Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Personal and/or Australian Jesus

Feel free to call your band Australian Jesus, if there's isn't such a band already. The point of this post is that there's a Jesus in Australia. Well, there's a bloke called Alan John Miller, known to his friends as AJ, who claims to be Jesus. He has understandably harrowing memories of being crucified, but - in a typically Jesus-like show of kindness - thinks Mary Magdalene (aka Mary Luck, his girlfriend) suffered more than he did.

'Never mind, love, one day we'll be reunited in the land of the didgeridoo

He has of course offered plenty of evidence supporting his claim.
After his crucifixion the Australian claims he entered the spirit world where he met Plato, Socrates, popes and presidents. 
He also says he remembers performing miracles.
He said: "I did resurrect quite a number of people ... including a friend of mine Lazarus, who most people know is mentioned in the Bible." 
Fair enough. He's got his story straight. No wonder some people have sold their homes and left their jobs to be near AJ and the lovely Mary.

Of course, the standard religious response is to dub AJ a cynical cult leader and his followers gullible, emotionally-damaged fools. Here's a wonderful display of zero self-awareness from the Rev David Millikan, who has apparently 'studied cults for 30 years'.
He said: "The danger is you'll be drawn closer and closer into his web to a point that you lose access to your social life, you spend all your money, you'll have the curses of all your family ringing in your ears and you may well lose your relationship."
Yes, just like with the original Jesus of the gospels, in fact. Perhaps the Rev Millikan hasn't read the New Testament lately. As AJ observed:
"There were lots of people in the first century who didn't believe I was the Messiah and were offended by what I said - and in fact I died at the hands of some of them. 
"Unfortunately they didn't learn love either and my suggestion is, even if you don't believe I am Jesus, at least learn how to love."
So, how would a theologian go about demonstrating that this guy isn't, in fact, Jesus? Ask him questions in Aramaic? He might well respond that he has simply forgotten his native tongue as part of the whole reincarnation process. Or he could take the Tichborne Claimant's route and simply say: 'I'd rather not speak in Aramaic, it brings back too many unhappy memories.'

A Biblical quiz would be fraught with similar difficulties. AJ would be perfectly justified in saying: 'Look, I know it's your holy book and all that, mate, but most of this stuff was added long after my time, and even the stuff that is fairly authentic has often been distorted beyond recognition over the centuries. So no, I can't tell you what I supposedly said and did at such a time and place, because I don't think I was ever there. Sorry.'

In fact, the only way you could 'prove' this guy isn't Jesus is to demand that he perform a miracle, which has a cheap, nasty feel to it. 'Go on, show us a trick! Walk on the municipal boating pond! Turn water into Fosters, ya bastard!' Do something that Derren Brown or David Blaine might well accomplish, in fact.

I don't believe in the original Jesus, let alone some IT bloke in Queensland. But what I find baffling is how the faithful suddenly recover their common sense when confronted with a man who talks rather like the founder of the religion they profess. It's almost as if they don't really believe in the truth of the Bible they so confidently use to bash gays and such...

If there's any truth at all the gospels (a very contentious issue in itself) Christianity obviously started as a weird cult led by a social outcast who was deeply unpopular with religious leaders and most of the regular faithful. One of the reasons the Romans persecuted early Christians is that they were a cult that drew folk away from mainstream society, estranged citizens from their families, and from obedience to secular law and the emperor. Indeed, can a religion begin in any other way?

Having said all that, I'm obviously against brainwashing and so forth. But, oddly enough, this website that is highly critical of 'Jesus and Mary' doesn't suggest they do anything that you wouldn't find in many mainstream Christian churches. When you consider the monstrous witch-hunting and blatant cash-grabbing that goes on in African and indeed some Western churches, it seems like very mild stuff indeed.

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