Archive for September 2007

Hearsay and Heresy

September 9, 2007

At work this week, one of my fellow employees who is also a Sunday school teacher blessed me with her opinion of the Muslims.  To quote, “We should bomb them all.  If you read the Bible, you know those people are going to die anyway.”  I wanted to ask why her view was any less savage than a Muslim reactionary wanting to kill infidels.  Getting into heaven requires a lot of blood sacrifice for certain fundamentalists.  Good thing she is teaching the young to show compassion.

The problem for most religions is that they declare all others to be false while they each claim to be perfect and blessed by God.  It would be silly if it were not at the same time so easily corrupted.  Any honest look at the history of religion shows a rich tradition of zealotry combined with an apocalyptic prophecy.  We live on this tiny speck of dust in the middling area of the sprawling universe, but our vanity is so great that God must be intimately and ultimately tied to our fate.

Since I am more familiar with the Christian faith, it startles me how little adherents understand about the origins of their religion.  The nativity story is fabricated out of stories from other mythologies, there is hardly an original idea in the whole account.  Events in the life of Jesus are described with a minimal amount of background on a routine basis, people arrive in the story with no introduction and disappear into the mist.  The disciples who witness all these miracles seem remarkably dense as to who Jesus was, yet they are the people who were supposed to found a church in his name.  The anointing of Jesus (which is what makes him a Christ) was performed on two occasions by people with a mysterious relationship to Jesus, and both were clearly marginalized by the writers of the Gospels.

Almost every event connected to the resurrection is refuted by even the slightest amount of skepticism.   Jesus takes a drink from a sponge and immediately expires, even though the cause of death from crucifixion is exposure which takes days.  Only one Gospel even mentions an attempt to confirm his death, and that description is so implausible that the narrator actually implores the reader to believe his tale.  Then his “body” is quickly taken away to be buried.  After three days and nights, the same number needed for the resurrection of the Egyptian god Osiris, he is discovered by Mary who repeats the sentiment of Isis – “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.”  At the moment when Jesus has conquered death, he does not immediately reveal himself to his most devoted disciple, waiting until she accuses him of stealing the body.  This makes no sense at all within the context of the narrative.  What is to be gained from deception after Jesus has risen from the grave?  It serves no possible purpose, except to indicate that things are not at all what they seem to be.