An Atheist’s Easter Sermon: Why REALITY Matters More Than Ooga-Booga

Christmas is a pagan holiday redirected.  For all its “holiness”, all its fanciful storytelling about Wise Men from the East and stars that shine above spots on a planet light years away from them, Christmas still celebrates something; it’s a happy holiday.  Easter, on the other hand, is about Christianity’s core message: “Jesus died (but then rose from the dead – as YOU can, in essence, IF you agree to accept the story we’re pitching you as ‘gospel’ truth.”

Jesus being born and having a life is all well and good.  He can preach all he likes.  But it’s dying that gives the Jesus character purpose.  If Jesus never dies the way he dies (if, say, the NT celebrated his living a long life, dying in his bed surrounded by loved ones), there’s no Christianity.  It doesn’t happen.  But it wasn’t Jesus who told his own story.  Most of what we call “The New Testament” was written by Paul.  13 of the canonical texts are ascribed to Paul though only 8 can really be ascribed to him.

In 1985, the bible scholar Robert Funk created a group of 150 similar scholars.  The Jesus Seminar wanted to coax a historical Jesus from the NT texts.  They discerned a Jew whose core message (they found a dozen-and-a-half sayings that Jesus could have said — that weren’t clearly PUT IN HIS MOUTH BY OTHERS (like, say, PAUL).  What they also saw clearly — “According to the Seminar, Jesus was a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform nature miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead.  Sightings of a risen Jesus represented the visionary experiences of some of his disciples rather than physical encounters.”

The historian A N Wilson wrote a biography of Paul that I highly recommend — if only to create the proper context in which to understand Christianity’s creation.  The bottom line is simply this: Jesus did not “invent” Christianity.  Paul did.

Paul took the notion of Jesus as a messiah — threw out Jesus’ core “Do Unto Others” message and focused his proselytizing instead on making Jesus The Messiah the basis for a whole new religion that he sold to non-Jews for whom Jewish tradition was meaningless.  But, to prove, HIS invention’s “truthfulness” (maybe “truthiness” is more warranted), Paul based his mythology on Jewish mythology.  Paul needed Jesus being prophesied as part of his branding.  To make the “prophecy” part of Jesus’ story stand up, Paul had invent a story for Jesus because Jesus’ actual story just didn’t fit.

Paul didn’t worry himself with his story’s lack of authenticity.  He wasn’t selling real.  He was selling magic.

But part of Paul’s mythology involved making Jesus’ death important — more important than his life, really.  Jesus needs to rise from the dead to garner the star power needed to front Paul’s new religion.  To rise from the dead, Jesus needs to die spectacularly — even more spectacularly than mere crucifixion. And, because Paul was now committed to selling his story to non-Jews, it mattered nothing to him if Jews became the villain in the STORY he was inventing.

The early church fathers who bought & then themselves began selling Paul’s story loved having a villain.

As a member of the “villain” tribe — I have issues with this.

Jesus preached a simple message.  Even a humble atheist can easily (and happily) “Do Unto Others”.  Most do, actually because, humans are social creatures.  We recognize that behaving one way versus the other makes your life better.  There’s no reason to muck that message up.  It doesn’t cry out for explanation.

It requires no magic.

It stands — resolutely — without any need for Ooga-Booga to justify it.

So here’s the deal.  Believe whatever you like, Christians — it’s your “god-given right”.  But what you do with that faith — how you manifest its teachings out here beyond the walls of your church — it matters.  When your pervert “Do Unto Others” into “Kill The Jews” — you’re doing it wrong.

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Dear Christians: Stop Listening To Paul; Listen to JESUS Instead

It sucks that an atheist has to explain Christianity to Christians. But — the fact is — atheists have a perspective on Christianity that Christians intrinsically lack (and can never get). THIS atheist — having perspective — sees a distinct difference between Jesus (the supposed “inventor” of Christianity and “Christianity” (his supposed “invention”).

Oy. Where to begin…

Back in the 1985, Robert Funk (an American bible scholar) created The Jesus Seminar. Funk wanted to promote “biblical literacy” via a “historical-critical” approach that viewed Christian orthodoxy with extreme doubt. Funk wanted the Seminar (composed of about 50 critical-thinking biblical scholars and 100 lay people) to identify (if they could) and draw out a “historical Jesus” from the texts — a man apart from any mythos. While the Seminar was most active in the 1980’s and 1990’s, its work has continued up to today.

The Jesus Seminar concluded that (this is taken from Wikipedia’s page on the Seminar) —

The seminar also concluded that at best we can put a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half sayings into Jesus’ mouth — as things Jesus might have said (vs the self-referential things he almost certainly did not say because it would never have occurred to him).

That means that, effectively, most of what we think of as Christianity had nothing to do with Jesus — and everything to do with Paul who was the one person hard at work creating far-flung churches (among the goyim) made up of goyim. The overwhelming majority of the NT is Paul communicating with and building his church communities. And he’s mythologizing Jesus as he goes — converting “Historical Jesus” into Christian Church Jesus.

Real Jesus despised the “church” (in his world – the Temple authorities). Jesus’ whole message was “You don’t NEED a church to have a relationship with god”. Since that’s the case (according to the Jesus Seminar), then why on earth would Jesus advocate for the creation of a “church” to speak for him? It’s ludicrous on its surface.

Jesus preached a simple message — that’s why it’s endured. Simple & doable. Why, even a humble atheist can “do unto others” without contradicting themselves.

For “Christ’s sake” — following Jesus is incredibly simple (and rewarding). I bet following a church can’t hold a candle to it.

This Is A Moment In Time Where Magical Thinking Could Kill Us…

…that is if we follow Magical Thinkers and their bottomless capacity to believe utter nonsense is real. I draw a very clear distinction between ‘spirituality’ and ‘religious faith’ because there IS one. Even a humble atheist can feel a sense of awe as he or she gazes out at the cosmos — feels its vastness and mystery yet his or her own tiny existence as part of it, too. That’s ‘spiritual’. It’s dogma free. It’s the feelings without the bullshit explanation for them.

Religious faith demands a suspension of disbelief from the ground up. Religious faith is an attempt to explain that awe everyone feels (even the atheists) with a story — pulled, let’s be honest, from some person’s ass. Okay — from their imagination. Same difference really. I say that as someone pulling something from my ‘ass’ right here, right now. What I am doing here is no different in its ‘inspiration’ from whatever those scribes felt thousands of years ago when they first began to scribble their thoughts onto parchment.

I’m not entirely sure why Christianity still co-brands with Jesus. The institutional Christian churches long, long ago dispensed with Jesus’ core message: ‘Do Unto Others’. Instead they’ve all taken up variations on a theme — justifications for their own existence & continuation. Jesus didn’t ‘invent’ Christianity. If such an actual human ever existed, he was born, lived his whole life and died a Jew. What he preached was Judaism and nothing but. A counter-institutional brand of Judaism — but Judaism (it so happens most Judaism welcomes those who question).

Paul invented Christianity. Most of the New Testament is Paul setting up the ‘Church’ — its larger community — and its fundamental concepts. Those concepts did not include ‘Do Unto Others’. They included the mythology to justify Jesus (a character more than a person in their minds) as the messiah character described in the Jewish texts – themselves nothing but mythology, the product of human imagination. In the context of stone cold reality — things that actually happened vs things that actually didn’t and never could — Paul was building a sand castle atop a sand castle.

We stand at a moment in History where our ability — as a society and a culture — to discern what is from what isn’t — will determine whether we pull ourselves out of this death spiral or simply fly into the ground — and lose our Democracy and every last bit of ones freedoms. That’s not hyperbole.

As of last night, we became ‘aware’ that the FBI was hip to Donald Trump’s treason when he fired James Comey. They’d had inklings but refused to listen to those inklings. A failure of imagination. And a failure because of Magical Thinking — that it just couldn’t ‘be’. That the FACTS ON THE GROUND couldn’t be ‘facts’. That what WASN’T was ‘truer’ than what WAS.

When Comey was fired — and Trump repeatedly acted in ways that screamed how guilty he was — that, finally, was enough for reality to overcome the ‘walls’ that had been put up around The Truth by Magical Thinking. I hope we all agree that this cannot be our process going forward. We need to see Magical Thinking for what it is: prettified BULLSHIT.

If America is going to pull itself out of this — correct it’s course — and restore itself to its core — enlightened — ideals, we need to do it with our eyes wide open. We need to take the spiritual messages from religion — ‘Do Unto Others’ — and remind ourselves that all the other stuff was written by clever, imaginative men (it was probably all men) who didn’t know anything about the world they lived in beyond what they could see with their naked eyes.

If the men who wrote the foundational texts of any religion had the knowledge (that’s knowledge as opposed to bullshit) available via the internet today, they would have written their foundational texts WITH that knowledge. The core message would have still gotten through, one hopes, but wrapped up in a better-informed knowledge-base of how The World actually operates — and why.

The WORST Thing About Anti-Semitism Is How IRRATIONAL It Is…

A Thought Experiment:  You walk into a room.  Another person enters and punches you – hard.  You ask — “What was that for?”  And the other person responds “Because you killed my god”.  Being a RATIONAL person who doesn’t want to get punched again — and who doesn’t want to resort to violence yourself — what’s your response?

There is no response.  The moment you engage with that conversation, it wins — because YOU have to agree that its made-up bullshit could be true — otherwise, why are you arguing with them?  Everything after — ‘But that’s not true…’ is a waste of time.

Want to know why Jew Hatred has lasted as long as it has?  Because who can argue with someone who, to put it another way, thinks HARRY POTTER IS REAL?  How can you argue with someone who clearly BELIEVES IN MAGIC?  How can you argue with someone so confounded by the very texts they claim to ‘believe in’?  How can you argue with people who are confounded by those texts because the INSTITUTION that assembled them and shaped them and crafted them into a particular narrative had that very hostility toward the Mother Religion in mind?

You can’t.

Instead you get vilified.  You get re-imagined as something you aren’t.  You get to be “We hate Jews cos Jews killed Jesus”.

What was it Marx said about religion being the opiate of the people?  He had that dead wrong.  If only it were an opiate that medicated people or narcotized them.  It’s much more like meth or angel dust.  It gets brains hopped up on something almost entirely artificial.

There are great, meaningful, profound lessons to be taken from the assembled texts of the Old and New Testaments.  Why is it religious people seem to take NONE of those lessons away with them?  The whole reason Jesus’ message still resonates today — even in the minds of an atheist — is because it’s so essential to living a good life:  “DO UNTO OTHERS”.  But not only simple enough for even a troglodyte to grasp — “DO UNTO OTHERS” is ‘actionable’.  it’s not some airy-fairy abstract notion of ‘goodness’, it’s a simple proposition:  “How do YOU wish to be treated?  Then treat every other person exactly that way.”

Boom.  The genius that evolved at the very tail end of the Genesis through Book of Revelations story — its takeaway theme.  The whole point of the exercise.

Except it was never about Jesus or the Jews or their message.  Why on earth do you call it ‘Christianity’ anyway?  Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) is really the faith’s ‘inventor’.  Paul’s the guy who broke with Jesus’ family — because they were happy being Jews while Paul had other ideas.  That’s Paul, by the way, who (just going by the story here) never met Jesus ever.  Or heard his voice.  Or heard his message.

But it was Paul who ‘spread Jesus’ message’.  Except — looking over the sales materials — all the letters and epistles Paul sent to the nascent congregations of non-Jews that were flickering to life all over the Roman Empire — Paul was spreading Paul’s message a lot more than he was spreading Jesus’.

Jesus (it was never his name — just like ‘god’ is not Yahweh’s name — it’s his job description) was born, lived his whole life as and died A Jew.  If you called him a Christian to his face, he wouldn’t know what you were talking about.  And if you told the Actual Jesus (if he ever really was) what YOU now believed because YOU believed in HIM — He’d be stunned.  And he’d think you were insane.  Because very little of what YOU believe is what HE believed.

Paul started out needing to deify Jesus.  Paul traveled in messianic times.  To make his case that Jesus was a more real deal than any of the others, he needed to conform Jesus’ story to the pre-existing Hebrew mythology — all those texts we now call the Old Testament.  The messiah story had rules — and if Jesus was going to be the messiah, he had to fit into the rules.  He had to be connected to King David.  He had to be prophesied.  He had to be born in a certain place under certain conditions.

Paul broke with Jesus’ family because they didn’t want to go there.  They didn’t want or need to be part of another religion because they were perfectly happy being Jews — as Jesus had been.

If Jesus was an actual person, he existed in a world that ‘had rules’.  It worked a certain way and didn’t work in lots of other ways.  The temple hierarchy, for instance, behaved one particular way and not in a lot of other ways.  Paul (or ‘the school of Paul’) — not having been there — and having an agenda — described the scene as he needed it to be and not as it was.

Paul’s bottom line was this:  He needed a reason for Jesus’ deification — a purpose that accepting the faith would accomplish:  Salvation.  From Death.  If Jesus could be resurrected, so can you.

None of that came from Jesus.  The idea of  ‘A Church’ certainly never came from Jesus.  As I read the texts, Jesus wasn’t all that ‘down’ with the Institution.  His whole deal — as I read what JESUS SAID (and not all the other drivel put into his mouth by ‘the apostles’ — check out The Jesus Seminar — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar — it was a group of 50 bible scholars and 100 laymen, founded in 1985 with the mission of discerning, if they could, an actual human Jesus from the texts), was you can have a direct relationship with the deity; you don’t need a temple or a church (or the institution inside them) to do it.  In other words, to create a church around Jesus is to, right off the bat, do the OPPOSITE of Jesus.

But, what would Paul know?

Virtually everything about the story of Jesus’ death is a fiction.  It’s no more real than Harry Potter.  There are facts and then there’s bullshit.  To hate Jews because they ‘killed Jesus’ is bullshit.

To KILL THEM because of it?

There are no words that can adequately describe it.  Maybe one:  “ANTISEMITISM”.

 

 

 

Why Do They Even CALL It ‘Christianity’?

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Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) is pissed:  Yeah, yeah, Jesus — sure.  But Jesus didn’t invent Christianity, PAUL did…

Growing up Non-Christian in a predominantly Christian country does things to you — especially when you realize that you know more about Christianity than most Christians — if only because you bothered to actually READ the texts the religion says it’s based on.

You start to develop a sore neck cos your head’s always tilted on one side (as if you were a dog asking a question).  And you start to realize that, when it comes to their own faith, most Christians don’t know what they’re talking about and would be hard-pressed to have any sort of in-depth discussion about the particularities of their faith.

This is a triumph of the Institution — The Church — over its core message/messager — “Do Unto Others”/Jesus.  And that’s not only fitting — but inevitable.

Jesus did not invent Christianity.  If you were to dig him up today (sorry, he did not rise from the dead), and ask him his take on ‘Christianity’ — the faith supposedly named for him — he’d stare at you like you had three heads, two of which are on upside down.  Cos Jesus never HEARD of Christianity.

Historical Jesus — if such a person ever existed — was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died a Jew.  He never for a moment in his life ever thought of himself as anything other than a Jew.  He preached to Jews exclusively — a message not about a new, non-Jewish institution that he wanted to see formed and founded, but about how to make his own ‘Mother Religion’ — Judaism — better.

His own words — his core philosophy — are so simple, so elegant, so UNIVERSALLY TRUE that anyone can do them.  And their message is so UNIVERSAL that it’s transcended time like very few other messages:  “Do Unto Others”.  Actually?  A fairly ‘Jewish’ message.  But who’s counting?

Jesus never intended (or wanted — based on his words) a Church to be built around him.

Good thing (if you’re Christian) that there was Paul — the former Saul of Tarsus — converted on the Road to Damascus to… what exactly?  I don’t think even HE knew.  But once that idea — whatever it was — was inside his noggin, Paul refused to let the thing go.

Aside from the gospel writers (who can’t agree on a whole lot of actual ‘details’ about the life of the man they claimed to love like no other), most of the rest of the New Testament is Paul — his letters to far flung congregations, his instructions & and his formative notions of how to make Jesus’ message play outside of Judea.

But Jesus’ message stopped being Paul’s point early on.  Paul took over not only the messaging but the message.  If Paul never exists, there IS NO Christianity — because there would have been no one to imagine it, describe it & its aims, and then cajole goyim (strangers — non-Jews) — into following its newly minted tenets.

Paul became so convinced that HE was the right guy to ‘preach’ the message that he even went up against Jesus’ own family for control of Jesus’ message.  And PAUL — who didn’t know Jesus, never spoke to him, heard his voice, broke bread with him — won the argument — at least in the historical sense.  Here we are.

If I’m Paul — and I had the luxury of perspective — I’d be thrilled that my idea of how to make Jesus’ Idea better spread exactly the way I said it would.  But I’d be a little angry, too — cos who really thinks about Paul any more?   A few Catholics?  Meh.

If I’m Paul I’m pissed as hell.  In some small way the religion itself SHOULD have Paul’s name on it.  If there were any sort of Justice in the Universe, we wouldn’t have called it Christianity in the first place.

The religion would always have been called ‘Paulism’.

An Atheists Terrible Confession: I LOVE Televangelists…

As anyone who’s read me (or read my bio) knows — I’m not just an atheist, I’m a devout atheist.  I’m not hostile toward religion — because that seems pointless to me — in part because it’s not religion that’s the problem, it’s the silly people who take it unquestioningly to their breasts.  The moment you hang up your ability (or willingness or determination) to critically analyze everything before ‘consuming it’, they’ve got you.

‘Eat this because I say so and because I say it’s good for you,’ is a death sentence.

Among the things America has always been great for, it seems, is religious hucksterism.  I guess that along with all the other people coming here to reinvent themselves there are and were the Religious Con Men.  Not all of them know they’re con men but they are.  They’re all pitching the same nonsensical con that has NOTHING whatsoever to do with Jesus or anything Jesus might have said (as opposed to all those AROUND Jesus — like Paul — who had their own motives and — boring in on  Paul now — a towering ego).

Look at how many ‘Newfangled Religions’ have sprung from American minds:  “Mormonism” & “Scientology” leap immediately to mind.  Wonderful but fraudulent creations (hey — a ‘good story’s’ a good story — I may not like either story but other people have loved them so what the hell do I know?)

And even the way Americans ’embraced’ their Protestant Christianity was distinctly ‘Newfangled’.  From Southern Baptists to Prosperity Gospel-ites — American Christians have taken Christianity to places Jesus never imagined.  Cos Jesus wasn’t out to make a buck and rule the world.

And even among THAT group of phonies, liars, cheats and hypocrites, only a select few have risen to Bullshit’s Truest Heights.  Guys (mostly but not exclusively) who pitch Bullshit with True Artistry.  They are Grand Masters of Fraud.  To this humble atheist’s mind — they are, in fact, ‘SuperSalesmen For Christ’.

Too bad the Christ they’re selling has ZERO to do with Jesus or anything Actual Jesus said.  What they’re selling — and this is WHY I love them so — is their own ‘GODHEAD’.  Each and every one of em, down deep, believes THEY are GOD and should be ‘WORSHIPED’ accordingly.  Don’t believe me?  Look at their houses and jets and offices and, worst of all, THEIR CHURCHES.

Those aren’t ‘Temples to Do Unto Others’, they’re Self-Perpetuating TITHING FACTORIES.

Hope you brought cash, Pilgrims — your check simply will not do.  And we already know how your ‘credit’ is…

Ken Copeland
Kenneth Copland – Over-emoting Again – Like The Pro He Is…

Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen – ‘A God’ in the Pantheon of Religious Frauds

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Reverend Jerry Falwell – Taking Hypocrisy Places It Never DREAMED It Could Go…

But, among Televangelists, several sit closest to the Fire inside my head.  First — the Televangelist who ‘took my televangelist cherry’:  The Long Gone but nowhere near forgotten (by me):  KATHERYN KUHLMAN (1907 – 1976)…

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Kathryn Kuhlman:  I dare you NOT to get swayed by a Master of The Art of Selling Jesus

Just watch the first 90 seconds.  You’ll get it.  You’ll get ‘her’.

 

Another Master — Of The ‘Healing’ Con.  PT Barnumm-class Showmanship all mashed up with Bernie Madoff-class Corruption — BENNY HINN!

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 ‘BAM! You’re HEALED’!  BAM! You’re Full Of Shit!

And then there’s THIS GUY — My Ultimate Favorite — Cos I actually empathize with the poor guy.  In spite of EVERYTHING.  I won’t go into it here but — I’ve been working on a Feature Script about this guy forever.

Yes, Jimmy Swaggart has been a hypocrite.  Been caught at it spectacularly not once but TWICE.  And yet risen, like a Phoenix, anew both times.  It’s either the Power of Jesus (not buying it) or the Power of Ego.  Yeah — I’m buying.  Want my credit card # now?

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Judge Not Jimmy Swaggart Unless Ye Really KNOW Jimmy Swaggart… You’ll still want to judge him but maybe a little less harshly…

Uh oh — seeing all those faces just gave me a flash of Divine Inspiration.  I’m thinking TRADING CARDS!  T-Shirts n Coffee Mugs!

How about that — I’m saved!  Thank you, Jesus!  Where did you say to send the check?

Wait… Didn’t You Used To Be Jesus?

Ever get nostalgic for the ‘Original Jesus’?  You know — the guy who washed the feet of poor people cos he was THAT humble?  No?  Not ringing any bells?

Welcome to Evolution.

From ‘Do Unto Others’ to ‘Do Unto Others So Long As They’re White” to “Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto You”.

They shoulda quit while they were ahead…

Actual Jesus-Pretend Jesus-Republican Jesus