Notes Book

Revenge of the Pharisees

Jesus Christ was an enemy of the Jewish Priesthood. Some of them were called the Pharisees, and, over time, they have become symbolic of the self-righteous hypocrisy that Jesus hated.

Here are a couple of criticisms from George Bush's favorite philosopher.:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

And of course, there is the famous "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Jesus opposed the Jewish priests because of their murderous hypocrisy, and they showed the truth of his accusations by murdering him.

Jesus was an enemy of doublethink. He believed that it was wrong to apply one standard to the rulers and another to the rest of the people. He even thought it was wrong to apply one standard to your own tribe and another to the rest of the world.

The Pharisees made their living in large part by assessing burdens on their flocks, but refused to accept those burdens themselves. They put a lot of effort into looking holy, but not a lot into being holy. They had a lot in common with Jim Baker, and other popular media evangelists.

Do Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell remind us more of Jesus or the Pharisees? Should we respect the moral values of people who think it's OK to kill a hundred thousand Iraqi's who never did anything to them? Jesus is George W's favorite philosopher, but is George W the Savior's favorite president? Will any politician qualify to pass through the Pearly Gates?

Perhaps the modern day Pharisees won the recent election, but it may be that the victory is short lived.

There will likely be four more years of hard times for poor folks. The rich hate it when the hired help get uppity, so they like to keep unemployment high. At the end of the four years there will be a lot more poor folks to vote democratic in the next election. Not that the dems are much less hypocritical than the repugs, but if those in power keep changing, then they have less time to be corrupted by power.

Jesus framed his objections to hypocrisy in religious terms. In fact there was a tradition in the Jewish culture against hypocrisy as illustrated by this quotation from the book of Job:

Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.

Upright men shall be astonished at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.
The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

Analysis of hypocrisy from a linguistic, information theory, or cybernetic point of view shows us that it may not require the intervention of a deity to bring the hypocrites down.

Politics is a team sport and a team of hypocrites has a great deal more trouble communicating and cooperating than a team of honest people. The basis of hypocrisy is lying, and lies form a heavy burden on the information processing capacity of the liar, and especially on a group trying to tell a consistent set of lies.

A person who tells the truth just has one universe to keep track of. But one lie creates two universes, and the liar must remember which universe he is talking about at all times to avoid being caught out in his lie. Tell two lies;s create four universes. Tell three lies, create at least 8 versions of reality to remember. No wonder politicians often seem to be confused.

Conspiracies to get or maintain political power try to ameliorate this problem by making an agreement among them selves that they will lie to the outside world, but will tell the truth among members of the inner circle. That just adds another dimension of complexity to the calculations they must make in their communications. Membership in the inner circle tends to be short-lived, even if official positions do not change.

An honest group only has to deal with one reality. That is a tremendous advantage in effective teamwork.

The Republicans already have a great deal of difficulty playing well with others. It may be that they will soon experience similar difficulty playing with their own selves.