Friday, January 15, 2010

Is nothing sacred?

As a boy in knee socks, a favorite story from the new testament was Jesus and the Moneychangers. It's a completely punk rock moment and resonates to the core of my disdain for marketplaces.

To recap: Jesus wanders into Herod's temple and finds the courtyard area filled with livestock and little improvised booths manned by so-called money changers. Jewish law stated that Jewish/Tyrian money was the only coinage that could be used in temple ceremonies. Therefore the more plentiful Greek and Roman coinage that was in circulation had to be exchanged.

Jesus starts asking a few questions and figures out that the exchangers are making a tidy profit from the transfer of funds. This pisses him off beyond belief and he basically throws a complete shit fit, knocking over booths, throwing trays of money in the air, and stirring the livestock into a frenzy. "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" he screams. He grabs a whip and literally drives the moneychangers out of the temple. In the gospel of Luke it states: "The crowd were so in awe with Jesus that no-one could be found to assassinate him."

For me this is a parable about the commoditization of the soul. Our vanity and our practicality drives us to turn every aspect of the human experience into something that can be ascribed monetary value and bought and sold. Christ drew a hard line here - do what you need to do to make a living, but don't mess with the soul. The mysterious source of life, the gift of creativity, your connection to the collective consciousness and the cosmos itself is not yours to hock for a few shekels.

I can't find the source of the above picture, but from what I can tell it's no joke. You can find it earnestly displayed on Christian web sites under titles that ask readers to Pray for these Businesses. If Jesus catches wind of this stuff, be prepared for some digital table flipping and livestock stampeding across your web browser. Then again, one could argue that Christ is the CEO (emeritus) of one of the biggest businesses on earth: The Church.


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