In the 9/20/11 issues of Sojourners magazine is an advertisement for the 2012 Gladdening Light Symposium featuring Jesus Seminar scholar John Dominic Crossan.  Part of the ad copy reads, “Feed the soul, savor the beauty, and experience the communion love of Agape in the Gladdening Light of God.”

However, if Crossan is being heralded as what in show business and prize fights circles is called the main event, those in attendance will have very little to ultimately be glad about.  Given the name of the symposium, the event frankly borders on false advertising.

Anyone that has subscribed to the History Channel or A&E before both networks went nearly all alien autopsy and rummage sales has no doubt seen Crossan.  He is a talking head that use to get dragged out around Christmas and Easter time for those specials that posture as giving viewers the latest dirt on the events of the Bible being bantered about in the halls of respectable academia.

However, seldom do these programs confirm the accuracy of the Biblical accounts.  Rather, the intended purpose is often to heap as much skepticism upon these narratives as possible.

Crossan’s ticket to never picking up a bar tab (or in this case midwinter accommodations in sunny Florida) is that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.  Instead, Crossan believes Christ’s body was instead most likely eaten by dogs.

But rather than surrendering to a life as a squeegee man if religion is such a colossal waste of time, Crossan has taken up the mission of destroying other people’s faith as well.  It’s just that Crossan continues to hold onto Christian terminology to accomplish this task.  And it’s quite the incentive to keep at it that mildly entertaining eccentric skeptics are invited on midwinter Florida speaking tours and squeegee men are not.

Over the centuries, most have been drawn to Christianity as a result of its hope and promise of a blissful afterlife at the conclusion of this so very brief existence of terrestrial mortality.  Crossan’s vision of Christianity’s allure is markedly different.

On the surface, what Crossan and the Gladdening Light Foundation are calling for sounds quite a bit like Communism, but of a milksop variety lacking the backbone to do so without reference to God and along with the hopes that the religious buzzwords will draw in the easily duped.

The ad copy reads, “…Crossan’s vision of God’s longing for a just and loving community representative of all (‘loving thy neighbor as thyself’ from Leviticus and the Gospel of Mark).”  The paragraph concludes that, along with Crossan, a number of whom couldn’t otherwise get real jobs such as a “community choreographer” will speak about “their own creative aspirations struggling for transformation beyond societies that marginalize the disenfranchised.”

This may need to be translated for those that don’t speak stoned hippy.  What this really means is that your rights and property as an individual mean very little or even nothing.

It is only the group that counts since that is the only thing that lives on.  In a materialistic universe without a Resurrection, we pass out of existence at death (or at best make a guest appearance as a garbled electronic voice phenomena on one of those cable TV spiritism shows that took the place of the kind programming Crossan used to be featured on when A&E and the Discovery Channel attempted to appeal to the educated).

“Struggling for transformation” is the new euphemism for the old revolutionary phrase “by any means necessary”.  For now, the saps at the Gladdening Light Symposium are so naive that they think you will be so dazzled by COMMUNITY choreography (must be something like a Glee cast dance number) and Cherokee story telling that you will gladly hand everything you have over to what the ideological forbearers of these sorts of activities use to call the vanguard of the proletariat.

Of course, they will skim some extra off the top for themselves.  I’m sure John Dominic Crossan didn’t come cheap and at least had his first class airfare provided while no doubt working into his lectures why the rest of us ought to flagellate ourselves over the developed world’s carbon footprint.

This still doesn’t answer the most important question.  What will prevent the likes of those worked up into such a froth of imminent expectancy from turning violent when they discover you aren’t quite as moved as they thought you would be by fancy footwork and the cute little parables many American Indians seem to have a knack for?

One should not try to deny that there will not be any bashing of Western civilization in general and America in particular at the symposium.  This will be an automatic given.

This can be discerned from the phrase “societies that marginalize the disenfranchised”.  But is a symposium where “Pilgrims concerned with the plight of the world’s people will gather for an entire weekend of vigorous discussion, enlightened teaching, and thoughtful reflection” where the attendees don’t actually travel to assist the disenfranchised but rather to the state whose very name epitomizes delightful winter comfort and luxury really going to accomplish all that much?

About the closest any of the attendees will come to a Third Worlder is the picture of the African refugees placed in the left hand corner of the advertisement announcing the symposium.  What this vigorous discussion, enlightened teaching, and thoughtful reflection will likely consist of is a bunch of moderately wealthy former hippies and their young adult children dreaming up additional ways to shame you out of your own money or how to swindle it away from you at the end of the taxman’s gun if you aren’t gullible enough to go along with the obsequious self-loathing.

I Corinthians 15:19 says in regards to the Resurrection, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”  I Peter 1:16 assures, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  Any doubting this central teaching of the Christian message while continuing to employ the imagery and rhetoric of the faith is not out to instill hope but rather the most enslaving form of tyranny.

by Frederick Meekins

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