Question For The Faithful

Q: Why Was Jesus’ Tomb Empty”

A: Because Jesus Was Never In A Tomb

I recently watched a YouTube video by Paulogia, a former Christian now fighting the good fight against the enemies of reason, rationale, and science.  In it Paulogia was replying to challenges made by three Christian apologists; Mike Winger, Red Pen Logic, and InspiringPhilosphy to the argument as to whether Jesus’ body ever made it into a tomb.  Now I am not a Bible scholar, nor am I a historian per se, but I have been reading and researching Christianity and Christian history for some 30 odd years or so and I do not believe you have to be a Bible scholar to weigh in on such religious claims.  This topic in particular lends itself to enough reason as to conclude that Jesus was never in a tomb to begin with not only entirely plausible but highly likely.

Remember that when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival the Romans were already on high alert.  The Jews of the 1st century were always hostile to the occupation of the Romans, complete with their standards depicting their Caesars as divinities and, sometimes in an act of pure provocation, even putting them in the Temple. Never were the Romans more ready for riot and disorderliness than during the high festivals such as Passover. And the Galilee, specifically where Jesus came from, was considered nothing less than a hotbed of sedition and rebellion. Pontius Pilate, who under normal circumstances would have resided in Caesarea in the splendor and comfort of his palace, made it a point to be in Jerusalem for the Passover feast in order to quash any potential unruliness or rioting that may have broken out.  Keep in mind that when Jesus entered the city it was – supposedly – to an enthralled crowd of thousands of Jews screaming “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 21:9) This would have already aroused the suspicion of the Roman troops in the area as the crowds were essentially pleading with Jesus to save them from their plight under Roman rule. “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking “Who is this?” The crowds were saying “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Mark 21:10).  This could be seen as bad enough however Jesus immediately enters the Temple and proceeds to turn the tables and cause even more commotion, this time violently.

Now Pontius Pilate was already known as a particularly cruel and brutal governor (or procurator, as his Roman title was) and had already been involved with – or the cause of – a number of particularly brutal episodes with Jewish crowds where hundreds or even thousands of Jews were slaughtered by Roman troops.  He is referred to as such by Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria as well as other contemporaneous authors however the Gospels gradually turn Pilate from the sole pronouncer of the death sentence on Jesus (Mark) to a milquetoast forced by the Jews to pass sentence on an innocent man or face the wrath of the Emperor, Tiberius. This is where the Gospels writers turn the tables from the Romans to the Jews as the purveyors of deicide and thus begins a two-thousand-year history of antisemitism and violence against Jews.  It is much more conceivable – and likely – that having referred to himself as the King of the Jews, a very specific crime of sedition, Pilate sentenced Jesus to death, had him scourged and crucified, without even a morsal of remorse. He wouldn’t have had lost a moment of sleep over sentencing a rebellious Jew, instigator of turbulence and potential rioting, or had given it another thought.  It is also highly likely, given his demeanor as described by the contemporaneous authors previously cited, that he would have allowed Jesus’ body to be removed from the cross.

We do know that there were instances where victims of crucifixion were allowed to be taken down and buried according to Jewish law or custom and this was Paulogia’s original comment on his Twitter blog.  However, in most instances, this is not the case. One of the principal reasons and desired effects of the sentence of crucifixion was specifically for the public at large to see the effects of defying the Romans or causing mayhem or disorder. The site of a decaying corpse – being eaten by birds, dogs, literally falling off the cross – was the very best illustration that this could be YOU.  Jesus, as a seditionist, rebellious instigator of Roman rule, and by declaring himself to be the “King of the Jews”, as inscribed in three languages on the titulus over his head confirms, it is extremely unlikely – and in my opinion, highly improbable – that his body would have ever been taken down.  He simply would have decomposed until his bones were on the ground, then tossed into a common grave for such victims.

Now let’s dispel some of the more highly unlikely occurrences at this point in the passion narrative. First let’s dispense with the myth of Pilate releasing a prisoner as a Roman “tradition” (Mark 15:6). Besides the fact that there is absolutely no historical evidence of such a tradition in either Rome or Israel should close this loop once and for all however for the chosen subject for such clemency to be an acknowledged murderer and seditionist carries the story into the realm of fantasy. “Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection.” (Mark 15:7) In my hometown of Brooklyn, NY, we have a colloquial saying for such a story: “no f’n way, not in a million years!” I think it serves us well here as the chances of Pilate, in his infinite brutality, releasing a murderer of Roman soldiers or citizens is just beyond what any reasonable mind can absorb.  This simply never happened. It is nothing more than a device used to put the blame of Jesus’ death on the Jews and away from the Romans. “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves. Then the people as a whole answered “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt 27:24-25)

 Mission accomplished.

Next the idea that “Joseph of Arimathea”, literally synthesized out of thin air sashayes onto the scene as a “friend” of Pilates and walks off with Jesus’ body only hours after his death is simply inconceivable. As previously stated, this is out of the question; Pilate lets one seditionist go (Barabbas) and another to be taken down from the cross after only hours after his death. This can only be the need to get Jesus off of the cross and into a tomb from which he can later be resurrected. It isn’t even necessary to debate the fact that Arimathea is a total and completely mythological place, never having appeared on any map, ancient or modern. The place simply never existed and doesn’t to this day. 

As far as the “witnesses to the resurrection”, no one ever saw Jesus “resurrecting”; they simply went to an empty tomb. Additionally, none of the four gospels tell the story the same way. “Matthew” tell us Mary Magdalen was there with the “other” Mary. (Mt 27:59-61) “Mark” says it was Mary Magdalen and “Mary the Mother of Joseph”. (Mk 15:46-47) “Luke” says “The women from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the entombment. (Lk 23:53-56) and, finally, “John” ever the embellisher, says it was “Nicodemus and Joseph” that wrapped the body and placed it in a tomb, “at a garden near where Jesus was crucified”. (Jn 19:39-42) 

No one ever witnessed the actual reanimation of his body. The tomb was empty simply because Jesus never actually occupied a tomb.

Good Morning, America!

Wake Up and Smell the Racism!

In trying to parcel out yet another school shooting where four more American children are murdered in their school, I began to anticipate Congress’ response, i.e., their total lack of a response. Sure the standard ”thoughts and prayers” are a given and, to be sure, that has provided some badly needed relief (in the minds of the gun manufacturers) especially those from Ted Cruz, Jeff Pawley, and the other Christian Republicans. However in considering these publicly-elected miscreants I began to ask myself: If one votes for someone that allows the murder of our children to persist without so much as lifting a finger, do I also have their blood on my hands? Projecting that out to other issues, I began to ask myself more questions. The next natural conundrum seemed to be racism. I thought: if I vote for a Senator or Congress person that enacts legislature that makes it harder for people of color to get to the polls and vote, does that make me a racists as well? Furthermore, should I prioritize my own personal issues according to my needs or according to the more important civil needs of, in these cases, pblic safety or equal rights for all?

And so, I put these questions to you: when you vote for someone that supports or legislates laws or policies that are harmful or detrimental to all or a particular class of Americans, do you share in the culpability of these policies and laws. In other words, do you have blood on your hands? what do you think?

Is Donald Trump Really A Traitor?

Is Donald J. Trump a Benedict Arnold? Many question his obsequiousness to Vladimir Putin.

It’s been called treasonous by a U.S. Congressman and veteran of Iraq. A former Navy Seal and now a emergency room doctor lables Trump either a coward or Putin’s puppet in an ad by the Lincoln Project, a political action committee started by prominent Republicans including George Conway, the husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway. Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul calls Trump’s anemic response to any of Putin’s emboldened moves against US interests “a sign of worsening things to come.” Former National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama Susan Rice is equally suspicious of and puzzled by Trump’s obsequious behavior towards Vladimir Putin. I’m sure the rest of the world is puzzled as well, especially our Nato allies. Puzzled and concerned.

The question puzzling all these people & entities is: why is it that the Pseudo-President, Donald J. Drumpf (I like to use his real name before his grandfather changed it; it seems so much more fitting somehow) always seems to defer to Vladimir Putin and Russian interests? Drumpf contradicted U.S. intelligence reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election in front of the world in Helsinki when he declared that Putin told him Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and so, there it is, no interference. Everyone in the entire world already knew that the Russians did, in fact, interfere in the election and to Drumph’s advantage. In fact, I would go so far as to surmise that the blitzkrieg-style hacking campaign conducted by the GRU out of St. Petersburg was a total and complete success for Putin; he actually succeeded in getting Drumpf elected. Granted, this is speculation however I have no doubts that repeatedly putting 15,000 or so false or misleading messages in front of 150,000,000 Americans on FaceBook more than likely did actually have an effect on people’s voting. Keep in mind that Drumpf won the election on the smallest of margins with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan going to Drumpf with a total of about 106,000 votes between the three states giving him all 46 Electoral College votes and putting him over the top. In fact, he actually won Michigan with a margin of just around 11,000 votes or 3/10 of one percent! And Drumpf actually lost the popular vote by margin of approximately 2,000,000 votes, not exactly a mandate from the people. Is it really so outlandish to conceive that the Russians could have changed or influenced the votes of just 106,000 people across three states out of a vote tally of 123,724,157 total votes? We’re talking an infinitesimal difference approaching one-millionth of one percentage point in a country where approximately 28% of the people – over a quarter of the population – believe the Bible as literal truth? I think not. In my opinion, Drumpf is in office entirely through the efforts of both Russia and FaceBook. We would do well to remember this as we approach the next election.

Now we learn that the Pseudo-President was told perhaps as long as a year ago that Russia was paying a bounty to Taliban forces to kill American and American Allied soldiers! Or perhaps, and I’m not sure which is worse, he doesn’t bother to read his Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) so he wouldn’t have known about it! Even worse, his advisors seem completely unwilling or unable to bring it up to him or make sure he is aware of this most egregious violation of international law. What do you call a president that doesn’t even bother to read the PDB, the single most important daily document in the country while he sits in the residence watching cable news and Tweeting to his followers? For me incompetent comes to mind fairly quickly, and dereliction of duty, sure, that passed through the grey matter as well. But why, many are asking, would the so-called President of the United States of America, the most powerful country ever to grace the Earth, fold like a cheap suit to a country that President Barack Obama labled a “regional power” and one that has the total gross domestic product of Texas? When asked these questions the administration chooses to kill the messenger and has started a vitriolic campaign against both the New York Times for reporting it and the unidentified leakers that gave the information to the Times. And what, you ask, was the Pseudo-President’s response? Do you really need to ask? Fake news. A hoax. All started by the “disgraced” NewYork Times, as Drumpf commonly characterizes the paper of record for the last 150 years. My reaction? Anytime Drumpf characterizes anything as a hoax or fake news I immediately know it’s probably true and this time is no exception. My “Spidey-senses” are off the charts on this one; I just know it’s true somehow just like I know in my heart that the Mueller Report didn’t exonerate him and found complicity between his campaign and Russia and that, somewhere, out in the ether, there’s a pee-pee tape. But it gets worse, much worse.

During this same period of time, while either in full understanding that Russia was putting a bounty on the heads of American soldiers or in ignorance of it because he was derelict in his duties and didn’t bother to read the PDB – and his advisors were too incompetent or too afraid to point it out – Drumpf has repeatedly tried to get Russia back into the Group of 7 over the objections of the other members. Putin is desperately trying to get Russia back onto the world stage after losing miserably in Afghanistan and after the complete decaying of the Soviet Union, and Drumpf seems to be doing everything he can to assist him. Furthermore, he has pulled U.S. troops out of Syria against the advice of “his generals” as he refers to them, leaving a void that was, of course, filled by Russia. He has also recently announced his intention to draw down U.S. Troop levels in Germany as well, again much to the chagrin of his military advisors, Germany, much of Eastern Europe, and Nato. And who is simply delighted at this prospect? Survey says: Vladimir Putin!

We have never had a president that defers to Russia the way Drumpf does, never. And the most enigmatic question is: why? As as a former KGB agent, Putin is well aware of and certainly an absolute expert in the use compromat, the use of compromising information against an adversary. Knowing Drumpf’s less-than-stellar career in business (he bankrupted casino(s), for goodness sakes. I’ve coached Cub Scouts that can run a casino profitably), his credit record with the major banks (not too pretty good. Not a single U.S. bank will lend him money), and his record of womanizing and divorce is it really beyond the pale to conceive that Putin has information about him that Drumpf would definitely want to keep from the public that he has so completely and totally bamboozled? If he is the business Svengali that he professes to be why does he so desperately want to keep his financial records from the public? Why is he so averse to releasing his education records to the public? He says he went to Wharton but refuses to allow any disclosure of his records there. Even though he knows “all the good words” and has “a really good brain?” Doesn’t add up. Doesn’t seem to make sense.

One thing I can tell you this: if the Dumocrats think they’re going to bury this after Drumpf is out of office, they’d better think again. One of my greatest complaints about Obama is that he dropped any further investigations about the start of the Iraq war even though anyone with a brain knows that Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, et al., lied us into the war and it should have been investigated and, more than likely, prosecuted. Unfortunately, Obama had his “let’s look forward to the future and not backward” hands-off approach and so no investigation and there are a lot of progressives that were – and still are – incensed about it. Their frustration was made even worse – maddeningly so – by the way the Dems blew the entire impeachment hearings and the Mueller Report. There is a huge resurgence of progressiveness in the country right now and they are not in the mood for letting a potential political criminal walk, and I am at the top of that list. If the Dumos think we’re going to just move on, they are gravely mistaken. Drumpf must be investigated just as any other American would expect to be. If he is the first president to be incriminated and convicted, then let the chis fall where they may.

The Specious Persecution of Modern Christians

Driving home last night I listened to what I assume was a rebroadcast of WMUR’s show On Point about the supposed present-day persecution of “Christians” or what are really White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such dribble in all my life. Unfortunately, I could not call in as I was literally salivating to respond to the nonsense I was hearing from the Christian pastor asserting this inane claim.

Anyone following my blog, RaPaR knows, I been researching the the origins of Judaism & Christianity for many years. I was born Roman Catholic into an Italian-American family in Brooklyn, NY in 1955. I am now an Atheist since delving into the Bible to find alternative answers to Catholic doctrine that I believed to be man made. This lead me to some very unexpected skeins of inquiry, not the least of which is the history of Christianity.  And, unsurprisingly, you will find that no one group of people in history have done more persecuting than Christians. Even a cursory review of history bears this out.
While the pastor (forgive, I can not remember his name) was crying about why people are so intolerable of Christians today, let me make just two relevant points:

1) Christians have been persecuting people in America well before it was even a nation. They came to America, slaughtered most the inhabitants, enslaved others, and then encumbered them with Christianity as if this would help them in some way. The persecution of Africans (and African-Americans, as they were forced to become) was almost exclusively perpetrated by White Anglo Saxon Protestants or White Evangelicals. The result was to lull them into the false hope that there was some “Jesus” that would come from the sky and save them. So far it hasn’t happened and they’re still awaiting some kind of social justice to this day and continue to be discriminated against and persecuted by, white Christian society. A society that could lynch a black child on Saturday, sing hymns in the pews of their churches on Sunday.

2) The so-called Christian values and morality that the Pastor asserted can be found in the pages of the New Testament, in today’s society, is a non-starter. For instance, the Bible – Christian & Hebrew, collectively and individually – doesn’t say anything about abortion yet they hold their narrow-minded belief as something to which all of society must adhere. Therefore their belief is going to be crammed down the throats of others against their will. Why? Why can’t the supposed children of god keep their own moralities to themselves? Why must they insist upon changing the laws of our society-at-large even against the wills of a majority of Americans that believe that this should be a woman’s or a couple’s personal choice?  Remarkably they would claim that a twelve year old girl, raped by her father, should be forced to bear a child even against her will because this is a creation of their god. I can’t think of anything as cruel as this and yet they would have it encoded into our law whether society agrees or not. This kind of Christian hegemony has gone on since time immemorial and is just one example. 
Remember that the Ku Klux Klan was entirely populated by Christians, from Nathan Bedford Forest to David Duke, from beginning to end. They persecuted most “others” – although primarily African Americans but others as well; Jews, Catholics, Italians, etc. not to mention homosexuals – even into the 20th and 21st centuries. Furthermore, they continue to assert their ignorant beliefs which they selectively extract from their Christian dogma in order to alter society against the will of the majority. And now they want to decry some self-perceived persecution perpetrated by the “rest” of the American people.

The Pastor also decried the injustice at the exclusive teaching of Darwinism or Evolution in public schools at the exclusion of “creationism,” as if the two are somehow equivalent. They are not. Creationism is mythology, pure and simple, and a ridiculous one at that. Argued against a massive corpus of scientific data is their myth that god created the entire universe in six days, created light four days before creating the sun and stars, and most puzzlingly, creating man in full, mature form day one. All without an iota of supporting data; in fact in the absence of such empirical data. If they would like to have a flat Earth curriculum, they are welcome to at a Christian or Catholic school. They can help themselves. I just will not have my taxes used to pay for it. 

What the Pastor perceives as persecution I consider to be the process of standing up against an oppressive and reprehensible minority. They need to keep their narrow-minded and offensive beliefs to themselves. If they can not then they should expect a vigorous and raucous fight.