Easter Rant 2009

April 13, 2009 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

This Easter season has been interesting. There have been lots of television shows with a religious theme to choose from. Some years in the past there wasn’t too much choice and when there was it was all pretty much ‘that good ‘ol time religion’ stuff.

This year I was surprised to see programs with a progressive theme to them. They either challenged old thought or examined new directions; one even found scholars dissecting Tom Harpur and Tom defending his contention regarding the origin and story of Christianity and Jesus. A number of shows dealt with explaining various traditional aspects of Christianity and the Easter story. Of course there were others dealing with the mystery of the Bible.

However, one show in particular amazed me. It was titled “Jesus: The Lost Years.” Years ago, John Prine, wrote a song by a similar name, “Jesus The Missing Years” and I hoped this program was of that nature. Prine postulated that Jesus took off when he was thirteen and went to France, Spain and Rome. He got himself an Irish wife and did a lot of drinking beer and wine and had some amazing adventures. I was entertained by the irreverence of that song but still, it made me wonder, “What did Jesus do all those years?” When I first heard that Prine tune, my journey was at its primary stage and, at that time, I was of the opinion that Jesus just hung around Nazareth being a carpenter with his family until one day he kinda wandered off to begin his ministry. As my journey progressed and my viewpoint changed, I discovered a theory that Jesus’ had disappeared to live with the Essene’s until he felt the call to return to secular Israel and teach. I liked that theory; however, it was another premise that came down the pike a short time thereafter that resounded with me even more. This one postulated that Jesus had gone to Egypt to study with a group there (their name escapes me … possibly the Gnostics). Their teachings were very similar to the teachings Jesus eventually proclaimed throughout Israel. This theory appealed to me. It placed Jesus in a location where Oriental, Egyptian and Hebrew influences came together. For me, it gave a new meaning to “Out of Egypt have I called my son” which Matthew stated as a prophecy when he quoted that historical statement of Hosea. It wasn’t the child Jesus, but the adult Jesus who was called out of Egypt. I am still anxious to get further input on this stage of Jesus’ life.

That’s what I was hoping for when I saw the program titled “Jesus: The Lost Years” in the listings. However, it turned out to be an exploration of the ‘lost years’ when the Holy Family escaped to Egypt after Jesus’ birth. Western Christianity glosses over this period but the Coptic Church is rife with stories (oral and written) along with relics to support the contention that the Holy Family actually journeyed around the delta region of Egypt and then up the Nile during those ‘Lost Years’.

As the stories unfolded, I was horrified. What utter crap! What garbage! The stories and relics were incredulous to me. Some are:

·        On their journey through the desert, the Holy Family was accosted by two thieves. Magically the thieves realized that the child of the family was the Messiah and they backed away asking forgiveness. Three year old Jesus told his mother that these two men would hang on either side of him when he was on the cross.

·        At one place the family stayed (Oxyrynchus I think it was) there was a school. Mom and Dad signed Jesus up, but after his first day there the headmaster took the parents aside and said the (three year old) child was already smarter than anyone there and he had no need to come back so the family left.

·        There was a story about a tree bending over at this location as well to give Mary shade, food and water.

·        At another location where the family was supposed to have stayed, a church was built and, in the 1960’s, a ghostly vision of Mary appeared on the dome of this church for a number of days. This has been well witnessed and documented.

·        There is a stone relic in another church with a small footprint in it. It is supposed to be that of Jesus and is consistent with that of an eight year old boy. (How could the child Jesus make such a footprint in rock? I don’t know.)

·        One church boasted a tunnel where the Holy Family was said to have escaped Herod’s pursuers. There is no mention of why this tunnel existed but I got the impression it was in the middle of nowhere although it had to have gone under a wall or something and I assume a church was built on top of it.

I won’t rant on, other than to say that people have been swallowing this hysteric junk for too long. I must also emphasize that these stories are from the Coptic Church, which belongs to the Egyptian (Oriental) Orthodox Church, not the Western Church. The Oriental Orthodox church split away after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD following a dispute over their Christology. I don’t wonder why.

I am still anxious to learn about Jesus in those missing years between thirteen and thirty. I know that one day my path will lead me there.

Next week I want to tell you about my Easter epiphany.

Peace

Dave   

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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