The Future in Hindsight
(C) 1992 David Ian
Eleazar of Judah
Simon bar Obadiah
McLaffin: Hello, I'm Tom McLaffin, and welcome to "The Future in Hindsight", a gathering of diverse minds dedicated to looking into important eco-social political and religious issues, here in the time of the first century of a brand new age. Today we have Eleazar from the tribe of Judah, distinguished pharisee and current head of the Sanhedran. Welcome Eleazar.
Eleazar: Shalom, peace to you.
McLaffin: Also here is Flavius Cestus, Roman prefect of the empire's District of Judea.
Flavius: Hail Caesar!
McLaffin: From Athens, the cradle of civilization and human enlightenment, we greet Cator Alexander, an authority in current Greek philosophy and thought:
McLaffin: And finally a zealot of the peple of Isreal in the tradition of the Maccabees, Simon bar Obadiah:
Simon: Death to tyrants!
McLaffin: Let's get started with today's agenda, shall we? Item #1: Jesus Christ, the charismatic man who has swept the countryside of Judea with his bold teachings, miracle workings, and message of the Kingdom of Heaven. Some say he is the Messiah, some say he is The Prophet, others say he is a revolutionary, and still others say he is a crack-pot. Jesus Christ, the Son of God -- Man or Myth Incarnate? Eleazar?
Eleazar: A pretender Messiah condemned by the Sanhedren as a blasphemer against the Law of Moses and against Almighty God.
McLaughlin: Man or Myth?
McLaffin: Flavius, Jesus Christ, Man or Living Myth?
Flavius: Whatever threat he may have posed to Rome was rightly silenced. I care not if he were man or myth, just so long as he is forgotten.
McLaffin: Diplomatically avoiding taking one side or the other. Shades of Potius Pilot. Simon?
Simon: If he or his disciples can help remove the yoke of oppression and the heavy burden we carry under the iron fist of Rome, I support him as a man or a myth. I do, however, reject his idea of rendering under Caesar.
McLaffin: So he's not the Messiah?
Simon: Hah! If he was the Messiah, men like Flavius would not be here right now! Man.
McLaffin: Wrong! Jesus Christ, a spectacular man AND the Son of God, of whom we can only justify otherwise by creating a lesser myth in our own image!
Item #2. The Apostle Paul. Previously a persecutor of the new Christian church, is now one of its chief supporters, evangelists and apologists. Beaten to within an inch of death, he continues to spread his Gospel, his Good News. Is he a true convert, or just caught up in this Christian Craze? I call upon the head of the Sanhedran for the official line.
Eleazar: Saul of Tarsus, as he was previously known, was a pharisee and son of a pharisee. He was an important arm in the squelching of this heretical movement. Now he has become one of our biggest headaches and he is symptomatic of the dangers of this new sect.
McLaffin: Sounds like a conversion to me. Cator, this Saul of Tarsus has made his impact on your home grounds, hasn't he?
Cator: Well, you must remember, Tom, that "Paul", as he is now called, came from Tarsus, a Hellenized city in Asia Minor, influenced by Greek thought. This Paul was able to put the epic history of Judaism, a largely Eastern religion, or Western Orient to be more precise, and include the poetics and prophesies as they pertained to Christ into a cohesive argument for us Gentiles to grapple with in philophical circles.
McLaffin: The heart of a Hebrew, the mind of a Greek! Flavius?
Flavius: And he has the social standing of a Roman, too. Citizenship is offered to Jews in many cities like Tarsus--
Simon: To siphon off their money and conscript their sons, you fascist!
Flavius: And many Jews have enjoyed a greatly enhanced quality of life--
Simon: The pay off for collaboration!
McLaffin: His teachings have caused thousands to turn from the pantheon of Rome to a single God in heaven.
Flavius: Propaganda. These missions could only happen by the grace and whim of Caesar. Now he is locked up in house arrest, by Caesar's order. So tell me, who is really god over his life?
McLaffin: Simon bar Obediah: Paul the Apostle. What do the common people say about this powerhouse of a grassroots religious movement?
Simon: I abhore his teachings confirming the sovereignty of earthly rulers, and his concept of "no difference between Jew or Gentile" is anti-revolutionary. However, since he is a prisoner of the State of Rome, I find solidarity with him and can call him brother.
McLaffin: Item #3: Jews, Romans and Greeks alike are all turning to the message of the cross, breaking cultural-religious traditions, modern philosophical thought and toppling the godhead of Caesar. Question: What makes this message so attractive to such a broad spectrum of people? Cator!
Cator: Well, certain precepts are bound to breakthrough at historically primed circumstances: socio-economic conditions, military and political conflicts, even natual and environmental conditions could be factors for a shattering of basic belief systems.
McLaughlin: In other words, you don't know! Simon bar Obediah?
Simon: Israel has alway been ready to throw off the enemies of Abraham's children. Our history is rich with overcoming adversity: the Babylonians; the Assyrians; the Phillistines...
McLaffin: Wrong! The redemption through Christ is offered to Gentiles as well! This is a revolution of the spirit, not of nations. What about you, Eleazar?
Eleazar: I don't see a revolution at all--
McLaffin: The blind leading the blind! What's the word from Rome? Flavius!
Flavius: The revolution is real, Caesar's supremacy if not godhood is threatened, and it will be quelled by the strongest means necessary.
McLaffin: The sword cannot pierce the spirit, nor man's resolve in his search for truth and contentment!
Item #4: Predictions. Rome, the nation of Israel, the sanhedrian, philosophic thought, or the Christian movement; which of these institutions will have the most lasting effect on future history? Cator?
Cator: Civilization will always value philosophy and protect its highest acheivements of the mind. Eventually, all thought will be permeated by a higher awareness of the self and its purpose and place.
McLaffin: Wrong! Western civilization will be preserved in the Dark Ages through an embracing of Christ. Ideals are a luxury enjoyed when not put into practice.
Flavius: Rome will always be; Latin will be the world's language, and as time wears on, it will be obvious to the world that all roads lead to Rome.
McLaffin: Wrong! Rome will be led by a series of petty dictators until finally the Vandals will tag the very halls of the senate. The Church itself will supplant the seat of Rome in its vacuum of power. Simon?
Simon: Israel will throw off the yoke of Rome and all other oppressors and regain the glory of Solomon. Israel will once more be the center of trade and influence across the world.
McLaffin: Wrong! Israel will be crushed in an ill-fated rebellion, and its lands passed from one power to another. Eleazar?
Eleazar: The Law will always be with us, nation or no. As in the time of Daniel, the righteous will always survive, always preserve God's promise to the sons of Abraham that the Messiah will come, and then his Kingdom shall replace all others on earth.
McLaffin: Wrong! The bridegroom has come and gone and you have no oil left to light your spirit. Paul has already shown that there is no longer any difference in Christ between man and woman, slave and free, Jew or Gentile. It will be Christ and his followers that will turn this world upside down, convert oppressors without violence, and report the accesssability of God through Christ to the ends of the earth.
Next week we will discuss a controversial hot topic: Tongues of Fire: drunk men babbling in the morning, or prophecy revealed. Until then, bye-bye!
(Bye-bye is a signature sign-off that almost sounds like Bwuy, Bwuy.)
(As theme music comes up, all participants lean into each other, pointing, animated in disagreement; all mimed with no sound. Lights slowly fade to black.)
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