Before I begin: “Jesus” is a placeholder, think of Messiah or Trump or Hitler or Gandhi or Johnson or Buddha or Godot - we don’t know who is missing and therefore we are not sure who is coming, but we are all waiting for someone.
It was something that Adam Curtis had said in that interview that made me think. He made the point that people are waiting for an alternative but not only are the ordinary folks waiting, those in charge are waiting, those with money are waiting, everyone is waiting for an alternative. Unfortunately since we have tried out everything and no one has the imagine for coming up with something utterly new and more importantly no one is willing to risk doing something utterly new, nothing changes.
Hence the title of this article The missing Jesus problem - someone to come along and solve all our problems for us. Taking the responsibility for failure from us and who guides out of this waiting.
Instead we are stuck between we have tried everything and no one has the idea for something new. Alternatively one could take the view we are living in society where we have too many alternatives however no one is willing to risk pick one or the other.
In the end we are frozen in this world where we expect someone else to make a decision for us so that they carry the consequences for when it goes wrong but there is no one. Instead of us making that decision and taking the consequence, we waiting. Adam Curtis likewise touched on this point: we need to take responsibility for our own actions.
We for West in this case, and yes, we are the source of the problem. It might be fun to have a fun time in a plastic world and blame others for our mistakes, eventually though, those others will blame us for our mistakes.
This idea is not even dystopian, it is how the world works. You hit your neighbour, they hit you back. You burn down your neighbours house, they burn down yours, and on it goes. What we forget is that our neighbours might not take revenge straightaway, no it might take years or even centuries for them to take revenge. Hence the saying: revenge is a dish best savoured cold.
It would be good if we realised that our actions do have consequences and we are the ones to face those consequences, not our parents, not our children but we.
Remember, Geopolitical “revenge” is something played out over centuries. The Chinese have a term for the century of humiliation by the Western and they teach it to their children, its doubtful they will “forget” about that century. The Moslems do not like to talk about the crusades (yes, they are 800 years ago) and do not ask Africans (nor South Americans) about colonisation or the slave trade.
The Wests perspective is: Oh, that .. oh, but that’s soooo long ago, it’s all good again. Hey, look we gave everyone their freedom back didn’t we?!? And you know they trade with us now! No exploitation there.
And here is where Jesus comes in. Jesus will come down lead us out of here, showing us a new path of peace and harmony amongst all humans. As thanks we will nail Jesus on on a cross again, continue on as before but claim: we have now changed the lightbulb. We will all live in peace and harmony with all humans, religions and races.
Remember this is Jesus as a placeholder. Do not forget, what we currently societally experience is not in any way new. No, it is not new. It happens regularly and it keeps repeating, at the latest every hundred years. The only difference is that this time we have more advertising and marketing, this one will be the biggest and best reality show: The Complete Societal Destruction brought to you by the loving support of large corporations A, B and C, and filmed in technicolor and streamed live on the internet. That last bit is is the new bit, the rest has been repeated throughout human history, since the cave
Roaring 20’s followed by Nazism, Russian Revolution, American Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Ethiopian Revolution. (Ed: revolutionary order intended to spell “race to the bottom” but the author ran out of revolutions.) All revolutions have a common thread: a sudden power vacuum, the disenfranchised poor, the aimless rich - suddenly powerless and fearful (of losing their riches), a sudden emergence of a strong leader promising to empower the powerless and dethrone the powerful. I forgot to add the coming of Jesus to that list but one gets the picture. (Remember the #realJesus did appear at time as the Jewish communities were being suppressed by the Romans, Jesus was a revolutionary, a Che Guevara who freed those communities.)
We are currently at a point where no one thought they would ever be, since we have been telling ourselves that we have learned our lessons from history and it shan’t ever happen again. And here we are, enjoying the view of the elephant in the room. Watching the war destroy thirty years of unification diplomacy in Europe, watching the war creating the next generation of distrust and divide between East and West and watching the physical destruction that exclusively a war brings with it.
History repeats itself, even in our times.
What I wished to point out is that the interpretation of “missing” in “The missing Jesus Problem” is not as obvious as one might think. I came up with four alternative interpretations and I assume there are many more, let me begin:
“missing” in the sense of past tense: I miss Jesus and wish he would make a reappearance and save us all, as the last time he was here. Societally we then keep waiting until Jesus comes down again - the Jesus in this case, the Jesus from the Bible, not the placeholder Jesus.
“missing” in the sense of a jigsaw puzzle: we are looking for that last piece, it must be around here somewhere, damn where has it gotten to? Which would imply that our missing Jesus is amongst us somewhere and we need to find them. Someone who is brave, powerful, caring and has our best interests at heart.
“missing” in the sense the society is broken and is missing a part. If we had that Jesus part we could fix society and be done with it. All we do is claim that we found the missing part, we have fixed society and we move on. QED. Having not changed anything at all.
“missing” in the sense of waiting for Godot. It’s now past lunch time and Jesus had promised to come, where is Jesus? Should we start without him? No, Jesus did promise to come, we will wait somewhat longer.
Which is it? Which missing is Societys’ missing? Or may be we aren’t missing anything and we will carry on as usual.
What if on the other hand, Jesus is “technology”? What if Jesus (the placeholder) wasn’t human at all? What if Jesus turns out to be super duper Artificial Intelligence interested only in playing chess with their other AI friends? Or what if Jesus (again the placeholder) were to be a pandemic or natural disaster or human made disaster or even a vengeful God?
Technology means any human-made tool, for example Buddhism would be a technology that the West could be missing. Any new religious form would be a technology.
One should take the time to consider important issues. And dare to consider taboo alternatives to problems that appear insurmountable. If we reduce ourselves to taking the well worn path, we will always end up there where everyone else is or worse: has been.
To end with a bastardisation of Adam Curtis’ philosophy of Oh Dearism: Not all solutions to insurmountable problems must end in “Oh Dear”.
[Part of the Taboo Tiles series.]
War is a system, the system that the fewest have directly experienced. In recent times, the West has had experience with communism, capitalism, neoliberalism, socialism, neosocialism, democracy, autocracy but war remains that system with which the fewest have had direct experience. It would appear to be the system of least resistance, greatest support and simplest to apply.
Once again War becomes the great societal reset button.
War comes when society fails to support the poor, instead society sends the poor to their societal sanctioned death with a human-made technology called War. Then comes a period of societal support for the poor as they rebuild nation states. Once that is completed, the poor are thrown on the societal grindstones until they revolt again.