Accounts of the trial, torture and execution of a man called Jesus over two thousand years ago form part of one of the most powerful and enduring stories ever told. For Christians of course, these chronicles have a particular historical and spiritual significance. The events tell of a necessary and divinely-ordained path to resurrection, which Christians celebrate at Easter, the most important day in the holy calendar.
People of other faiths and none are sometimes wary of dwelling too long on this part of Jesus' story. This is hardly surprising in the light of the way it has sometimes been used and abused to promote anti-Semitism; a somewhat ironic outcome given the repeated message of the central character.
It would also be foolish to try to appropriate the story for broader social or political objectives, however well-meaning. All the same, this story is so pervasive, so embedded in our wider culture, that it's difficult not to respond to it on a practical human level.
As a human rights advocate in 2007, I find many contemporary resonances in the passion story. We can choose whether or not to believe that Jesus was the Son of God - but he was definitely the son of a woman and the vulnerability of the individual human being in the face of oppression, is essential to his story.
In a time of genuine fear of crime and terrorism, societies and governments are faced with all sorts of dilemmas and obvious temptations to sidestep the most basic notions of justice in defence of stability and the greater good. More...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Radio 4 has been broadcasting the Lent Talks every Wednesday, and yesterday was the turn of human rights campaigner, Shami Chakrabati. She delivers a very compelling argument comparing the trial of Jesus Christ to the treatment of terrorists suspects in today's world. Other speakers include Cherie Booth on restorative justice and Zaccheus, Chas Bayfield on money changers in the temple. Shami Chakrabati's talk must be listened to/read: