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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

This is the second in an occasional series of posts about various bits of news or commentary that I come across that are simply so astoundingly absurd that it is beyond comprehension how someone can believe them. I base the title on radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck's comments that such things are so mind-boggling that they make your head want to explode. Hence, your head goes *pop*.

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Theories about Jesus abound. Most of them are based on a belief (which could be considered a prejudice) against the supernatural events described in the New Testament. After all, according to those who doubt the accuracy of the Biblical accounts, it isn't possible that Jesus actually performed miracles, healed the sick, self-volitionally resurrected and claimed to be (in both words and deeds) the one true, unique Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, rather than accept the story of Jesus as taught in the New Testament, skeptics and some Christians who want a non-supernatural Jesus (like the Jesus Seminar) have come up with their own theories as to what really happened in Jesus' life.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across an opinion piece at OpEdNews.com by Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo. Professor Bagnolo, according to his description at the bottom of the article, is a "Renaissance man: Cultural Anthropologist, Architectural designer, painter, writer, novelist, theologian. As a child prodigy, abed with polio for almost two years, with an off the charts IQ, reading at the graduate level by 5th grade, offered an opportunity to skip three grades at age 8."

Now, I am certainly not a Renaissance man, but I do have some questions about Professor's Bagnolo's theories about Jesus which he voices in an article entitled Jesus Death, Bushites, Neo-Cons, And Early Fascism, And How Everything Was/is Always About The Money.

Professor Bagnolo begins his Opinion piece with the following:

Since 2003 in excess of 725,000, more people died violent deaths, than in the previous five-year period.

Now, I sometimes have typos and sometimes have incomplete sentences, but the first sentence makes no sense to me. I think he's trying to say that since 2003, 725,000 people died violent deaths which is more than in the previous five year period. I certainly can agree that more people probably have died violent deaths, but I don't know (and cannot tell from the article) if that number is significantly higher or who has been doing the killing or why.

Then he continues:

In that time the two greatest Documents ever written by humans, died with them.

Unfortunately, he fails to identify these two documents. Based on the article, I suppose that one of them is the United States Constitution, but it certainly doesn't seem dead to me. Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Assemble, and all of the other freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights remain intact. Congress is meeting, the President is in the White House and the Supreme Court (while on summer break) has not been disbanded. Hence, it appears that the Constitutional system remains intact, too.

Then he gets funky. He says:

Also in that five year span, two of the most hideously anti-human documents ever written, were born, in a union of the great Grandsons of FDR and the Great Grandsons of Satan; children of the Father of modern American Freedom and prosperity for the greatest number of people possible, in one era, and the Diabolical Dungeoneers, of overwhelming freedom and feckless, glaringly, gratuitous, prosperity, for the smallest number of elitists possible, of another, combined to short Americans of their potential.

*pop* Say what? I feel like I've come into the middle of a dialogue where language has a different meaning understood by only a few. I have no clue what he's talking about here, and his next paragraph where he seems to say that it is the combination of the followers of FDR with the "Bushites" (whatever they are) that is the problem. But it goes on . . . .

Over a faded dank and dreary gray, clouded, low oppressive skies, we have, here, at once, crowds of Bentley-driving, high-handed, shrill shrieking, halleluiah, hackers, hands grasping bloodied axes and scythes, maggot-squirmy corpses, beneath whited, hooded robes, covering, blood spattered hems above goose-stepping, boots, spiked with DU-238, crushing over human cadavers, of once free children, free men and women, led by a banner of a Muscled, Goose-stepping, bearded, dreadnaught, grey-skinned man, wearers of the crooked cross of black, wrought iron, over a whited disk, with hands all bloody, wild-eyed, and pale grayed damp flesh-stretched face, over tight, low, thick-browed skulls.

I feel like I'm reading an impressionist painting. I suspect that he is calling Bushites (which I assumed, but don't know, means people supporting Bush's policies) Nazis and KKKers. But his imagery, while quite fun to read, is so over-the-top as to be ridiculous.

I haven't yet talked about his Jesus angle. Then again, I find it hard to see the connection between the Bushites and Jesus. He suddenly, and for no apparent reason, shifts gears from this type of very illustrative language to a more straightforward account (if wrong) about Jesus. He begins by giving some fairly standard dates among mainline denominations for the Gospels and then mentions that the only versions of the New Testament writings we have are copies of copies. While I disagree with his dating of the Gospels and I don't see the fact that we have copies of copies to be an insurmountable problem for establishing the text with confidence, I will simply let this pass for purposes of this post.

He continues by noting how the Jewish people structured their lives with the system of debt forgiveness that is akin to a form of bankruptcy. Again, not particularly problematic, but he continues talking about the Herodian Priests:

Eventually, the practice was abused, ill kept and forgotten. Priests began confiscating or buying up properties, and with some help from minor Roman officials, were commercializing the land. Both Romans and some Herodian officials were Practicing Fascism, before the term was defined and coined in modern times, after the then present Roman Battle Ax-the Fasces-the many composited, slender straight-cut rods of wood. They were breaking the bankruptcy laws initiated by Moses and the land laws. The Jewish Religious Leaders, with help from brokers and minor Roman officials, covering up their skimming, commercializing the land, in violation of Moses ancient concept, and selling it to rich Greeks and Roman's at prices out of the reach of peasant Jews. Moreover, they were outsourcing labor to scabs and outsiders. (Sound all too painfully, familiar?)

Enter Wonder-Working Messiah Candidate
When Jesus arrived at Jerusalem for the high holidays (Passover) he announced The Year of The Lord, (Translation-The Jubilee Year). Whether or not he stumbled upon the Herodian Priests indiscretion, named above, is debatable, but I believe that he did. It doesn't matter now, all that mattered then or now, is that the priests believed, from his mention of the old forsaken, misplaced law, that he did. They could not afford for him to walk around speaking about this again, for several reasons: For one, if the Romans found out that they were skimming, the punishment would not be palatable. To make their enterprise profitable and covert, the skimmers had to have the cooperation of some Roman officials. The lower placed key positions of information flow, were less suspect, were cheaper thus protecting profit versus cost of skimming. If the Roman culprits were found out, they would be flayed, fed to the lions, or burnt at the stake, or worse. That put all of them and the Priests in a very tight spot, if Jesus were onto them. They could not afford to let Jesus speak again. They had to move on him that very night and keep the spotlight off Jesus to prevent him from spilling information to the Romans, hence the terrible beating he took, to shut him-up, which hastened his death. Jesus was no longer working miracles in the desert and one-mule towns; he was in the Major Leagues, and the economic powers, even back then, were not as laid back as the small village functionaries. Jesus, the back trails Messiah was no longer in his element. His end was assured the moment he entered the gates of the City and even before with his display of political/spiritual hold on small timers from small towns. His charisma, healing and soothing powers, held no magic in the Big City.

Say what? Where does this come from? I have searched every source in my possession and conducted searches through several different search engines on the Internet for evidence that the Herodian priests were buying up property or skimming. What have I found? Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. The best I find is repeated unsubstantiated statements about it in Amazon.com reviews of Doherty's awful book, The Jesus Puzzle. (For all I know, the reviewer in question making these same assertions is, in fact, Bagnolo himself. According to the Amazon.com review, the reviewer who raises these same claims -- Arnold Wexllywacker "Bigguy" -- is located in "Downtown Illinois", and Bagnolo apparently "had a talk radio show in Chicago". Could be a coincidence, but maybe not.)

He then continues by denigrating the Gospel writings because the apostles couldn't have known what they report, such as what was said before the Sanhedrin. Of course, the idea that the apostles could have recorded what was told to them by people who were present completely escapes Bagnolo. The idea that Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who was secretly a follower of Christ, could have told them is simply ignored. Certainly, in Bagnolo's eyes, we're better off believing his musings almost 2,000 years after the fact than the reports of those who were witnesses to the events -- as the Gospel writers were or upon whom the Gospel writers relied. Even if Bagnolo is correct that the Gospels were written much later (he places John's Gospel 75 years after the event), why is his musings 2,000 years later more likely to be accurate than the reports much closer in time to the event? Bagnolo doesn't say.

But then, Bagnolo is a bit inconsistent. He says, "Jesus did not go through anything like a trial, he was rushed to judgment and I doubt that even he knew exactly why." But this doesn't add up with what came before. For one thing, his articles says he can "possibly subscribe" to the trial before the Sanhedrin, so why does he now say resolutely that Jesus did not go through "anything like a trial"? He also previously said: "Whether or not [Jesus] stumbled upon the Herodian Priests indiscretion, named above, is debatable, but I believe that he did." How, exactly, does this square with Bagnolo's statement that "I doubt [Jesus] knew exactly why" he was rushed to judgment. If Jesus knew of the indiscretion (as Bagnolo believes) which revealed that the High Priests were skimming from the Romans and subject to execution themselves, why would Jesus not know why He was being rushed to judgment? It seems pretty apparent to me.

But what is the point of all of this? Why, it's to blame George Bush for the war in Iraq. Bagnolo, after furthering in his telling of his bedtime story about what really happened during the days of Jesus without evidence of any kind (and without much reason), he then proceeds with the following rant:

The Judeo/Christian views of property, bankruptcy and the Jubilee Year, were being trampled upon by conservative businessmen of the era. Everything is always about the money. The execution of Jesus by Rome and the Chief Herodian Priests, was no exception, it was not about theology, blasphemy or treason. Religious Arguments far exceeding those of Jesus were always brewing in Israel among the argumentive rabbi's. Jesus' execution was as much about the money as was Bush's attack on Iraq. Trillions for war, for mass-murder, nothing for healthcare or for mass-Life.

Funny how Americans accept socialization of government, of schools, police, fire departments, city services, the military, but of not necessary products like fuel, water, housing, medical care and other personal necessities? It is about the money, avarice, and contempt for the masses and for the God these fascists claim to serve-hypocrisy.

I don't think you have to be pro-war or anti-war to see the complete disconnect here. Basically, he has made up a story about Jesus (or followed the rantings of some reviewers of books on Amazon.com that make similar unsupported claims about the Herodian priests) to try to connect up the execution of Jesus with the war proceeding in Iraq. But the facts about Jesus' teaching and crucifixion upon which he bases his entire argument are, being as charitable as possible, extraordinarily doubtful.

But then, part of Bagnolo's solution to the evils of the "fascist" Bushites is to be less materialistic. Personally, I have no problem with the idea that the western world has become way too materialistic. But his solution is not to buy anything at all. Nothing? Not a thing? He's advocating a return to our being hunter-gatherers? He wants each of us to make our own clothes, shoot our own food, build our own shelters, etc. etc.? Wow! I would never have thought that'd be a realistic solution to the war in Iraq. But then, when I read what he has to say in full, it begins to . . . well, it begins to show how confused this thinking really is.

Don't Buy Anything, at all! Try living the simple life; whether or not you are a true Christian, whether or not you even believe in God, it won't hurt you to do without. Self-sacrifice in a good way. Stop buying stuff for cosmetic purposes. Instead spending thoiusands to look cute at a health club, pull weeds by hand instead of using herbicides/pesticides-stop giving yourself and your neighbors cancer-and for goodness sake stop spreading that noxious, toxic, black top on your driveways. That is not a Spring ritual, it is veritable cancer fest, and it is unnecessary and counterproductive. It does NOT preserve your driveway, it worsens it. It seals in heat, or cold and moisture, and promotes cracks and pot holes. I have not coated my driveway in 20 years, and I NO cracks or potholes. All my neighbors do it every year and all of their driveways are cracked and full of pot holes by fall.

Oh and everything I have seen, smelled or experienced which was made in countries like China, Mexico, middle-eastern nations, oriental nations, smells, tastes, or looks, toxic and carcinogenic. Learn to read the ingredients of everything you buy. Don't buy anything that smells dead. Don't buy anything to eat, which contains ingredients which sound like something you dissolve metal with, or like it can be used instead of kerosene, or like you should pour it into the carburetor, or rub a sore back, or clean out a bad cut with, okay?

Spreading black top and eating food with preservatives is what led to the war in Iraq? Uh . . . okay. *pop*

2 comments:

{{*pop* Say what?}}

rofl!!

Did he ever get around to identifying those two hideously anti-human documents (written together by ultra-conservatives and ultra-liberals, I take it, with the ultra-cons being worse)?

As to the skimming, the only thing I can come up with is that there is a general agreement that the Annas family, in their position as chief priests (definitely backed by the Roman government fwiw), were making a tidy profit off the sale of things-to-sacrifice, in the Court of Gentiles. Jesus would have been threatening that with the routing of the merchants; but really it's small potatoes. Putting all four texts together, which Bagnolo probably isn't doing, Jesus had already done this once with less harsh language two years earlier, and hadn't been back to a Passover in Jerusalem since then; but there everything was, back in place. This time, i.e. in the Synoptics, He calls them a den of rebel crooks!--quoting from the prophets.

The chief priests may have been afraid of being deposed by a popular uprising, but not of simply losing their income. It wasn't about the money.

And it doesn't seem likely that religious arguments "far exceeding those of Jesus" were "always" brewing among the admittedly argumentative rabbis, even on the terms reported in the Synoptics. There were religious arguments among the rabbis always brewing, which far exceeded claims by an avowedly prophetic rabbi from an unknown teacher, to be himself the final judge and sender-away of sin? To be, himself, outranking the Sabbath and the Torah!? To be the Adonai (a special form of adon-title, reserved for God alone in the OT) Whom David, under inspiration they accepted, heard would be put in charge of everything and over all His enemies, by the explicit promise of YHWH (a name reserved for God alone)?

There were always religious arguments brewing among the rabbis far exceeding _that!??_

I know some 8-year-olds who have more sense than this...

JRP (who, incidentally, was also offically recorded as reading at the graduate level by 5th grade. Things like this are why I don't put much weight on that assessment... {wry s!})

Crazy deluded marxist infected crap. It's always about the money to those guys....

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