A Messed-Up Religious Narrative

by Leslye Joy Allen, Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

“Self Portrait” by Copyright © 2015 Leslye Joy Allen.  All Rights Reserved.

“Self Portrait” by Copyright © 2015 Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.

On Easter Sunday morning, 27 March 2016, I received a rather cryptic text message from Facebook.  It read as:

“Facebook Safety Check: Are you affected by the explosion?

Reply SAFE if you’re ok or OUT if you aren’t in the area.”

I got nervous.  I went online to look up if there had been any explosions.  I did not find anything on the Internet that said anything about a recent explosion.  I found older stories about bombings and terrorist attacks in other parts of the world from last year, but not one for Easter Sunday in 2016.  Then I really got paranoid…

I rarely use my smart phone for anything other than an occasional phone call.  I almost never use apps—don’t exactly trust them—and I was slightly worried that this Facebook text might be some hoax going around to see how many people would respond to such a strange message.  If I respond, I thought, I am going to end up with some computer virus…

Reluctantly, I replied “OUT” to the Facebook text. Whoever (or whatever) sent the text would know that I was not in or near this explosion wherever it was, I thought to myself.

I checked the Internet again in about an hour.  The news reports began coming in, stating that some group of Muslim terrorists was claiming responsibility for an explosion in Lahore, Pakistan that killed a minimum of 72 people, and injured over 300 people who were celebrating the Christian holiday of Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus (Yeshua), the Christ.  The murder of Christians by Muslims would again frame much of the news coverage. The religious narrative would—at least superficially—be a Muslim versus Christian narrative.  That narrative is messed-up…

I have never visited Lahore, Pakistan.  Yet, one of my former professors was born there. Indirectly, my association with him, a man who I consider a mentor and good friend, has introduced me to many people located in or from Pakistan.  I am proud to say that I have given academic advice and encouragement via my Facebook inbox to many young men in Lahore who are either going to college or planning to attend graduate school.   So, Facebook, for what it is worth, obviously assumed that I, an African American woman who is from and located in the United States, might actually be located in or near Lahore, Pakistan.  This time Social Media’s interpretation of who (or even what) I was taught me a lesson via an obvious scan of my Facebook Friend list…

I am not Muslim.  The natives of Pakistan that I personally know and those I am in contact with are all Muslims.  They are Muslims who constantly pray for peace, and who condemn the heinous acts of extremists and terrorists, and who also speak out against racism and sexism and religious intolerance. The American news media, however, has conveniently forgotten to tell Americans that the splinter group that broke away from the Taliban, named “Jamaat-ul-Ahrar,” killed as many Muslims as it has Christians. In fact, the majority of those Pakistanis who died in the attacks on Easter Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan happened to be Muslim.

CNN’s provocative and rather misleading headline was “In Pakistan, Taliban’s Easter Bombing, targets, kills scores of Christians.”  To be sure, scores of Christians died in that awful attack.  Yet, to ignore the random acts of violence by groups like this (including ISIS or ISIL) that have, honestly, killed more Muslims than Christians is to perpetuate a religious narrative that can get us all killed, have all of us turning on each other instead of talking to each other.

If you have half a brain, you know that to single out any group of people as the sole source of your problems is to also invite a group (any group) outside of that definition to do all manner of harm to you.  This all reminds me of the time when one of my history students hipped me to a video where all of a particular department store’s security guards were watching all of the store’s African-American customers.  Yet, while those same security guards were scrutinizing the Black customers, there was a small band of White patrons who were shoplifting at the store. 

I am only a historian and academic.  Yet, I am one who knows that when people do not do their research, when they fail to look below the surface, when they do not think outside the box, when they succumb to easy answers and easy stereotypes because those stereotypes make them feel safe or superior, all of us suffer.  With an Internet that contains volumes of information—some tainted information, and some that is accurate—there is really no excuse for you or I not knowing anything and not questioning those easy answers that our bought-and-paid-for media and politicians and pundits hand to us on a regular basis.  

Do not be a fool.  Do your work.  Do your research.  Now some people reading this will be upset or annoyed by my comments.  Religion for many people is, after all, a cultural, national, and often racial marker.  After all, the first terrorists my people knew were so-called Christians wearing sheets, lynching and torturing Black bodies and burning crosses on Black families’ lawns.  I would hate to think about my ancestors enduring that on Easter Sunday.   Àṣé!

Leslye Joy Allen, Copyright © 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

 

This blog was written by Leslye Joy Allen and is protected by U. S. Copyright Law and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.   Any partial or total reference to this or any blog authored by Leslye Joy Allen, or any total or partial excerpt of this or any blog by Leslye Joy Allen must contain a direct reference to this hyperlink: http://leslyejoyallen.com with Leslye Joy Allen clearly stated as the author. All Rights Reserved.

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Six Historical Facts You Probably Did Not Know About Jesus and Christianity that You Should Know

Green Earth 1
by Leslye Joy Allen, Copyright © 2012

by Leslye Joy Allen

Historian, Educator, Theatre and Jazz Advocate & Consultant, Doctoral Student

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.

  1. The name “Jesus” is a transliteration of a more common Hebrew name, “Yeshua.”  The proper name of the central person in Christianity is “Yeshua ben Yosef,” which technically translates as “Jesus, son of Joseph.”  For a long period of time, the letter “J” in the Western world was pronounced with a “Y” sound.  There is no letter “J” in the Hebrew or Aramaic languages that Jesus (Yeshua ben Yosef) spoke.
  2. Historians and other biblical scholars have noted that the FOUR Gospels included in the Christian Bible that detail the life of Jesus (Yeshua ben Yosef) cover only FIFTY days of his life.  There are no known written records that give details of his life in its entirety.
  3. There were/are over THIRTY Gospels written about the life of Jesus (Yeshua).  In circa 180 CE, a scholar named Irenaeus wrote his Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) where he determined that only FOUR of these Gospels should be included in the Bible.  These FOUR Gospels were the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  At the time, Irenaeus and his followers were vehemently against and competing for adherents with Christian Gnostics.  Do not confuse Christian Gnostics with “agnostics.”  Christian Gnostics were a group of Christians who performed different rituals and who held several different interpretations of the life of Christ and the practice of Christianity.
  4. The Lord’s Prayer was originally recited by Jesus (Yeshua) in Aramaic, one of a few languages that Jesus spoke.  There are many different translations of “The Lord’s Prayer,” from the original Aramaic.  The Lord’s Prayer that most modern Christians recite is actually a version edited and re-written by England’s King Henry VIII, which is why it (and the King James Bible, edited by England’s King James) sounds so much like English poetry from the 16th century.  Read some Shakespeare and then read some passages of an Old King James version of the Bible and you will notice the similarities.
  5. The standard practice for punishing a woman who had committed adultery or who became pregnant outside of wedlock, was to take her to her father’s door, bury her up to her neck, and then have the men of the town throw rocks at her head until she was dead.  Jesus stopped the men from killing the alleged biblical adulterous woman, daring them to cast the first stone if they too were not guilty of some offense; by so doing, he was stopping this common and accepted practice of death by stoning.  Many scholars believe that Jesus was applying the rules of adultery to men.  Up until that time, only women were charged with committing adultery.  Men had customarily been allowed concubines, particularly if their wives were barren or had passed childbearing age.  Jesus (Yeshua) surely understood the implications of sanctioning the act of stoning women to death.  After all, his stepfather Yosef (Joseph) disobeyed the Mosaic practice of stoning when he learned that the woman, Mary, to whom he was betrothed, was “with child,” a child that Yosef/Joseph was certain he did not sire.
  6. Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus) was sentenced to death by crucifixion, Rome’s standard death penalty for slaves convicted of crimes.  The charges against Jesus (Yeshua) were HERESY (going against church teachings) and SEDITION (which is plotting to overthrow the government).  Yeshua (Jesus) was first tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for HERESY by Jewish Church authorities before he was turned over to Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of Judaea from roughly 26 – 36 CE, for further prosecution by the Roman state.

While the Internet can certainly help you read more about this information and other related topics, the information included here can be found in the Dictionary of Roman Religion, see Lesley and Roy A. Adkins article “Jesus of Nazareth.”; another good source of information is a book called Jesus by A. N. Wilson (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992).

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.

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Creative Commons License This Blog was written by Leslye Joy Allen and is protected by U. S. Copyright Law and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Any partial or total reference to this blog, or any total or partial excerpt of this blog must contain a direct reference to this hyperlink: http://leslyejoyallen.com with Leslye Joy Allen clearly stated as the author.