The Jefferson Tree - A platform for debate and discussion of current events and politics...

Former NSA Chief Keith Alexander Quickly Becoming the Villain

Certain people, who had their egos (not national security) terribly hurt by the Edward Snowden revelations, continue to call Snowden names and stuff and show their outrage toward him for exposing the NSA’s wrongdoing.  It would seem, however, they might want to redirect their outrage toward another former employee of the NSA: ex-chief Keith Alexander. It was revealed yesterday the NSA is now being sued by a reporter for not disclosing Alexander’s financial records in the interest of making sure there ...

Palestine Borders and Demographics Prove to be A Ghetto

Thanks to a good idea given to me by my partner here at STL, I started to research and analyze some geographic information regarding the Jewish land-grab in Palestine. I then followed by studying some demographic info on the Gaza Strip and drew some interesting conclusions. Here’s what I found: First, some great maps over at Wikipedia with adjoining historical context info and links portraying the boundaries of Palestine/Israel since the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (The linked information could have you reading ...

Social Protest Lit: Ebenezer Elliot, “The People’s Anthem”

A poem from Ebenezer Elliot entitled The People’s Anthem from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice: When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy! when? Not kings and lords, but nations! Flowers of the heart, O God, are they! Let them not pass, like weeds, away! Their heritage a sunless day! God save the people! Shall bring crime for ever, Strength aiding still the strong? Is it thy will, O Father? That man shall toil for wrong? “No!” ...

Stephen Moore’s Ridiculous Anti-Clean Energy Rant

Hard right-winger Stephen Moore took a break from pushing debunked trickle-down economic policies to take a pathetic shot at clean energy.  Let the stupid begin. …radical Greens, one of the most influential political forces in America today… Seriously?  He goes on to mention the famed Sierra Club as one of these forces.  And where did they rank in 2013 on lobbying: 755.  In fact, if we look at the top 50 interest groups giving to members of Congress this year, no sign ...

Anti-Israel Policies/Actions Is Not Anti-Semitsim

There have been growing protests in Europe against the mass murder of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the State of Israel. These actions are in response to the IDF killing 500 Muslims there with the vast majority of them being civilians. But what is troubling about these movements is, according to this article in the NYT, an anti-Semitic tinge has taken place at these protests. The story reads that in France: Several recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris have boiled over ...

Warren For President?

Today at the the annual Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, the nation’s largest gathering of liberal activists and organizers, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) reportedly drew an applause that Hillary could only dream of. According to NYT and Politico reports, Warren was a rock-star while Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate for President, was absent. Warren’s populist talking points and her history of taking Wall Street to task (remember that Warren was an early advocate for the creation of a new Consumer Financial ...

Social Protest Literatue at Sparking The Left

Here at STL we are starting a new feature. In between our political-insight posts, I will start publishing excerpts or entire pieces of great literature that speak to crucial social and political issues which span the centuries. Though almost all in the Western tradition, the subject matters are transcendental. Now first to name my source, I am taking pieces from Upton Sinclair’s selected and edited collection “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time.” ...

Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Detained for Being Undocumented

I was first brought aware of Jose Antonio Vargas’ story last week in a piece he penned in Politico. He explained that he was in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of McAllen, just north of the Mexican border. He was there to see first hand the tens of thousands of undocumented children, most of them from Central America, and observe how they were being treated. The trip was also used for a news conference appearance and vigil organized by United We Dream, ...

Selective Outrage

War is hell.  All we have to do is look around the world to see its toll.  That being said, I don't understand the lack of outrage coming from this President and his administration other than that aimed at our one ally - Israel which is doing no more than trying to protect it's people from rocket fire and constant raids from Hamas. The fact that Palestinian civilians are getting killed is a tragic yet unavoidable aspect of this war.  Why ...

Why Are We So Full Of Hate?

What has happened to human kind?  No matter where you look we find ourselves surrounded by a world filled with hate. What puzzles me is how it's combined with political correctness.  Take this country where so many words are now frowned upon and even forbidden because they are hurtful to certain people.  Redskins, squaw, savage plus a whole lot applying to blacks, orientals and hispanics not to mention middle easterners.  Has it dawned on anyone banning the names has done nothing ...

Has Putin Over Reached Once Too Often?

My, oh my.  We've watched this man make mince meat of Obama over the past several years.  Each time you could see the smirk broaden and the swagger get more pronounced. He and his allies - Iran, China, Syria and North Korea were truly enjoying themselves. But as happens with a lot of bullies, they get over confident and suddenly everything around them collapses. I'm wondering if this is the case with the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. With the death ...

If Only It WERE The Heat!

What a day.  A passenger plane has been shot down over Ukraine uncomfortably close to the Russian border. Hamas reneged on the humanitarian cease fire so Israel launched their ground offensive. Children still pour across the border while Congress dithers. It's now being reported parents are giving them birth control in case they are raped during the journey. Along that line former member of Congress, Todd Aiken, who once talked about legitimate rape and the idea that women's bodies protected them from becoming ...

Hannity's Histrionics

For a person who doesn't have much faith in the intellect of pundits, I wonder why I watch them so often.  I wonder even more why the cable outlets and networks that employ them don't take more care in who they hire. Many of them get on crusades that bear no resemblance to reality.  Sean Hannity is one of the most prominent. The night before last  he was on his Bowe Bergdahl kick demanding to know why he was returned to ...

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

If the President could run away from the border mess any faster I'm sure he would. It's being said it's because being seen in the setting of kids crammed into confined spaces with their scabies and lice would reflect badly on him.  It could even be his Katrina.  Well, maybe.  But who's fault is that? It goes to show his handlers aren't as smart as they think they are.  For one, drinking beer and shooting pool in Colorado, a state where ...

The Kids Always Went Home

Watching the immigration mess going full bore brought to mind a lot of things that have involved children from other nations.  The first thing that comes to mind is the Disney song It's a Small World After All that speaks to all we have in common. Hopes, dreams, all the warm fuzzy stuff. We've had exchange student programs where a student from another country lives with a local family to learn not only academics but what life in American and Americans ...

The Militia Is Coming, The Militia Is Coming!

That's all we need! News has it a call has gone out for militia, both unarmed and armed, to gather along the border to help private land owners protect their property in something called Operation Save Our Borders.  Terrific! Remember how well it went when militia turned out to help to  help Cliven Bundy in his fight over Federal grazing rights in Nevada?  It came within a hair's breadth of turning violent. I really feel for the border towns who are the ...

It is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions. Thomas Jefferson
Please visit the authors blog by clicking on the link below!

Charles Redfern - The Alternative Mainstream

What Would Jesus Occupy, Part 2

Read: What Would Jesus Occupy, Part 1

Life is hard for us maniacal egotists. The Pulitzer committee takes no notice of this blog’s journalistic and literary excellence while the panels in Stockholm and Oslo repeatedly fail to reward me my first Nobel Prize.  I’m beginning to think they’ve never seen my Internet knoll.  That’s harsh.

Thus my swelling head with last week’s pingback flood: Everyone was fawning over my insightful October 10th entry, “What Would Jesus Occupy?,” which speculated that our Lord would cheer the marchers as they echoed his cries against greed.  At last, the sun was shining on my head.  At last, my bald spot was gleaming.  At last the committees would send me their e-mails while fumbling for their sunglasses (“Ever thought of wearing a hat on sunny days?”).

But the fawners suddenly vanished.  The pingback cluster really stemmed from a single blog post written by conservative J.E. Dyer.  She disagreed with me and others: “What would Jesus occupy?  … I believe the answer, based on his life on earth, is: nothing.  Our society has become all but deaf to those implications, glorifying as we do the force majeure of entitlement and sanctimony.  But Jesus is the very antithesis of an occupier.”  Other conservatives cut and pasted her statements (along with her link to mine, thus the pingbacks) because Dyer eloquently argued why I and others are dead wrong.

Oslo and Stockholm residents pocketed their sunglasses.

Insight amid oversight

Dyer’s essay has much to commend it – not the least of which is her civility.  The retired naval intelligence officer never ridicules.  She even seems friendly.  We could be pals.  And surely warnings against an “Occupy Wall Street” Jesus are well taken. Does anyone remember the hippy-flower-child Jesus in some circles in the 1960’s?  Cringe, please.  Jesus transcends modern political categories and drinks from a far deeper well.  Christ is all about the Kingdom of God, not an alternative political movement.

Yet, at the same time, Dyer’s vision of our Lord is so tame and domestic, so meek and mild. She builds her argument on one verse, Revelation 3:20 (“Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”) and says: “Jesus never went anywhere uninvited.”  Really?  Did the angel Gabriel deliver God’s request for the incarnation to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)?  Did the 12-year-old Jesus dutifully inform his parents before lagging behind and questioning the temple authorities (Luke 2:41-52)?  Read the first three chapters in Mark’s Gospel: He touched and healed a leper in violation of the Law (1:41), forgave sins and alienated the authorities (2:1-12), ate with sinners and tax collectors (2:13-17), breached fasting traditions (2:23-27), and broke Sabbath norms when he healed a shriveled hand (3:1-6).  He could have muttered to the victim: “Another bad-hand day won’t hurt.  Come back tomorrow so all feathers stay smooth.”

There’s no avoiding it: Jesus was a troublemaker.  He deliberately sparked controversy.

Our images of the tame, domesticated, come-to-me-little-children Jesus should liquefy when we confront passages describing the temple cleansing, but Dyer’s interpretation is curious: “He entered the Temple in obedience to the Father, as a Jew going to worship: exercising the privilege of a Jew under the commandments of God and the system of worship and priestly authority God had instituted.”  Dyer may be correct – technically.  But compare her antiseptic description with the fourth Gospel’s: “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:13-16, NIV).  Or Matthew’s: “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.  ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’” (21:12-13).

Tables slug walls … whips crack … coins clink on stone floors amid scrapes from sandaled feet.  Some interpreters call the subsequent days “the temple occupation.”

One wonders: Why would anyone crucify the friendly, meek-and-mild Jesus?

Then bring in the rest of the Scriptures, remembering that Christ is God incarnate.  He was there when God created the universe at his own initiative, cast out our progenitors from paradise, sent plagues on Egypt, drowned its army, opened a hole in the desert floor that swallowed hundreds of rebels, and forced wayward Israel to grope for its identity in exile.  Read all about Revelation’s thunder, lightning, destruction, and mayhem.  God is the “Lion of Judah” and Jesus is God.  He knocks on the door in one verse but blows down mansions in a slew of others.  God is the occupier par excellence.

A familiar ghost from the past

Dyer’s thoughtful essay dissolved into clichés toward its end: “It is missing the point of Jesus to invoke him in an argument (or a protest) about the Marxist concept of ‘economic justice.’  That crudely self-referential human concept is about what others have and what others have done.”

There we go again: Marxism … Communism … Socialism.  Her straw man shows she’s not listening to the marchers – those human manifestos, those emblems with souls, those insignias against “self-referential” Wall Street greed and its entitlement mentality: Bail us out but don’t regulate us.  If every protest against greedy wealth is Marxist, then Jesus was a Marxist when he declared, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.  We to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry” (Luke 6:24-25a).  So was James: “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower” (1:9-10).  And so were the US Catholic bishops when they issued their still-relevant statement in 1986: “Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy.”

The crux of it all …

And that’s the crucial point: Listening.  Of course the Wall Street marchers do not capture the whole of Jesus’ teaching; of course the nascent movement knows little of a personal God and nothing of life in the Holy Spirit.  That’s no big surprise.  But listen for the real shock: Many have caught a whiff of God’s revulsion for greed.  Listen: They’re talking about selflessness.  Listen: They want something beyond the material world …


My guess is that Christ is doing precisely that.  He’s walking with the marchers and listening.  Why wouldn’t Jesus possess the grace to march with them, commending them when they’re right and challenging them to stretch themselves?  I have felt that grace myself – and if there’s hope for maniacal egotists like me, there’s hope for everyone.

For more reading:

Sally Kohn:

The US Catholic bishops:

Ron Dreher:

Author: Charles Redfern - The Alternative Mainstream

Charles Redfern lives in Connecticut with his wife and son and has been a pastor for two decades. He writes The Alternative Mainstream, which gives news and commentary on spirituality, culture, and politics through the new evangelical lens (Christians need not be right wing thugs) — with occasional poetry and autobiography thrown in for fun. He also blogs for, an online religious news magazine.

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