included — could “Do unto others” like a pro. And certainly better than any Christian.

There’s a clear distinction between “Christians” and “followers of Jesus”. My heart goes out to followers of Jesus because of what Christians have done to the brand.

Whoever Jesus really was, it’s simply a fact that he was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He preached Jewish thoughts to other Jews — even if Jesus’s version of those thoughts were somewhat “radical” (ignoring the Temple and its priests because they were corrupt). At the core of Jesus’s teaching — we all agree — is “Do unto others”. And “Do unto others” is a magnificent way to live Life. Imagine how much better the world would be if everyone lived that way — including (or especially) Christians. “Do unto others” is a very Jewish teaching. It’s a graceful distillation of a core Jewish concept: “Tikkun Olam”.

Every Jew (every person really) is obligated — according to Tikkun Olam — to make the world a better place for having been in it. One doesn’t have to accept this obligation (plenty of people don’t), but, if you want to live a good life, making the world better is how you’ll do it. Now, in all fairness to Christians, Christians don’t have a “culture” in the way Jews do where a way of life and a way of faith co-exist. While one absolutely can convert into the Jewish faith (a relatively rare things as Jews don’t proselytize), one can’t convert into the Jewish culture. Ashkenazis — European Jews — were excluded from European culture for 1500 years. They weren’t allowed to live with Christians. Weren’t allowed to marry them. Certainly weren’t allowed to make babies with them (though I’m sure babies made from male Christians raping Jewish women wasn’t a problem for them).

Consequently, Jews lived apart in their own villages or, as they first started to do in Venice in the early 1500’s — in “ghettos”. The word is Italian and first referred to the islands in the Venetian archipelago where the Jews were allowed to live. Living apart caused Jews to evolve a culture separate from white Europe’s. It caused Jews to evolve their own genetic disorder — Tay Sachs disease. Jews never set out to be “different”, that was something European Christianity made us.

Can we be just a little bit more honest? The way Christians have treated Jews across fifteen hundred years of history has not been especially “Christian”. Or maybe it has been — and every single person calling themselves “Christian” is, in fact, a “fake”.

AT&T Donating Money To Insurrectionists Equals Deutsche Bank Helping To Build Auschwitz

Even Concentration Camps Need Financing — And Bankers To Loan The Money

Someone should write a saying about how when people refuse to learn the lessons of history, they’re likely to repeat the same terrible mistakes. Hitler doesn’t become “Hitler” without the steadfast support of German industry. Fascism triangulates politics, business and religion. When Christianity and commerce work together at power’s behest, you get Nazi Germany (and make no mistake, institutional Christianity had zero problem with Hitler’s “final solution”). You get companies like Bayer, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nestle, Porsche, Siemens and VW benefiting and profiting from SLAVE LABOR without so much as a thought. Every one of those companies has SLAVE LABOR in their past. Sorry, but that’s evil and I’m not entirely sure what any of those companies can actually do to disassociate themselves from the evil they willingly stood with and profited from. Even Jews were pretty quick to forget — as they happily bought Mercs and VWs and BMWs in the 1980’s –that not two generations before, their freakin’ RELATIVES were working for those same damned companies against their will and for ZERO PAY.

For the historical record, American companies also benefited from slave labor or happily did business with a regime they KNEW was authoritarian and repressive. General Motors, IBM, ITT, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank and Coca Cola all chose profits uber alles. A buck was a buck was a buck even if it came from fascists. But, some executives knew that Germany was up to other things than just the war effort. Some business executives knew that Germany had genocide in mind — and willingly helped the Nazis manifest those genocidal intentions.

Deutsche Bank may be one of the most corrupt enterprises ever to blacken capitalism’s eye. Over the course of their history, Deutsche Bank has financed multiple genocides.

During World War One, Deutsche Bank helped finance Turkey’s Armenian Genocide. WWI was the world’s first mechanized war. Mechanized wars need oil and Germany had access to oil in Iran. The only efficient way to transport that oil was via rail. Thus the Berlin-To-Baghdad rail line was imagined. To finance this enormous venture, Germany’s government turned to Deutsche Bank. But the rail line needed to travel through parts of Turkey where Armenian communities lived — and the Turks had always been dubious about the Armenians what with the Turks being Muslim and the Armenians being Christians. The Ottoman Empire, having no issues with cruelty and having even fewer issues with being cruel to the Armenians living within its borders, made no secret that part of its agreement to let Germany build its rail line would be the removal of any and all Armenians in its way — even if those Armenians lived nowhere near the rail line’s route. As no one spoke up for the Armenians (until recently), from Deutsche Bank’s point of view, genocide was good business. Good business emboldened them. That’s why Deutsche Bank had zero qualms about lending the German state construction loans for the specific purpose of building Auschwitz.

That is a true, true fact: Deutsche Bank helped build Auschwitz. Had the Third Reich lived the thousand years it promised, at some point early on, Germany would have repaid its debt to Deutsche Bank plus interest — and that interest would have been Deutsche Bank’s profit from helping to murder 1.1 million people (that’s how many people died at Auschwitz). Do you think that anyone in Deutsche Bank’s executive ranks felt the least regret about said future profits and how they’d be derived?

That’s the problem with corporations. They can be used to magnify a culture’s worst attributes. German culture made what it did to Jews and gay people and Romani people — and everyone it feared or didn’t like — acceptable. The neighborhoods surrounding Dachau (a medieval town inside Germany versus Auschwitz which was based inside Occupied Poland) could smell the human flesh burning in Dachau’s ovens. They had to brush the ashes of those same people from their heads and shoulders. As disgusted as they may have been, they did nothing. Makes one wonder what they were actually disgusted with.

A thousand plus years of evolution from various Germanic tribes into a Germany filled with proud Germans who felt deeply connected to their “German-nss” produced group think and compliance within the group. Sure, sure, there were plenty of “Good Germans” but, either there weren’t nearly enough of them or they simply weren’t good enough. They still turned a blind eye to something happening right in front of them, choosing to “not rock the boat” instead of demanding integrity and humanity from those governing them.

The slow creep of evil is insidious, isn’t it? Did anyone at Deutsche Bank directly murder a single Jew at Auschwitz? Not in the literal literal sense, no. Probably not. Would the Third Reich have looked elsewhere for their construction loan had Deustsche Bank turned them down? Absolutely. And they’d have found someone else to underwrite it all. But, when the very fascistic German government turned to their favorite financier, their favorite financier didn’t bat an eye despite knowing for a fact what ITS money was about to be used for.

Deutsche Bank has blood on its hands and always will. They’re Lady MacBeth to Hitler’s MacBeth and those damned spots will never come out.

Corporations must be held accountable for the evil they enable, abet or outright pay for. Any corporation that in any way helped perpetrate evil — that’s as opposed to produce things as part of the “regular” war effort — should be broken up. Corporations are human creations, don’t forget. In America, we now want to treat them like people whose opinions matter as much as an actual citizen’s opinion. Citizen’s United didn’t give corporations the vote, but it gave their money more power than votes. More power than voters.

When a big corporation like AT&T donates money to individual politicians, it’s doing it with the understanding that that money just bought that politician’s vote. If the corporation doesn’t get what it wants with its donation, if it’s clever, it’ll take its next political donation somewhere else. So, we can assume that when AT&T donates its money to any of the 147 Republicans who still insist that Joe Biden stole Donald Trump’s presidential victory, they are willing to stand by everything that politician comes with. They may pooh-pooh such complicity on their part, but that’s always how authoritarians their own terrible behavior — they see the “greater good” that makes all of fascism’s negatives worth it: the trains now run on time.

Under most circumstances where corporate bad behavior negatively impacts the citizenry, the citizenry can turn to the democracy of the marketplace where they vote with their dollars. In an age of social media where even silly, little kerfuffles can suddenly go nuclear, corporations manage their reputations like hawks mated with Tiger Moms. So — why are they willing to stand — as AT&T does — with politicians who’ve made it crystal clear that they no longer believe in the political system that supports the economic system corporations like AT&T rely on? These foolish corporations are setting themselves up for failure without even realizing it. But then, greed has never, ever, EVER made anyone smarter.

Least of all a “corporation”.

What makes AT&T’s donations to insurrectionists, seditionists and traitors — that is what they are and it is what they will be revealed to be — especially worth note is that the money being used sat, at one point, in the pockets of their customers. AT&T is turning some of its customers’ money against their customers’ own best interests! Any customer still using AT&T therefore (when there is competition) could easily be hurting their own future every time they pay their cable, internet or cell phone bill.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

It isn’t all that surprising that a racist knuckle-scraper like Marjorie Taylor Greene would compare being compelled to wear a face mask to being sent to Auschwitz. In her heart, you just know Marjorie’s a Holocaust denier. Hell, I bet if Marjorie could go back in time to the Holocaust, she’d be thrilled. The biggest challenge would be choosing which death camp at which to be a prison guard.

One of the first big lessons that stuck in my head as a child — the biggest up to that point being toilet training — was that I was hated because of what I was — a Jew. That’s a strange thing to teach a little kid without an enemy in the world. But, when I was growing up, in the early 1960’s (I was born in 1959), not twenty years since the camps had been liberated, the full weight of what had been done to us (not just by Germany but also by anti-Semites all over Europe) was only just beginning to dawn and make itself felt. In Baltimore, where I grew up, Jews began emigrating toward the suburbs, most settling in and around an enclave northwest of Baltimore called Pikesville. Before long, clever Anti-Semites turned that into “kikesville”. My affluent, comfortable, semi-assimilated upper middle class Jewish community could live with name-calling.

Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish — ditto its public schools — that even the handful of non-Jewish kids took all the Jewish holidays off because they knew the schools would be virtually empty. We had a really great tennis team but a really terrible football team that, wouldn’t ya know it, all the other teams loved to beat the crap out of.

American culture was still celebrating having won WWII. There were prime time TV shows about it like “Combat” and “Hogan’s Heroes”.

My culture also celebrated. It felt good not being extinct. And some of us wondered aloud: if not for Hitler’s homicidal madness, would the state of Israel have existed?

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it. We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads while telling them it’s truth, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being murdered because of it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is the Republican Party’s entire strategy going forwards.

Anti-Semitism Will Endure Until The Last Christian Stops Thinking “The Jews Killed Jesus”

I’m biased, so excuse me, but blood libels are flat out stupid. Blood libels based on invented stories? The stupidest of all. And, it turns out, the deadliest. It’s hard to describe to a Christian — even Christian friends — what that experience is like. For starters, my tribe has NEVER declared war on their tribe. My tribe has never sought to convert their tribe. My tribe has never accused their tribe of poisoning the well — so, let’s kill them all! My tribe has never stuck their tribe in ghettos — starting with the one in Venice, Italy. My tribe has never subjected their tribe to an Inquisition or a Holocaust. Every one of those terrible things happened because their tribe had it in for my tribe — and the reason they had it in for us is because “the Jews killed Jesus”. Even if this story — which takes “ludicrous” to bold, new heights — were true, it STILIL makes no sense since the whole POINT of Jesus being here was for him to “die for our sins”. I don’t think Christianity becomes a world religion if Jesus dies an old man in his bead surrounded by loved ones.

Jesus did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived and died a Jew, thinking Jewish thoughts, preaching Jewish ideas to other Jews. They were somewhat radical ideas — because they discounted the role of the temple and the temple priests — in other words, THE CHURCH. Jesus discounted the need for a formal, institutional church. “Speak directly to the father!” But, most importantly, Jesus taught a core Jewish principle — Tikkun olam: it is every Jew’s obligation to make the world a better place for having lived in it. It starts with “doing unto others”.

The Apostle Paul never met Jesus. He never heard Jesus speak a word in person. Any knowledge Paul had of Jesus was entirely Paul’s own creation. For Paul, Jesus’s significance wasn’t what he taught — “Do unto others” — it was the possibility that Jesus might could fit the part of “messiah” that derived from mythologies going back a hundreds of years! When the Jews (some of whom had actually known Jesus) rejected Paul’s version of Jesus, Paul took his version of Jesus to the gentiles. The gentiles had even less knowledge of Real Jesus than Paul did. And, unlike Paul, they had zero background in the Jewish mythology Paul was trying to manipulate so as to make Jesus play as “messiah”.

The majority of the New Testament is Paul’s various communications with the early church communities he, himself, was establishing, mentoring and instructing. I take nothing away from Paul’s achievement. But, let’s be clear — Paul wasn’t selling Jesus the actual Jewish guy who preached a radical message of “you don’t need a church just talk directly to God and, above all, do unto others”. Paul was selling a completely different Jesus who had to be connected to King David, had to be born in Bethlehem, had to be this, had to be that. More importantly — Paul was selling a Jesus who rose from the dead.

Jesus defeating death — that’s what Paul believed he was selling. And if “you”, Paul preached, “Believe in the Jesus I’ve imagined, then you too can defeat death just like my imaginary Jesus did!” But, you have to believe in Jesus exactly the way Paul and the church tell you to. That ‘s the catch. Fail at any of the dogma and, apostate that you are, you’ll be spending the rest of your afterlife in actual hell.

Can I tell you something? When an angry Christian comes at you — spouting the “Judas betrayed Jesus so therefore every Jew is guilty for all eternity” line? There’s literally nothing you can do or say to change their mind and stop them from hurting you. The harder you try to point out the flaws in the story, the angrier you make them and the more vicious they get because now you’re denigrating their rubbish. How dare you!

One could toss everything the church teaches and still be a fan of Jesus. Even a humble atheist can “do unto others” and trust me — most atheists DO “do unto others”. That’s what’s most frustrating! Jesus has been entirely decoupled from his message and turned into a mascot. He’s Ronald McJesus selling absolution happy meals — hey, can we super size that for ya? The church did not build itself pitching “do unto others” lessons. It captivated the world because, for the first time, a deity offered up something of real value to human beings: eternal life. A way to beat death.

Paul baked his rejection of his mother faith into Christianity’s architecture. He left home and never looked back. But, he also pointedly helped invent a brand new mythology, based loosely on the old Jewish stories. Jews did not by and large proseletyze. Back then, Judaism was the religion practiced exclusively by the Jewish tribe. If you were born a Jew, you practiced Judaism. If you weren’t born a Jew, you didn’t. Jews didn’t take their idea of a monotheistic god out to the gentile world because it never occurred to them to do it. Yahweh (the God character’s actual name, “God” being his job description actually) wasn’t the gentile world’s god, it was the Jewish tribe’s god. The gentile world, the Jews understood, already had their own gods and didn’t need Yahweh.

Paul changed that. In his mind, the world needed Jesus if it was to defeat death. People needed to “hear the good news” that if Jesus could rise from the dead, so could they!

The Holocaust wasn’t some aberration. It was two thousand years of gentiles hating Jews “because they killed Jesus” put on industrial strength steroids. Why kill just a town of Jews (cos they killed all the children to turn their blood into matzohs) when you can kill a whole city’s worth? The Holocaust was two thousand years of accumulated history. Two thousand years of Jews being treated as pariahs, of Jews being looked at like they were cockroaches. Of Jews being murdered by white people who hated them just because they were Jewish.

To judge by its actions, the Christian church has never cared whether or not any of its adherents actually did unto others. They care deeply however about keeping people in line — about getting adherents to “do what they’re told to do” — even if it’s to terrorize, maim, kill, abuse or torment the very people Jesus called his family. Hmmmmmm… maybe this isn’t about Jesus after all.

Maybe it never was…

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road. Throughout most of Europe’s history, Jews were kept apart. In Venice, Italy, they put them on their own little islands and called that area — where the Jews lived — “ghetto”. That’s where the word comes from.

Historically, when people see Jews as a “nationality”, it doesn’t end well for us.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated then grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days since 90% of the students would be gone.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is Trump’s entire re-election strategy.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust

It’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road… Historically, it never ends well for Jews.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  In my brain, those camps never went away.

I grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have made my community so horrified that they couldn’t bear to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. As my community tends to do, we made it a teachable moment. From a young age, I was told about this tragedy and shown images that burned into my mind forever. I don’t regret that for a second. I needed to remember these lessons – forever.

I have always been grateful to Hebrew school for making me the atheist I am today — and for giving me a stone, cold accurate view of the world — and my place in it because of my tribe.

There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. You can’t cram peoples’ heads with that much bullshit and expect the bullshit not to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram a nonsense, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads that actually runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger) — don’t be surprised when the nonsense becomes the message.

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it.

The Most Frustrating Thing About Anti-Semitism Is What It’s Based On: NOTHING

I’ve said here before that I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust — in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore just 20 years after the camps were liberated. Many survivors lived in my community. I can tell you from experience — it’s damned hard for a little kid to wrap his young mind around that much hatred for who he is when, as far as he knows — he’s done nothing to deserve it.

The Nazis didn’t invent anti-Semitism, of course, they merely industrialized it — finding ways to make money off the hatred via forced labor and even body parts. If Spain had had similar technology at its disposal, I’m sure the Spanish Inquisition would have been even ghastlier and more gruesome & cruel than it was.

In between the Spanish Inquisition (well before it too) all the way up to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism saw plenty of other outlets — pogroms and other mass murders of Jews often when the Christians decided they didn’t want to pay back the money the Jews had loaned them. The church made it hard for anyone other than Jews to lend money. Follow that? The Church made it illegal for anyone except Jews to lend money — though the Church also understood that the lending & borrowing of money was essential to the Church’s economic survival. Massive churches don’t pay for themselves to be built — or kept up.

The Church made anti-Semitism part of its economic strategy. In a perverse way, it was genius.

But where did the Church’s Jew-hatred start?

Jesus — if he existed in any way as the person we think he was — did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived and died a Jew. Back in the 1970’s, Bible scholar Robert Funk put together The Jesus Seminar — a group of about 50 critical biblical scholars and 100 laymen who wanted to tease out a historical Jesus from the Gospels. That Jesus taught a very simple message: Do Unto Others.

He also taught that one did not need a temple or its high priests to speak to Yahweh (the God character’s actual name). One could go to “the father” directly.

So where did a “church” come from? Where did Christianity come from? That’d be Paul — the former Saul of Tarses. If Saul never has his moment on the road too Damascus, Christianity never gets invented — because Paul’s the guy who invented Christianity.

The bulk of the NT is Paul’s work — his epistles to the far flung churches HE was nurturing and encouraging. But encouraging to do & believe what? What was Paul selling? Paul tried hard to sell his version of Jesus to the Jewish community except they weren’t interested. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard his voice or heard his teachings directly. But Paul did have an agenda — and after the Jewish community rejected him (and what he was selling), he turned his attention to the Helenized-Roman Gentile world.

Paul needed to sell Jesus as The Messiah. And Paul’s Messiah (here’s Paul’s genius) was the answer to “But what do we do about death?” Paul promised that belief in Jesus would allow the believer to live forever. This was all based on a strange re-imagining of strange Jewish mythology. To justify Jesus being the Messiah, Paul and the early Church fathers (picking up the myth-making where Paul left off) created a hodgepodge of texts and documents that told a muddled, confused story.

It wasn’t until the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) that the church itself tried to make sense of its own confounding, contradictory story. That’s the problem: IT WAS ALWAYS A STORY.

It’s a little like having your tribe be hated because of something Ron Weasley said in the Harry Potter books.

Jews have had the damnedest time defending themselves against anti-Semitism because it’s impossible to argue against bullshit. Bullshit always have the luxury of being bullshit. It never has to worry about being true or real. It never has to justify itself. It never even has to defend itself. It just falls apart and blows away.

It’s a strange experience to have another person look you in the eye and insist that you and your tribe are evil and deserve to be hated, tortured, killed and reviled because of a story. Even stranger? Knowing the person looking at you with all that hate knows less about their own religion than you do.

99% of Christian churches only ever treat Jesus as a mascot anyway. He’s Ronald McDonald selling forgiveness for your sins instead of Big Macs. Jesus — if he could rise from the dead — would never stop being disgusted by what Paul did in Jesus’ name to Jesus’ own tribe.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust

It’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road… Historically, it never ends well for Jews.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  In my brain, those camps never went away.

I grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have made my community so horrified that they couldn’t bear to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. As my community tends to do, we made it a teachable moment. From a young age, I was told about this tragedy and shown images that burned into my mind forever. I don’t regret that for a second. I needed to remember these lessons – forever.

I have always been grateful to Hebrew school for making me the atheist I am today — and for giving me a stone, cold accurate view of the world — and my place in it because of my tribe.

There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. You can’t cram peoples’ heads with that much bullshit and expect the bullshit not to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram a nonsense, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads that actually runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger) — don’t be surprised when the nonsense becomes the message.

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it.

No, SCOTUS — A Cross Is Not (And Can NEVER Be) “Secular” In Any Way – BECAUSE Of Its History

The Supreme Court just came down 7-2, allowing a 40-foot World War I memorial in the shape of a Christian cross to remain standing in Maryland. The American Humanist Association had sued Maryland; they wanted the state to replace the cross (erected in 1925 as a memorial to 49 local residents who died) with something more “with something more appropriate and universal.” The SCOTUS however says the cross, while “undeniably a religious symbol” is also now “secular enough” to stay.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-christian-peace-cross-ruling_n_5cfeb071e4b02ee3477b60cc

How to put this politely… BULLSHIT!

It’s hard, apparently, for Christians to conceive of the idea that the symbol for their faith means more than just “their faith”. It means two thousand years of persecution — if you’re Jewish. It means pogroms and massacres and inquisitions and holocausts. A cross always stands in the background of each of those scenes. The people doing the pogroming & massacring were almost always motivated to their violence — at least in part — by that cross and the people who controlled that cross’ message. That cross is the banner anti-Semites have almost always followed into battle.

I grew up in a mostly Jewish suburb of Baltimore during the 1960’s & 1970’s — a kind of gilded ghetto. Jews have been living in ghettos — gilded or otherwise — since the term was coined in Venice, Italy around 1516 to describe the part of the city where Jews were allowed to live. The ghetto.

Jews didn’t force Jews to live in ghettos, Christians did — because Jews insisted on remaining a separate group. More to the point, they insisted on remaining the “original” group from which Christians emerged. They insisted on staying true to themselves regardless of the nonsense Paul and the early Church Fathers INVENTED to distinguish the emerging Christian faith from its Jewish origins. Though Paul didn’t invent the idea that Jesus was “a messiah” (at the time LOTS of people claimed to be messiahs or were declared messiahs by their followers — it was an apocalyptic time in Jerusalem), Paul adeptly used it to create the Christian Mythology that Jews killed Jesus (never mind all the mythology’s myriad logic problems).

Whenever Christians went hunting for Jews to punish — for having killed Jesus — they did it under the banner of a cross.

I’m sorry, SCOTUS, but almost TWO THOUSAND YEARS of being beaten with a cross cannot be undone by CHRISTIANS claiming their core religious symbol isn’t religious “in this instance”. That’s like saying a noose — left dangling at a black person’s desk at work or left outside a black family’s home — isn’t necessarily racist.

Trust me — it’s racist.