Charlie's Blog: John the Baptist Syndrome


John the Baptist Syndrome

 For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly.

John the Baptist was an uncompromising man. He fearlessly spoke the truth. In the case of Herod, the truth was that Herod was in a sham marriage to Herodias. John had called out the man, and Herod could not tolerate this truth. So, Herod tossed John the Baptist into his jail if for no other reason than to silence him. Yet, Herod did not have the will to finish the persecution of John the Baptist with execution. Instead, he kept John around and liked to listen to the guy talk. That is very peculiar stuff, and it is a condition I can only call "John the Baptist Syndrome."

John the Baptist Syndrome or JBS is where you have a person or persons who have a real antipathy for truth tellers mixed with a strange attraction. You can tell that Pilate had a similar reaction to Jesus. Pilate was not a good guy, yet he desperately did not want to kill this man. But he did anyway.

It is the fate of all prophets to die as martyrs and then to be venerated after their deaths and have their words preserved often by the very people that killed them. This weirdness comes from the nature of truth itself. Truth has the odd quality of being both upsetting and comforting at the same time.

Comedians know about this odd nature of the truth. The best comics confront and upset us with the truth about ourselves, others, and society. This is a tradition that hearkens back to the court jesters of old who had the unique privilege of saying exactly what they thought to the king. This amounted to dancing over the opening to an adder's lair, but they did it then and continue to do it today. But we live in a mirthless age where political correctness threatens comedy. Every comedian is one joke away from career ruin.

I doubt John the Baptist made Herod laugh. But John certainly made Herod hear the truth which is always a consolation even when it is bitter. This brings us to our next truth teller--the pundit. The pundit is usually a person who comments on politics and presents a worldview and a perspective on the day's events. Pundits are usually not funny though some are given to mirth like P.J. O'Rouke. Pundits give unpopular opinions and develop a thick skin on things. Their ruination comes when they fail to speak the truth or speak falsely. This happens as time elapses, and the pundit's words begin to ring hollow. This is why left wing pundits do not have long careers while right wing pundits persist for decades.

The final truth tellers are saints. These holy men and women are the most upsetting to us. They point out our sins, but they also point to the remedy found in Christ. They speak with the same authority as those Old Testament prophets. They ring the bell and sound the alarm. They are not always heeded, but they do gain a following and vindication. Saints shake up a world that needs shaking up.

To tell the truth, you have to be resigned to people not liking you. It's not an easy job being a prophet. It comes at the heavy cost of hatred, persecution, and martyrdom. And that is the weirdest part of the deal. The world professes hatred for liars but worships and adores them. It professes love for the truth tellers but treats them very shabbily. In the end, there is regret for having persecuted the truth and believed the lies.

We all must face the truth and make a choice about what we will do with that truth. With Herod, his choice came when he made a rash vow to that harlot Salome. Under the direction of Herodias, Salome demanded the Baptist's head on a platter making John the first martyr for marriage. You would see this same thing play out again with Saint Thomas More who was knighted and is venerated today by the very Protestant country that murdered him. It is such a recurring thing as to be tragic. But sometimes, the truth is received. This would be Nathan calling out King David for his adultery and murder. David listened and became repentant. Likewise, the people of Nineveh listened to Jonah.

JBS is when people can't make up their minds. They want the truth, but they do not want to be obedient to the truth. They love to listen to truth, but they never go beyond just listening. They can't make a choice about that truth until that choice is made for them as it was for both Herod and Pilate. People with JBS choose the wrong path inevitably. They will tease you with the possibility of a change of heart and mind, but their hesitation on these matters shows their lack of sincerity. John the Baptist was just entertainment for Herod.

If a person hears the truth and does not move immediately towards that truth, they are lost. Unlike the one who rejects the truth immediately, the person with JBS just drags it out for as long as they can. They are damned. You know it, and I know it. The person with JBS knows it, too. The truth is just a pleasant way to waste the time before eternal damnation.

If you suffer from JBS, you need to make up your mind and stop wasting time. Quit being half ass. I respect the robust and unapologetic sinner because they at least respect my time enough to not waste it. But the JBS sufferer is a doubleminded person incapable of doing what they know needs to be done. This is pathetic. And that is the one kind thing I will say about Herodias. She wasn't doubleminded. She wanted the Baptist's head on that platter. There was no beating around the bush for her. She seized her opportunity for evil. It is unfortunate that so many people cannot seize the same opportunity for good with the same zeal.