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The Real Christ

2009 March 31
by Gordon Reid

I love this quotation from Dorothy Sayers:

“The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore – on the contrary they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very patiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild”, and recommended him for a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.

“To those who knew him, however,  he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand. True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before heaven; but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites. He referred to King Herod as “that fox”; he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as “a gluttonous man and a winebibber, the friend of publicans and sinners”; he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the temple; he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people’s pigs and property; he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humour that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb.

“He was emphatically not a dull man in his lifetime, and if he was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But he had “a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly”, and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be made more secure without him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.

“Perhaps the drama is played out now, and Jesus is safely dead and buried.

“Perhaps.  It is ironical and entertaining to consider that at least once in the world’s history those words might have been spoken with complete conviction, and that was upon the eve of the Resurrection”.

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