this one’s gift-wrapped for all my fundamentalist friends out there…

  a slightly out of sequence podcast, but it took me a couple weeks to edit down to something reasonable, wherein we examine the mania for true facts and the mistaken belief that this is always a good thing.

 And by way of illustration we bump that up against some recent research I’ve been doing into christian scholarship, and we can look forward to delighting our dispensationalist friends with a bunch of things that they probably won’t understand, but it’s probably better that they don’t, anyway. That’s how we got into this mess.

 and therein lies the point…

podcast page here

Direct download: TME2.7-its_just_a_myth.mp3

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15 thoughts on “The Mosaic Effect: season 2,episode 7: it’s just a myth

  1. When examined closely all culture is a fabrication.

    I think that I am coming to the realisation lately that life can be lived at different resolutions. If you are always disecting and deconstructing the cultural forms around you then you miss a lot of interesting and fun experience, like if you look too closely at the computer screen all you see are the pixels and not the beatuiful picture of a sunset that is on the screen.

    The trick is to find a middle ground, to not get completely swept up in consumerist, spectacle, narrow minded cultural views but still being able to converse with the man on the street as an equal.

    Culture as we know is just the evolved remnants of millions of competing memes, from Hellenic to Platonic, Buddhist and Materialist.

    Really big, deep podcast Zac, hard to leave a consise comment about that takes it all in.

  2. Regarding the editing of truth, I can’t help relating it to the movie memento. The lead character deliberately edits the truth to give his life meaning.

  3. yeah, that’s one movie I’d definitely do a podcast on. remind me when I start doing popculture type shows again. I have ideas for that, Dune, superman returns, southland tales, and probably BSG when I get farther into it ( i just started renting it in the last month or so) among others…

  4. Zac – glad I came back to this to listen all the way through. To use the old adage “The Truth Hurts.” I will over look all but the most egregious inaccuracies in this crucial podcast to accept your basic thesis: foundations of certain dogmatic constructs are weak, flawed and some entirely without merit. Yet truth persists and *IS* a defining characteristic in humanity’s evolution. Your existence attests to this, otherwise you are soooo wasting your time … and ours 😉

    On to xtian/church history, which is (or was once) my forte: first off it does a great disservice to such truth-seeking efforts, to have certain facts so far off base. I appreciate your wide-scope acumen, but you didnt do you homework on this methinks. Unless you’re enjoying some o’ dat old time parallelism, categorizing Jesus as a “greek” Stoic is simply false, while I agree his teachings “share” certain similarities. Just as Platonic philosophy, or more accurately Neo-platonism, cannot define all of historical catholic/orthodox teaching (but a lot!).

    Despite grievous historical sidetracks, the simple existence, survival and continuation of the Judeo-Christian form is not without ponderous significance (any Mithras worshipers out there?). It’s quite a “miracle” actually. True, there’s scientific uncertainty in all its hows and whats, but there is a case that claims the oldest extant portions of xtian scriptures inductively lends to credible authenticity. Paul – who definitely DID have contact with the apostles (and an undeniably amazing conversion story) – and to a similar extent Jesus, was firmly rooted in Jewish rabbinical tradition, yet share what we do now, today, a pluralistic world at the crossroads of great potential such as the Roman-hellenistic world of the Levant could provide in their day. The road was/is now open, with a nice mix of blended streams. Still Paul and J had to be rigorous in maintaining the Jewish bottom line

    Sidetrack of interest – back in the day heard a wonderfully unique teaching from a jewish christian pastor. Dispensationally speaking, he related the 4 great threads of the (judeo) Christian church foundations, which built in succession, were lost, and recovering in opposite sequence: 1)Hebraic roots and world view 2)Charisma – supernatural gifts and graces, 3) mission of evangelism, 4) development and disbursal of canon. Once Gutenburg and Wycliffe spead the word to the masses, the reformation/counter reformation began ideas of providence (leading to manifest destiny); today the charismatic and messianic revivals.

    Ok – nevertheless, the true gospel (good news) is out there, and NOT fully co-opted by one Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Too many checks and balances there, esp with the eastern orthodox tradition which runs counter to neoplatonism, but yes, “we” of western ilk are more influenced by the latter.

    It’s useless to deny that Jesus was a revolutionary who elevated “love” beyond what Buddha’s compassion, or Zoroaster’s “confucian” take had done before. I have some other interesting tales to tell of my own, but suffice to say Love’s essence and command has managed to survive in Jesus’ sayings blatantly so.

    Ironically blatant, yet not obvious. It wasn’t until I left my service to the church that it coalesced and became clear to me – similar to Paul, as “scales fell from my eyes.”

    The historical and modern problem with the Church is not so much doctrinally as organizationally. The individual member with great intent of purpose seeks a relationship with the truth, but group-think and misplaced skepticism thwarts the deal – how can faith grow when it’s at odds with itself? (rhetorical) This extends to all religion of either established institution, or the thought forms utilized by any creed (pagans and self-styled majickles) – JUST as you say regarding belief systems in general. One reaches a point of comfort then shuts down.

    Still I look in awe at the startling sweep of growth and destruction historically employed by the marriage of “reformed” protestant Churchianity with industry and capitalism. A heady 400 yr old brew indeed! No wonder this “modern” blend has been so attractive and influential. Erk. This is the real spiritual/cultural lesson we deal with today I suggest, NOT the ancient catholic or byzantine problems.

    To the wider view, better to marry the ideas of Truth with Love. Without love, truth is too hard to bear, as you suggest – chaotic and destructive. Without truth, love cannot grow or have purpose.

    Thanks again for your efforts. Keep up the good and never give up!

  5. My understanding is that Paul had minimal exposure to the apostles besides actively persecuting them, and after his ‘conversion’ he more less ignored what he did know about them, in that he puts forth a number of doctrinal interpretations that appear nowhere else.

    I’m not sure how one can really say anything authoritative about the historical jesus that doesn’t rest on sound scholarship, and the scholarship seems to lead one to believe that what we have of jesus actual words is pretty clearly Hellenistic philosophy. The archeology also shows us that the region he lived and preached in was not jewish, but rather, again, Hellenistic.

    The received version of jesus is mostly a palimpsest of many intersecting factors, which has it’s own merit, as myth, separate from whether or not he actually existed the way we think he did. But if you take away the resurrection, and the clearly literary constructions, then you don’t have much left besides the Greek stuff.

    but feel free to watch this, which is a decent overall summary:

    http://youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BED0FEB98B77AC70

  6. @Whatacharacter:

    ‘On to xtian/church history, which is (or was once) my forte…’

    ‘Paul, who definitely DID have contact with the apostles (and an undeniably amazing conversion story)..’

    As you are no doubt familiar with the bible, I am curious as to why you believe Paul had an amazing conversion. Do you not find it strange that Paul NEVER mentions his ‘conversion experience’, not once? There is only one reference found in Luke, which as you well know was written a long time after the Paul material. For someone who actively promoted christianity, and held forth on the subject many times, is it not a little fishy that he forgot to mention such a stupendous event – his own personal direct experience of the Lord Himself? Could it be that who ever wrote Luke added an extra element to the Paul story so as to perpetuate a belief?

  7. I wish Grimes would document things more directly from sources, rather than make claims like “Jesus was a cynic, Gallilee was a Hellenic city, here are some tangential quotes, QED”. I also think seeing Christianity, even in its earliest form, as a “Hellenic” Platonic construction is limited. The Gospel of Thomas clearly has an esoteric, pantheist component that isn’t necessarily Neoplatonic. Likewise, the Evangelists contain plenty of apocalypticism and reference to struggles in the early First Century communities. Jesus references these, even referring to the weirdos holed up in the Qumran caves.

    That, and Stoic and Cynic thought didn’t disappear by Constantine’s writ. The Scholastics were referencing that stuff well into the Middle Ages, and the Brits couldn’t get enough of teaching the Classics even in the early modern era, which was practically a Pagan revival via Christian Humanism.

    I don’t see Paul’s conversion as extraordinary. He was strident and rigorous in his defense of Judaism, and after his conversion was strident and rigorous in proselytizing the Gentiles. He changed teams, but it’s not the first time that happened in history.

    Likewise, when you consider how “globalized” the Mediterranean was for at least the time of Alexander to Constantine, sorting out which school was which is a crapshoot, considering you had Zoroastrians burning eternal flames across the street from Indians in ochre robes in Greece, Egypt and Palestine.

  8. well, I think the point that Grimes is trying to make is that the “q” material can be strongly interpreted as greek stoic/cynic, but that the apostles took that in some cases, or not, and developed their own theses from the starting place of the historical figure of jesus. the various apostles may or may not have known him, been greek, been jewish, who the hell knows… but the fact that a number of them were quoting some secondary source document, implies that they may not have even had any primary knowledge to begin with.

  9. There’s no doubt about the Evangelists quoting secondary sources at all.

    In any case, it is frustrating that we have to have a “secret history” of thought where the sources of the ethics of the past 2500 years are obscured to the public even when they’ve had such a potent impact…. you’d think in this day and age of MySpace and text messaging and internet sensations like “The God Who Wasn’t There” or Alex Jones, people might begin asking themselves serious questions in public even, but then again, maybe that is an old linear-perspective artifact. But then again, asking serious questions implies an openness to change and self-examination and re-direction.

  10. @Alan “Amazing …story!” nuff said! … tho’ the idea a conservative pharisee takes on the mantle of his antithesis practically single-handed is as amazing as the jewish religion surviving 2 temple destructions, or christianity converting the roman empire … yes, strange things DO happen. Paul actual DOES mention being “caught up into the third heaven,” and makes other allusions. You assume Paul’s collection of preserved letters equals a complete biographical account. Would we know everything about you by taking a random sample of your emails?
    Draw your own conclusions …

    Thanks Zac – I’ll check that out. As long as we understand that calling a culture/region then “hellenized” is like saying any of today are “americanized.” It is not exclusive or regardless of the basic culture. Jewish identity canNOT be discounted – it is very strong and tenacious and at the basis of Jesus’ theology – as such the veracity and changeless quality of the dead sea scrolls attest.

    I’m happy to take a stripped down essence of the “jesus sayings” anyday, in an existential phenomenological kinda way …

    Few acutely persevere enough to see the profound wisdom therein by reading and ruminating source material itself. So much Baby/bathwater tossing … it’s as if a mindless agenda takes over.

  11. That video series was really wonderful!! It reawakens a certain mental fervor I enjoyed when taking all those college courses on comp religion and philosophy (plus years of solo hobby)!

    I’d nitpick the sweeping conclusions he makes painted with broad strokes (at least he’s not dogmatic about it – but one point of note was that it was NOT a “Hellenistic revival” as much then, as the Romanization of culture “the Great copiers” of classical values. By his argument one could also paint the 15th c. Renaissance as “hellenistic” you see?), but aside from excluding the potent jewish communal fervor alive at that time, to the detriment of the whole argument, I agree with the basic conclusion:

    Any and all believers need to balance a personal faith, with a rational skepticism, and never give up thinking, and looking deeper into it – unpalatable paradoxes and all.

    Two new angles which opened up for me are considering Paul more “hellenistic” proportionally (which allowed his great inroads into the empire.) and a better assessment between the community culture of Judaism with the personal credos of neo-platonism. Parallel that with the monotheistic beliefs of the former and the deistic models of the latter. Where does Jesus fall in line here do you think?

    A better understanding of the “formation” of scripture is needed here as well. In a growing literate society, MANY things were written about Jesus, by MANY diff people, with diff angles. These exchanged hands at an incredible rate, and much like today’s society, the scraps of info were copied, intergated and passed on … centuries worth.

    Jesus is credited with writing ONE THING – in the sand. Such is all textual criticism today- it’s futile to know. But possible to arrive at the “essence.”

    Haha I wonder if Plotinus ever got into critical discussions of the philosophy of Socrates??

    “No No! We can know nothing of the real man – he left no works – it’s only through the eyes of Plato! That talk of Atlantis obvious later additions!” ROFL!

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