Baker Academic

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hilde Moller and the Vermes Quest—Chris Keith

Readers of the Jesus Blog may be interested in this new book in the Library of New Testament Studies.  Hilde Brekke Moller has written the first full assessment of Geza Vermes's impact on historical Jesus studies.


From Bloomsbury T&T Clark:

About The Vermes Quest

Geza Vermes is a household name within the study of the historical Jesus, and his work is associated with a significant change within mainstream Jesus research, typically labelled 'the third quest'. Since the publication of Jesus the Jew in 1973, many notable Jesus scholars have interacted with Vermes's ideas and suggestions, yet their assessments have so far remained brief and ambiguous. Hilde Brekke Moller explores the true impact of Vermes's Jesus research on the perceived change within Jesus research in the 1980s, and also within third quest Jesus research, by examining Vermes's work and the reception of his work by numerous Jesus scholars.


Moller looks in particular depth at the Jewishness of Jesus, the Son-of-Man problem, and Vermes's suggestion that Jesus was a Hasid, all being aspects of Vermes's work which have attracted the most scholarly attention. Moller's research-historical approach focuses not only on the leading scholars of the field such as E.P. Sanders, J.D. Crossan, J.P. Meier and C.A. Evans, but also sheds light on underplayed aspects of previous research, and responds to the state of affairs for recent research by challenging the rhetoric of current historical Jesus scholarship.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Part I: Introduction
Ch. 1: The Significance of Geza Vermes for Jesus Research
Ch. 2: Vermes and Jesus Research
Ch. 3: The History of Jesus Research: Mapping the Quest(s)
Ch. 4: Vermes' Jewish Jesus (1973)
Ch. 5: The Significance of Jesus the Jew (The 1970s and 1980s)
Ch. 6: The Jewishness of Jesus Before Vermes
Ch. 7: The Significance of Vermes' Work on the Son of Man
Ch. 8: Final Considerations on the Jewishness of Jesus Within Jesus Research
Part II: The Significance of Vermes' Hasid Theory
Ch. 9: Vermes's Hasid Theory and its Precursors
Ch. 10: The Hasid Theory Within Jesus Research After 1973
Ch. 11: Hanina Ben Dosa Heals From a Distance: A Case of Christian Influences Upon Talmudic Judaism?
Part III: Conclusions and Outlook
Ch. 12: Conclusion
Ch. 13: Outlook
Bibliography
Index

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bultmannian Backlash

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book (an intro-level treatment) on Jesus. This is a short assessment of Eta Linnemann's reaction to Bultmann.

It would difficult to overstate the influence that Bultmann had on students of the Gospels, Christian origins, and the historical Jesus. Scholars endeavored to stratify the layers of the Gospels to discover what was original to Jesus, what was part of the earliest Christian preaching, or what was invented much later. The project was called “Form Criticism” and promised to apply a more scientific system of classification for the traditions of Jesus and the Gospels. For generations, historical-critical scholars were either motivated by Form Criticism or set against it in reaction to its success.

In some ways, Bultmann was a victim of his own success. Two related consequences of his project were: (1) Form Criticism became preoccupied with the social settings of the Church. Almost every word attributed to Jesus was thought to reveal something about a hypothetical community. Moreover, these communities were thought to be highly creative; they invented a mythology of Jesus based on their own religious experiences and social concerns. Rather than reconstructing a historical figure, these scholars began to reconstruct the imaginations of hypothetical communities. (2) Rather than making the “essence” of Jesus more attractive to modern folk, Bultmann became a villain to many Christians. His theories were so compelling that many people of faith had a visceral reaction to him. Some among the hyper-conservative rejected historical study altogether. This was the case with one of his own students: Eta Linnemann.

Eta Linnemann’s early work on the parables and passion of Jesus was much in line with her mentor’s project. She set out to explain the social settings that gave rise to the stories. The sayings of Jesus (for the most part) were composed by and for the early Christians. Supernatural accounts within the Gospels were wholesale invention. Linnemann did well in academia. Her books were widely read and she took a Professorship at Philipps University in Marburg. Indeed, she felt that her research was a service to God. But Linnemann had a crisis of conscience. After years of historical training and form-critical research, she concluded that no meaningful truth could come from her professional life. Worse, her research had created an obstacle to Christian preaching. She published the following reflection in 1985:


Today I know that I owe those initial insights to the beginning effects of God's grace. At first, however, what I realized led me into profound disillusionment. I reacted by drifting toward addictions which might dull my misery. I became enslaved to watching television and fell into an increasing state of alcohol dependence. My bitter personal experience finally convinced me of the truth of the Bible's assertion: “Whoever finds his life will lose it” (Matt. 10:39). At that point God led me to vibrant Christians who knew Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior. I heard their testimonies as they reported what God had done in their lives. Finally God himself spoke to my heart by means of a Christian brother's words. By God's grace and love I entrusted my life to Jesus.[1]

By her own words, Linnemann had “turned Evangelical.” By entrusting her life to Jesus, she was pulled from depression, idleness, and alcoholism. By any measure, her conversion transformed her with highly positive results. She, however, adopted an adversarial relationship with her past including her previous relationship with Jesus.

Linnemann spiritual encounter with Jesus, as she saw it, forced her to recant and repent from her former profession. She declared her historical study to be sinful and derided her former publications, “I regard everything that I taught and wrote before I entrusted my life to Jesus as refuse.”[2] She threw her books and articles away and invited her readers to do the same. Her new existential relationship with Jesus convinced her to throw away her previous portrait.

In my judgment, Linnemann’s experience echoes many students and seminarians who encounter historical Jesus research. It is common for these students to either embrace historical study (as Linnemann did in her early life) or choose an almost anti-intellectual path whereby faith and history compete (as she did in her later life). But it must be said that Linnemann’s particular reaction to her former life would not have been possible without a keen intellectual capacity to critique her own method. Her post-conversion publications take a bitter and hostile tone against university culture and historical-critical study more generally.

While her tone and rhetoric are extreme, Linnemann made an astute and necessary observation. The historian can only ever disguise her/his ideology with a veneer of objectivity. She argued that historical-critical study is not a method; it is an ideology rife with prejudice. Certainly she offers us a partial explanation for why historians continue to project their own biases and ideals onto Jesus.

While it would be misleading to label her as “postmodern”, Linnemann teaches us one of the most important lessons of the postmodern critique: scientific study tends to break down what it observes. The modern tendency is to parse, reduce, classify, and utilize. But what happens when the modern, critical eye turns inward? What happens when the intellectual mind begins to parse, reduce, classify, and utilize itself? The inevitable result is that we begin to critique the criticism.



[1] Eta Linnemann, Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology: Reflections of a Bultmannian Turned Evangelical (Trans. Robert W. Yarbrough; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990), 18.
[2] Linnemann, Historical Criticism, 20.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Memory Studies Association—Chris Keith

Some readers of the Jesus Blog with an interest in memory studies may like to know about the Memory Studies Association, recently launched by Aline Sierp, Jenny Wuestenberg, and Jeffrey Olick. 

They have a website at www.memorystudiesassociation.org
and are getting ready to have a major conference in Copenhagen in January.  Although the deadline has formally passed, I have word that they're still accepting some proposals for papers:

Second Annual Conference of the Memory Studies Association
Copenhagen, 14-16 December 2017
Founded last year in Amsterdam, the Memory Studies Association (MSA) aims at institutionalizing memory studies as a research field that is able to provide fundamental knowledge about the importance and function of memories in the public and private realm. The MSA’s objective is to provide a central forum for developing, discussing, and exchanging ideas about the methodology and theory of the inter- and multi-disciplinary field of memory studies.
By addressing crucial questions about the challenges and future of memory studies, this year’s conference will continue the fruitful debates that began in Amsterdam. A starting point of our discussions is to further define the ‘third wave’ of memory studies: One of the central problems of memory studies today is to adjust to the increasing heterogeneity of remembering without losing sight of national and local memory formations. Even in our globalized world, legal and mental borders are far from dissolved. The growing number of nationalist movements in Europe point to the continued virility of the national framework of remembrance.
This conference wants to address “memory unbound” as well as specific personal, familial or national memories and their mutual interrelations. It seeks answers to questions such as: How can memory studies continue to conceptualize the deterritorialized, fluid and transnational aspects of collective memory without abolishing the validity of the founding ideas of memory studies? Acknowledging the fact that memories relate not only to the presence of the past but also to imaginations of the future, how can we define the productive power of memory? Should memory studies merely be perceived as descriptive or should it also have an impact on actual political debates?
Confirmed keynote speakers and participants of this conference include: Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University), filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence”), Jan Gross (Princeton University), as well as Ann Rigney (University of Utrecht), Fionnuala Dillane (University College of Dublin), Stef Craps (University of Ghent), Daniel Levy (Stony Brook University, New York), Siobhan Kattago (University of Tartu), Astrid Erll (Goethe-University Frankfurt), Jeffrey Olick (University of Virginia), Emilie Pine (University College of Dublin), Barbara Törnquist-Plewa (University of Lund), William Hirst (The New School, New York), Wulf Kansteiner (University of Aarhus).
 The Memory Studies Association aims to be the central forum for scholars from around the world and across disciplines who are interested in memory studies. Its goal is to further establish and extend the status of memory studies as a field.  As such, this second meeting of the association invites all those interested in being part of this important emerging enterprise. As an interdisciplinary forum for memory studies, we warmly welcome contributions from various research fields and explicitly invite transdisciplinary approaches.
Submissions of papers and panels can address but are not limited to:
  • Memory of migration of refugees and workers
  • Traumatic memories
  • Ethics of memory
  • Memory and the media
  • Memory and the global
  • Entangled or multidirectional memories.
  • Neuropsychological approaches to memory
  • Gendered memories
  • Geography and the memory of sites/spaces
  • Sociological approaches to memory
  • Memory in the digital age
  • Memory and cultural heritage
  • Teaching memory studies
We would like to encourage both the submission of “traditional” academic papers and full panels, as well as innovative proposals for workshops, film screenings, roundtable discussions and more. Please contact the organizers if you would like to discuss ideas or have questions.
The submission system is now open and will close on 1 July 2017.
You can find more information about the conference and venue at: http://www.memorystudiesassociation.org/call-for-papers-2017/.
 Further questions can be addressed to Tea Sindbæk Andersen nxr333@hum.ku.dk or to Jessica Ortner ortner@hum.ku.dk

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Eyeball Theology

Last week in my class on Matthew's Gospel, mine eyes beheld a wonderful student presentation on the form and function of righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount. This got us discussing the following saying:

"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light" (Matt 6:22).

In keeping with the view that purity is represented by what a person projects, we discussed the ancient view that eyes (rather than receiving light) project light. In this way, Jesus reminds his audience that eyes are literally biological lamps. This is somewhat different than our modern reading of the passage. The modern reader is inclined to think that the eye functions as a "lamp" insomuch as it illuminates our vision. Cf. the New Living Translation: "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. . . ."

The discussion led me to this very helpful summary complete with a few sources.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bauckham Second Edition Giveaway—The Reveal

A long time ago the Jesus Blog announced a giveaway of the second edition of Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Thanks to the good people at Eerdmans, we actually have three copies to give away. The winners were determined in the usual way, and they are:

Scott Robertson (no. 8)


Bill Heroman (no. 26)


Nathan Shedd (no. 50)


Scott, Bill and Nathan: Congratulations!! If you would email me your shipping address, I'll have Eerdmans send you the book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Congratulations to Anders Runesson!—Chris Keith

Congratulations to Anders Runesson on winning the 2017 F. W. Beare Award from the Candian Society of Biblical Studies for his new book Divine Wrath and Salvation in Matthew: The Narrative World of the First Gospel!  You can read the information on the award here.  I've just started this book and am really enjoying it thus far.  Prof Runesson's main argument thus far is that Matthew's Gospel should properly be read as a Jewish text, not a "Christian" one.  As part of that, he also emphasizes an approach to Matthew's inception history rather than its reception history of Christian interpretation.  He's also offering some good methodological observations along the way.  I'll pass along one that obviously resonates with me:

"History, academically defined, is, then, best understood as a conversation between the past and the present" (xxii).

Congrats again, Prof Runesson.  I'll be giving some more thoughts on this book in due course.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Additions to Your Gospel of Matthew Syllabus

For my upcoming Matthew intensive, I am compiling a reading list that is accessible, online, and sheds light on contemporary social concerns. Today I was alerted to this piece by Robert Myles:

"Homelessness, Neoliberalism, and Jesus’ ‘Decision’ to go Rogue: An Analysis of Matt. 4:12-25," in Reading the Bible in an Age of Crisis (2015).

You may require an Acadmia.edu account to access this. It is well worth a read. It will certainly spur classroom debate!

I have also decided to use this short article by Dale Allison as an example of assessing a problem in the text of Matthew: https://www.bibleodyssey.org/passages/main-articles/sermon-on-the-mount

Allison observes:
The six paragraphs addressing the law concern anger (Matt 5:21-26), lust (Matt 5:27-30), divorce (Matt 5:31-32), oaths (Matt 5:33-37), revenge (Matt 5:38-42), and love (Matt 5:43-48). Many biblical scholars label these paragraphs “antitheses,” because in their view Jesus and Moses are at odds with each other. The Law of Moses permits divorce (Deut 24:1-4), oaths (Lev 19:12; Num 30:2-3; Deut 23:22), and retaliation (Exod 21:24-25; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21). Jesus, with his repeated “but I say to you,” prohibits all of them. Yet there are problems with supposing that Jesus contradicts the Law of Moses. Matt 5:17-20 says explicitly that Jesus has not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. To the contrary, people should obey and teach them. One could scarcely be any clearer. It looks very much as though Matt 5:17-20 is located precisely where it is in order to prevent readers from imagining that Jesus, in the paragraphs that follow, intends to undo the teachings of Moses.
He then asks, "But how can this be, if Jesus abolishes divorce and oaths and forbids retaliation?" I plan to have my class read this article aloud. Allison's solution to the problem is not as important (pedagogically speaking) as the problem itself. Most devotional readers of the Bible are not attuned to the problems that generate scholarly discussion. I hope to use this example to teach the practice of asking critical questions. To my mind, the ability to ask critical questions (both informed and interesting) is the first step toward creating a thesis statement.

-anthony

Monday, June 19, 2017

(Get Woke) Resources for Matthew

As I gear up for teaching Matthew's Gospel in week-long intensive format, I must choose a few articles for pre-class reading. I generally like to assign introductory material that is available online. In doing so, at least two factors are paramount: (1) my students need articles that are legitimately meant for first-year seminarians; (2) it makes things easier on all involved if my students can get this pre-reading done without the purchase of a textbook. (I do assign books but I don't like to assign them for pre-reading.) In addition to these two primary factors, I prefer authors with an eye to social impact. My students (by default) are practical and "woke" seeking to be more so. From time to time, I encounter the rare soul who loves the material for the sake of the material. Usually, however, my seminarians are serving communities in poverty (regardless of race, some outside North America) and not strangers to the many challenges associated with poverty. So if I can, I try to include resources that are relevant (or provide a foundation for socially informed discussion).

Here are three articles I'm using for my Matthew intensive:

William Loader, "The Gospel of Matthew An Introduction for Preachers"
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/matt.html

Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J., "Honoring the Dishonored: The Cultural Edge of Jesus' Beatitudes"
http://www3.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/loss.html

Mary Kay Dobrovolny, "Who Controls the Resources? Economics and Justice in Matt 20:1-15" http://web.archive.org/web/20040917020747/http://www.sbl-site.org/PDF/Dobrovolny_Matthew.pdf

Hat tip to the always useful NTGateway for pointing me in the right direction! The article by Loader serves as a brief, general introduction. It charts a few key themes in Matthew by focusing on the first five chapters. The article by Neyrey contextualizes one of these themes by focusing on what is arguably Matthew's most famous passage. Finally, I've selected a paper presentation by Dobrovolny. Admittedly, this paper is not meant for first-year seminarians. But I think it is just the right amount of challenging once the first two articles have been digested.

Are there other resources that would fit my interests and specifically focused on Matthew? I would love to hear suggestions. Remember, they must be accessible for first-year seminarians, available online, and socially aware.

-anthony

Saturday, June 17, 2017

2017 Christian Scholars' Conference

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the 2017 Christian Scholars' Conference (no, I had nothing to do with naming this event) took place earlier this month on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. This was my first official CSC meeting, so I'm not the best person to evaluate this year's program. I participated in two sessions on the first day, and I attended a plenary address by Prof. James H. Cone, wonderful presentation by Prof. Margaret M. Mitchell, a panel discussion of Jesus in Christian and Muslim perspectives, and a series of papers on Augustine and John Chrysostom.


The first of my two sessions featured a 60-minute keynote presentation by Prof. Stuart Zola (Emory University), "How We Remember and How We Forget," which presented some fascinating information on the neuroscience of memory. Professor Zola's presentation brought out the link between perception and memory, which are perhaps distinguished only by time (perception = attending to stimuli in the present; memory = recalling stimuli that are no longer present) and are both subject to similar—if not exactly the same—dynamics of distortion, selectivity, omission, attention, and interpretation. As complex and impressive as the human brain is, it is not a recorder of information, either in the present or in the past. Seeing, then, may be believing, but it is no guarantee of truth, veracity, authenticity, or any other quality of correspondence with reality.

In personal conversation (and in print, I'm sure), sociologist Barry Schwartz has complained that memory studies are set up especially to expose and highlight memory's failure and that such studies are actually disinterested in the normal, proper functions of memory. Professor Zola's presentation put this predisposition (I don't quite say bias, but I nearly do) on display in interesting ways. For example, Prof. Zola showed a variant of the famous "how many passes" video (see below), in which not just memory but perception itself are shown to be remarkably fallible. But here's the question I would ask in response: How many people, given the prompt, "How many passes does the team in white make?" get the answer to that question right? The answer, I would wager, is very high, especially if we allow for a slight margin of error (say, ±1). So while it's true that "it's easy to miss something you're not looking for," it is also true that it's possible to accurately follow something to which you're attending, to which you're expending mental energy and effort to perceive and/or understand.



In the end, Prof. Zola's presentation concluded with a shocking claim: "The fundamental outcome of most communication is misunderstanding" (his italics). But this is a sensationalist and problematic conclusion. Or at least, I think it is, if I've rightly understood his point. 😏 True, misunderstanding is a constant feature of interpersonal and intercultural communication. But it is not the fundamental outcome, at least not most of the time. If it were, we would stop trying to communicate. Perhaps we usually miss or misunderstand this or that nuance. Perhaps sometimes we even fundamentally misunderstand an intended communication. But this is not the case most of the time, and only an artificial and blinkered re-creation of real-life scenarios—one as misleading as telling subjects to count passes when we really want to see if they'll notice a moonwalking bear—could truly lead us to think so.

All of this illustrates why memory studies are so vital for Gospels and historical Jesus scholarship. If we learn anything from Prof. Zola—and we surely do; his work is fascinating and well worth accessing—it's that neither eyewitness perception nor eyewitness memory are the guarantors of historical or factual truth that we often think they are, especially in judicial contexts. The connections between memory's contents and history's realities are forged on a different plane. Claims, therefore, such as Richard Bauckham's, which have just been republished in a second edition, that the Gospels reflect eyewitness testimony and are, for that reason, reliable, rest on shaky—even crumbling!—theoretical and empirical foundations. But I will return to this claim in the next post, in which I discuss my second session, "Remembering Jesus: Memory, Texts, and Baptism."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Misrepresentation

It seems that a book Dr. Keith and I edited/wrote has been cited in service to a clickbait agenda.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/evidence-for-jesus-is-weaker-than-you-might-think/

Tarico and Fitzgerald have clearly not read the book in question.

-anthony

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Baylor Grad Student Discount—Chris Keith

Our friends at Baylor University Press are currently running a discount intended for grad students but open to all. Use discount code BJUN at http://baylorpr.es/grads-50-off, which applies to books published before 6/11/2017. Happy shopping! 



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Leftovers (HBO)

I tend to imagine the readers of this blog to be highly intelligent (yes, you!), close readers of sacred texts, and equipped with critical tools for interpretation. I also imagine that a subset of these readers are people of faith and/or religious practitioners. My guess is that many readers have religious upbringings but no longer practice. Or maybe you're a student of religion as an observant academic. If any of these guesses describe you, Damon Lindelof has created the perfect HBO series for you. The Leftovers is one of the most intelligent portrayals of biblical and popular faith I've seen on any screen.

The Leftovers wrapped up its third and final season this week elating some viewers and causing others consternation. Without revealing too much, the final episode spoke differently to different audiences. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and avoid the reddit controversies and arguments. I am in camp of highly satisfied folks because I appreciate endings that allow for multiple theories of resolution.

Almost any viewer who appreciates compelling storytelling, thematic development, and masterful acting will recognize the quality of the Leftovers. But viewers who are critical readers of the Bible and students of contemporary faith traditions will receive a double blessing. This series is replete with biblical symbolism: doves, floods, scapegoats, the Akedah, twins in competition, false prophecy, resurrection, Sarah's laughter, Job's theodicy, the Last Supper, etc. That said, these easter eggs are usually hidden in plain sight. The most obvious themes running through the narrative are persistent doubt and depth of grief.

In addition to the biblical themes, echoes, and motifs, the show ascends to brilliance in its exploration of contemporary faith. The premise of the series is that the main characters have experienced something like an eschatological rapture (called "the departure"). More specifically, these characters are those who remain. While many beloved family members have vanished, they are the "leftovers." As critical readers of the Bible will know, the rapture is not a biblical theme. It is a modern invention of popular theology. Indeed, this is the Leftovers in a nutshell: an intelligent and critical exploration of popular theology. Notably, Reza Aslan served as a consultant for the series. Whatever else you might think about Aslan's scholarship, he seems to understand popular faith quite well.

The show is not without flaws. When the series began in 2014, I gave up on it after three episodes. I had trouble with repeated convoluted introductions to new characters. Moreover, I had trouble internalizing the motivations of several key characters. But if you can refrain from quick judgements and allow the story to unfold, the development of the key characters is well worth the wait. Clearly, I gave up on the series too soon. Another flaw, in my opinion, is the show's failure to tie up a few loose ends. I will say no more about this now to avoid spoilers.

The Leftovers is a serious drama punctuated with authentic moments of humor. At times, the cinematography is visually stunning. The writers'/directors' attention to detail is impressive (even down to the images in the backdropped upholstery and music selection). And if you decide to bracket out the biblical and religious themes, the show can function as a well-crafted science fiction.

Finally, this entire series is contained in three seasons. It does not make the mistake of overextending its success and thus ending with a whimper. From alpha to omega, the Leftovers is heavenly.


Monday, May 29, 2017

What Would Jesus Resist?

The accumulation of wealth. Preoccupation with security. The use of power to secure more wealth at the expense of those who suffer already. Jesus would—and did—resist these things. And (relatedly) Jesus resisted evil. Jesus saw himself in open war against the spiritual world. The battlegrounds included systemic corruption, physical illness, and demonic possession. Jesus' view of Rome was probably colored along these lines too.

So what? Do any of these historical claims provide the modern person with marching orders? I am usually one to be cautious on this point. After all, the voice of any prophet requires context to make sense. Voices from antiquity do not often translate easily into modern contexts. Applying Jesus' teachings to modern politics—even when his message was overtly political—is usually a recipe for frustration. So much nuance is needed that once the historian homes in on a point, it is obscured by all of the necessary qualifications.

But then there is the rare case of obvious evil. In such cases, I think it's irresponsible to obscure Jesus' teachings with academic caveats. This brings us, again, to Donald Tr*mp.

Just after November 9th, one of my students sent me this comic. It's become a repeated triptych along my mental landscape. Artist Corey Thomas means to convey something of the African American experience post-11/9. But this strip captures something about American religious borders too.
images from http://goodspire.com/who-can-you-trust-a-black-artist-shows-
how-hard-it-is-to-answer-that-post-election/
Notice the use of borders in this strip. (1) As is common to comic strips, we see blocked borders between the first illustration (one of shock and worry) and the second (one of jubilation). (2) The hallway and doorframe borders illustrate the proximity between the black POV and white counterparts; (3) The final illustration shows the cubical dividing the protagonist from his white, evangelical (perhaps allied) coworker.

Somehow—and this is true for most folks I know whether conservative or liberal—the election of Donald Tr*mp was a highly disorienting experience. For many of my neighbors, 11/9 exposed precarious fault lines. The old categories of conservative vs. liberal just didn't work anymore. Those borders were tiresome and reductionist. But at least they were familiar. I've starting calling these new camps "nationalist" vs. "resistance" narratives. I'm not the only one who has been looking for new language. For example, the alt-right has adopted the terms "cuck" and "cuckservative" to redefine the new landscape. To be clear: the nationalist narrative is framed by white nationalism. This comic strip is correct: whatever else 11/9 was about, it was about race.

Not every Tr*mp voter is an overt racist. The real trouble is with the white, evangelical majority that allowed the alt-right narrative to thrive by looking the other direction. My guess is that most white evangelicals know the narrative is evil. If so, the accusation of racism isn't overblown. Unfortunately, most white evangelicals think that racism is something you feel rather than something you support unwittingly. But (and this can't be denied) there are enough overt racists in America to warrant an overtly racist political movement. The fact that we allowed white supremacy be rebranded as "alt-right" is part of the problem. Tr*mp was willing to stand on this platform.

So my take is somewhat different than Corey Thomas' view that "after prayerful consideration they decided that their God anointed the naked racist to be their leader." I differ because I sincerely doubt that there was much prayer involved in electing Tr*mp. I do not fault Thomas, however, for assuming that 81% of white evangelicals knowingly perpetrated a national sin.

I sent this comic strip to a Jewish friend. My friend is deeply invested in Christian well-being and knows more about Christianity than most Christians. He truly loves his Christian neighbors but he is worried about us. When I sent him this comic, he confessed that Thomas had captured something of his own disorientation. He said, "I feel the same way about my Christian neighbors."

Then there is my colleague who confessed that she couldn't be around men after 11/9. Even with men she loves and respects, there was something about the election of Tr*mp that made her male colleagues difficult to navigate.

Three borders: race, religion, and gender. Somehow our national sin, our collective evil, has made our old fault lines even more precarious. So which fault line poses the greatest threat? The answer is determined by which border is nearest to your front door. For some it's islamophobia, or xenophobia more generally. For some it's the mortal peril faced by millions of citizens of the greatest generation and baby boomers who will be failed by America's medical and pharmaceutical industries. As for me, I survey the landscape and see a world preparing for war. I see America failing at a crucial moment in environmental history. So I am most worried about my children. Tr*mp did not create these fault lines. He has, however, made them far more dangerous.

These are complex problems created by a world of geopolitical power-grabbing, capitalistic greed, generational hate, and an apathetic general public that Jesus never imagined. I doubt that Jesus could have conceived of a future when humanity would destroy the earth without God's help. What Jesus did understand—what he was uniquely prepared to preach about—was collective evil. Jesus knew well that collective sin required collective repentance.

I titled this article "What Would Jesus Resist?" It assumes that Jesus did resist that which he judged to be evil and that he would again. So, yes, I think Jesus would resist the global danger that is Tr*mp. I cannot read Luke 6 and think that Jesus has nothing to say about our national sin. Moreover, I think that impeaching Tr*mp may be part of a national repentance. But it will only be a the first step.