Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When The Idiots Are On Your Side

Once again, the lunatic fringe is on my side where religion is concerned. And I wish they were on the other side. The mounting brouhaha over the upcoming documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” on the Discovery Channel is a continuation of the furor caused by “The Da Vinci Code”. I absolutely agree with the premise of that book about Jesus of Nazareth’s private life and I absolutely believe everything in the book about the Roman Catholic Church’s cult, Opus Dei. And yet, Dan Brown is such a bad writer that he turned the main plot and silly subplot into one extended yawn. The executive producer of the Discovery Channel’s documentary is “Titanic” director, James Cameron. A more self-serving, egomanical asshole never existed. This morning, the New York Times quotes Cameron saying he had been “trepidatious” about getting involved in the Discovery Channel project. However, the NYT says, Cameron claims he got into it, “out of a great passion for a good detective story,” and not to offend or cash in. Boloney! James Cameron doesn’t do anything not to cash in. And even though it well may be true that this time his motives are pure as the driven snow, his behavior in the past casts doubt on his actions in the present. The documentary’s director, Simcha Jacobovici, is an Israeli-born Canadian who has some impressive documentaries in his resume. (The Exodus Decoded, Deadly Currents, James: Brother of Jesus, to mention a few.) But when asked why certain DNA testing had not been done on the burial boxes claimed to have contained the Jesus family's bones, he said, “We’re not scientists. At the end of the day we can’t wait till every ossuary is tested for DNA…We took the story that far. At some point you have to say, ‘I’ve done my job as a journalist.’ ” Or, put another way, at some point you have to say, Let’s cash in now. The story is that in 1980 an area in the East Talpivot neighborhood of Jerusalem was being excavated in order to build a new building. Ten burial boxes were found in a tomb at the site. Six of them had inscriptions. All archaeologists agree that there is no possibility the inscriptions were forged because they were catalogued and kept in storage in the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Discovery Channel documentary claims that the crypt contained the bones of Jesus of Nazareth and that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a son, named Judah, and that all three were buried together. Of course, if true, these claims would mean that Jesus did not rise from the dead but stayed buried in his crypt like any other normal mortal man. Which, of course, is a big problem for the Christian religion. To call yourself a card-carrying Christian you have to believe in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Since I have no belief that Jesus rose from the dead or that Jesus is God, I have no problem with the idea that Jesus was a really good man who was married, had children and was crucified because he challenged the Jewish beliefs of the time. I have no problem with the ideas posited by “The DaVinci Code”. And I have no problem with the ideas posited by “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”. I have a problem with the guys putting forth these ideas. I don’t think they’ve been thorough or responsible, or honorable or creditable. But I have to say, I am not hoping that undeniable proof comes along to further my personal convictions. I believe that having proof that the whole Christian religion is based on fraud would be a tremendous disaster for the entire world. The Discovery Channel documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" will be presented on March 4th at 9:00 PM.


Barry Schwartz said...

Learning in high school that the Pharaoh's buildings were built by Egyptians may have helped set me on a course towards atheism, but Judaism has not disbanded or even printed a disclaimer on Torahs and Haggadahs. So this latest thing is no big deal for Christianity, though it would matter a bit to atheism.

gmanedit said...

Since the complete lack of contemporary accounts of the miracle worker/rabblerouser indicate that no such person existed, i don't have a horse in this race.

And "based on fraud" doesn't seem to have hurt Mormonism or Scientology.