More than a spiritual teacher

“Throughout his short public career Jesus spoke and acted as if he was in charge

Jesus did things people didn’t think you were allowed to do, and he explained them by saying he had the right to do them.  He wasn’t, after all, merely a teacher, though of course he was that too- in fact, one of the greatest teachers the world has ever known.  He spoke and acted as more than a teacher. 

He behaved as if he had the right, and even the duty, to take over, to sort things out, to make his country and perhaps even the wider world a different place.  He behaved suspiciously  like someone trying to start a political party or a revolutionary movement.  He called together a tight and symbolically charged group of associates (in his world, the number twelve meant only one thing: the new Israel, the new people of God).  And it wasn’t very long before his closest followers told him that they thought he really was in charge, or ought to be.  He was the king they’d all been waiting for.

If we look for a parallel in today’s world, we won’t find it so much in the rise of a new “religious” teacher or leader as in the emergence of a charismatic, dynamic politician whose friends are encouraging him to run for president– and who gives every appearance of having what it takes to sort everything out when he gets there.”

From N.T. Wright in Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters


Nader on patriotism…

“Highly charged exchanges take place between those who believe patriotism is automatically possessed by those in authority and those who assert that patriotism is not a pattern imposed but a condition earned by the quality of an individual’s or a people’s behavior…It is time to talk of patriotism not as an abstraction steeped in nostalgia, but as behavior that can be judged by the standard of “liberty and justice for all.” Patriotism can be a great asset for any organized society, but it can also be a tool manipulated by unscrupulous or cowardly leaders and elites.”

Ralph Nader, “We Need a New Kind of Patriotism,” in The Ralph Nader Reader.
Originally published in Life magazine in 1971