Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

A little late and a sparse collection. Blame it on the "Swine" flu.

I've been thinking of "swine." It really is a pejorative appellative. If I were a pig, I would be offended. Pigs are pretty smart, you know.

I think that it gets is nastiness from Mark 5:10-20:
11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
One is not completely sure why Jesus did this, but I suspect that they had the flu. Seasonal, not H1N1.

On the other hand, the site just linked to has this interesting thing to say about the episode:
Because this event occurs in “country of the Gadarenes,” which means near the city of Gadara, we are probably dealing with a herd of domestic swine owned by Gentiles because Gadara was a part of the hellenized, Gentile cities of the Decapolis. Thus, Jesus caused the death of a large number of pigs that were someone else’s property.
Perhaps one clue to the meaning of the passage can be found in the fact that the spirits feared being sent out of the country. This would be in keeping with a point raised regarding the first part of this story: this possession and exorcism may traditionally be read as a parable about breaking the bonds of sin, but at the time it may have been more properly read as a parable about the unwanted presence of the Roman Legions. They, of course, would not have wanted to be sent out of the country, but many Jews would have wanted to see them driven into the sea. I wonder if there was an earlier version of this story in which the theme of driving out the Romans was stronger (emphasis added).
Now this speculation is fascinating on several levels. Most importantly, however, is the suggestion that Jesus was involved in proscribed political activity. Never, in the whole of my Catholic childhood, was it ever admitted that Jesus was politically active. In fact, the whole trial and crucifixion was presented as a big mistake in that Jesus's contention that he was "King of the Jews" was always presented as a spiritual thing. I don't rememver how Kazantzakis presented Jesus in "The Last Temptation of Christ" but I'm pretty sure that it didn't deal with him as a political figure.

In that last line I typed the pronoun originally as "Him." It is amazing how these things stick with you. Once, many, many years ago when I lived in Ireland I was playing the guitar at a party and we were all singing "Plastic Jesus". I looked around the room and every time we came to the word "Jesus" all the young ladies in the room would do a quick little bow of there head.

Incidentally, the link to "Plastic Jesus" didn't have my favorite verse:
Hail Mary full of Grace
Help me find a parking place


Ray Girvan said...

Thoroughly nasty passage. St Augustine used this as evidence of why we shouldn't care about how we treat animals (anti-pagan agenda, since paganism included elements of animism, where animals and plants had spirits and should, thus be treated with consideration). Augustine argued that if Christ cared what happened to animals, he'd have banished the devils and made them leave the pigs alone; that he let them enter the pigs to do the lemming thing shows pigs to be dispensable.

Felix said...

On the "political Jesus" front, I have an abiding fondness for the film (not stage) version version of Jesus Christ, Superstar (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice).

It tells a tale of mixed agendas, misunderstandings, confusion, and petty politics. Jesus himself is left ambivalent ... he is pacifist and focused on the spiritual, but whether he is or is not divine is left moot. Judas, caught between the rock of loyalty to Jesus spiritual aims and the hard place of what Rome might do to the whole population as the high priests and the rabble rousers scheme in different directions, wrestles with his conscience and does what he hopes is the best compromise in the circumstances...