Jesus a Lefty-Liberal, Guardian reader? Not likely

Dizzy thinks, but wrongly, about the political leanings of Jesus. He may have a point through the modern liberal Church of England.

Dizzy’s posting on Jesus being a lefty-liberal is wide of the mark. He says

Seriously, if Jesus was alive today (a man’s who’s existence at least is not I think in dispute) he would be a Guardian reader. Yet, he would of course be pilloried for believing that he was the Son of an unprovable God, no doubt ridiculed for being a bit mad (oh the irony given the average Guardian readers hatred of prejudice towards the mentally ill), and his core beliefs about non-violence, turning the other cheek, forgiveness and the like would be dismissed out of hand.

I realise this is the second post in as many days where the subject of faith has come up, but honestly, I just don’t comprehend the sheer hypocrisy of those on the so-called “Liberal Left” when they display so much hatred for a faith that is essentially in keeping with their values, all, so it seems because of the bit about God.

If a kid is brought up with the liberal moral teachings of Christianity but also believes in God is it really “evil”?

Apologies for labouring the point here, but politically speaking, if you look at the New Testament, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth known as Jesus was essentially preaching a message that today would be seen as incredibly left wing. He was a little man standing up against an Imperial oppressor, he was preaching the evils of capitalism, and extolling the virtues of the weak and meek over the the rich.

Pardon my blasphemy for those that have an issue with it, but: Jesus Christ! Is it not patently absurd that Guardian readers should hate something so in line with their own beliefs just because it’s not secular?

My reply (in three sections) was as follows.

You are correct if you follow the Rowan Williams School of theology. An alternative line is to quote Jesus on the important bits. Take Matthew 23:40. After saying the two greatest commandments are love of God and love of your neighbour as yourself. Jesus says “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. Jesus was establishing a principles-based religion. If the law conflicted with this, then it was the law that had to give. So if someone needed healing on the Sabbath, they should be healed, despite the Jewish law saying you should not work. In Matthew’s gospel, the holy men who went around proclaiming they are superior because they uphold the law better than others Jesus calls “hypocrites” and a “brood of vipers”, as they were more concerned with appearances than the substance of faith in God.

Another aspect is forgiveness of sins. Human beings are fallible, despite their best efforts. They can leave the past behind without guilt and get on with being good.

Jesus today would have strong words for New Labour. For them the solution to every problem is more laws, more complexity and wads of cash. Political appearances are more important than substance. Principles are transitory – remember the need to balance the budget over the course of the business cycle? It was first re-defined then ditched. What would he have to say of the science of climate change, with any none-believers labeled deniers (the modern-day equivalent of heretics?). Jesus would probably quote the first commandment of Moses about “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)

In these respects, Jesus was a Pre-Hayekian, though more dogmatic, and less diplomatic in his language.

 Finally on the subject of Jesus was anything but someone who stood up to the Roman oppressors. For many Jews he was anything but the expected Messiah. They thought he would be like what Muhammad turned out a few hundred years later. A prophet-cum-military conqueror who would drive the Roman’s into the sea. In fact Jesus studiously avoided the direct conflict with the military occupation. About paying taxes he said “give to Caesar what it is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17)

 I realise that proper theologians will disagree with my analysis that Jesus was more a classical-liberal in the tradition of Adam Smith and Fredrich Hayek than a Socialist. But what is without doubt in the non-conformist tradition is that Jesus was against putting appearances over form, and that the Love of God and Love of one’s neighbour take precedence over religious traditions and rules. Furthermore, is the doctrine that we all sin, no matter how hard we try, but through the sacrifice of Jesus we are forgiven and can move on. This is hardly the attitudes of those politicians who claim to have all the answers, decry others are being always wrong (with ulterior motives), and never admit to their own falliability.

Monbiot tries to re-polarize the debate

In the Guardian, George Monbiot tries to brush aside the Climategate scandal and brush aside the doubts shown about the integrity of science.  Back comes the polarization of camps into the “scientific consensus” v the denialists funded by the oil companies.  He forgets to mention that government funding of alarmist “science” is greater than 100 times that of Exxon/Mobile, nor that being an alarmist gets media attention (no matter how extreme or unfounded), whilst being even moderately against can get you vilified.

My comment was as follows

The climate change e-mails crisis, at the very minimum, shows that there is room for doubt about the most extreme claims made for global warming. Whilst the most general claims about 20th century warming are beyond reasonable doubt, there is a big middle ground between the consensus and those, like Nick Griffin, who claim it is all a hoax. 

Whilst you say there are just the denialists and the scientists, look at the e-mails and you will see that it the competitors that really got the backs up of the Profs at CRU were those who could do most damage. Two of note are:-

 1. Steve McIntyre a professional statistician who has shown that some peer-reviewed articles do not stand up to scrutiny. The scientists did not get endless requests. (see MicIntyre’s account at http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/dirty-laundry/) . They were less onerous than a visit by the VAT inspector. To a business with the books in order these people of HMRC are very pleasant, and will point out some honest mistakes (sometimes to business’s advantage). To those that know that there are “issues”, it means working through the night and trying to avoid the inevitable. But FOI requests have less precedential ground rules.

As a result of Mcintyre’s analysis no proper scientist can now say “We are experiencing the warmest temperatures for 10,000 or 2,000,000 years”.  We either do not know, or there are a number of studies to suggest that some areas were warmer 1000, 2000, or 3500 years ago. But there again, McIntyre is but

 2. Richard Lindzen, a Meteorologist Professor of MIT. Long a critic of the “consensus”, his recent paper with Yong-Sang Choi (summary pdf at http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf) claims that forecasts of future warming are overstated by a factor of six. Lindzen & Choi, however, only rely on 15 years of satellite date, whereas the consensus relies on more than 20 years of the best climate model forecasting. Furthermore, Lindzen has written articles for a virulently pro-capitalist financial daily of the t’other side o’pond.

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