In this piece on CNN’s religion blog, Carl Medearis says that Jesus would support a Palestinian state. He reaches this conclusion because of the self-evident meaning of the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers [for they shall be called the children of God]” and because of Jesus’s “refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda.” Medearis further says that because “love, compassion, and peace-making” were important to Jesus, he would obviously support a Palestinian state.
What’s curious to me about all of this isn’t so much the underlying political view. That’s just a policy preference stated in blunt terms. I actually am not certain what I think on the merits, but I am reasonably sure that the case for one or another political outcome in this conflict can be and has been made far better than Mr. Medearis makes it.
No, what’s interesting to me is the raw certitude with which Mr. Medearis announces Jesus’s opinions about contemporary geo-political affairs. The WWJD manner of talking has always seemed to me to be a distinctively American cultural tic — a combination of preening presumption, blindingly simplistic argument, and anachronistic superimposition. Europe has its problems, to be sure, but WWJD discourse is not one of them. The WWJD style issues from the vaguely democratic notion that every person is just as able as every other person to know in their hearts what Jesus really meant then and what he would say now on a panoply of subjects ranging from the proper setting of my HVAC system to the economic future of sub-Saharan Africa. Ironically, it also seems to be a mode of argument which trades on the authority of the figure invoked: it isn’t so much the underlying plausibility of the view expressed as the fact that a figure of nearly-universally recognized moral authority is associated with it which marks the style of discourse. And it garners sufficient respect as a style of political engagement to make the e-pages of CNN. — MOD