Christmas In the Big House

   Politicians make deals. Even monarchs are politicians.

   Herod was an autocratic, raging maniac of a murderer. He would face charges of Crimes against Humanity in our day, so maybe we are making some progress.

   Herod ordered the murders of hundreds of people. He killed discriminately, with one purpose in mind. Herod killed to keep his place.

   Maybe I should not call Herod a monarch. Perhaps he was just an autocrat but he established a sort of a family dynasty and he was certainly not elected by a popular vote. He was not a representative leader.

   Herod did enough religion to keep the religious people off his back. He spent money to rebuild the Temple. He cut some of the ruling religious elite in on the contracts for temple work, for animal sales and in other ways. One hand washed the other but nobody got clean.

   This Herod is remembered as "The Great." He ruled longer and with more ruthlessness than other Herods. He was a convert to Judaism. Unlike many who convert to something or someone, Herod the Great practiced Judaism apart from its mystical roots and ethical mores. Back in the day, we would say Herod got inoculated so he would not catch the disease of true religion.

   Herod did what he had to do to hold his spot. He performed well as a vassal of Rome, held an important part of the Roman Empire in peace and fought well when it was time to fight. Herod would run a Fortune 500 Company today, take it public and loot the retirement funds on his way out the door.

   Herod made a deal with some guests he met. They would find a starry child for him. He would worship the child, when the wandering Persian (Iranian) astronomers told him where to find the baby. He would, quite literally, worship the Baby to death.

   Today, in American culture, Left-leaning folk believe social justice is the glue that holds together the American community. Right-leaning folk insist maximum liberties for individuals cements the republic as one. Both appeal to patriotism, both recommend the American spirit and both make deals through their leadership to compromise, one side with another, the left aiming for the maximum amount of social justice, the right appealing for absolute individual liberties, their compromise checking one anothe somewhere near the middle.

   Herod, a deal maker, cut a deal.

   He just did not know he was in the middle of a greater legislature. He could not know, because he was only playing at religion, God was coming. God would not cut a deal with Herod. Herod, accustomed to dealing with Emperors and High Priests, was finally out of his league in politics and religion.

   He never got to see the Baby.

"God, today I have no deal with You.

I don’t know what I would offer You.

Everything I know about You

is just what You’ve told me

and I am not sure I got all that right.

I just want to see the Baby."

5 thoughts on “Christmas In the Big House”

  1. A few have done a good job of writing psychohistory, but not often. It is a field fraught with challenges.
    When we read Josephus, Herod was, without question, a textbook case of paranoia. But bipolar?
    If his problem was bipolar disorder, what are we to think of those we know who suffer from this manic-depressive condition, a condition caused, almost certainly, by a chemical imbalance in the brain, an imbalance they do not bring on themselves? Are we to believe they all are potential Herods?
    Statistically, One in five of us is suffering from some sort of mental illness. I assume that includes one in five of those who read these blogs.
    If what Herod did can be explained by a bipolar disorder, we have reason to feel sorry for him, even as we condemn what he did. I am not ready to let him off that easy.

  2. We can choose to feel sorry for any broken person living in this broken world. Does understanding the nature of their fallenness, or attributing a part of it to a supposed pyschological disorder make them any less culpable. Perhaps. I’ve been told by psychologists and social workers that pedophiles have a chemical problem in their brain. This is what makes it impossible for them to be rehabilitated. That is why we have laws disbarring them from working with children for all of their lives. That is at least one case where the nature of the brokenness doesn’t take away the responsibility of the person or the culture.
    At least, that is my 2 cents worth.
    Be Well,

  3. Tim,
    ā€¢ I repeat, it is rather presumptuous to make a psychological diagnosis from this distance, even if we were professionals.
    ā€¢ There is a wide range of mental, as well as physical illnesses/diseases/ dis-eases. They vary considerably in their effects.
    ā€¢ When I was your age, indeed as a young HPU professor, I had the same kind of mindset you have expressed. However, I have continued (and continue) to study and learn in a diversity of fields. For a nonprofessional, I have gained a good understanding of mental illnesses. Your response is simplistic. I hope you will do further research.
    ā€¢ You would be surprised at how many of your friends have bipolar disorder, and are good people, good parents, good ministers. With the appropriate medicine, they live quite normal lives. Diabetics with insulin can live quite normal lives.
    ā€¢ I am not trying to vindicate Herod. I just do not want our friends to feel they are being seen as potential murders (at least no more potential than any of the rest of us).
    ā€¢ I suspect it would be interesting if all of us bloggers had a complete mental health checkup like some of us do have complete physicals.
    ā€¢ Herod was the same type of person as Saddam Hussein, Sammy bin Laden, Joseph Stalin, and all their ilk throughout history.

  4. As I reread theis post, it seems that the bipolar reference has been edited out. If so, these comments, although valid, are irrelevant.

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