How I spent this rainy day:
I have been doing some research into the origins of bible stories. I am finding the source material for the new testament and how and why Mark used Homers epics,(sometimes word for word-miracle by miracle) to tell the story of Jesus. It seems my research finds he also took freely from the,"old", testament as well.
This is no surprise when you consider that learning to write at the time required you to copy Homers works and translate them into Aramaic or simple Greek. Change a few names and places, add the trial and death of Jesus from Hector and Achilles, and presto...The gospels!
This was not enough for Mark, he wanted a big finish. The resurrection! Back to Homer's Odyssey and the Iliad and you've got it.
It gets a little dicey here. John, Luke, Matthew, Peter and company are making changes as they go about telling and re-telling the story. Peter wants to include non-Jewish believers into Christianity. John isn't hot on this idea and Matthew has been following yet a different path. What to do? They each write Marks story their own way, and leave it up to future scribes to sort out.
I believe in God and Jesus' message of hope and peace. I simply, always, seemed to find contradictions when reading the Bible. Now I know why. This does not diminish my faith in God, but strengthens my spiritual beliefs as a result of this discovery.
One basic theme in Jesus' sermon on the mount is tolerance. John's writings show little tolerance. It's not too hard to weed out the words and actions that are not in Jesus' character when reading John or Revelations.
Now, back to Mark. When he was reworking Homer, he wanted his hero to be more than Odysseus or Hector, so he gave Jesus supernatural powers. Where the Gods helped Odysseus, Mark has Jesus performing the miracles on his own. Mark takes a story of Elijah from the old testament and adds it to his story of Jesus; Instead of Elijah asking God to heal a child, Jesus heals the child himself.
Why would I do all this research? Why question the contents of the Holy Book? Because the Bible doesn't make sense.
Here's one of the things that troubled me from the time I was around 7 years old and studying for my first communion; Jesus believed strongly in the 10 commandments, particularly the second. Many times he is reported to say that he is a child of God and that one should only worship God the father. The second commandment clearly states that one should not worship, bow down to, or serve any but God. In addition, if I have been reading correctly, Jesus was very upset with priests and temples and the collecting of money. Christianity and the churches that promote it are doing exactly what God and Jesus tell us not to do. How do they bamboozle people into worshiping Jesus against His wishes? Just how wrong is it to collect money in Jesus' name? Are people really illiterate, dumb suckers that pay to hear blasphemy and corruption of God's Holy word?
Some of you may think I am oversimplifying some things, and you would be correct. If I didn't, you would not be reading this far.
So there I am, a 7 year old kid with a lot of questions. I ask nuns, teachers, preachers, doctors, other kids these kind of questions and not only do I not get answers, but they don't want anymore questions from me. Luckily, God gave me the gift of literacy and I could read and comprehend most anything ever written, even as a child. Finding books with the answers I sought was a little tough for a seven year old with a "kids" library card, so I got a card for the big peoples section. I soon found that not all libraries are equal especially when it comes to books on religion and philosophy. ( A couple of "different" libraries would be Oakland vs. Anaheim.) These days it's so much easier thanks to Google search and a curious mind. Just when I needed to find answers that could resolve the debate in my mind, God put this computer, this apartment, this time, the means, my friends and associates, all together at this moment where it becomes miraculously convenient.
The answers I wanted, I couldn't find in the catholic church. When I was 14, going to confession before my sisters wedding, I told the priest that I wasn't seeing any light or talking statues, or hearing God's thundering voice speaking to me. He suggested I look to other religions to find God. I wonder if he knew what he started?
If I were to name the most dangerous trait of religions it would be aggressive ignorance. A world of destruction has always accompanied those who slaughter each other in the name of their specific God. These unenlightened, tormented, acolytes will sanctimoniously kill you in the name of Jesus, George Bush, Bin Laden, Chairman Mao, or any, (second commandment breaking), idolatry they follow.
How can this be? How can world leaders manipulate the masses to kill one another in wars to control the worlds resources? EASY!
9 out of 10 religious people are illiterate. They might be able to read a comic book or a magazine but they sure as hell can't read the Bible or the Koran with any comprehension. If they could actually read these books, they would know what they are doing is against Gods' wishes.
Maybe we can reduce our part in this very expensive global destruction if our next president can read, and speak in complete sentences. Someone familiar with world history and customs would be a refreshing change in the white house. Someone who could ask the automakers to stop selling cars and trucks that put a strain on our limited supply of petroleum. You know, someone with intelligence.
Just one more thing: The new dollar coin does not have,"In God we trust", on it. One of my religious friends sent me an e-mail urging people to boycott this coin. They evidently didn't read their bible; "Give unto Caesar what is Caesars', give unto God what is Gods'. " We shouldn't have Gods' name on money to begin with!