“What is wrong in the world,” writes a friend of mine, Tom White,” that our nation is collapsing—or at least getting ready to collapse—in a welter of monstrous, unpayable debt, illegal and unwinnable wars, pornographic ‘entertainment,’ grossly corrupt government, ruinous taxation, and totalitarian-style police-state encroachments on the activities of everyday people, all the while no one seems to be able to do anything to stop any of it?”
He continues, “the chief architects of the extreme folly of the two great European World Wars, which wrecked Christendom and murdered millions of human beings, were the money men and munitions men, the giant usurers in their role as warmongers.”
The money and munitions men. Those who worship Mammon and those who are warmongers. Jesus attacked both of them repeatedly.
I’m not quite sure how it came about that so many people thought Jesus was attacking the average person, but I suspect it had to do with distortions of the meaning of the Bible by those who had political and financial power, or else lusted after it. Who else could have done it?
But Jesus wasn’t attacking the common man, except perhaps when he referred to them as “sheep.” Which they were, and still are. His wrath was overwhelmingly directed at the Pharisees – the religious and political leaders of his time.
They were the ones looking for a militant nationalist king to someday throw off the Roman yoke. They were the money-changers Jesus drove out of the temple with a whip. The warmongers and the bankers. Today, they are the munitions and money men.
Those two groups have seized the reins of government, and always have throughout history. They’ll do anything for money and power – support slavery, support and fund wars, ruin economies through fraudulent banking, destroy cultures and countries. And Jesus identified and criticized those two groups 2000 years ago, and called them a bunch of vile -- but true -- names. “Vipers” was one of them – poisonous, conscienceless snakes.
I make a distinction between government and the State. Government ideally should be minimal and protect life, liberty and property. When it goes beyond those functions, it turns into the State. And various States, in the 20th Century, killed 177 million to 200 million people – through collapsed economies which lead to wars. The lust for money which lead to mass murder – to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
If people would follow the Ten Utterances (“Commandments” is a completely wrong translation) we wouldn’t even need government at all. I think that’s why Jesus never supported the government of his time. Not once. He told people to avoid it, avoid going to court, “to understand the intellect of serpents but be as harmless as doves.”
If the political and religious leaders of Jesus’ time were overwhelmingly frauds and hypocrites, why should they not be today? Human nature doesn’t change.
Our modern-day Pharisees – the Jerry Falwells, the Jimmy Swaggarts, the Pat Robertsons – are the kind in love with fine suits and fine cars, and have gravitated to the political power of the State. What exactly is the difference between these men and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time? For all practical purposes, I don’t see any.
The problem with these fakes and play-actors is what the Greeks called Hubris, and what the Bible calls Pride. They lack humility – a realistic appraisal of themselves. Every day they fall for the Three Temptations – money, political power, expecting God to support them in all ways -- even if they blindly throw themselves and their country off a cliff, they expect to be saved before they land in a ditch.
I have a very simple rule on how I identify false religions and false religious leaders: they are materialistic and they support the State. That’s it. They like money and power. Lots of both.
Unfortunately, it is the common man who pays for the evil of those who lust after money and war.