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Opinion

Opinion: In the alt-right universe, Jesus the carpenter would have been branded a loser

Christian actors portray Joseph and Mary during a re-enactment of a Nativity scene of the birth of J
Christian actors portray Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus during a reenactment of the Nativity at an outdoor museum in Nazareth, Israel.
(Ariel Schalit / AP)

To the editor: Although Jesuit priest James Martin and I do not share the same faith, we apparently share the same respect for historical research. It’s refreshing to read an un-sanitized version of Jesus’ birth and early life, and it’s especially intriguing to learn about the origins of the word “tekton,” normally translated as carpenter but in reality more closely akin to day laborer. (“How can you be Christian without caring for the poor?” Opinion, Dec. 21.)

Martin apparently shares my passion for social justice, a word strangely tarnished by the alt-right.

When I was 9, I was expected to donate money for charity every time I went to Hebrew school. I was told that everyone, no matter what, could do something to help others. My research into comparative religion teaches me that this precept is shared by all men and women of good will, no matter their faith.

Is it possible for all of us to look at immigrants — or, more locally, the day laborers we see on the streetcorners of our city — and notice a divine spark in each individual? The God I believe in loves everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or geography. Who are we to do any less? And how can people who profess to follow a “Jewish carpenter” look down on anyone else?

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Martin’s piece reinforces my belief that the alt-right is at permanent odds with true Christianity, and indeed with all people of deep spiritual belief. I commend him for such a fine article.

Korie Beth Brown, Sierra Madre

..

To the editor: It is commendable for Martin to have written an anthropological-historical view of the life of Jesus. As he mentioned, many of the stories of the early life of Jesus and the village of Nazareth are sanitized by Hollywood or some artist’s rendering of the Christian savior.

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However, in my opinion, by labeling Jesus the “tekton” as a divine avatar, Martin departed from his anthropological narrative, which for many of us nonreligious readers made the narrative less credible.

The story that best serves humanity is one of Jesus as a historical human being motived solely by a desire to help the poor, much like students in the 1960s who accepted the calling of President Kennedy to serve in the Peace Corps. Such a believable depiction shows the human spirit’s capacity for doing the right thing.

Larry Naritomi, Monterey Park

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