Holy Cranks: John the Baptist

John T. Baptist strikes a classic pose on an Italian holy card. (But what's with the snake on the pole! Yoikes!)

David Morris (www.historycomesalive.ca) gives us a more historically accurate depiction, but I want a brave man, not a cave man!!

“J the B”; John the Baptist. John the Baptizer.

One of the most terrifying voices of the New Testament, a wild man straight out of Central Casting – or the loony bin.

John the Baptist came to kick butt and take names. The scene by the Jordan is usually rendered in slow motion, with sad, sinful people lining the banks and John gently dipping folks in the river. But John was a whirlwind of a man, blowing in on a desert wind and scouring the hearts of all who heard.

And that makes the forerunner of the Messiah a gangly weirdo; a raving psych case; a drooling, snarling, spitting crank blazing a path for the chosen one of God.

Don’t believe me? Some quotes:

MATTHEW 7-11, 13):

When [John] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Pardon me as I wipe the spittle from my sweater!

Let’s summarize:
• Leaders are a brood of vipers!
• Don’t count on your religious affiliation to save you!
• God’s a-fixin' to start chopping!
• God’s gonna clear out what is useless and burn it with fire!

All three synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) relate the story of John getting in Herod’s grill about the tetrarch’s unlawful marriage to his brother’s wife, not to mention all the other unnamed evil things Herod had done.

LUKE lays out the basic story…
Now Herod the tetrarch, who had been censured by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the evil deeds Herod had committed, added still another to these by (also) putting John in prison.

…which tones down Mark’s “up close and personal” presentation:
John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Mark 6 (17-19)

Herod, that’s putting it in your face !!

So I add Baptizing John as one of our greatest Holy Cranks. He did not shy away from taking on The Man and speaking truth to power, come what may.

His feast is June 24, and aside from being an unofficial patron of cranks, he is the patron saint of the province of Québec. Also (with my guess for the connection) he is patron of:

Bird dealers (the dove that settled on Jesus at his baptism)
Converts (“Repent!”)
Cutters (that nasty business with his head)
Hail and hailstorms (“The heavens opened…”)
Lambs (”Behold the Lamb of God!”)
Motorways (“Make straight his paths!”)
Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey (unknown – are Dove Bars made there?)
Tailors (his leather garments were getting tatty!)