Bestselling author examines Jesus as historical figure

first_imgReza Aslan, internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, explored the life of Jesus and the way it is viewed by modern society in a lecture titled “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” on Tuesday as the 2014 Christian Culture Lecture at Saint Mary’s.In his lecture, based off of his New York Times best-selling book by the same name, Aslan said there are differences between the historical Jesus and Jesus the Christ. He said these distinctions demand public attention because different cultures interpret Jesus differently based on their own traits and histories.“You see, this is the thing about the Christ of faith: he is in many ways an infinitely malleable thing,” Aslan said. “He can be whatever a community that worships needs him to be and he has been for the last 2,000 years.“He can take on any ethnicity, he can absorb any history you may have. He can take on any politics you may have … this isn’t just an artistic representation; it is much more than that. This isn’t just a figure to be represented, this is a person of worship, a source of emulation. There are thousands more [representations] I could have shown you. They are attempt by various Christian communities around the world make Jesus their own.”Aslan said he wanted his book to explain to a faith-based audience what consequences come from believing Jesus was fully divine and fully human.“Part of the reason I wrote this book is because I wanted to say in particular to a faith-based audience that there is a consequence to this belief,” Aslan said. “That whatever else Jesus was, God incarnate, whether he was the Messiah, the Son of God, whatever else he was, he was also a man.“There is a consequence to that because if he was also a man, then he was product of his time and place,” he said. “If he was also a man, then he was addressing very specific social ills. If he was also a man, he was addressing very specific religious and political powers. If he was also a man, he was also whatever else he was, deeply influenced by the world he lived.“And so it was the knowledge of that world which makes him extraordinary. Thinking of him in his humanity doesn’t take away what is special about him; it makes him even more special.”Aslan said the “bare bones” of Jesus’ story as a human being is what sets him apart from the rest of mankind.“You are talking about a poor — and when I say poor I mean poorest of the poor — a poor, marginal, uneducated, very likely illiterate Jewish peasant from the backwoods of Galilee, who nowadays would be referred to as a country bum,” Aslan said. “Who despite all of that, through the power of his teachings, the power of his charisma, managed to launch a movement on behalf of the poor and the weak, the marginalized, the dispossessed, women especially — a movement which was seen as such a threat to the largest empire the world had ever known, that he was hunted down like a criminal, arrested, tortured and executed for sedition.“I don’t know about you, but that is the most interesting man in the world to me. If I just told you that — don’t call him Jesus; call him Fred if you want — if I just told you this story about this guy, wouldn’t you want to know who that guy is? To me, it’s the humanity of Jesus that makes him extraordinary.”Aslan said distinguishing the difference between spiritual truth and historical fact when reading sacred scripture is crucial because in the ancient world the Gospel writers were not concerned with allowing the Gospels to be factual and historically accurate.“It is a very difficult thing for us in the modern world to understand because we read the Gospels like we are reading the history of Napoleon and that is not what we are reading,” Aslan said. “Sacred history is not history, and I truly and honestly believe — and this is true of all scripture whether you are talking about a Hebrew Bible, the Quran or the Gospel — I truly believe we would have a more peaceful civilization, that we ourselves would be more spiritually fulfilled, which is to stop focusing so hard on the facts of your scripture and focus on the truth of your scripture.” Tags: Christian Culture Lecture, Jesus, Reza Aslan, saint mary’s, SMClast_img read more

Metis taking Manitoba government to court in hydro spat after talks break

first_imgThe Canadian PressThe Manitoba Metis Federation says it is taking the province to court in a dispute over planned hydro projects.Metis federation president David Chartrand  Tuesday with Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen and Manitoba Hydro to discuss a deal between the federation and the Crown utility.In March, Premier Brian Pallister quashed a $67-million deal that had been negotiated between the federation and Manitoba Hydro to help support a transmission line to Minnesota. The premier called it “persuasion money.”The federation said at the time it would file for a judicial review to overturn the decision because, it argued, the agreement was legally binding.“We were hoping that the province would have come forward with a position of an olive branch, given that we believe strongly that the agreement was negotiated between ourselves and Hydro,” said Chartrand.“They are not willing to sit down and they are going to overrule Hydro, which we believe they don’t have the legal right to do.”He said the federation has given its lawyers the green light to go ahead with court action, probably within the next week.Cullen said the two sides have agreed to disagree on the matter.“They feel it was an agreement,” he said. “Our understanding is that it’s really a proposal.”Cullen said the ball is in the Metis federation’s court.“It’s really up to them on how they want to proceed,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what their undertaking is.”Despite the disagreement on the transmission line, Cullen said the government is committed to consulting with the Metis federation.Nine of 10 Hydro board members resigned in March over what they said was Pallister’s refusal to meet with them to discuss important issues, including Indigenous rights.last_img read more