To continue with my series of gods, here's Baby Battle Jesus: ready for anything.

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@me I don't want to spoil your party, but that is not how Jesus works.

@mike You'll be telling me Mary isn't accurate next!

@mike Actually, on reflection I think I should give you a more serious answer.

This painting is saying precisely that! I'm always confused by the close juxtaposition of being a warmonger AND a pious Christian in medieval (and later) culture. If Jesus was so keen on war, wouldn't he look more like this?

@me @mike A modern example would be the stained glass windows of the Strategic Air Command Memorial Chapel at Offut airbase (a USA airbase), detailed in this thread by an anthropologist who studies nuclear weapons culture:

Whether it's from Constantine or SAC, it's primarily about the military advantages of combining religion and war.

@me @mike
arrg. I meant to introduce my comment by saying that while directly putting Jesus warlike dress is rare (but definitely occurs in evangelical and LDS art), there is plenty of war imagery in Christian art in general.

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@mike Oops. My apologies. I guess if you follow NuclearAnthro on twitter you'll be able to see them.

@mike The thread is about stained glass windows in a chapel on a USA military base, which uses official imagery of units responsible for use of nuclear weapons in the event of nuclear war - nuclear-armed bombers, missles, etc.

Although it doesn't directly feature Jesus, it is otherwise a real-life example of an artistic mix of war imagery and christian religion, which differs from John's art in that it is serious *advocacy*, whereas John's is meant as criticism.

@me Oh, we're going to have a serious conversation about this? Excellent!

So your point is a completely legitimate one. If you read the gospels, you can't avoid finding a Jesus who would today be classified as a pacifist — e.g.

"Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."
— Matthew 26:52.


@me So how did we land up in this position where Medieval Christians launched crusades (and we now have Trump-supporting Christians who are in favour of separating children from their parents in illegal-immigrant concentration camps)?

@me I think the answer is that actual Christianity is always in real danger when a cultural phenomenon of the same name becomes prevalent — and this goes all the way back to Constantine, the Roman emperor who "converted" to Christianity.

@me In other words, as soon as Christianity becomes dominant in a culture, it stops being the Christianity that the New Testament describes and that Jesus is at the centre of. In its worst manifestation (e.g. the current version of the Republican party in the US), it really is just a Christianity-themed power club.

@me The question for Christians such as myself is how to get out from under the disgraceful thing that bears the name "Christianity" in many places, especially the USA. Sometimes I think we might need to abandon the term "Christian" completely, and invent a new name for what we are.

I have much much more to say about this, but will stop now rather than trying your patience.

Thanks for listening!

@mike I agree with everything you’ve said. As you know, I’m not a Christian, but like a lot of people, I think that Jesus presents a powerful and coherent moral message. It is so crystal clear that I find the decoherence between that and self-styled “Christians” of the power-club sort is fertile ground for contradictory art, such as Battle Jesus.

@me @mike Battle Jesus does go back all the way to Constantine and the battle Milvian Bridge in 312, where Constantine adopts the cross as the symbol for his army.

@me @mike Odo, the original D&D cleric, squared this circle by not shedding blood himself... he was merely leading the people doing the actual bloodshedding

@me @mike (he probably didn't actually hit people over the head with a club, like an RPG cleric)

@me @mike her might have, as a treat.
But his club was probably more like a baton, an indication of status and leadership. And possibly used to convey simple commands.

@hypnotosov @me @mike presumably the art depicts one of the people he paid to hit people with a club (rather than the people he paid to roll his d20s)

@hypnotosov @me Well, except that in D&D (at least the classic rules that I played in the 1980s!) the cleric was absolutely free to crush people's skulls with a giant hammer, just not to use sharp-edged weapons!

@mike @me that's the rules I know as well, the logic being that you don't "shed blood" if you're using a blunt weapon... breaking bones, caving in skulls is apparently just fine :-D

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