Tag Archives: The Bible

Hey Zeus! Is That Jesús?

3 Apr

 

Archaeologists say they have discovered the ‘Gates of Hell’, the mythical portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman legend. The site, in southwestern Turkey, is said to closely match historical descriptions of what was, once upon a time, a small temple with traditional Greco-Roman pillars said to have stood next to a wall with steps leading down to a cave doorway filled with foul and noxious gasses.

Describing the site over 2 thousand years ago, the Greek geographer Strabo said: “any animal that passes inside meets instant death.” In fact the portal still spews noxious carbon dioxide fumes which are still lethal to those who breath it.

It seems strange however, that such a deadly place would have a visitors center. What were people thinking when they visited there? Was this just a clever way for the ancient Greeks to eliminate malcontents and trouble makers that they didn’t want around anymore? “Hey Nikki, show these people the gates of hell. They’ll love it! And don’t worry about the fumes folks because…you know…the place is mythical.”

But then again religious beliefs and those who believe in them unquestioningly have always baffled me. Once upon a time hell was underground and heaven was up on the highest mountain tops. Then once humans visited those places we believed that heaven and hell were just a little further out of reach. Now we are sure that they must be in another dimension because we can’t find them anywhere in this one.

It has always amazed me how people who seem to question the validity of  just about everything these days never seem to have any questions about the efficacy of Bible stories…even when they seem to make very little sense or are childishly whimsical… For instance: How did Adam and Eve populate the world all by themselves without the help of incest? How come Jesus and all of his Jewish friends walked around Judea calling each other by Greek names? Or why did all mothers back in the day think that sending their babies down rivers in little baskets was a great way to get their kids adopted into a royal and loving family? 8 people and 2 of every animal species on 1 boat? What divinely inspired writer could possibly have thought that the sun moved? (not to mention the creation of daylight savings time just to have more time for killing people) And no matter how old the Shroud of Turin is, why isn’t anyone curious as to why Jesus’ sweat shadow looks like a medieval knight from Prince Valiant’s Nordic castle?

Anyway, maybe that’s just me, but people once believed that the underworld was a place where souls went after death and at that moment of death the soul was separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and transported to the entrance of Hades.

Nowadays many still believe in the soul separation thing and an afterlife in some other-where where living people cannot go…But curiously, even if most of us believe that we are headed to someplace nice and wonderful like Heaven where God and all of our family and friends are waiting to be reunited with us, no one is in a hurry to “smell the vapors” and get there any time soon. And if we meet someone who is we call them crazy and write them a prescription for Prozac!

We even have laws prohibiting the voluntary passage through that portal by any humans at anytime other than their God’s chosen, naturally prescribed, day of reckoning… no matter how ready they are or how much pain they are in, or are suffering etc… We don’t want to hear it! There will be no going to that wonderful place of bliss unless God says so, or there’s some kind of unavoidable man made collateral damage… or whichever comes first.

Why is that? What do we all have against death if happiness beyond compare awaits? Even Jesus said, “To conquer death you only have to die.” But even so, for a paradise that we only have to die to get into… there really is no one who is dying to get into it… is there?

 

Judge Not… It’s the Best Way to Learn Something New.

30 Mar

It’s the Easter weekend and after having been raised as a Catholic (although without great fervor) I have come to the conclusion that most of what is written in the Bible is metaphorical… in the sense that it exists and was compiled in an effort to teach us about the trials and tribulations inherent in any life lived among others and to hopefully express ways for us to learn how to treat each other with kindness, love and respect.

Of course I could be wrong… but that’s my point. So could everyone else.

Our world has become filled with a myriad of different beliefs and rituals and followings and followers and there appears to be no reason to believe that a consensus on the subject of religious beliefs is anywhere in sight. In the 2,013 years since the first Easter, Christianity has grown from a few followers to over 2 billion and yet that still represents only about 30% of the world’s population.  Some might say that that is quite an accomplishment but at that rate we should all be Christian in the year…never.

Unless of course every seriously devout Christian’s belief comes true and God returns and kills everyone else…and wouldn’t that be nice? That espoused and widely held belief alone has been enough to help me decide that the answers must lie elsewhere.

So here is what I believe is most likely to be true about god and about ourselves (not that you asked) Joseph Campbell says it best for me in this excerpt from an interview that he did with Bill Moyers.

 

CAMPBELL: The reference of the metaphor in religious traditions is to something transcendent that is not literally any thing. If you think that the metaphor is itself the reference, it would be like going to a restaurant, asking for the menu, seeing beefsteak written there, and starting to eat the menu.

For example, Jesus ascended to heaven. The denotation would seem to be that somebody ascended to the sky. That’s literally what is being said. But if that were really the meaning of the message, then we have to throw it away, because there would have been no such place for Jesus literally to go. We know that Jesus could not have ascended to heaven because there is no physical heaven anywhere in the universe. Even ascending at the speed of light, Jesus would still be in the galaxy, Astronomy and physics have simply eliminated that as a literal, physical possibility, But if you read “Jesus ascended to heaven” in terms of its metaphoric connotation, you see that he has gone inward – not into outer space but into inward space, to the place from which all being comes, into the consciousness that is the source of all things, the kingdom of heaven within. The images are outward, but their reflection is inward. The point is that we should ascend with him by going inward. It is a metaphor of returning to the source, alpha and omega, of leaving the fixation on the body behind and going to the body’s dynamic source.

MOYERS: Aren’t you undermining one of the great traditional doctrines of the classic Christian faith – that the burial and the resurrection of Jesus prefigures our own?

CAMPBELL: That would be a mistake in the reading of the symbol. That is reading the words in terms of prose instead of in terms of poetry, reading the metaphor in terms of the denotation instead of the connotation.

MOYERS: And poetry gets to the unseen reality.

CAMPBELL: That which is beyond even the concept of reality, that which transcends all thought. The myth puts you there all the time, gives you a line to connect with that mystery which you are.

Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is simply trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image.

The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, “The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet.”

 

Happy Holidays to those who observe them and peace and safe journey to all!

 

 

This Could Only Happen In America…Or the Bible.

22 Mar

So I heard about this controversy on of all places sports talk radio. Apparently the sports host was watching the new miniseries about the Bible and immediately recognized the character of Satan as our own current President Obama and then when he saw follow up stories in the newspaper and on the internet and took a look at the juxtaposed photos of President Obama and the miniseries’ Satan he was sure of it. Here’s the photo.

In fact, just about everyone who looks at the photo and who has seen the miniseries spots the amazing resemblance. How about you?

When asked about whether or not the resemblance was intended the History Channel had this to say:

“ It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. HISTORY’s ‘The Bible’ is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”

The series creator Mark Burnett said: “This is utter nonsense, The actor who played Satan, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics– including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.” (so I’m guessing this makes the actor an expert on what Satan really looks like?)

And his wife, Roma Downey, who is also one of the producers added: “False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.” And Ms. Romey has made a career out of playing a real live angel on TV so she is somewhat of an expert too I guess.

And even Jesus, or rather the actor who portrays Jesus, chimed in on the controversy by saying:

“I don’t think that’s controversial at all, I think that’s so funny. Mehdi Ouazanni, who plays the devil, did a nice job and it was awesome and never — not even for one second — were we even thinking about that, so I think it’s hilarious.”

So here is a photo of  the actor Mehdi Ouazanni:

Obviously a makeup specialist did his hair, blackened his face and added a few extra touches to make him appear more “Satan” like. (after all any real TV aficionado knows Zorro when he sees him!)

Now whether we fellow Americans should take offense or umbrage at this portrayal of Satan as the President of the United States  may be debatable… but what I find most amusing is that all of these fine actors, and producers and make-up specialists on the set of this miniseries, despite their years of experience and expertise in the business, can’t seem to see or even acknowledge the strange resemblance that most of the 68 million mortal viewers watching it on TV can.

Could that be some kind of miracle?

But on the other hand Mark Burnett, who is also the creator of such biblically epic shows like Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice, and Shark Tank, has said that he believes there is a devil on earth and that  the real devil is scared that Jesus has now entered the picture (in the miniseries) and is trying to distract from Jesus’ message by creating this false story  and a false likeness between Obama and the TV devil because the show is hugely popular and is having a big impact on viewers.

Now that’s a miracle!

But Mr. Burnett and his TV angel wife are confident that the real devil’s plan of distraction will not work, saying, “We believe in the light.”

Television and religion: what a combination! Who but the devil could have thought that one up?

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