“YOU CAN FIGHT CITY HALL”
Pamela Jaye Smith
DATELINE: JUDEA, 32 A.D.
If you happen to be Celtic, Catholic, a Mason, or a Protestant you might have celebrated June 21st, the Summer Solstice, the Feast of St. John the Baptist. The Summer and Winter Solstices are the Feasts of the two Saints John: Summer = Saint John the Baptist; Winter = Saint John the Divine [Jesus’ most beloved disciple].
Coincidentally, these are also the dates when in the old Goddess days her Consort-King was sacrificed for the good of the realm to ensure safety and fertility. It used to be every six months — off with his head, or burned at the stake, or rip out his heart. Then every seven years. Then the guys convinced the women who ran things that it’d be a whole lot better to just offer up an animal instead of a human and supposedly we’ve come a long way since then.
Anyway, John the Baptist was an Israelite who spent a good bit of time wandering about the wilderness dressed in animal skin and nibbling on locusts and honey, which seems to have been a requisite for spiritual enlightenment in the olden days. The New Testament in Matthew 3:3 gives the famous line describing John the Baptist as, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness…”
As he baptized people in the River Jordan, John was rather insistent that folk straighten up and repent of their sins. He also suggested that heritage and tradition were not enough, that you had to produce good results to be acceptable to God.
This stirred up the establishment no end, since for the most part they counted on heritage, belonging to the correct tribe/club, knowing or being the right Romans, etc….
Add to that the fact that John proclaimed the somewhat rebellious upstart Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah who’d lead the Israelites out of oppression. The Roman oppressors were not amused. Add to that the fact that he pointed out with rather astute whistle-blowing clarity that Herod Antipas, governor of Judea, was a bit off-bounds in obviously desiring Salome, the salacious young daughter of Herodias, his brother’s wife, whom he was also “enjoying”. Royal incest may be common, but it’s seldom condoned.
Well, wild-haired sun-burned John just kept talking, and the dual establishment of the Romans and the Jews kept taking offense. He was just too much against their too much. So he was locked up and urged to recant his statements. But John, being a man of rather high integrity, refused. If anything, he simply ranted a bit louder and more vociferously, which stirred up the local gossip as the jailers carried his tales of corruption, sin, and salvation all about the city.
At a state dinner, Herod persuaded the lovely young Salome to dance the Dance of Seven Veils for him, for any price she asked. At the urging of her mother, who was rather piqued at John’s libelous accusations about her relationship with her husband’s brother, the precocious child asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had been smearing her family name across the tabloids of the day. Governor Herod hemmed and hawed and then realized this was a perfect way to get rid of a pesky whistle-blowing VOICE without being quite exactly personally guilty.
Salome danced. The veils fell. John died. The Voice was silenced.
But not totally. Historians and story-tellers have kept the tale alive and the head-of-the-prophet-on-a-platter became part of many mythologies and rituals. It is one of the five relics of the Holy Grail tradition.
There are a couple of movies about the Salome event, but the very best most bizarre and uncomfortable one is Ken Russell’s “SALOME’S LAST DANCE” which includes Oscar Wilde in the audience and as inspiration. See it and shudder.
DATELINE: HERE & NOW
In the runup to the Millennium lots of people prophesy a second coming, alien visitations, angel interventions, space brother fly-bys, ends-of-eras, and goodness knows what else.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the formal end of the Cold War, secrecy is an antique commodity. Exposes and accusations run rampant through public and private lives.
The instant interconnectivity of the internet and the all-seeing eye of CNN have made transparency a fact of politics. That plus the long lens of the tabloid paparazzi. Everyone can know everything about anyone in the blink of an eye.
Various modern versions of John the Baptist as prophet are futurists Alvin & Heidi Toffler, Faith Popcorn, and some of the progressive think-tanks. Off-kilter versions promoting messianic movements include Charles Manson, David Koresh of Waco fame, the Hale-Bopp leaders, and our favourite mother-of-all-self-promoters Saddam Hussein.
St. John as anti-establishment moralist can be seen in a positive sense in the expose of sexual harassment and prejudices leading to increased civil liberties and legal rights. Perversions are evident in anonymous sexual witch-hunts in the American military, recovered-memory child-abuse scandals, and tabloid insistence on converting any supposed indiscretion into a national issue — for at least fifteen minutes.
So if you intend to spend some time alone in the wilderness getting in touch with your mission, that’s great. Just keep in mind that promoting someone else puts you in an oblique spotlight. Remember “guilt by association”? People associated with people who shake up systems often get caught up in the shaking.
People who point out powerful people’s major foibles run the risk of paying for it with their lives. Sometimes in the big picture of “The Greater Good for the Greater Number,” it’s well worth it. In John’s case his actions eventually helped bring down a corrupt system. Also recall Deep Throat of Watergate, Daniel Elsberg of the Pentagon Papers, and General Oleg Kalugin, Former Chief of KGB Counter-Intelligence, the activists and Attorneys General who’ve pursued the tobacco problem… all people who’ve shed light in dark corners.
The upside of the whole deal is that if you choose to go up against a corrupt System you might eventually find yourself sainted and honoured. Regardless, you’ll have the knowledge that you’ve done the right thing. And in the long run that counts for a lot.
VOICE TO REMEMBER:
“The rage for normalcy silences the individual forever.” Mike Long, Austin Texas 1974