Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rambo Jesus? Seriously?

A South Dakota War College post has led to mixing pop culture, religion, and politics in the worst possible way; instead of of Frankenstein, this mix has has created a Rambo Jesus.

Not surprisingly, Bob Ellis is leading the charge to put Jesus in fatigues and army boots.
Some of you have made mocking references to a “Rambo Jesus” when I pointed out that Jesus Christ is no wimp who doesn’t mean what he says, not a weak-willed “moderate” who doesn’t expect us to follow his standard.
While you meant “Rambo Jesus” in mockery, you were actually closer to the way Jesus will someday behave than you realize.
Let's leave aside for the moment that Jesus famously said that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. He also advised turning of the other cheek instead of the returning of automatic weapons fire.

The only time that I can find Jesus acting in anything that could approach a Rambo fashion is when He chased the moneychangers from the temple. From the Gospel of John chapter 2:
13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
I hope this support for Rambo Jesus means Ellis and his religious regiments will throw their support behind any effort Steve Hickey or others put into tightening South Dakota's lax to non-existent usury laws.

On a side note, it seems interesting that one of the most famous versions of Jesus as a "lover of brawny men" is Ezra Pound's "Ballad of the Goodly Fere."
Simon Zelotes speaking after the Crucifixion.
Ha' we lost the goodliest fere o' all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O' ships and the open sea.

When they came wi' a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
"First let these go!" quo' our Goodly Fere,
"Or I'll see ye damned," says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
"Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?" says he.

Oh we drank his "Hale" in the good red wine
When we last made company,
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere
But a man o' men was he.

I ha' seen him drive a hundred men
Wi' a bundle o' cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.

They'll no' get him a' in a book I think
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha' snared our Goodly Fere
They are fools to the last degree.
"I'll go to the feast," quo' our Goodly Fere,
"Though I go to the gallows tree."

"Ye ha' seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead," says he,
"Ye shall see one thing to master all:
'Tis how a brave man dies on the tree."

A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha' seen him cow a thousand men.
I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free,
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue
But never a cry cried he.

I ha' seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o' Galilee,
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi' his eyes like the grey o' the sea,

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi' twey words spoke' suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea,
If they think they ha' slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.

I ha' seen him eat o' the honey-comb
Sin' they nailed him to the tree.
Pound, of course, wrote long before Rambo. Pound also infamously had fascist and anti-Semite leanings; one is left to wonder if the desire to create a Rambo Jesus stems from that politics. At any rate, it may be may be wise to avoid applying pop culture stereotypes to one's theology and begin admitting that we see through a glass darkly and know only in part.

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