Why I Still Like Jesus

The reason I still like Jesus, though I’m an agnostic, is because Jesus was a victim, not a victimizer, and so proved a trailblazer to three key moral insights: (1) respect of conscience (Jesus called people to his cause, but never forced anybody); (2) imaginative sympathy for outsiders; and (3) nonviolence.

Whatever are Jesus’s sins—his moments of hell-fire rhetoric; his promotion of faith over reason—he still has these three virtues that redeem him; the things that have resulted in whatever “good vibrations” he has sent through time.

And Jesus is a voice of conscience to the religious. Every religionist in the 21st century has to make the following existential decision: Will I go the way of Jesus or the way of the violent Hindu extremist, the Islamic Brotherhood member, the West Bank settler, and Rick Santorum?

And if you’re an atheist or agnostic, you too have an existential decision to make that Jesus shadows. Will you go the way of: (1) a humanism or Buddhism that largely tracks with the three moral precepts of Jesus; or (2) Machiavelli and Nietzsche?

Either way, what to do about Jesus is inescapable. And it’s why I still like Jesus.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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7 Responses to Why I Still Like Jesus

  1. I see your point but I disagree with your conclusion. The reason that the non-believer is limited in their choices is not because of Jesus himself or his teachings but because of the influence on society by those who claim to follow his teachings. It’s a fine distinction. The believers have left little room to make distinctions other than one or two small classifications.

    Were you to take a Nietzschian tack with hints of Buddha, it would seem much like Jesus with a bit of a downer outlook. The problem is that this can’t be seen as a valid choice in the shadow of the believer’s cries. They taint the conversation – and anything else they touch – to the point that they try to make it either their way or their hell way.

    In this regard, Jesus was a plague upon the earth and his followers ensure that the damage continues. It is rare to find a non-violent follower of the Jesus. It’s an effing shame he didn’t teach them that part. Apparently this is not something that gods are wont to teach. Not even man-god boys. Oh, that 70 times 7 thing, he didn’t stress that enough. Seriously, he could have done a lot more to end violence against women, slavery, violence in general and on and on. All he did was give them justification that wanted to find it. Not the work of a perfect being if you ask me. meh!

    Gods have never done our species any good, even when they seem to be good themselves. Throw them all in the trash is what I say.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Your point about the distinction between Jesus and Christians is a good one, and I agree that Christians are weirdly supportive of violence despite claiming to follow the guy who spoke the Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus might have said something about gay equality as well. But he didn’t know, obviously, that a giant religion would follow in his wake that would last for 2000 years. He thought the end was near.

      –Santi

  2. MBA2MFA says:

    Excellent! Although as a Buddhist, I would say that Jesus tracks to Buddhist precepts, given chronology and all. Just being a wise acre; I’m a big fan of Jesus as well. Enjoying your blog immensely.

  3. dust850 says:

    Great post! What is interesting is that the Jesus of the Apocrypha is very different than the Jesus of the New Testament bible. In the apocrypha he actually gets violent lol…but who knows if those scriptures are accurate or not.

  4. Mike says:

    In advance, I apologize for my English.
    I only seventeen years but I am a person who enjoys reading quality books and articles like yours (a little flattery does not hurt).
    I would like to know your opinion about something that bothers Christians: What do you think about the story of jesus is based on Greek mythology?

    Reader Note: I practice Theravada Buddhism as a philosophy of life and I’m Atheist

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