Newsweek Magazine (Belief Watch March 16, 2009) reports on a growing trend among some Christians to drop the label Christian in favor of “A follower of Jesus.” “Christian” it seems is too loaded with right-wing rhetoric, homophobia, and Republican party politics to speak to millions of people who take comfort in the teachings of Jesus and, perhaps, find salvation through his death and resurrection.
I have no god in this hunt (get it, “god” is “dog” spelled backwards; no god in this hunt, no dog in… oh, forget it) so I have no problem with this change of labels. I was thinking, however, that it might apply to my situation as well. Maybe I should stop calling myself a Jew and start referring to myself as a follower of Moses.
Well. Maybe not Moses, but Hillel. Moses is too violent for my taste. Look at his response to the call for democratic reform by Korach and 250 of the leaders of the Israelites. Moses has God sanction first a plague that kills thousands of his opponents, and then sanction the murder of thousands more. Talk about collective punishment. And then, of course, there is the little matter of the genocide against the Hittites, Amorites, Jebusites, Termites, Websites, and any "ites" Moses convinces the Lord are bad for business. Moses is too violent, so I don’t want to be a follower of Moses.
Hillel is more to my liking. Maybe I should call myself a follower of Hillel. What I like about Hillel is that, thousands of years before it was de rigor, he managed to reduce the entire Torah to a tweet: “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.” I mean you could learn that Torah in seconds, and thus free up all those hours that your Jewish friends spend in Hebrew school.
I suspect, however, that Hillel may have a been a bit disingenuous with his Twitter Torah. After all given his definition how many of us would circumcise our sons?
Anyway, given the penchant of the the Jewish people for argument and diverse opinions, not all Jews would choose to be followers of Hillel. Some Jews might be followers of Shammai, Hillel’s personal Lex Luthor. Others would prefer to follow Moses or Aaron or even Korach.Now that I think of it I might might even disagree with myself and drop my FOH status for the more challenging FOEBA, follower of Elisha ben Abuyah, the great doubter of the Talmud whom the rabbis dubbed Acher, the Other.
But why choose only one person to follower? Religion could be like Twitter where you can follow as many people as you like. In fact I think we should create Twitter accounts for all the great sages of humanity. People could “follow” Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Buddha, Muhammad, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Krishna, Patanjali, the list is endless. Throughout the day these people would tweet from their published works. Since they wrote the books copyright wouldn’t be a problem. (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, so don’t trust me on this.) All we would need is a group of dedicated volunteers to collect and post the teachings daily.
Anyway, I like the idea of naming the hero you follow. Let me know whom you would follow by posting them in the comments section of Toto. I think we could all learn something from that.