Monthly Archives: January 2017

Secrets of the Dead Sea scrolls

The real secret:  There aren’t any.

Christmas day, when I sat down in the shower line at the shelter where I stay, Comet was showing the last 15 minutes or so of a movie.  The din in the room normally precludes hearing any dialogue, but a momentary dip allowed me to hear this:  one man told another on the phone, “The missing gospel has been found.”

There followed a long sequence of a woman writhing and screaming on a bed, while blood flowed from her hands, feet and scalp.  This was interspersed with black-and-white scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion.  The bedroom was engulfed in flames.

The next scene was of a man digging in the floor of a church while a nearby statue of the Virgin wept blood.

The movie concluded with three stills of white text on a black background.

The first still read to this effect:

In 1945, near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, a scroll was found buried in the sand.  It began with the words, “These are the secret teachings of Jesus Christ.”

The scroll can say whatever it likes.

The second still read to this effect:

Known as “The Gospel of Thomas,” scholars the world over have agreed that this scroll contains the closest thing we have to the actual words of the historical Jesus.

It’s highly debatable that there’s any such consensus.

The third still read to this effect:

Even so, the Vatican refuses to recognize this text, and has gone so far as to call it heresy.

The Vatican is free to choose what it does and does not believe.

No horror movie will persuade me about the Gospel of Thomas.
Continue reading Secrets of the Dead Sea scrolls

George Ritchie’s near-death experience

Doing background research for some forthcoming posts, I had to track down George Ritchie’s quotation of the proverb, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

The online copy I found of his report of his near-death experience is not well-written, nor is it well-formatted, but the story is so compelling I thought best to share the below link with my readers now.  I urge you to read it.

Continue reading George Ritchie’s near-death experience

Sifting dichotomies

(Originally published 06/08/13 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Republished here 10/30/13.)

In recent days, I’ve spent much time trying to sort out my understandings of Good and Evil, order and chaos, darkness and light. I read a lot about Zoroastrianism, wanting to be sure my thinking isn’t “dualist” like that religion. On 06/11/13, I wrote:

Like Manichaeism, a truly false religion, Zoroastrianism emphasizes a conflict between Good and Evil, which is absent from my thought. I prefer to think of something more like Yin/Yang.

Yin and Yang are both necessary, and alternate but don’t necessarily conflict. Yet the traditional concept of them also errs, trying to connect that same dichotomy to almost every other one imaginable:

hot and cold life and death
female and male young and old
too much and too little north and south (magnetic)
stability and change negative and positive (electrical)
past and future truth and error
large and small night and day
wet and dry creation and destruction
grace and works mercy and justice

I wrote 06/12/13:

So, needy people fail to make the transition from infantile to post-infantile behavior. Regardless of worldview, and contrary to the notion that self-love is subconscious, Christianity’s teachings would tend to facilitate that transition; people can consciously learn right conduct.

Transition is a key concept. One could ask if Good and Evil don’t just correspond to stability and change; Vishnu and Siva. But the nutrients in my bloodstream are destroyed and converted into wastes as I use them. Fire releases light and heat, but destroys that which it consumes; and, in most cases, produces wastes.

Many of these dichotomies are independent, and many — as with fire — involve ambiguities and shades of gray.
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