Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Spirit" -> It's About Real Events And Real People

The Christian religion is unique in its heritage.

The Protestant faith so much the more, because of its tie back to the Jewish roots. Not in the fact that the Protestant faith is derived from the old Testament, for many branches of Christianity do the same thing. It is different in the idea of the sanctity of the communication medium.

This is different and strange from the myths of many cultures.

For example, let us look at the Greek mythology. Uranus was the chief god of his time, in as much as Jupiter or Zeus was to reign later in the Greek mythos. His father feared his children, thus he would imprison his children on a regular basis.

His wife Gaia began to resent her husband. Thus she called on her children to stop the father. His son Cronus (to the Romans he was Saturn) finally decided that his father had reigned too long. Taking a sickle that his mother provided him, he cut off his father’s genitals and threw them into the sea. He then took his place and reign with his Titans.

Oddly enough, Cronus had the same problem as his father, and began to fear his own children. (Here he is in a famous picture by Goya.) Thus devouring or destroying them became the norm. This was his downfall, as he was fed a stone instead of on of his offspring, and thus stopped the eating habit.

Zeus, his son, was able to replace his Father Cronus. While Zeus was not quite as crazy as his father or grandfather, he still was a vengeful and worrisome god.

The Greeks had these ages named: the Golden age, the Silver age, the Bronze age, and the iron age. In each of these ages, men and the earth was found in a different form. Thus from these myths of the gods came the stories of men. The story of Oedipus, the story of Antigone, and the other Greek myths. Theses stories were well known and retold in stories and plays.

Any decent Classical literature major will tell you, faithful adherence to all the details of the story under communication was not required. Indeed, each area often would have a substantially different version. In some sense, this really made the story more interesting. You never knew exactly what you were getting.

For example, in the story of Jason and the Argonauts, Euripides has Medea slaughtering her children. Yet in another version of this story, when it is retold, Medea saves her children. As Mary Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge University, recently said, "Looking in from the outside, you may ask why they didn't they think of their own plot."

However, she goes on to state, "The point is that people know one version of the story and they want to make people see that story substantially differently to bring out different truths."

"We come away with the vision that their is a quasi-orthodox reading of the Greek myth like the Biblical narrative," she further states. Not the Greeks. They never saw that there couldn't be many telling of the stories, and they all could bring out truth.

Perhaps you never knew this. (And for most of us, the canon of the Greek myth was made by the Roman poet Ovid makes the myths sound like canon. However, Ovid only came to represent the standard version after many, many years.)

While it is difficult to truly understand the mindset of the common person 2000 years ago, I personally believe that these stories were told in great fun. These stories were told as a means of diversion. These stories were told much as the modern stories that we see on television. They were interesting, and full of impact. However, I don't believe that most or many people believed these stories as a description of facts. How could they? The facts changed every story time.

We will do the same in our entertainment.

We have done the story of Starsky and Hutch as the TV drama and as the comedy movie. We have Battle Star Galactica as the cornball SciFi in the 80s to the gritty and dark drama of the 2000s. They are often called remakes, but the more popular term is re-imagining. The term is used so that you know that there are common elements to the original, but much of the orignal has been changed. For example, in Battle Star Galactica example, one the main characters was called Starbuck and he was male. In the new series re-imagined series, the main character is very different, and is a female.

About the only thing that is consistent on Battlestar Galactica is that ships look pretty much the same.

To us, the slight changes in the stories are more than fine, they become very interesting. We are simply doing today, what the Greeks and the Romans would have done thousands of years ago.

Their stories were told in tales and in plays. Many times these stories were widely divergent.

I don’t dismiss that there are many stories that we enjoy hearing over and over again, with a few differences. This makes a story enjoyable, but this isn’t Christianity.

The common thread between the Jewish Orthodox faith and the Christian protestant faith was that the words almost have a transcend property that cannot and should not be altered in any way. The story as it was told is perfect, and without flaws. You cannot change the sex of one of the disciples without having Orthodox Christian decrying the effect.

In the Christian faith, we believe that what we read in our Bible is substantially the same thing as what happened.

The Story of Jesus the Christ is considered wholly accurate and true to the facts. We do not allow anybody to touch the sacred scriptures. We live the life of the story as if it happened just yesterday. The people of our Easter are real people with real stories.

As Paul calls out in I Cor 15

[14] And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

See Paul calls out that the is not just calling out a "true" story, where truth was a thing that sat between the facts. Paul was an educated man, with a very good idea of the culture. He understood that the Roman considered things to be truth regardless if the facts quite lines up. We tend to believe that only modern man can conceived of this. Yet, the fables of Greek and then Roman was clear. Truth sat in the cracks between different versions of the facts.

The call of Scripture is found in 2 Peter

[16] We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,* but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

The whole of the Protestant faith and the faith of our Jewish forerunners is one of facts. There are no fables, there is only the Bible that is the inspired word of God. The Bible was written by men who were eye witnesses to the events.

As the early Christians saw each other, there was a tradition that would happen.

"He has risen," the first would say.

Then in what was a confirmation of the fact of the bodily resurrection of the Christ, the second would smile and answer back, "He has risen indeed."

You see, there was no clever retelling. There was only one telling, and we all celebrated the core of this truth. Jesus has risen.

I was sitting next to an older woman on the plane that was talking about her beliefs as I flew to San Jose the other week. She was telling me that we as individuals were all connected. It wasn't so important if a virgin birth happened or not. What was important was our connections.

I told her that I rejected all fideism, and while I did not want to insult her, I tried to probe about what she meant. The only knowledge we could have was that knowledge that was tested for.

As we got into it, I queried her on how we were all connected. For if she said that we were connected in a spiritual sense, and then I would have asked her why God would not have one theme. However, she was unwilling to say that that we were spiritually connected. I tried to probe on the idea that all religion was just as good as the other. I tried to take her down some of the specific paths of some different religions and what this really meant. However, she wouldn't go there.

At the end, she believed nothing other than "we should be tolerant." This is a good viewpoint for peace, but certainly doesn't derive truth.

Truth may take you in a variety of uncomfortable positions. If Christianity is true, then sacrifices must be made. People must argue. If Christ was not born of a virgin, if he was not the maker of miracles, and if he did not raise from the dead, then our faith is in vain.

Our Holy Book declares it so.

So the next time you see me, please call out, "He is risen."

I will call back, "He is risen indeed."

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