By Ted Glick
“Even more striking are Jesus’ teachings that we must elevate ‘feminine virtues’ from a secondary or supportive to a primary and central position. We must not be violent but instead turn the other cheek; we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us; we must love our neighbors and even our enemies. Instead of the ‘masculine virtues’ of toughness, aggressiveness, and dominance, what we must value above all else are mutual responsibility, compassion, gentleness, and love.”
-Riane Eisler, The Chalice & The Blade (p. 121)
Yesterday was Easter, the day that many hundreds of millions of Christians around the world celebrate the believed-in resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth about 1,985 years ago. Should those of us who believe that systemic, fundamental change, revolutionary change, is needed in this wounded and struggling world join in this celebration?
Many revolutionaries would say no, given the questionable proof that Jesus actually rose from the dead and ascended to a mysterious place called heaven. For myself, I’m not that kind of a believer. But I do believe that, after Jesus died, the memory of him, his spirit, if you will, had profound impacts upon his followers that led to the emergence of Christianity as, for many decades after his death, one of the most revolutionary movements the world has ever experienced.
No less a revolutionary than Frederick Engels saw things in a similar way. In “The Book of Revelation,” he wrote, “[Quoting Ernest Renan] ‘When you want to get an idea of what the first Christian communities were, do not compare them to the parish congregations of our day; they were rather like local sections of the International Working Man’s Association.’ And this is correct. Christianity got hold of the masses, exactly as modern socialism does, under the shape of a variety of sects, and still more of conflicting individual views, but all opposed to the ruling system, to ‘the powers that be.’” (pps. 205-206)
Karl Kautsky, a close friend of Engels until his death in 1895 and a leading theoretician and practical leader of the European socialist movement, saw things similarly. In his classic book, Foundations of Christianity, published in 1908, he explains how early Christianity was all about raising up the lives of the poor and the oppressed. He comments favorably on Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount: “The reader will observe that to be rich and enjoy one’s wealth is regarded as a crime, worthy of the most cruel punishment.” (p. 328)
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