The seeming disjointedness of Tom McMahon's magic carpet ride last Sunday in his mini-commentary [LINK] suddenly jumping to the site of the Titanic's sinking in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is explained by this commentary that went missing from the previous Wednesday when Tom seemed to go AWOL. He was in fact back in San Jose attending a lecture by a Professor Thomas Sheehan entitled "What Comes After Christianity?". Tom McMahon took some notes during the lectures and shares them with us today. This will give you new perspectives on how Jesus thought of himself.
A PAUSE THAT REFRESHES ... "God is dead"?
While our magic carpet was parked at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport airport we received over our super sensitive satellite transponder a message that read "god is dead". In our Sunday mini-commentaries we have been hedge-hopping the world through ancient times tracking the peoples' ideas of their gods, down around the ancient Nile, Mount Olympus, Delphi, and the Eternal City's Pantheon.
Hearing the dreadful message about god's demise we immediately whisked over to San Jose, California, USA to the First Congregational Church on Hamilton Ave. The brochure handed out at the door announced the lecture/presentation as "WHAT COMES AFTER CHRISTIANITY?" by Stanford University's Professor Thomas Sheehan [Click image at right to enlarge]. Tom had presented a marvellous slide show before at this church on Yeshua, the real name of Jesus. (Sheehan's presentation was the ninth of an annual series of notable authors including Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, Karen Armstrong, John Dominic Crossan, all of which this writer has attended over the years. The combined United Church of Christ and the First Congregational have fine adult education. They have had these open discussions since 1986.) Tom Sheehan has written on Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.
They are about to begin so let's take a seat and I'll take notes. Four members of our monthly book study are in attendance and Larry has copy of Sheehan's THE FIRST COMING. I hope I remain faithful to Tom Sheehan's carefully prepared and well-presented program. I post his official hand out [Click image at left to enlarge] yet will use my personal notes for this commentary. Throughout this highly personalized lecture one could hear a pin drop as the audience of 300 adhered to every word. Professor Sheehan was profound and simple, friendly and courageous, as he presented sound and meaningful education. By the way in early Christianity the teacher was held in high esteem, long before the priest took center stage around 1147 c.e. Forgive me as I refer to the professor as Tom; we went to the same grade school and seminary, Tom a bit younger than this old geezer. I consider Tom Sheehan as a most learned friend; he is the Tom referred to in my following notes. I will use Tom S for brevity.
Tom McMahon's notes:
Tom Sheehan sets the stage.
Immediately we are taken into a comparison of the historical Yeshua and the Christ of Faith. This is vitally important separation and distinction. Yeshua is his name whereas Christ is his title. The risen Yeshua becomes the ambassador or prime minister of God. We shall see an excellent use of Greek words and metaphors in part two, the "Resurrection".
Yeshua is naturally born a Jew who is crucified by the Romans, a punishment for common criminals. Paul writes of Jesus and his WAY of LIFE 20 years after Yeshua's natural death. While just short of the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman legions, Mark's Gospel comes into the early Christian communities 45 years after Calvary, followed within 20 years by Luke and Matthew's account of the good news. Finally John's "theological gospel" is introduced around the year 100 c.e.. Tom S sees a progression of added concepts about Yeshua – a subject developed in books around the theme "FROM JESUS TO THE CHRIST". Tom S sees no mention in the gospels of the divinity of Yeshua. He is "the Son of God" just like every human being is – a creation of the all powerful Creator.
TMcM: This distinction between Yeshua and the Christ is key to understanding the role God has assigned Jesus. 35 years have gone by since I decided in faith that Jesus was a human being just like myself, born of a natural birth. Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea from which we derive the Nicean Creed and the doctrine of the Trinity. In seminary the nickname for the Trinitarian doctrine was the chocolate stone, sweet to eat and indigestible. It is not TMc's place to herein digress into Trinity.
I offer a snippet from the Eastern Church as to how the doctrine was dealt with over 1400 years ago, the Creed is mandatory to be recited at modern day Sunday Mass. It is most absurd and improper to depict in icons the Lord Sabaoth (that is to say, God the Father) with a grey beard and the Only-Begotten Son in His bosom with a Dove between them, because no-one has seen the Father according to His Divinity, and the Father has no flesh, nor was the Son born in the flesh from the Father before the ages. And though David the prophet says, "From the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee". TMcM: all these words make no sense to me. Look up the wordy theology under "JESUS IS GOD" in Wikipedia's TRINITY.
Tom S continued: What was Yeshua's message? 1) the time is now! 2) the kingdom of God is at hand 3) repent (not guilt but "go another way") 4) Believe in the good news (gospel). The power of God is available. The Creator (Genesis) empowers a new creation on this earth. Decision time is now. Turn to/cast your lot to justice and mercy. Bet your life on it. (Note Greek words under "THE RESPONSE" on Tom S's print out [LINK]. Our speaker was masterful in his use of Greek which have been badly translated into English. Jesus speaks not a negative word. [TMcM: So too Vatican Two documents offer not a negative word.]
Tom Sheehan: THE RESURRECTION...
Paul in the 50's... God awakens Yeshua from the sleep of death into new life. Yeshua is put back on his feet (the Greek for awakening from the dead). God stands Yeshua up again, as after a fall. Jesus has new life in his followers [cf. Emmaus Story Luke 24].
In contrast the Gospels, written and passed around early Christian communities around the years 70 to 100 speak of an empty tomb, angels, women, appearances of eating with Yeshua and eventual the Ascension into heaven. [TMcM: The people have remade the Jew Jesus into the Christ of their imagination, decorating Yeshua with titles, honors, and power that the human Jesus never claimed or thought of.]
Tom S brings us to NIETZSCHE, 1844-1900...
Nietzsche's parable of the madman  who proclaims 'God is Dead and WE have killed him'. Nietzsche has the man with the lantern probing the darkness only to find the decomposed body of God. GOD IS DEAD and we have killed him over the centuries by killing life as in World War 1 and 2. Yet 13.75 billion years have passed with 99% of that time there is no knowledge of the gods.
TMcM: There is more. I shall attempt to incorporate Tom Sheehan's idea of evolution and the afterlife in the Sunday mini-commntaries as we fly the universe on our magic carpet. Our magic carpet is a Sunday red-eye and we will examine Nietzsche more closely.
Professor Thomas Sheehan you were brilliant! My mind races with ideas of you on tour in Australia sharing your wisdom. I hope to talk to you later about such possibilities. Brian, listen up.
Tom McMahon, a grateful student who was so
What are your thoughts on this commentary?