Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rasta Jesus

I am not sure why I took notice of this sect.  I think I got interested in the timeline similarities to early Christianity.

I find the Rastafari movement and or religious belief system quite fascinating. 

No doubt the references to Ethiopia in the old testament gives it great credentials as an established African political entity.  As such the country has history that predates most European countries.  Ethiopia as a metaphor for the promised land in Africa, were black men have a proper and historic place in the scheme of things, is a metaphor mixed in with a kind self-love in the Rastafari philosophy.

Centuries of colonization in Africa and America along with various forms of exploitation and slavery is a starting point to understanding why a basic belief in the superiority of black men over white men is a means to try and negate centuries of negative self image and self worth.  

From historic roots and one of the longest surviving Orthodox branches of the Christian tree we find the person of the late Emperor Haile Selassie as a convenient metaphoric symbol. 

He (Selassie) was, some would say still is, descendant of that claimed Solomon/Queen of Sheba bloodline.  From a need arising in late nineteenth and early twentieth century for some central global African identity comes the Rastafarian belief that Ras Tafari (Lord Tafari), the birth name of Selassie, was, is the incarnation of Jesus and or a human manifestation of God on earth.

Selassie and his kingdom became a logical symbol of respect that an African and or Black Pride movement was looking for in the 1920s and 1930s.  Selassie was considered legitimate old royalty by all the monarchs of Europe at the time.

There is a lot of metaphor, cross condensed religious beliefs coming out of the basically African culture coming out of Jamaica.  Out of poverty and out of a “Pan Africanism” spirit of native Jamaican Marcus Garvey came a religion home grown and hand spun in Jamaica.  It is classified as monotheistic in the Trinitarian sense of monotheistic Christianity but itself is more a form of cultural Christianity than anything officially so.

Reading the background on this localized native belief with worldwide chapters or mansions, I get the sense of the early Christian church and how it all came together over time.

The traditional founding date of the Rastafarians is 1930 with the crowning of Haile Selassie.  Some native Jamaican preachers started preaching this mix of politics and religious metaphor as a grass roots reaction to British colonialism and the negative self image of people of African ancestry.

The movement has had its ups and downs but it preaches a be as simple as you can be philosophy with an eye to ignore the Babylon of modern beliefs and life style.  It also believes that God is within and not with out. 

You also have three main branches or mansions.  One I would say is orthodox in believing that Haile Selassie is Christ all the way to one mansion where you don’t have to believe that at all. 

I can picture a similar belief system in its eightieth year around the year 110 A.D. that was not a religion yet.  It was still a belief system.  It had the far right and the far left in beliefs and those beliefs had not yet been written down to begin the long dry descent into useless, meaningless dogma.  I am thinking of the Jesus movement, a social people movement that had not yet made a pagan god out of a simple country preacher from Galilee.

And while the Rastas don’t preach the end of the world stuff like the early Christians believed, they preach the here and now mixed with a little sacramental ganja. They live the simple life of poverty; watch their diets and dream of a heaven and a place called Ethiopia after the freedom of all peoples in Jamaica has been achieved.  Big talk. 

I was also attracted to the way of looking at the modern world as one big evil Babylon.  There is much talk these days in many secular and religious quarters of a return to a real Sabbath and withdraw from the media and electronics of the world one day a week to keep one’s sanity and balance.
Babylon” is often equated with Western Civilization and is also understood as an artificial affluent society of self-absorbed individuals who worship idols and live decadent lifestyles at the expense of the poor. -  Prof David Smith 
Interesting thought.

Rastafarian

Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement is a "messianic religio-political movement" that began in the Jamaican slums in the 1920s and 30s. The most famous Rastafari is Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition. 
There is significant variation within the Rastafari movement and no formal organization. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life than a religion. But uniting the diverse movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage. 
The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one's hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism… 
Followers of the Rastafari movement are known as Rastafarians, Rastafaris, Rastas, or Ras Tafarians. The movement is named for Ras Tafari Makonnen, who was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930. 
Rastafaris dislike the term "Rastafarianism" because they reject the "isms and schisms" that characterize oppressive and corrupt white society. The movement is referred to as "the Rastafari movement," "Rasta," or "Rastafari."…Rastafari developed in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1920s and 30s. In an environment of great poverty, depression, racism and class discrimination, the Rasta message of black pride, freedom from oppression, and the hope of return to the African homeland was gratefully received.
I quote from the first link because I think it is a better thought out and written piece.  It differs with the second link in Wikipedia which disputes the direct Marcus Garvey connection with Rastafarian(ism) as its founder.  Though some of his writings and ideas worked their way into this movement.
 
So eighty years into its founding, this sect of Christianity has no formal written dogma.  I guess if some rich Park Ave billionaire widow comes along to document this sect and starts to throw some money around, the various factions would no doubt start to write down who the founder was and what the founder said etc.


And the mysterious death and disappearance of Selassie, and or murder by the Russians, follows the Christian myth of a leader who has not died and disappeared or is waiting to come back and reveal himself to the true believers.


Various ideas and themes would emerge that do not match up what has already been written in the sources used above.


What will Rastafari look like in a century?  It might be as different from first century Christianity as that sect was with second century Christianity.  A work in process.

Worth a read to get and see another slice of life in the worldwide eternal growth of the Christian mythology leading always back to the potential divinity of mankind found in the teachings of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saint Peter's Tomb in Jerusalem

The Vatican has perhaps been sitting on this story for close to sixty years.

Something Pius XII conveniently ignored?

Apparently they found an ossuary with the inscription of “Simon bar Jonah”, Simon son of Jonah, in Jerusalem in 1953. They also found other bone boxes in close proximity marked Mary, Martha and Lazareth among others. Small world ain't it?

Of course these are all common names in ancient times. As we saw with the “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” ossuary of some recent years back, if it is profitable to fake a relic, then it happens. Shit happens. And profits too, especially if rich old ladies like Helena, the mother of Constantine, wants to materialize relics in her hobby involved with a new exotic eastern Christian religion.

James Ossuary

The James Ossuary sparked some documentaries, in that if genuine, it might be a real link to the past, Jesus and the gospels etc. Bottom line is that the “brother of Jesus” part of the inscription in Aramaic was a modern forgery added onto an ancient box.

Which leads back to this Peter ossuary in Jerusalem.

The Case of the Ossuary of Shimon bar Jonah
In 1953, two Franciscan monks discovered hundreds of 1st century ossuaries stored in a cave on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. The archaeologists claimed to have discovered the earliest physical evidence of a Christian community in Jerusalem, including some very familiar Biblical names. The name inscribed on one ossuary read: "Shimon Bar Yonah" - Simon, the Son of Jonah, the original Biblical name of the Disciple Peter.

The 43 inscriptions discovered in the Dominus Flevit cemetery between May 1953 and June 1955 were published with photographs by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik in 1958. The inscriptions on the ossuaries also included the names Jesus, Joseph, Judas, Mathew, Martha, Mary and Mariame - with the inscriptions of the latter two names being written in Greek.
It does make sense that Peter, the apostle of the Jews, stayed just that and never went to Rome, the center of the gentile world.

The makes for some interesting reading and food for thought regarding the formation, cut and paste method on parchment, of Christian scripture and the direction and or detour of the Jesus message over the centuries.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Big Frank Rigali and his Religious Crime Family in Philly

Ascension Church Philly - Out of the God Business - October 1, 2012


St Jerome's Parish in northeast Philly must be a great bed and breakfast kind of place. Great at least for a few priests involved in the current criminal Catholic sex abuse scandal to have lived there. One, the current Bishop of Saginaw and one, the “Smiling Padre” Edward Avery.

Smiling Padre

Somewhere on the timeline between Joe Cistone's hanging out at St. Jerome's and smiling Ed Avery's hangin out there, I went to my aunt's funeral there which was her parish.

Of course Joe Cistone was only in residence there working his ass off in the Chancery downtown shuffling pervs all over the archdiocese and Ed Avery was on “no child” duty as a chaplain at the nearby Nazareth hospital. The “no child” duty as chaplian did not somehow prevent him from hearing children's confessions at St. Jerome's as a resident of the rectory there. Oh well.

I look at last week's clergy sex abuse indictments in Philadelphia, that festered and festered over decades of neglect and cover-up, and have seen all this before.
 
Catholic sex abuse cases
 
Looking at all this I have to agree with Canon lawyer Thomas Doyle that:
...Doyle said of attempts to reform the Catholic Church that it was like "trudging through what can best be described as a swamp of toxic waste".
From stats, I know that few people bother to read what I write on this subject. Not that they want to look away, they are probably just disgusted and can only take so much diarrhea overflowing the cups of catholic bishops and their criminal conspiracy to hide this ongoing situation.

And the catholics do not have a monopoly on this but the Celibacy bullshit, not specifically spelled out in the gospels, is a thousand year old problem with the Romans who split with the Orthodox church a thousand years ago and went to one sex only, males (unmarried!), in its clergy thing.

The comments in the first article above seem to typify the situation as most people see this ongoing spiritual mismanagement of criminal activities by the Vatican on a worldwide scale.
-What was it Rigali said on As Wednesday? "The safety of children is paramount". I wonder when that policy began????
 
 -...I know, that whenever I see a catholic priest, the first thing I think of is, how many little boys is he molesting.
 
-The church needs to take a long, hard look at their practices. The church has become a hiding place for men with sexual problems of all sorts. Reevaluate the requirement for priests to refrain from marriage and you will see a change in the men who come into the priesthood.
I am tapped out on comment and anger and indignation. I see the recent Philly scandal in terms of allegory or metaphor or parable in looking at it.

I see retired Cardinal Tony Bevilacqua as playing some part in a Soprano like soap opera like “Uncle Junior”.
...yoos can't indict me. I'm senile.
And “Big” Frank Regali, the de facto head of the archdiocese gang, a religious crime family, and its irregulars, like the infamous Tony Soprano seeing a shrink but knowing all along he is a total bastard.

No doubt Frank Regali knows Tony Bevilacqua's consigliere Ed Cullen who got promoted to Bishop of Allentown Pa. No doubt Frank misses one time enforcer or enabler Joe Cistone who also got a promotion within the crime family as Bishop of Saginaw Michigan after taking over Ed Cullen's old job.

But then you gots to feel for Frank Rigali's current Capo, Billy Lynn, aka the “Monsignor” who got indicted last week as an enabler of the rank and file priests who touch and feel occasionally but are all getting a bad rap in the media.

Imagine, Monsignor William Lynn, under indictment and thinking to himself like Brando in On the Waterfront
“I could a been a contender” (bishop) if these whining bleeding hearts in the D.A.'s office had only looked the other way for a few more years.”
I can only imagine how many pervs in the ranks got promoted to Saginaw or Allentown when the heat was on regarding some private sexual habits of some really special priests or they just got to hang out at a St. Jerome's type bed and breakfast for naughty priests.

To finish, I go with an allegory or parable with the words of a visitor to a once great city on a hill structure of Ascention Church in Kensington-Harrowgate in Philadelphia (pictured above), to describe feelings about both the bishops and clergy in the upper church, the laity in the lower church and the general outlook of the sick sister of the Christian faith – the RC church in general.

As I stated in an earlier blog, I do not want attack the RC church. But my original image of it was formed during a period when the neighborhoods of Kensington-Harrowgate in Philly were filled with full churches, full catholic schools, full factories and full working class simplicity. That simplicity lasted two, three or even four generations floating in time somewhere between the the 1880s and Vatican II.
 
Ascension of Our Lord church
The upper church is, in the words of Pastor Michael Chapman, a “disaster” and is totally off-limits, even to visitors. The Project tried very hard to get a glimpse, but even I was denied. … The lower church is supposedly still in use, but a good chunk of their masses instead take place at the rectory chapel. That’s where ...(I)... found (my)self this past week. Nice, but not exactly what I had in mind when I dropped by for a visit.

It’s really a sin, because Ascension looks to have been really wonderful at one time. It’s a good-sized behemoth that’s notable for its red-tile roof, Greco-Roman-style colonnade, and elaborate stone banisters and staircases. Some of those design elements, particularly the banisters, are not seen anywhere else in the city.

Unfortunately, this church has seen better days. The roof is caving in, there is visible water damage and cracks everywhere, a couple of broken windows and even graffiti on all the side doors. Even worse, the front portion of the church is blocked off by a chain link fence, where the front banister wall is crumbling. Huge chunks of concrete are just lying on the sidewalk, and what’s left is warping and buckling. You can still get glimpses of its past glory, but mostly you just see a desolate husk rotting before your eyes. Despite the fact that it’s still an active parish, it feels more like a ghost town.
 And so it goes.

Popess Pascalina I


I ran into this little bit of unspoken history that the media never touches. She is often referred to as Piux XII's mistress in writings of people who were anti-Pius XII. I am referring to the power behind the throne of St. Peter in the form of “Madre Pacelina” (Josephina) Lehnert, a German nun, who for forty years was Eugenio Pacelli's (Pius XII) “housekeeper” and gatekeeper.

I know that you can write whatever you want in Wikipedia. It will eventually get revised if not totally true. It is a people's encyclopedia of sorts. It can also be used for propaganda.

The excerpt below make me a bit scratching my head. 

Pascalina Lehnert
To assist the pope in the many calls for his help and charity, Pascalina organized and led the Magazino, a private papal charity office which employed up to 40 helpers and continued until 1959. "It started from modest beginnings and became a gigantic charity". By Christmas 1944, housing had been provided at Castel Gandolfo, a papal residence, for 15000 refugees from the invading Nazi forces. Inside the Vatican, Mother Pascalina was in charge of housing, clothing and food for the as many Jewish refugees as the walls could hold. By the end of the war, no less than 200,000 Jews had been sheltered and fed inside the Holy City under her supervision.
I question the 200,000 Jews being fed in the Vatican figure but like I said Wikipedia is only at best a signpost of where to start further research.  Was this during the war or after it?

I have to wonder if this charity racket of Madre Pacalina's was not unlike the Foundation Eva Peron and used as a cover to launder money and issue, sell Vatican passports to war criminals after WWII. Forgive me for being so cynical.

In all likelihood the dicks at the Vatican are no doubt confusing the charity work of Madre Pascelina with that of the “Nazi Pope” Pius XII in the case for his sainthood.

In all likelihood Popess Pascalina I is the one deserving of sainthood. Whatever.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guidestones - Elbert Georgia


FYI

Ran into this on the History entertainment channel on another one of those end of the world, Illuminati, New World Order conspiracy info-mercials for fear.

Had the show on as background noise as I cruised the net.

Apparently some eccentric had these twenty foot high stones erected in 1980 in rural Georgia pushing a green agenda for the future – either in a straight flow time line thing or as a historic guidepost for future generations to discover after a new dark age or collapse of civilisation thing. Whatever.

They, the stones, have been vandalized in recent times by some apparent fundamentalists who have labeled this secular future Rosetta Stone like object as satanic. Mostly graffiti is in spray can paint with inverted pentagrams in circles or “Jesus will prevail” and of course “Obama iz a Muslim!” BS etc.. Whatever again.

Georgia Guidestones
A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines or principles is engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones. Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.


1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language.

4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word Worship, Kevin Shrum, Rob Bell

I just read an article against Rob Bell by a Pastor Kevin Shrum regarding Bell's upcoming book - Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. I have a few things to say and comment on.


I think Shrum unfairly mislabels Pastor Bell as a Universalist and then tries to morph him into this supposed Universalist monster as the basis for his argument to shun him and his ideas. This, as well as to cut off all dialogue and understanding, to build a wall against his sharing with us all the message of Jesus and God's love towards creation.

Worship of a book can be idolatry. Indeed from a distance my perception of Islam is that it worships the words of the Koran. It is to me an idol. I have met few Muslims and have never gotten into a discussion with them about their religion. So in a way if I assume their worship of the words of Mohammed alledged to be the words of God/Allah is idolatry, that is a really big assumption on my part?

I read parts of the Koran and couldn't make heads or tails of it. After I gave the book away, I found out that it was supposed to be read out loud. I also have recently read that the King James Version of the bible was also written with the intent that it be read aloud. That modern translations of the bible block richness of language as well as meaning and connotations of verbal and oral history. If the literature that is the bible is now meant only to be read and not spoken, it is a great cultural loss to us all I fear.

Indeed the Reformation was formed out of the magic creativity of the human mind but more importantly out of machinery, the printing press. The signifigance of that invention and blood spilled in those days about over who understood the words of the bible better than your own translation or perception of such, the energy of anger, of that blood spilling and fire burning enthusiam still exists in the fundamamentalist quarters of Christiandom to this day IMHO.

In my youth and before the ultimate failure of Vatican II, my personal life was peppered with the left over resentment and hatred of that printing press revolution and the wars over words, that centuries old religion power struggle. Yes, words can kill and generations later the collateral damage of mere words, or the worship of such, can still be felt in some quarters.

In my search for spirituality and tainted by the Roman paganism of my youth and that name brand of Christianity, I have found many things and many words and many thoughts that suggest to me that the Jewish holy man Jesus is believable in some of his alledged teachings. I say alledged because scholars over at the Jesus Seminar have among other groups analysed the imperfections of the man made document called the NT – New Testament. Science, linguistics, historic research can shed new light on what I think some think is a perfect object worthy of worship – an idol so to speak - aka the bible.

Anyway, I ran into this article condemning a fellow Christian Rob Bell to some sort of shunned place though in fact I think some wish him a place in hell. My dear fellow Christians, hell is upon this earth and the fundamentalist business of saving souls by cracking men over their heads for not conforming to an imperfect book is like so medieval and archaic. The truth will make you free. Seek and you shall find etc.

I only just became aware of this Rob Bell fellow through the blogosphere and his unique approach to reaching out to humanity beyond his immediate circle at Mars Hill. I found Rob's You Tube on Resurrection and I loved the energy. For the first time in years I could connect with the concepts of the NT and that guy Jesus, and fully imagine that anything he said or did was, or could be, relevant in this modern age.

These rants in the fundamentalist blogosphere about Rob Bell are spilling over to people like me. I want to buy his book now. Free publicity like that some people have to pay for.

I did some research and came to the conclusion that Bell has a brilliant gift to take the rawness of Christianity and commmunicate it to others. His style is modern which is why I think some are jealous of him. He is no rock star but his style is definitely M-TV.

As far as I know Pastor Rob Bell is still a literalist fundamentalist Christian. While some of it works for me in some of his video ministry, it is still just at some level a hook to bring people into his mega-temple. Business is business. Consumers have to be made to want to consume. Etc. Competition is tough these days.

While most atheists are purported to be anti-God, they are in fact in my opinion just anti-religion and based on past and bad experiences of such. The Christian faith is fighting for market share in a dwindling or dying market. I think Pastor Bell is reaching out to some lost sheep. Pastor Shrum seems to be cutting off his own nose to try and smite Rob Bell's success. Pastor Shrum is, to paraphase the famous Ronald Reagan adage, breaking the eleventh commandment of Christian fundamentalism and speaking ill of a fellow fundamamentalist. Naughty. Naughty. He should know better.

Getting back to Pastor Bell:
Don’t you realize that the beach of universalism on which you’re stepping has been tried before and that, just as before, a tidal-wave of biblical truth and historical/theological consensus will sweep you away? You will become a footnote in the history of the church as just another well-intentioned ‘theologian’ who tried to spit into God’s powerful whirlwind of truth. Rob, I’ve never met you, but please, get off the beach before your stellar career is swept away.”
I have read of many so-called heretical beliefs in the past of Christianity. They have been killed off, murdered off literally, and swept into the dust of history. But seemingly they, the logic of these questioning beliefs, from reading the bible, they keep resurrecting themselves. Shrum starts his critique of Rob Bell accusing him of Universalism, which I don't honestly completely understand, as if that is enough to throw the first rock so to speak at a dissenter, a “heretic”, amidst their own fundamentalist ranks.

I have watched the hypocrisy of religion parasiting itself onto our government in my lifetime with its limited world views and cash grabs for “charity”. I have also seen the decline of morality in this nation and in particular the government at a rate to equal the march backward in time toward a Christian theocracy which I think is what fundamentalists want.

Looking at the fundamentalism of the Iranians and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I fear a rule by people who worship words in books and claim to be the same as God almighty which is blasphemy in my point of view.

Did “family values” make honest men of Wall Street bankers? I don't think so. Quite the opposite I think. There is something wrong with any fundamentalism . It lacks heart and soul too. It is do as I say and not as I do little sheeple.

Well anyway the thing in this article against Rob Bell that inspired me to write this is below:
But, Rob, I have more questions. If universalism is true, I’m going for the best of what both worlds have to offer – eat, drink, and be merry in this life for tomorrow I will die, and when I do die I get heaven no matter what happened this side of eternity. And what’s my reward? I get away with it! Fantastic! Again, please don’t tell me that I should still follow Jesus in this life because it will make my life better. Are you kidding! I’m a ‘stinkin’ sinner’ who is already uninterested in and struggling with changing my ways, so if I don’t have to and I can still get heaven and if thumbing my self-important finger in God’s face has no eternal consequences, this is awesome and I for one am all about it...
I am reminded of Jesus' parable about the workers in the vineyard and the same wages paid to those who toil all day or for just one hour. When confronted by dissatisfaction from the day long workers, the owner of the vineyard invokes the golden rule of buisness – he who has the gold makes the rules.

Where do these self-hating, word worshipping fundamentalists get off telling people what God can dole out in terms of salvation? Who are they to say that they are the only 100% kosher Christians on the block?

“God rules the world!” Not you. God saves whomever he wants to. No matter what your so-called rule book says.

Bell in an interview denies being so-called Emergent. What I have learned from e-mails and internet articles about the Emergent church movement, is that it is in theory trying to get above the heavy gravity of the poorly translated inspired word of God. That if a congregation is to remain a vital part of any community in this secular godless global world, it needs to reach beyond those poorly man translated words to the heart of matter, to the heart of Jesus and his message of universal love of creator to its creation – all of his, her creation, not just a chosen few in the bible belt.

Let me be prophetic here too Kevin. Christianity must change or die. The global reality is indeed secular and godless and it is a drug that destroys humanity and men's souls. That if you cannot get to the heart of Jesus' message of love, understand and plant its seeds, then all is truly lost in this world and the next.

Allegory of Peter thrice denying Jesus

I have to wonder if the story of Peter denying Jesus three times in all four gospels – if it is not an allegory of sorts. It struck me like a lightning bolt just a few hours ago of my writing this.

I am using a time line to look at the development of the four gospels. I had the thought some weeks ago that maybe the meeting of Peter, James and Paul in Acts was merely a hypothetical event reconstructed from the histories of Josephus Flavius that mention the death of one James the Just, a brother of Jesus, a fairly common name back then.

I am not trying to be a heretic here. But with that thought of some weeks ago, I have done some research and found that others also think that maybe Josephus is the source material on this so-called brother of Jesus called James as well as other bits and pieces of the NT.

I have already written here that I think (I feel with my heart) that Acts is a bridge document to fill in some historical gaps not available to scholars after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. The fall of Jerusalem is like the destruction of the city in a fire. Like in the middle of a struggle between life and death, do you save the local library or do you save yourself and your family? Good question.

Around this time, the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls seemed to have been hidden away. But speculation on who wrote them and why they got hidden could go on for decades. Interesting tangent though.

I recently got into some genealogical research on the internet trying to piece together some oral family history with real dates and places.

Alas, the only major help out there on the internet are copies of the U.S. Census. There is a privacy thing meaning that you cannot get to the 1940 census yet. So you pretty well have to look up your grandparents and great grandparents starting with the 1930 census and before. I lot of what I am looking for, need, is probably on hard copy at Philadelphia city hall in the form of deeds, marriage certificates etc.

And then there is the hassle of trying to get copies of birth certificates from the states. More privacy issues and cost to obtain computer printouts of a certificate if still on file over a hundred years later etc.. A lot of leg work is still necessary to figure out my family history before 1850.

There is also a great big gap in the middle of my family research. The U.S. Census of 1890 was destroyed in a fire. So you have a twenty year gap in material available if the census is the only reliable documents available. This at a critical juncture of my research. Oh well.

Still, it gives me pause to think. I am trying to fit oral history into historical fact. Still can't find the link that puts me as a supposed distant cousin of W.C. Fields. There is that 1890 historical gap and a lot of Smiths to look up etc. There are a lot of Smiths, even back then. But I keep trying.

It is strange but the hundred and fifty or sixty years that I am looking at is extremely limited, is awfully limited if you do not have family bibles or letters or photographs to go along with the oral history. The maiden name of women in the family tree are not so easy to find. Not mentioned on the census.

You can juggle the names around to fit your oral history exactly. You can also imagine what it was like for eleven people to live in a three bedroom Philly row house etc..

People on the internet site have constructed family trees that overlap with mine and list questionable names and dates. A lot of people go to the first Mike, Mary or Patrick and assume that that is their great grandparent. It is because I have written records from the national archives to contradict this - what I see is that some of these trees are sloppy, unprofessional genealogy. People believe what they want to believe and move on.

If you look at the hundred or so odd years between the life and death of Jesus in first century Palestine and consider that in that time Jerusalem disappeared and the Jews got dispersed several times, thrown out of Judea, you have to wonder where the historical paperwork for the four gospels came from. They probably did not get written in anything like the lifetime of any eyewitnesses of Jesus or his ministry.

Off on another tangent, I run into the fact or the supposed fact that depending on which ancient writings you read or interpret, that Linus was the “first” bishop of Rome from about 67-79 C.E.. If this is true, when and where does Peter the first pope come onto the time line.

The myth of Peter in Rome is found in the Acts of Peter, an apocryphal book that has talking dogs and Peter being crucified upside down after he gets the “quo vadis” line from the lord on the Appian Way when he tries to escape imminent arrest and death in Rome.

I do not want to make light of Peter, but this “first” pope Linus is supposed to have been made bishop by Paul. There was no doubt a possible Peter and Paul fight in the beginning of the church or was there such a fight or did either Peter or Paul really exist in the form as we traditionally visualize them in Rome at all.

Or was the Paul wing of the Christian church too powerful a thing to fight in the early days of the church? Did the follow up bishops or popes have to put the Paul wing of the party in its place. Did the gospels finally show a figure of Peter as more powerful than the Paul wing and its agenda?

Did the written gospels show Simon now called Peter in the gospel of John rewriting the first three synoptic gospels? Peter is proclaiming love for Jesus three times in the last chapter of that strangely written gospel to negate his three denials.

I always thought that this last appearance of Jesus to Peter in John was somehow a political statement.

You have Paul under house arrest at the end of Acts and nothing mentioned of Peter in Rome yet. Chapter 21 of the Gnostic style gospel of John is a bridge chapter, document to connect Peter directly to Jesus over the questionable self appointed, after the fact, apostle of Paul aka Saul of Tarsus. Enough of opinion.

Now for speculation on a time line.

Since I feel that the four gospels are written near the beginning to the middle of the second century, a time line about the final break of Jews and Christians is complete with not one but three so-called Jewish -Roman revolts in 66-70 C.E., 115-117 C.E., 132-136 C.E..

That if there is symbolism or hidden meaning of Jesus written into the official boiler plate gospels, it is perhaps this. That the three denials of Peter towards Jesus in the early hours of the first Good Friday in the four gospels are an allegorical reference to the denial three times by the Jews - in hope of independence, justice and a messiah - and in direct rejection three times of Jesus as that messiah.

Simon the Jew becomes Peter the Roman. This is the symbolic break in writing with the Jews.

That after Hadrian's final solution and holocaust of the Jews in Palestine in 136 C.E., Jews and Christians were separate political and religious entities from that time forward.

That even then, in a symbolic sense, Peter is somehow mythically transported to Rome and the “first” bishop in opposition to Paul's literate scholarly mission of faith. Paul and his writings won't get a thorough going over for another fourteen hundred years, not until the Reformation. Until then nothing but Roman pagan traditions, rituals and myth to hide the true social message of Jesus.

The Christians that count in 150 A.D., the Christians in Rome, anoint Peter in post apocalyptic literature as the chief honcho, the first pope, retroactively, into the imperial capital and center of the world. Great script writing. Fade to black. The end.

Applause.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rob Bell, Resurrection, Emerging Church


It took a long time and many e-mails from a friend to recognize the qualities of this "emerging church" movement thing. It is more than just touchy feely.

It is an awakening to, perhaps reawakening of Jesus' message.

In any case this guy Bell is the first fundamentalist I've heard that doesn't put me to sleep.

It is good to have a Christian in a pulpit with an I.Q., above zero, to communicate something to me on a personal and spiritual level.

You are going to hear his name mentioned a lot in the future. The next Billy Graham? Hardly.

The Pharisees are out and attacking him already. Watch your back Rob.

Let's just wait and see.


Trajan's Demonization of the Jews

The Roman emperor Trajan was mucking about in Mesopotamia trying to annex Armenia. Then, like now, trying to win an impossible winnable land war in Asia. His army garrisoned in small numbers, left behind to protect his conquests, got attacked by Jewish rebels, remnants of the diaspora after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. No doubt Trajan was trying like Alexander to find an easy profitable land route to India and China. Greed is responsible for more human misery than can calculated in heaven or on earth.

Word got through the grapevine about the Romans stretched out too thin in the vastness of the middle east. Other discontent spilled over into rebellion in places such as Cyrene (in Libya), Cyprus, Egypt, Mesopotamia (parts of present day Syria, Turkey, Iraq) and Lod in present day Israel.

Recorded history (by the Romans) puts a name on this people's social revolution across north Africa and the middle east as the Kitos (Quietus) war (115-117 C.E.) after the Roman general Lusious Quietus who successful put down these various revolts with much death and bloodshed. Quietus (Kitos) in essence got stuck cleaning up the mess Trajan brought about by his mismanagement. Hadrian, Trajan's successor, executed Quietus. Assasinate the assasin is the number one rule of power.

The revolt spread from Libya to Alexandria and toward Judea. Jews were no doubt part of this social upheaval. They get the blame both in Roman and later Christian histories. Demonization propaganda that got quoted over and over again by later historians.

In my own opinion perhaps some Jews were ringleaders or on the vanguard of revolt against the Romans. I do think that the populations in general in these far flung Roman colonies rose up, not in solidarity with any Jewish agenda but rather rose up, against official corruption and desperate living conditions. In other words mismanagement and corruption were probably the cause of Trajan's f*ck up war in the middle east.

The Jews got the lion's share of blame in these histories. Things quieted down after the Roman slaughters to enforce Roman law and order. It is remarkable that a people with such a minority position in population outside of Palestine throughout history have been able to acquire such a bad rep for starting trouble. Convenient scapegoats through the ages no doubt framed through some other point of view or agenda.

No doubt the demonization of the Jews in early second century Pax Romana in the Mediterranean world was fresh on the minds of the writing committees that pieced together the four gospels from 120 through 150 C.E..

The gospels of the small Christian sect had to distinguish itself from the Jewish community in general given that Jesus was a Jew and his original teachings and connotations were extremely Jewish beside being revolutionarily human and humane.

“What me Jewish? No way! I am Christian. Not Jewish. Let me explain the difference. Read this.”

Indeed the four gospels were no doubt part of a paper propaganda war of gentile Christians to separate themselves from the source of their faith with is Judaism. Survival of Christianity in light of the recent failures of the Roman state blamed on the Jewish troublemakers made a separation between Judaism and Christianity a priority in the newly revised Christian agenda.

Once that break occurred, the Myth of Jesus, which was the story of a human Jesus got morphed into mainstream pagan Roman culture. If you want respect as a religion you need a god and eventually that is what happened to Jesus in the next phase of Christianity which I label the Christ Myth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Benedict XVI and the Self Hating Gospels


 In an attempt to soften his own roots and contributions to recent European history, Joe the Pope aka Joe the Scholar has let the Jews off the hook for the execution of Jesus in his forthcoming book, Jesus of Nazareth – Part II.

Pope Benedict: Jewish people not guilty for Jesus death

The Jews as a collective body are not directly responsible for the politics of the Jewish “Aristocracy” and or Temple hierarchy that plotted with the Romans to get rid of one minor Jewish Sect/Cult leader in first century Palestine.

Surely Josef Ratzinger was dragged screaming and kicking out of his youthful house and forced to join the Hitler Youth. In a very loose sense, he might be referred to be a self hating German. But the Germans do not really take responsibilty for the Holocaust in their hearts. They have paid some reparations to survivors and built a few monuments and passed a few laws outlawing anti-Semitic discourse in public view. This false sense of mea culpa, of wished for self hating Germans, by the German people for the collective acts of WWII was imposed on them by their conquerors in 1945.

True contrition by individuals can only be experienced by individuals who directly took part in their own little sliver of war crimes during the Nazi regime. Group guilt and group punishment is quite a different matter.

Anti-Semitism is I am told a nineteenth century term. If you go back to the first century the proper term is perhaps anti-Judaism. We again go back to the mysterious dividing line between Jewish Jews following the teachings of Jesus and the half Jews and full Gentiles that morphed a Jewish sect/cult into mainstream Roman pagan culture and Jesus into a god status.

As I have stated before the four Gospels were probably written after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. In deed the language of blaming the Jews for Jesus' death in those gospels reeks perhaps of self-hating Jews as authors. So, if it comes down to logic, you can see that the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses or in some cases by real Jews, Jews that Jesus knew in his lifetime.

How many generations from the believed death of Jesus around 30 C.E., to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., to the Kitos diaspora wars 115-117 C.E., and the final destruction of Jewish resistance by Hadrian in 135 C.E.? Somewhere along that time line, Jesus and his very Jewish mission got turned into Mac and Cheese with Beef Gravy (not kosher).

Benedict XVI scholarship I believe will limit itself to the four anit-Judaic gospels. It is very limited flawed post WWII German scholarship at best for a possible “self hating” German to discount the writings not of first century self hating Jews but rather mid second century Jew hating Gentiles outside of Palestine.

The true message of the Jewish prophet Jesus was, is Love. Anything less, like many passages in the New Testament, just does not cut the mustard.

Third rate hack Roman scholarship seems to have changed little in nineteen hundred years.

And so it goes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jesus, a man of true heart and spirit


I have written before about the Jesus Seminar which has made a scholarly attempt to decipher the New Testament. Long story made short, this decades long project has produced a body of scholarly opinion about the origins of the gospels and the writings in them. Bottom line. The gospels are not eyewitness accounts, play by play, blow by blow, of the holy man aka Jesus of Nazareth.

The Jesus Seminar among most things states that less than twenty percent of the sayings attributed to Jesus were actually said by him directly or indirectly.

The first time I heard something like this in I believe a New York Times article more than a decade or so ago I was completed dumbfounded. The New York Times had a stellar reputation then of printing all the news worth printing.

The Jesus Seminar has more than its share of critics regarding methodology, qualifications of scholarship etc.

Jesus Seminar

The bottom line however is that this niche of historic research, scholarship and educated opinion puts the story of Jesus being resurrected into an allegorical mode and style consistent with Jewish studies and teachings of the time.

A recent online article about J.D. Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar appeared in CNN. The article was insightful into the background of the man who helped start a pathway to truth about the real Jesus and perhaps too the real message of Jesus.

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus
Crossan believes the public should be exposed to even the most divisive debates that scholars have had about Jesus and the Bible. He co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a controversial group of scholars who hold public forums that cast doubt on the authenticity of many sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus...

Crossan's overarching message is that you don't have to accept the Jesus of dogma. There's another Jesus hidden in Scripture and history who has been ignored...
My own search for the real Jesus started many years ago in reading the New Testament several times. As time progressed I noticed the flaws and differences between the gospels. No big deal to a Roman Catholic as I had been raised and never read the bible as a one piece of literature. The gospels doled out in the Roman mass ritual were more like what they describe as soundbites in the media. Short readings and short homilies too as I remember from my youth. In the RC church it is all in the traditions and rituals and not in the writing styles or intent of the original “four evangelists”.

The modern world discounts the ancient world. Jesus and religion and or “Christ”ianity compete with mankind's attention along with media commercials for hamburgers and car insurance.

All this stuff on the side of scholarship by a Jesus Seminar also competes for the tradtional fundamentalist Christianity that in recent decades here in America has seemed to graft itself onto one of the major political parties.

So it is not surprising that people were not aware of all this scholarship and research stuff going on not in secret but off the main media stage. Perhaps too another generation is only getting first wind of this ongoing religious research. The CNN article has something in excess of eleven thousand comments as I am writing this several days after the article first appeared.

In any case I use the Jesus Seminar to reinforce my own historic and religious research. Alas I nevered studied Latin or Greek and cannot do what someone like Crossan and others can do with reading the oldest documents available to scholars regarding the New Testament.

Never the less I find that my own Irish Catholic American upbringing parallels Crossans when he comments on the usage of accepting Jesus to a evangelical Protestant.
Some critics say he's trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had "received the Lord Jesus" as his savior.

Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner's evangelical language to describe his conversion.

"I wasn't going to give him the language; it's not my language," Crossan says. "I wasn't trying to denigrate him, but don't think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity."

When asked if he is a Christian, Crossan doesn't hesitate.

"Absolutely."...
I know where Brother John is coming from. Once the Roman religion is engrained in you, phrases like receiving “the Lord Jesus” as your savior is language you never heard as a child or in the style of Roman Christianity as I experienced it. Five centuries after the Reformation there is still a linguistic and cultural devide perpetuated by both sides of the “Kristos” aisle that only helps to splinter understanding regarding concepts of Christian faith, salvation, purpose and ideals. And then again it might be the non-verbal cultural thing of the Irish.
After spending much of his life in the Roman Catholic Church, Crossan is now an outsider.

He hasn't joined a church because he says a priest might deny him the sacraments because of his run-ins with church leaders.

"If I attend a local Roman Catholic Church, I would get sucked back into all the debates," he says. "I don't want to spend my life fighting Roman Catholicism."
This is the quote that hit home for me. Any of you who are regular followers of this blog know that that is what I have been doing – fighting Roman Catholicism. I have not been fighting it to attack it but rather to deprogram myself in the many pagan aspects of a Christian belief system merged with Roman paganism in its prime. Whatever.

As a cultural Christian I still consider myself a Christian. I believe in the basic message of love of Jesus to us and all our neighbors. I believe in God and the Holy Spirit and believe that Jesus was in some of those few words recognized by the Jesus Seminar as authentic, a true man of heart and inspired by that holy spirit of the creator.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jesus and the Parable of the Unions


Got an e-mail from my old friend Jesus, a retired dude in Vegas.

He thinks that union workers are near the bottom rung socially and economically these days.

Jesus tells me that this image of unionized automobile workers in their glory days past of great wages and benefits is the false union image the whining employers are trying to sell to other points on the population spectrum at the moment.

Then Jesus told me a story, a parable or actually a joke. Jesus has a great sense of humor IMHO.

A unionized public employee, a teabagger and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the teabagger and says, "watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."(anonymous)
I got the joke the first time round. Jesus says that a lot of people in America just don't get the joke or see the humor or the injustice of it all.

Oh well. Maybe Jesus can come up with a better joke in his next e-mail to me.

Have a nice day.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Leo Tolstoy - Christian Anarchist



Like the young, I too can learn something about history from the cinema. Ran into a movie about Leo Tolstoy's last days in the film The Last Station. Not high drama, a good soap opera though of everyday life in the life of a very famous man in his day. I am also a Helen Mirren fan.


Well anyway, I never heard of Tolstoy and his Christian Anarchy and non-violence advocacy. Tolstoy's socialist views were more than exceeded and abused after the Russian Revolution. But that is another story.


The Christian anarchy thing sounds areligionist. Tolstoy was no doubt repulsed by the state religion of Russia in those days. In a way his message is the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy's book The Kingdom of God is Within You (Luke 17:21) is the basis of a non-violent reaction to business as usual regarding wars, social injustice etc.

Another interesting tangent regarding this book I was wholfully ignorant about is that it inspired a young Mahatma Ghandi to form his own ideas about passive resistance against the British in India. Ghandhi wrote to Tolstoy for permission to translate and reprint Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu in which Tolstoy advocates love and non-violence to overthrow the British in India. Tolstoy's last letter was to Ghandhi.

I am a student of history and know that Martin Luther King Jr. based his passive resistance program and efforts on those of Ghandhi. I am not a very good student of history to not know that Ghandhi based much of his political strategy on ideas put forth by the Christan Anarchist Leo Tolstoy.

The ripple effects of the Sermon on the Mount have an energy that seem to go on forever no matter what any official or sanctioned vested religion does to cloud the message of Jesus.

The Kingdom of God can be truly said to be within each one of us!