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A Religious And Historical Take On Jesus’ Life And Meaning

Novelist and biographer Jay Parini takes on the still-unfolding story of Jesus.

An image of a young Jesus in the workshop of St. Joseph in a 1640s painting by Georges de La Tour. (Creative Commons)

An image of a young Jesus in the workshop of St. Joseph, from a 1640s-era painting by Georges de La Tour. (Creative Commons)

Two thousand years on, and Jesus is still in the news.  The Pope, of course, cites Jesus – but afresh now as he talks about Capitalism and Marxism and inequality.  Megyn Kelly on Fox News lights up the social media world with her commentary on Jesus being white.  And of course, on every church door and mall decoration and pop radio station now, the signs and sounds of Christmas.  Christmas, as in Christ.  Novelist, poet, biographer Jay Parini is writing about Jesus lately.  The man.  His time and teaching.  And the story that inspires a faith.  This hour On Point:  the still-unfolding story of Jesus.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Jay Parini, professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College in Vermont. Author of “Jesus: The Human Face Of God.” Also author of “The Passages of Herman Melville,” “The Apprentice Lover” and ‘The Last Station: A Novel Of Tolstoy’s Final Year.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Daily Beast: Who Was Jesus, Anyway? – “Who was Jesus anyway? After twenty centuries, there is not much anyone can agree on. The four canonical gospels don’t measure up to modern standards of biographical writing, and—outside of this material—there is precious little contemporary evidence, apart from a few glancing mentions of Jesus or the movement centered on him. In truth, Jesus did not, in his own time, attract much notice.”

The New Yorker: Who Am I To Judge? – “‘Who am I to judge?’ With those five words, spoken in late July in reply to a reporter’s question about the status of gay priests in the Church, Pope Francis stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of Popes and bishops. This gesture of openness, which startled the Catholic world, would prove not to be an isolated event. In a series of interviews and speeches in the first few months after his election, in March, the Pope unilaterally declared a kind of truce in the culture wars that have divided the Vatican and much of the world. Repeatedly, he argued that the Church’s purpose was more to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people than to condemn sinners for having fallen short of strictures, especially those having to do with gender and sexual orientation.”

CNN: Seeking The Truth About Jesus — “There are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians. Many regard him as their savior, the Son of God sent to Earth to save human beings from themselves. Others see him as a great teacher, a healer or rabbi of extraordinary power, a holy man or prophet who proposed a new covenant between heaven and earth. To some, he represents a new world order, an egalitarian society, a preacher of nonviolence who asked us to turn the other cheek.”

Read An Excerpt From “Jesus: The Human Face Of God” By Jay Parini

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  • brettearle

    No figure, such as Jesus, could have stood the timeless test of time–in the minds and in the spirits of men, women and families–without there being an ultimate truth and ultimate meaning for a part of mankind in his ongoing meaning and existence.

    But there are also other valid ways, I believe, for looking at the evolution (no pun necessarily intended) of spiritual thought, for Mankind.

    I do not believe that billions and billions of people are born to live and to die–only to seek Jesus, in order to confirm and validate their Faith in God.

    God may very well have provided a number of other routes as well.

    • Leonard Bast

      The timeless test of time! Thank you for one of the best oxymorons ever!

      • brettearle

        Thank you.

        Please…I’m a writer….

        Whether you were being praiseworthy–or whether you were being sarcastic, which I think is less likely–would you help me protect my comment, without a copyright, by NOT using it?

        I am so often reluctant to share my ideas, here.

    • J__o__h__n

      Didn’t Jesus say the only way was through him? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth,
      and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. – John 14:6

      • keltcrusader

        Really, HE said that? According to who?

        • J__o__h__n

          The writer of the book of the Bible attributed to “John” via the King James edition claimed he saith it.

          • keltcrusader

            “claimed” being the operative word I think

          • J__o__h__n

            All of this is claims.

      • brettearle

        I don’t believe that the Bible is the ultimate Truth for everyone.

        To believe that it is the ultimate Truth for everyone, is to deny the Faith of millions and millions of others–since the beginning of Mankind.

        • J__o__h__n

          There is no ultimate truth.

          • Jon

            it’s a self repudiating statement.

          • brettearle

            You’re splitting hairs and you knew perfectly well, what I meant.

          • J__o__h__n

            Actually I don’t. I don’t think there is an ultimate truth. Obviously there can’t be more than one.

      • OMA_OPINES

        “John 3:17 God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved”. Perhaps (it is a wonderful Mystery) what Jesus meant in John 14:6 is that his atoning sacrifice, substitutionary death is the WAY that the separation from God the Father is bridged. Ultimately,God judges by the thought and intents of the heart, not by the label.

        • J__o__h__n

          It still says “through him” – I think these stories are no more than myths and that there is no afterlife. But if there is no historical evidence and people are claiming that the texts they are based on aren’t actually what god meant, then the substance gets even more flimsy.

  • Ed75

    A humanist (I assume atheist is implied here) should indeed study Jesus and Mary. They are the two people who are without sin. Jesus is true God (the second Person of the Trinity), but Jesus is also true man, fully man, ‘like us in all things but sin’. So to learn how a human being should live, how great a human being can be, one can study the lives of Jesus and Mary, and also get to know them.
    One has to ask, “What kind of a being is a human being, how great is he (and she), that God can actually take on his (or her)nature?”
    There is no one in the ancient world about whom we know as much as we do about Jesus. There are more biographies of Jesus and of Mary written than have been written about anyone else. We even know what he looked (and looks) like (the Shroud of Turin).
    The Church teaches that Jesus has two natures, divine and human. So he has two wills (one divine, one human), two intellects (one divine, one human), two natures (one divine, one human), but he is one person: he is a divine person. (No founder of any other religion claims to be God.) When one is speaking with Jesus, one is speaking with God, Yahweh walking among his people.

    • J__o__h__n

      We know very little of him. We know lots about other ancient figures like Julius Cesar and Augustus. The number of biographies is a result of audience demand not the amount of evidence of the subject. The Shroud of Turin? Really?

      • Ed75

        If one accepts the Gospels as historical, which the Church does, then we know lots about Jesus. (Some say the apostles wrote what they wanted to convince others, but it makes more sense that they felt the tremendous responsibility of reporting accurately what they had seen. And then they also died for it.)
        The Shroud of Turin is probably the most scientifically examined piece of cloth in the world, the examination involves every branch of science, even botany. Fascinating. It does explain why the images of Jesus look alike even from the early centuries, they’re from the image on the Shroud. The image is visible, but became clearer in 1898 when a photographer took its picture and developed the negative, the image is a negative on the cloth.

  • J__o__h__n

    Any historical claims made about Jesus himself and not just about the times he allegedly lived in should be viewed with extreme skepticism as there is almost no historical evidence for his life as recounted in the Bible (which has contradictory accounts of his birth). Reza Aslan’s Zealot was an interesting book.

  • Ed75

    Odd, you write that Jesus ‘only attracted the poor’ and then you say ‘His religion was accepted by the empire. Which is it? In fact, Jesus did not appeal only to the poor (see NIcodemus, Joseph of Arithethea, etc.) The apostles were not as poor or illiterate as we like to think.
    And he did found a church: the Kingdom of God he speaks of is the Catholic Church, which will be fulfilled in Heaven. He guides the Church, which is his body, so I can’t accept the historical sketch above. Bonhoeffer was a Protestant, so he didn’t accept the Catholic Church, but he aptly points out that at the heart of even the Church is a commitment to the person of Jesus Christ, a relationship with Jesus Christ, discipleship.
    The title is absolutely correct: Jesus is indeed the human face of God, become man so we could know him. Pope Benedict oftened prayed ‘Show us your face’.

    • TELew

      Of course, there are alternative understandings of the early Christian religion. Most notably, in one the disciples viewed him as the Messiah, the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy. It was neither Christ’s nor their intentions to create a new religion; they viewed themselves as good Jews, and Christ was yet another development in their long history.

      It was Paul, whose main constituency were pagans, especially Greeks, whose teachings led to the founding of a new religion.

      The evidence to support this is found in Paul’s letters, especially his references of his problems with Peter and James. This problem is glossed over in Acts, but it is mentioned. Ultimately those who followed Paul’s teachings rather than the teachings of the Jewish Christians prevailed, leading to the founding of Christianity.

      • Ed75

        This is a fairly subtle view, and it’s common, but it’s dangerously wrong. It’s true, the early Christians worshipped in the Temple with their fellow Jews, and Christianity looked like a Jewish sect or division. (Though they had immediate conflict with the leaders). They celebrated the Eucharist in their homes, though they would still go to the synagogue. One consequence of this was that happily the Jewish structure of worship was not lost but carried over as the basis for Christian worship.

        Christianity, from a Catholic viewpoint, is indeed the fulfillment of Judaism, the Messiah they were promised has come. At the same time, Jesus brings a new covenant, a new dispensation. Like the good steward in the parable, it takes from the old and the new. ‘Christianity is built on the good stock of Judaism’ Paul. They did view themselves a good Jews, since Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.

        The early Christians did worship in the synagogues, but they were eventually excommunicated as blasphemers and thrown out. The early Christians wanted their Jewish brethren to accept Jesus – that was the plan – they themselves had been Jewish – but the Jewish leaders officially rejected him. Wherever Peter or Paul went, they always preached to the Jewish people first, since to them had been promised the Messiah, but when they were rejected they turned to the Gentiles.

        The issue with Peter and James and Paul wasn’t over whether Christianity was a new religion or a sect of Judaism, but whether Gentiles would have to be circumcised and follow the dietary laws before entering the Church – in other words, does one have to become a Jew before one can become a Christian, or not? (Not whether one would be a Christian – Paul – or a Jew – Peter/James.)

        The idea you mention is common, but also it denies the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus. Raised from the dead and with the Father, Jesus is the head of the Church – not Paul or Peter or James, and he sent the Holy Spirit, who lives in the Church, to vivify it. So the evolution of the Church isn’t Paul’s doing but that of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, though of course Peter and Paul were the great instruments at that time. (They just did a public display with Peter’s relics in Rome.)

        • TELew

          Ed,

          I am not going to argue with most of your points, as they possess some degree of truth, and it would take too much time to do so.

          Nevertheless, I strongly disagree with your assertion that the view I wrote about is “dangerously wrong.” I consider it the most viable historical conclusion. I also believe that true knowledge is the best knowledge. That does not mean I in any way believe actual events that happened were “good.” Wars, gladiatorial games, genocides, various forms of discrimination, political corruption, and justifying discrimination by ones religious beliefs are bad, maybe even “evil” things. And of course this list is by no means exhaustive.

          Obviously we differ on our ideas about God. Nothing you say and nothing I say will convince the other.

          • Ed75

            That’s OK, I’m just trying to present Catholic belief and doctrine. Of course our disagreement above is about history, so further research will eventually clear it up. (Dan Brown did a lot to promote and crystallize the view you expressed, and other writers too.)

          • TELew

            Dan Brown was a novelist. I am an actual historian, with degrees and (albeit at this time minor) publications.

            Anyway, it is always fun locking horns with you. Have a merry Christmas, happy New Year, and a general good holiday.

          • Ed75

            That’s wonderful! You too, Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

  • 1Brett1

    I was going to say that “humanist” is a Catholic’s term for an atheist, but Ed75 illustrates that point below.

  • Bminder

    I taught in a Jewish Day School and was responsible for literature and history, so one year long ago, Mr. Parini, the class and I read Benjamin’s Crossing as part of our study of the Holocaust. They were a special group, able to ‘handle’ it, and your rendering of Walter Benjamin’s story I am sure minimally has made all of those students continue to be stunned by the utter ridiculous wonder of Jews escaping from the Nazis by hiking over the Pyrenees into Spain where they found refuge even though it was still illegal to be Jewish in Spain, a law that dated back to that old famous year, 1492. I also taught the poetry of Robert Frost and I remember helping myself to a deeper understanding by reading some of your commentary. May I say then that I’m an appreciative student of yours? bob minder

  • rich4321

    The whole thing about Jesus is a lie created by someone thousand years ago! Wake up people Jesus did not and does not exist!

    • d clark

      His having existed is as well (or better) attested as Julius Caesar.

      • J__o__h__n

        That is false. There is one historical mention of Jesus – his death as mentioned by Josephus. There are countless historical records of Cesar’s existence.

        • d clark

          Because, of course, the vast trove of the New Testament witness, you utterly discount having any historical accuracy. You hate Christians (and Christ), so of course you would.

          • J__o__h__n

            They are not historical documents. They were written significantly after the time he lived. I don’t hate the vast majority Christians. I don’t hate mythological characters.

          • d clark

            And Roman, as well as ALL ancient ‘history’ ,was not documentary history, but commissioned by the rich or powerful in many cases to show the divine nature and deeds of the patron. Yet you unhesitatingly call them ‘historical’ while discounting all the NT.
            Yes, you do have animus.

          • J__o__h__n

            I didn’t cite Roman historians for proof. There is documentary evidence from his life that is sufficient proof for the standards of today’s historians.

          • d clark

            And I say again, you give credence to THAT ancient “documentary evidence” yet TOTALLY discount any of the vast documentation which is the NT, thus showing you have prejudice against the religious. I have no doubt that Caesar lived!

          • TELew

            The books in the New Testament are considered historical, but from the perspective of historians they are not good histories. First, there are no specific dates within the books that would locate in a grander historical scheme. By contrast, the Romans kept meticulous year-by-year records.

            Second, in the books of the New Testament the supernatural is a causative force. That places the contents of each book in a rather dubious place from the perspective of an historian (here I mean trained in a credible academic university–not just someone who writes “history,” the current worst example of which is Bill O’Reilly). (Of course, that does not mean what the books of the NT testify to did not happen. It’s that metaphysical causation lies far beyond the scope of what a historian takes into consideration–a supernatural explanation creates many more problems than it solves).

            Finally, there are of course the various contradictions one finds in the texts of the books of the New Testament. Early Christian writers essentially combined the various works together to create a uniform narrative. However, for the modern historian this practice is too simplistic. Historians must take into account the reason these books were written. For instance, reading the text carefully they generally believe that the four gospels were written at different times by representatives of different groups with unique perspectives and/or agendas. Thus the differences in the various gospels have meaning far beyond the question of what happened. Thus the gospels are best read as testaments to the beliefs of certain factions within the first century Jesus movements rather than actual history.

            The documents that can be considered as “primary” sources for the writing of history are the authenticated letters of Paul. But these do not testify to the beliefs of Jesus and his disciples, but rather to Paul’s beliefs and activities.

        • Angelique LaCour

          With only a 3 year public life the man obviously didn’t make it into the history books. He was a religious figure who took on the leaders of Judaism, not the government. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t exist.

          • J__o__h__n

            I didn’t claim he didn’t exist. I just said that there isn’t historical proof for the character presented by the Bible.

      • TELew

        Julius Caesar actually wrote books that have survived. Jesus didn’t.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          Curiously enough, Socrates never wrote any books, either. Like Jesus, Socrates practiced first-person oral education, while onlookers took notes.

          • TELew

            One interesting thing is there is confirmation of Socrates’s existence independent of Plato’s writings in one or two contemporary sources. By the way, the Greeks “invented” history as we understand it–they recorded the winners of the Olympics on an annual basis, which became the standard for dating events in subsequent works of history such as those of Thucydides and Herodotus. By contrast, Homer’s works (Iliad and Odyssey) are not considered history first and foremost because they do not have any dating system. Secondly, the events in Homer’s works are interwoven with supernatural beings, so that makes it mythical literature rather than history. By the way, we can accurately date the events of the earliest Olympics using our calendars and theirs.

            My point is that d clark’s claim above is not accurate. There are many independent, contemporary or near contemporary sources that verify Caesar’s existence. These include books that he wrote.

            Such is not the case for Jesus. Mark is believed to have been written about 30 years after Jesus’s death, and Matthew and Luke 40-50 years afterward, and John 60+ years. The most “historical” sources in the New Testament are Paul’s letters, and they are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus. Rather they are the accounts of Paul attempting to create a Jesus cult (this word is not used in a negative way; it simply means a new religious group with unique beliefs different from the prevailing religion).

            If I were to put odds on it, I would say it is more than 95% probable that Jesus existed. He simply had too great an impact on the region in which he lived not to have existed. The problem about this lies in the fact that no contemporary sources confirm his existence, and only sources written several years and several decades after his death refer to him. And no, historians do not believe the attributed authors, allegedly eyewitnesses, of the gospels were actually the ones who wrote them.

          • Barry Kort

            What makes Socrates memorable is his introduction of innovative methods of reasoning. In my role as a science educator, I routinely use the Socratic Method. It’s possible someone else devised it earlier, and Socrates is credited with demonstrating it.

            Jesus is credited with demonstrating innovative ideas that arguably can be traced back to others (including Buddha). I can’t say that I employ or rely on the Jesuitic Method as much as I rely on the Socratic Method, but I can appreciate his contributions to the 20th Century practices of Gandhi, King, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela.

  • Agni Ashwin

    Interesting that the author links Jesus with the Silk Road.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Historian Bill O’Reilly was unavailable?

    • northeaster17

      He’d probably start off by calling Pilate a pinhead

  • J__o__h__n

    Cosmic time? Myths are true? Please remove “historical” from the show’s headline.

    • brettearle

      Why?

      History is often interpretation, not Reality.

  • Ed75

    Of course he was in a perfect place. But the ideas don’t come from other traditions to him, he is the source of them.

    • brettearle

      To see Jesus as the only vehicle to reach a communion with God is to deny the spiritual journey of billions of other people who have been born; who have walked the earth; who have died; and who are also still living.

      • Ed75

        Well, on the one hand, ‘There is no other name under heaven by which one can be saved’, letter of St. Peter. But on the other hand, since God wills the salvation of all, he works through other religions also to bring men and women to sanctification, virtue, and knowledge of him, even if that knowledge is imperfect. That is the Catholic view, that the grace people receive by following other religions still comes from the Sacrifice of Jesus and his life on earth.

  • Jon

    Jesus is rather a mind projection of yourself. It’s either a divine inspiration or lame excuse of your desire.

  • Paul Meade

    Tom, Tom, Tom. An author parroting the gospels written years after a supposed virgin birth and a later crucifixion that was suffered by other “sons of god”. The historical accuracy of the writings in the new testament cannot be authenticated let alone the actual existence of Jesus.

    • brettearle

      Nor can it be disproven.

  • Tom

    The guest just said that Jesus said experience the higher mind. That means he taught us to practice Transcendental Meditation to systematically transcend every day, until your brain and mind is enlightened.

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Today, it’s called the Ninth Intelligence. And it’s still quite rare to find individuals who employ it.

      • Tom

        That is a very good point Barry.

    • standuncan

      His point was very good, very helpful, very contemporary, but not at all likely what Jesus meant 2000 years ago.

      • Tom

        Stan, it is exactly what the ancient Indo-European myth was promoting. Transcend. Neuroscience now shows that it is possible and easy for anyone to do – reach a more unified, holistic, and correlated brain functioning – using a non-religious, natural, and ancient technique. The brain is seen to change in ways that are far far more important and significant than are being seen in any other methods. TM just works.
        Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”, and he said, “You are in me, and I in you, and we are one with God.” This is a good description of what people mean by the word ‘transcend’, and what this author correctly points out is the proper translation of what has become ‘repent’. The word was not ‘repent’, but ‘metanoia’, meaning “beyond mental analysis’. ie. transcendent to mental activity. The human brain today is not fully functioning. It is functioning at a sub-normal level. Neuroscience shows this.
        IF there was a brain in the past, that was functioning at a higher (more normal) level, THEN that brain would have expressed the truth of that experience, and this is what an ‘avatar’, ‘seer’, ‘yogi’, ‘messiah’ is. It iis just a person with normal brain functioning, nothing more, who is talking to a people whose brains are stifled by stress and lack of experience of the transcendental level of mind.

    • brettearle

      I don’t understand.

      I don’t believe that what you say is true–unless you are being sarcastic.

      TM is one, of many ways, through.

      • Tom

        Bret. The only way that you can say that “TM is one of many ways” is to show the science published in respected peer reviewed scientific journals, and specifically the fMRI and EEG neurology that TM creates, but other methods fail to produce. You would have to find hundreds of studies that show the same significance as these published studies on TM. Those don’t exist. Those studies on other methods are showing much less significant change in the brain. ie. not worth much as far as we can tell so far. and we don’t need to wait 30 years until they do.

        • brettearle

          Tom,

          `Higher Mind’ may not necessarily pertain to neurochemical or neurological changes.

          Or the benefits of Higher Mind, as Parini puts it, may not be demonstrable via scientific research.

          • Tom

            Neuroscientists call it, quote:
            “higher level of human brain functioning.” or “a heightened state of conscious awareness” similar to the quote: “highly lucid and realer-than-real mental experiences.”

            http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/brain-metrics/could_a_final_surge_in

          • Tom

            Neuroscientists call it, quote:
            “higher level of human brain functioning.” or “a heightened state of conscious awareness” similar to the “highly lucid and realer-than-real mental experiences.”, and the EEG and fMRI have been without question associated with an array of psychological, intellectual, and physiological superior functioning. This is entirely documented in many many peer-reviewed published studies. It is without dispute.
            It is also not that hard to attain with the right technique. Jesus may have had such brain functioning.

  • standuncan

    My apologies for not yet having a chance to read your book,
    but based on your comments, I’ve got to say it doesn’t sound accurate. It sounds fine as individual theology, but you claim to be writing history.

    I don’t mean in the sense of literalists fundamentalists, but
    there have been a lot of hard-nosed historians who have come to a much different picture of him than you do. You see him as something like a new age enlightened visionary, which is fine, but can’t be backed up by the historical record.

    For example:

    * You re-translate words in ways that no serious Greek linguist would agree with. I can look up the word metanoia in a dozen Greek dictionaries, and not find anything close to what you define it as. “Go Beyond” is correctly limited, but not “Open your mind to the larger life of God” goes way beyond the facts.

    * You seem to–sound like–you take the Sermon on the Mount literally. You say that he has all sorts of eastern thinking in the sermon, but most Scholars believe that much, if not most, of that was composite over decades by his followers

    * You say he went up on the mountain, like Moses, because he thought of himself as a kind of Moses—but Luke says it is in the valley. And most Scholars say that Luke was more correct. All of the parallels that you come up with Moses, were added by
    Matthew. You don’t find those in Mark and Luke.

    Stan Duncan

    • Tom

      The term derives from the Ancient Greek words μετά (metá) (meaning “beyond” or “after”) and νόος (noeō) (meaning “perception” or “understanding” or “mind”), and takes on different meanings in different contexts.

      • standuncan

        Correct and well done. I’m jealous of your ability to paste in the Greek letters (I tried and failed to do that). And one meaning of the word might be something close to what Jay wants it to mean. But he seems to be trying to say that his interpretation of that complex word is the TRUE meaning of Metanoia that he just discovered, and the others are incorrect, and that simply is not true.

        • Labropotes

          Stan, block in the text you want to copy. Hit ctrl-insert. Go to where you want to paste, hit shift-insert. Should work.

          • standuncan

            Ha, thanks, yes, that would work. What I did was to use a font that did not have an ascii equivalent, and it came out garbled. In my next life I’ll be more tech savvy.

          • Tom

            Stan, I just copied and pasted from Wikipedia :-)
            I know that’s not cool, but the definition is correct.

    • brettearle

      Mr. Duncan,

      In the final analysis–and correct me, as to why I might be wrong–what I actually hear you saying is that you find some of Professor Parini’s interpretations of history, inaccurate…..

      …and, therefore, whatever you or Professor Parini aver about actual history, you, yourself, might be implying–unless you state otherwise–that therefore, the MESSAGE that Jesus offered–to either of you–must be different.

      Why?

      Historical interpretations might not necessarily change the thrust, the depth, and the nature of Jesus’s teachings.

      • standuncan

        Well, what you are saying is certainly possible. you can disagree on historical evidence (as i do with Jay), and still come to similar conclusions about the meaning and teachings of Jesus. And, let me be clear, his interpretation of Jesus is a good, positive, wholesome interpretation. A large number of good people agree with him and his mystical, eastern, new age-sounding, spiritual interpretation of Jesus. I borrow from that interpretation myself on occasion, though I’m a little too “Type A” to go as far as he does.
        My problem was simply that he claims that he is uncovering the real historical Jesus and he’s very clearly not. Real live, long-suffering, battle-scarred scholars would disagree with a very large number of his claims.
        I wish only that he would say up front that what he is doing is a theological, non-historical picture of this iconic individual (the Book Series he’s writing for, by the way is called “Icons).
        It’s just slightly misleading to make people think that he uncovered this theological, spiritual interpretation by studying ancient manuscripts and learning Greek. His Greek translations, for example, are just flatly incorrect. A preacher is well within his or her rights to hold up the expansive interpretations that he makes, but not a biographer, a scholar, a historian.

        • brettearle

          I appreciate your comments–at least to the degree that I understand them.

          And the largest reason for my appreciation is because your integrity covered the possibility that historical interpretations and misinterpretations do not discount the universality of Jesus’s message.

          I wish you had called up the show. They would likely have put you on.

          You may not have the wherewithal to write to him and then summarize what he said to you, here. [This thread lasts for a long time.]….But his repsonse would interest me and surely others…..

          I found irony in Professor Parini pointing to the “4 Quartets” for important theological reference, when T.S. was an avowed anti-Semite.

          [Do as I say, not as I do....]

          • standuncan

            I may well write him a note. I too would be interested in his comments. I suspect I’d like him in person and we would have a lot in common.
            You are right about Eliot, but we’re all human. Gandhi beat his wife, ML King dated out on his, and T Jefferson slept with his slave. Terrible things, all of them. But I wouldn’t want to throw out the body of their work because of it.

        • Labropotes

          How do you feel about John Dominic Crossan’s Historical Jesus, or Essential Jesus?

          When I was a kid, I used to snowmobile across a lake to a mothballed Catholic summer camp — Econ for those who know Lake Joe. In the old main building, easy to enter without damage, was a tidy library where I sat for hours in my snowsuit reading the Catholic Encyclopedia. I don’t remember where, but I read that it was good that the framers of the bible cut off the stories where they did, because even John has become rather mythologized. That statement really opened my mind to freely interpreting what I read according to my own senses and what I can trust.

          • standuncan

            I Like Crossan’s work and have read both of those. he’s one of the foremost Jesus Scholars alive today (though not above reading a little of his own politics into the story of Jesus too).
            Wherever you read it, it is true that there were great debates about what should go into the biblical canon, and many did not care for John (or the book of the revelation). Later M Luther considered seriously cutting out James because it contradicted so much of Paul. And Song of Solomon because he thought it was a little off color. And so it goes.

  • Michael Marcus

    Bar Abbas means “son of the father,” not Son of God!

    • jo_depaolo

      Some would interpret these as the same, no?

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        “Abba” (“Father”) was a common reference to God. And it still is, in Jewish liturgy.

        • Michael Marcus

          in Hebrew or Aramaic sources?

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Both.

          • Michael Marcus

            prior to, say, 100 CE?

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            A commonly cited Hebrew reference is Isaiah 63:16. This reference would surely have been known to Jewish scholars who spoke Aramaic.

          • Tom

            Like all primitive cultures it was a reference to the ‘forefathers’ who they believed watched over them in a god-like spirit. Eg. Jesus talking about Esiah, Elias, and Abraham for example. It became something else later, but ALL ancient religions have their roots in shamanistic tribal beliefs.

          • Michael Marcus

            Yes, the literal Hebrew refers “you our father” but still, it’s taking a text at least 5-6 centuries older to apply to a radically different and incipiently “Christian” context. I can think of J. liturgical references to father but “God” is always the four abbreviated letters or older “El” “Elohim”

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            All we have to go on is that the Jesus of the New Testament is a practicing Rabbi who is familiar with Jewish scriptures. There were many metaphors to characterize the deity of the Old Testament, of which “Father” remains a favorite among modern day Christians.

          • Michael Marcus

            and that, Barry, was my point. Fini.

          • Barry Kort

            Deities typically characterize some cultural abstraction which is conveyed through stories. It is a lamentably commonplace misreading to take elements of these stories literally, rather than appreciating them as vehicles for conveying an underlying abstraction.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            The cited passage in Isaiah, from which we obtain “Avinu Malkeinu” (Our Father, Our King) was a clear reference to the Hebrew God of the Old Testament.

          • Tom

            The Hebrew God of the Old Testament was just a forefather, glorified.

  • Tom

    Kristna = Crishna.
    Krishna = your transcendent mind.

  • J__o__h__n

    The comparison to JFK is silly. Oral history compared to the first televised presidency is not close to the same level of evidence. And I think the CIA, the mob and the Cubans killed Jesus not Pilate.

    • Fredlinskip

      As Mr Parini points out, we have the writings of Flavius Josephus to substantiate that Jesus existed;
      therefore televised recordings are not required.

      • J__o__h__n

        The mention of him is very minimal and offers no evidence to most of the biographical details claimed.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Tom, please ask your guest whether he believes that Jesus perrformed physical miracles such as walking on water, raising the dead, healing people born lame/blind, feeding 5000 from 5 small loaves and 2 fish, etc. Or does he somehow “spiritualize” these and deny the existence of these miracles. If so, we should throw the entire Bible out as certainly presents these events as physical miracles.

    • brettearle

      Are you suggesting that miracles are happenstance, as we speak?

      And, are you, indeed implying–perhaps you’re not–that for these miracles to happen, one must be a believer?

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        There is a quote, attributed to Einstein, that goes: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

    • Ray in VT

      So, if the Bible isn’t literally true, in at least that regard, then it should be discarded entirely?

  • addi

    Jesus and his predecessors Buddha, Krishna, Rama and Zoroaster, (and countless other ones before them) as well as his successors Mohammed and Meher Baba were “messiahs”, “prophets”, or “avatars”, in other words, God in Human Form and therefore all knowing, and religions sprang up after their passing. Saint Francis was a Perfect Master, five of which are always living among us and direct our human affairs, unbeknownst to us; they are responsible for unveiling God-in-Human-Form at certain times when humanity needs another wake-up-call.

    • brettearle

      How do you know this?

      What makes you think so?

      • addi

        Through books such as “God Speaks” “Discourses” and other books of and about Meher Baba.

        • FrankensteinDragon

          i will write a book about the god of flatulence and his funky peace–will you then believe it as truth?

    • X-Christian

      Those are simply wild claims. How do you know any of these things?

  • J__o__h__n

    Most people believe the supernatural aspects of their religion. When these claims are challenged, the more academic religious expert then claims that the people challenging it are being too literal.

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      We have the same problem in science, when we go hunting for metaphors to explain theories that are more properly expressed in the language of mathematics.

      • Labropotes

        All communication is by analogy. All words are metaphors. In math, cardinality is that ineffable quality that x suns and x trees have in common. When I delve into a subject am I digging into the underlying matter? Is that possible? Am I being too literal? Literally means by the letter, so when I say it about digging, I’m using a metaphor. It’s as much of a problem as we make it, and a good argument for a very broad education, that we might make the most of our metaphors.

        • Barry Kort

          Explaining scientific models would be a lot easier if the lay audience could apprehend the math straight away without having to map it onto metaphors.

    • brettearle

      Let’s assume that I listened to the program. But, let’s also assume that I didn’t.

      Therefore, regardless of what Professor Parini said, didn’t say, or should have said…..

      Tell us, what is it that you are actually TRYING to say?

      Not all of us are Theologians….please enlighten us, by being more specific.

      Otherwise you are coming across as being intentionally cryptic–as if what you are saying is something like, “that’s something for ME to know and YOU to find out.”

      • J__o__h__n

        He was talking about debating Christopher Hitchens and then made a comment comparing atheists to fundamentalists in that they focus on what he doesn’t consider to be the important parts of the religion. My point was that after an atheist points out that the supernatural or historical claims are not true, the academic then usually claims that those aren’t the important parts of the religion and then he dilutes the religion into something spiritual more akin to the Force than resembles what most or at least a significant number of followers of a religion actually believe.

        • pennyroyal

          There’s atheist and then there’s anti-theists. I am not one of the latter.

      • pennyroyal

        try going to theology school….I went and left as a secular humanist. And I am not alone. Somehow you never hear about people like us.
        IMO there is no ‘there there’ just a bunch of things people believe with no proof and often no common sense behind it. Why did Jesus turn on the fig tree and curse it and it withered and died? It had meaning then but this is not back then and we can’t go back and recover.

        • brettearle

          “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.”

          • pennyroyal

            I don’t care what others believe and certainly most people’s religious faith is what makes them good and decent human beings. Look at the Quakers.

          • J__o__h__n

            Shouldn’t that be our argument?

          • brettearle

            Who is `Our’?

  • brettearle

    There may not be….

    Or, God could have many faces.

    • TELew

      Of course, one could raise the question of just what are angels (and demons). Or for Catholics, just what are the saints (Robin Lane Fox makes a pretty good argument that the saints essentially succeeded in function pagan deities as the ancient Greeks, Romans, and others converted from paganism to Christianity).

  • CoSoCar58

    Believing it symbolically and no longer feeling the need to believe it literally is how I remain a Christian. Whoever believes I’m not a Christian for not believing a virgin actually became pregnant by God can think what they want to think. What good would it do to have a conversation with them?

    • X-Christian

      I believed ‘symbolically’ in Jesus for at least 10 years after I lapsed as a Catholic.
      Then one day the floodgate opened and I saw the entire religion was a sham.
      The idea that there are some people in the world who still feel that God is real still shocks me.

      • Paaven

        I don’t believe God, as I understood him as a child, is real. I can’t understand why anyone would with any confidence. But I really don’t think it’s impossible that there is some sort of God–some eternal unifying force that connects all living things. That type of god probably isn’t giving commandments though. The problem is that we puny humans are limited by our senses. We can’t perceive what is imperceptible, so there will always be the unknown.

        • X-Christian

          Please take heart. Humans are not puny. Religion indoctrinates us into believing that we are puny. But we are not!
          Such is the disease of religion.

          There are many wishful people who believe without any evidence that there is a god who connects all of us with nature, etc.

          I see no reason to believe any of it. And it is damaging to your brain to believe things without evidence.

          If gods are real and if spirits are real let us wait and see if evidence emerges to reveal this information. Until then, I say it is better to reject the nonsense.

  • Ky

    I was extremely disappointed that On Point chose to feature this piece as a solitary voice with no substantial differing perspective to challenge the claims being made. In the first hour of On Point today Tom invited both sides of a debate within the Republican party to chime in equally, creating a full bodied discussion of the situation in the GOP right now. Then, however, when it came to the discussion of the “religious and historical meaning of Jesus” we are offered an incredibly singular and slanted perspective that arguably undercuts the integrity of the Christian faith. Of course, not all programming can be debate style, but there was no mention at all of any perspective on Christ besides the heavily mystical and symbolic interpretation that Dr. Parini expounds. Christmas is less than two weeks away and is already saturating day-to-day life in America. The relevant and interesting issue is that hundreds of thousands of people believe that this holiday marks the birth of the Son of God, the savior of all of humankind. Skirting this issue by entertaining only the most liberal voices, without challenge, is a disservice to listeners and makes for inconsequential journalism.

    • vtsongwriter09

      While I don’t disagree with your statement, what Tom was doing here was discussing a book and the author’s views. It isn’t really open for debate. I am an atheist and found the program to have an interesting perspective. I would like to hear clergymen of different subgroups of religions discuss their differences in denominations, perspectives and faith, and then throw in some atheists to mix it up. A agree that this interview was slanted. If the book was about the best way to grow and care for orange trees do you think he would bring apple farmers to the conversation?

      • Ky

        I agree that Dr. Parini’s perspective is interesting, but what bothered me about the program was that his was the only one you heard. Just like you named, there are many important voices that were left out of the conversation. By choosing the interview style, and by choosing Dr. Parini himself, On Point is limiting the conversation about Jesus and Christmas. It also felt like an implicit endorsement of a very liberal, and convenience-centered reading of the Gospel.

        • FrankensteinDragon

          “liberal”–so you would argue the jesus-myth is a conservative. how so? a conservative republican interpretation of the bible is complete insanity and ridiculous.

          • pennyroyal

            and yet that rightwing interpretation is foisted on us even in Congress. http://www.au.org

          • X-Christian

            Jesus belongs to the fascists as much as he belongs to the liberals.

            Jesus says, “Love your enemies.”

            But Jesus also says, “execute my enemies and do it in front of me” (Luke 19:27)

            There is no sign of a true god. All religions are hogwash. It is time to abandon them for real philosophy instead.

          • FrankensteinDragon

            i didnt say i was religious did i? But i have never read that line. i wonder if you take it out of context. But i do know he said he would return as the lion–which implies revolution–he (the myth) will indeed execute the 1%. and their disciples–it is they he speaks of as enemies. whats wrong with that? there can be no change without bloody justice. the 1 will kill you for less, for nothing–for continued profits. so no reform, no regulation, no taxes, no gun control, no environmental protection, no green technology–these are good for the people and take money out of rich pockets.

          • X-Christian

            I hear what you are saying but… I don’t think context matters. Nobody reads context except atheists like myself.
            Jesus said it, so republicans use it. That is the contribution religion brings to things.
            Religion is just sinister because it pretends to be helpful. Nobody can simply abandon it as they should because they have been duped into thinking that it is the source of ‘love’. When it is really all about power.

    • X-Christian

      People such as the guest should be challenged when they claim to ‘believe’ in something.

      Is it so awful to just ask the guest “why do you believe”?

      Millions of us Atheists feel that Jesus just gets a pass in this society. His preachments are quite dangerous!

      • pennyroyal

        All of Christianity gets a pass, especially the virulent rightwingers. It’s called “Christian privilege.”

      • brettearle

        Former Christians, who are Atheists, are not always pure Atheists.

        But, rather, they are former and disaffected Christians–whose propriety has been compromised, not necessarily by God, but by religion.

        Their venom comes from a deep, internal bruise.

        I suspect that you are a charter member in that category.

        • X-Christian

          Pure atheist? What are you talking about?

          Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. That is all it is. I don’t believe that God is real.

          I make no claim that God is impossible. I make no claim at all.

          • J__o__h__n

            I was planning on seeing my family on Christmas. Does that put my atheistic purity at risk?

          • X-Christian

            I can’t resist this.

            The Yuletide is my favorite time of year. I always loved it – everybody does. Nothing like a good Saturnalia to gather the family and celebrate the coming of the new year!

            But John – just curious – do you celebrate your birthday on your birthday?

            Or do you celebrate your birthday on a different day other than the day you were born?

            Jesus was born in May or June (while the shepherds were watching their flocks) Not in the winter.

            I don’t mind if Christians call it ‘Christmas’, but don’t pretend Jesus has anything to do with a holiday that existed centuries before he was born!

        • X-Christian

          There is no evidence for a God.

          Someday, if that sinks in to your own mind you will look back on your religious beliefs with serious contempt. This is natural because the ‘faith’ has pulled the wool over your eyes and limited your thinking.

          Atheists are happy people. I’m incredibly happy and am delighted to have left religion in the dust.

          The anger I experience is like the anger a prisoner would have after leaving Alcatraz. I look at that Island of misery and I wish I could free everyone from it as I have been freed.
          I know how the culture protects the prison – I was one of its wardens!

          There is no Hell. No Heaven. Only this life. And religion is an ancient, barbaric philosophy which imprisons us and wastes our lives.

          • Malia

            You don’t sound very happy. You sound quite angry, actually. I have atheist friends who, when talking with me (an Episcopalian), have no problem with what I believe or don’t believe. They don’t feel the need to be angry or lash out at those who do believe. They have zero feeling about my faith one way or the other.

            It seems from your post that you’ve been really wounded by religion (or in the name of religion). Being hurt in the name of religion is wrong and, as a Christian, I don’t condone it. In fact, I think using religion (heaven, hell, etc.) as a threat to control people is wrong and sinful. And I can say from experience that not everyone who attends church or believes in God is that kind of Christian.

            I hope someday we can all come to peace and reconciliation, believers or not.

          • X-Christian

            I wish people would stop worrying about whether a certain Atheist is happy or not. The only questions you should be asking are these:
            “Is God real or not? And what are the implications if He isn’t?”

            When the children died in Newtown last year a Christian friend of mine said “At least they are spending Christmas with Jesus.”

            I shook my head at the profound self-righteous, solipsism of that. The deep, unwavering cruelty of using the horrible deaths of little children to double-down on one’s own delusions. To unquestioningly embrace a fantasy over those dead children is so much crueler than mere talk of ‘Hell’.

            Only the religious can see horror like that and calmly say “The Lord works in mysterious ways, oh, well”

            ….but then, upon finding they have a problem finding a parking spot the same person can summon the Creator of the Universe and presto – there is the parking spot they needed just for them.

            If God can grant or deny parking spots for humans – why did he grant one to the killer in Newtown?

            One does not need to be an angry atheist to see the horror in these contradictions and delusions, the effect they have on society at large and the price we all pay for pretending something is true – when it clearly isn’t.

    • standuncan

      I agree, but perhaps the reason was because it was an author with his book and not an issue per se. There have been a few occasions when a controversial religious issue has come up and they have had liberal and conservative voices on about it (one was on Barak Obama’s faith, for example). But religion discussions of any kind are pretty rare. Just look at the angry notes in this feed back discussion and you’ll see why.

      • Barry Kort

        The first hour of On Point is usually on some controversial topic in current events. The second hour is usually a more contemplative exploration of a subject as framed by a notable scholar, writer, or artist.

    • pennyroyal

      Christmas doesn’t saturate my life. I’ve worked year by year to celebrate the solstice (I am not a pagan, though many friends are). The ethical teachings of the Christian church were all preceded by the Virtue ethics of the Ancient Greeks and in the East by Daoism. For Jesus to say he was the ‘way, the truth, and the light” is to erase all that went before.

  • Hutch Trugent

    i would disagree. He clearly stated his position as a student, believer, follower, and lover of Jesus and The Bible- but he even eschewed religion for the sake of being better. He took the “Repent and be saved” and deconstructed (and unmythed) it, saying that it was actually more “Open your mind, Open Your Heart” by giving the correct or possibly more accurate translations. Which deflates the catholic paradigm of guilt and servitude. He disembodied the “virgin” myth of Mary; Barabus; Dec 25th (Saturnalius). He addressed many issues which fall victim of agenda based “translations”. I am an atheist – and i hold the church and religion – in intense disdain – but i still want to hear and listen and learn. I enjoyed it. i do not feel he had an agenda beyond teaching people who were willing to listen. *and as far him making the rounds … It is Christmas, and the FOX News “White Jesus”… i felt it made sense. Plus – they had Rezi Aslan with “Zealot” … Jesus is a major figure even in contemporary America. I expect to hear about him

    • FrankensteinDragon

      “He clearly stated his position as a student, believer, follower, and lover of Jesus and The Bible”–precisely why this does not belong on NPR. precisely why it is a bible study. If her were not a believer and spoke in purely academic terms and then related to our evil oligarchy in America then it might belong on public radio.

  • spirit17of76

    Though I am not really a Christian I couldn’t help thinking that I would love to be in this man’s congregation. Unfortunately it seems that he is not a minister after all but a teacher. Still i am filled with inspiration listening to him describe this blend of man and myth, history and the message and embodiment of love. I have never felt so drawn to Christianity as when the marvelous Episcopalian thinker tells me the story of Jesus!

  • X-Christian

    The true Jesus is lost to history.
    What we have today is a ridiculous patch-work of ancient nonsense, superstition and conflict.
    We’d all be better off without the Gods of the old world.

    Religion is just childish. We should be ashamed that we have done such a poor job of teaching philosophy and science in this country.

    These old myths are extremely damaging.

    • spirit17of76

      If you see the myths as poetry, not actuality (the virgin birth, etc.,) understand the historical context (many great leaders were called the “son of God,”) and see the actions, ethical center and respect for persons of all backgrounds as Jesus’ teaching, how so is this childish? This IS philosophy. This is the teaching of Mandela and Martin Luther King. Have we nothing to learn from any of these?

      What may be damaging is the failure to understand Jesus” teachings and also the expansion of a calcified religious hierarchy that begins to obliterate his message with the passing of centuries, and the concentration of power and money in the Church as it becomes more distant from the example he set.

      No one is perfect but some try much harder than others to do the right thing and to figure out what that is. I think we all know what a challenge it is to follow such examples – and yet know how important they can be.

      • X-Christian

        I disagree.

        Jesus says “eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54)(Mark 16:16).

        This is not philosophy. That is threatening nonsense; at best childish at worst horrific and dangerous. There is no evidence of a God.

        And I must correct you, Ghandi’s non-violence was the inspiration for the political movement of Martin Luther King – not Jesus.

        Jesus was a supporter of slavery. His message was never negative toward slave owners:

        “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

        Where religion ends, philosophy can begin.

        The Good Samaritan remains the strongest of Jesus’ teachings yet it is no better than the Golden Rule of antiquity borrowed from the Analects of Confucius and the Egyptian Book of the Dead centuries before.

        • FrankensteinDragon

          you must conssider that the BIble you qoute is a distorted compendium of ancient oral tales and fables and lies and myths used as propaganda by the rich and powerful. So what you say is true but what Spirit17 says is also true. Bioil away all the nonsense you speak of and what we got is–a class war, and that capitalism is evil–the idea of jesus is esentially the foundation of the LEft. The Right in America simply have it completely wrong.

          Today the church is Free trade economics–the banks are our cathedrals. free trade capitalism is the opiate of the masses.

          • allen 2saint

            Ech. Listen to this pseudo intellectual garbage. I love being told I am a sheep by a bigger sheep than me.

          • X-Christian

            WTF?

            There is nothing left-wing about Jesus! Never was!

            That is the wool over your eyes!

            Jesus Christ, Muhammed and Yahweh always belonged to the fascists – this is in no way a new development!

            Just ask an accused witch from any century!

          • brettearle

            Jesus believed in Evil.

            You obviously don’t.

            Believing in Evil doesn’t make you a Fascist.

            It makes you an anti-Fascist.

            Just ask the liberators of Auschwitz.

          • X-Christian

            1. Evil is a fact, a human word for a human understanding of a certain kind of thing. That doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t evil.

            2. The liberators of Auschwitz were not doing the good Christian thing – they were doing the humanitarian thing. Hitler was a Jew Hating Catholic. If you know any of those Jew Hating Catholics in your own life you might discover that “Jew Hating” was a doctrine of Christianity for many centuries.

            3. Remember from your high school history class the Fascists rise to power with the aid and support of the catholic church every time – throughout European, African and South American History!
            Spain (Franco), Germany/Austria, Greece, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and on and on.
            Fascism is practically a Catholic specialty.

            4. Right after Jesus says “Love your neighbor” he tells you who he wants you to kill.
            “Execute my enemies and do it in front of me.”- Jesus (Luke 19:27)

          • FrankensteinDragon

            oh i agree if you knew the difference between “jesus” and “Christians”–my point is–that the myth of jesus–the man they speak of–according to the BIble they worship–is the core of progressive policies–help people, community, equality, brotherhood, universal health care and freedom of information–knowledge, education, steward of the earth. I am my brothers keeper.

            “Christians” on the other hand say–i am not my brothers keeper and refuse to help people unless it helps them in their mind go to heaven–but they dont want to pay taxes as a community to lift all boats out of poverty and give people equal opportunities–they only want equality in the right neighborhoods.

            Christians kill and cheer war–jesus would never have done that but they always try to reconcile their wars and jesus. crying support the troops–make those MF’ers glass. but e are the ones he speaks of when he says–you are fraudulent fools and a disgrace–in so many words. Jesus also said you wont find me in temples and churches–look for me under a stone–in nature. yet Christians hate green ideas.hmmm.

            there is a difference between the philosophy espoused in the BIble in the name of Jesus and the beliefs and actions of “Christains.”

            so calm down xman.

          • X-Christian

            I was just pointing out that there are very good reasons to believe that the Christians you are talking about are actually following Jesus more closely than you may be aware. Jesus was not a peacenik – nor was he meek and mild. Jesus condemned. And that is what the Republicans do.
            We would all do better to leave Jesus out of it. Jesus poisons everything.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    the analogy of the finger and the moon and the dog was perfect–whether you believe in religious nonsense or not.

    um–there is tremendous doubt that a man named jesus existed. There is no evidence. There is NO ONE writing about him except in the BIble–created centuries later.

    • standuncan

      I’m no apologist for Christianity, but that’s not true. For one, many of the documents in the Bible were written within thirty or forty years after his death. One or two (like Luke) were contemporaries–if not eye witnesses. The book called “James” was probably based on a sermon by James, Jesus’ brother.
      Plus there are dozens of other writings about Jesus that came later. Some were by believers and some not. I’ll admit that he was not as well known as many believers think he was, but to say that there was “NO ONE writing about him except in the Bible,” is a gross exaggeration. It somehow has become an urban myth about him, but you won’t find any credible historian who would agree with that.

      • pennyroyal

        Most of the Jesus stories were written far later than that. Contemporaneous accounts are very scarce and unreliable. I doubt there was ever a real figure called Jesus. A bunch of stories and wisdom teachings coalesced around his name.

        • standuncan

          I’m sorry, but this kind of misinformation is just boring after a while. There is a lot evidence that Jesus lived. I don’t know how this ever got started, but you need to go to a reputable source and look it up and help stop people from spreading this nonsense. I’m no great apologist for the church, but give me a break, there is a LOT of evidence that Jesus lived and I’m really getting tired of this debate.

          • pennyroyal

            cite your “lot of evidence.” The Jesus story is a tall tale. Thomas Jefferson took the bible and cut out all the miracles. We could start with that.

          • standuncan

            Come on, Penny, I did some of that in an earlier post. Jay did a lot more in the interview. You could probably find it in Wikipedia. This is not some hidden history. Pick up any mainstream history of the life and times of Jesus. Resa Aslan’s book on Jesus–he’s a Muslim, he has nothing to gain by saying Jesus was an historical figure.
            Drop it. I’m getting tired of this. You’re a good person. You have a life to get back to. Quit gnawing on this bone. It won’t produce anything. Jesus had a lot of hokey things said about him, and the church has said some even hokier things over the centuries, but that is not the same thing as saying that he didn’t exist. Drop it and move on.
            Bye.

          • pennyroyal

            would you argue with Ellie Wiesel? ’cause I heard it from his lips. If you are tired of this, don’t respond.

          • standuncan

            For one, Ellie is a great historian of the Holocaust, not first Century Palestine. Even so, it is the idea that Jesus was the Messiah that he doubts, not the existence of the man Jesus. If you ever heard it from his lips, he either misspoke (because it runs counter to what he believes) or you miss-heard him (because it confirms what you believe).
            Now, drop it. Both of us have lives to get back to.

          • brettearle

            Stan, I like her spirit, I like her verve.

            But in the end, she’s a disaffected theologian–who’s taken it to the nth degree and infused it with Feminism.

            I don’t like the role of women in some religions, any more than she does.

            But she’s using it as a catalyst to implement across-the-board rejection of timeless ideology.

            This is–as you likely know–not uncommon among men and women who have been hurt or offended by their belief being violated or betrayed.

            [This, of course, happens--or can happen--to many of us.]

            Far up on this thread, she admits to being a disenfranchised theologian.

            They’re walking the earth, these days, like Bedouins.

          • standuncan

            Thanks for this.

      • Bluejay2fly

        Those stories were orally passed down for many years and then transliterated into early than late modern English. In light of all that accuracy is absolutely maintained, yet, when I here a story from my wife about her sister somehow many facts get destroyed.

        • standuncan

          You mean “translated,” into early, “then” late modern English. Not “transliterated” and “than.” And you “hear” a story from your wife, not “here” one.

          Sorry, I get testy when people misuse English. Though if you are a non-native English speaker, forgive me and I’ll take it back. Thanks for trying to learn.

          To your points, no, no credible scholar today nor millions and millions of lay believers would say any longer that “accuracy is absolutely maintained.” You’re right that in some limited fundamentalist circles that is true, but don’t say it as though all believers would believe something that stupid. We don’t.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Well, you got me on “here and then” which was an auto correct issue which I did not catch. However, transliterate was used correctly. My mistake was sloppy typing and proof reading your mistake is ignorance of word meaning, which is a greater sin!

          • standuncan

            I apologize for calling attention to your spelling and grammar problems. It was a little pompous and elitist of me to do so. However, “Transliterate” means to write words or letters of one language in the characters of another language. “Translate” is what you meant. It means to change the meaning of those words into another language. I apologize for pointing that out. It took us off the subject and was rude of me.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    I agree that the jesus fable is about deeper levels of consciousness. but religion ad Christianity is nonsense.

    • allen 2saint

      So is your BS evaluation.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    how does a christian reconcile “turn the other cheek” and I come as the lamb” with when i return I come as the lion?–revolution!

    if the oligarchy doesn’t submit to the people and share the wealth, end the wars, etc–the people according to the teaching of this faith–should revolt violently with the spirit of the lion–the incarnation of christ. How else can this be explained.

    If you take the myth literally and have any faith in it–then clearly you must believe he will return as the lion–to redeem the poor and oppressed—today that means mostly people of color–the working class, the underclass–not the fascist oligarchy that rules America or their supporters. it implies Christ will overthrow capitalism. there is no way to reconcile the teachings of christ with capitalism–to do so is utter nonsense.

    If you see jesus as a political figure or spiritual figure but not a god or son of god and you conform to his teachings then you must conclude that he teaches us that a time will come when we should revolt. draw further conclusions still and you must logically conclude as the Constitution grants–the people should abolish the fascist regime in power–that is the DEM and Republican oligarchy (which are the same thing)..

    • Tom

      How do you plan to revolt against the most powerful military ever known?

      The myth of Jesus constantly repeated the ancient Indo-European yogic masters, and world-wide shamanistic human traditions, the admonition to ‘transcend’ (‘re-pent’, ‘re-ligion’, ‘re-born’ all essentially mean ‘transcend’)

      You cannot revolt against a super-power. I suggest you learn about the research on Transcendental Meditation and extended societal effects published in respected peer-reviewed journals. Look for fMRI, EEG, and ‘Super-Radiance Effect’.

    • allen 2saint

      I love it when people who have zero connection to the faith tell us what we “have to do or believe.” It’s more complicated than that.

  • standuncan

    I wondered about that myself. Jay has made the rounds, though, of many non-religious shows on TV and radio. My guess is that what gives him creds in the secular media is that he is a respected literary person, a novelist, and he has appeared on some of these shows more than once talking about literature. So, they felt comfortable that he would not get off on a religious diatribe, and he didn’t. I also think that some in the media (Terry Gross and Tom Ashcroft are two of them) are drawn to religion that is broad and universal and searches for common threads in humanity. Jay certainly was one of those. He said nothing that would be offensive to anyone of any other faith tradition. In fact he talked about Jesus in such broad philosophical terms that complete non believers could find much to agree with. He made no claims to Jesus being God, for example, or life after death or judgment for sin, or any of those other divisive religious issues.

    • pennyroyal

      he is also a poet, so he views the bible as literature and as poetry. Most evangelicals see the bible in literal black-and-white terms. “God said it…I believe it.”

      • standuncan

        That’s correct. He, of course, sees it as more than just literature and poetry, but it is certainly that. And he talks poetically about it too, which is understandable, given his vocation.
        I think that a number of evangelicals are getting better at that black and white thing, but that certainly has been their past. Either you are for Jesus or you’re against him. either all of the Bible was written by God, or none of it. Either you believe in god or you are an atheist, etc.

  • Tom

    Those are myths and stories for children.

  • spirit17of76

    Sheena Dean wrote:
    “Jesus was indeed concerned with this world, but the whole point of this is that only born again believers will see the kingdom of heaven, which he continuously spoke about- as well as sin; – to say that Jesus wasn’t concerned with the afterlife is complete blasphemy and a perversión of the scriptures he claims to read.”

    This is the kind of rhetoric that does not speak to me at all. As I mentioned the Christian tradition is somewhat peripheral in my life and it does not draw me to it. No rigid religion does. However it has been my impression that there was little emphasis on the afterlife in Judaism. Am I wrong about this? Was Jesus referral to “my father in heaven” etc. based on the old testament or was it a new emphasis?

    In any case the concept of blasphemy and the killing and persecution that has generally gone along with it is one of the truly dangerous possibilities that sometimes attaches to religion. I had forgotten about this possibility. Whether sectarian (e.g. protestant vs Catholic, or Shia vs. Sunni,) or Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim or any other religion, the demonizing of the “non-believer” is where the greatest danger in religion lies. I.e., those who will kill for “the book”- their book out of the many books out there (even, tragically, I suspect, who would kill for their specific translation of the Bible or the book, accurate or not – and how can they know anyway if they do not speak the language it was written in?) This is a true tangle of tragedy, warfare and death. Intolerance, except for the exploitation of the poor and marginalized, is not, I think, a part of Jesus’ message.

    • allen 2saint

      A few points: 1) Christianity is not “rigid.” There are many, many mysteries, grey areas and ambiguities, especially if you look at it from a POV of a denomination that invites that kind of thing( Catholics, Orthodox). It is a common liberal misconception that we are “rigid.” We are a diverse group of faith traditions, not just one. 2) The afterlife was a topic as far back as The Book of Wisdom, and before. 3) Many Christian denominations, the above included, do not “demonize” non believers. That again, is a liberal myth perpetuated by those who would prefer to treat all religious with the same negative prejudgement..a disvalue that would be detected were we any other group, but is let to slide because US secular culture thinks we “deserve” that treatment somehow.

      • J__o__h__n

        Century of history and present day observation leaves many to conclude that many religions are rigid. Your claim that it is a “liberal” myth and misconception puts you on the War on Christmas end of the spectrum.

        • allen 2saint

          Are “all of us alike” John? Or could I be a “credit to my religion” by not being so rigid? Or perhaps you’d like to present any of your data from these centuries of observation?

          When engaging a thoughful topic, always look to the person trying to dumb things down to rhetoric and bullet points to see who’s dealing in hatred. Simple to spot.

          • J__o__h__n

            or the one manufacturing false quotes and straw men.

  • pennyroyal

    exactly, public radio, and public TV, feel they have to pander to listeners at this time of year. They think if they throw some Christian, Jewish, etc. programming our way most people will be satisfied.
    Let Jay Parini appear on Christa Tippett’s program “On Being’ which runs on Sunday mornings. That’s the place for this kind of program. 6am in the morning when the diehards are willing to get up for.

  • X-Christian

    I have no problem with the philosophy or the idea that God became human so He could experience what we go through – it is a fun and interesting myth worth talking about.

    But it is ridiculous to believe that any of it is true.

    • pennyroyal

      what made me not a Christian is the doctrine of the atonement, that Jesus died for my and your sins. That has led to our massive Christian tradition of us violence to dominate and control un-belivers. There’s evidence in the bible that he was non-violent. I even took a class in theology school on Non-violence in the religious traditions.

      • X-Christian

        The world would be much better off to abandon religion and supernatural nonsense.

        If a kernel or two of Jesus were to remain as good ideas that would be fine – but this ‘god’ stuff has got to go.

        The moment someone claims “god is on their side” everyone is in danger.

  • pennyroyal

    I want to suggest to WBUR that they do an interview with the author of “Does God Hate Women?” by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangland. That would be far more relevant and topical. Women have endured centuries of religious claptrap which ends up limiting women’s potential. Their scriptures and dogma reinforce and reify women’s subjugation. It would a provocative show, but it would be real.

    Or we can spend eternity (or the rest of our short lives) discussing how many angels there are on the head of a pin.

    http://www.amazon.com/Does-Hate-Women-Ophelia-Benson/dp/0826498264/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1387394005&sr=8-2&keywords=why+god+hates+women

    • brettearle

      You don’t need Religion to believe in God–while, at the same time, not be subjugated by any given religion, if you believe in God, without doing it through a Religion…..regardless of which Gender you are.

    • allen 2saint

      So, why are you just focusing on Christian scriptures? Why not look at all religious scriptures? You might actually see a social or cultural connection. Might detract from your demonization of Christians, but at least it would have some fact in there.

      • pennyroyal

        because Christianity had Original Sin foisted on it by Augustine and that’s one place where it went badly wrong. I’m not anti-Christian. I am against all the feel-good, sentimental, ethereal, abstract Christianity that papers over the horrors of the past. Like the burning of hundreds of thousands of women as witches.

        Maybe get out of your comfort zone and read a book like Why Priests Fail by Gary Wills. He also wrote Why I am a Catholic so he’s no bomb thrower either. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Priests-A-Failed-Tradition/dp/0670024872/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387406121&sr=8-1&keywords=why+priests+fail

        • allen 2saint

          I am a progressive RC who goes to a very conservative theology grad school and no one has uttered a thing about original sin and I study with top feminist theologians. Christianity, like the rest of the world, has moved on quite a bit since the middle ages. Why don’t you get out of your comfort zone and drop the condescension and the reference to things from hundreds of years ago and read some contemporary scholarly work?

          • X-Christian

            How can you claim that “Christianity” has moved on since the middle ages?

            That isn’t true at all.
            The Bible hasn’t been edited since 330 C.E.

            And the killing continues.

            “Aids is bad but condoms are worse” was the mantra of the Catholic charities in Africa where 30 Million people died because one institution blocked the distribution of condoms for an entire continent!

            I’m talking about as recently as 3 years ago!

            The Dark Ages live within the pages of the Bronze-age book called – ‘the bible’.

            Dump “The Bible” and maybe we can make some progress on the philosophy of love and compassion!
            By the way – we don’t need a ‘God’ for that!

          • allen 2saint

            Lol…well, had I spoken to you that way, insulting your beliefs what would you call me? A bigot? But because I’m religious I need to take crap from you? No, thanks pal.

            I have invested two years of my life, thousands of dollars and untold effort to get my education at a conservative university, just for the challenge, while you sip your latte and read Upworthy and Gawker for your education and you want to trade with me? You don’t have the tools.

          • pennyroyal

            allen, a widely posted test I saw this year said that Atheists know more about the Bible than most Christians. So please don’t characterize another poster as latte sipping. I’ve had that kind of thing said to me elsewhere and it’s just mean. If you can’t answer him expand your studies.

          • allen 2saint

            Lol…Penny, please. I was insulted six ways to Sunday. Do you not recognize the bumper sticker slogans in his post, which neither invites real dialogue nor asks a real question. Groucho Marx used to ask “So, sir, when did you stop beating your wife?” Get it?

            I am happy to engage respectfully when approached that way, but I see bigotry and prejudice expressed to me and I will call it out every time. If I had said those things to him first, would I not be called “intolerant?” Why is his intolerance any different?

            Step down of your high horse.

          • pennyroyal

            Intolerant, hell, yes! He baited you and you bit. There are many trolls like him, as many as there are right wing zealots saying we need to turn back to god.

            Look I”m almost 70, I’ve learned to ignore people like that when they come at me. Let their words stand on their own.

          • allen 2saint

            I bow to you on this one, my elder sister. Is there a way to private message through this thing?

          • pennyroyal

            thanks for not being offended.
            I don’t know about private messages….

          • allen 2saint

            Yeah, I guess there’s no way. : (

          • X-Christian

            Where was my bigotry? Where was my disrespect?

          • X-Christian

            Name one thing I said that was disrespectful or bigoted. Was it, “dump the bible”?

            Well if you took that personally you have some ego trip problems.

          • allen 2saint

            Dude, the last person I will accept a lecture from is someone like you. You lay awake nights condemning people you don’t even understand…another trait that you accuse us of all the time. Your whole post was a accusatory rant.

            Look up the Second Vatican Council. Read the documents and try to understand them. Ask me about it when you’re done.

            If not, really…I do not want you in my Church or believing in my God. Live on in your ignorance, its fine with me.

          • X-Christian

            You’ll take my lecture, and you’ll like it.

            Thanks for admitting you’ll have nothing to do with atheists.

            As Jesus said, “execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)

            Why should you be the one offended?

            Helen Keller, Benjamin Franklin, Gene Wilder, Jacques Yves Cousteau were Atheists too. Should they have been killed, too?

            Your Bible is against humanity from the first page – and you say YOU ARE THE OFFENDED ONE?

            “Kill the non-believers” (2 Chron. 15:12-13)

            I’m the one offended. How dare you adhere to such a violent screed and expect me to ignore it. May all your churches close.

          • allen 2saint

            Actually, to spite you, I did not read a word past your first sentence.

            I’m sure because of that you will pull the typical whiny atheist troll trope of accusing me of not being a nice enough Christian( as if you could really define that) or being the hateful person you imagine me to be in your extremely narrow little world. That would be right on time.

            Then we can get right to the flying spaghetti monster or sky daddy comments. I’ll try to act like I’ve never heard it before if you like.

          • X-Christian

            And you think YOU are offended?

            As Jesus said, “execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)
            “Kill the non-believers” (2 Chron. 15:12-13)

            In addition to atheists, who else qualifies as the enemy you want killed?

          • allen 2saint

            See, the thing is, I would probably need to FEEL somehow challenged or put on the spot by your ideas.

            Though I will admit, the Hail Mary Pass thing( pardon the pun) of accusing me of all kinds of things I didn’t say, would rankle someone who cares, because I don’t…it’s not really grabbing me.

            If I were you, I would’ve played it all sincere and really engage me so my guard would go down and then pounce, but you uh…fly that freak flag pretty high right of the bat so there’s not much left to the imagination, know what I mean?

          • X-Christian

            Then tell me How did Thomas miss it?

            How did he miss what happened at the Crucifixion of Jesus? (Matthew 27:51-53)

            According to Matthew dead people walked all over the holy city the day jesus died. It would have been impossible to miss. Jerusalem was a very small town 2000 years ago.

            Yet more than a week after Jesus died (John 20:25-29) Thomas apparently thought the whole idea of resurrections were impossible.

            Had he not heard of Jairus’ daughter? Had he not heard of Lazarus?
            Was Matthew’s account of dead people walking all over the Holy City just nonsense?

            Why did Thomas not believe?

          • allen 2saint

            See, you may have me mixed up with someone really hung up on taking the Bible word for word. Catholics dont do that. You might need an evangelical to torment. If I had taken NT yet, I guess I could address this.

            What kinda baffles me about these types of questions is that peope bother to try to get so microscopic about a 2000 year old document. Dude, it was written by a person, still. Anyway, sorry to disappoint you, but my belief is neither shaken nor stirred.

            Anything else?

          • X-Christian

            I don’t understand your position.

            How can the Bible be important enough to not throw away, yet not important enough to examine closely? That is an unfair contradiction.

            The Bible claims Thomas did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Worse, Thomas REFUSED to believe it. (John 20:25-29)

            My question isn’t whether Matthew lied – But I’m asking why didn’t those risen bodies convince Thomas?

            You see, if Thomas really doubted as John claims – then he must not have witnessed any resurrections prior to Jesus. Otherwise the news about Jesus being risen would have filled him with joy instead of doubt.

            Thomas would have also seen Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus risen.

            The reason many Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus is because Thomas supposedly doubted on their behalf. But he was convinced ONLY by Jesus’ literal risen body a week after the resurrection when He appeared to him and Thomas put his hand in the wounds.

            If that isn’t the truth, then the words “He is risen” regarding Jesus (Matthew 28:6) are as doubtful as Matthew’s accounts elsewhere of many risen bodies at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:52).

            So if this happened how did Thomas miss the previous resurrections?

            If one cannot answer the Biblical dilemmas like this one, there is no need to believe that Christianity is any more plausible than Islam or other religions.

            God has left as his evidence only a puzzle and not a reliable story to rest on.

          • allen 2saint

            Here’s the thing: I just finished a ten page paper on four lines in the Book of Job. I could have written another ten pages on those four lines. It’s not like smart people are not studying these things.

            I do not know the answer to your question, but from what little I’ve learned, where one line can be analyzed and interpreted, you’re talking about some pretty involved scholarship that, no offense, were it that pertinent a question to supposedly shake the foundations of the faith, it would have volumes already written on it.

            As far as Catholic Biblical scholars go, I just finished reading a piece about how Genesis is really a story of human maturation, not “the fall” so this idea that all Christians are huddled in caves with candles, blindly following whatever we’re told is plain wrong. it’s ridiculous to think that no one in Christian shcolarship is asking this stuff. I spent a month and a half on a chapter of Job and I read so many disenting opinions, your head would spin.

            There is all kinds of free thought out there and if you wanted to answer your question in a real way, I would go to a major Catholic university, find the Biblical lit professor(s) and ask them your question. General public books, like this guy’s, are not made for this kind of inquiry.

            I wish you the best.

          • X-Christian

            I only care if things are true or not.
            Religion makes endless claims. not me.
            Hatred awaits people like me who only asked honest questions.
            Atheists know the Bible too well. That is why we can’t believe.

          • allen 2saint

            Lol…well, you held it together for a post or two anyway, champ.

            The victim act kinda sounds a little ridiculous to me when it’s clear I really tried to engage qnd help you, but knock yourself out.

            As I said in the beginning, I have no interest in converting people and if you don’t understand what I said, it’s because you didn’tr try.

            To think you’ve outsmarted all of Christian scholarship all by your lonesome , when you have barely a passing knowledge of one version of the Gospels, is patently absurd, but that never stopped an arrogant, emotionally troubled atheist before and I am sure it won’t stop you either.

          • X-Christian

            Why do you think I am trying to outsmart people? Or to convert?

          • allen 2saint

            I’m writing papers for finals so this is my last post.

            You seem to think you have “cracked the Christianity code” with your question, which you claim disproves the faith. As I said, it sounds like a fine question, but to think no scholar has ever considered it is just ridiculous. You don’t believe and that is totally fine. But to underestimate the intelligence and ability of all Christian scholars, or to accuse us all of just pure hatred, speaks way more about you than it does us.

            Best wishes and uh…Merry Christmas.

          • X-Christian

            You wanted me to show you some respect, so I asked a serious question.
            I asked because I do not know the answer.
            I asked because you told me you respect the Bible.
            And I asked because you say you are studying your religion.
            My motive was to find an answer regarding Thomas and Matthew which the internet does not supply.

          • X-Christian

            I asked a question about Thomas but you didn’t want to answer. I wasn’t asking what someone else thought. I was asking what you thought.

          • allen 2saint

            You read my reply and this isn’t an interrogation. If you can’t understand that people have different areas of expertise in a subject then you need to get out more.

          • X-Christian

            You have a very thin skin.
            Theology will be a good subject for you. You’ll be cloistered, protected by the institution and nobody will expect honesty from you.
            Merry Christmas.

          • pennyroyal

            well, congratulations on your studies. And I’m pleased you study with feminist theologians.
            I think OS thinking is deeply ingrained in our culture and underlies much of the human dysfunction, including extreme pessimism that we see. My studies were in psychology and religion and I see OS in the republican trend to want to ‘punish’ women for having sex by taking away birth control and promoting this as their own ‘religious freedom’ at work.
            I worked as a hospice chaplain for 6 years and saw Catholicism at its finest, good families, people who worked as teachers, police, politician, etc. People of unimpeachable integrity.
            Those are the people (the ‘real’ church) pope Francis is speaking to. Not the Bishops, like Tobin in RI, who used the death of Mandela to make the point that Mandela supported abortion rights.
            PS, in Uganda they are burning women and children and albinos for being witches. Also gay men are being targeted for death and laws are being passed to ensure that.
            It’s our religious extremists on the right from the USA who go over there and foment this inhumane action.
            This is another example of focusing on the sins of others rather than human goodness and decency and equality. They say the punishment is death for sin, something I heard as a kid. That’s OS.

          • allen 2saint

            I worked for a year as a chaplain at a major public hospital, so we are cut from the same cloth and I am well versed in what happened to women in the church. I’ve read and researched it, so I know and you know, the rest of that region, at that time, was oppressing women as well. The Church does not hold exclusive rights over sin or sexism, nor does it automatically make us guilty. It makes us more aware as people and hopefully more armed to deal with it, but sin is sin. You are referring to more strucural and social sin, when you have people creating large societal problems. The Church proper believes in the dignity of the human person first and certainly is not OK’ing burning people. If some maniac does that, it has nothing to do with God and all to do with their wickedness.

            Best wishes to you and your work! Thank you for accompanying the dying. I am at home in that work and I find few people who really love it. People need mercy at that time.

          • pennyroyal

            we could no doubt have some interesting discussions and many agreements.
            for the record both Catholic and Protestant countries participated in the witch burnings. (Who’s going to tell this history, certainly not the church nowadays!).
            Please look into the book I recommend below by Rebecca Parker and Rita Nakashims Brock, two feminist theologians I admire. By the way have your read Mary Daly?????

          • pennyroyal

            here’s an article you might like:
            http://www.uuworld.org/2002/02/feature1a.html

          • pennyroyal

            here’s another article that might give you a brief overview of my understanding. RC Church needs to de-emphasize Christ’s crucifixion and focus on his life and ministry. http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/107992.shtml

            PS. there’s a huge difference between hospital chaplaincy and visiting patients and family in the home. Fulfilling, meaningful work but you are ‘it’ with none of the supports a hospital provides (like asking a nurse to come in). One truly learns the meaning of a listening and attentive presence.

          • allen 2saint

            I am a certified hospital chaplain. I did over 1600 training hours. I know what the work is.

          • pennyroyal

            I assumed you had. Also I did 1600 hours/4 units of CPE. My supervisor said, knowing I was an agnostic, that some of the best chaplains he knew were like me, skeptics, but yet drawn to minister and serve. A woman in my class was a Buddhist nun. I was merely commenting on the quality of the listening that is required of one, that full attention and self-forgetting.
            Also, I regularly sit down with my successor and she appreciates the mentoring I have done to help facilitate her adjustment to the work + the organization (which is a VNA).

            By the way, if you want to try and get my email address from WBUR, I give them permission to release it to you –and only you.

          • pennyroyal

            maybe you could start with A World Without Women by David Noble, a Catholic man who writes about women’s exclusion from equal opportunities to serve in the RC Church, going back to before Christianity in Rome. That’s a good, well researched study. Women in the church have been denied their place, and that is the real Original Sin of the church. And this pope isn’t going to change that, not in his lifetime, and I doubt his successor’s.

          • FrankensteinDragon

            how so? Christians hate gays. Christians support war every chance they can get. Christians support tyrannical policies. Christians hate health care and love guns. Christians think god wants the get rich and exploit people. Christians support torture as long as its not Christians but those evil muslims or colored people. Christians are very intolerant of others views and beliefs.

            Christians have been crusading for 2000 years playing the victim card. Christians supported slavery and segregation and hate affirmative action. Christians dont want to pay taxes and dont want the other in their communities despise the poor even as they claim to help them. i see it all the time. Christians conducted the jewish holocaust–and the holocaust go poor gypsies and progressive thinkers and non-whites and disabled people. Jews commit genocide in Palestine.

            there is a huge difference between academic Christians in your environment and in the street or government. and as you so nobly and self-righteously champion Christianity in places like darfu–what is your primary interest there. to convert. Christians have a bad record in their missionary capacity of coercing the poor starving oppressed in violent worlds to convert for food or aid or die. Christians evangelize in africa preaching that gays should be killed. Christians spout evil nonsense everyday–just absurd uncaring heartless crap.

          • allen 2saint

            So, here’s the thing: All the intolerance you accused me of, you have also displayed.

            Of course, you have dragged out the usual litany of accusations, the 2 millenia old laundry list. Anyone with so little insight as to not expect a huge, diverse group to make mistakes and hurt people over 2 thousand years, does not deserve for me to place myself at your mercy.

            Have you read any history books? Because, you may note that we live in a violent, corrupt world and that at roughly the same time that ALL CHRISTIANS, (because you, by some miracle, seem to be able to assess what a thousand scholars locked in a room could never assess: ALL CHRISTIANS ACROSS TIME) were making some mistakes, doing rough things at exactly the same time everyone else in that region and time period was. Let’s even the playing field.

            You blame Christianity for THE Holocaust, yet there have been many such genocides in the modern era, and most of them were perpetrated by communists, by secular people and by pagans. Do we need to include them too? Christians also risked their lives and ended the Nazi regimes tyranny…or did you forget that part?

            You are so angry, intolerant and biased. And even that I could excuse except for the arrogance you and every person like you shows by thinking I, as a religous person, should take yoyur crap while, if I was a tenth as unkind, you would call it “proof” of all your claims.

            I can only speak for myself Roman Catholics, because I know our history pretty and theologywell. Of course, we have done awful things and we have also done gracious, kind things which you have ignored. That’s fine, I expect it. For the record, Roman Catholics believe in the dignity of every person and polls have shown we support gay rights more than any other Christian denomination. You…have heard there are different denominations, right? In your sweeping analysis of us all?

            I could care less, sadly, about changing your mind because you are so intent on your shallow, liberal atheist rantings that you would not listen to anything anyway. You are incurious and self righteous, which is quite sad, but you’re not alone. Enjoy your little bubble of hatried and put up your Festivus tree in a place where you really show THE CHRISTIANS who’s boss.

          • J__o__h__n

            Did the church apologize for the witches yet like they (albeit not in a timely manner) for Galileo?

          • allen 2saint

            Oh, jeez, I’m not sure. I supposed you could look that up in the same place you’d find out if atheists apologized for Communism and the tens of thousands they executed. Let me know what you find.

          • J__o__h__n

            Communism was not an outgrowth of atheism. Communists were atheists. It isn’t the same thing.

          • allen 2saint

            Yeah, genius, you keep telling yourself that.

          • J__o__h__n

            Atheism does not equal Communism. That right wing nut Ayn Rand was an atheist and was certainly not a Communist.

          • allen 2saint

            Christianity does not “equal” burning witches, either. Our “wing nuts” did that.

          • J__o__h__n

            At its time, it was widespread and sanctioned.

          • allen 2saint

            So are all the abuses under communism and all the crimes committed by liberal and secular political organizations you probably swear unending, blind allegiance to on a daily basis. Human folly is a universal.

            I’ll tell you what, you keep going here, and when your comments rise above the level of the Christian bashing a pretentious, clueless college freshman might spout, I’ll respond. If not, knock yourself out. I am not out to convert you or change your mind.

          • J__o__h__n

            I just asked if the church had apologized for the killing of witches. I didn’t blame today’s Christians for them. I don’t blindly swear allegiance to any organization. I’m very critical of liberal and secular organizations. You have been very Christian with your puerile name calling.

          • allen 2saint

            Lol..yeah, the old bait and switch of internet dialogue. Insults, derisive comments and then all of a sudden, you’re “just asking” something.

            Please refer to my other comments where I predicted I would receive the old, tired cliche “Atheist Schools Christian on His Behavior” post. Yawn.

            Your moral judgements are of no consequence to me. I’m Catholic so being sinful and flawed is a given. You telling me I am makes no difference.

          • J__o__h__n

            I’m criticizing your arguments. I did not engage in personal insults. I’ll even let “old, tired cliche” go without comment.

          • allen 2saint

            Very Christian of you. if I mixed up your responses with another, more aggressive poster, I apologize. That’s very Christian of me. I need to write a pastoral theology paper. Merry Christmas.

          • J__o__h__n

            Yuletide felicitations.

          • pennyroyal

            the Protestants participated as well in this genocide/madness

          • pennyroyal

            I’d like to see them apologize for their denigration and oppression of half of the human species.

          • allen 2saint

            Then would we also be given credit for all the time we have upheld the dignity of the human species? Penny, you are myopic in your criticism. Give credit where it is due as well.

          • pennyroyal

            like I said, not holding my breath waiting for RC Church to do right by women. I hope all RC women wake up and desert the ship, even the many who are ‘defecting in place’.

          • allen 2saint

            I suppose you’d need to speak to a church full of women plus the many loyal Catholic feminst theologians to even make your case about that. From my experience and observations, we are far more welcoming of women, protective of their dignity ans ready to listen to them than most Christian denominations. I have worked with many who pay lip service to the idea and, of course, are as ready to criticize the Church as you are about women, when in the next breath they kowtow to a largely male, white leadership and allow their male pastors to take part in all manner of sexist, domineering behavior. I encourage Catholic women to stick with the church and make it a better place. You know, like loyal member of any community would.

          • pennyroyal

            do you go to Gordon Conwell?? We had some students at ANTS when I was a student and they were neat!!!

          • allen 2saint

            No, I go to Saint John’s. What’s ANTS?

          • pennyroyal

            Andover Newton Theological School. I have a friend at PC and the present chaplain where I worked, just graduated from PC. She’s Congregational. Catholics at ANTS are well integrated and get a good pastoral education.

          • Ed75

            It’s scary that they haven’t mentioned original sin … kind of got things started. (At the time of the original sin God started humming ‘It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas’ (Cardinal Dolan). Why else was Jesus crucified? I do understand a different emphasis, however.

          • allen 2saint

            Original sin is a not emphasized in modern Catholic theology. Been like that for over 50 years now.

          • pennyroyal

            Original Sin is like the wallpaper, it’s always been there, accepted, never questioned. Just call something or someONE sinful and you can justify any mistreatment and shunning of them: gays, uppity women, people that leave your precious church.

          • allen 2saint

            Penny, we have had an interesting dialogue,but I caution you about believing too much in your own critisms of this Church or any other. I taught confirmation class and have read all the most recent education materials and Original Sin is no longer used in a punitive way.

            You act as if only the RC Church functions as a “community” and that is simply not so. If you did do CPE, then you should be well aware of how every religious community has norms, mores, prohibitions, etc. And every community has the mean old gatekeepers who would like nothing better than to shame everyone out, and warm and fuzzy people who are inclusive and welcoming.

            The Roman Catholic Church is NOT alone in making outsiders of people and, to my experience, is at least engaged in enough “forgiveness” talk to make most sins, right or wrongly defined, within the realm of being forgiven.

            You are trying very hard, erroneously, to paint Catholics as the only Church that has rules and it reflects a bias.

          • pennyroyal

            let me say publicly, that Christianity, and Protestant and Catholics, in the US, still have OS in their unconscious motivations to judge and shame others. It’s like the water to the fish which doesn’t know it swims in it. Let’s be more conscious and mindful of its effects on society in general.

          • allen 2saint

            Penny, Penny, Penny. Now you are showing your bias on a grander scale. Come on. Been involved in any interfaith discourse lately? Read many online discussions lately? You really think you can diagnose all Chrsitianity with these pronouncements when contemporary theological scholarship has gone on and on at the highest levels for generations since you left the Church? It is so sad that you could be using this same energy and insight helping people come together and healing people on both sides of the divide, and instead, you are on this unfocused campaign to attack Christianity as a whole…which is a feat that a thousand scholars together could not do.

          • pennyroyal

            that’s BS and and I’m calling it! Be sad all you want but Xianity (inane/insanity) hates and exists to control women so we’ll continue being servants of men and doormats to patriarchy. Aren’t your male leaders still called patriarchs? Aren’t they–and you willfully clueless about their history of misogyny and the oppression of half the species?
            I’m done. I’m not wasting my time on you.

          • allen 2saint

            I think a very good way to judge who to listen to in an argument is who goes “broad” and who goes “specific” in the discussion. You, Penny, are making broader and broader accusations rather than engaging a thing I say. Rather than being reasonable and accepting that the RC Church, as any other human community, has its biases, problems, dysfunction and mistakes, you wish to demonize it or the entirety of Christianity. You accuse ALL of Christianity of oppressing women, yet, you have given no acknowedgement to the many cultures and religions outside of Christianity, all of whom exist in the same time, location and space as us, who are as male dominated, so your view is myopic. Have we contributed and failed to help? Absolutely. Are we the sole group? Of course not. Come on. Maybe that will play well on an NPR sponsored site, where liberal biases are the rule and people love to say things abotu religious people that would not be caught dead saying about anyone else, but it will not play in any realm of serious scholarship and learning, from anyone’s perspective. I will not more accept being called inherently evil or oppressive than I will accept another being called the same thing. It is wrong and it inhibits real, serious inquiry into things that solve problems. I am sure you do good for many people, assuming you are still doing some form of hospice or ministry, and I respect that, but if you are trying to pass yourself off as some authority on all of the Christian experience, trashing it in its entirety, then you are being disingenuous and you are missing chances to learn and contribute to the changes that do need to be made.

          • pennyroyal

            Those with your worldview don’t understand the first thing, thus are clueless. The thinking is old think, within very narrow theological boundaries. It’s hidebound. It’s safe talk for those who are too scared to think outside their limited, carefully constructed, box.

            Ordinary Christians are far better people than those too scared to go beyond what they were taught and what they have always believed. Ordinary people have lived fully, and are generous of spirit and don’t put others into ghettos. They accept and they live and let live across boundaries you can’t even see.

            I don’t see any way to get through to you. And so see no need to continue this conversation . I am a busy person, washing my husband’s dirty laundry, changing our bed, making his day a good one. WWJD is what I do though it doesn’t take a Christian to do it. It just takes love and cherishing.
            (Cherishment is the book I love).

            I don’t know how old you are–I was 70, yesterday. But I hope you stop being so defended and hidebound and honor people’s essential humanity. Which, too often, and because of hoary old theology, dismisses the people who are the Salt of the Earth.

            I’m trying to wake you up (using some tough talk) and it’s not going to work so let’s call it quits.

          • allen 2saint

            So, how are you trying to educate me about people’s essential humanity by casting judgement on ALL Christians for ALL TIME without giving any credence to any good they have done? You think too much of your ideas, Penny and you refuse to listen or engage in a conversation. if your best idea is to attack my idea, then you need to take a closer look at your own approach.

          • pennyroyal

            I’m done Mr. Saint. Done.

          • allen 2saint

            As am I. I have a thesis to write with the aid of a brilliant, progressive Catholic faculty. I really urge you to catch up on modern Catholic scholarship before you so vocally cast judgement because the ideas, problems and conversation has completely changed.

          • pennyroyal

            more propaganda/proselytizing.
            what part of “I’m done” don’t you understand?

          • allen 2saint

            Oh Penny! My mistake! So, besides being, in your view, beyond reproach in your sweeping judgements, standing head and shoulders above all other authorities on all of Christianity throughout time, you would also like to have the last word? Then, by all means, go ahead! Here you go!

          • Ed75

            Actually I think your protest and patriarchy is legitimate but I would suggest a different scheme. In Genesis 3, as a result of their sin, God explains the punishments Adam and Eve (and all their offspring, the whole human race) would and do suffer. In 3:16 God says to Eve: ‘Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master’.
            So it seems that patriarchy wasn’t in God’s plan for creation, where from Genesis 2 we can see that the woman is the equal and help-mate of the man, ‘flesh of my flesh’, but is part of the punishment (or consequence of) for sin.
            And then one can add that Christ restores all things, pays the price for sin, makes all things new, through his Passion and Death, administered to the world through the Church, and in the end there won’t be patriarchy, which is what you seem rightly to hope for.

          • pennyroyal

            well I guess that works for you….
            now explain Lot’s daughters’ seducing their drunken father. Complete male fantasy of the pronatalist shameless kind. Seems to me, Jesus if he comes to transcend the OT, needs to be a bit more critical.
            No, he was a Jew, had a Jewish mother and all. Lived as a Jew, an itinerant rabbi, and died a Jew. All this sin, salvation, redemption, etc. etc. came later and grafted on the simple Jesus narrative, the story of the Son of Man.

            I think the doctrine of the atonement is repulsive. It makes Jesus an engine or machine for your and my salvation. Nope, never will accept that claptrap.

          • allen 2saint

            See, here’s what really gets me about people. I have had this happen a few times. You engage in this passionate debate, really trying to understand the other person and also make yourself understood and…in the end, they finally admit, they never, ever intended to accept a thing you say because they have dismissed the belief entirely. Had I known you held this opinion Penny, I would not have wasted a minute on you. For shame. Casting your self righteous, narrow minded judgement as if you were some voice in the desert calling for reform when in reality you have simple rejected the faith years ago and haven’t the first clue about contemporary Christian life, except for what you read in your liberal blogs. It is your right to do so, but by doing that, you have no right to call for reform of any kind. You are not currently involved in the faith and you are just an enemy of it, by actively attacking it. And I bothered to try to engage in all this criticism when you would never give an inch? Really, you are sad. Go join some liberal feminist cause and fight for it all you please, but you are not a legitimate voice on any matter of faith.

          • pennyroyal

            I thought we were done. Yet you keep chewing on your resentment and making up a narrative and overview of my actions. What part of the word ‘done’ don’t you understand.

          • allen 2saint

            Penny, you can leave the psychobabble at the proverbial door. I have no resentment toward you and you have crafted your own narrative perfectly well without my help. This is a public forum, as you have often said in your discussion with me “publicly” decrying this or that idea. You have no power to dismiss anyone here. You should be upfront about your beliefs, as you quoted many theologians and recommended more, it is disingenuous to the extreme for you engage people without openly stating you’re no longer a believer.

          • pennyroyal

            I stated my non-theism very early on this discussion. I never said I was dismissing you from this forum. I said I, personally, was done.

            Yes I quoted theologians and pastoral caregivers. Haven’t you ever heard the studies that say non-theists know more about the bible than believers??? (The study should be easy to find).

            Are you trying to dismiss me from the general discussion because I’m not a believer?? I answered someone else’s post and you hopped back in attacking me. Yes, make out that you’re all goodness and light and intellect and theological sophistication. Whatever…..

          • allen 2saint

            I have heard that non-theists know more than SOME believers. If you are intimating that you know more than me, that remains to be seen. So far, I’ve only seen radical accusations and self righteousness mixed with accurate criticism, but I did not have the impression you were straight up atheist now. Only in the context of our discussion does that really matter, as I went out of my way to speak to you within the context of what I thought was our shared background. I thought you were against a male dominated church, not against the whole religion. A very different story.

            I have worked with manny atheists and respect everyone, so I do not dismiss your belief, but certainly, for someone who is a non believer you seem to quote a lot of feminist theologians. Why would you do that if you were straight up atheist. It’s the time I spent, that’s all. But people never seem to see these interactions as interpersonal, only ideological.

            And for the record, I never claimed to be good. You claimed to be good. I am just myself and I am engaged in a discussion about a subject I know a little about.

          • pennyroyal

            this is hopeless. I don’t need someone or anyone for that matter to be taking my inventory and judging me. I am DONE with you.

          • pennyroyal

            here, you could have done this research which was all over the news recently. Honestly, you are some scholar….

            http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/

          • Ed75

            Wow, in one short post you brought up a whole raft of theological questions, very nice. Where to start. In general, I think the feminist theologians have a large hermeneutic or method of interpretation, and specific views come out of it. The hermeneutic is helpful, but, in my view, it’s too far by itself.
            First Lot – two men visit Lot in Sodom, they are angels. Lot, like Abraham when the three men (angels) who visited him and Sara, has two obligations and desires: to be gracious to guests, and to honor those whom he senses are from the Lord.
            But Sodom is completely depraved, and they are after these two men, so he (as Abraham did with Isaac) is willing to offer his good daughters to them, not to hurt his daughters, but to save the two guests.
            Here it is a situation of levels of morality: as high as Lot’s love and responsibility are to his daughters (as Abraham’s was to Isaac), it is over-ruled by his love and responsibiilty to God. (We see this in Jesus in the Temple when he stayed behind and worried Joseph and Mary.) In the end, the Sodomites don’t want the two daughters, and the two men rescuse the whole family. It ended well in the other two cases also.

          • pennyroyal

            so far so good (except for the daughters who were dangled in front of a crowd and probably would have been gang raped and killed). Nice guy this Lot. So much for family values.
            The two angels were liable to be sodomized by the crowd. Lot’s wife got turned to a pillar of salt for turning to look back (an old trope, this, going back to the Greeks and beyond).
            No I was referring to the two girls/daughters ‘seducing’ their father when in reality it was more likely that Lot committed incest with them. In any case it’s a fairy tale and one that is curiously silent on their shameless-ness behavior.
            I wrote papers on shame dynamics in the Bible. One Christian writer admitted that Christianity doesn’t know (generally) how to deal with these passages and avoids them.
            Read The Harlot by the Side of the Road.
            I wish Christian and Jewish scholars and those who study scripture would look at stories like this and apply the study of shame dynamics. Maybe we’ll all be freer of shame bound behaviors. And more humane.

          • Ed75

            Now the two daughters getting their father drunk and seducing him. After the two men (angels) destroyed Sodom, saving Lot and his family and friends (who were not depraved), Lot and his two daughters (after his wife looked back) were alone, living alone in a cave. Here again it’s a question of levels of morality. There is the law against incest (though Fathers argued that in the years the law against incest had to be suspended to get the human race started), but there is the higher obligation to keep the human race going, and to keep one’s family line going. In the text it’s clear that Lot was drunk and was unaware of ‘when they lay down and when they got up’, so it was just to get them pregnant on their part.

          • Ed75

            Jesus came to ‘transcend’ the OT by establishing a new covenant, the new testament, but he also fulfilled the OT. (Mary, in a similar way, is the summation of the old Israel, and the prototype of the new Israel, the Church.) I wonder what Christianity without the idea of atonement would look like?
            I’m reminded of Hamlet’s verse:
            “The time is out of joint: O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right!” (I.v.189–190), which I think echoes Jesus.
            I can use Jesus’ words, but you might say they were later interpolations:
            ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 13:15.
            ‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ’ 1 Peter 18-19.
            ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ Mark 10:45.
            And the Passover, etc., and Isaiah all point to the suffering of Jesus.
            But I think you are right in this regard: if we had never sinned, Jesus would have been incarnate anyway, that was God’s plan. (The documentary ‘Star of Bethlehem’ bethlehemstar. org indicates that the stars foretold the birth of the Messiah, and the locations of the stars were set before life on earth.) But he earned an additional title: Savior. And I’m hoping that soon Mary will be declared Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redmeptrix.
            I wonder what about the redemption bothers you? I’m curious.

          • Ed75

            That’s true, the emphasis has changed, for good reason, but the doctrine of course still holds.

          • allen 2saint

            Have you taught or taken an religion classes lately? Or is this all from your long held opinions? Because it’s my job and all and I don’t really see it that way.

          • Ed75

            Well, I’m looking at things from the Catholic of view. Original sin is a doctrine of the Church, and doctrine doesn’t change, so the emphasis can change, but not the doctrine and dogma, no? If you’re coming from certain Protestant points of view I can understand what you are saying.

        • Coastghost

          “Hundreds of thousands of women (burned) as witches”. –Source?
          Contemporary historians put the figure much lower, c. 35,000 (20 to 25% of whom were male).

          • pennyroyal

            some people put it as high as 9 million!! I was being conservative.
            85% were women, some tortured in front of their children and hung or burned as their children watched. In two villages all the women were killed except one. No wonder women to this day to participate in political or church life (as ministers)….

          • Coastghost

            The “nine million” was an extrapolation made during the course of the Enlightenment, as explained in the cross-ref of this Wikipedia article:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch-hunt

            The “nine million” figure seems to enjoy no credibility among historians.
            But again: where did you get your figure of “hundreds of thousands”, which by the light of the Wikipedia article is also vastly inflated?

          • pennyroyal

            who’s done the research into this?? no church group is, Catholic or Protestant. Universities, historians don’t want to get into hot water with churches or donors to their researches. There’s a black hole.
            Besides it’s women, ‘who cares about women?’ Look up the Burning Times video from Canadian Broadcasting. that will give you a feel for the time. Also Witchcraze by Barstow which touches on European witch trials but is mainly about American witch persecutions.

            do some more research:http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/12/02/how-many-people-were-killed-as-witches-in-europe-from-1200-to-the-present/

          • pennyroyal

            here’s a conservative count, 40-60,000. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/European_witch-hunts

    • Ed75

      One of the scandilizing features of Christianity when it broke into the world was that it treated women as equals. For example Jesus speaking to the women at the well. This had been done in Judaism, not that they were liturgically able to perform the same rites, but because they were acknowledged as equals as human beings. This wasn’t true at all in the pagan religions and not even in ancient Greece.
      What we see as the patriarchal system is one of the results of Original Sin, God said to Eve after the fall “… shall be for your husband and he shall be your master” (Genesis 3), since Eve had a role in the fall, and it won’t be completely resolved in this world. St. Paul tells us that it is accomplished to a degree in this world – ‘In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female…’, which in this world is the Church here, and eventually, Heaven.
      Christianity extended this equality as human beings to its complete form. It seems to me that you are quoting the feminist view of things, which has some points but generally goes too far and is often off-base and rewrites history. Original Sin (below) didn’t originate with St. Augustine, it’s found in Judaism and in Paul, but theologians developed the doctrine, of course.

      • pennyroyal

        I have often heard that idea that Christianity was an improvement over paganism in its treatment of women. I do not agree about performing liturgy. Women were deacons and there’s much evidence that they did participate and lead in religious rites.

        I would suggest to anyone reading this to research O.S. which under Christianity made sin something irredeemably shameful and bad. Sin made you evil in the eyes of God, the church said. Labeling people, esp. women, Evil, enabled the church/patriarchy to dominate and control women’s lives, and that of Jews, etc.

        As for In Christ there is neither male nor female’ than why are we have this extreme duality found under patriarchy? And you forgot the other part of the passage, there is no slave nor free….. Jesus is accepting slavery as a social condition. OS was developed whole cloth to suit the ends of the RC Church.

        • Ed75

          Yes, in pagan societies women had the same rights as minors, children. More than that they were considered inferior beings to men, even in Greece they were seen as unable to reason as men can reason. The Jewish people changed this in that there were disparities as in the law of divorce, but they were seen as equal beings before God. The Christian revelation brought them to full equality. (Though you perhaps see their inability to become priests as patriarchal and not the pattern of God’s economy).

          • pennyroyal

            Jews have always respected women as mothers and daughters in the domestic sphere.
            It was Christians who saw women as inherently sinful and evil, as evinced by the burning of women as witches. The women’s holocaust / The Burning Times was made up of 85% women. Jews never did that.

          • Ed75

            One aspect of Original Sin is that we all share in it equally: women are not more included to evil than men. In some cases you might be thinking of Protestant history, like in Massachusetts, and not Catholic history, but I have to look into this topic more. Many people were killed, and it had little to do with Church doctrine or policy.

        • Ed75

          ‘In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female…’ tells us that these differences, though of course still there, are insignificant compared to the reality that both persons are in Christ, and so also in solidarity with each other. ‘Slave nor free’ also, both the slave and the owner would go to the same Mass, both answer to the same God and Judge (see Paul’s description of how slaves should act), both responsible to look out for each other’s welfare. Slavery was an institution but Christianity would eventually end it. (In 1456 Pope Eugene issued a Bull declaring that slavery based on race was excommunicatable. The Bull wasn’t followed.)
          Jesus came to deliver us from a far more serious slavery – the slavery to Satan and to sin, He ransomed us from Satan by his passion and death, and in the Sacraments applies this to us and cleanses us from sin and gives us the power to resist sin.

          • pennyroyal

            I’ve read this theology before. I am a theology school graduate. The satan stuff is paranoid. Call someone satan and you can kill them with impunity. Madness. Paranoia.

            The ultimate expression is David Koresh (Waco, TX) dying in a holocaust of his own creation along with innocent women and children. Yes, not catholic, but Christian to the max.

          • Ed75

            David Koresh wasn’t Christian, he was a nut-job, most probably under the influence of evil spirits. It was just dressed up in Christian images.
            The reality of an evil spirit, a fallen angel, and other fallen angels, is a doctrine in the Catholic Church. (We’re not calling another person satan – stumbling block – but Jesus called Peter ‘satan’.) Human beings have done such horrible things, we would say that they couldn’t have done them without help, they were helped by and in the service of the evil spirits. (Jesus speaks of satan: ‘I saw him fall from heaven like a thunder bolt’.)
            In any case, a Protestant theology, or Fundamentalist theology, can use many of the facts of Christianity and develop a theology which has basic elements the same with the Catholic Church, so we’re brothers and sisters in Christ, but can vary widely on many issues.

        • Ed75

          I don’t agree with the evidence that Paul had women as deaconesses, I feel he just meant those who serve. In any case, this has not lasted in the Church, which shows that it’s not God’s will.
          The feminist critique has a lot to offer in bringing about justice – Pope Francis is moving more women into positions of authority, a movement that has been going on for a while. But one has to be careful: one can’t judge the Church by the yardstick or hermeneutic of feminism, it is a measure foreign to the Church, the Church is the measure, but it can make suggestions.

          • pennyroyal

            you don’t agree?? What about Prisca and Aquila? Deacons. That women’s equality didn’t last, you see as “God’s will”??? Egad! Can’t you see that clearly has to be man’s “will.” Early Christians had to fit in with the pagans, so they hid their women away. That’s man’s hubris.

          • Ed75

            It’s sort of like we’re looking at the same thing through two different lenses (or hermeneutics, as they say). If you saw me take something from a neighbor’s house the same act could be robbery or a loan I had asked permission for.
            Feminism is a hermeutic, a scaffold of interpretation. It has a lot to offer to the Church, and in general, but Catholics would say that it is not the absolute hermeneutic, the Church holds that position (Paul – ‘The bulwark and pillar of truth, the Church).
            I don’t know that the Christians made any attempt to fit in with the pagans, they died gruesome deaths rather than do what the pagans asked. They preached to them.
            The Church’s understanding is that Paul used the word ‘deacon’ but he could have meant it as ‘server’, the original Greek word, and not the liturgical position. In any case, the Church holds that things that are not God’s will can appear in the Church, but they don’t last. The Church’s practice, since the Trinity resides in the Church, is that things against the will of God can’t remain long in the Church’s practice.
            I know that you call this the hubris of men, but the Church sees it as the will of God – priests in the Old Testament dispensation were men only, there is no tradition of women in the liturgy. Perhaps this is being pressed because people lack the understanding of who Mary is and her role and the role of all women, like her.
            At the same time, things have their time and the Church is organic and grows, and it’s clear that at this time, in the Church and in society, women are growing in opportunity and service. Pope John Paul wrote a long series called ‘Theology of the body’, now Pope Francis appears to be moving toward a clearer working out of women’s role in the Church, now that they have many positions in parishers, etc. And he has said that they should have roles in top positions in the Vatican. (But it will not include ordination, since that has been decided already – we would say not from the hubris of men, but the Church’s discernment of God’s will.) To find out more about the person of Mary you might read ‘The City of God’ by Mary Agreda from a few hundred years ago, not exact probably in all details but one gets a sense of who Mary is.

          • pennyroyal

            Thank you for your thoughts.
            I think the Romans, before and after Constantine, made some tactical mistakes with pagan tribes in Europe, killing leaders and warriors when mercy would have been a better outcome. Then there was conversions by the sword. It’s a long time since I read about this.
            The pagans in Greece and what is not Turkey were different than the more northern tribes, Celts.
            You do know, that many theologians interpret Paul’s passage “let the women keep silent in church” as a later interpolation. In any case, I do think the Catholic Church is stuck in its better days and will eventually change.
            My main issue with Catholicism, indeed most of Christianity until recently, is its pronatalist position, which has influenced and held back progressive efforts to deal with the population explosion. Over-population makes every single issue humankind faces far worse.

          • Ed75

            Yes, the Romans in victory killed or took as slaves. Your sensitivity to slavery is laudable, it reminds me that Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. And Paul writes ‘He took the form of a slave’ in Philippians, and crucifixion was the death penalty applied to slaves (Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded). And that ‘anyone who sins is a slave to sin’ and that Jesus’ mission is to release us from this bondage. I would argue differently, that Judaism and then Chrsitianity (Catholicism until 1600) was the force that eventually ended slavery, I’ll send an article I came across recently. As an example, Pope Eugene published a Bull in 1453 that said that anyone involved in race slavery was excommunicated. But it wasn’t followed. About the Catholic Church, it understands itself as the Church founded by Jesus Christ, animated by the Holy Spirit, directed by Jesus Christ risen, and that it fulfills Jesus’ statement ‘I will be with you always, even to the end of the age’, in the Sacraments especially. It evolves and grows and is reaching a final form. The population explosion is a serious problem, indeed, but the Church would argue that theologically God sends the world what it needs at any time, and that if human life begins at conception, abortion is not a possible solution. (China has just expanded to a two child policy, for example.)

          • pennyroyal

            too bad the Catholic Church doesn’t rule the world, then we wouldn’t have to use our reason to see that the earth is being destroyed by over-population. The RC Church is willfully ignoring that reality. Thankfully the message that religions are a big part of the problem is getting out.

  • pennyroyal

    that is the Golden Rule, which is not the best code of ethical behavior to follow. Close, but don’t stop there.

    • X-Christian

      What is wrong with the Golden Rule? Seems good enough, no?

      • pennyroyal

        I’ll get back to you, but meanwhile here’s a modern movement which uses the Golden Rule. A place where atheists and theists can find common ground. http://charterforcompassion.org/

        • X-Christian

          I’m all for compassion. I donate a very large sum each year to Doctors Without Borders because that is simply the best organization to help people in the world.

          The trouble with the Charter – as I read it – is that compassion is not defined in a strictly non-religious way.

          I’ll explain:
          If you ask a Christian to do ‘good works’ that may included altruism or it may include oppression of the outsider who invariably is ‘the evil doer’.
          No Christian who opposes Gay Rights feels they are oppressing anyone – but oppression is exactly the danger that well-meaning Christians and Muslims will bring to the equation if it is not spelled out as forbidden.
          These religious people believe they are doing the compassionate thing by repressing women’s rights as well as gay rights. This is truly the problem with religion.

          But don’t get me wrong. I might sign the petition if it looks as though these dangers are avoided. I do not trust ‘doing good’ in the name of any religion.

          • pennyroyal

            I haven’t signed it either and won’t for the reason you say. As a bookstore Buddhist I’m all for compassion but….there are many reasons not to be taken for a fool or throwing pearls before swine (people with their own agenda for the lives of others).

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Apr 18, 2014
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Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

 
Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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