Monday, June 23, 2008

The Other Shoe

I make this observation. I remember in my youth of some thirty to forty odd years ago when you could not get any Jewish people to even mention the name of Jesus. This, in public, the newspaper, media etc. Now it would seem that Jesus is accepted as an historic figure in the Holy Land. It is good for tourism, so many can budge a little on traditional thinking.

I mention the other shoe. I refer to the other shoe dropping in historic, academic and religious realms. Without quoting specifics, I have felt that I have observed the fact that Christian scholars are always looking over their shoulders at archeology and the mother lode of written documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in 1947.

Now there is little or nothing about christianity in the Dead Sea Scrolls but there is by deference a healthy fear or respect to a whole new body of historic footnotes to be gleaned from these documents.

And it took time to archive, preserve, catalogue and finally publish text beyond the very tight knit world of academics and religious scholars regarding the D.S.S.. Only highlights and new theories and new carbon dating systems have earmarked tidbits of journalistic items filtering into the general knowledge of the population over decades.

Behind the Jewish scrolls and less noticed and less publicized over the years are the early christian writings also known as the Gnostic Gospels, unearthed in 1945. These writings are a mixture of many things and little except one or two documents comes close to anything like what we might call gospels from a Greek Testament frame of reference.

In either case, both separate and distinct sets of documents got lost because some sincere scholars and believers cared. These treasures got lost and buried because they threatened religious or political agendas of centuries past. Luckily we have them today as part of the human race’s heritage.

Over the decades when I have been attending church services, I have observed that the christian minister is more often than not doing a homily based on Hebrew Testament passages. It is perhaps coincidence but maybe a lot of christian ministers want to hedge their bets in case some new archeological discovery and texts come to light that would despoil the old party line of old time christian religion.

That, or nobody wants to dissect Jesus or his message, his raising a sword for justice etc. Political correctness has seemingly reburied Jesus long ago and in his own so called church.

I do not know or care about the preaching. I care about the doing. I care about any congregation and what it does in the community. Does it have daycare, a K-8 school, does it give food to the hungry, visit the elderly and shut-ins?

To me, the social agenda of any church, synagogue or mosque is to be judged on how it treats its own, is a part of the greater community and functions in a way that Jesus would recognize or appreciate.

So, I always eagerly await news in the papers about new archeology and insights to the cultural christian bounty that is ever growing. I draw my own conclusions.

I do not have to look over my shoulder to see if another shoe in history or theolgy is about to drop and rock the boat and spoil any professional meal ticket christian bubble.