Happy Monday everyone. Hope the weekend was good to you fine people. Time to finish what I started on Friday. Again, this is not for the intellectually squeamish. Let’s get into the teeth of this.
Friday I was talking a bit about the movie “Religulous.” I talked about questioning faith and how to “disagree without being disagreeable.” (Haven’t heard that term in a few months) Now let’s complicate things a bit. Today I want to talk about war and the “fable” of Jesus. Now a few of you asked me if, as a Christian, I was offended by the movie at any point. I can honestly say that I wasn’t, but I can see how someone might be. I can tell you for my father’s part he wasn’t necessarily offended, but he was definitely shaken by the movie.
The “Fable” of Jesus
As I briefly mentioned in Friday’s post, there was a certain part of the movie that had my father looking like he had just seen a ghost. He was pale in disbelief after seeing some things in the movie that poked holes in the story of Jesus. I am not talking Da Vinci code stuff. He decided that he could deal with Jesus having a wife if that was in fact true. What bothered him were the charges that many aspects of the story of Jesus were stolen from the stories of Osiris and Horus. It wasn’t the fact that the movie made these charges, it was the fact that the similarities the movie highlighted were incredibly significant (I would love to hear some Christian feedback on this). Let’s examine…
First off the stories of Osiris and Horus originated thousands of years before the time of Christ, so it is not possible for them to be influenced by Christian theology, only vice versa. Horus and Osiris are pagan gods that came out of Egypt. Jews did live in Egypt, and Palestine (the birthplace of Christianity) is in close proximity to Egypt, so the idea that early Christians borrowed from Egyptian theology is not so improbable.
Some facts about Osiris:
– Had well over 200 divine names, including Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods, Resurrection and the Life, Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness, the god who “made men and women to be born again.”
– The Lord’s Prayer was prefigured by an Egyptian hymn to Osiris-Amen beginning, ‘O Amen, O Amen, who are in heaven. Amen was also invoked at the end of every prayer.
– In his passion, Osiris was plotted against and killed by Set and “the 72.”
– Osiris’ resurrection served to provide hope to all that they may do likewise and become eternal.
There are more (for more on Osiris you can start here and here ), but Horus really had the more interesting parallels:
– Born of the virgin Meri, whose husband was named Seb (Jo-seph)
– Only begotten son of the god Osiris
– Born in a cave (some believe that Jesus was born in a cave instead of a stable).
– His conception was announced to his mother by an angel and his birth was heralded by the star Sirius, the morning star.
– Herut tried to have Horus murdered as an infant.
– Baptized at age 30 by Anup (John) the baptist, who was later beheaded.
– Walked on water, restored sight to the blind, resurrected his dead father Osiris (or El-Azarus).
– Died by crucifixion accompanied by two thieves.
– Resurrected after three days.
Again there is more (there are many interesting reads on this. Here is one), but I think the point is made. Now how many of these parallels are true is a point of scholarly contention, although many of these points, including the resurrections, are widely held as part of both stories. My father had never heard of Horus, or of all of these parallels. It really made him think. He is a Roman Catholic and firmly believes in Jesus. He was shocked a few years back when my younger brother announced that he did not believe in Jesus and couldn’t understand how he could come to that conclusion. Now here was my little brother, looking at my father’s pale face, with a look of I told you so on his. My father asked me what I thought about this whole thing and I gave him the same answer that I gave my little brother when he asked me how I can believe in Jesus.
By my own admission, I am not a religious person. I cannot recite scripture (although I am familiar enough with it), I do not know too many saints, and I do not attend church regularly. I, like many of you, consider myself to be a spiritual person. I believe in Jesus as an entity. I believe in the ideals and the morals that his story represents. I believe in his teachings. Do I believe in the story of Jesus as historical fact? No. I do not. I do however believe that there is a greater force “watching over me” and I choose to hold Jesus Christ as the manifestation of this good and benevolent force. So if the stories of Osiris, or Horus, or Buddha, or Krishna for that matter, are a little too similar to the story of Jesus, then let it be. The story is not as important as the idea to me. Which is why I don’t have to be Hindu to believe in Karma, or be Buddhist to appreciate the teachings of Confucious.
Religion Is Not Evil!
During the course of the movie Bill Maher makes his case against religion in a rather mild manner. He attempts to poke logical holes into something that is, by all accounts, not based upon logic. Thus his task is made relatively easy for him. In most cases the people in the movie made his case for him. All he had to do was be the voice of common sense and reason. In doing this he paints a rather unflattering picture of the religious, but one that is also accurate for the demographic that he chose to showcase. The demographic I am speaking of is the radical religious. This is where things got a bit preachy.
The very last part of the movie was the most offensive to me. Maher makes a plea for all those with common sense to denounce religion. Why you may ask? Because religion is responsible for countless wars and conflicts throughout history. Religion is in effect evil. I can already hear the seas parting on this one. On one side there are those of you who agree with this and on the other side there are those who are offended. To me the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If someone were to objectively examine these statements they would no doubt find truth in them. Religion can be tied to virtually every major conflict that is going on in the world today. However the problem I have with this statement is that it is a gross generalization. Radicalism is at the crux of our society’s problems. Radicalism and religion are not one and the same. Radicalism is religion in excess, and anything in excess can be dangerous. War is a terrible, terrible thing and yes, religion and war are often very closely related. Religion can be an extremely polarizing topic which people tend to be very passionate about. This is why it is all the more important for us to learn how to properly use religion. To teach those who misuse or misunderstand religion the error of their ways. I can understand why Maher is so afraid of religion, but I cannot condone his blanket indictment of it.
Alright. Done. Talk amongst yourselves…
Sidenote: Xanga Mystery Blogger starts tomorrow. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!