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Jesus Was a Hippie


Actually he was more appropriately called a Cynic, but that kind of free-thinking humanist is indeed kin to being a Hippie. The Cynics were a school of thought or religious approach to intellectual understanding which many more modern hippies seem to emulate.

Jesus may have been a zealot seeking to establish a country or kingdom like David (his ancestor) or he may have harkened back to a time when Brotherhood existed, as most Cynics really saw must happen. Seneca and all the other rich or poor Cynics clearly saw man must think and learn for himself, or else things would continue to grow ever more class and racially differentiated. I think Jesus had the Gnostic training of ecumenism and was not into the Kingdom of Israel zealotry as much as he was against Rome and Empire in general, even if he was a zealot at some point in his life. I also think Plato was no where near as elitist or Fascist as his succeeding philosophic school up to Hegel and Fukayama today have become. In fact I think Plato would have preferred universal education and enablement of citizens as the foundation for his Republic. But let's be real! Even today it is hard to find interested and open-minded 'thinkers'."

Easy answers sought to explain what humanity has feared or regarded through superstition as 'gods', are not the kind of things that allowed adepts to know themselves and their soul. The structures of power and priestly prevarications are rife even in the halls of supposed fair and academic institutions. Pardon me for disagreeing with the likes of Fukayama and others who would have us believe in 'absolute' religions of any form. As a human with the ability to consciously apprehend his or her environment; we must all eschew these black and white answers that our education has expected us to regurgitate in order to get better grades.

Maybe the noted Jesus scholar from DePaul University can shed a little light on Jesus and his Cynical accoutrements and inclinations. I suggest and recommend reading his many books on Jesus who was (like most of us) incarnated in a variety of different groups and beliefs during his time on earth.

There were three main philosophic attitudes in the Classical world. They were Stoic, Epicure and Cynic. It is important to see the way Jesus dresses in the accounts of the myth and to know there is veracity in these myths. Here are some words from Farrand Sayre which will help set this idea in perspective.

"The Cynics sought happiness through freedom. The Cynic conception of freedom included freedom from desires, from tear {Again the all important Keltic Creed is here.}, anger, grief and other emotions, from religious or moral control, from the authority of the city or state or public officials, from regard for public opinion and freedom from the care and support of wives and children {Not to suggest Mary Magdala required support due to her family wealth, which is certain if she was the daughter of Joseph of Arimathaea.}? The Cynics scoffed at the customs and observances of others, but were rigid in observance of their own. The Cynic would not appear anywhere without his wallet, staff and cloak, which must invariably be worn, dirty and ragged and worn so as to leave the right shoulder bare. He never wore shoes and his hair and beard were long and unkempt."

Knowing Jesus is a Cynic or at least was one for much of his life, we are asked to consider how this might be. I hope there is merit in evaluating the people he would have been associated with. I think Jesus was a lot like Seneca who was one of Thomas Jefferson's great inspirations. Here we find Crossan detailing some of this matter.

"'By the middle of the first century of our era, elements of the Cynic and Stoic tenets were fairly well merged,' according to Cora Lutz, 'in the teachings of the popular philosophers'. Cynicism was founded by Diogenes of Sinope, who lived from about 400 to about 320 B.C.E. and was born on the mid-southern coast of the Black Sea {Where Pont of Phoenicia had been.} The term itself comes from kyon, the Greek word for dog, and it was used of Diogenes by Aristotle, as if quoting a well-known nickname. It was originally a derogatory term for the provocative shamelessness with which Diogenes deliberately flouted basic human codes of propriety and decency, custom and convention, doing as the third-century historian of philosophy Diogenes Laertius delicately puts it, 'everything in public, the works of Demeter and Aphrodite alike' (6.69; Hicks 2.70-71). Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium, who lived from about 333 to 264 B.C.E. and was born on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. That title comes, more demurely, from the Athenian agora's Stoa Poikile, where Zeno taught for many years. Both philosophies sought the happiness of inner freedom and personal self-sufficiency, but where Stoicism found it in detachment from the world, Cynicism found it in abandonment of the world. Insofar as they interacted together, and especially on the popular level, Cynicism was practical and radical Stoicism; Stoicism was theoretical and moderate Cynicism. Take for example, the case of Seneca.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca - Seneca the Younger - Stoic philosopher, author, and multimillionaire, lived between about 4 B.C.E. and 65 B.C.E. As tutor to Nero, his responsibility for the imperial virtue and vice remained somewhat ambiguous, but he was, in the end, ordered to commit suicide for alleged participation in the anti-Neronic conspiracy headed by Gaius Calpurnius Piso. Despite his extreme wealth, he was greatly influenced by the Cynic philosopher Demetrius, who lived in his household during the years between 51 and 65 C.E. when Seneca was composing his Epistulae Morales, moral treatises fictionalized as letters to his friend Gaius Lucilius. One can see, for instance, the difference between the theoretical dispassion of the Stoic Seneca (I have but do not care) and the practical dispossession of the Cynic Demetrius (I do not have but do not care) in this story:

When Gaius Caesar [Caligula] wanted to give Demetrius two hundred thousand, he laughingly refused it, not even deeming it a sum the refusal of which was worth boasting about?. 'If he meant to tempt me.' said he. 'he ought to have tested me by offering me his whole kingdom.' (Seneca, De Beneficii 7:11; Basore et al. 3.482-483)" (1)

We can look at the words of Camus and the 'naturel ordre' of Rousseau that may have guided him and see there is something the Cynics and undoubtedly many before them perceived which is archetypical to humankind. Some would like us to believe we are naturally competitive and aggressive and there is some truth in that too. Civilized humankind has higher aspirations though. At least that is how a Hippie sees it. 'Make LOVE not War' was certainly a mainstay of the recent humanitarian effort and it binds many Goths, Beatniks and Hippies together. But this natural order is no simple thing wherein there is one obvious approach which makes sense to all people who seek good acts or results for the bulk of life on earth. I knew many Hippies felt confident that Jesus 'was just alright with' them and the man inspired them to act as he would. But there was no agreement from the Churchians to the most part.

A True Hippie Leader Speaks His Mind

One of my correspondents on the World Wide Web goes by the nickname Eternum1 and we have many philosophical similarities to say the least. Here are some of his thoughts. He is a far better wordsmith than I am. He was in the front lines of the era and its expression.

Dear Robert:

The existential Jim Morrison represented a time when Hippies captured the imagination of a generation. Kurt Vonnegut and his theme of absurdity and free will in Slaughterhouse Five, other flicks like Vanishing Point played the same theme during that era.

What a journey lay before us in those times. The broad rubric of existentialism could be seen in the ethics of Do Your Own Thing. Sartre said "Man is condemned to be free". I believe it was a condemnation because real freedom requires a commitment in ones life. A commitment not to succumb to mediocrity or the lukewarm approach to living. The jewels of life should not be left untouched and revolution is the only sane response to a society whose fabric is docility and Pavlovian consumerism.

Insanity is keeping your ticket to ride in your pocket and waiting to live in the next life. I loved Vonnegut's illustrations of this in Slaughterhouse Five, the juxtaposition of the insanity of being in the meat-grinder of war and the bland existence in suburbia when "Beauty" or the actuality of it was always within our hero's grasp and this stark realization on his deathbed.

There have been many wars, revolutions, uprisings for the sake of freedom. Many speeches saying "I have a dream" etc. beg for it, demand it. Yet we are pacified by others telling us what it means to be free and the price we must pay. But the 'system' as we used to call it knows only the price of freedom not its intrinsic values.

Camus' idea is that the absurd man suffers individually, but once he begins to rebel, he has realized that this suffering is shared and it is in this meeting of minds that the minds begin to exist. Camus no longer speaks of just the individual, but brings in the individual's relation to others.

It is obvious how this found some harmonics with Marxism in the minds of many contemporary radicals. When I interviewed people like Black Panthers the question was not one of commitment to freedom but how far one was willing to go to achieve it. People like Huey Newton and Bobby Seale saw the system perpetuating a form of genocide with the ghettoization of the black population and in some cases saw killing others as a reasonable alternative to the suicide that living in 'free America" offered.

When we see others are not free, we begin to question our own ideas of what freedom means. We begin to move away from the idea of individual freedom and into rebellion. A rebel by definition belongs to a rebellion and is not a simple absurdity like the common hedonist.

The Rebel is about rebellion, which assumes a relationship between the individual and some power, a master, government, etc., and a sense of "going too far." The rebel has been subservient, he has chosen not to rebel, but then the master crosses a line. The rebel has an idea that he has rights which are being violated, "in a certain way, he confronts an order of things which oppresses him with the insistence on a kind of right not to be oppressed beyond the limit that he can tolerate" (Albert Camus' The Rebel).

Camus' conclusion about murder is that it cannot be justified. The rebel cannot suspend his principles in the present as a move toward them in the future. This idea comes from the earlier thinking in that if living is a choice not to die and therefore an assertion of life's value, then there is an intrinsic value in life. Life is worth living for its own sake, which is not to say that life has inherent value, we are still dealing with a value-neutral philosophy. Life does not have value (in the sense of value as a noun), but the rebel values life in his choice not to die. Therefore the rebel cannot kill for his rebellion. Another part of this is the authenticity based in the present which Camus speaks of over and over again. Existentialist freedom is based in the present and beliefs cannot be suspended in the present to provide means to an end.

This is where I parted company with radicals back in the days of the Weathermen etc. I recorded their stories but argued in my columns that 'the end justifies the means' was the cancer in all ideologies and the true enemy of freedom.

That is why I respected Allende and not Castro both were 'rebels' but the first was committed to freedom while the latter just became another ruler prepared to sacrifice others on freedom's altar. Hippies could have told them so. Et

Needless to say, I have not had the 'in the trenches' experience of Vietnam as a reporter or all the other things around the world that Et has had. I always enjoy his posts and thoughts. I hope the reader of my books can appreciate them too. Et was at the event in Chicago that spawned a great deal of awareness that something was wrong with how things were proceeding in America. Walter Cronkite is a rare breed and we saw him depart our TV screen far too early in my opinion. Here is part of his observation about the Bush regime of unilateral domination and disregard for international accords. "The unilateralism has been a virtual addiction - a truculent constant in a presidency otherwise marked by inconstancy."

Author of Diverse Druids, Columnist for The ES Press Magazine, Guest writer at World-Mysteries.com,

Dennis Schmunko is the man using the handle Eternum1 and he has a new book coming out soon.


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