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New Page – 21 April 2004

There is something enormously appealing to many people about sacrificing themselves for the benefit of others, of giving up their lives, health or wealth in order to save their fellow man (or woman), and making the “supreme sacrifice” for others.

This ultimate act is particularly attractive when the willing sacrifice is accompanied with a feeling of one meeting their manifest destiny. It makes the event all the more glorious if one is fully in accord with their perceived notion of divine will, and can therefore enjoy the immense pleasure of knowing just how important one is in the greater scheme of things. One may be only a cog in the machine, but if one is an absolutely critical cog…

The universal need for sentient beings to feel significant is seldom more adequately addressed than in making a destiny-fulfilling sacrifice.

Assume, for example, that you are destined to do some great deed, to participate in some great cause -- one in which you may very likely die. Somehow, the threat of dying does not dissuade as many as one might think. There is, of course, the promise of reward: eternal salvation, a hundred virgins at your disposal, a place on the right hand side of the supreme emperor, and so forth and so on. But there is also the sheer glory of fulfilling a destiny in some great cause to right the world, the universe, or the local animal shelter.

Before you volunteer and rush in where angels and used car salesmen fear to tread, consider a bit of the dialogue from Michael Straczynski's thought provoking episode of the television series of some years past, Babylon 5 . The episode was entitled “Comes the Inquisitor” and first aired on October 25, 1995 . Some of the meat of the matter includes:

Question: “How far are you prepared to go? How much are you prepared to risk? How many people are you prepared to sacrifice? Are you willing to die friendless, alone, deserted by everyone? Because that is what may be required of you. What about your friends? Are you willing to sacrifice them? Would you trade your life for [their's]?”

Answer: “If I fall, another will take my place, and another, and another. This is my cause: life ! One life, or a billion; it's all the same.”

Question: “Then you make the sacrifice willingly? No fame, no armies, no banners, no cities to celebrate your name. You will die alone, unremarked, and forgotten.”

Answer: Yes.

Question: “You pass the test. No greater love hath a man than he lay down his life for his brother. Not for millions, not for glory, not for fame. For one person. In the dark, where no one will ever know or see.”

Much ado is made about The Passion , the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Would it have been the same sacrifice if He had died just as brutally in a dungeon cell where there was no one to observe or remark upon it? If He had been truly alone, in the dark, where no one would ever know or see, would it have meant the same?

If a soldier dies for one of his comrades, but no one observes the event – not even the man or woman he saved – would there be any honors on his behalf? Probably yes. But it would be the same old honors according any fallen solider. But what about someone who tries to save another and both are lost? And no one knows what happened?

If a martyr is fulfilling their version of a manifest destiny – and the act is being recorded for posterity in thousands of renditions, legends, and traditions – there seems to be ample motivation to make the sacrifice. Even the pain, agony, and staggering through what amounts to a “12-step” program would not dissuade the person who saw themselves as an instrument of divinity. It is the penultimate example of feeling significant.

The problem is that from a more universal perspective or the vantage point of seeing the purpose of life as being to gather material for a stand up comic routine later on – the so-called sacrifice tends to lose a lot in translation. Do you imagine there will truly be seventy or so virgins to wait on your every need once you've done the martyrdom route? Would you prefer some to be just a bit more experienced in pleasuring others?

The true Gospel of someone the likes of Jesus Christ is what he taught – as in the Gospel of Saint Thomas – and the lessons of his life. As recounted in The Fifth Gospel , one of the lessons was that you never knew with whom you might be dealing, such that it was wise to treat everyone as if they might suddenly be adopted by God. Another bit of food for thought is that when one sacrifices themselves in a dramatic, even spectacular fashion there is the distinct possibility that others will use your example to commit all manner of atrocity – from inquisitions to the total devastation of the historical truths to movies which develop what can only be described as a Passion for Profits [1].

Others might also mention Atonement – but that's another story… or webpage.



[1] “A Passion for Profits”, Time Magazine , March 22, 2004 .



Pagan Easter

Universal Perspectives

The Passion

The Gospel of Peter

The Lost Gospels

The Gospel of Mary Magdalen

The Gospel of Saint Thomas

The Fifth Gospel

The Gospel According to Daniel



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