Christianity's Holy Symbol if Jesus (Supposedly) Came At Another Time in History

Well today's Good Friday when we're all reminded by Christians about the bloody crucifixion of the almost certainly fictional Jesus Christ.  So I thought I would write a seasonal piece about the topic that disregards why precisely he had to get himself killed in a gruesome way to absolve us from our sins - nobody else ever seems to think about it around this time - after all, it's a hard problem.

Instead I would like to further embellish a quote of Dan Barker's from his book Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist:

A cross is not beautiful. It is an emblem of humiliation, agony and death. It represents a public execution, like a gallows, guillotine, or gas chamber. Approaching a cross is like walking into a firing squad. Try to picture a steeple supporting an electric chair; or imagine people wearing noose jewellery!

Suppose someone saved your life by blocking a terrorist's attack, but died from the bullets. Would you hang little gold machine guns on your ears?

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Comment by David Sensei on April 7, 2012 at 10:42pm

Kochira kosou (likewise), Godless. It's always nice to know people like what you've written. On occasions I've put considerable time and thought into a blog contribution and gotten no reaction from anyone at all, though I'm sure it's read and noted by some. I guess people have their own axes to grind. Don't worry, that's not gonna stop me grinding my own (lol).

Comment by Godless Poutine on April 7, 2012 at 7:07am

Wow!  Thanks for the awesome comment David.  That comment probably deserves a post of its own!

Comment by David Sensei on April 7, 2012 at 5:46am

Funny! Let's assume that whenever and wherever JC might have chosen to appear, he was not certified, as 'Reason Being' suggests he might be now (though similar cultists are successful and still running free), but duly executed according to his 'father's' brutal plan.

If he'd been drawn and quartered, I can envisage four great divisions of Christianity, with each holding a pickled limb as their holy relic. Which limb would prevail as the true 'disembodiment'? And I wonder how long it would be before there were eight, sixteen, thirty-two limbs. They say that in European churches alone, there are hundreds of holy nails and enough pieces of the holy cross to build a ship.

If he'd been beheaded, the holy skull would appear at the top of many a spire, and the dreaded 'skull and crossbones' of pirate vessels would be mistaken for a shipload of pilgrims. Or the 'holy axe' might be the dominant icon. If he'd died in the chair, there might be proliferating cults of self-shockers (at recommended safe voltages of course). If he'd died at the stake, pyromania might have become a sacred calling, though probably not in Australia or the Californian backcountry. And a firing squad would serve to make the NRA's mission unassailable.

I could go on but I'll spare you. That the cross should be the ultimate Christian symbol is indeed worth remarking on, given that it represents one of the most brutal and sadistic methods of execution ever devised.

Do you remember Monty Python's Life Of Brian? In the storm of controversy that followed, John Cleese and Michael Palin debated leading British theologians on the BBC. One of them was Christian pundit Malcolm Muggeridge. He found the most offensive sequence, as many Christians did, to be the crucifixion. Milking humor from this hideously violent situation, the central tenet of Christianity, was to Muggeridge the ultimate blasphemy. Yet satirical comedy does just that - trivialising otherwise tragic and traumatic events for the shock value, and thus we laugh. And yet I'm sure these believers have laughed many times at violent slapstick of other kinds. Visual comedy is almost unimaginable without extreme violence.

Crucifixion does not belong to Christians, and nor does the cross. Christians did not complain when they saw the fate of Spartacus's beaten army in the movie theatres. I live near a busy intersection and there is nothing holy about it. The letter between w and y has no religious significance and nor does that dumb crossbar on the top of a steeple. A plus sign is not a reminder of how some obscure Jewish shaman martyred himself to save me because some ancestral ape ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

A more fitting symbol for Christians would be the Who's 'Tommy', a deaf dumb and blind kid who sure plays mean spinball.

There ends my Easter message. Thanks for the springboard for a nice rant and for your indulgence if you read this far. Blessed are the cheesemakers. 


Comment by Reason Being on April 6, 2012 at 11:03am

There is zero doubt that if Jesus lived today he would be denounced as a crackpot.  The whole story is sickening and foolish on so many levels.



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