How many more crazy right-wing eschatologists are the Jews going to produce?
It seems like every week another zealot appears claiming that it is the end of the world and calling for people to repent. This new radical conservatism is causing a lot of headaches for Rome.
One man caught in the middle is Pontius Pilate. Pilate is the Prefect of Judea. He is a sensible, middle-of-the-road politician with some experience dealing with the religious right. Before being called to Rome he put down a rebellion of Samaritans. Pilate understands that calls for people to be like God are nothing more than a heartless conservative attempt to let government shirk its moral obligations.
I recently spoke with Pilate, and revealed to me the story of a bizarre and disturbing encounter with a young radical named Yeshua. For the past three years Yeshua has been wandering around Jerusalem telling people that he is God and the King of the Jews. You read that right. Yeshua, from Nazareth, thinks he's God.
More disturbing is that he has convinced twelve fellow conservatives to follow him. Yeshua has even claimed to heal the sick and raise people from the dead. This is what likely accounts for the growing number of people who are treating him like a messiah.
Laugh all you want, but there is a serious and subversive message that Yeshua brings. The Holy Republic has spent centuries creating a state that cares for its people and offers strong political order. While some reactionaries complain about taxes, most sensible people know that it is the price we pay for a civil and functioning society. Recent uprising and the appearance of many claiming to be the messiah only highlight the fact that this is not your grandfathers Judaism.
The new Jewish radicals have lost touch, and all their claims about the Republic now being a corrupt and sinful empire is just the usual hysteria from the right-wing press. Particularly irresponsible has been Epicurus Ailes. A philosopher who captures foxes, he is always reporting on -- and defending -- the ravings of Yeshua.
On my recent trip to Judea, Pontius Pilate told me about his recent meeting with Yeshua, who had been brought up on charges of blasphemy. Pilate said that on the outside, Yeshua doesn't appear crazy at all. In fact, he says the 33 year-old would make a good solider due to his strong build -- the result of a life spent as a construction worker. "I really didn't want any part of it, if you want to know the truth," Pilate told me. "But this guy has been going around saying he's God and King of the Jews and it has the people riled up." I reminded Pilate that that's what demagogues do.
When Pilate questioned Yeshua, Yeshua said something that should disturb all good citizens of Rome. Pilate asked him directly if he is a king, and Yeshua said this: "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from this world." Pilate asked him again, and got this response: "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice."
This is nothing less than a radical assault on Rome and the social safety net that it provides us. What Yeshua seems to forget is that it took years and years for Rome to become what it is. We had to gained control over the Hellenistic empires surrounding the eastern Mediterranean Sea. We then took in Spain, Gaul, southern Germany, and southern Britain. We even brought Palestine under Roman control.
Some conservative critics oppose Rome's New Deal and the world it has conquered. They resent the new taxes, yet it is those taxes that have built our roads and created our standard of living. They go on and on about political corruption and moral decline. Fox-herder Epicurus Ailes put it this way: "Traditional Roman respect for family has given way to childless marriages, divorce, adultery, prostitution, and pederasty." Ailes is a respected businessman, but in these ravings he sounds not like a citizen of Rome, but like the reactionary Yeshua.
As I write this, Pilate is deliberating the fate of Yeshua. Pilate seems to have even taken something of a liking to the young radical, even muttering something about his wife having a dream about the mysterious Jew. But he would do well to contain this craziness before it destroys the Republic.