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Two versions of Jesus

On the subject of Jesus, there are two contradictory ways that people on the Left have looked at him.

One, expressed by the British singer-songwriter Leon Rosselson in “Stand up for Judas,” portrays Jesus as a sell-out to the Romans, dividing the poor into believers and non-believers and preaching quiescence in the face of suffering and hunger. For mysterious reasons, the song turns Judas into the true hero.

Another– the one I like– portrays Jesus as a friend of the poor who stood up to the rich and powerful and paid with his life. The lyrics to this song were written by Woody Gurthrie, with a melody borrowed from the ballad “Jesse James.” Woody’s version calls Judas a “dirty coward.” But I just discovered a wonderful rendition by the great Merle Haggard. That’s right– Merle “Okie from Muskogee” Haggard.

I’ll simply note that if 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and other Republicans thought President Obama was engaging in “class warfare” when he proposed people earning more than $1 million a year should pay at least the same tax rate as middle-income taxpayers, I wonder what they would think of the verse beginning at 1:10.