Why was Jesus crucified, really?


This is not going to be a predictable Christian theology lesson about how Jesus was a sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Though I’m a Christian, that explanation rings hollow to me.  Why would a just God punish his innocent son so gruesomely, effectively unleashing his rage towards mankind for all of our sins?  Is God so full of rage, and unable to control it, that He must unleash it somewhere, so He chose His son, because He is so merciful?  I think God is greater than that, and does not NEED to punish anyone.

But this does make me better understand our Islamic cousins.  Like me, they too cannot believe this explanation, which defies all logic and our most basic sense of right and wrong.  In Islam, they teach that Jesus wasn’t actually crucified, but that he ascended into Heaven, and Judas the betrayer was turned into the image of Jesus, and crucified in His place.  That is certainly a more just narrative, that Judas would suffer the very tribulation that he was prepared to subject Jesus to.

Despite that, I don’t actually believe the Islamic narrative of the crucifixion.  When I hear the words, “Jesus died for our sins”, I think of something very different.


About 4 years ago, an attractive Serbian performing artist named Marina Abramovic subjected herself to what could be 6 hours of torture.  For 6 hours, she let anyone do whatever they wanted to her, using anything in the room.  The items included:

A rose. A feather. Grapes. Honey. A condom. A whip. A scalpel. A gun. And a single bullet.

Marina  So, as a man, I can imagine many possibilities.  What would you do?  You can be a gentleman.  Hand her a rose, feed her some grapes.  Sit her down, make her comfortable.  You can be silly, put her on one leg, tickle her with a feather, see if she can keep standing.  You can give in to your baser instincts, and take all manner of sexual advantage of her to your own immediate pleasure, with no regard for Marina’s feelings whatsover.  Selfish, indeed, but it can get worse.  You can engage the darkest corners of your soul.  You can torture her, whip her, cut her, you can even kill her.

In our lives, most of us like to think we are good people.  Most of us are “nice” to others.  A few of us maybe even volunteer to help others from time to time, and then go out to lunch and pat ourselves on the back because we are such “good people”.  But what happens when we are really put to the test?

Abramovic was willing to risk 6 hours of pain, molestations, and possible death, to answer this question.  Not surprisingly, she was groped.  We all knew that was coming.  But that was just the beginning.  She was undressed, cut in many places, someone was very close to shooting her, and another nearly raped her!  Fortunately, when it came to rape and murder, some people had the decency to stop it from going that far.  But for hours, she stood there, or moved into any position they put her in, while she was sexually violated, while a scalpel cut into her flesh, while someone drank her blood, while she stared death in the face.

When the act was over, she walked towards the audience, naked, bleeding, with tears in her eyes.  They all ran away!  She was human again, and none could confront what they had done to her!  Not only could the would-be rapist not face her, but even those who stopped it from going that far.  To look at her, was to look into the darkest corners of their souls.


Jesus dying for our sins

I’m glad that during Holy Week, the week leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, that I came across this article about Marina Abramovic.  I was probably about 5 years old when I was first told this gruesome story, exposing the darkest depths of the human soul.  In Sunday school, a man told us every sadistic detail of the crucifixion story.  Jesus was flogged 50 times, His blood covering the ground around Him, hardly any flesh remaining on His back.  A crown of thorns was placed on His head, piercing his skin, the blood dripping down His face.  His beard was ripped from His face.  In all this pain, he was forced to carry the cross, the very instrument of His death.  He didn’t have the strength, and an innocent man was forced to carry it for Him.  One by one, the nails were driven into him, two for his wrists, and two for his ankles.  As He anguished on the cross and passed out from the pain, a rag soaked in vinegar brought Him back to consciousness, insuring that He would find no release from the pain until death, finally came mercifully to Him.

As I heard this story, I sat stunned in silence.  What would you have done?  Would you have begged them to stop?  Would you have been as the penitent thief, asking Christ to remember me in His kingdom?  Would you have done as Peter, and Pontius Pilate, and the many “good people” who ran from Marina Abramovic?  Pilate tried to avoid the crucifixion, but gave in to the masses.  He then washed his hands of it, and likely tried to forget.  Peter almost worked up the courage to join Him on the cross, but when confronted with what that meant, he backed down.  If that wasn’t enough, he then denied Christ three times.  He was probably afraid that he too would be crucified.  But he was also ashamed.  Here, Jesus was being humiliated, in addition to all of the excruciating pain.  Peter didn’t want to admit that he was associated with that seemingly pathetic man who can’t even carry His cross!

Would you be as the Pharisees and Sadducees, fearful of losing their power, disdaining the way this gentle man has outsmarted you in debate; would you turn Him over to such a horrible and unjust demise just to be rid of Him?

But what about the masses?  Would you be as they were?  Despite all of the kindness Jesus has shown, healing the sick, feeding the hungry; would you then cheer for His humiliating and needlessly torturous death?  What about the Roman soldiers, who went beyond merely “following order”, and took particular pleasure in torturing and taunting Him?  Given the opportunity, would you unleash the desires of the darkest depths of your soul, knowing that you could do so with no legal of social consequences?

A few came to Abramovic’s rescue when she faced rape and death, but none came to rescue Jesus.  This is why Jesus allowed this to happen.  Abramovic seemed weak, but she showed great strength.  She could have stopped it at any time, but she endured the full 6 hours.  But Jesus showed even greater strength.  He knew exactly what was about to happen, even begging His Father in Heaven to release Him from it.  But He still went through it, every lash, thorn, and nail.

The evil that men do

My Jewish friends are likely disturbed by my reference to the Pharisees and Sadducees above.  For them, this touches on something deeper.  There’s a long history of Jewish people being tortured and murdered in retribution for what was done to Jesus.  This, of course, is fundamentally and theologically flawed.  It rests on the assumption that it was the sin of the Jews.  Yet Jesus died for the sin of the world.  In our Palm Sunday liturgy, we do not say “The Jews did it”.  We ALL did it!  Even Peter.  Peter was as close as anyone to taking up the cross, but even Peter couldn’t.  Even Peter denied Jesus.  Jesus died for the sins of Peter too.

When certain Christian blame the Jews and persecute them, they are really punishing themselves.  They’ve decided to take what they know is the darkness deep inside them, the darkness that crucified Jesus, and place it onto the Jews.  They think in punishing the Jews, they are punishing what crucified Christ.  But in truth, they are the crucifiers.

This last Palm Sunday, while Coptic Christians were worshiping in Egypt, ISIS bombed two Coptic Churches, killing at least 49 people.  This they do in the name of Islam!  Islam!  That religion that is so horrified at the crucifixion that they can’t even accept that it happened!  ISIS does not do these things because they are Islamic, any more than Christians who have persecuted the Jews do so because they are Christians.  Christianity does not teach us that “the Jews” murdered Christ, and Islam certainly doesn’t teach that Christians who are peacefully worshiping deserve to die.  It actually goes directly against the teachings, and promises, of their prophet Muhammad, who promised that Christians living under Islamic rule would be protected.

These things have been done because of the darkness that exists in all of us.  Jesus didn’t come to deny the darkness.  He came to face it, and to suffer it.  The Pharisees tried to deny the darkness, and in so doing, in their cleanliness and “Godliness”, in their strict adherence to laws and traditions, they were just as guilty as the Roman soldiers.  But Mary Magdalene (See note), a prostitute, found forgiveness and a new life.  The tax collector, penitent and asking the Lord’s forgiveness, found it, while the Pharisee, not facing his darkness, which was likely far less dark than the tax collector, was not forgiven.  We can only find forgiveness and renewal in penitence, and we can only be penitent by first seeing the darkness.

That is why Jesus was crucified.



Since writing this, I’ve learned that the claim that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute is entirely based on assuming that the prostitute who washed the feet of Jesus was also Mary Magdalene.  There is actually no evidence of this, and it is highly unlikely that Mary Magdalene was the same woman.  But I would stand by my point that the prostitute did find forgiveness by confronting the darkness.

CNN is not exactly “fake news”, but…


When Trump and some of his supporters call media outlets like CNN “fake news”, establishmentarians love to snort in derision.  “Oh you Trump supporters.  You just hate facts.”  Neither Trump nor his supporters are known for their eloquence, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

The civil war in Syria has been raging since 2010, and it is absolutely crucial for us to understand it.  ISIS has emerged out of the civil war, and as I write this, a new group is emerging called Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, which includes the former Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front.  As this group seems to have some of the characteristics of Al Qaeda, and some of ISIS, it is a group that Americans should seriously be warned about.  Instead, CNN would rather devote most of their time to mocking Trump’s gaffs, or something as trivial as eating fried chicken with a knife and fork, and defending their wounded pride (ya know, from the Clinton loss despite expert predictions to the contrary) with more elitist arrogance.

CNN isn’t fake news because of fake facts.  It’s more an issue of relevance.  All mainstream media has done a poor job of informing the American public of what is going on in Syria.  As I’ve explained many times before, if Americans knew about these dangerous terrorist groups, and the fact that the Assad regime, for all their faults, are fighting AGAINST these terrorist groups, we wouldn’t even be considering regime change in Syria.  The only thing we’d be debating at this point is whether to help Assad, or just stay out of the way and let him take care of it.

But, ya know, Trump just says all those crazy things, and we just gotta report that.  And as a southerner, I take deep offense to Trump butchering that fried chicken with a knife and fork.  Pick it up with your hands, foo!

As Trump would say,


Now, let me do CNN’s job for them.  The above briefly mentioned gas attack.  We aren’t yet sure who did it.  It may have been the Assad regime, as air craft were likely required.  But it very well could have been a rival terrorist group.  The area that was attacked is firmly held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.  So, the attack was on an area held by an Al Qaeda linked group, though this group has no present official ties to Al Qaeda.  It’s just another example of the kind of ruthless tactics that are used in this ongoing, brutal civil war.  If it was indeed by the Assad regime, we should remember that it was directed at a very dangerous terrorist group that is clearly hostile to the US.  But it should also be noted that the attack showed no regard for civilian lives.

There, CNN!  That’s how it’s done!

5 Things I don’t like about President Trump

Between Clinton and Trump, I supported Trump.  There are some things I love about Trump, especially his trade policies.  But while I shower praise on Trump for getting us out of TPP, and hopefully will for more excellent trade policies to follow, I want to go on record for where I think he is wrong.

  1. “Make Mexico Pay for it!” We are a sovereign nation, we have borders, and we have a right to enforce those borders.  But I don’t support antagonizing our neighbor Mexico in the process or trying to make a poor country pay for a $14 billion wall.  Furthermore, attempting to do so with tariffs in misplaced, not that I’m against tariffs.  But you aren’t making the Mexican government, or even necessarily Mexico pay for it with tariffs.  Tariffs are paid by exporters from Mexico to the US, some of whom are American, and others of varying nationality.
  2. Iran The truth is that Iran has been fighting ISIS more effectively than our own government.  We should be competing with Iran to fight terrorists even more effectively, rather than antagonizing them just because they are an Islamic Republic.  That’s also the problem with this whole “radical Islam” thing.  Muslims can be “radical”, without being terrorists.  What has Iran actually done to US since 1979 other than words?
  3. Torture Trump made an excellent choice of Gen. Mattis for Sec. of Defense, and I wish he’d take his advice on this.  Torture via “waterboarding” was used throughout much of the Bush administration and there is no evidence that any useful information was gathered that way.  It isn’t even a question of whether or not terrorists deserve it, it’s just ineffective.  The information gathered this way is very unreliable and can send us on a wild goose chase!  Fortunately, Trump is at least going to let Mattis use his methods while he is Sec. of Defense, so there is unlikely to be any torture for the time being.
  4. Restricting Scientists from revealing their research EPA Scientists funded by the government will have to have their research approved by Trump’s bureaucrats before it can be published, and the USDA is facing similar hurdles.  This is a horrible affront to academic freedom!  As an academic myself, I highly value and know the importance of academic freedom in promoting new ideas and studies that can change the way we think of the world.  I will agree that academic freedom is already impeded by much of the political left, and they are clearly pushing an alarmist agenda on “global warming theory”, but they should be countered with legitimate research to the contrary, not suppression.  (For the record, I myself am agnostic on the extent of global warming caused by human activity.)
  5. Trump’s disregard for racial injustice in the criminal justice system I saved the most important for last.  Trump has a very long history of always, without question, siding with the police.  I respect our many good police officers who put their lives on the line for our safety, but justice should be color blind, to black and blue alike.  There is significant evidence of racial injustice that needs to be addressed.  It’s a difficult balancing act, because it is also unjust for certain crime ridden black communities to be neglected by police.  Sadly, you try to fix one problem and you can create another.  Reforming our criminal justice system in a way that addresses systemic racism while simultaneously ensuring that the police can effectively do their jobs is going to require the kind of nuance and thoughtfulness for which Trump is severely lacking.  I just hope that Trump makes some very wise appointments to address this issue and leaves it in their hands.

So there you have it!  Just because I love certain things about Trump doesn’t mean that I am a blind follower of his cult of personality.  I have mixed opinions of the temporary moratorium on refugees by the way, but don’t necessarily oppose it.  But in practice, I find myself constantly defending Trump on social media because of the cacophony of vicious attacks from the hypocritical center-left who seem to think their shit don’t stink…that shit being their last nominee for President.  You tried to shove Hillary Clinton down our throats when Bernie Sanders was right there!  Now, you have to deal with Trump!

My Awkward Encounter with a “Deplorable”

So I was at the Chinese restaurant waiting for my food, a middle aged man starts talking to me about Trump, the rioters, etc. He’s condemning the rioters for burning property, hurting people, etc. He’ll get no disagreement from me there. He keeps going, talking about people who get shot by the police because they wouldn’t do what they’re supposed to. It’s Friday evening, I’m in an amiable mood, so I concur. “Yeah, I remember that guy in Milwaukee who wouldn’t put down the gun, and the cop shot him. What was the cop supposed to do?!”

Then the man goes on to start criticizing Obama (now he’s losing me), “and that Obama says Travon Martin could have been his son…Martin beat that guy up, that was a Mexican feller…He beat him up…” Time to interject. “Now as I remember, Zimmerman followed Travon Martin to his house…” “well yeah, he was a neighborhood watchman and Travon Martin was suspicious, because he was wearing a hoodie” (I promise you, that’s exactly what this man said). As I continue defending Travon Martin, a black couple walks in. The second they walk in, the man becomes deathly silent. I just remember concluding by saying, “that’s a different situation”, in comparing Travon Martin to the stuff we were talking about before.

But you’ll notice how the man’s behavior completely changes due to the skin color of those entering. As I’m white, the lady at the counter is white (Yes, the cooks are Chinese, they just have a white lady taking orders), he let’s a fly. I can’t help but wonder, considering that George Zimmerman was not a police officer. If Travon Martin were a white guy named Travis Martin, and Zimmerman were a black man, and everything else had been the same, would this man have the same reaction?

Good to be reminded that just because I’m on the team as these people for the time being, doesn’t mean I should get too comfortable with them. So, Democrats, want to win me back in 2020?