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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Iraqi superbaptists.

"Water is everything to the Sabaean Mandeans, who are baptized and married in it, and receive their last rites by the river's edge." They're John the Baptist's followers in Iraq. ("Tiny sect fearful, hopeful in Iraq." Paul Haven [AP]. Boston Globe 7.22.03.)

Jesus and the facts.

Alex Beam says Mel Gibson's upcoming superliteral Jesus movie isn't just offensive. It's missing the whole point — just like the Jesus Seminar!

What is striking about the literal-minded scholars of the Jesus Seminar is how irrelevant their findings have been. I attended church when they began their work. I — and millions like me — am attending church now that they have finished. Do you think I am surprised to learn that some question the story of the virgin birth? Or, more astonishing still, that some doubt Jesus walked on water?

What these people don't understand, what Mel Gibson and his ilk don't understand, is that the literal truth of Jesus' story isn't what animates Christian belief. Many of us are awed by the figurative beauty of a story that created a system of values and beliefs that has survived for 2,000 years and has a reasonable possibility of surviving even Italian vamp Monica Bellucci's depiction of Mary Magdalene in Gibson's vanity outing.

The most meaningful words I have ever read on this subject come from Albert Schweitzer's 1906 book, ''The Quest of the Historical Jesus.'' Reviewing almost three centuries of efforts by scholars and laypeople to make Jesus ''real'' for their time, Schweitzer concluded that the effort was for naught. ''He does not stay; He passes by our time and returns to His own,'' Schweitzer wrote. ''The mistake was to suppose that Jesus could come to mean more to our time by entering into it as a man like ourselves.'' ("Is Mel Gibson's film passion for Jesus misplaced?" Boston Globe 7.22.03.)

John Winthrop, moderate puritan.

A new biography of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony says: "Winthrop, then 42, a country lawyer and lay leader of a 'puritan' congregation, was a political moderate among religious zealots, an advocate of 'unity rather than uniformity,' perhaps the one man who 'could keep the colony from fragmenting' when it was threatened by a polarizing dispute." ("Bringing a colonial beacon to light." Michael Kenney. Boston Globe 7.22.03.)

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 22 July 2003 at 1:06 PM

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