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215. A grass root Christian

This is what I call myself, a grass root Christian.

What I mean by this, is clear to me, but I ought to qualify it for my new friends here in Ireland with whom I attend biblical study at the Presbyterian church.

In chronological order: I went to a Catholic primary school. The Sisters in religious robes were very kind and taught us reading and writing as well as to pray God, thus making us understand that it goes together, i.e. being a clever human being refering to a superior benevolent being for help.

When I was 17 I walked to the Protestant pastor's house because I was in doubt. Did we need to believe that the mother of Jesus was a virgin to be called a Christian? I was given a bible and told to seek the answers to my questions in it. The pastor added, I recall this very precisely, that not all questions have answers anyway.

From then on I attended the Sunday service in a Protestant church whenever I could and wherever I was. I officially confirmed I was a Protestant of the French Reformed Church and much later I brought up my own son in that faith.

When I was 19 I went to Israel and lived there for a year, mainly in a kibbutz in Galilee. I had several reasons to do that. Being born at the end of WW2 and having been educated with the idea of 'reconciliation' with the German people, I had to know what Israel meant and how and why the Jewish people had been so treated. One other reason was to find out about this man Jesus from the town of Nazareth. I lived at the bottom of Mount Tabor, between Nazareth and Tiberias, exactly on Jesus' treading ground. There, it appeared to me that far too many tall tales had been put around the existence and teaching of this Jewish man called Jesus (pronouned Yeshou in Hebrew).

My new vision of the man Jesus never left me after that. I often tried to reconcile my own perception with various religious groups, like the Evangelists or other Gospel orientated people, but in the end I always came back to the idea that this man was a preacher with great insight indeed but he was no God and should not be worshipped as such. So, I found myself very uneasy, stuck between my deep conviction and the strong need to belong to a Christian congregation. This tearing apart still goes on. I choose here to-day to write it down so as not to be pretending when I find myself praying with other Christians.

A grass root Christian in my definition is someone (am I the only one?) who values the teachings of Jesus as a preacher. He started an ideology of freedom from the sclerosis of rituals, of love among men of any given ethnic identity, of care for spirituality in the midst our material needs. He put the deep meaning of things first and foremost far ahead of their formal existence, thus recalling and reminding people that is what is written in the Tanah, the old Testament, at almost every page. He started a movement, an ideology, that spread high and far through the centuries. In the process so much mythology was added to it that he would not recognise his own teachings if he happened to turn up one day in a church.

I call myself a grass root Christian but others might throw me out if I went on saying that there is no need for Jesus to have resurrected for us to value his teachings. To me it does not add any special validity. In fact it is the opposite. The supernatural quality of it distracts from the teachings. How can a semi-god born from a god and a virgin human lady, very much in the Greek tradition, have impact on what I live as a plain human being? How can someone teach me anything if he is likely to resurrect after his death, a totally impossible fact in our world as we know it?

Two thousand years have gone since the historical event of Jesus' life in Galilee. By the way, did you know he had an accent when he talked? He spoke with the Galilean accent... it is never mentioned but when Peter sitting outside the court was asked: aren't you with the guy on trial, you speak with a Galilean accent too? Peter, as we know, denied three times. At the trial, they were a bunch of Galileans in Jerusalem and could be identify as such from their accent!

I will not go on. My rendition of the scriptures is too far off. I want to remain friends with other Christians.
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