Colbert, Amway and the end of the world

Scott Paeth discusses Molly Worthen on Democrats and the progressive Catholic social tradition, seconding this point from Worthen:

The handful of nationally known Catholic political thinkers who might be called progressive, or at least compassionate and cosmopolitan — like the journalist-scholars Garry Wills and E. J. Dionne Jr., blogmeister Andrew Sullivan, or the feminist nun and blogger Sister Joan Chittister — are far outnumbered by the ranks of prominent Catholic conservatives in the trenches of activism and policy making.

Photo by Kevin Mazur of TIME

I’d add one pretty important name to that list: Stephen Colbert.

On Friday, Colbert and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan shared the stage “before 3,000 cheering, stomping, chanting students at Fordham University.” That crowd wasn’t there for the cardinal.

Nor was the cardinal the best source of theological wisdom:

Another question [from the audience] was even more pointed: “So many Christian leaders spread hatred, especially of homosexuals. How can you maintain your joy?”

Cardinal Dolan responded with two meandering anecdotes — one about having met this week with Muslim leaders, and another about encountering demonstrators outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

But Mr. Colbert’s response was quick and unequivocal. “If someone spreads hate,” he said, “then they’re not your religious leader.”

* * * * * * * * *

Tony Jones quotes from Neal DeRoo about an upcoming conference on “The Christian Evasion of Popular Culture“:

As Christians, we should not call for the Church to engage culture, but rather to engage culture better, which means, in part, to be more self-aware of the ways in which it has always already been engaged by culture. … As Christians whose lives are thoroughly enculturated, we have not avoided culture so much as we have evaded dealing with it directly and purposively.

My late friend Dwight Ozard liked to say that this was another point where American evangelicals neglected at home what their missionaries insisted on abroad. Even fundies with a 19th-century colonial missiology can understand that the first thing a missionary needs to do is learn the language.

* * * * * * * * *

What is the deal with evangelical Christianity and pyramid-marketing companies?

It’s not easy to find an evangelical institution, agency or nonprofit that isn’t on the hook for some amount of Amway money. And now I learn that Gary Bauer’s not-ready-for-community-theater anti-Obama ads are funded by a shady outfit called “Corporate Land Management.”

Corporate Land Management won’t say what they do or sell, but they share an address with Premier Designs — a jewelry company that has designs on becoming the Amway of baubles and bangles. From Premier’s website:

  • You can be your own boss.
  • Make 50% on every sale and you get paid immediately.
  • Premier pays you a 10% commission on the wholesale of anyone you sponsor to compensate you for time spent mentoring them.
  • You’ll also earn 10% on everyone in the second and third levels of your sales organization.

So, for the record, Gary Bauer thinks marriage equality is grievously immoral. But exploitative multi-level marketing schemes? He’s totally cool with that.

* * * * * * * * *

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says 34 percent of all Republicans are white evangelical Protestants.

That’s not surprising. What’s more unexpected — at least for those who buy the dominant stereotypes about the “liberal” mainline Protestants, is that white mainline Protestants make up 20 percent of the Republican Party.

That’s a bigger share of the GOP than white mainline Protestants make up of the Democratic Party, where they are only 14 percent of the total.

And Pew also tallied up the invisible, unmentionable category of white evangelical Protestant Democrats. We make up 9 percent of the party. That’s not a huge slice, but it’s a lot bigger than you might expect considering that Republican evangelicals keep insisting that we do not exist at all.

* * * * * * * * *

Vorjack has some insightful thoughts about NASA scientist David Morrison. The Awl profiled Morrison, a “specialist in asteroids and potential asteroid impact.” But he’s also “the man responsible for the Ask an Astrobiologist page at NASA,” responding to hundreds of emails about the End of the World.

As part of that work, vorjack notes, Morrison deals “with the young people who are unable to process the deluge of rumor and suggestion.” Some samples from The Awl piece:

“I’m scared because I’m in 10th grade and I have a full life ahead of me. …”

“I am really scared about the end of the world on 21 December. I’m headed into 7th grade and I am very scared. … Can someone help me? I can’t sleep, I am crying every day, I can’t eat, I stay in my room. …”

My friends growing up were not worried about some pseudo-Mayan 2012 nonsense, but I had several who were just as freaked out because of what we were taught about the Rapture, or about the hellfire that might await them. (These kids were all “saved,” but could they be sure about that?)

“Conspiracy theories and end times predictions are frequently ghost stories for adults,” vorjack writes. “They’re stories that give us that creepy little thrill.” But kids, being kids, mistake the pretense for something real. They assume the adults pretending to believe these scary stories really do believe them, and so the kids are scared.

That’s cruel.

It’s also revealing, because if the adults really did believe their own scary stories, they ought to be even more freaked out than the kids.

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of hypocrisy…

     Jesus Christ may have had a wife

    One person’s reaction?

    Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: “A
    statement on a papyrus fragment isn’t proof of anything. It’s nothing
    more than a statement ‘in thin air’, without substantial context.”

    Oh, really now? :P

    So I suppose all those folks who use Leviticus to trash QUILTBAG people will immediately stop using context-free Biblical text?

  • JustoneK

    and it’s Mary of Magdalena!  I’ve always shipped them.

  • Carstonio

     Heh!

    Dumb question – if she and Jesus were indeed married, or if Jesus had siblings, so what? Dan Brown’s regurgitated conspiracy theories were wrongly treated as hostile to Christianity, a claim that I found both hilarious and saddening. Self-identified Christians who regard Jesus as mortal are often derided as “not really Christian.” While I detest the practice of playing theological cop (“You are in violation of John 3:16”), the deriders at least have a point. But what could be objectionable about a married Jesus?

    And if you’re going to ship Jesus and Mary Magdalene, you need a good portmanteau. Emmandalena?

  • JustoneK

    Josadalene.  Wait.

    I’ve never understood how that was anti Christian at large.  It’s come up in even some other bits of young adult Christian lit I read way back when.  I think.

    I’m personally very invested in Jesus as a mortal dude, it helps me feel better about things.

    I also seem to recall a similar kerfuffle in baroque or renaissance art where Jesus was portrayed as a rather ginger European kid, no halo, no nothing, and other artists of the time were SCANDALIZED.

  • JustoneK
  • Carstonio

    Is the “House of His Parents” the Burrow? Because Jesus sure looks like Rupert Grint.

    And that would be icky.

    Insert your own Second Coming joke here.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, if Jesus had one of those he’d be one of the few males to have the coveted multiple orgasm.

    Totallygrinningduckingandrunningnow.

  • hidden_urchin

    Totallygrinningduckingandrunningnow.

    I think I can beat that. My dad sent me the article with the subject ” Oh my God.”

    That’s what she said.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So, when Jesus was with Mary, did he say, “Oh my me” or “Oh my father”? :P

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Insert your own Second Coming joke here.

    With apologies to Matthew 28:6…Yeah, verily, he is risen! Come and see the place where he lay!

  • Maniraptor

    Oh my goodness, look how adorable he is. I just want to pinch his holy cheeks.

  • JustoneK

    I really wanna know what his teenage years were like these days.

  • LouisDoench
  • Maniraptor

    Ooh, this has been my favorite apocryphal gospel since I found out about it. The Gospel of How Kid Jesus Killed Anyone Who Got In His Way, And That’s Why You Should Love Him. I mean, how can you not love the contrast?

    Religion, it was different in the past (and that’s kinda neat)!

  • Darkrose

    The bit about people complaining that Jesus looked like “a red-headed Jew boy” is kind of boggling.

  • JustoneK

    ginger hate is a real thing.

  • Tricksterson

    Well, that’s because they have no souls.  And fear sunlight.  And are really pale.  That’s it!  Gingers are a form of vampire!

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s it! Gingers are a form of vampire!

    I resent the implication that I have anything whatsoever in common with Edward Cullen.

  • Tricksterson

    Hush nosferatu!

  • EllieMurasaki

    The bit about people complaining that Jesus looked like “a red-headed Jew boy” is kind of boggling.

    Redheaded I’ll give them as I understand red hair to be a northern Europe thing (though maybe if his bio dad was a Roman?), but do people not read their gospels or something? There weren’t any Christians until–was it Paul or Peter?–somebody decided Christianity wasn’t actually just a Jewish sect. Even if we define followers of Jesus before that date as Christians rather than as Jews, Jesus didn’t follow himself.

  • VCarlson

    Mom was raised “foot washin'” Baptist, Dad Evangelical Free Church (didn’t “take” for either of them). They met and married in the Big City, then Dad took his new bride home with him for Christmas. They attended a Christmas service during which the lastor referred to Mary, mother of Jesus, as “a good Christian girl.” Mom maintained decorum with some difficulty, then asked Dad later how he managed to keep a straight face. His answer was he just didn’t listen any more.

    Long way of saying a lit of people just don’t think it through and don’t realize Jesus was Jewish. Not being English, I can’t really understand the disdain for people with red hair, either.

  • Tricksterson

    Redheads have long been associated, for reasons I’m unaware of, with witchcraft.  Also there’s a tradition that Judas was a redhead.

  • Dash1

     

    Long way of saying a lit of people just don’t think it through and don’t realize Jesus was Jewish.

    Or, as Archie Bunker said, “Only on his mother’s side.”

  • Lori

     

    Or, as Archie Bunker said, “Only on his mother’s side.” 

    But that’s the side that counts. You’re Jewish if your mother was Jewish.

  • Tricksterson

    Which according to Jewish tradition, makes him a Jew.

  • Münchner Kindl

     There was a similar scandal when Max Liebermann, painter of jewish origin, painted “12 year old Jesus at the temple” http://www.reproarte.com/picture/Max_Liebermann/Jesus+in+the+temple/12713.html showing Jesus as “barefoot jew boy” .

    There was such an anti-semitic backlash from society against the picture and the painter that Liebermann painted parts of it over: He gave Jesus sandals and a longer clothing from better material and gave him blond instead of brown hair.

  • Launcifer

    Jemmagda.

    Could be an unwritten Pink Floyd album.

  • AnonaMiss

    If Jesus was married, it would mean he probably had SEX.

    And that would be icky.

  • Launcifer

    Damnit, now I want to google the phrase “icky Jesus sex” just for its potential under Rule 34.

  • NoDoubtAboutIt

    I’ve always wondered if Jesus ever had sex with somebody else, would they have become divine themselves?  I mean, if His Blood can heal you, surely His Reproductive Fluid is about a million times more powerful.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve always wondered if Jesus ever had sex with somebody else, would they have become divine themselves?

    There’s none can harm the knight who’s lain with the Witch of the Westmoreland…

  • Michael Pullmann

     See, I immediately started wondering if they used birth control.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Worse than that: if Jesus was married, he had sex with a woman. Heck, even if they didn’t have sex (yeah right), it shows that he at least liked a woman! Eeewww.

    It also directly contradicts millennia of Christian teaching that the very best thing you can do is never have sex at all, and sex is always somehow wrong and bad, and it’s only less wrong and bad if you do it in this one specific way under this one specific circumstance. One of the vilest teachings any religion has ever saddled itself with.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “So what” is that it’s further proof that Jesus was not anti-sex and anti-woman. None would be needed if Christianity had historically actually followed what Jesus said and did, of course. But sadly, plenty is needed thanks to certain men who lived centuries after Jesus and hated both sex and women and have been more influential in the way Christianity has been practiced in the world than Jesus.

  • Carstonio

     All valid points, but I was hoping to hear from someone who has reasonable arguments both theological and historical for Jesus being an unmarried only child. (Reasonable not being the same as right.) Just as I hope to hear from someone who has reasonable arguments against marriage equality that don’t rely on scripture. Or on pseudo-religious assertions about “nature.” Or on gender essentialism, which is sexism in a lab coat. In both cases, I’m not holding my breath.

  • Tricksterson

    I bet you’d also like to hear arguments as to why unicorns are real.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Rarity and Twilight Sparkle would like a word with you.

  • Tricksterson

    Sure, let me get my flamethrower.

  • AliciaB

    I don’t think being married is real proof of either of those things. Many of the worst misogynists in America are married. Todd Akin was married for 37 years, and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and guys like that are all married. And I don’t think we need to go into the whole “anti-sex” thing with these guys.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Many of the worst misogynists in America are married. Todd Akin was married for 37 years, and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and guys like that are all married. And I don’t think we need to go into the whole “anti-sex” thing with these guys.

    What I still wonder about is how the hell do guys like that ever actually attract a woman?  Their views about women’s roles and rights are just so abhorrent, what kind of woman would even want a man like that?  I mean, I can understand those kinds of views from an unmarried man who has been made bitter through a lifetime of being rebuked and not realizing his own hubris and sense of entitlement get in the way of companionship, but how does a married guy get to be like that?  Or just sustain views like that?  

    How can any mentally healthy and emotionally self-sufficient woman tolerate a guy who fundamentally disrespects her like that long enough to marry him?  

  • EllieMurasaki

    How can any mentally healthy and emotionally self-sufficient woman tolerate a guy who fundamentally disrespects her like that long enough to marry him?

    Belief that all men are like that and many are worse? Living with sexism and gender binaries damages the psyche, and the damage is worse if one thinks there’s no alternative? Though if any of the men you mentioned were rich before they got married…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Belief that all men are like that and many are worse? Living with sexism and gender binaries damages the psyche, and the damage is worse if one thinks there’s no alternative? Though if any of the men you mentioned were rich before they got married…

    My first impulse would be to try and fix them, or failing that, at least ensure their progeny do not grow up similarly broken.  An effective sexual education education and encultured gender egalitarianism (for both sexes) should go a long way toward helping shrink the environment in which sexism is tolerated.  

    Unfortunately, those who institutionalize sexism in their own marriages have this damnable habit of wanting to perpetuate that institution in their children, and the only ways I can think of to run interference in that tend to quickly overstep a lot of civil liberty bounds.  

    There has to be some solution here we are missing… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Honestly, a lot of these guys are themselves pretty involved in perpetuating institutionalized sexism in the world. It’s not always because their husbands manipulated them into it somehow; they truly believe in the whole complementarian thing.

    Now, they might not necessarily impose these rules on themselves, of course — Beverly LaHaye is a famous example, a woman who spends a lot of time working on the opposite coast (in D.C.) as her husband (in California) lobbying against the idea that women should work outside of the home. But I wouldn’t give her or people like her any kind of victim status automatically; sometimes people marry the LaHayes and Robertsons of the world because they get along with them.

  • Lori

     

    Now, they might not necessarily impose these rules on themselves, of course — 

    Phyllis Schlafly, that hypocritical asshat.

  • depizan

    Belief that all men are like that and many are worse?

    That would be my guess, too.  I’ve met women who think like that.  For icing on that particular WTF cake, these women were a writer’s circle, and all wrote romance novels.  More horrifyingly, one of them was my Criminal Law teacher.

    I went to one of their writer’s group sessions and spent the entire time with my face stuck in O_o.  They literally saw men as vile scum who were incapable of anything good*, yet they wrote romance novels (staring scum…which, oddly, they couldn’t get published…) and, even more boggling to twenty-something me, they dated and/or were married.  I could not (and still can’t) see marrying something that, to you, is a cross between Cthulhu, a Sith Lord, and a cartoon cave man.  W.  T.  F.

    *The other newcomer had written a scene in which her romance’s hero surveyed his ranch and thought, among other things, that it was beautiful.  They all jumped on her, declaring that men aren’t capable of seeing beauty.  All they see is what’s theirs.  (Naturally, my mind went straight to Looney Tunes as I imagined a guy going “Car mine, woman mine, landmine.” as he pulled each item to himself.)

  • Lori

     

    They all jumped on her, declaring that men aren’t capable of seeing beauty.  All they see is what’s theirs.  

    O_o, indeed. Holy crap.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     “Car mine, woman mine, landmine.” as he pulled each item to himself.

    Landmine?

    Kaboom!

  • Lori

     

    Their views about women’s roles and rights are just so abhorrent, what kind of woman would even want a man like that?     

    A woman raised from birth to believe that being the wife of a man like that is her purpose in life and that bucking the system will result in her going to hell.

  • The_L1985

    Self-identified Christians who regard Jesus as mortal are often derided as “not really Christian.”

    I thought the idea was that jesus was fully divine and fully human.  Thus, mortal AND God.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    I thought the idea was that jesus was fully divine and fully human.  Thus, mortal AND God.

    And I always figured you had to be mortal to die … on a cross or elsewhere.  Otherwise, it turns Big J into a merry prankster.  (“Alright, Dad … no one’s looking.  Beam me up!”)

  • EllieMurasaki

    And I always figured you had to be mortal to die … on a cross or elsewhere.

    Gods can die. Baldr did. Other Norse gods will. Don’t know about other pantheons offhand. I recall the Greek gods needed to dine regularly on nectar and ambrosia to be immortal, but I also recall the Titans getting locked away forever when presumably it would be simpler to deny them nectar and ambrosia until they were killable and then kill them. (I am more recently acquainted with Disney’s Hercules than with any honest treatment of the Greek myths. Hence my confusion.)

  • Tricksterson

    The Olympians and other Greek gods were born immortal.  Nectar and ambrosia were however their food and drink so I suppose they could starve to death but there’s not record that any of them did.  Probably they ate and drank because Nectart and ambrosia were yummy.  However mortals could become immortal by eating and drinking the fod of the gods.  As i recall there was a story about a mortal who was given one but not the other (forget why) and was immortal but continued to age.  Finally the goddess responsible turned him into a grasshopper.  There was another story of Chiron the centaur who was greviously wounded by a hunter but could neither die nor heal the wound until Zeus granted him the gift of death.  Again, why Apollo or Asclepius didn’t heal him, I don;t know.

  • EllieMurasaki

    As i recall there was a story about a mortal who was given one but not the other (forget why) and was immortal but continued to age. Finally the goddess responsible turned him into a grasshopper.

    That one was he asked to be immortal but neglected to ask to be forever young.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    That was Eos who forgot to give her boyfriend eternal youth. Divine ADHD, I guess. 

  • Tricksterson

    “But what could be wrong about a married Jesus”

    because sex is bad and women are bad.  That’s what it comes down to.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Look, the trinity is hard enough to understand without adding reproduction into the mix. If you’re half of a triune god on your father’s side, are you like two and a half persons? If your dad is Jesus, then is your father also his Father? Does that make you your own grandpa?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And to think all the fundies threw a huge strop when Scorsese had that scene of Jesus imagining himself and Mary doing a certain activity…

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Well you know, it was kind of strange to watch them play Yahtzee for three hours in the middle of a serious drama.  I mean it was really distracted from the plot and had nothing to do with it.  

    To be a bit more serious, lots of gods have sex with people.  There’s no need for Christians to go into obsessive detail about that as other religions sometimes do, and it certainly doesn’t require giving up the sexism if you simply must hold on to that.  Lord knows the Greeks and Egyptians didn’t. 

  • vsm

    Please, that’s just some ancient fanfiction. Johnsus is practically canon and was shipped by King James, who I think knew a bit more about the Bible than anyone living today, having personally received it from God himself.

  • Tricksterson

    I have to roll my eyes at how invested the Christian establishment, even those parts of it who don practice celibacy, is in the idea that Jesus’ purity is dependent on his asexuality.  And yet the same people make a positive fetish of marriage.

  • Joshua

    Yeah, interesting, but I doubt it’ll turn my ideas of Jesus’ life upside down. There are a number of weird and wacky gospels, many from that kind of timeframe, that say all sorts of wild things. Plenty weren’t even Christian, there are a number of Gnostic gospels too.

    I’d love to see a translation of the rest of the fragment though. I don’t speak Coptic. Any new papyrus is a wonderful snapshot of what someone, at least, was thinking thousands of years ago.Jesus did use family terms metaphorically, e.g. Luke 8:21. Without a bit more context it’s hard to understand what the papyrus is really asserting.

  • friendly reader

     Here’s a translation of the whole thing. It’s very fragmentary and still tentative. It’s fascinating stuff and I look forward to following it – but man, the media likes to stoke flames of controversy over stuff they do not understand.

    @AmaranthNightphoenix:disqus : You also have the example of Jeremiah, who was ordered by God not to marry because Judah would soon be destroyed. Since historical Jesus potentially believed the world would end in his lifetime, he might also have felt that he shouldn’t bother with it. Again, see the Essenes for other ideas similar to this.

    @2b8e9565b320bc8df44b6b6a5c477dc9:disqus : his family seemed to consider him a washed-up failure, and he wasn’t a rabbi in the modern sense. “Rabbi” means “teacher,” and that’s what his followers considered him. Jesus was definitely more in the apocalyptic branch of first century Judaism than the one that became rabbinical Judaism.

    All that said, Jesus still might’ve been married at some point, and it doesn’t make much of a difference to me one way or the other. If we’re going to play midrash on the infamous missing years, I admit I find the image of Jesus as a childless widower whose loss prompted him go out and find Himself emotionally resonant, even if it’s got no Biblical support per se. It would definitely make him someone who knows our sufferings.

    (Also, I love the irreverent puns you guys have been throwing around. I wish I had half that wit. :D )

  • Joshua

    Thank you.

    Yeah, so fragmentary it’s hard to tell what is going on, but very interesting.

  • The_L1985

     Yay for translation of the whole fragment!  I’m a bit curious as to how (or whether) line 4 (Jesus said to them, “My wife…”), line 5 (“She will be my disciple and…”) and line 7 (“I dwell with her because…”) are related to each other.

    Yay, archaelogical puzzles!!

  • Figs

    If there was one adjective I had to use to describe Colbert, it’d be “quick.” He’s maybe the best, hardest-to-throw-off interviewer I’ve ever seen. It’s unsurprising, but welcome, that he’s the same way when he’s being interviewed himself.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    People with children are supposed to be (if you believe the traditional narrative) the ones among us with the most invested in the future.  It takes a special kind of cruelty (or mental illness) to bring offspring into a world only to lead them to believe they will soon be annihilated.

    The good news is that all the 2012 crap will lose most of its power after December.  (Sure, some will insist that something awful did happen, we just haven’t noticed yet… )

  • Ross Thompson

    Apropos of nothing, Chick-fil-A  seem to have stopped funding anti-gay charities: http://consumerist.com/2012/09/has-chick-fil-a-stopped-funding-anti-gay-marriage-groups.html

  • Carstonio

    Amway was founded by evangelicals and I’ve long suspected that the pyramid scheme was originally based in a particular approach to evangelism. Apparently its corporate culture is indistinguishable from the Prosperity Gospel.

    Here’s one possible answer to Fred’s question:

    http://www.americasbestcompanies.com/magazine/articles/time-on-the-pyramid.aspx

    There is something about multi-level marketing that attracts certain
    people, it is like an addiction. One thing was certain; I was looking at a true believer. Maybe that is what angered me most; this man’s ability to ignore the obvious, to ignore reality, and stick to the company line.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     Yeah. I remember some people from Primerica Financial Services going heavy on the God and Bible thing in the American branch of that company.

  • RavenOnTheHill

    I think the relationship is a vulnerability to affinity scams.

    Croak!

  • SkyknightXi

    I’m more worried about people who might somehow decide that they’re chosen to COMMENCE whatever transformation the dual Mayan calendar rollover is supposed to presage. Self-fulfilling prophecies, anyone?

    Never mind that the Mayans themselves only saw being alive at the time of the dual rollover as a great auspice. I think I remember something about the first transcription of this being a time AFTER Spanish landfall. In other words, was this report of a great transformation actually influenced by Christian precepts of the New Jerusalem? (Main inspiration for this line of thinking: Learning that the first transcriptions of Norse myth were long AFTER Christianity had been normalized there, with plenty of time for the mythic narratives to absorb ITS precepts.)

  • dj_pomegranate

    The End Times Fear-Mongering was the first part of my evangelicalism that I ditched.  I remember very distinctly realizing that it was all based in *fear*.  As a child, I was regularly gripped with fear of the end times (in an abstract, surreal, childish sort of way) although I heard from pastor after pastor that we wouldn’t be afraid if we were true Christians (“Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”)  

    There was fear of not being saved, fear of the Antichrist somehow giving you the Mark of the Beast without you knowing it (data chip implants, anyone?), fear of not saying the right things when you stand before Jesus and the Lamb’s Book of Life, fear that Jesus would come again before I got to grow up and get married/have sex, fear that we (=America) were just one step away from slipping into Armageddon chaos, fear that the rapture would be post- and not pre-millenial…After this shocking revelation (it really was very shocking to recognize how prevalent fear was in my worldview!) I very quickly decided that fear was a TERRIBLE  foundation for faith, if only because Jesus’ yoke is supposed to be easy and his burden light.  I’m still bitter at the culture that thinks it’s ok–even Godly!–to scare little children.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Absofrigginlutely.  That sounds eerily like my own experience to be honest.

  • VMink

    I for one can’t wait for the 2012 changeover to the new world, and will welcome our new dragon overlords.  (Though you never make a deal with a dragon.)  It might be a bummer if I become an ork or troll, and the corporatist dystopia might suck, but hey!  Magic!

    /ObShadowrunRef

  • Darkrose

    I would totally vote for Dunklezhan.

  • Tricksterson

    I’m already a shaman of Trickster, now I want the nifty spells that go with it.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Hrm, and since we already live in a world of lawless megacorps…

    I have to go, plans to write, explosions to make, cyberware to get.

  • Darkrose

    I want my datajack, dammit!

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    A married Jesus makes for a much more approachable figure.  It humanizes him in ways that make the orthodox uncomfortable.  Despite him being, per the text … human.

    Plus, it turns the Last Supper into just another night out with the boys.

  • Darkrose

    Now I want to see the Last Supper reimagined as a bunch of dudebros just hanging out.

  • Wednesday

    The Last Supper was a Passover Seder (as per Mark, Matthew, and Luke, at least — John changed it so that Jesus was himself the pascal lamb). Which doesn’t really change if Jesus was married…. although it does change if Jesus had kids, at least under modern traditions.

    …and now I’m imagining Jesus hiding the afikomen and all the disciples running around looking for it.

  • PJ Evans

     He was Jewish and a rabbi; getting married was part of the job description.

  • Tricksterson

    I used to think that too until it was pointed out to me that the rules governing what became the rabbinical tradition didn’t even start being formed until after the destruction of the Temple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rowan-Hill/1219842217 Rowan Hill

    Oh yes, I remember being a child and terrified of the rapture. I think everyone raised in a rapture ready home can remember having a panic attack from finding themselves alone in the house. I’ve always wondered if growing up believing in no future has had a lasting effect on my personality. I still feel as though I have no time left on the clock, instinctively, you know? Does anyone know if a study has ever been carried out on the subject?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     I know of no study, but I know exactly what you mean.  I was terrified of harvest moons myself, due to the whole bit about the “the moon turned to blood” or something very close to that. 

    I was paranoid not only about the state of my own salvation, but also that of everyone I knew except my dad; so I wasn’t expecting to be left alone, merely murdered  horribly with my loved ones as the world ended (x_x) I do not miss those days, not one bit.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    One thing to keep in mind, I think, is that there are more Democrats than Republicans.  So, for example, white evangelical Democrats are 9% of a larger number than white evangelical Republicans are 34% of, if that makes sense.  

    As to mainliners, I’m sure age is a huge part of it.  I’ve stopped being shocked when I learn that an old white person is a Republican, because who the hell else is going to be one?

  • Steve Morrison

    if she and Jesus were indeed married, or if Jesus had siblings, so what?

    It makes the baby Jesus cry (at the prospect of future girl cooties).

  • EllieMurasaki

    It makes the baby Jesus cry (at the prospect of future girl cooties).
    Are cooties not transmitted through breastmilk?

  • SkyknightXi

    I suppose the grand appeal of an asexual Jesus would be that he wouldn’t be distracted by anything markedly hormonal while pursuing Grand Philosophical Truths (the carpentry was probably already eating enough time). No need for ecstasy…

    …Asexual Jesus the Nazarene, perfect Taoist mystic material?

  • Stone_Monkey

    I was a child in the 70s and 80s. I can remember my mum having a very specific plan for what she’d do if the sirens went off and there was a nuclear war; it basically involved getting her three children together hugging them tightly and waiting for the end. So yeah, it wasn’t just the evangelical Christian children who lived in fear back then. But I guess everyone did.

  • stly92

    Fred, the last anecdote really hit home. I too quaked with fear and cried in my room in seventh grade. Not from the Mayan Calendar, but from everyone at my Evangelical High School, students and teachers, insisting that all the available evidence was that we would have nuclear war and be raptured well before my High School Graduation. (which was 2003, by the way.)

    Oh, but you’re right.  The adults telling me this did NOT take it seriously, because they were NOT freaked out about it. At the time, I didn’t understand that, because if you asked them, they’d have sworn up and down that they took it absolutely seriously and believed it to be 100% true.  But they were adults.  They, unlike kids, (which I’ve learned as an adult myself) are much better at compartmentalizing their cognitive dissonance. 

  • AnonymousSam

    In other news, according to this site (which is unfortunately in Hebrew), there’s a war brewing between the Jews and the Gentiles which will cumulate in the coming of the Messiah and the end of the world.

    One of these days, I’m going to sit down and calculate the average number of years between predictions about the Apocalypse.

  • Matri

    Hmm, what is the plural of “apocalypse”?

    Apocalypses? Apocalii?

  • AnonymousSam

    Apocalypses, the ellipsis of the undefinable variable.

  • Kiba

    I resent the implication that I have anything whatsoever in common with Edward Cullen.

    It saddens me that when people think vampire now that’s what pops into their head. 

    /cuddles a copy of Dracula 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Re: That painting: I get Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and…James? But who’s the pretty boy apprentice with the Egyptian-styled hair? 

  • EDB

    That painting: I get Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and…James? But who’s the pretty boy apprentice with the Egyptian-styled hair?

    The kid with the basin? That’s John the Baptist, in a reference to his baptizing his cousin.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    That would be who I pegged as James; I meant the young man directly across from Joseph.

  • friendly reader

    I for one definitely do not ship Jesus and Mary Magdalene.To me it’s just the newest version of the attempt to turn her from the Apostle to the Apostles and a leader of the early church into someone defined entirely by her sexuality. First she’s defined as a prostitute, now she’s defined as a wife – can’t she be an independent woman, defined on her own?

    Anyway, it’s not entirely clear from the passage itself whether the “wife” is Mary or the Church, and it’s from the fourth century, and as such doesn’t exactly “prove” one way or the other whether the historical Jesus was married. It does potentially prove that there were a variety of opinions on the matter, which I find more fascinating than the question of whether he was actually married or not.*

    To me, the idea of Jesus being married (and thus having sex) is more interesting in how people react to it than the idea itself. You’ve got the people who insist he couldn’t have (because sex is base, worldly, dirty, what have you) and people who insist he must have (because sex is an essential part of the human experience and all good, normal people have it). And then you have people like me who think he may have he may not have (because sex is something some people have and some people don’t have, and depending on how you have it can be good or bad,** and we shouldn’t make a value judgment just on whether you’re having it or not).

    *And yes, there is some evidence of celibate groups like the Essenes in first-century Judaism, and arguing that Jesus was celibate would also probably mean arguing he was a member of one of these other groups before heading out on his own, which is, again, to me a way more interesting thing to consider. Could Jesus have been a member of a “wrong” group? Way more implications to the question of Jesus’ nature than whether he had sex!
    **Given the attitudes at the time, historical Jesus being married =/= historical Jesus being pro-woman.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Could Jesus have been a member of a “wrong” group?

    I’ve heard it argued that Jesus was a Pharisee. Given that contemporary usage of the term ‘Pharisee’ derives entirely from the negative way Jesus spoke of them, this amuses me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Thank you!    I like the quote from the Smithsonian article on the fragment:

    “In the weeks leading up to the mid-September announcement, King
    worried that people would read the headlines and misconstrue her paper
    as an argument that the historical Jesus was married.”

    King clearly knows the drill.

    I agree with your point about defining Mary Magdalene in terms of her sexuality.  Taking her from being a financial supporter and apostle in her own right to being the little woman isn’t as big a come-down as claiming she was a prostitute, but it’s not clear to me that it’s really a promotion.

    I’m not sure I agree that Jesus being celibate would have implied he was an Essene at one time, though.  Presumably there were plenty of people that shared some of these group’s ideas without sharing all of them actually being members.  I thought it was more that the existence of the Essenes and similar groups showed that the celibacy, asceticism, etc. was definitely a thing that was going on in Judaism at the time and thus Jesus not being married would not actually have been as weird or noteworthy as some people claim.

  • Tricksterson

    While I consider the probablility of his having been married high I’m willing to consider that he might have lived celibately.  Just don’t try to convince me he didn’t masturbate as a teenager, cause i ain’t buying it.  Nobody’s that pure.

  • everstar

    I think your point about wanting Mary M to be her own figure and not a subsidiary of other figures is a good one, and one I’m familiar with.  I think my own childhood fascination with Artemis/Diana stems from that, as well as my fascination with Diana of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman.  It’s part of why I’m so furious with DC for turning her into Superman’s girlfriend.  Grrr.

  • Carstonio

     I haven’t been reading the current continuity, but I feel the same way you do about the pairing, which I learned about last month. The ultimate visual indignity was borrowing the iconic image of the Superman/Lois reunion in For Tomorrow. No disagreement that the pairing turns DC’s leading female character into a subsidiary figure, but personally I’m more interested in what this means for Superman. The old cliché about a flying man needing an Earth woman to keep him grounded was exactly right. Lois is a force of nature even without superpowers, and she treats the most powerful person in the world as an equal. Pairing Superman with a female superhero undermines the dual nature of his character, rendering his human side irrelevant.

  • everstar

     I’m not happy about what it means for Superman either, but Wondy is closer to my heart, ergo I’m more worried about her.

    It’s just so… ugh.  I really want there to be a fan comic somewhere of Lois Lane and Mary Jane Watson-Parker teaming up to take over the world.  EDITORIALLY DISCARDED TRUE LOVES UNITE.

  • friendly reader

    And more relevant to Fred’s actual post, screw this Mayan prophecy crap. All that’s happening in December is that the current 13th bak’tun (a period of 114,000 days) will come to an end. Mayan monuments have dates going way past that point, and native Mayans have no prophecy of the world ending on that day (or of it particularly ending at all). Then you add in the “Quetzalcoatl” crap (because of course Aztecs and Mayans were exactly the same!) and it’s enough to make you scream at the stupid.

    That said, I am looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime odometer turning of one of the world’s oldest continuous-use calendars. :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    All that’s happening in December is that the current 13th bak’tun (a period of 144,000 days) will come to an end.

    We all freaked out over Y2K, so why shouldn’t we freak out over the Mayan equivalent?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I’ve also wondered at times about the “zOMGNOWAY!” reaction that happens whenever someone suggests Jesus might have been married.

    My thought is, if Jesus knew all along that he was going to die a gruesome death at age 33 or so, I can see why he might have not wanted to get married. I mean, who’d want to put someone you loved through that if you didn’t have to?

  • EllieMurasaki

    My thought is, if Jesus knew all along that he was going to die a gruesome death at age 33 or so, I can see why he might have not wanted to get married. I mean, who’d want to put someone you loved through that if you didn’t have to?

    No shortage of public-interest stories about people who were diagnosed with cancer and then married their significant other because the SO wouldn’t have it any other way, even if that did mean the SO would be burying a spouse soon thereafter. Not necessarily a valid comparison if Jesus always knew when he’d die, but did he always know? If not, when did he find out?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

     “No shortage of public-interest stories about people who were diagnosed
    with cancer and then married their significant other because the SO
    wouldn’t have it any other way, even if that did mean the SO would be
    burying a spouse soon thereafter.”

    That is true. I think if Jesus had actually fallen in love with someone, and vice versa, then they might have gotten married even knowing what would happen. But if he married simply because Jewish men were expected to, that’s where I could see the hesitation. Plus Jesus’ dying would have made his wife a widow, and being a widow (especially a young widow) wasn’t a fun thing to be back in that culture. He seemed like the kind of man who would worry about that sort of thing.

    If the account in the Gospels is to be believed, from near the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus seemed to know he would be killed, and soonish. He alludes to it fairly often. It doesn’t say if he knew the exact day and hour, or whether he knew before he started preaching, as far as I know.

  • Lori

    No shortage of public-interest stories about people who were diagnosed
    with cancer and then married their significant other because the SO
    wouldn’t have it any other way 

    Dying of cancer is not exactly the same as being executed by the state for stirring up trouble. Being the widow of that guy would likely not be a happy lot. If I cared enough about someone to want to marry him I’d also care about him enough not to publicly, legally tie him to that.

    Not necessarily a valid comparison if Jesus always knew when he’d die, but did he always know? If not, when did he find out? 

    The Bible doesn’t actually say. He either always knew or found out in the gap between age 12 and the age 30 that isn’t covered. (At least not in any of the standard books. If it’s in the Apocrypha I wouldn’t know.)

  • http://snarkthebold.blogspot.com/ Edo

    Not necessarily a valid comparison if Jesus always knew when he’d die, but did he always know?

    Honestly a good question, depending on what you think about kenosis and such…

    If not, when did he find out?

    Good Friday? *ducks thrown tomatos*

  • The_L1985

     I don’t know, the stuff about Gethsemane implies he at least knew by Holy Thursday.

  • Tricksterson

    He knew what yahweh wanted of him but he still thought there might be a chance to avoid it because the whole Gethsemane thing is him asking if it’s necessary or if there might be another way.

  • Jessica_R

    And see, the real reason I hope he wasn’t married is that I *hate* squished together couple names. It was bad enough when I saw it fandom, I think the world did in fact end when it spread to real life use. 

  • banancat

    It is wrong to ask why women allow men to treat them badly. There are many answers to that question but I won’t list a single one because it is the wrong question. When you ask that question, you are either implying that women are stupid, or that they are responsible for stopping men’s bad behavior. The question to ask is why men treat women badly, not why women “allow”them to do so.

  • vsm

    I disagree. Women staying with abusive men is a real phenomenon many of us will encounter in our lives. If a loved one is in such a relationship yet refuses to leave it, it will be better for people to know about it along with potential causes. If they don’t, they may not react at all well. Of course, care should be taken to discuss the matter in a way that doesn’t place blame on the victim.

  • banancat

    And what if your loved one is the abuser? Do you try to figure out how to make him stop? Instead of focusing on how to get victims to leave, we need to focus on how to get abusers to stop abusing. You can pretend to care about both but, amazingly, I only hear about the former and rarely the latter.

    It is also disingenuous when someone says “Gee, I just don’t understand why women do this” like it’s some baffling unexplained thing. People who say this likely haven’t even tried to understand, yet this is nearly always how I hear it and it comes across as saying “Gee, I just can’t understand how women could be stupid enough to let themselves be victims.” I don’t think I have ever seen someone bring it up in good faith with the goal of understanding better. It is always just a seemingly polite way to tell victims to just stop being victims. And it is counterproductive to the alleged goal of helping victims.

  • vsm

    Getting abusers to stop sounds like the better option, but how do you make sure it works and that their partner is safe during the process? I’ve known two women who had partners who beat them while drunk. One tried to help him stop drinking, but he kept falling off the wagon and continued his abusive behaviour. I don’t know how they’re doing these days, other than that they’re still together. The other woman left her partner and was never hit again, as far as I know.

    Trying to get abusers to stop is indeed a good idea, and not talked about nearly enough. We are often willing to write such men off as complete bastards, but where does that leave you? You can’t really shoot them or tattoo “abuser” on their forehead. The abusive men I knew were actually perfectly agreeable when sober.

    Even if we assume the question is always presented in bad faith, it can lead to valuable discussion and the asker learning something new. For instance, there have been rather good answers in this thread.

  • banancat

     We could start by putting abusers in prison where they can’t hit more victims, just like we do (or should do) with other kinds of assault.  We can also change the cultural narrative to make sure all men know that it’s not acceptable to abuse women.  When men find out that their male relatives, friends, and acquaintances are abusive, they can tell those men that their behavior is unacceptable.  We can work to dispel myths about abuse and why it happens.  There are plenty of things we can do while framing it around the person who is actually responsible.  It’s all well and good to help victims escape from abusive relationships, but if that’s what you focus on then the abuser will move on and find a new victim.  The best way to be supportive of victims is to place responsibility squarely where it belongs – on the abuser.  Did you happen to read the blog post that I linked to?  I don’t want to rehash all of it here, but if we ask questions that make victims feel ashamed or embarrassed, that is not helpful.

  • The_L1985

    “It’s all well and good to help victims escape from abusive
    relationships, but if that’s what you focus on then the abuser will move
    on and find a new victim.  The best way to be supportive of victims is
    to place responsibility squarely where it belongs – on the abuser.”

    Or we can do BOTH.  There is no law that says we can’t do BOTH.

  • banancat

    But we’ve been claiming to do both and focusing way too much on only one “side”. It’s like those rape prevention tips that focus on not being a victim because it is just pragmatic in the “real world” or whatever. Claiming to focus on both will tend to perpetuate the status quo, for the same reason that being an “equalist” will never be the same as being a feminist. We need to make a specific effort to focus on the abusers because that is not b being done yet.

  • The_L1985

    1. We are focusing on the abusers.  But you can never ignore the victim’s side of things because the fact that abuse has victims is what makes it a bad thing in the first place.

    2. Getting victims away from abusers is part of having justice done for abusers.   Finding out an abuse victim’s excuses for staying with the abuser can help you give that victim good advice, so he/she can leave the abuser behind.

    3.  Nobody is blaming the victim.  The faux-rape-prevention thing you mentioned is blaming the victim.  There’s a difference between “why didn’t you know this guy was abusive before you dated him?” and “Hey, she’s abusive.  Let’s help you get away from her.”*

    4.  When we give abuse victims the tools to help themselves out of that abusive situation, guess what?  The person who helped them knows who the abuser was! For that same reason, the person who helped the victim get out, can also help the victim press charges against his/her abuser!  I’m not sure how this is anything other than a win/win for society.

    “Claiming to focus on both will tend to perpetuate the status quo, for
    the same reason that being an “equalist” will never be the same as being
    a feminist.”

    No, for the reasons I gave above.  Also, feminism is about gender equality, so I’m not sure what you mean by this whole equalism thing.

    —————————–

    * Mixing up the genders here, because either gender can abuse either gender.

  • Daughter

     Terry Real is a therapist in the Boston area who used to specialize in helping male abusers change. He became well-known for the success of his work (and published a book about it: I Don’t Want to Talk About It).  He now does overall relationship counseling, so I don’t know if he has stopped working with male abusers.

    http://realadvice.typepad.com/realadvice/

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    The abusive men I knew were actually perfectly agreeable when sober.

    Very few abusers, in my experience, are only abusive when drunk.  The alcohol is usually just an excuse to be less subtle about it than usual.

  • The_L1985

    This.  Remember folks, emotional abuse is still abuse.

    If your SO cuts you down all the time and makes you feel like you’re not good enough or strong enough or whatever, then you are being emotionally abused.

    They don’t have to hit you to abuse you.

  • Lori

     

    And what if your loved one is the abuser? Do you try to figure out how to make him stop?  

    I did. And when he didn’t stop I A) stopped being his friend and B) let his wife know that if she ever needed me all she had to do was call. She never did, but several years later she did call someone else and made her escape.

    People who say this likely haven’t even tried to understand, 

    Some of us have. Some of have done so for a living.

    It is always just a seemingly polite way to tell victims to just stop
    being victims. And it is counterproductive to the alleged goal of
    helping victims. 

    Sometimes it’s an actually sincere and perfectly polite attempt to understand whether to woman wants to stay with the man and therefore really all you can do is be supportive in whatever way you can because she’s an adult and you can’t, and shouldn’t try to, make her choices for her. And if she doesn’t want to stay understanding why she hasn’t left can make it more likely that you can offer help that might actually be able to use.

    Yes, asking why some people are abusers and how to make them stop is critical, but the fact is that most abusers don’t stop so if that’s all you’re asking you are, in a way, writing off their victims.

  • VMink

    I always find myself going back to this blog post when running into the question of why women are with who they’re with. Maybe not 100% relevant, but at least tangentially.

  • The_L1985

     There’s also a Pervocracy post (about a year old; can’t look that blog up at work without people asking awkward questions) that i think is entitled “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” and also deals with this problem (mainly by pointing out actual reasons abused women have for not leaving their abusers).

  • banancat

    But this type of article isn’t as helpful as you think because it still assumes that women have to justify “letting” the abuse happen. It also assumes that people asking the question actually want to understand the answer.

  • The_L1985

     OK, let me explain.  The article says, “I know it’s hard to see an abuse victim in that situation, but it’s important to remember that abuse victims rationalize their suffering by [list of reasons] and that a strategy to help the victim out needs to bear in mind that those reasons/excuses exist.  This is why abuse victims need your help!”

    And…not all of those excuses are “I know I’m being abused, but XYZ means I’m afraid to get out.”  For example, one excuse is “It’s not really abuse because he/she hasn’t raped me/hit me/left a mark from hitting me.”  That’s a case where the victim refuses to admit being a victim, because abuse is something that happens to Other People, Not Me.

    Also, yes, some of the people who ask the question do, in fact, want to know the answer!  The others can go [expletive deleted].

  • The_L1985

    Also, when you say “letting the abuse happen,” do you mean “letting it begin happening in the first place,” or “allow the abuse to continue?”

    Because while people generally don’t know beforehand that someone’s going to abuse them, it requires serious rationalization to not recognize while it’s been going on that yes, the pain you’re going through is real and a Very Bad Thing.

  • nerdycellist

    Yeah, I’d really like more emphasis on Mary M, Apostle to the Apostles, rather than Mary M, positive or negative female stereotype. But as an occasional fanfic reader, there’s something deeply romantic about a marriage between two like-minds (I was going to say equals, but this would be the one instance where it would be untrue). Any road, if Jesus was indeed celibate, why don’t religious leaders go around calling him The Virgin Jesus, like they do with his mom? (rhetorical: because women are defined by their hymens. men are defined by whatever they want.)

  • KempsterMDJD

    The general role of post-apocalyptic dystopia in popular culture is close to unchallenged these days.  Plague, ecological destruction, ‘Blade Runner’ economics, aliens out of bellies, on and on:  a menacing future indeed.  When I was a kid, nuclear war, far and away.  But no balance today.  ‘Star Trek’ at least had an ambivalent but mostly positive take on an actual civil society, progressively inclusive and boldly going physically and scientifically; its day seems to have passed.  Dystopias seem to me no more inevitable than Radiant Futures; if this isn’t the best of all possible worlds, neither, surely, is it the worst…


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