" Although Regas called his sermon "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush," he didn't imagine Jesus sitting there awkwardly on a third stool, like Ross Perot, but as a presence directly criticizing only Bush, never Kerry. (Although you'd think, just out of curiosity, Jesus might have asked what really happened on those Swift boats.)Blessed are the moderates, for they shall see both sides.
Instead, Regas' Jesus scolds the president: "President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq," adding, "now the latest figures say 100,000 Iraqi fighters, women and children are dead." And: "Jesus turns to President Bush again with deep sadness. 'Is what I hear really true? Do you really mean that you want to end a decade-old ban on developing nuclear battlefield weapons?' "
Leaving aside the odd notion of Jesus getting information by checking "the latest figures" (wouldn't he just know?) or hanging around the water cooler ("Is what I hear really true?"), Regas' Jesus is quite a policy wonk. According to the sermon, Jesus is pro-choice, against the Iraq war and vehemently disapproves of the Bush tax cuts (that "50% of the tax savings goes to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans" would "break Jesus' heart," according to Regas). He's in favor of good prenatal care, "dignified jobs" (does carpentry count?) and affordable housing. I'm curious what he thinks of gerrymandered voting districts, electricity regulation and making it easier to fire bad teachers, but maybe Jesus isn't really into California politics.
"How Jesus mourns the death of those 3,000 people killed on 9/11," Regas continues. "But Jesus also mourns the death, devastation and loss in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sudan and Israel-Palestine…." Then he conjures up Jesus again: "At the time of the trauma of 9/11," Jesus says, "you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world, 'We will respond, but not in kind.' "
Just how Bush should have responded, Jesus doesn't say. But I'd like to know how Regas would have channeled Jesus' foreign policy ideas about Pearl Harbor, for instance, or the Holocaust. Presumably Jesus would have thought the latter, at least, merited some kind of action — if only to keep it from leading to what Regas calls "Israel-Palestine" instead of just Palestine.
"Mr. President," Regas' Jesus continues, "the consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world's most powerful military can cure all ills…." And blah-blah-blah-blabbity-blah. This Jesus is awfully wordy, not at all like the terse prophet you may remember from the Bible. Regas apparently thinks Jesus would sound rather like Cindy Sheehan blathering on to the Huffington Post, or maybe like one of John Kerry's speechwriters.
And if Regas had been around when the Gospels were written, they'd probably include lines like, "Father, forgive their consequences, for their ignorance is accompanied by certitude. "
Monday, November 14, 2005