Jesus: Creative Activist

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Aug 23 0030

Location: 

Jerusalem

Regardless of one's spiritual ties (or lack thereof) to Christianity, all artistic activists can take a note or two from Jesus's playbook--the actions of "a radical Mediterranean Jewish peasant building a revolutionary movement two millennia ago."

1.  Jesus: Media Mogul.  Jesus was a master of making a scene, ensuring that news would spread.  If he was around today, the media wouldn't be able to get enough of him.

ex: John 2:13-16 -- Jesus entered the temple of Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money changers and sellers of ritual objects, literally pouring money on the floor.

This is, as Stephen Duncombe writes, an "effective political performance. He could have stood outside and harangued the passerby with his opinions, the ancient equivalent of the activist on the soapbox, but instead he demonstrated his politics though a spectacular act of civil disobedience. Through such an action he not only demonstrated visually and bodily his political ideals, but did it in such a provocative way that news of his deed, and therefore his message, was sure to travel."

2. Jesus: Political Performer.  Jesus used his own body to carry his message--he enacted the reality he wanted the world to embody.

ex: Mark 2:15 -- Jesus dined at Levi's house with an eclectic group, including women, tax collectors, sinners and the sick.

3. Jesus: the Meme.  Jesus' words and actions are some of the most oft-quoted in history--they're catchy, witty, and they stick with you.

ex: John 12:12 --Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, "the titular “Son of God” seated upon a lowly ass," (Duncombe), as opposed to a horse, which was seen as more noble.  Traditionally, donkeys are now seen as symbols of peace, and Horses as symbols of war.

During the start of his ministry the Pharisees would have been
interested to hear what Jesus had to say. The problem that they had with Jesus was simple: no man had ever spoken like this
man, and  no man had ever won the favor of the masses so quickly and so
thoroughly.

There were no doubt many such Pharisees who believed in Jesus, yet probably
secretly. Even those who were not necessarily believers could display admirable
traits: Gamaliel argued for open-mindedness (Acts 5:34); others warned Jesus
of an attempt on his life. (Luke 13:30-31)

"I do have faith in Jesus, but a particular and perhaps peculiar faith.
Do I believe that Jesus walked on water? No. Do I believe in the
divinity of Christ? No. Do I believe in God? No. But do I believe that
Jesus cared about those who are used, abused or forgotten by society? Do
I believe that Jesus wanted to radically transform the world? Do I
believe that Jesus can teach me something about how to be an effective
political organizer? The answer is Yes, yes and, again, yes." --Stephen Duncombe

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