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Saturday, April 8

Some More Blonde Sense

How cool is it that the Gospel of Judas was hiding in a safe deposit box at Citibank in Hicksville, Long Island, just minutes from where I live? It came from Egypt, along the Nile where it was discovered in the 1970's. It traveled around the world and ended up right here under our noses crumbling and deteriorating in a vault.

It's been quite interesting to read what various clergy-people make of the discovery of the Judas Gospel. Some are horrified by it and consider it blasphemy while others welcome the proof that there many different types of Christianity were being practiced in earlier times. Not all clergy are biblical scholars though and they only know what was taught to them. I tend to go with the scholars although you have to be wary of who is really a scholar these days because apparently anyone can write a book and even fundies have special fundie colleges teaching god only knows what.

Early Christians known as Gnostics (meaning "knowing") practiced a more mystical, new age-y sort of religion. When I learned about Catholic saints, many of them also experienced deeply profound mystical visions. Gnosticism was dismissed as heresy by the early church patriarchs thus many ancient scrolls were tossed when the bible was being compiled by powerful men. How wonderful it is that these scrolls are being unearthed and bring new light to early Christianity. Personally, I like the Gnostic gospels. I don't find them terribly at odds with the 4 gospels of the accepted bible if you study carefully the teachings and parables of Jesus.

Jesus taught things that were hard to grasp in the form of parables. Commonly the parables likened the kingdom of heaven to something on earth... but not exactly. Jesus explained in mysterious ways how justice in the afterlife is not the same as earthly justice. Most of these concepts are too hard to explain in worldly speak. It was also common in those times since information was passed on orally to make knowledge into a story that was easy to remember. The gospels were written based on oral traditions. Many early Christians also believed that Jesus' loving forgiving God was a different God than the angry vengeful God of the Jews.

Some say that Gnostics were a strange sect and weren't part of the mainstream. Some say the Gnostics had an axe to grind. Why not consider that the early church patriarchs had an axe to grind? They insisted that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute despite there being no evidence in any scriptures to support that theory. In fact, the Gospel Of Mary Magdalene asserts quite the opposite notion and is also at the heart of the Dan Brown DaVinci Code debate. I didn't learn about the missing scriptures very much in the seminary, but what I did learn about modern biblical and theological scholarship goes along with the Gnostic gospels pretty well-- that is, God is within us all and the kingdom is here already.

In my opionion it's quite likely that Jesus and Judas had a plan as per the Gospel Of Judas. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the gospel story will be read in churches across the world about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Contemporary theologians mostly agree that Jesus knew what fate would befall him when he rode into town that day despite the throngs of disciples joyously waving palms at him. Jesus had a choice at that moment to change his fate. He wasn't handcuffed to the donkey.

If Jesus knew intrinsically that he was a special messenger and that he was to fulfill a divine plan, and didn't turn around and high tail it to another city to save himself, then why is it impossible to believe that Judas was also part of the divine plan? If Jesus didn't ride into town that day, if Judas didn't betray him days later and turn him over to the Romans and he didn't suffer, die and rise again, we wouldn't even have Christianity today. Jesus would go down in history (if that) as a great rabbi, but not the Christ.

The whole point of Christianity is the resurrection - the hope for everlasting life- a life beyond this one. And don't we all hope for something better?

The great commandment of Christianity and of all religions is to love another as you love yourself. There wouldn't be a need for any other laws if people knew how to truly love and stop getting hung up on rules. God, the higher power, the universe, the creator, the force, whatever you call it wants us to look out for each other. That's the point of almost any holy book including the Bible.

One of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question, testing him. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Matthew 22:34-40

One student asked me, "How do I love God with all my heart and soul and mind? I mean, what do I do?" I answered, "You must love all of creation."

Rabbi Hillel was reportedly asked by someone to explain Judaism while standing on one foot. Hillel replied "What you find hateful, do not do to another. This is the essence of the Law. Everything else is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 3id

"Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state." Analects 12:2, Confucianism

"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5,1, Buddhism

"This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you." Mahabharata 5,1517, Hinduism

"No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." Sunnah, Islam

"Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss." Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien, Taoism

"That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself." Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5, Zoroastrianism

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