Revenge of the Arrogant Man

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It’s been a lazy morning. The crowds outside the temple are gradually coming alive with the business of the day. A couple has been brought to the priests’ gallery. They have been accused of a great sin. Love outside marriage.

They have been known to be living together for years. The couple has been brought to the temple by angry neighbours and busybodies. The priests recognise the woman as someone who’d once refused to get her son initiated into the faith. This is their moment.

The couple is produced before the assembly of elders. The neighbours and busybodies want justice. And some respect for the law. The priests are only too willing. Just then one old and wily priest calls all the elders aside. “We can kill two birds with one stone. That arrogant man, we can nail him if we ask him to mediate in this case.”

The others need no time to think. They say okay, thinking this is their chance to get even for the slights the arrogant man and the sinful woman have thrown their way. They go out of the temple where they see the arrogant man teaching his rag-tag groupies. "You sir," they call out to the arrogant man, “we have a case we can’t solve, can you help us? Please.” The arrogant man looks at them and smiles. It’s a knowing smile that pierces through the fat of their intentions.

“This woman has sinned,” they chorus. The sinning man they have forgotten in their eagerness for revenge. “Judge her. By the same law that you keep throwing at us time and again.”

The arrogant man smiles. “Go ahead and stone her,” he says looking at them as if they were all one person. One self-important, nitpicking, niggardly midget with an appetite for piffle.

It’s as if the arrogant man’s gaze has fixed the men. Each man suddenly feels alone, transported to lives past. To moments of great shame. Moments they never want to see the light of day. Moments, over which they have laid layers and layers of alabaster and fine marble. Like mausoleums built over worms and skeletons.

Each man sees the arrogant man’s face pasted on his shame. Like an insult. A stinging slap. The priest sees the face on the body of a girl he had abducted for a night of pleasure. He had later threatened her with a public flogging if she opened her mouth.

The trader sees a friend of long ago whom he had swindled of a fortune. The friend also had the arrogant man’s face.

The temple guard sees the face on the beardless boy he had used and then murdered outside the city walls.

The tax-collector sees the arrogant man’s face on the peasant whose field he now owned.

How could the arrogant man know, they think. How could he know of our hidden shame. They start to leave the scene. Shaken. Changed. Struck by what some people call a soul-slap.


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2 comments:

  1. Sometimes religion is more paegan than the paegans. It's spattered with blood, lust, revenge, deceit. And that's why the masses feed on it...like greedy caterpillers, hungry for fat.

    The upholders of all these paegan-isms are lords of lust, greed and want. The high priests of everything their mythologies have condemned man to earth for.

    The punishments they mete out are in complete harmony with this. It's what makes the believers believe.And contribute. And revel. And fantasize.

    The one act of spirituality within access of every man though, is love.

    It embodies everything un-paegan. And lifts men out of their skins and into the world. And then back into their skins. Within and without. An edifying, soulful search.

    Perhaps for that reason, it's often condemned by the peagans. And thier high priests. Who's within and without cannot conceive of beings who marvel at the first drop of morning dew and stick their tongues out to taste it's fresh, wet, scent. And the delight in their faces when they see a child carelessly roll a piece of stone across a bumpy road.

    And the willingness with which they give of themselves with such total abandon. Their freedom hurts. And puzzles. And bewilders. And so, even among inclusive, open socities, they are condemned. Not pelted with stones perhaps.

    But written off as foolhardy, imbeciles. And to quote a favourite line from a song from the Broadway Musical - `South Pacific' - "cockeyed optimists, immature and incurably green."

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  2. once, a woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. the townsfolk rushed her to a young wise man for judgment and condemnation. because the law was clear, it seemed like a slam dunk. when they arrived, they said, "teacher, we found this woman caught in the very act of adultery. the law is clear on such matters: she deserves to be killed. what do you say?" the teacher practically ignored them and continued about his business. when they persisted, the teacher, named Jesus, stood up and said to them all, "anyone of you here who has no blackness in your own hearts, you can take the first shot." slowly, from the oldest to the youngest, the crowd dropped their weapons and walked away. then the master, the only one among them who truly could cast righteous judgment, asked the woman, "where are your accusers now? has no one stayed to condemn you?" "no one, sir," she said. then Jesus replied, "then neither do i condemn you. go and stop sinning."

    how much grace we all need.

    how beautiful is mercy rejoicing against judgment.

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