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As some know, this is my on-going personal project and I have edited it yet again for clarity.  So, here's the latest edition of my diary on the original christians, the Gnostics.  This is an alternative interpretation of Jesus' teachings, some of which even survived to the modern Bible.  This is also an expose of St. Stephen in relation to this same meme, that the early christians were against organized religion with physical temples or churches and actually were for a religion of the "body."

Jesus publicly demanded that mankind "Destroy This Temple..." and to rebuilt it via his "body."  St. Stephen similarly said that "The Most High does not live in houses made by men" right around the this time...

My sources are limited and I admit to deriving much of my recollection of this alternative Jesus history and the history of the Gnostics from Princeton University's Elaine Pagels; I also have read most of the translations of the Gnostic gospels and many of the Dead Sea scrolls.  So here goes:

Jesus' real story, or any famous person's story for that matter, is always hard to ascertain in retrospect.  

The controversy over Jesus' story began about 300 years after he demanded that mankind "destroy this temple" in his famous public display described in the Gospel of John.

After the fatwa to massacre the Gnostics that came out in 325AD at the Council of Nicea, the Gnostics were banned, persecuted, and murdered by the ancestors of today's Church:  these martyr-obsessed "Orthodox" Christians, not to be mistaken with modern Orthodox Christians, began their subversion of Jesus' story in earnest.

The Roman empire split in half over the issue of Jesus' divinity vs. Jesus as a man who reached Christhood, the Gnostic take on Jesus' mastery of the soul.

We still live with the same centralized authority today, the same tyrannous "christian" groups who want to convert you or else you are hell-bound.  

In other words, they became in 325AD what Jesus and St. Stephen railed against and died fighting against as rebel leaders.

Education is the way out of this tyranny; that was Jesus' message and his criticism at the city center, railing against the temple people and proclaiming "Destroy this temple," was an ingenious means of educating the masses to his message:  as he drove the false prophets out of the temple where doves (for women's menstruation) were sold and where money exchanges operated, he spoke with actions to his desire for liberty from religious-induced tyranny.

He certainly wasn't calling for a world-wide caliphate and he wasn't calling for a massacre of minority religions when he allegedly said "only through me"....

The people of the world must embrace education to defeat the totalitarian ideology of these false "christian" groups who utilize hate, fear, and guilt to achieve their wicked ends.  They perverted Jesus' teachings and the tricked followers of these money-hungry groups, under the guise of "churches" and "mosques" and "temples."

Knowledge, or "gnosis," is the only force able to defeat fascism masked as religion IMO.  Jesus knew this and that's why he attacked the money-changers at the Temple in his most famous act seen and explained right in the Bible!

I believe he was publicly espousing "gnosis" (knowledge) with his city-center display of civil disobedience, with his ancient "orange revolution."  He was a rebel leader!

The Constitution's First Amendment which protects our freedom of religious expression is magnificent and reflects Jesus' vision of peace and fairness and was a dagger in the heart of the forces of tyranny and oppression in the world.  The 1st Amendment serves as the foundation of our democracy, which apparently religious fundamentalists hate per their post-9/11 attacks on Jeffersonian democracy.  Let's reread what democracy is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment means that you have freedom to practice your religion free from persecution.  Period.  God gave us that right.  It says so right in Genesis 1:29 as well and discredits modern fascism's main foothold, the Holy Drug Inquisition:  

"God said, "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food.

The Constitution needs another amendment to re-affirm the 4th amendment, a modern-day update if you will because everyday that the "drug war" goes on is another day down the dark path of fascism in America.

Now, as to the freedoms under assault, the radical Christians and the radical Muslims, to take the top two most effective fascist religious groups in the world, are almost identical in their virulence and tactics as they use religion to dominate in politics and war and to attack freedom in the world, mainly for political power and for economic profits.  

Both fundamentalist groups within Islam and "Christianity" obsess around the concept of the "end times" because fear and guilt are the main tools for brainwashing inductees.  

They have literally boogey-manned themselves into being freakish basket cases however and have destroyed another generation of bright young minds in rural America with their intentional dumbing-down, anti-education, cult-like mentality.

In other words, they appear as evil in the world, all the while they fancy themselves to be modern pharoahs or prophets themselves:  arrogance at its finest.

Powerful, evil people have corrupted Jesus' anti-tyranny teachings, his teaching to "Destroy this temple" of hypocrites and money-changing liars.  

And so liberals should not be against Jesus, a champion of liberalism and liberty, but against those who have perverted his life and teachings.

                                           *   *   *

The most beneficial thing that the crucifixion-obsessed, "orthodox" Christians (as Elaine Pagels calls them in "The Gnostic Gospels") have done is to allow the story of Jesus, as heavily edited as it is, to survive their fascism across two millenia so that the populist message of Jesus can again overcome their own tyranny.  Again, these "christians" have committed the same sins that Jesus was railing against when he said "Destroy this temple..."

Only "gnosis" (knowledge, education) can defeat these forces of evil that are insulated from criticism within "churches" and "mosques" and "temples," using the tried and true techniques of fear, superstition, guilt, and violence.

If you’ve ever wondered why the so-called "moral majority" under Ronald Reagan wanted to destroy the Department of Education, now you know why:  Jesus railed against these forces of ignorance in his most famous act when he declared "Destroy this temple..."  

More on that below but first, let me introduce St. Stephen for those who missed his downplayed message:

St. Stephen, lauded in the famous Grateful Dead song bearing his name, is known as the first Christian deacon.  According to Acts in the Bible, Stephen was put down by a mob.  History suggests he might have lived around 34-35AD.

Here the Acts version of Stephen’s death:  

Stephen is accused by a planted witness who said that Stephen was claiming that...

"11Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

12And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,

13And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

14For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.(Acts, vi, 12 14).

To which Stephen replied:

44  "Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45  Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.  47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him.

48  "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet (Isaiah) says:

      49" 'Heaven is my throne,
      and the earth is my footstool.
      What kind of house will you build for me? says the  
      Lord.
      Or where will my resting place be?
      50  Has not my hand made all these things?'

51  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  52  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him-- 53  you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."

54  When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56  "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

57  At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,  58  dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts, vi, 44-58).

Now as to Jesus’ famous public statement to "Destroy this temple", essentially demanding that ancient mega-churches stop abusing God's good name:

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.
15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me." 18 The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to show us for doing this?"
19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.
22 When therefore he  was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
23 Now  when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did;
24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them,
25 because he knew all men and needed no one to
bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man. -- John 2:13-25

His "body" doesn't mean start up a mega-church and make money on Jesus; the mega-church is what he was calling an abomination:  see their rejection of Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical who advocates helping the poor and saving the environment.

Instead, the false "Christians" use wedge issues to appeal to people’s most base hatreds.

As to the Gnostics, I know from my studies on the ancient Gnostics that they put a lot of emphasis on women, per the Gospel of Philip and the "Bridal Chamber."  

I know enough to know this:  the Gnostics deserve MUCH more critical study and historical attention in general since they were the dominant sect of the original Christians.

Here's a sample of the Gospel of Thomas, which I have heard had objectionable portions added later, but which has many apparently authentic elements of Gnostic teachings including discussion of women and the holy "bridal chamber" (important because of its non-celibacy aspects) and most of all, discussion of Christhood which is attainable by all and not an exclusive concept just for Jesus.

It’s kind of like the Buddhist concept of nirvana, see the Gospel of Philip:

  1. Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."

And here’s Jesus' promise of eternal life through knowledge or gnosis from the Gospel of Philip:

1 "And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

Always remember that these teachings were outlawed by the "church" in 325 AD at the Council of Nicea and the Gnostics were put to death along with any and all other religious sects within the vicious reach of the post-Nicene "Church."  

In other words, the real history of Christianity has yet to be understood by the people of the world:  the "christian church," born in 325 AD, was born out of mass violence while forsaking Jesus' real teachings with its edited, adulterated version of his rebellious teachings and rants against organized religion.

One day, academics will not be able to ignore the true story of Jesus and when that true story gets out, the political landscape will be forever changed... for the better:

Humankind just needs to get over the hump... the interactive online
4th century Bible will arrive soon and will help with that hump in a couple of years.

Originally posted to a gnostic on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:14 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Christ will return! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gnostic, greenearth

    At least those of us that believe in reincarnation think so.

    Jesus is dead, so the entity known as 'The Christ' will have to return in a new body.

    - Israel has the right to exist, and responsibility to coexist.

    by Opinionated Ed on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:15:24 PM PST

  •  Edgar Cayce and Jesus Christ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluebrain, greenearth

    Text: Edgar Cayce Readings, (5749-14). This Psychic Reading given by Edgar Cayce at the office of the Association, Arctic Crescent, Virginia Beach, Va., this 14th day of May, 1941, in accordance with request made by the self - Mr. Thomas Sugrue, Active Member of the Ass'n for Research & Enlightenment, Inc.

    Question:

    Please list the names of the incarnations of the Christ, and of Jesus, indicating where the development of the man Jesus began.

    Answer:

    First, in the beginning, of course; and then as Enoch, Melchizedek, in the perfection. Then in the earth of Joseph, Joshua, Jeshua, Jesus.

    - Israel has the right to exist, and responsibility to coexist.

    by Opinionated Ed on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:25:55 PM PST

  •  Real Christianity (6+ / 0-)

    has not manifested, has not actually been lived by many of those who claim to be believers.

    like anything else which threatens the existing power structure, it gets co-opted, bastardized and turned into the opposite of what it was intended to be.

    a PRIME example is the catholic hierarchy which is obsessed with human gestation, but once the child is born, apparently believes the child is on its own, with no real rights. further, the child is to be exploited and used by "priests".

    this is about as far from real Christianity as one can get.

    "The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me." President Bush - Animal House

    by Superpole on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:26:12 PM PST

    •  Please (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, MJB, a gnostic

      At least when it comes to Catholics, don't smear the actual practicing Catholics with the same brush that you use against the hiearchy.

      I know plenty of people who have worked for Catholic Charities.  While they themselves are pretty much making poverty-level wages, they have made herculanean efforts to ensure that poor, inner-city children get proper housing, education and healthcare.

      I know of a nun who once scoffed at someone who was 'pro-life' - she called him 'pro-birth'.  I like that.

      •  Throw Off the Chains (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rgilly

        I get you, but I also disagree.

        the Catholic hierarchy says they know what is best and they demand total obedience. their scandalous, abusive behavior for at least-- oh, the past 100 years leaves them with more or less ZERO credibility at this point.

        the "good Catholics" you describe should divorce themselves from the hierarchy and start over without their dumb, corrupt asses. otherwise, their work is overshadowed and overtaken by the evils being committed by those "above" them.

        "The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me." President Bush - Animal House

        by Superpole on Thu Feb 08, 2007 at 05:34:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You *don't* get it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42

          You still feel the urge to put "good Catholics" in quotes, and you still think that anyone who calls themselves Catholic can't really be a good person because they are "overshadowed and overtaken by the evils being committed" by others.

          In other words, you are a devout believer in guilt by association.

          So you say you get it, but you don't.

          So this is how liberty dies -- with thunderous applause.

          by MJB on Thu Feb 08, 2007 at 09:23:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Superpole gets it alright. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            abbeysbooks

            There were good nazis. There are good republicans, just as there are bad Democrats, etc.
            He is pointing out the difference between the two.
            We all have responsibility to understand why we do the things we do, and who we do the things for. A prime example is AIDS education in Africa. A Catholic is prohibited to teach about condoms. We all know that condoms reduce the spread of this desease. The lack of condom education in the third world by Catholic teaching has caused the deaths of millions.
            Now, who do we blame for this? Not Mother Theresa.

            Superpole is saying we educated people have a responsibility to change our leaders and our organization to do better in the world.
            And I agree.

            Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who don't matter don't mind...................Dr. Seuss

            by elbamash on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 08:22:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The way I was taught (0+ / 0-)

              I was taught that dissent was fine within the Church.  It was likened to a large family dinner.  You don't have to agree with whatever the old man is going on about, but you still love him.

              •  You were taught well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GOPhuckYourself

                In general, those who talk about the Catholic hierarchy demanding "total obedience," or being "prohibited to teach" -- well, anything (clearly they haven't met any Jesuits), or that they don't care about children after their birth, are usually made up of two groups: the 10% that grew up in a heavily Puritanically influenced America, and whose Catholic priests reflected that pre-Vatican II "fire and brimstone" mentality while they were in the Church and missed every single message of social justice, the fight against poverty, the necessity of separation of church and state, etc. etc. because of that, and the other 90% that speak against the Church having never been in it to hear its message -- the ones that think that Donohue is ordained or something, the ones that think that Catholics believe the Pope is infallible or that Catholics are creationists or that they supported the Holocaust -- it gets tiring, discussing this sort of thing with that demographic.

                There's a reason crosstabs show Catholics as the most Democratic of all the Christian denominations.  I wish more people realized what an insult they were giving to part of our core constituency when they blanket condemn a religion like that.

    •  Jesus Hijacked (0+ / 0-)

      It's interesting how pure and noble concepts, movements get hijacked by power-hungry, riches-hungry men.  Christianity was taken over by these kind of men.  Republicans have recently tried to seize control of American patriotism, family values, morality, Christianity, etc.  Even Bush has tried to take over the concept of life itself("The Culture of Life"TM).  It's funny how those who hijack such noble, honorable concepts and movements are the least representative of the same concepts and movements.  They merely cloak themselves in these things to disguise their true natures and motives.  "Christianity", "Patriotism", "Morality", "Family Values", "Culture of Life" become merely codewords and tools of manipulation.  Because the vast majority haven't reached a deeper level of understanding and knowledge of themselves and others spiritually, they become fooled by these false prophets and charlatans.  It's been this way throughout history unfortunately.  The key is to remove their "moral" and "patriotic" cloaks and expose their true natures to the masses.  That is the job of those who are wise enough to see through their deceit and attempted manipulations to the core of their true nature, beingness.

      P.S.  I've read up on the Gnostic Gospels in the past and am a true fan of this view of Christianity.  Thanks for reinforcing Gnosticism for me.

  •  reco'd and hotlisted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gnostic, greenearth, marykk

    my (non-kossack, but otherwise flawless) partner has very keen interest in and pretty darned well-developed of the gnostic gospels and gnosticism more generally. i will share this with him--and i've hotlisted for my own  more measured mental mastication.

    great piece!

  •  Thanks. Fascinating topic. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gnostic, greenearth, Nulwee

    I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth whenever I please.--Mother Jones

    by bluebrain on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:51:38 PM PST

  •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Psyche, a gnostic, greenearth

    This is the Christian faith that resonates for me - I appreciate you posting this.

    "The waging of war, by its nature, is total - but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial." -- Daniel Berrigan

    by Rico on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 06:57:35 PM PST

  •  Any idea how close (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gnostic, greenearth, eOz

    the Cathars were to Gnosticism? From what little I know, they were quite similar, taking an approach to Christianity in a way more akin to Budhism or Taoism that the Patriatical buerocracy that dominates modern Christianity.

    Just when they think they know the answer, I change the question. -Roddy Piper

    by McGirk on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 07:12:56 PM PST

    •  As the target of the first Inquisition, (0+ / 0-)

      many writers are digging into the Cathars as possibly a Gnostic community in Southern France -- some who believe Mary Magdeline may have even settled there (the Black Madonnas in that area are fascinating variations from the standard mythos of the Church).

      The Da Vinci Code popularized this alternate study, but several people have really delved into it with interesting results.  The Cathers seem to have sustained parables and used terms that are just now being discovered to have been from the Gnostic Gospels.

      The Templar Revelation is an excellent book on the subject.  The authors travelled extensively in Southern France and have excellent references, but try to avoid making a definitive judgement as to which explanations might be true or just myth.  They do cite Gnostic influences in the area where the Cathars lived and the history of how they were the warm-up victims of the Catholic Church's Inquisitors.

      If you really want to walk on the wild side, try A Gnostic Cycle by a friend of mine.  He even wrote a software program so you can learn to read the "New Covenant" (he refuses to use the name "New Testament") in Greek and overlay your own translations of the words.  

      His thesis is that Mary and Jesus were married, had a daughter, and lived in Southern France, founding a community there that became the Cathars and other groups under the influence of the Merovingian lineage of kings.

      These sources would be a great start for contemplating the mystery and glean as much history as we are left from these interesting and amazing "heretics" who attracted the ire of both the Church and the French kings.  They must have been doing something right.

    •  They were Gnostics (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScienceMom, TexasTwister

      Gnostics still exist. It is a state of mind, it is in the heart. It does not go by the name Gnostic, but by many other names. It happens within the personal temple. You'll know if you are connected if you feel a love for all humanity.

  •  Unitarianism is closer to the Religion of Jesus (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Psyche, a gnostic, OHdog

    Which is very different than the Heresy of the Relgion about Jesus worship, otherwise known as Christianity.
    Granted, todays Unitarians are not much into God or Jesus  (I'm one, this is not snark.)Jesus considered himself a son of God in the manner that we all are, sons and daughters of the Unknown Universe that some chose to call God.

    I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell... Dixie Chicks

    by UndercoverRxer on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 07:13:25 PM PST

    •  Yes I came to the same conclusion as you (0+ / 0-)

      independently. Maybe. My grandmother was Unitarian and I am 73. I was never brainwashed into religion and never attended church as a child and only a few times as an adult to hear someone specific speak.

      I do understand and respect the Catholic position on condoms. I do not think they should change with the times. Not even in Africa. It falsifies their position throughout history when they change dogma. The dogma shjould stand and be evaluated in the present. Perhaps it is time for Catholicism to become just a small fundamentalist sect. I am in agreement with the present pope on that.

      Condoms are a secular choice. They have nothing to do with sexual spirituality. They have everything to do with lust, sexual expression, masculine power, orgastic pleasure. I do not object to that at all.

      I have always agreed with Krishnamurti and his talks on this subject. People who are consciously enlightened have a spiritual sexual connection that is both physically and mentally sensuous. A union of this sort chooses when to have a child. There are no accidents, no spontaneous ejaculations that result in pregnancy and future children. I think this may be what the Catholic church has in its deepest philosophy. I doubt if many or any in the church realize this.

      It is not their role to advise or dispense condoms. It is their role to advocate the teachings of Christ. And they are flawed.

      It is all a matter of spiritual consciousness.

  •  Amen! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Psyche, a gnostic, greenearth, OHdog

    Great diary, a gnostic.  

    I was a pastor's kid for the first 5 years of my life, and I went to church faithfully for the first 17 years of my life.  (Though I went more out of obligation for the last 3-4 of those years...)  My family went to many churches over the years, but the last one I attended was a perfect example.  It started out a small church.  Everyone knew everyone; people hugged and smiled and shared in happiness and in sorrow.  It was a great place where I made some great friends.  It earned a good reputation in the area as the friendly, hugging church.  More people came.  The leadership decided it was time to expand.  Money, money, money.   Fundraising for the new addition.  How about some more money?  The church got bigger, and something in the air changed.  The feeling of friendship and community soured.  People left in droves, including the pastor.  Faith is so personal.  When there are too many people either a mob mentality rules or a small, select group rules.  Either way, it becomes less about faith and more about the minutae.

    "So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy." ~Roger Baldwin

    by spyral on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 07:41:30 PM PST

  •  For the first three centuries (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spyral, GOPhuckYourself, a gnostic, eOz

    we followed Jesus, then in the fourth we worshipped him.

    My moniker is in honor of three generations of women whose soul's were seared in the cauldron of Hell's Kitchen, NYC

    by hells kitchen on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 08:02:46 PM PST

    •  Now we sell trinkets (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matilda, Nulwee

      and market theme parks in his name.  With the "innovation" of the Gospel Of Prosperity, now we are told we can love God and money.  Have to send some money in first, of course (shipping and handling charges do apply).

      A friend of mine went to a "Jesus festival" a while back and saw a booth selling chocolate Jesus candy.  His question was, "What do you do with a chocolate Jesus?  Eat it or worship it?"

      We could never settle the theological debate that followed.

      •  Nibble his ears off... (0+ / 0-)
        or start at the feet? Like a choco-eostrebunny.

        It's a personal decision. Albeit kind of a creepy one, especially for a chocoholic christian.

        People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression: I hope it's gonna be alright... Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

        by rgilly on Thu Feb 08, 2007 at 08:45:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, a gnostic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Autarkh

    As someone who is currently wending my way through the latest version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I always appreciate your thoughts.
    The Gnostic Bible is next on my list, along with a small book called "Misquoting Jesus".
    I'm not religious at all, and yet I find the history of Christianity fascinating.

  •  Nicely written (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gnostic

    Moving towards both Thict Nhat Han's "Living Buddha/Living Christ" and John Spong's " Why Christianity Must Change or Die"

    or as Jerry Garcia sang, "We are the Eyes of the World."

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 10:12:57 PM PST

  •  I think Socrates outlined the most (6+ / 0-)

    basic political division in people's relationship to power with his question in the dialogue  Euthyphro when he asks "is piety pious because the gods love it, or do the gods love it because it's pious?"  If you believe the first option, then you don't believe that anything is intrinsically or rationally good, but rather believe that the will of the gods is what makes something good.  Thus, we could imagine alternative universes where it is pious or divine to murder simply because that's what the gods love.  

    This first option is the logic of monarchy or absolute authority.  You don't follow the king, under this model, because he is wise, good, and will produce the flourishing of the polis or state.  No, you follow king because, well, he's the king.  Indeed, to suggest that you follow the king because he's wise is to already be suspect as you're suggesting that there's a higher authority than the king.  Similarly, for many Christians, you don't follow Jesus because he's wise and says morally sound things-- after all, the guy did condemn a tree to hell at one point according to the gospels --no, Jesus is to be followed hell or high water because he's, well, God.  This is also the same logic of much parenting where at a certain point the parent says "because I said so".  This, I think is the fundamental conservative ethos.

    By contrast, if you say the gods love piety because it's pious...  Well now you're saying that there are things that are intrinsically good and this is why the gods choose them.  The paradox is that if this is the case, we don't need to talk about the gods at all to talk about piety (or what is good).  For just as I don't need to talk about physicists to talk about the properties of gravity, the good will be what it is regardless of what the gods think of it and regardless of even whether they exist.  This is the route Socrates chooses, and it has significant political implications.  For instance, the central Platonic question is always "who is the good shephard?" and "how do we distinguish the legitimate leader from the scoundrel?"  Thus, in the Republic, Plato makes the scandalous claim that only the wise should rule...  In other words, he suggests there's a higher authority than brute authority that can be known through rational investigation.

    So why do I bring all of this up?  I bring all of this up because in your description of the Gnostic Jesus you seem to suggest that Jesus should be listened to because he has some pretty terrific things to say or is wise.  This rings heretical to the ears of many Christians.  Why?  Because lots of people are wise--  Martin Luther King is wise.  Lincoln is wise.  Socrates and Aristotle were wise.  Buddha was wise.  And so on.  But none of these men were God.  So if Jesus should be endorsed by liberals because he says wise things...  Why does it matter that it is Jesus that says them?  Confucious says many wise things as does Socrates and John Stuart Mill.  If it's wisdom you're concerned with, why not just get rid of the religious, authoritarian, element altogether and just focus on what's wise?  Why is Jesus any more special than any other great thinker?  I think it would be terrific if Jesus were de-divinized and treated just as a very great political and ethical thinker...  But then, I think to myself, there's so much baggage with religion and so much that is prone to the first option I describe above, that it would be better just to focus on the philosophers.

  •  Good stuff- Something I wouldn't expect (5+ / 0-)

    Most the christians I meet nowadays are out to limit choice by law. Nanny government if you will. This is a road towards a facsist or nazi government...... Thanks for not being one of them. This prospect has troubled me more than ever lately....

    The First Casualty In War Is The Truth.

    by Olivebranch on Thu Feb 08, 2007 at 08:46:01 PM PST

  •  Great exposition! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BentLiberal, DWG

    I always wondered about Jesus description of the world and thought, without the "Father" concept, he actually seamed more of an earth Goddess worshiper in his lifestyle.

    I also once told a friend who says that he has "decoded" the gospel of Thomas, that

    "there needs to be a revival of the real or Super Christians.  Cuz most Christians give Jesus a bad name."

    Pay attention, they're lying!: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=10400

    by Fireshadow on Thu Feb 08, 2007 at 09:54:59 PM PST

  •  Jesus is just all right with me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, abbeysbooks

    Interesting posting, but as a former seminarian with an M.Div degree I believe your essay contains some  very profound theological and historical errors. Jesus was not a Gnostic, he may have briefly studied and lived with them, we'll never know for sure. For one thing, Gnostics believed the body was just a temporary structure for the life force or life energy that was the true nature of existence and which upon death was released. It is important to remember that Jesus was not a Christian, he lived and died a Jew. It's also important to remember the New Testament is not repeat is not a historical record of the life of Jesus, but at best a collection of his sayings, often handed down 60-100 years, writen against the backdrop of a very tumultuous time in the history of the Jewish people. The NT is a remarkable piece of literature in that it contains some very valuable insights into the human condition, it is mistaken, though, to see it as a blueprint (or 1st century blog, if you will ) for our political world today, from either a reactionary or progressive prospective.    

    •  I used to be Catholic and so (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScienceMom, abbeysbooks

      don't have much scholarly knowledge of the Bible. ;)

      I find the stories and sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible to be contradictory. The contrast between the Sermon on the Mount and his threats of eternal hell for those who don't follow his teachings is profound. It's as though he's setting a higher standard for compassion and forgiveness for humans than for God. And his suppopsed responses to the question of whether or not he was the "Son of God" seem like clever word play rather than an earnest attempt to communicate the truth to his audience. At other times very blunt, direct speech is attributed to him. It's almost as though he were several different people!

      Is it possible that Bible Jesus is a composite of a number of wandering teachers, and that stories and sayings from many were conveniently rolled up into one icon? Or perhaps there was one, compelling teacher named Jesus who was crucified, and popular stories about other teachers were simply attached to him for effect? I think that would explain a lot.

      I don't know if there is any historical or textual evidence for this theory.  

      With Bush failure is not an option--it's standard equipment.

      by Cowalker on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 07:01:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jesus refered to himself as 'son of man' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cowalker

        throughout the gospels. I find this interesting.

        I like your signature phrase!

        Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who don't matter don't mind...................Dr. Seuss

        by elbamash on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 09:32:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The great problem of Christianity (0+ / 0-)

        is that it did not reject the Old Testament but wove it into its theology. The NT is new. It is a break with the Old. And so the contradictions are infinite and the arguments endless.

    •  It has interpretive relevance (0+ / 0-)

      for all times. The meaning deepens with time as does all great literature.

      I suggest reading Malcom Lowry's edited edition of Anna Karenina. Against the background of our present time, it is an entirely different book than we have studied or read in the past. Anna was a morphine addict. Her increasing jealousy and insecurity with Vronsky are symptoms of morphine addiction.

      Anna is a drug addict. The romance is gone.

  •  One Day (0+ / 0-)

    "One day, academics will not be able to ignore the true story of Jesus..."

    that day is not in the forseeable future!

    "and when that true story gets out, the political landscape will be forever changed... for the better:"

    Amen

  •  The Bible Deconstructed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abbeysbooks

    There is no primary historical source for the Jesus of Christianity. Not a single word.  

    Everything that people believe in is from legends, gossip, hearsay, epic-building and myth making.

    To say that the Gospels were actually written by someone of the presented time period leading up to, say, 33CE, is faulty. The Gospels were written around the turn of the 2nd century. And how good is news reporting in the present for something that happened 50-80 years ago? It takes a short time for a legend to get life even in these days of so-called journalistic scrutiny. It takes blind faith and not an historical bone to actually believe this certain Jesus actually lived at the beginning of the first century.

    And then there are the writings of Paul who never met any Jesus except the one in his head, are also more nonsense. Especially right wing nutcase nonsense. He talks like a radical sex-hating, religiously intolerant, Jew-hating Ayatollah or Imam. The conversion on the road to Damascus is textbook temporal lobe epilepsy of a certain kind that gives people a stunning light, voices, and temporary blindness afterward. The same can be said of the Prophets of any religion.

    Another farce that continues in the masses is the belief that the Captivity, the Exodus and the Conquest are fact. They are not. They are just more epic legend creation and somne of the very best at that. The Quran is not even close as far as high quality literature compared to the Bible. If you have ever read the Quran, it is without any poetic quality. And it spits out hellfire and damnation every few verses. Like thew Bible it is far more threatening than loving. Both religion's portray a schizophrenic mix of a loving god who will fry you forever if you dont have the right belief. See a side by side comparison of scriptures at http://community-2.webtv.net/...

    In the archeologiocal community it is believed by all but about 10% that the entire Pentateuch is mostly fiction and myth. It was the other way around until people actually started digging for the truth. There is no archeological evidence for the captivity, the exodus or the conquest. You have tens of thousands of people wandering for 40 years and nothing of consequence to evidence that claim.

    To read some articles by the leading Biblical Archeologists in Israel on Ancient Israel go to the link below. The first article I originally found at the Biblical Archeological Review Special page online. The author, University of Tel Aviv Professor of Archeology Israel Finkelstein, and historian Neil Asher Silberman have teamed up for a great book called THE BIBLE UNEARTHED: Archeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. Robin Lane Fox, University Reader in Ancient History and a Fellow at New College in Oxford has also published a good book that covers more territory: THE UNAUTHORIZED VERSION: Truth and Fiction in the Bible.

    For articles:

    http://community-2.webtv.net/...

    If you are really interested in what happened  during the period 325 thru 565, see the TOC page for my online book, The Rise of Church State Alliances: Church Canon and Imperial Decrees at http://community-2.webtv.net/...

    My home page and TOC can be reached via http://www.stopthereligiousright.org

    I am in the process of moving all my free hosted MSNTV pages to another host so all pages will eventually have addresses beginning with www.stopthereligiousright.org

  •  A word here from an actual, practicing Gnostic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abbeysbooks

    I myself an am actual, practicing Gnostic. I have been going to a Gnostic church for 4 years now, and was baptized about a year ago. All of the press and attention that Gnosticism has been getting recently is quite exciting for me and my Gnostic brethren.

    One thing I would like to clarify here - Gnosis does not refer to knowledge in general. It refers to a specific type of knowledge - direct, inspired, experienced knowledge. The kind of knowledge that you can't read in a book. Gnostics believe that this kind of direct, experiential knowledge of God is not only possible, but it is what Salvation is all about. In other words, salvation doesn't come from what you believe of God, but what you have experienced, and what you KNOW, of God. In this context, Jesus was God's descent into the limitation of matter in order to wake us up to this potential and to help us reach it.

    I posted this diary on the topic of the Gnostic's take on religion and politics back in September, if any of you are interested.

    Thank you, A Gnostic, for shining your light on us. It is appreciated.

  •  Education (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abbeysbooks

    Education will end this tyranny...In their late old age my fundamentalist Christian parents have turned against public education, which was little short of an object of worship in my home while I was growing up.  They now believe that secular education turned me from the Way.  Thing is, I was never, ever on the Way - even as a child I knew intuitively that standard organized religion was not for me.  Education gave me a vocabulary to express my native heterodoxy.  If not for my secular education I'd now probably be dead, or institutionalized, or a crackhead somewhere.  We as liberals are failing our children by not providing them a alternative vocabulary of the spirit.  The dirtiest word to a fundamentalist isn't a four-letter description of sexual function, it's options.

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