Sunday, April 09, 2006

We believe all sorts of things that aren't true

Have you all read about the Judas gospel? It's interesting to me even if I'm not so much an acolyte of Catholicism any more. There was an article in USA Today regarding this surprisingly explosive topic and there is a PBS special about it tonight. Some of the critics disingenuously dismiss the documents as having been written hundreds of years after the time of Christ when they know all too well that the other gospels were as well. The whole concept of how history forms, and how it cements itself over time, fascinates me. OK, permit me to offer some lyrics from my new religion, namely showtunes. These are from Wicked and are sung by the Wizard:
(spoken) Elphaba, where I'm from, we believe all sorts of
things that aren't true. We call it - "history."

(sung) A man's called a traitor - or liberator
A rich man's a thief - or philanthropist
Is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?
It's all in which label
Is able to persist

There are precious few at ease
With moral ambiguities
So we act as though they don't exist
For those so quick to condemn and subjugate others using a few vague phrases from an ancient text, I doubt that understanding the fluid nature of what they see as solid would make any difference. If they knew the gospels weren't written by the same named apostles, but hundreds of years later from hearsay by people who obviously never knew Christ, would that matter? Judas' "evil" nature is established by only 18 verses in the Bible. We gays are condemned by far fewer that that. There is a long history of "infallible" Popes who have altered the Bible and branded alternate gospels as heresy, effectively banishing them from "history" forever. There were once as many as thirty gospels until it was arbitrarily decided that there should be just four. So if you were basing your life on the words in a document, and going so far as to restrict the basic human rights of others based on that document, wouldn't you be curious as to where it springs from? Would you be satisfied with your grade school catechism explanation that it is the word of God? Like the old Wonderful Wizard says, we're not comfortable with moral ambiguity, so we pretend it doesn't exist.

Happy Easter!

Friday, I'll be heading to where the snow is still deep, where the health care is universal and where the gays can roam and marry freely (for now). Heaven? No, but for the weaker currency and lower national self-esteem, it might be. Canada. No Easter celebration for this lapsed Catholic, as I'm continuing my long tradition of spending the week slopeside with my Jews.


The Other Andrew said...

Jews on ice!

I saw a documentary about Mary Magdalen on tv last night, and it was interesting to see how she was not only denied Apostle status but also then demonised and recast as a prostitute. Fascinating stuff, and I have to admit that I had no idea what a pivotal role she played. This Judas gospel stuff could be quite interesting. It's particularly interesting to me if people from the 'literal' side of the Bible debate will also be prepared to revise their ideas as/if further gospel documents are discovered.

Michael said...

Jews on ice!

Kenna hora! Where?!
Oh. They love to drink, they love to eat, they love a party, and they love to invite me to their posh mountain digs in Canada? They're my own personal Grail.

There were like 30 gospels! All but four suddenly dubbed heresy. I don't ascribe to any of the keepers necessarily, but since they are used to keep me down, I'm fascinated. Interestingly, one of the lines that did STICK was Jesus mentioning, "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Now I'm not LEAST of anything, but it's funny to me how these people ignore the BLATANT and try to nuance the obscure.

Jen said...

They're Old Testament Christians. It makes no damn sense, but there you go. The Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes? Not for them. The only things in the New Testament that they really like are Revelations and Paul. They should just call themselves Paulians and then this wouldn't be so confusing.

And don't even get me started on the whole "God's hand guides and preserves the inerrant Truth of the Bible" belief that convinces them that whatever's in their preferred version is correct and anything else is Satan. I argued with a Christian ex about this every Sunday for approximately two years.

"Why won't you come to church with me?"
"Well, aside from the fact that I'm not a Christian, there's also this little matter of the endless lying and manipulation..."

Hope you have a great ski trip in the great white north. Take off, it's a beauty way to go. Hoser.

Michael said...

They should read a history of the Popes sometime and then see what they think of God's hand guiding the inerrant Truth of the Bible.

Thanks for the vacation wishes, eh. I don't jet until Friday, so don't leave me yet!

Jen said...

History? Pishtosh. They think it's all God's will unless it's inconvenient for them, then it's Satan. It's really very simple.

(Meanwhile I feel like I should point out for the general audience that I am not slamming all Christians with these remarks, only the asshat hateful ones. I mean no offense to people who actually take the Jesus-y faith seriously enough to practice, which is hard and admirable.)

I know you're not jetting off just yet, it's just that there are some changes on the ground regarding Roomie's mom's cancer diagnosis (did you get my email about that?), so our move sort-of went into high gear and a tailspin at the exact same time. I'm doing the whole thing alone now, plus driving cross country alone (I haven't driven on the highway in 7 years, eek) so I suspect I won't be around to wish you a good trip at the end of the week, due to the busy. And I can't let you go un-good-wished. :)

Michael said...

Good point, Jen. I know I come off as anti-Christian as well, and I'm not. I'm anti-hate, and I'm pro-youdoyourthingandletmedomineinpeace. Some of my favorite people are Christians. Poor deluded things. I kid! If you're TRULY a Christian (i.e. living a Christ-like life), I am SO down with you! That's not what so many of these people are doing. They are judging/casting the first stone. Big no-no with JC, right? My only gripe is with the people who have time to worry about what I'm doing, when it in no way affects them. The fuck?

And thanks for the wishes. Are you leaving this week? Email me.