Police Brutality

It had been a long night for Jesus. First the Passover meal, then the praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, then a nice stroll around the Garden. Just as He was about to leave the Garden, this cop showed up.

“Gee, I was just out taking a walk,” Jesus said to the Roman cop.

“Don’t you know that this is a white rich guy neighborhood?” the cop said to Jesus.

“Isn’t it a free country?” Jesus said.

“Not for your kind,” the cop said to Jesus. “So are you going to go peacefully or are we going to call in the SWAT team for you and your boys over there?”

“You can’t do this,” Jesus said. “I know my rights.”

“Look, Buddy, the only right you got is to move along. If you don’t, we’re taking you to jail.”

“But—“ Jesus said

“Okay, Buddy,” the cop said and grabbed Jesus’ arm. “It’s jail for you.”

Jesus felt his sandal fall off. He went down to slip it back on. The cop pulled out his revolver and slammed Jesus over the head. “Hey, guys,” the cop shouted. “Resisting arrest.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week on Hold Today

On Mondays I usually post a Movie I give two thumbs up. In light of the tragic events Saturday night, I am not posting the film I had planned today. I am sending out my thoughts and prayers to those who were the victims of that tragedy.

I have lived long enough to see way too many acts of terrorism: The assassinations of President Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. King and Bobbie Kennedy; the murder of John Lennon; the attempted assassination of President Reagan; the Oklahoma City bombing; the Wisconsin Sikh Temple Massacre on August 5, 2012; the Sandy Hook shootings; the Columbine High School shootings; the Fort Hood shootings; and the Mother Emmanuel Church of Charlotte, SC massacre. And these are just a few that have occurred in the United States alone.

No major religion, not Islam, not Judaism, not Christianity, not Buddhism, not Hinduism, condones the murder of innocent men and women and children. All of these faiths call on us to do unto others as we would be done unto. We must recognize this Evil for what it is. It is a Cult of Violence that brainwashes the vulnerable, the alienated and the isolated into believing that their cause is righteous and that they have God’s approval for their horrendous acts.

It is my hope that something positive and good will come out of this tragedy. All I know is that we can do better than this. And we must try. That would be the best memorial to those who died so tragically Saturday night.

The house off the Via Dolorosa

Happy Easter to all my Christian friends.

It is a late afternoon in Jerusalem when I turn off the cobblestone Via Dolorosa onto a little side street and there it is. The smell of cooked meat from the animal sacrifices in the Temple fills the air. Soon I come to the door I’ve been searching for. A wooden door with the sign of a fish above it. The house behind that door is the home of the Mother of Jesus.

During Herod Agrippa’s recent persecutions, many of the faithful left Jerusalem. These included Mary. Though she wanted to stay in the City, the Apostle John, the disciple Jesus charged with her welfare, sent her away. In Nazareth, she had family and she would be safe there.

A week before the fifteenth anniversary of our Lord’s Crucifixion, our tribulations ended. Agrippa was dead. We faithful started returning to the city. This became obvious by the number who gathered on the Mount of Olives for the sunrise celebration of the Resurrection some weeks earlier. His Mother was one of them, and now her door is open again to her Son’s followers.

I knock. A small woman opens the door.

“Who is it, Salome?” a booming voice calls. Peter, a large, balding man, sits at a table across the room, surrounded by three other men. “Not a temple spy I hope. Caiphas and his prying eyes.” Then he laughs.

“Just a traveler,” I say, “seeking some good company and a place to shake the dust off my feet.”

“Enter, friend,” another calls over to me. His name is John and his eyes burn with the bright light of his Master’s love. “You are most welcome in this house.”

“Take off your shoes,” Salome says to me. “This is a holy place.”

I remove my sandals and set them by the door as the others have.

“Sit, friend,” another man says, looking over me with eyes that remember Emmaus. This large, burly man with the gruff voice is Cleopas, a former Zealot.

I join the four men, Peter and John, Cleopas and Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, at the table.

“Perhaps,” Cornelius says, hope in his eyes. “Perhaps this will be the year of His Return. On the anniversary of His Ascension?”

Mary, the one called Magdalen, walks over and pours me a drinking bowl of red wine. Suddenly I realize how thirsty I am. As I drink, Salome kneels and washes the dirt off my feet.

Across the room, I notice another woman dressed in blue, the woman I have come to see. Though her face and hands are wrinkled and her hair white, the woman in her mid-sixties has a calm peace on her face. And the room glows with her tranquility, her stillness. She is the Mother of Jesus. This coming summer she will pass from this earth and join her Son. But this late spring evening she is here, and I have a chance to enjoy the hospitality of her house as I eat her bread and sip her wine.

She sits in her chair, her hands resting on her lap, a gentleness on her face, gentle yet revealing all the suffering she has known. There she tells her stories and I am comforted.

“He who dwells,” she says, “in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. And I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’….If you make the Most High your dwelling…no harm will befall you.” Then she folds herself inward and meditates upon all that she has known.

After a long pause, she ends the evening with these words: “Maranatha. Come, Lord, come again.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Is a Mini-Series

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is the mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth” (1977)

Ever so often some Hollywood producer gets a wild hair. He just has to do Jesus. Again. Even though the life of Jesus has been done over and over again. And I’ve seen a good many of them.

I’ve seen “King of Kings”. I’ve seen “Son of God”. I’ve seen “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. I’ve seen “The Passion of the Christ”.  I’ve seen Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”. I’ve seen “Godspell”. I’ve seen “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I’ve even seen “The Last Temptation of Christ”. I never could figure out why so many made such a big deal out of “The Last Temptation”. After all, Willem Dafoe portrayed a whiney, complaining Jesus. Who would follow this guy?

And I’ve read the four Gospels. Several times.No movie but one has done justice to the life of Jesus. Only Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Yes, that Franco Zeffirelli. The director of the movies “Taming of the Shrew” (1967), “Romeo and Juliet” (1968), “Hamlet” (1990), “Tea With Mussolini” (1999)  and the best movie of the life of St. Francis “Brother Sun Sister Moon” (1972). “Jesus of Nazareth” is his masterpiece.

It was the heyday of the mini-series. The days of “Rich Man, Poor Man”, “Shogun”, “The Thorn Birds”, and “Roots”, of “Masterpiece Theater” just coming into its popularity. It was way before “John Adams”, “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the new black”.

For over six hours, we watched “Jesus of Nazareth”. Some watched to see if Zeffirelli had been true to the script of the Gospels. He had. Others watched it and thought that this was great television. I belonged to that second group.

For the first time, I got all four Gospels in one film. Sure, there were some events missing, such as the Cana miracle. But that was to be expected for a six-hour dramatic presentation. I got a lot more than the films before and since have given me.

And I got to see all the usual suspects. Mary and Joseph, Herod and Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalen and Simon Peter, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, John the Baptist and the Magi, Judas Iscariot and Barabbas, and all the others I read about.in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And Robert Powell as Jesus knocked the ball out of the park as far as I am concerned. Unlike so many other portrayals of Jesus, his was a Jesus for whom I would give up everything and follow.

To all my Christian friends, may your Easter be a good one.

When Jesus Came East Out of Texas

Happy Easter, y’all.

-1-

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out tan,
even dark skinned, brown eyes, black hair. A Somebody
He could’ve been, being Jesus. Instead He was
a cotton chopping, dish washing, toilet cleaning, hard working
Man of a Jesus, His hands calloused from the fields He’d worked,
His muscles aching so tired He could hardly sleep most nights.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He came out kicking-up dirt
along the lonely, dusty road leaving Nazareth
coming into a country that don’t allow a kicking up dirt.
Run out of town He was
near tarred and feathered for saying a thing that was true.
You see, a prophet don’t get a bit of respect in the town He’s from.
Nazareth folk knew His mama and His stepdaddy,
claimed they’s always acting uppity like his kin was closer to the Almighty than anybody,
keeping the Sabbath and testifying,
yes testifying they’d been touched by the Lord’s own hand.
Said they’d seen an angel too. “Imagine that,” some said.
“God can’t be that real, just one big myth and no place to be found.
We townspeople been praying way too long for the Expected One
and we’re not about to be taken in by a bastard Son of Joachim’s child.
If this Jesus is a messiah, the town drunk must be Moses.
After all, that drunk would part the Red Sea too if there’s a bottle of whiskey on the other shore.
And he can quote the Scriptures better’n any Baptist preacher.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He scrounged up work wherever He could,
roustabouting on the rigs out in the Gulf,
picking peaches over Georgia way,
digging the black rock out of West Virginia hills.
Even cleaned stables from time to time—
some said He felt home there, being He was Mary’s Baby Child born in a stall.
Right good with animals too, God’s own creatures He called them.
Able to gentle a horse nobody else could.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He met up with a river.
Went and got Hisself baptized in that great Euphrates of a river;
yes, baptized down yonder in the Old Muddy Mississippi
near Jericho where the seven walls fell,
baptized by His own sweet cousin John,
you know the Baptist who preached
John three sixteen once saved always saved amen.
Straightaway a Dove
whiter than the snow white robes of the saints washed in the Blood,
that Holy Ghost Dove rose,
like Excalibur He rose out of the waters and into the heavens
calling out in dove-talk words only a prophet would know.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He shook Hisself free,
shook off that river, pulled on His sneakers.
Spent a time in the Delta and ran up against Doctor Hoodoo at the Crossroads,
gave old Scratch such a whacking
right then and there Beelzebub invented the Blues.
Then it was on down to New Orleans for Jesus,
that Sodom and Gomorrah town
where sinners cut their eye teeth on the Seven Deadlies.
Amongst the smells of remoulade and gumbo drifting through the Vieux Carré,
Jesus changed the me-got-troubles-and-the-troubles-me-got-cut-down-deep-to-the-bone
Beelzebub Blues into Jazz when Jesus came east out of Texas.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He hopped the night train to Memphis.
Hoboed Hisself up to Graceland and the Land of Elvis,
that motherlode of Rock and Roll born wearing Blue Suede Shoes
cradled alongside the Mother of Rivers,
where Mary Mag in a room at the Heartbreak Hotel called out to her lover, “Love me tender,”
where Simon Peter, like his daddy and his granddaddy before, worked the docks, loading and unloading,
where Beale Street opened its arms wide, welcoming a Man named Jesus,
for Jesus loved sinners, and the sinners loved Jesus.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He told stories,
and He told them ‘bout prodigals and rejects,
‘bout a beggar name of Lazarus and a mustard seed
with faith ‘nough to move a mountain cross the State of Georgia.
But the sinners had heard them all before
from the holy ghost healers and the Bible thumpers and the tent preachers,
from the theologians and the priests and the social gospelleers,
from the Billy Sundays and the Bishop Sheens and the Billy Grahams
they had heard the stories and were none too partial to hearing them again
till they heard the “fear not” in the voice of Jesus who came east out of Texas
and the Beloved He took to calling them like they’s somebody.

-2-
When Jesus came east out of Texas, he moved from town to town
making His way through places with names like Shiloh and Rose of Sharon and New Hope,
just dots on a map for some but home for others.
Wherever He went walking, a rag-tag band followed after,
souls in need of learning how to swim, souls drowning in a sea of storms,
souls like Mary Mag come begging for love,
a woman the gossips dubbed Slut from the shantyside of town.
She Sunday-dressed and fancied herself up and dropped down on her knees
in the grass, in the dirt to beg the feet of Jesus for forgiveness.
He gave her what she wanted much;
He loved her tenderly with words that forgave her many sins.
And them sinning folk, my how they loved Jesus.
Would have followed Him anywhere the sun rises and sets.
But at the edge of the crowd stood a preacher name of Caiaphas.
He heard all the Truth that Jesus spoke and he didn’t listen ‘cause he was so full of hisself.
He turned and walked away from Jesus with a “how dare he” on his lips.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, He preached a sermon,
preached it on the banks of the Chattahoochee.
Said a lot of strange things, things like “Blessed”
and “Forgive” and “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your neighbor.”
Told one fellow, “Take up your street and walk.”
That man, who couldn’t walk, did just that, stood hisself up
and walked, walked away with no limp at all.
Another time He said, “If you begat the sword, the sword will begat you.”
Called God, you know the Almighty Jehovah, He named Him Father.
Said, “God is Love.” Of all things.
“How ‘bout that,” said the sinners who had always thought
God was Judge and Jury, and Sheriff too.

When Jesus came east out of Texas, some of the upstanding,
well they had themselves a meeting,
an Upstanding Citizens Committee Meeting.
Seems they didn’t like the rumors coming their way ‘bout this Man Jesus
Like He could walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons.
“Everybody knows there ain’t no such thing as demons,” they said.
“So how can He cast out a thing that ain’t?”
There was even talk that Jesus raised a dead man right out of his sleep.
“Downright blasphemous was what that was,”
the citizens said. “Let the dead lie in peace.”
From the mouth of Preacher Caiaphas, they heard
the words they felt deep down in their hard-hearted hearts, they heard,
“We can’t allow any more of His Good News stuff being spread around.
Why, what will happen to law and order, to hellfire and brimstone, if the sinners believe?”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the citizens
dressed themselves up in hoods and in robes like it was Halloween and went out looking.
When they found Jesus, they watched and they watched ‘cause watching was what they did
till one night they found Him alone down by a creek a-praying.
Arrested him on a trumped-up charge. “Baptisin’ without a license,” the hypocrites called it.
Had themselves a trial. But it was no real trial, just a sham of a justice.
“So you think you’re a Jesus?” Preacher Caiaphas said, his spite spitting out the words of Satan
who’d known he’d have his revenge for the whacking he’d taken from the hand of Jesus.
“You ain’t nothing of a Jesus. Our Jesus
is a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned Jesus, and you ain’t him.”

When Jesus came east out of Texas, the whip came down,
it came down hard on Jesus,
and the whip came down hard some more
till it had come down hard on His back some thirty-nine times.
“Let’s hang the nigger,” one of the hoods shouted out.
The citizens carved King of the Niggers into His face,
into the face of Jesus and they lynched Him from a tree.
Strung up in space He swung halfway ‘tween earth and heaven
till He died that dark and moonless night.
Then the hypocrites one by one slunk away, saying,
“Well, that’s the last we’ll hear of that nigger.”

Later, later in the dark, later in the night, His friends came to the tree,
that lonesome tree where the Good Man hung—
Mother Mary, Mary Mag, Simon Peter, Little John, they came
and pulled His body down, bruised and scarred.
They laid their broken Jesus into a grave by the river He’d loved.

Out of the darkness came a great shout of light when
Jesus who came east out of Texas stepped out of the ground,
His body now whole and new, and the world could not hold Him,
He ascended into eternity like He’d said He would,
promising, “Mi amigos, viyo con Dios, and remember
I shall see you again.
Soon.”

So look east, my friends. Yes, look east and perhaps,
just perhaps….