First things first. First of all, dear reader, please keep in mind : this is a blog. An informal space for notations. Scribbled on the fly, extemporaneous, incomplete - in the narrow spaces between work assignments, or in the late hours, after work & everything else. It's not going to be elegant or highly organized, I promise.
First things first. Religion, needless to say, sustains a moral dimension - a demand for personal commitment, self-sacrifice, existential change. If it were only a matter of words, of comfortable speculations, it would obviously not carry much weight. I'm a sub-librarian, in an academic library: the dangers of tweedy detachment and abstraction are real. Possibly I've already dropped irrevocably into the pit of effeteness, complacency. You, the reader, will have to be the judge in that regard. Beware.
First things first. In my own experience, to think about Jesus, God, & Christianity, is to gaze into a deep - maybe infinite - well of mystery. "Food for thought", yes... an endless supply. I walk to work in the morning, thinking perhaps Vermont has thrown itself together (to paraphrase Stevens) - that I've seen the truth, that I have a foothold, a slight grasp : only to be pulled up short again by an equally-strong sense of uncertainty - of hiddenness (especially re: the resurrection).
But then, on the other hand, I do admit to having felt something like Poe's Eureka-thrill... Eureka! I have found it! If I hadn't, I wouldn't be bothering with even this rough draft of preliminaries.
First things first. We map reality - a synthesis of imagination and experience. And then we interpret and refine our maps. The map of ancient religion, the worldview of ancient humanity, begins with God. The existence of God, on this particular map, means that reality in toto is rooted in a creative, ordering consciousness. Let's call it (rough sketch) "God the Father, the Mother, the Origin, the Source". We can't understand Jesus without first recognizing this founding "principle". Nor can we begin to comprehend Jesus without knowing something about the matrix of Judaism in which he lived : a culture and faith which was, and is, motivated and devoted to this universal God.
Jesus' mission - to put it in the most reductive nutshell possible - was to proclaim and celebrate the personal, mysterious, loving presence of this God - the Father, the Parent, of whom he was (& is) the Child, the human Son, the Image. Jesus was an ecstatic, dynamic, eloquent and charismatic teacher, healer and leader, all in one (think Martin Luther King and his impact for a partial contemporary analogy). And what was the core of his message? That through himself - Jesus - this God was revealing himself and entering the space of human history, in order to bring all of humanity into the Family whose original is metaphysical, cosmic, and paradisal.
Thus Jesus calls himself the Way, the Door, the Gate. As the looked-for prophetic Messiah, he represented God's "seal" upon human history. As the Messiah, he played the hero, and walked through Death : in the process leading the rest of us into the presence/comprehension/awareness of life and consciousness beyond time & death. The recognition of this metaphysical dimension of "eternal life" was not offered as a means to a detachment from mortal, ordinary, earthly life (as the Gnostics and Stoics proposed) : but to reconcile and balance the material and spiritual, the physical and the metaphysical, time and eternity, soul and body. In such a balance, rooted in vision, each person, and humanity as a whole, can be redirected toward rightness (justice), joy, hope, and peace.
First things first. I'm laying out some basic elements, foundations. No doubt you've heard them before. But to start with the basics might lead further....