The thrall of myth, redux.
The importance of going back to the source. The early Christians were reading the Septuagint -- Greek, not Hebrew, their Bible. I wonder. How did the language change the meaning? How has translation changed it through all this time?
Most important, as we frame the human relation to deity (knowing these are psychological statements, that it's the psychological perspective we speak from; after all, these are matters of soul), is the language that speaks of man's dominion over the earth. The source, going back as far as you can go: what did this word 'dominion' mean? What responsibility did it imply? The Mishna will look back at Abraham and see him as a metaphor for unquestioning devotion and love; his son as the law. Law here in these earliest times was the important consideration. I'm thinking of regional gods, because so often religious writings were (and are) statements of identity.
When I hear people now framing things in terms such as 'the "Protestant" come closest to the original Hebrew"', I can only pause. Don't we understand we're spanning ages, peoples, tribes? The perspective we speak from is specific -- e.g., historical, psychological; we should always be careful to ask "whose?" Yet this understanding is exactly what has not been carried over to the broader culture. And it's become critical to address in our time.
Psychology must do what Philosophy has failed to do. Without a sense of speaking symbolically, scripture has been taken literally. This materialization of spiritual things has become all important in our current world as all around us this end-time myth is being acted out. It's a mass psychosis. We must say so, understand and address it as such.
What part, we must all ask, do we each have in it?
What can we do to heal?
So Constantine sat down with his Hebrew / Aramaic scrolls when he and his committees began to cut and paste the Holy Tome that has morphed down to us as the King James? Nonsense. Even Philo, the Jewish mystic, was reading Greek; it's doubtful he read Hebrew at all. But cut and paste and mold they did, these writings; Greek in the main, sometimes Coptic.
This is fact. Solid, un-debatable history. To Christians in the early centuries, there were many Christs, many Christianities. (Just as there were many Judaisms.) Their lost Scripture, their version of Christ, the world, the creator, keeps coming back to us, turning up in the desert. Because Rome, my friends, never died. It just became the Church with all its modern protestations.
Scripture is, has ever been, identity statement -- as it was for the tribes of Canaan, as it was for the early Christians, as it is for the tribes of Lynchburg, VA. Not based or meshing with any reality, with any true history.
And this has only become a problem in a literal world that doesn't understand this. That doesn't even know how to understand it.
How did we, so logical, so modern, have this happen? It seems simple to me. Everyday we use tools we don't understand. We turn on the tube, send an e-mail. It might as well be magic for all we know; in the unconscious mind/brain -- where we really think -- is IS a sort of magic. We trust its authority implicitly... those who fix things, invent things. We live so far away from nature, we really don't know much firm reality. We don't need to, it touches us so little. Cause and effect? We climb in a car, buy food, buy a solution, with money made by pushing magic buttons. Who is this invisible god? Let the authorities tell you: IT IS WRITTEN THUS... We look in the instruction manual for the Magnavox, the WORDPERFECT, the toaster, the Cosmos. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
In a literal scriptural world, the dinosaurs become tricksters and the voyage to the sacred river a tour bus: See where baby Jesus was born? And Jesus becomes a mere ticket to an eternal afterlife of pain or pleasure. (How is this different from "Would you like to buy a piece of the cross? A metatarsal of a saint? Time off in Purgatory?")
The high elect KNOW... well, it isn't gnowing, which is lowly, which is based in simple sympathy and compassion. Yet even our Straussian groupies are firm believers in a high elect who shall run all things. The political evangelicals are endtime Millenialists, just as the Nazis were. All reason abandoned to them. All reason but cunning. And now this identity statement is running the most powerful arsenal (a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun) the world has ever imagined.
Between the philosophy that too often stays in the Tower, and (most of all) what passes in even the educated public as 'truth' re scripture and history, we need a course correction. Major. The US is drowning in what must be understood as a cult. Faith is one thing, but making faith 'fact' and the law of the land, is another. And this is the cult's agenda. We know where it leads.
We can theorize about reality, but recognizing such an active distortion of reality... well, this is the issue. It's happening, happening on a grand scale with major consequences for all.
It does not have to be like this. We change it one by one by one.
elated: June 2005: Stations of the Cross : How evangelical Christians are creating an alternative universe of faith-based news
The Hijacking of Jesus
Christianity in America has become nearly synonymous with rightwing fanaticism, conservative politics, and--courtesy of Mel Gibson--a brutally sadistic version of the religious experience. But millions of devout Christians, like longtime journalist and author Dan Wakefield, are appalled by the religious right's distortion of their faith, which only three decades ago stood largely for peace equality, healing, and compassion for society's outcasts.
In his new book, The Hijacking of Jesus, Wakefield turns his sharp analytic eye on the religious right. Through careful research and interviews with religious leaders across the country, Wakefield has developed a unique understanding of the rise of this new political juggernaut and thoughtful insights into what can be done about it.