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Author Topic: The Old Rugged Cross

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Offline Private

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The Old Rugged Cross
« on: 28 March 2010 at 06:53 »
The Old Rugged Cross
by Sister Judith Hayes

The Old Rugged Cross

The Cross, that most powerful and pervasive symbol of Christianity, has been painted in oils, carved into woodwork and furniture, perched prominently on the tops of thousands of buildings, cried upon, prayed to, kissed fervently, worn as a necklace, embroidered into clothing and carved into mountainsides. Poems have been written about it, hymns have been sung about it, and people trace out its shape by touching forehead, chest and shoulders whenever the name of a dearly departed is even mentioned. This is some symbol.

A question immediately presents itself here. Aren't Christians aware that the Cross was an instrument devised for human torture and death? How can such an ugly symbol ever be regarded as something holy and worthy of reverence? A crucifix symbolizes the worst thing we can possibly do to each other--inflict constant torture until death arrives. (If there is something worse we can do to one another, I'm hard pressed to think of it). The entire concept is revolting and sickens even the less compassionate among us.

As Christians wax eloquently about salvation and eternally rapturous joy, it's easy to forget the actual physical events that supposedly made such rapture possible. The events consisted of a trial without jury, a scourging with a whip, a death by torture, followed by a 3-day stay in a tomb for the deceased, during which time he somehow descended into "Hell," followed by the supposed resurrection of the dead body. There's a lot of terrible stuff going on in this incredible scenario.

(For now, we'll set aside the fact that there were many pre-Christian Mediterranean cultures who had savior-gods who died for the "sins of mankind" and then subsequently "rose" from the dead, rendering the Jesus story nothing more than a copy-cat theology).

However, even if Christians were correct in their assertions that Jesus truly walked this earth as a human being, and then truly died as they say he did, this story demands a close scrutiny of "The Old Rugged Cross."

First, there is the monumental problem of explaining just why the all-merciful God of Creation felt the need to ask for a human sacrifice in the first place. We know from history that the practice of "sacrificing to the gods" is an ancient and primitive one. Early humans sacrificed animals, plants, and each other, in the sensible-to-them attempt to placate some blood-thirsty gods they believed were controlling their lives.

We have the horrific example of the Aztecs who ripped the hearts out of living human victims, as blood spattered everywhere, and deities were presumed to be placated by such carnage (I hope you are not eating lunch while you are reading this). Modern Christians look at such "primitive" sacrifices with condescension and disdain, failing to recognize the darkly humorous irony of their position. At the very heart of their own religion is a bloody death-by-torture. I'm not sure which is worse--having your heart cut out or being nailed to a tree until you die. I'd say it's too close to call.

Christian disdain for the Aztecs is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. Death is death. Torture is torture. Pain is pain. Trying to present such barbaric practices as having some glorious "higher" purpose does not change the original act of human blood-letting. Assigning to God the blame for the barbarism does not help the Christians case here. It simply renders their own God barbaric.

The idea of one god-like human taking the rap, so to speak, for all of humanity's evil-doings, by dying somehow, is not only stupid, but contradicts the Christian concept of "Heaven and Hell. " If mankind's sins were all washed away with Jesus' death, how can Hell await anyone? If Hell awaits, what was the point of Jesus' sacrificial death? And again, it must be explained why a loving God would want anyone to suffer, die or go to Hell. This theological tangle has to be left to molder on its own. Logical minds can never unravel it.

So, getting back to The Cross, please try a mental exercise. Clear your mind of all preconceived images of crosses and crucifixes. Forget the majestic crosses towering over huge cathedrals. Forget the stain glass windows. Forget the 24K-gold necklaces with diamond studded crosses. Forget the beautifully crafted crosses inlaid with ivory and jade. Forget the Vatican's priceless art collection. Wipe it all from your mind and picture, instead, two roughly-hewn, small-to-medium sized tree trunks or branches. Now picture someone nailing these two pieces of wood together to form a crude cross. Assume it's a slave working under the direction of a Roman soldier.

Purportedly the prisoners were forced to carry their own crosses to their own places of death. You can't help but wonder what would have happened if they had simply refused. What sort of threats could conceivably have been used to force those unfortunate individuals to carry their own crosses? Could things possibly have been made worse for them? "You'd better pick up those crosses, you guys, or you're in big trouble." Well, it's just a thought).

Now, imagine someone, slave or soldier, physically nailing someone onto this cross. He would have to drive nails through the hands and feet of the condemned prisoner, causing, one may assume, a great deal of pain accompanied by a great deal of screaming. Blood would either run or spurt, perhaps staining the person doing the nailing (I really hope you're not eating your lunch now). Some sort of ropes or cloths would undoubtedly be used to tie the victim's arms to the cross, since the writhing body might otherwise rip the nails straight through the hands, causing the sufferer to fall off of the cross. And this wouldn't do.

Next, with the help of able-bodied individuals, the cross, with its screaming attachment, will be hoisted into the air, its base firmly planted in the ground, so that cross and condemned can either bake in the sun or be drenched with rain, depending on the weather. Then, the victim can hang, perhaps for days, in anguished torment, until he dies. That's all there is to it. This is your basic crucifixion.

This nauseating scenario is presented, unbelievably, as proof of God's boundless mercy. Murder your own son, gruesomely, winning the adulation of millions in the process, and then inform mortals that now their "sins" have all been washed away with Jesus' copiously-spilled blood; but of course everyone still runs the risk of going to Hell if they cheat on their income taxes. What is wrong with this picture?

I apologize if I've offended or sickened anyone with the above descriptions, but I feel strongly that only by recognizing "The Cross" for what it really was, an obscene instrument of torture and death, can anyone properly evaluate the religion known as Christianity. There is not now, nor was there ever, anything wondrous, rapturous, or beautiful about that horrific instrument of torture known as "The Old Rugged Cross."
"United and organized the White Race is ten times as powerful as the rest of the world combined."

 

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