FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rebel Jew Jesus

by CLANCY SIGAL

Some years ago I was stricken with an unforeseen religious fervor.  Until then, I’d been your normal, rational secular Jew raised on the fusty ideas of those apostles of reason, “the great agnostic” Robert Ingersoll, and the free thinking criminal defense lawyer Clarence Darrow.  Suddenly, like an iron bar crashing on my head, I began to see – and “be” – Jesus Christ.

True, the ground had been prepared by my working closely with hospitalized, often visionary or delusionary schizophrenics in England.  Of course, any spontaneous expression of religious mania got them medically tagged as mental cases and dispatched to the nearest “bin”.  In therapy sessions we’d sit for hours exchanging our mutual visions; on examination, theirs seemed no more weird than mine.  As Jesus, I did not prophesy or insist I was a reincarnated Roman gladiator as some of my schizophrenic friends did.  But they respected what I was seeing, and gradually I came to understand the validity of their visions.

A mitigating factor in all this was that it was the ‘swinging Sixties’ in London when taking acid and Triptomine and similar exotic herbs was fairly common among the young – and for a short time, me.  It was when everybody could be his own Krishna or Buddha.

My own previous teenage attempts to join an organized religion had ended badly.  The friendly priest across the street at St Agatha’s church on Chicago’s west side threw me out when I suggested that Jesus was the first union organizer.  And the rabbi my mother sent me to for Hebrew instruction hurled me down a flight of stairs for throwing spitballs in class.  Religion of any form seemed a no-go area after that.

When Jesus later came to me in London, he (not in Capital Letters) seemed as palpable as the corner news vendor.  This was a secret, personal Jesus.  Devotional messages began to creep into my writing.   I submitted and had published an entire article for a Sunday newspaper riddled with disguised canonical code, without getting caught.

All this time I kept wondering, why me?  And why not Moses or Mohammed?

Over time, Jesus and I developed an easy conversational dialogue.  I’m told this is how certain native tribes connect to their tutelary spirits, a guardian or protective presence.  It wasn’t quite the same as a Christian patron saint.  He was colloquially accessible and wasn’t afraid to use street language.  I never asked for advice per se for fear the bubble would burst if I asked him the winner of the third at the Newmarket races.

In this condition, I thought it wise if I dated a BBC religious affairs broadcaster, but even she kept giving me strange looks.

In the end there was a “breakdown”, or moment of illumination (choose one), where, perversely, Jesus signed off with a farewell word which, boiled down, urged me to stop messing about with the myth and mystery of the Christ and to go back to mundane work that had no extraterrestial “meaning”.

I miss “my” Jesus.

The ultimate result of my passing passion for The  Passion was a feeling of closeness to both the myth and whatever we know of the historical Jesus the rebel Jew, rabbi and prophet.

We Jews are not supposed to believe in a heaven – Olam Ha-Ba (the world to come) or She’ol, hell. But I like to think that in a happy afterlife, amidst all those puffy clouds and singing harps, these two great men, Robert Ingersoll and Jesus, are up there having a gentle, friendly debate that will forever be without a resolution.

CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. His latest book, Hemingway Lives!, will be published this spring by OR Books. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com

 

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail