Mar 04 2024

The Gentle Jesus Myth

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 5:26 pm

There is a picture you may have seen, depicting Jesus with lots of cute, cuddly animals: squirrels, deer, rabbits, various birds, sheep, and even a particularly non-threatening fox (I think it’s a fox….  It might be a small dog, I suppose.).   The picture also includes a lake in which, even though we can’t see them, the fish are presumably lining up to be petted.

This picture was clearly not illustrating a “lion lying down with the lamb” moment, for the excellent reason that there were no carnivores at all (except for the small, cute, non-belligerent fox I mentioned that might just be a small dog).  The picture is clearly not intended to show us what the post-apocalyptic New Earth will be like (some people think there will be no predation on the New Earth).

Does this mean that Jesus only likes herbivores (leaving aside the carnivorous nature of many cute little birds)?  I do know some vegans who seem to think Jesus loves them more than he loves those of us who frequent Outback and Sizzler, but since humans are omnivorous as a species, I’m not sure that counts.

I’d be more impressed if the photo showed Jesus gently stroking a lion who had just taken down a wildebeest, or maybe a cheetah who had just hamstrung an antelope and was now chowing down on the still wriggling sprinter (soon to be retired).  How about if Jesus was shown in the background approvingly looking upon the family man and NRA member who just shot the family’s meat for the next two months?  Would Jesus say, “Good shot!” and maybe admire the well-maintained, telescopically sighted rifle?  (“David sure could have used one of these for Goliath… and would still have given Me the glory for his success.  By the way, My hunter-son, that was a good, clean, merciful kill of the food I put on this earth for you.”  Genesis 9:3)

I’m aware that a possible interpretation of the photo is that normally timid creatures feel safe with Jesus.  But wouldn’t that be just as true of predators, also God’s creations?  Many of them run at the sight of humans, the chief predator of all.  Predators probably experience fear, and need to be comforted, don’t you think?  Maybe we should have a picture of Jesus petting lions, tigers, bears, wolverines, traders in securitized sub-prime mortgage bonds, senators and IRS agents.  Or maybe not the last two, since they seem to have no natural enemies or any real competition in the food-chain, and therefore do not know fear.

If this all seems a little dissonant to you, it’s likely that you’ve bought into the “gentle Jesus” myth.  This is the notion that Jesus and the God of the Old Testament don’t have much to do with each other (think of it as a distant father/son relationship, but they really don’t talk much).  So Jesus can reflect only gentle meekness.  Maybe the only thing with legs that Jesus ate was, well, broccoli?  (Forget that Passover lamb, I guess….)  Cut to photo of broccoli trying to get away from a reaper.

Too many Christians seem to be functional polytheists.  They say they believe in one God, but in practice their concept of the Trinity involves not one God in three Persons, but three Persons who only get together on infrequent holidays, like other dysfunctional families.  And even then, They must argue over the war in Afghanistan and whether or not taxes should be raised to fund more social welfare spending.  Essentially, these Christian polytheists see Jehovah as a “Republican” (war mongering conqueror of non-threatening nations, excessively concerned with building wealth, and too moralistic and judgmental), Jesus as a “Democrat” (probably a pacifist/socialist/environmentalist/animal-rights-activist all rolled into one, who is still not sure about the appropriate legal/moral status of a fetus, and is willing to rely on your conscience in the matter) and the Holy Spirit as Libertarian or apolitical (after all, the Spirit requires the freedom for us to act out).  

What’s especially funny about this view of Jesus is that pacifism and socialism don’t mix, not at all.  Socialism requires government enforcement with threatened violence to make the redistribution of money happen, something lots of pacifist wanna-be-socialists just haven’t wrapped their minds around.   The most bloodthirsty nations in the 20th century have all had “socialist” in their names or central ethos.  Most of the recommended policies of environmentalists also involve some form of economic redistribution and enforcement with the implied threat of violence for non-compliance (else why would the unconvinced comply?).  “Pacifist-socialist” and “pacifist-environmentalist” are oxymoronic terms if ever there were any.

But I digress.

Underlying all this is an essential discomfort with the idea that God created predation, and that Jesus was God looking on in the Old Testament approvingly as the Israelites conquered Canaan, at His specific command.  Jesus was God as the Mosaic law was given (including what seem to us to be its bloodthirsty aspects).  Jesus did not lecture the Father from the cross about how the Father should really get over it and put this violent atonement stuff aside.  Instead, Jesus had already said, “Not my will, but Yours.”  Given the apparent separation of identity involved here (the real mystery of the Trinity expressed in the Incarnation), it is clear that Jesus didn’t see His presumed commitment to “peace at any cost” (the assumption made about Him by many pacifist Christians) as superior to the Father’s commitment to divine justice (with the aspect of mercy fully acknowledged in the sacrifice of the Heroic Son, really a sacrifice made by both Father and Son).

The Jesus I know thinks that lions, tigers and bears are pretty cool.  How else?  Does anybody really think that carnivores grew their claws and teeth and acquired their dietary preferences only after the Fall?  The Jesus I know thinks human hunters who behave responsibly are just fine, and He has nothing at all against self-defense, including violent resistance to aggression (again, having made us this way, knowing such a drive was critical for our survival, and not withstanding inadequate interpretations of Matthew 5:39 about “turning the other cheek,” which is about not overreacting to insults, not failing to defend yourself from real threats).  The Jesus I know created the human need for justice, as part of the Creator Godhead, and that need is one of many reflections in the Imago Dei.  In fact, that human need for justice is part of what makes us able to understand, “through a glass darkly,” God’s divine plan for the salvation of human beings, with its triple necessities to reflect God’s character in regard to justice, mercy, and love.

One incredible thing about the Cross is that Jesus didn’t have to allow it.  He was, instead, the mighty Warrior who gave Himself up, didn’t call in His army to rescue Him, and sacrificed Himself for His people.  It isn’t that Jesus just couldn’t conceive of anything else.  It isn’t that He saw not defending one’s self as the highest moral good, in some absolute way.  It is that He won the battle, and the war, by sacrificing Himself, in a strategic turnabout that took Satan totally by surprise (and Satan’s been denying it ever since, even going so far as to deny that there ever was a war, or that he even exists).  

I’m sure that no harm is done by cute little pictures.  Maybe they’re appropriate for small children, though children often have a greater sense of justice and the necessity for rational violence than adults may want to admit.  Children rarely look to the smallest among them to defend the rest.  They run straight to Daddy or big brother, who, it is presumed, will act with strength and good judgment.  And, childish though it may seem to some people, “who started it” really does matter.

As adults, we might be better served by art that depicts Jesus accepting and supporting people who do difficult work like fighting wars, catching and prosecuting criminals, or collecting debts, whenever and wherever such things are just.  Regarding the awful consequences of war for non-combatants, God tolerated “collateral damage” even in the New Testament, not just the Old, as evidenced by everything from Herod’s murder of toddlers (trying to kill Jesus) to the fate of many Christian martyrs.  In the end, justice is mercy, and love, even when it comes at a cost that must sometimes be paid by innocents, or even the only Innocent One.

In the meantime, let’s try to widen our picture of Jesus so that we always see Him as part of the goings on in the Old Testament, and see His words and deeds in the New Testament as literally fleshing out and refocusing the picture of a God who is the very embodiment of justice, mercy and love, who Alone (in three Persons) is able to keep them in perfect balance and wholeness.  Admittedly, there are some tensions in this approach, but there is also a deeper sense of God’s nature to be apprehended, and we are less likely to pretend that God is bi-polar (tri-polar?), or schizoid, for the sake of making it easier to ignore aspects of His nature with which we may be uncomfortable, or may have difficulty reconciling from our all-too-human viewpoints.

Dec 24 2013

Where do I find Christmas?

Category: Christmas,Uncategorizedamuzikman @ 10:46 am

As a musician I do a lot of performing during the holiday season. Many churches put on various Christmas cantatas, concerts with choir and orchestra, dramatic presentations, etc. and there are numerous civic holiday programs to be found in schools, auditoriums, and performing arts centers. In fact, in LA you can find several major Christmas music events on any given day or night. Almost all of the programs are excellent, and they draw large audiences.

I have performed in hundreds of such events during the span of my career and I suppose the sheer number of them have somewhat numbed me to their significance. I’m also not there as an audience member, I am there to work, and I do appreciate the bump in my income the Christmas season provides.  But regardless of my role I have long since ceased to find Christmas at such events.

Last night a few friends and I played some Christmas carols at the home of a good friend, also a musician, who is battling cancer.  We played about 20 minutes for he and his wife, along with a few neighbors who heard the music and wandered out.

My friend, also a trombone player, is facing a major cancer-related surgery. It may very well be that after the surgery he will not be able to play again. The tears in his eyes and the crack in his voice as he thanked us were all the evidence I needed that playing a few carols on his cold, dark driveway meant more to him than all the concerts and all the Christmas pageants combined.

Christmas found!

Merry Christmas to all

Sep 17 2012

Remembering Jennifer

Category: Beauty,family,friendship,God,love,UncategorizedMrs. Miner @ 10:54 pm

This was first posted in September of 2009, shortly after the passing of Jennifer Tinker, my student.  On this anniversary of her passing, this seems a good time to remember her beautiful life.  Here’s the original post:


When I walked into Jennifer’s hospital room, I was initially surprised at the number of people present.  The pediatric intensive care unit doesn’t usually allow more than a few visitors at a time. The hospital staff was letting us say goodbye.

Peggy and I hugged.  There are no words for a mother at a time like this.  Then we both turned to Jennifer.  She was unconscious, breathing like my father had breathed during his last twenty four hours.  I noted the display of her vitals, grim confirmation of the obvious.  Family members were present that I had not yet met.  Introductions were made, and I sat down with silent prayers of support for a family in indescribable pain.

Conversations would start and stop.  Grandma softly sang hymns while stroking Jenny’s face.  Big sister Sarah leaned from her chair and partly lay across Jennifer.  (Maybe, if she could just hold tightly enough…)  Jennifer would occasionally open her eyes, look around briefly, then go back to sleep.  I was told that she had roused earlier in the day, alert enough to demand the remote control for the TV.  Hey, Tom and Jerry rocks.

Jennifer was born with a rare genetic disorder which resulted in a host of problems, including legal blindness, skeletal anomalies, learning difficulties and pulmonary hypertension, a fatal disorder of the heart and lungs.   She attended public school for a time, but became too frail to continue.  Our school district contacted me and asked if I would be interested in teaching Jennifer in her home.  After meeting with Jennifer and her mother, I gladly accepted the position.

Jennifer’s house was modest.  She had three sisters still living at home, and they all shared one bedroom.  There was no father.  Peggy, fiercely devoted to her children, seemed undaunted by her many challenges, drawing strength from extended family, church, and her Lord.  Jennifer was surrounded in love by a family that had truly learned to treasure what’s important in this life.

I quickly grew accustomed to her oxygen tank and was even able to avoid stepping on the tubing that accompanied Jennifer everywhere she went.  After a little more time, I nearly stopped seeing them altogether.  Jennifer was just … Jennifer.  Fourteen years old when I met her, she only weighed about sixty pounds, but she had a big attitude.  She was assertive, even stubborn, and her family and I would have it no other way.

Sweet Pea, one of two tiny canine family members, merely tolerated my presence, but she and Jennifer adored one another.  When Jennifer was feeling worse than usual, Sweet Pea would hop into her lap, seeming to comfort both of them.  In turn, Jennifer took excellent care of her dogs, leaping to their defense when I threatened one or both of the creatures with barbecue sauce.

Jennifer and I worked out of a small room Peggy had set up for that purpose.  This room was Jennifer’s domain, and she took great pride in her school work and in keeping her materials organized.  It never ceased to amaze and sometimes shame me that Jennifer accepted her many limitations without complaint. She was determined to find the good in all situations and never missed an opportunity to laugh.  Once, we read through The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  When I asked what the troll had in mind for the goats, Jennifer gleefully replied, “He wants to eat them!”  She licked her lips. Then she giggled.  Oh, that giggle…  It filled the room and made you laugh right along.

Jennifer was generous.  Sometimes I arrived at her home to find a brownie or some other example of her growing culinary skills waiting for me.  When my son had surgery, she sent him a homemade get-well card.  This required Jennifer to hold her face about three inches from the paper while she worked on the greeting.  She certainly wasn’t going to let a small annoyance like legal blindness stop her from encouraging another.

Jennifer’s life was worth living, and she lived it well.  I’ve heard some say she is “resting in peace,” but I see her running for the first time.  Running, running, running… into her Father’s arms.

Jennifer Monique Tinker

January 10, 1994-September 17, 2009


After Jennifer’s passing, Harmonicminer of these parts composed a choral composition in memory of her.  Here’s a link and a description.   With some luck, we’ll be able to post a recording soon.


Sep 10 2012

Unbelievable kid pianist

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:02 pm

Sep 03 2012

The video you didn’t see in Primetime coverage

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 3:46 pm

Aug 24 2012

That Chicago Gun Control Is Really Working

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:53 am

13 shot in 30 minutes in rising Chicago violence

Police say 13 people were shot and wounded in a 30-minute spate of violence in Chicago, including eight gunned down on a single street. Authorities have been battling an increase in homicides in the city where some aldermen complain gangs have no fear of the police. Police say a drive-by shooting on Chicago’s South Side late Thursday wounded seven men and one woman ranging in age from 14 to 20 years. Two of the victims were taken to Comer Children’s Hospital. Most are in stable condition. Police say the 19-year-old woman wounded was shot in the arm while walking to work. Five people were wounded in three other shootings around the same time. Police say 19 people were shot in Chicago on Thursday night and early Friday.

Jul 30 2012

An undeniable success in a difficult situation

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 11:04 pm

Jul 30 2012

Irony Alert

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:03 pm

President Obama related to country’s first enslaved man | The Lookout – Yahoo! News

A study from has determined that President Obama is related to John Punch, the first black African enslaved for life in America–which would make Punch the 11th great-grandfather of Obama. The connection is made through Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunhan. The website’s records say she had ancestors who were white landowners in Colonial Virginia who descended from an African man, Punch. According to the site’s press release, Punch tried to escape indentured servitude in colonial Virginia in 1640 and was punished by becoming enslaved for life. The records show that Punch had children with a white woman, and her status as free was passed on to her offspring. Punch’s descendents became successful landowners in the slave-owning state of Virginia.

Got that? Obama may be related to the first slave in the USA by way of his white mother.

May 07 2012

The Left at Christian Universities, Part 20: We’ve been here before

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 3:57 pm

The previous post in this series is here.

Catholic Georgetown University Fully Embracing Pro-Abortion Kathleen Sebelius – Katie Pavlich

You just can’t make this stuff up. Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, has invited pro-abortion and ObamaCare contraception mandate architect Kathleen Sebelius to speak at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony. Sebelius, head of Health and Human Services, is the same woman who took the advice of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards over Supreme Court precedent when it game to crafting and placing a contraception coverage mandate into ObamaCare. In case you need a reminder, Georgetown is the Catholic university at the center of the contraception mandate controversy which started when 30-year-old feminist activist Sandra Fluke told a Congressional panel birth control was just too expensive and therefore should be paid for and covered by someone else. In other words, Sebelius and Fluke are part of the gang leading the attack on religious freedom and the First Amendment under the guise of “women’s health,” yet Georgetown is fully embracing her.

More at the link above.  But we’ve been here before.

Mar 24 2012

Can anything good come out of Eloy? Apparently so

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 4:54 pm

When I was a senior in high school, I lived in Eloy, Arizona. There was absolutely nothing happening in Eloy. The town’s idea of 4th of July parade was two or three horses and a guy blowing his trumpet out a pickup truck window as he followed the horses.


So, something exciting is finally happening in Eloy!

The biggest paper airplane I’ve ever heard of….


It looks just a little like the SuperSonicTransport, otherwise known as the SST, that doesn’t fly anymore….

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