Tonight, a group of friends – thinkers – creative types are going to gather with me at the pub to process my thoughts, and the introductory chapters in Burning Religion. That’s right, I am putting my book writing up to critique. My friends are not “Yes Men” either. In fact, I think the women intellectually out-muscle us guys.
Below is one of my primary sources of inspiration for Burning Religion. Makhail Bakhtin was a literary critic, philosopher, social commentator who lived (almost didn’t survive) the Stalin years in the Soviet Union, and this book was almost his undoing. In it Bakhtin presents his concept of carnival as revolution, which he suggests was the brilliance of François Rabelais’ post medieval/early modern writings in Garagantua and Pantagruel. Rabelais should have died for being as demeaning to authority as he was, but other than having to leave France for a short time, he seemed to skate through life making fun of Kings and Popes, when others (including at least one close friend) were loosing their heads, or being flame broiled on the barbecue spit of heresy. Jesus was far less condescending (and way less crude) than Rabelais, and He ended up crucified.
My contention is that the Gospel, as found in the person of Jesus, is far more radical, and subversive than the carnival of Rabelais, but I think that the basic idea of carnival as revolution is one of the powers of Christianity. That is one of my basic premises in the book. Bakhtin referred to this carnival revolution as “world upside down.” What do you think? Did Jesus turn the world upside down while presenting a carnivalesque motif in doing so? and if He did, how complete was His revolution? Is He perhaps still using the power of “world upside down” to change our world for the better?