Monday, November 4, 2013

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Minutes ago, I finished Reza Aslan’s book Zealot subtitled “The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” I came away with many thoughts, not the least of which surrounds the centuries of conflict peoples of that region have endured. In and about Jesus’ time, sectarian violence occurred not between Islamic forces – as the Prophet Mohammed was 570 years away from being conceived – but among various violent sects of Jews, among others. Overlaid on that was an occupying force from Rome. Sound familiar?

Is Syria and her surrounding environs a land of eternal conflict?

In the twenty-first century, we take great pains, apparently not to learn from history. If we did, we’d know that thrusting our values on existing cultures, exacting our economic reward, and trying to shape nations is a fool’s errand.

Aslan posits that Jesus was a charismatic figure who while working for justice from within did not eschew violence as a means to a political end.  This historic thread differs in many ways from the Christ in whom we are invited to have faith.

Either, Aslan concludes, is “someone worth believing in.” Aslan’s conclusion is justified. If more of us worked for justice from within, we’d be a better people. We’d be who we profess to be.  But beyond that, if we could promote revolution through words and not violent actions, so much a better people we would become.

Zealot is a good read: insightful, seemingly well-researched, well told, and one that leaves the reader wanting more.

Closed circuit to those who suggest that because Aalan is not Christian – he is a historian of (gasp!) “lukewarm Muslim and exuberant atheist” heritage – Reza Aslan is not suited to write a biography of Jesus of Nazareth – you’ll recall how the Fox News interview deteriorated: Congratulations! You are part of the problem. Shielding ourselves from history allows us to repeat our mistakes. Those who detract someone’s diligent work because that person’s faith are poster children for ignorance.

As an American people – people who believe in the freedom to believe – we simply must do better.

© 2013
Church of the Open Road Press

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