FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rebel Jew Jesus

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

 

More articles by:

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

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail