In life’s ambitions, treasure hunting is more common than you might think. It is just as popular today as it was centuries ago on the high seas, or the mountains of Shangri-La, or El Dorado on the banks of the Orinoco River. In fact, in some form or fashion and metaphor we all hunt for value, for meaning, the marrow for one or more “X Marks the Spots.” Every single human being has done this: seeking our fortunes, literally or supernaturally, or both. Whatever form this aspiration takes, it has certainly been human nature for over 300,000 years of evolution. Our desire to become less ignorant and/or less afraid through understanding. In so many ways our lives are stories, or as Shakespeare aptly described: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” We strive, we perform to somehow be of worth to self and others, worthy of life as well as at death. We love and hunt for some type of an astonishing, ageless story.
I stumbled across a business magazine article last week about a very well-known, fascinating trait we humans possess: worth-seeking. The article was What ‘The Curse Of Oak Island’ Teaches About Actually Finding Treasure. The article critiques the History Channel’s popular Tuesday night show. The article and hit TV show both reveal a lot about human nature and our obsession for extraordinary stories told in extraordinary ways, whether we are the audience or the actual treasure hunters. If anything, the two key components of a timeless “story” reveal our vulnerabilities and insatiable curiosities no matter what side of the story you are on.
Even if the Lagina-History Channel team already know the [final] answer, the ‘gold’ their mining from the franchise they’ve built around the whole undertaking promises to stretch out the timeline to when they decide to tell us. But as we wait for the imagined treasure, Rick [Lagina] has already given us the most valuable treasure of all: the reminder that there is no isolated ‘ah ha’ moment in which the value we seek just appears.
All human beings have this general trait to find the greatest payoff manifested during our lifetime in many different ways. To degrees we are all treasure hunters. However, history is replete with legends, stories, hoaxes, and myths of an ultimate, incomparable treasure yet to be realized. The hunt becomes bigger than the prize.
Most tangible, known hidden “treasures” have been found. But there are indeed hunts that lead either to an unexpected different treasure or a completely empty dead-end. Consequently, the latter can lead to more hunting, more conspiracy theories, or redefinition, retro-fitting, and modifications for the sake of hunting and hope which drives humans to no end, supernatural resolve or “faith,” and yet no tangible treasure!
You might assume otherwise, but Oak Island co-star Rick Lagina is just like the rest of us. As a treasure hunter and a cable show star, from the outside he may look different. But below the surface he’s surprisingly the same, something he proved last month in a season 7 episode of the show. In a crescendo moment of discovery for a show that already has 99 episodes in the books, Rick summed up the breakthrough saying this: “It was a truly aha! moment.” But it wasn’t.
I do recommend everyone read the entire Inc.com article by Larry Robertson. Why? Because it hints, perhaps demonstrates that if we are patient enough to allow this enormous Universe/Cosmos to reveal its answers. Allow its hints and clues of why and how it functions and at what speeds, sometimes beyond our measly, instant (impulsive?) attempts to understanding it all. Patiently allow the macro-Universe and subatomic/Quantum Physics, laws, and “spooky action at a distance” to reward our impartial, patient, persistent curiosity and scrutiny so we can indeed realize over time—not always in our own lifetime or within our grandchildren’s lifetime—but with cumulative, scholarly consensus this mindset generates higher accuracy and detail of those hows and whys.
When we cannot know or explain with any certainty or high plausibility, there is no loss, no embarrassment to tell others: “That is inconclusive. We need more time to determine for sure.”Or to say confidently “After 1,900 years and especially the last century and more so the last two decades, what was once believed and commonly, socially accepted as infallibly true, is in fact NOT true at all.”But how many are brave and willing to be undecided, unswayed by the norm, the vast majority, or even stand firmly against the falsely, ill-founded traditions and conventions of the crowd, of the antiquated systems of This is how it is, how it has always been for 2,000 years!?
Humans Are Obsessed with Aha Moments, Supernatural Feelings of Divine Profound Revelation and Treasures
Allow me to draw comparisons to the human addiction experience and the sheer lure and power of perpetual hope, commitment, and undying faith for an ultimate, undetermined, possible winning lotto-ticket IF you keep playing every day, every week for the remainder of your life. You can’t win the jackpot, however, if you don’t pray play and ask too many critical questions while playing. It begs the question, What makes people, a person, to wish upon hope even in the face of no proof, no guarantee of success and reward at the end, for the rest of their life?
The undeniable fascination with the intertwining of historical theories and possible treasure is what drives each season of The Curse of Oak Island. Because the speculation excites and entices, it’s likely that the show will not only see a Season 8, but a Season 9, and more. — Aiden Mason, “Why the Curse of Oak Island Will Live to See a Season 8,” TV over Mind.com, accessed Jan. 24, 2020
Like Speculators of America’s early 19th century westward expansion and economic development, and those today in the stock market and banking investments, analyzing and forecasting future prices and ROI’s, the Laginas brothers and their team must find and contract with investors to hedge risks and losses, not to mention their public image and reputations. This is smart business, right? Funds have to be raised in order to keep the treasure hunt alive! From the Showbiz Cheatsheet website:
The rewards of Oak Island’s supposed treasure might be bigger than Marty and Rick Lagina (and the rest of their The Curse of Oak Island team) ever imagined. But, the cost to dig on the mysterious… Money Pit is now in the millions. Which begs the question: Who is paying for the Oak Island treasure hunt? Up ahead, we deep dive into the Oak Island’s financial backing and reveal who might be covering a majority [or all] of the costs. — Jessie Quinn, “Who Is Paying for the Oak Island Treasure Hunt?” Showbiz CheatSheet.com, accessed Jan. 24, 2020
Before the TV show became #1 in cable TV-ratings with over 3.34 million viewers, Marty Lagina was already a very successful, wealthy energy mogul through the sale of his natural gas drilling company Terra Energy. That sale enabled the start of his two current companies Heritage Sustainable Energy (wind turbines) and his winery Mari Vineyards, both in Michigan. With his accumulation of capital, business experience, and past drilling experience Marty Lagina and his financial-business partner Craig Tester, along with other business-team partners, Oak Island Tours, Inc. was founded.
When the production company Prometheus Entertainment approached Marty, his brother Rick Lagina, and the Oak Island team in 2014 to create a reality TV-series and A&E Network’s History Channel as its distributor, Marty Lagina and Oak Island Tours, Inc. were diversified and firmly established for long-term financial backing and revenues. Seven years and seven television seasons later, with a probable eighth season pending, the hunt for the famed Money Pit, the underground vault/room rumored to hold unimaginable untold treasures, the insatiable hunt for the ultimate payoff continues… (long exhale, deep breath) again.
Does this legendary story remind you of any other riveting, extraordinary “stories” in history of immense value and wealth waiting to be discovered and owned? Do all hidden treasures, found or not, have to be strictly monetary in value? No. When they are never found they take on an almost Gnostic, metaphysical meaning, perhaps to save face. Consider these few popular tales still alive today:
Independent, credible confirmation of Jesus’ death-escape
Notice the consistent patterns? That is, the consistent human psychological patterns of Gold Fever or addictive greed or more precisely the constant need for external affirmation for one’s self-worth: polydependency versus codependency. Why are individuals, or groups, organizations willing to put everything on the line, change their entire lifestyle, risk even their own life for some cause, for a legend or unconfirmed story that has no guarantees of a payoff, much less that exists or has only half-truths… or worse? Why have over 3.34 million TV viewers become obsessed fans of the History Channel show The Curse of Oak Island for seven or eight years? Why is it that an unconfirmed existence of some future jackpot, treasure or worth can perpetuate 7-years, or 20, 100 or even 2,000 years of unyielding, unwavering belief by millions of television followers?
Empty tomb of Jesus/Yeshua bar Jebediah, tax collector
And if you really do feel/think the hidden treasure you seek probably, maybe exists, a better question would be: How could one raise the probabilities of verifying its existence then raise your chances of finding and claiming it?
Yet, millions upon millions of people go on blind treasure hunts daily, weekly, or over their lifetime with no such credible forensic or plausible confirmations and evidence that the “story” is factual or mythical. Why? Why would they make such life-changing decisions and take such drastic measures for something that isn’t there? Could they be suffering from psychological polydependency? Is it the gnawing need for pure wealth, or multiple affirmations and heightened self-worth by others? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
A quick exercise. I want you to list all the iconic, famous, notable people of which you are aware that mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again or found. Take a minute to think long and hard. How many can you list?
Amelia Earhart is one that first comes to mind for me. The famous pilot and her Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937. Jimmy Hoffa is another well-known American Teamster who disappeared in July 1975. Glenn Miller, the famous big-band musician and composer, disappeared over the English Channel in 1944 and Michael Rockefeller, the 4th generation member of the famous American aristocrats the Rockefellers, disappeared in 1961.
What about young children that are still missing? How many famous cases and names of children can you list? According to ListVerse.com here are 10 Cases of Missing Children. Why did those ten children make ListVerse.com’s list or why did Earhart, Hoffa, Miller, and Rockefeller have their disappearances make regional or worldwide news? Answer this: Why is it such an extraordinary news-event that these adults and children vanished? What’s the big deal? Was there something about those people who made their vanishing so dramatic? Was there controversy, wealth, or status surrounding those missing people? Is one of them anymore important than the other?
I want you to remember your answers to those questions as you continue reading. What if there had been a group of forecasters that weeks, months, years prior to all these vanishing adults and children said “Sound the alarms! Person A, person B, child A, and child B will vanish for a long time or forever!“ And those forecasters (psychics?) explained how they would vanish. Would their foretelling make the disappearances more astounding? Of course they would. They would be predictions that would turn the world, or at least the local region upside down. Period. It would be as historical as mankind stepping on the Moon for the very first time.
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No matter how many notable or controversial missing persons and children you can list, none of them will EVER matchup in fame or value to the one 12-year old boy I’m about to describe. No, correction. I am not the one who described him. The most famous book around the world — according to millions and billions of people past and present — will describe this one phenomenal 12-year old boy. Here is an introduction of this “boy” by Robert Deffinbaugh:
“There is nothing in fact or in fiction in the history of man which matches the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Humanly speaking, no one anticipated God’s intervention into human history by the birth of a child, born in a manger. Not even Judaism was looking for Messiah to come in this way. Furthermore, we have become so accustomed to the biblical narratives of the birth of our Lord and the credal formulations of the doctrines involved that we have often ceased to appreciate the mystery of the incarnation.
If we are to properly appreciate the mystery of the incarnation, we must first come to recognize the importance of the coming of our Lord as God incarnate.” — Robert Deffinbaugh,Th.M.- Dallas Theological Seminary andBible.org
Indeed, “nothing that matches“. Nothing ever has and ever will match him… for the rest of time. A pretty lofty, magnanimous Earth-shattering claim, huh? And Mr. Deffinbaugh certainly isn’t the only minister or man-of-the-cloth or congregation member to make such a claim. Some 2.2 billion professed Christians knowingly or unknowingly profess it as well. God incarnate is well-known, well-established, and fully understood, which makes it obviously true! Yes?
“In Christian doctrine the Incarnation, briefly stated, is that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a man. It is one of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe. It is without parallel.” — Lehman Strauss,Philadelphia Bible Institute andBible.org
One method 4th – 5th century CE Church Fathers used and now modern Christians and their apologists utilize to show doubters the divine will of their God and remarkable boy-Savior, are the “fulfillments” of many Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. According to these Fathers and subsequent preachers, bishops, cardinals, and ministers these passages that were spoken, taught, and scribed on papyrus centuries before Jesus’ birth plainly reveal Jesus as the coming Jewish Messiah. This simultaneously gives the biblical Scriptures of the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament their divine, unmatched inerrancy and infallibility for Christendom. The game-changer!
I want to take a closer look at these prophecies and subsequent meanings.
Taxonomies of Messianic Prophecies
There are four types of Messianic-Christian prophecies: 1)Birth, 2)Ministry, 3)Betrayal, and 4)Death. It must be noted that some of these four types are actual historical events that transpired before the Old Testament book and passages were written. However, these a posteriori issues are not the critical topics of my post and should be addressed another time in another blog-post. For now what is necessary to understand is how 50 – 400 predictions, the number, came true and the miraculous impact of these Old Testament passages support/prove to the faithful Christian divine, incomprehensible odds of coming true when they were written and/or taught some 6 to 7 centuries before Jesus was born; the miraculous part. Most all radical Christians who immediately embrace past and present paranormal phenomena, will unequivocally admit that what the Bible says about Jesus’ nativity and the events surrounding his foretold birth are literally true. No ifs, ands, or buts. But for the sake of time, let’s consider just the popular birth prophecies.
Messianic Birth Prophecies — The most well-known, due to the widespread Roman Catholic Churches built between the late 5th-century to 16th-century, are these two about the virgin birth in Bethlehem:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” — Isaiah 7:14
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” — Micah 5:2
There are at least 12 more mainstream, supposed Messianic passages Christian apologists assert prove the phenomenal divine intervention through Jesus’ family, local events, his birth, and his time on Earth (click here if interested). The early Church Fathers, and all later Christian apologists today say this divine intervention by God was predicted some 6 to 7 centuries before Jesus. Christians claim today there are hundreds more passages proving Jesus’ mega-exclusive, spectacular arrival on Earth, not as a simple man, but as God’s one-and-only Son. I am not going to address every single one. Scrutinizing every single one would take months. The 12 passages I linked to above suffice.
Though I will not examine all 50 – 400 of the remaining Messianic passages of Jesus’ adult ministry, betrayal, and crucifixion — they do not apply right now to the subject of ancestry, birthplace, and his first 12-years — it is nevertheless hard for Christians not to be conscious of them when the Synoptic Gospels are not placed in chronological order. Further complicating this matter, the four Gospels focus most of their narrations on Jesus’ final four-ish years, from 29 to 32/33 years of age. Hence, with all the decades of a posteriori hindsight, it is quite awkward for the modern Christian to not envision Jesus more than just a regular boy, a sinful boy from the seed of Adam. The diversion seems to be his last 3-4 years. On the other hand, with all the hoopla of his Messianic birth, he is not just a common boy. He is “the One” from the Holy Father who embodies never-before-seen or heard… non-human abilities! Let’s add more hoop-lah. Enter the three Kings/Magi and the sensational celestial event over Bethlehem. How is all of this convergence possible?
There are three or four plausible explanations for what the “star” might have been, but mathematically none of them would’ve happened around the approximate time of Jesus’ birth and Herod’s final two years of ruling. Hubert J. Bernhard, educator and lecturer at San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium, composed a 4-part series of record LP’s called “The Planetarium Lecture Series.” One of the episodes in his series addresses the Star of Bethlehem. Bernhard, along with many Christian apologists over the last two millenia, explained the events this way:
“If you accept the story told in the Bible as the literal truth, then the Christmas Star could not have been a natural apparition. Its movement in the sky and its ability to stand above and mark a single building; these would indicate that it was not a normal phenomenon, but a supernatural sign. One given from on high and one that science will never be able to explain.” — Hubert Bernhard, The Planetarium Lecture Series.
Whatever created or moved the Star of Bethlehem it was bright enough for the Magi to journey from start to finish some 500-miles from the Orient/Babylonia to Judea. This most certainly would have been an event that thousands or millions of other people, astronomers, and star-gazers too would have seen. But for the time of Jesus’ birth, no one in that 500-1000 mile area (or beyond) recorded anything. Nothing. Despite this widespread omission and silence, for miracle-believing Christians these synchronizations of prophetic Hebrew passages, their fulfillment, and the cosmological spectacle cannot be understated. It was an unprecedented, epic, historical phenomena.
Inside evangelical circles then, what do we have regarding God’s newborn Messiah/Christ? “One of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe“ Strauss shouts “without parallel“! Wow. “Without parallel“!
“When you read the record of the coming of Jesus into the world — born in a stable, born of a woman, reared in the woodshop of a poor Jewish carpenter — you could not grasp the truth that He was the God-man if the Scriptures didn’t reveal it.” — Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Suddenly and astoundingly the long-awaited foretold boy phenom known as Messiah-G-man vanished! Gone.
And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. — Luke 2:42-52
Those passages are the very last words written about the boy-wonder, Messiah-G-man for the next 17-years!
What is very odd, very suspicious of this disappearance at this point in the Gospels is that with such spectacle of a newborn King, heralded by a supernatural cosmic event — that summoned other kings/magi hundreds of miles away — forced King Herod of Judea to slaughter hundreds or thousands of baby boys, of which is also not recorded by anyone in the province or region, especially by Roman historians or scribes, no one seems to care… except the Gospel authors many decades later. These events also (a decade later) have a 3-day 2-night lost Messiah-G-man who mesmerized and dumbfounded Rabbis in the Temple.
Amazingly, all of this Earth-shattering Gospel news becomes un-newsworthy! Basically, Messiah-G-man becomes the antithesis of starboy Messiah-G-man, the one and only Son of God who, as Billy Graham alludes, that the Scriptures revealed 6-7 centuries before! What is going on? Why would the Hebrews suddenly become completely apathetic to their coveted Messiah? Or more concerning, why do the Gospel authors ignore this anomaly numerous decades after Jesus’ birth and four more decades after his death? To cloud the story more the authors then offer vague, abstract fog where Jesus might have been and more puzzling… what he wasn’t doing!
So Where Did He Really Go?
There are five or six interesting theories of where and why Messiah-G-man, Jesus, deviated from his universal, divine mission. The fact that there are any theories at all speaks to the necessity for a theological (not logical) explanation for God’s one and only (not so busy) Son. Consider these theories by historical and biblical scholars:
Jesus stayed in Nazareth. This is the most widely accepted explanation in Christendom. It is the least complicated scenario for God’s one-and-only missing years. He simply stayed in his hometown, probably working at his father Joseph’s trade of carpentry and studied Jewish scripture, then became the head of the household after Joseph’s death, as if nothing of divine import was happening or was needed. Ho-hum, oh well for 17-18 years.
Jesus traveled to Japan. This explanation is based more on legend than plausible evidence.
Jesus traveled to Britain. This explanation is also based more on legend than plausible evidence.
Jesus traveled to the Himalayas, and trained with mystics there. To date, this is another explanation that unravels with no plausible or reliable evidence to support it. The final two theories below, however, are more compelling.
Jesus went to Qumrān, and studied with the Essene sect. Some scholars have speculated that Jesus left home for Qumrān, on the edge of the Dead Sea, where he supposedly became a member of a monastic community along with his cousin John the Baptist. Modern interest in Qumrān surged after the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient religious texts, in nearby caves. The theory makes the case that both Jesus and John the Baptist were Essenes, whose philosophy embraced a view of oneness of everything in the universe with God, and espoused non-violence. It is argued that Jesus either wrote or was influenced by an apocalyptic book called The Secrets of Enoch.
Jesus became a disciple of John the Baptist. In his book Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography, Bruce Chilton casts doubt on the notion of Jesus staying in his hometown, because the gospels don’t mention him trying to marry and start a family, “which is what a village youth who simply stayed home would have done.” Instead, Chilton believes, Jesus didn’t return home at age 12 after visiting the Temple, but instead remained and eventually became a follower of John, who trained him in his philosophy. “Jesus had a rebellious, venturesome spirit,” Chilton argues. “He did not become a passionate religious genius by moldering in the conventional piety of a village that barely accepted him.”
All of these theories have one thing in common: conjecture. Yes, even the most popular explanation that Christian apologists offer — he stayed in Nazareth as a normal ho-hum boy doing carpentry — is ultimately creative imaginations with insufficient or the thinnest of any support. For the reasonable, logical Christian this mystery should give serious pause, to put it mildly.
Before one goes selling the farm, the kitchen sink, and all royalties for such a profound life-altering FAITH-future decision for Christ, let’s step-back, put on a neutral thinking-cap, look under the rugs and behind the curtains and consider everything. There are some major incongruencies, fallacious logic, Scriptural apathy, and distorted history with this monumental mind-numbing claim of incarnation. I want to cover it, or uncover it. It starts with a gross distortion of Hebraic history and principles within the pinnacle of the mighty Roman Empire.
Understanding earliest Judeo-Christianity, the movement named “The Way” by followers of Yeshua the Nasorean [sic] in the 2nd century CE, cannot be fully understood without first understanding the riff between Roman client-King Herod — with his and Rome’s harsh oppressive rule over unruly provinces and dissidents — and the obstinate Jewish sectarian people of Samaria, Perea, Galilee, Iturea, and Idumea. One could say these acute Roman policies created a powder keg atop matches and nitroglycerin. Let me set the scene.
Hebraic Principles Into Esoteric Obscurity With Second Temple Judaism there existed unique principles and philosophies distinct from old Israelite Judaism (polytheism) and compared to other Near and Middle Eastern religions of the time. The Hebrew word Mâšîah or Messiah, could mean priest, prophet, or king. During the 6th-century BCE while exiled in Babylonia, the ancient Jews began hoping for, wanting, and anticipating a special Anointed One to restore them into Israel. Then in 539 BCE the Persian king Cyrus allowed them to return to Israel. In the early stages of the 1st-century BCE, Jews were once again conquered and suffered harsh repression at the hands of the Greco-Seleucid Empire. Bitterness, rebellion, and hope for that special Anointed One rose again desperate for an independent Jewish kingdom.
Next came the Roman Republic in 192 BCE pushing the Greco-Seleucids to the far-eastern reaches of Asia Minor. Jews were once again repressed, bitter, rebellious, and in desperate want of restoration to a sustained independent kingdom. During this period Jewish Messianism took on complex dual or triple meanings and interpretations because Israel (and their God?) was repeatedly defeated and kept falling under foreign rule. Some Jews believed the Anointed One would be a great military king. Others believed he would be a purifying priestly Son of Man to judge humanity, while still others believed he would have to be a prophet, teacher, and commander. Many Messianic forms developed during the four major Jewish exiles (i.e. a Personal Messiah), however, during these periods none of them are fully understood outside of Judaism. Jewish Messianism becomes increasingly esoteric and obscure to the rest of the world. Enter a progressively heavier Hellenistic rule and influence on Judaism. Meanwhile, Jews everywhere are now gasping and craving their Anointed One.
Rome’s Rise: Republic to Imperial Apex From 3,900 sq. miles in 326 BCE as a small Republic to 2.5 million sq. miles in 117 CE, the splendor and spectacle that was the Imperial Roman Empire reached its majestic pinnacle during the Five Good Emperors. Scholars of early Antiquity maintain that Rome’s ascendency to a Republic and world power is attributed to three sociopolitical developments and organization of the 1) Citizen Assembly and Military Assembly, 2) the Senate consisting of Patricians and Plebeian Tribunes, and 3) the prestigious Consuls. Until 27 BCE this Greco-Roman form of representative government with efficient support of military legions, navies, and generals prepared the way for Rome’s rise and expansion across the entire Mediterranean.
For our purposes here what is important to understand is the Republic of Rome’s established 500-year foreign provincial policy. The vanquished people and province under the victors remained free socially, if they remained peaceful, and paid regular tributes to Rome. In return they’d receive protection and social-political order. Riot or incite civil discord and Roman retribution was swift and severe. What did the Jewish people generally experience under Rome’s heavy hand? More historical context first.
Fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty The collapsing Seleucid Empire to the Roman Republic and Parthian Empire created a balancing of powers surrounding the Hasmonean Kingdom from c. 140 to c. 116 BCE until they enjoyed full autonomy in 110 BCE. At that time the Hasmoneans consolidated Samaria, Perea, Galilee, Iturea, and Idumea forming what some scholars call the Kingdom of Israel. For around 70-years the Hebrews and orthodox Judaism flourished along side influences of Hellenic Judaism from Alexandrian rule, then Roman conquest in 63 BCE. Due to these theocratic sociopolitical differences between Hyrcanus II, Salome Alexandra, and Aristobulus II, the Hasmonean Dynasty sank into civil war and disintegrated, but not before some Hebraic principles and Messianism became fixed.
Maccabean-Hasmonean Judaism believed in one single, indivisible, unsynthesized God. It explicitly rejected polytheism, dualism, and trinitarianism, which are incompatible with pure monotheism as Judaism teaches according to their Tanakh. Hellenic forms of Judaism, e.g. Philo of Alexandria, are more liberal with attributes of God sometimes referred to as Shituf. These beliefs greatly distinguished Judaism away from the other Near and Middle Eastern religions.
Animosity, Death, and Herod’s Sons On some small or great level most everyone is familiar with King Herod the Great. Whether one considered Herod I great or ruthless depends on the point-of-view. From a material and development standpoint, Herod accomplished many projects including his most magnificent, the port at Caesarea, considered an engineering marvel. From a social standpoint, he was held in bitter contempt by his subjects, especially by the orthodox Jews for his everything-Greek appetite and favoritism and worse, his several transgressions of Mosaic Law. Though King Herod considered himself Jewish by his father and by politically marrying Hasmonean princess Mariamne, the orthodox Sadducees and Pharisees considered it suspect at best. Herod had also dissolved and curtailed the Sadducees influence within the Sanhedrin and had placed an unusually high taxation rate on the people and often reverted to violence and mercenaries to maintain civil order and fueling a deeper animosity. By the time of Herod’s death in 4 BCE, civil peace was quite volatile and disobedience to Rome fever pitched.
Herod’s three sons inherited a kingdom ready to boil over.
Rising Anti-Semitism: The Jewish-Roman Wars Disdain toward conquered barbarian cultures was not unusual in Antiquity so labeling earliest Jewish conflicts should be considered part of a wider military and sociopolitical picture. But from the time Roman general Pompey intervened in the Jewish civil wars in 66 BCE, sectarian Judea and Israel were in escalating conflict amongst themselves and with the Romans. Frustrated Prefects and Procurators could not comprehend the strange Jewish customs. Civil flare-ups and strife, which the Romans regarded as petty, would cause an uproar among the Jews. When Pontius Pilate moved his two Auxiliary Cohort units from Caesarea to Jerusalem to enforce order, in protest to effigies of Emperor Augustus on Roman military standards, a large group of Jews walked 70-miles to Pilate’s house in Caesarea to encircle it by laying themselves on the ground for five days. Why? It violated Moses’/God’s Second Commandment. It can be argued convincingly that the Jews never truly appreciated, felt they were, or intended to be under Roman command or rule. Anti-Semitism rises even more.
Although Rome clearly had every military, economic, and political advantage in suppressing rebellions and levying heavy taxes, orthodox and zealot Jews still wanted to fight. Discord, resentment, and revolt continued to rise in Galilee, Samaria, and particularly in Judaea, and still the Jews sought to fight. Between 19 CE and 160 CE Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, Suetonis, and Cassius Dio all report increased intolerances, punishments, and expulsions toward the Jews. The hostilities eventually led to the sacking of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 70 CE followed by crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-136 CE. The aftermath of these multiple Roman victories are what many scholars argue as the biggest historical, philosophical, and fragmentary swerve-threshold of all Judaism until the atrocities of 1933-45 Europe.
Meanwhile, Roman religions and cults had different interpretations of the divine.
If there is one concept that all ancient Mediterranean civilizations understood from the Bronze Age, through Prehistory, to early Post-classical history, it was apotheosis. Call him Heracles, Hercle, Hercules, or Caesar, the deification of great men was commonplace. The mixing and transformation of apotheosis over time and conquests were also commonly practiced. This was the case with the sheer size of the empire the Roman Legions were vowed to protect and defend against foreign enemies. One of the popular cults of the eastern legions in contact with the Persian culture was Mithra.
Roman Mithraism Despite there being no direct evidence that 2nd and 3rd century CE Christianity and Mithraism were influenced by each other, there are remarkable similarities. For example, most historians and biblical scholars know and agree that Jesus was not born in winter in late December. Mithra was born of a virgin December 25th and visited by Magi. There are also similar themes in doctrine and practices such as salvation, the symbolism of water/baptism, and followers had a sign or mark symbolizing Mithra like Christians had the cross.
Other similarities between Mithraism and early Christians included pursuing abstinence, celibacy, and self-control to be among the highest virtues. Likewise, both had comparable beliefs about the world, eschatology, heaven and hell, and the immortality of the soul. Their ideas of battles between good and evil were similar (though Mithraism was more dualistic), included a great and final battle at the end of times, similar to Zoroastrianism and as will be explored next, similar to outlying Jewish sects (Qumrān) divergent from the Pharisees and Sadducees inside Jerusalem. Mithraism’s flood at the beginning of history was deemed necessary because, according to Mithraic eschatology, what began in water would end in fire. Both cults believed in divine revelation as key to their doctrine. Both awaited the last judgment and resurrection of the dead.
Roman Records and Qumrān Scrolls Most modern historians, even non-Christian less-biased historians, agree that a great Jewish Rabbi/teacher and reformer named Yeshua, or Jesus, did exist. This is often referred to as the historical Jesus. However, where the historicity of Jesus is concerned — the consideration of non-Christian sources to construct who this controversial person was and authenticate what his intent and reforms consisted of — there is no one single unanimous picture, and contextually not even from the Gospels. Personally, I do not give as much credibility to Roman-Jewish (Hellenic) sources such as Flavius Josephus or Saul of Tarsus, another Roman-Hellenic Jew. To align with the Historical Method, Jewish or Christian sources must be taken with a fair amount of caution. Therefore, what are we left with when Christian, Judeo-Christian, and Roman-Jewish-Hellenic sources are removed as biased or partially biased? Answer: purely Roman or non-Jewish, non-Christian sources.
Under these guidelines there exists only one purely Roman, valid, neutral source about a man named Jesus. It is by the Roman historian and senator Tacitus in his final work, Annals, completed c. 116 CE. It is essentially a short fact-sheet only, mentioning a wise Jewish king that was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and there were a small band of Hellenic-Christians living in Rome. However, as mentioned before this only validates a historical Jesus, but not the historicity or nature of Jesus. There are a handful of very minor references, but all of them concern Christians in general, or one dissident in Rome named Chrestus, and not the enigma, Rabbi/Reformer or failed Messiah named Jesus. For some relevant historicity about the man Jesus/Yeshua and his anti-Temple sectarian ties, we can however, utilize the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The historical background of the Qumrān Scrolls give us an unprecedented context into Jesus’ critical last years in Judea and Jerusalem and a backdrop litmus-test to the canonical New Testament, namely the Gospels and Apostle Paul, and to all Jewish and Christian sources regarding Jesus.
[The Dead Sea Scrolls]further our knowledge of ancient biblical interpretation and the effect of historical events on religious life and ideas. The texts shed light on philosophical disputes about issues such as the Temple and priesthood, the religious calendar and the afterlife. More practical disputes were focused on everyday law and observance.— The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
Of particular interest is Robert Eisenman’s theories drawn from the Qumrān Scrolls where he names James, the brother of Jesus, as the Teacher of Righteousness (from the Damascus Document), the Wicked Priest (from the Habakkuk Commentary) as High Priest Ananus ben Ananus, executioner of James, and Paul/Saul as the Man of Lying, or the one teaching false doctrines and misleading theology about a kingdom built with blood. Eisenman also labels Paul/Saul as Herodian, an influence that easily renders his Christology favorable to Hellenistic Rome instead of James the brother’s Torah-based Messianic version, and evidenced by tensions with the Pillars of the Jerusalem Council.
Another renown expert on the Qumran Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism is what Dr. Lawrence Schiffman has concluded after his life’s work. Being a leading scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls he analyzed and surveyed the contribution of the Scrolls, compares the Jewish legal position of the authors of the scrolls to that of the Pharisees and early-Christians, then demonstrates how early-Christianity deviated from the fundamental beliefs of Judaism and why Christianity was rejected by Jews, but accepted only by Greco-Roman non-Jews. Here is the link to Dr. Schiffman’s outstanding lecture on the falsifying and hijacking of Jesus’ heritage, teaching, and reforms. Click here.
When external independent (non-Christian) sources are included in the overall picture of Judea, Rome’s impact and influence, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls, it becomes obvious why the Jewish-Roman War was building to a climax. This was Jesus’ world.
IGNITION! Jewish Messianism Out, Hellenic Apotheosis/Christology In As alluded to above, Roman anti-Semitism was ever-present across the empire and its volatility was increasingly recorded in Roman literature as early as the 1st-century BCE. Politician and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero in his Pro Flacco writes derogatory remarks of Jews as “barbara superstitio” which translates, Jews were unpatriotic, sacrilegious, backward, and alien. Tacitus also writes his anti-Jewish sentiments during the Jewish Revolt of 70 CE saying they are perverse, corrupting, too wealthy, cliquish, and out-breeding true Romans!
Philo of Alexandria recorded that one of Tiberius’ lieutenants, Sejanus, was likely an instigator of anti-Semitism with many Roman soldiers. What is abundantly clear throughout the Roman and non-Roman records is that until the 3rd and 4th-century CE Rome did not tolerate any level of rebellion or dissidence among her conquered foreigners. Consequently, with the incessant Jewish sectarian zealous elements in Syria-Palaestina and around Jerusalem (as the Jerusalem Talmud records), Roman legions destroyed the bulk of sectarian Judaism by 136 CE, including those opposed to the Temple Priesthood in Jerusalem, e.g. Qumrān and Masada. This little-known historical context is important to note because the outlying Jewish sects — indirectly mentioned in John 8:37-39; 44-47 and Acts 7:51-53 also alluded to in the Qumrān Scrolls — are the ones that offer modern historical and biblical scholars a required contrast to Hellenist-Herodian Judaism, which composes most of today’s Christian (anti-semitic?) canonical New Testament.
“The original apostles and followers of Jesus, led by James and assisted by Peter and John, continued to live as Jews, observing the Torah and worshipping in the Temple at Jerusalem, or in their local synagogues, while remembering and honoring Jesus as their martyred Teacher and Messiah. They neither worshipped nor divinized Jesus as the Son of God, or as a Dying-and-Rising Savior, who died for the sins of humankind. They practiced no ritual of baptism into Christ, nor did they celebrate a sacred meal equated with ‘eating the body and drinking the blood’ of Christ as a guarantee of eternal life.
Their message was wholly focused around their expectations that the kingdom of God had drawn near, as proclaimed by John the Baptizer and Jesus, and that very soon God would intervene in human history to bring about his righteous rule of peace and justice among all nations. In the meantime both Jews and non-Jews were urged to repent of their sins, turn to God, and live righteously before him in expectation of his kingdom.” — James Tabor,Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity, pp. 24-25
Enter the Hellenist Saul of Tarsus. As everyone knows, Saul/Paul never met Jesus face-to-face or followed him during his ministry in Syria-Palaestina. Everyone also knows that when he arrived in 1st-century Judea and Syria he was there to persecute earliest Jesus-followers. Paul’s initial version of Judaism was from the Hillel school and it taught a Hellenistic balance between classical literature of the Stoics, philosophy, and ethics. This would have been frowned upon (loathed?) by the outlying Jewish sects such as the Essenes, Ebionites, and that preached by John the Baptist. For Saul/Paul that drastically changed while on the road to Damascus and his 3-years spent in Arabia. This is an odd mention; peculiar. Three years spent in Provincia Arabia during the reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE), a wealthy Nabataean client-kingdom for Rome with trade routes through Persia to India and China and obviously, according to Galatians 1:16-17, had some type of pivotal importance to Paul before beginning his own mission of Christology. To even be mentioned, it suggests it led to Paul’s overhaul of the failed Earthly Jewish Messianic kingdom (Jesus’ execution) into an other-worldly kingdom. And all of the disciples/Apostles, including pseudo-Apostle Paul, expected this other-kingdom to happen in their lifetimes.
Was Arabia where the true pure kingdom of God and the nature of Jesus found? Personally, I think it requires consideration. In fact, the full spectrum of Roman, Jewish sectarian, Judeo-Christian, Hellenist Christian, and secular historical and archaeological sources (i.e. Independent sources) currently do NOT support it for lack of sufficient evidence. Although with Rome eliminating most outlying Jewish sectarians and annexing the Nabataean Kingdom in Arabia, Rome favoring Herodian-Hellenistic Judaism, and increased intolerance of earliest “the Way” Judeo-Christians, Pauline Christology was nicely poised to fill the voids for social peace. And along with the struggling hopes amongst despairing, over-taxed mainline Jews and their Diaspora brethren in the wake of brutal Roman legions, as well as lowly widowed or enslaved Gentiles (who never grasped Judean Messianic doctrines in the first place), an open, inclusive Pauline Christology more easily supersedes Jesus’ failed kingdom of God!
Let’s revisit Rome.
Splitting Crumbling Empire vs. Authority
The pinnacle of the Roman Empire is considered to be 117 CE when it reached its largest in size and most prosperous economically. After the Five Good Emperors (96 – 180 CE), as it is known by scholars, the Empire began its slow and steady decline. From the Severen Dynasty, to the Imperial Crisis of the Third Century where over 20 emperors came and went in less than 50 years (235-284 CE), until Aurelian and Diocletian temporarily reunited the Empire until 285 CE when Diocletian split it in half — it was still too vast to efficiently administrate. Following the retirement and death of Diocletian in 311 CE, he had decreed two successors: Maxentius and Constantine. Both generals plunged the empire into chaos and civil war again. As most of us know, Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE. He became sole emperor of both the Western and Eastern Empires until 337 CE.
During the 3-plus centuries between Emperor Tiberius (14 CE) and Constantine (337 CE), the small floundering Jewish reform movement transformed by Paul was growing within the empire and with four contributing events became Rome’s official religion by Constantine’s Imperial endorsement.
Emperor Constantine I Asserting that Christ was responsible for his victory at the Milvian Bridge, Emperor Licinius and Constantine began a series of laws (e.g. Edict of Milan) giving legal tolerance for all religions and favorably to Christianity. As many Roman emperors had done in the past, claiming deification to supplement their status and authority, Constantine chose the Hellenistic Christ in which the Apostle Paul promoted to Gentiles. At the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE), he officiated over the theological codifying and standardizing of Christianity with assistance from Church Fathers, and distinguished important issues of Jesus’ divinity, nature, and which testaments were more aligned with the God-Son.
Constantine was a cunning general and by reforming the military, revaluing the currency, enacting social-welfare and political reforms, building projects as well as renaming Byzantium to New Rome (modern-day Istanbul) which soon became Constantinople, he stabilized the Empire. Soon after his death, however, the Roman Empire sank into civil war and decline yet again.
Emperor Theodosius I
Three emperors later Theodosius (379 – 395 CE) reinstated Constantine’s and Jovian’s reforms and took them much further. He outlawed pagan worship throughout the empire, closed all schools and universities, and converted pagan temples into Christian churches. Theodocius’ religious reinstatements and reforms were controversial and unpopular among Rome’s aristocracy and middle-class who still held traditions in paganism. They saw the emperor’s edicts institutionalizing Christianity and removing the gods from the Earth and society and replacing all of it with one God ruling from heaven. While attending the Nicaean Council bitter debates ensued between Theodosius and disciples of the Nicene Creed (Christ is the same as God the Father), against other Arian groups in the empire. Highly motivated to promote orthodox Christianity, Theodosius surpassed the ecclesiastical authorities and stamped the binding Imperial creed of the consubstantiality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Trinitarianism). Henceforth those followers were to be considered Catholic Christians. It is safe to say, Theodosius began the principle of religious intolerance at the second ecumenical council in 381 CE, or Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
But the fight between Arianism vs. Trinitarianism was not over. The official canon of the Christian Bible was only finalized over three more progressions: 382 in Rome, 391 the Vulgate, and 397 CE in Carthage. The confusions and debates about Christ’s nature, particularly his Incarnation (Monophysitism vs. Dyophysitism), took another 34-years to legalize at the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE! And guess what? The fight did not end. By 451 CE the Hellenistic Christian Church split. In the Eastern portion of the remaining empire formed the Oriental Orthodox Churches and in the doomed Western portion of the crumbling empire formed the Roman Catholic Church.
A Quick Summary
Due to the four exiles, Jews are gasping and craving their Anointed Messiah to arrive, restore, and lead.
Late-Ecclesiastical distortion and misunderstanding of Jewish Messianism — of which they hijack its prophecies for THEIR Hellenist-Christ and distance and distinguish themselves above and away from Judaism, anti-Semitism is born.
Rome rises in size, authority, and influence all over the known world while Judaism barely survives under harsh oppression and religious constraints, corrupting many of ancient Jewish orthodox principles of life and worship.
When the Apostle Paul arrives on the scene after 3-years in Arabia, suddenly the Greco-Roman Gentiles throughout the unstable empire seek refuge and belonging in Paul’s Christology and social-welfare. It is not exactly the same as Jesus’ kingdom of God and reforms for Judaism.
What does this do 300+ years later to Jesus’ retro-actively imposed Incarnation?
Incarnate G-man — Conclusion
By the end of the 5th-century CE in Western-Eastern Mediterranean history Jesus’ original Jewish Messianic reforms were so lost and convoluted by wars, Pauline Christology, sectarian genocide, and centuries of sociopolitical upheaval throughout the vast Roman Empire. In all directions from 2nd to 5th-century CE Jerusalem, the true nature and revelations of outlying Jewish sects opposed to the Second Temple Priests, such as the Essenes, Ebionites, Mandaeans/Nasoreans, and Samaritans (of which Jesus favored; Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 4:39), could not be glimpsed or gleaned until the 20th-century CE with discoveries such as Nag Hammadi, Qumrān, and more.
By the end of the 5th-century CE almost all of the ecclesiastical authorities in Christendom had forgotten, overlooked, or ignored the fact that this all-powerful, all-knowing God who wanted to reconcile and restore (Messianic undertones) all of humanity, not just the Jews, and came in the flesh in a human body under a phenomenal celestial Star seen for at least 500-miles in every direction, according to His perfect plan! But for only 12-years; as an impressive teaser, if you will.
This same God in the flesh then decides that 17-18 years of supposedly ho-hum nothingness, doing preparatory work of “carpentry(?)” in a tiny insignificant town, was more important than restoring and saving humanity. A change of divine plans? Why? You are the living God in the flesh with all the power in the known universe! Or was it Jewish bar Mitzvah traditions for a boy into a man? But that would be quite human, quite Jewish, and quite petty when considering the salvation of all humanity.
This begs the question or questions… was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua — who John the Baptist, James his brother, and Simon/Peter knew well — not who he became to Saul/Paul in a blinding light on the Damascus Road and in Arabia? Was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he became after the deadly Jewish-Roman Revolts? Was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he became during the internal conflict, corruption and decline of the Roman Empire up to Constantine? And was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he had become to Theodosius and the many ecclesiastical Councils up to 451 CE? Given these widespread rampant controversies and confusion, wouldn’t a full 32-34 years of life for Jesus/Yeshua to clarify exactly his nature and what solution was needed to restore one’s self and all of humanity to God’s “loving kingdom” been a better approach? Why even waste 17-years? Or was there something about Jesus that required hiding?
Because the concept of Incarnation is a retro-active scriptural and ecclesiastical reacting to evolving conundrums. Jesus was not God Incarnate and not His one-and-only Son. The true verifiable, extant history of Jesus the man and Paul’s Christology (both explicit and implicit), contrasted with the torturous labyrinth of Hellenistic apotheosis theology, as I’ve hopefully shown here, has in the end shown itself to be quite outdated and bogus non-sense.
If there is no divine, miraculous God-man called Jesus Christ, then what is Christianity?
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Further information — Dr. Richard Carrier is a renown historian, philosopher, and author specializing in contemporary philosophy of naturalism and secular humanism, as well as in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, particularly on the origins of Christianity. He attained a Master’s and Ph.D. in Ancient History from Columbia University and Bachelor’s from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a prominent defender and advocate for American Free-thought and Intellectualism. What I like most about Dr. Carrier’s approach to Christian Fundamentalism and the origins of Christianity — e.g. his book “On the Historicity of Jesus” — is his meticulous use of historical methodologies and mathematical probabilities with incorporations of Agnotology, another discipline I am very fond about.
I thought his YouTube presentation here at the Center for Inquiry Canada in Toronto, CA about “Why the Gospels are Myth” would be a good final close. It is a 1-hour 28-min presentation and examination, but well worth it in my opinion because as I mentioned before he incorporates several various disciplines and sources.
“God” is a secretion of the human brain, says Michael McGuire and Lionel Tiger.
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In their 2010 book “God’s Brain,” McGuire and Tiger strongly suggest and demonstrate that the concept of God, or a God, is a byproduct of human cerebral secretions. Historically the various divine tenets, revelations, traditions, and expressions of social orders around the world are encapsulated from that specific culture’s or civilization’s perceived, geographical, organizational needs not just for survival, but for their perceived perpetuation, then recorded and implemented in a Code of Principles relevant to their time-period. McGuire and Tiger state there is simply no compelling evidence for any type of cosmic, monistic Being manipulating us and Earth’s events.
Now that Homo sapiens are more evolved, at least intellectually and socially no matter the multitude of progressive and digressing methods, historically speaking have our cerebral secretions of Gods and religions been helpful? On a micro scale Tiger has an intriguing perspective on the question:
I found Tiger’s elaboration of the individual and social functionality of ‘optimism’ or hope — that it seems to be a useful tool for survival and perhaps for thriving throughout life — to be of special interest. Why? Because its use requires no patent or jurisdiction other than culturally, in a specific time-period to a specific locale. How is trust defined by those people and their circumstance? One thing is evident, none of this religious human behavior can be adequately or universally traced to one source.
On a macro scale E.O. Wilson of Harvard University (retired) goes in a different direction. Organized religion has a dark side and ugly track-record.
[Intent of religious deities have]“been perverted many times in the past — used, for example, to argue passionately for colonial conquest, slavery, and genocide. Nor was any great war ever fought without each side thinking its cause transcendentally sacred in some manner or other.”
Hence, this could beg the question: Have we modern humans evolved or should we humans further evolve to a more practical, more progressive new social Code of Principles? What are/would those principles based upon? How many social affiliations should/can a human(s) be involved? Are the affiliations beneficial or detrimental to them and their family? Non-family? Do you already have affiliations and belief-systems that are more highly evolved than others?
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I think whether you agree or disagree with Tiger’s assessments of transcendental beliefs or empirical biological consequences concerning the origin of God and religions, it is paramount to develop and maintain a certain amount of scrutiny, or neutrality, or critical-thinking when considering this source or that source and its mechanisms.
Critical-thinking is not to be confused with agitation, or argumentative, or a personal attack upon someone. Critical-thinking actually helps us acquire more knowledge, expose ignorances, refines our theories, improves collaboration and construction, and strengthens or weakens premises for what they are. I feel one of the most beneficial aspects of applied critical-thinking is that it promotes “thinking outside the box,” a very healthy form of human empowerment and creativity. These two conditions are not achieved to their fullest in a restrictive or constraining closed-system typically preached and protected by religions. They are best achieved in environments of freedom of thought and scrutiny, as well as positive support for a person’s and all person’s natural-born abilities. Agree? Disagree? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
The lightning-rods salesman, dressed in storm-colored clothes jangling and clanking with his peculiar bag of rods approached the two young boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, laying on the front lawn:
“Halloway. Nightshade. No money, you say?”
The man, grieved by his own conscientiousness, rummaged in his leather bag and seized forth an iron contraption.
“Take this, free! Why? One of those houses will be struck by lightning! Without this rod, bang! Fire and ash, roast pork and cinders! Grab!”
The salesman released the rod. Jim did not move. But Will caught the iron and gasped.
“Boy, it’s heavy! And funny-looking. Never seen a lightning-rod like this. Look, Jim!”
And Jim, at last, stretched like a cat, and turned his head. His green eyes got big and then very narrow. But Will was staring beyond the man now.
“Which,”he said.“Which house will it strike?”
“Which? Hold on. Wait.”The salesman searched deep in their faces.“Some folks draw lightning, suck it like cats suck babies’ breath. Some folks’ polarities are negative, some positive. Some glow in the dark. Some snuff out. You now, the two… I–“
“What makes you so sure lightning will strike anywhere around here?”said Jim suddenly, his eyes bright.
The salesman almost flinched.“Why, I got a nose, an eye, an ear. Both those houses, their timbers! Listen!”
They listened. Maybe their houses leaned under the cool afternoon wind. Maybe not.
“Lightning needs channels, like rivers, to run in. One of those attics is a dry river bottom, itching to let lightning pour through! Tonight!”
“Tonight?”Jim sat up happily.
“No ordinary storm!”said the salesman.“Tom Fury tells you. Fury, ain’t that a fine name for one who sells lightning-rods? Did I take the name? No! Did the name fire me to my occupations? Yes! Grown up, I saw cloudy fires jumping the world, making men hop and hide. Thought: I’ll chart hurricanes, map storms, then run ahead shaking my iron cudgels, my miraculous defenders, in my fists! I’ve shielded and made snug-safe one hundred thousand, count ’em, God-fearing homes. So when I tell you, boys, you’re in dire need, listen! Climb that roof, nail this rod high, ground it in the good earth before nightfall!” — Ray Bradbury from his novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
There are a few different motifs and themes in this classic Bradbury novel, but the one I want to touch on here is belief, the psychological power and influence of what a group’s ideology can accomplish, for better or worse, when the right components are all in play.
The characters in Something Wicked This Way Comes are amazed and puzzled by “Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show,” a strange carnival that has unexpectedly arrived in their small town. Word soon spreads that because it caters to people’s deepest desires and fears, it is viewed by the town as evil. Yet, Mr. Dark claims they did not arrive unannounced, or unwelcomed. Indeed, the people of the town invited them, ah, wanted them:
Mr. Dark: “Your torments call us like dogs in the night. And we do feed, and feed well. To stuff ourselves on other people’s torments. And butter our plain bread with delicious pain … Funerals, marriages, lost loves, lonely beds that is our diet. We suck that misery and find it sweet. We can smell the young ulcerating to be men a thousand miles off. And hear a middle-aged fool like yourself groaning with midnight despairs from halfway round the world.”
The good people of Green Town handed over the power and will for Mr. Dark’s visit. Whether taught, or inherited, or both, they had long believed their lives were incomplete, intolerable, in the balance, and in grave danger. It wasn’t until Will Halloway’s father, Charles Halloway, embraced his age, occupation as a janitor, the paradox of life and death, and his gifted humanity that any “power” the Pandemonium Shadow Show could have wielded was gone, like a mist in the wind.
NeoConservative & owner Steve Green
When a story is told well, as was Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, mountains can be moved and lives changed forever. Whether that canard is true or not often makes little difference. And when a captivating story is well performed, immersing its audience with spectacular effects, marketing tools, and endless millions of dollars, the spellbinding dopamine avalanche is near impossible to stop. Or can it?
With all the same dramatic components and controversy in play with the creation, development, and intent, the recent opening of the Museum of the Bible is no different.
“At the center of this[drama]is the word “non-sectarian,” which the Museum of the Bible uses often in its messaging. The term has a long history in the evangelist community dating back to the early 19th century. As Steven K. Green (no relation), the director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at Willamette University College, explains, for the faith tradition, the concept is rooted in the belief that there are fundamentals of the Bible that are non-disputable and non-debatable. “It’s hard for you to realize it is representing a particular perspective,” says Green of the often well-meaning evangelical Protestants who clashed with Catholics firm in their own religious tradition in the 1800s.”
The museum opened its doors to the public today. Here is one article from Smithsonian.com magazine which elaborates on the museum’s promises, its biased funding, and the far-reaching controversy over its artifacts and narrative-slant all wrapped in an enticing Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.
I’m very curious to read what all of you have to say about “The Greatest Show Ever Told” and whether museum visitors are well-versed, or should be, in the much broader less known (untold?) stories, artifacts, and narratives of the Bible. What are your thoughts?
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
For the last several weeks I have been in a discussion, on various blog-posts and a public forum here in my area about a story, a way of thinking and living. It has been stimulating and enlightening to hear and read various testimonies from others. I want to share a satire of it and get your thoughts.
What if all forms of authority in your life — law-enforcement, government, parents, utility companies, military — told you that you must return to and use 18th, 17th, and 16th century personal, household, and public items and products? You can no longer use modern items in your daily life. No more cell phone, no more automobile or anything other than two-wheeled equipment, no more electricity, no more GPS, no more vaccinations or modern over-the-counter medicine, no more tapes or glues, no more television, no more contraceptives, no more modern kitchen appliances. If you try, you will be imprisoned for a minimum of 20-years; repeat offenders 40-years or suicide. Imagine, seriously imagine having to do this for an indefinite period of time.
How would you like it? Would you welcome the digress or would you complain and rebel? What would be the advantages of returning to a bygone era? What are the disadvantages?
If you are one of the thousands or millions who do not wish to return to a time of no penicillin, no 24-hour deodorant, no contraceptives, or no indoor plumbing, then you would be quite modernistic, quite progressive, to state the obvious. Why choose that if you don’t have to? Remarkably, there are millions of people who willingly elect to return or stay firmly entrenched in an antiquated, flawed life-paradigm no matter its expired ancient condition.
Time, insight, wisdom, and progress never stop. That is a universal law. It is human nature to be curious, to observe and learn, ever evolving sometimes for the worse, but frequently for better. These are empirical, ontological, epistemic truths. Yes, despite humanity’s horrific track-record at times, what is wrong with being an optimist, a realistic optimist? There are those, however, who do not want perpetual improvement. They do not want an unconditional celebration of life, this life right here and now. They teach and preach that this life and our planet is severely defective and irreparable.
Enter the popular, the great Masqueraders of Sanctimonious Rescue!
There is Hebaroo, then Kristop, and last Islahn. All three are brothers, so they claim, but family history has shown constant estrangement and little kindness to each other. All three blame complete strangers and the other two for all the family and world dysfunction. Each claim themself the sole heir of all this life’s riches and the next. It cannot be shared. Period. Would you like to marry one of them? If you do, each of them promise a perpetual state of war! If you don’t marry one, they’ll promise a perpetual state of more war so agonizing you’ll want to kill yourself, your children, and everyone else.
Now, don’t you see from what you/we need rescuing? This is the carnival merry-go-round everyone was born onto and can never escape or stop its endless rotation. Round and round we all go. What a Stephen King nightmare, huh? Do not fret my clever friends, there are MANY ways to completely avoid this carousel, carnival, and its sanctimonious masqueraders and keep your life, joy, peace of mind, and exciting future! (line break)
Unveiling the Masquerade and Carnival
All three temperamental brothers have their gangs, their peeps if you will, and various codes of conduct. Since much of the Western hemisphere is the territory of Kristop I will work on him and his gang-members, though I could address Hebaroo or Islahn as well, but for the sake of your time and mine I want to stick to Kristop for now.
Why Do I Need Rescuing?
In the spirit of this festive tale and Kristos’ mode of operation, you must be married to him as soon as possible. Even if you are 4-years old, do not wait! You must become part of his harem. Staying “single” or unmarried, at four or ninety-four, leaves you at high-risk for all types of tragedy, for emotional, mental, and physical anguish, and because the entire Earth and all its inhabitants — except for Kristopians — are carnivorous and want to devour you whole or slowly in little pieces before invisible King Exedo arrives and finishes you off! Plus, you and all strangers have no will-power, or at least strong enough not to fall under the spell of King Exedo.
One more thing, all human perceived deformities, malignate-terminal diseases, imperfections, or anything bad which is non-human are caused by and are wicked schemes of invisible King Exedo. All of these sad, painful, harmful, life-threatening problems are by King Exedo and any non-Kristopians. They are why we all need the loving rescue and marital brute “protection” of Kristop.
Since humanity’s present condition is so hopeless, so urgent of rectifying, Kristop demands a decision immediately. Why you need his protection is quite simply “membership has its privileges.” There’s a slight trick to this offer, however, in that how this ‘privileged membership’ plays out is about as varied as there are stars in the Cosmos or grains of sand on Earth. This is so for two reasons, two additional characters:
What makes these two characters so indistinguishable is that sometimes they can be one in the same. Other times they are completely different. What is most important though is not that you fully understand Aurae and/or Hermanewt, but that you become intimate with them both no matter what they may or may not represent. To know Aurae is to also know Hermanewt and to grasp and utilize Hermanewt you must first be intimate with Aurae. Once you have mastered these two characters, you are officially a member of Kristopians with privileges. Got it? If not, I will explain all in basic terms later in this excellent Greekish-Latinish medieval genre of storytelling. But we must continue with your/humanity’s dire need for death-insurance.
Protection for My Future?
Despite what hundreds of soothsayers, intuits, or NDS’s (near-death survivors) consistently report, Kristop and Kristopians, Hebaroo and Hebarooans, Islahn and his Muuslinians, and thousands of other gangs… all say ambiguously and unambiguously what destination you and humanity will travel to post-mortem. There is only ONE map to this destination. Kristop and Kristopians say it is their map. Islahn and Muuslinians vehemently argue it is their map! Hebaroo and Hebarooans say no, it’s neither of those maps, it is strictly their map! These three brothers have never gotten along or agreed completely about maps, nor Aurae, Hermanewt, King Exedo, or whose masquerade carnival is most magnificent. No matter, even though there has never been anyone to go to that post-mortem destination and returned to tell about it, you and all of humanity must still have their exclusive (free of charge?) death-insurance protection and password! Got it?
If not, I will explain all in basic terms later.
Failures of Kristop’s Carnival and Masqueraders
Like all demi-god-like human characters, Kristop has a boss, the head-honcho Godhead of the Syndicate, if you will. HHG of the Syn goes by so many different names that no one really knows if the “entity” actually exists. No one can indisputably prove its existence, only orthodoxy, and circumstantial evidence or theories within our three gangs here raise the HHG-Syn’s possibility. For the sake of argument, let’s say Kristop’s boss HHG-Syn does exist. Where is HHG-Syn and how can one perceive HHG-Syn?
possibly King Exedo
Kristop and his code of gang-conduct proposes two means of perception: 1) Woolly disclosure and 2) Exceptional disclosure. Because of these two methods not one single human being past, present, or future could/can/will say they knew nothing of HHG-Syn and the codes of gang-conduct.
Woolly disclosure, according to Kristop and Kristopians, is so obvious to everyone everywhere that if it were a snake, it would leap up and chomp on your nose! It never let’s go either. Honestly, look at all the trees on Earth. Every single tree is exactly identical; they have roots, bark, limbs, and leaves, some even have different color flowers and different shaped leaves. That reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is woolly disclosure! It cannot be mistaken because everyone perceives the same.
Honestly, look at all the fish in the seas and oceans. Every single fish is exactly identical; they have fins, scales, gills, and tails, some even have spots or stripes. See, that reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is woolly disclosure! It cannot be mistaken because everyone perceives the same.
Honestly, look at all the speaking and writing by all humanity, from beginning up to today. Every single oral story, book, language or hieroglyphs, and their plots are exactly identical; they have a table of contents, a prologue, page numbers, chapters, suspense, an epilogue, and a dramatic ending, some even have pictures. See, this too reflects one HHG-Syn, and one HHG-Syn-Kristop code. That is also woolly disclosure! You cannot mistake it because everyone perceives the same thing.
Exceptional disclosure, according to Kristop and Kristopians, is the one and only singular Code of Gang-Conductand later amendments to previous shortcomings. If the previously covered protection-plans and death-insurance policy wasn’t enough to persuade you/humanity, and Woolly disclosure is not pristine to the unambiguous ambiguity of HHG-Syn, then don’t be afraid, one and only one singular, timeless Code of Gang-Conduct (with amendments) has been given to you and all of humanity to aid in rescue! There is absolutely no ambiguity present in the Code of Gang-Conduct (with amendments) if you simply wear Aurae-Hermanewt goggles and headphones, and not ever take them off. Why? Because Hebaroo and Islahn and their gang-members, as well as other total strangers on this utterly doomed King Exedo planet, will lure and transfix your insignificant pervious will-power if you put on non-Kristopian or take-off Kristopian goggles and headphones. Don’t be tricked, don’t be stupid!
Hold on though. There are three basic questions or problems — if you haven’t already realized — with Kristop’s boss and his masquerade-carnival and carousel:
Has HHG-Syn been found and identified? By who or whom?
Has HHG-Syn spoken to everyone an easy auditory message?
Has HHG-Syn given the same identicalwritten message?
On number one above, if HHG-Syn has been found and has been accurately identified, why is there so much disagreement and diversity about the operation and personality of HHG-Syn among Kristopians?
On number two, there was/is no singular verbal Code of Gang-conduct (over many centuries of amendments and revisions) in the past or today. Due to the misgivings and conduct/nature of Aurae, no “easy,” no “singular” message can be heard among all Kristopians. Ask any Kristopian to intimately describe Aurae and how Aurae interrelates within Woolly disclosure and Exceptional disclosure, and you find much diversity and controversy aplenty.
And finally on number three above, there currently exists between 66-books and 81-books in Kristop’s Code of Gang-Conduct. Kristopians argue those differences are minor, but the simple fact is there’s no single number among ALL Kristopians. By definition of the word canon it implies there exists disingenuous or wrong stories and conduct. In a word, imperfection. In another two words, Unexceptional disclosure. This falls inline with Woolly disclosure quite well. Hence, this does not reflect only ONE way. It does not reflect necessarily two disclosures either. And it does not reflect consensus. It reflects many other things.
The Irreconcilability of Monism and Dualism Monism means that there is only oneness or singleness to a concept, life, or existence. Diversity, differences do not exist. Dualism (or binarism) means that opposed forces exist everywhere in thought, life, or existence. In the gangs of Hebaroo, Islahn, and Kristop, this is typically described as Good v. Evil, Male-Female, Mind v. Body, Physical-Metaphysical, and so on. There is nothing outside of this notion or belief, only black or white, no grey, nothing in between. It’s A or B and done.
When one genuinely examines the designs, functions, and endless purposes of all the people, of all the Earth’s organisms and species, and beyond our tiny planet into the endless Cosmos, tell me please, do you find only duplication or bipartisanship, only monism or dualism? If so, show/tell me where and I or another can show/tell you otherwise. Holding stubbornly to monism and/or dualism is like arguing a circle or sphere has corners.
Do Not Get Trapped in Tri-Brotherly Tunnel-Vision!
Unless you were born into and raised inside the Kristop, Hebaroo, or Islahn gang, asking yourself, their gang-members and gang-leaders how does HHG-Syn speak and how can you determine it’s really the one and only HHG-Syn speaking… is an exercise in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China’s Butterfly Maze to reach the prize. Kristopians do not want anyone starting the maze anywhere outside the 33,565 square meter park, you must start inside the maze only and try to find all exits and dead-ends, never venturing outside the borders. What does that mean exactly?
Kristopians and their gang-leaders first make you take an oath, that you accept without hesitation or doubt the reality of King Exedo’s irresistible power and charisma over your brain and body, then pledge your eternal marital allegiance and faithfulness to Kristop — not any other brothers or non-Kristopian gangs — and then finally promise never to stay more than 10-15 minutes in non-Kristopian lands or behaving in non-Kristopian ways. As a result of exemplary allegiance, your basic membership privileges gradually become Gold VIP status and once you pass Go, all fellow members recognize your accomplishments, follow you everywhere, and you collect unimaginable peace, happiness, pleasure, absolute perfection and riches in Caelum as your future promised death-insurance payout! This future promise is null and void if you frequently (or maybe just once or twice) go OUTSIDE the boundaries of the Butterfly Maze. “Frequently” depends on which Kristopian assesses your questionable behavior and what relationship they have with Aurae and Hermanewt.
Not so surprising, there is more than one entrance into and exit out of the brother’s masquerades, carousels, carnivals, and mazes. The only way there could be just one entrance/exit is if you repeatedly tell yourself there is just one. In fact, it is possible/probable that thinking strictly one way is a shrewd King Exedo trick. Don’t get caught in the tunnel-vision trap. It doesn’t really exist except in antiquated folklore and fairy tales from an expired bygone time-period in a tiny far away land from a tiny group of nomads wanting to be identified (way back then) as the only truegame gang in town.
In case you haven’t deciphered the title of this post, it is in Latin, meaning masquerading in the wrong time-period.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always