The variorum lyrics to Leonard Cohen's song "Everybody Knows" raise an interesting point:
Everybody knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem without a single dimeAnd here's Cohen on Jesus:
Everybody knows the homeless people could be himself some other time
Everybody knows the deal is rotten:
Old Black Joe's still picking cotton
For your ribbons and bows.
"I always liked the founder of Christianity. You know, it took a lot of church councils to decide whether he was divine or not divine, but to me that is not the question for us. The thing is that his moral stance is unequalled -- he's the only guy who's put himself squarely with the outcast, with the leper, with the sinner, with the prostitute, with the criminal. Nobody is excluded from his embrace.It reminds me of what Shaw wrote:
"There have been some startling religious figures, but I don't think there's anybody who said so specifically that nobody is beyond this embrace. It's so subversive and so revolutionary that we haven't even begun to deal with it. It's a miracle those ideas have lasted in the world, because there's no evidence that the meek shall inherit the earth."
The question seems a hopeless one after 2000 years of resolute adherence to the old cry of "Not this man, but Barabbas." Yet it is beginning to look as if Barabbas was a failure, in spite of his strong right hand, his victories, his empires, his millions of money, and his moralities and churches and political constitutions. "This man" has not been a failure yet; for nobody has ever been sane enough to try his way. But he has had one quaint triumph. Barabbas has stolen his name and taken his cross as a standard. There is a sort of compliment in that. There is even a sort of loyalty in it, like that of the brigand who breaks every law and yet claims to be a patriotic subject of the king who makes them. We have always had a curious feeling that though we crucified Christ on a stick, he somehow managed to get hold of the right end of it, and that if we were better men we might try his plan. There have been one or two grotesque attempts at it by inadequate people, such as the Kingdom of God in Munster, which was ended by crucifixion so much more atrocious than the one on Calvary that the bishop who took the part of Annas went home and died of horror. But responsible people have never made such attempts. The moneyed, respectable, capable world has been steadily anti-Christian and Barabbasque since the crucifixion; and the specific doctrine of Jesus has not in all that time been put into political or general social practice. I am no more a Christian than Pilate was, or you, gentle reader; and yet, like Pilate, I greatly prefer Jesus to Annas and Caiaphas; and I am ready to admit that after contemplating the world and human nature for nearly sixty years, I see no way out of the world's misery but the way which would have been found by Christ's will if he had undertaken the work of a modern practical statesmanOr, as Nietzsche phrased it, "In truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross."
Two thousand years, and we're still playing catch-up ball.