Is it easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a White man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

I know it's a peculiar question. It comes from a comment I wrote on Lois Wickstrom's latest post. And I realize that this is a particularly peculiar question coming from a Jewish guy. I know, Jesus was one of us, and I certainly recognize that in his thinking, but still....

It's roughly two thousand years ago, you're wealthy and you live in Jerusalem. You do not steal from anyone, nor do you oppress anyone. You don't view it as your obligation to help anyone (they should pull themselves up by their own sandalstraps), so you stroll past beggars in grinding poverty. Jesus sees you and says

It is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

You didn't make poor people poor. You didn't hurt a soul. 

So what's Jesus' point? What was the point of prophets before him who said essentially the same thing?

Put another way, what is your obligation?

Obviously, to do what you can, or at least do something, to minimize injustice, to minimize the hurt of those around you. 

Back into the time machine and....

It's roughly now, you're White and you live in America. You do not discriminate against anyone, nor do you oppress anyone. You are not racist. You don't view it as your obligation to help anyone, so you stroll past Black people facing daily discrimination. Jesus sees you and says

what? 

You're not a racist. You didn't hurt a soul. 

Is that enough? What is your obligation?


Views: 517

Comment by nerd cred on June 29, 2015 at 9:14pm

You don't view it as your obligation to help anyone

Well there you go. Jesus doesn't like that.

Asked what is the "greatest" law Jesus said, Love God. "And the second is like it," love your neighbor as yourself and to illustrate, he tells the story of the good Samaritan, the message being it's your obligation to go out of your way to help someone from the other group, even the group you and your group look down on.

So you want to get through that needle you need to be working against racism as if it was directed at you.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 29, 2015 at 9:21pm
I view fighting racism as a religious obligation. My point is: as far as I can see, so would Jesus.

This would have been a bigger deal than gay marriage, no matter how he would have felt about it. We can assume that because we assume he talked most about what he considered important.
Comment by nerd cred on June 29, 2015 at 9:23pm

He was a good Jew, too.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 29, 2015 at 9:40pm
Very much so. I respect him a great deal.
Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 29, 2015 at 10:02pm

Not putting you down NC but Kosh will get a kick out of this:

Jesus, if he actually existed, probably picked up the whole love your neighbor thing from Hillel the Elder, who did exist.  When challenged to explain the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot, Hillel raised his left foot and said, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the commentary; go and learn."   Hillel also said, "If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"  Which could apply to the whole working against racism while you're trying to shove that camel through the eye of the needle. 

When it comes to the purported sayings of Jesus I prefer the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, which ranks number one in Google Gospel searches. G_D I love that alliteration and layered metaphor: Google Gospel search...  Anyway old Doubting Thomas wasted no extraneous language except to bring the words of Jesus into context.  Right off the bat here's one of my favorites: 3. Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. 

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

No small wonder the bishops tossed Thomas out of the New Testament canon. Priests and prophets don't know what they're talking about as they wander about out of work... Holy Mother Church, Batman!!! Hee, hee ;-D

Comment by koshersalaami on June 29, 2015 at 10:20pm

I'm extremely aware of those sayings of Hillel the Elder. The first is my favorite religious quote of any kind. For one thing, it's an over two thousand year old synopsis of Torah that doesn't mention God, which I find interesting because faith is not our first religious priority, compassion is. This is not to say I don't have faith, rather it is to say that even to God, how we treat each other is our biggest imperative. God is not Tinkerbell, He does not need us to clap. 

Comment by nerd cred on June 29, 2015 at 11:01pm

Like I said, a good Jew.

It's like I tell you guys over and over -
it's what I was taught in Catholic school -
to be a good Christian, first you have to be a good Jew.

And being a good Jew is as simple as Hilleland a good Christian as simple as Jesus' first two laws
and commentary is so much bullshit (though often fun.)

Simple.
Be nice.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 29, 2015 at 11:59pm
No matter how much stuff you add on over that, you're fine as long as that's the foundation, that's the priority. Problems happen when it's not. In theory it's supposed to be.
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on June 30, 2015 at 3:19am

As always, my fave line of that rabbi, perhaps my fave from any rabbi, is his, as recorded by his friend, called Matthew (25:40):

What you do to/for the least among us you do to/for me. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on June 30, 2015 at 3:25am

He's not saying that the rich are fundamentally evil and so are denied Heaven/Grace. He's noting what wealth does to most people, the tendency toward complacency and inward directiedness.

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