Thursday, April 28, 2011

833. I'm p.o.'d!

Never thought I would say this, but I'm passioned-out.

It's not quite what you think. Allow me to explain:

I'm taking a class called "Bible in Film", and we are currently focusing on Jesus' Passion (his suffering and death). A recent assignment required us to document the chronological account of the Passion as it appears in each of the four Gospels of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). It sounded easy enough, but there are many details in each Passion account that you don't realize until you actually sit down and make note of them.

After slightly more than 15 single-spaced typed pages and I-don't-care-to-know-how-many hours, I felt badly that I didn't think to offer up my suffering, something Catholics1,2 do as a charitable act.

Stiff neck and shoulders aside, it was a fun and interesting exercise that resulted in a cool class discussion. The Gospel accounts aren't identical, and people have interesting interpretations as to why this is so. In my pre-conversion days, or prior to 2.5 years ago, I would have said that the reason the stories don't jibe is because they are untrue. Now I think the fact that they are different, is remarkable.

A common theory about the Bible is that a bunch of men, with unholy agendas, got together and decided which stories would go in the Bible and which would be tossed into the fire. I'm not going to go into a discussion about the Bible creation process now, because my point is something else. Let's say that theory is right: A bunch of men with power decided which stories would go into the Bible for reason "x". (I won't address the issue of motives here either.)

Well, if that were true, why didn't the men leave out Luke and John, since Matthew and Mark are synoptical? Throwing in Luke is the equivalent of throwing a monkey wrench at two pretty much straightforward noncontradictory accounts; and John, a barrel of mystical monkeys.

I can hear the counter-argument now: That was the evil-genius of their plan! Everybody knows that no two people will give the exact same testimony about any given event; so, they included them to make the whole Jesus story sound more believable. Why didn't they include the other gospels, like the Gospel of Judas then? Or the Gospel of Mary?

In addition to a "whoa there, fella, too many questions!" response, I would ask, Why didn't they just put either Luke or John in? Why both? Either one of those would have had the same affect. If these men had so much power, influence, and less-than-noble intentions as people claim, why didn't they do what the Jewish people did with their Torah (coming from the counter-agruer position that religious books are merely creations of man with no divine influence), that is, throw in books in which the same story isn't told twice, but referenced in other books?


No, it's not that I imagined I've won this imaginary debate... yet. I'm just tabling it for now, because I'm passioned-out and have got to go to bed.

Questions? Comments? Typos? Tic-Tac-Toe? I'd love to hear from you...3
1 The idea is to "offer up" to God something you are suffering with or through for the sake of somebody else. As Father James Kubicki said in an interview at the National Catholic Register, "if we encounter a pain or frustration or hardship of any kind to make an offering of that to the Lord and in that way, join it to the cross... the pain and frustration that we go through then acquires an eternal significance and meaning because it’s working for the salvation of souls..."

2 I've given it some more thought and realized it is never to late to offer any suffering up. Why? Well, God existed before the creation of time, and also exists outside of it. So, it follows that when we offer something up, it is no longer bound by time. Besides that, we're talking about God here; what can't the big Guy beyond the sky do?

3 Unless you are going to call me stupid, and then in that case I ask you to at least do the courtesy of sending chocolate, milk or white chocolate. (I know. I know. It's not real chocolate.)

My 1st x is in the middle square; your move.


Ken Houghton said...

O in the upper right corner.

Concentrating on the torture ("passion") is like judging a 4-star meal based on the salad having the right amount of carmelized onions.

Until you get to "forgive them, L-rd, they know not what they've done" (Jimmy Cliff's Gospel improvement), there is about as much claim to validity as a new religion as there is viability of the verses of "Dayenu." ("If you had let us drown, it would have been enough."--oh, really?)

The Maiming of the Christ is only interesting to the extent that Forgiveness is offered following it. Otherwise, the Rabbi on the Cross might as well be Barabas. (Note, for instance, that Matthew does not have the thief-deathbed-conversion.)

tinyhands said...

I was born and raised Catholic so by definition I know very little about the Bible and am in no position to debate it.

Janelle Renee said...

Hi Ken! Nice to be back and see your thought provoking comments.

I respectfully disagree, though. To me, the Passion is the 4-star meal, with dessert (chocolate fondue, to be exact!). The suffering of Christ is imbued with more meaning than just forgiveness. God sacrificed himself/his son as the ultimate sacrifice (to do away with humans offering sacrifices). We weren't understanding the deeper meaning of "sacrifice"--that it is something done out of love (not obligation), something done only with true contrition (as opposed to the unthinking/non-reflection action equivalent to "just serving out my time"). Also, what I get out of it is similar to the #1 noble truth in Buddhist thought: life is suffering. It's not the suffering/torturing that is important, but rather how we deal with it. There is so much more to say about this, and I will! :)

Janelle Renee said...

Hey Tiny Hands! I'm still interested to hear your thoughts, if you want to share.