/ Reality /
I recently reflected on the blasphemy of Dante pretending to know what hell is like in his Inferno: now I want to track a few tangents. There it was / Literature /; here it’s / Social Epistemology / … / Reality /
The idea of God I was trained to posited God as the boss, humans as pretty thoroughly incompetent: science is a vanity, so too is theology, unless divinely inspired: all humans are dishonest morons, even Newton: Saint Paul, all of them. There are no facts unless God established them. If God explained it all to me, in detail, you still can’t trust what I say because I’m a human: dishonest, a moron by definition. Trust Jesus; but don’t trust Paul. Don’t trust the Pope, don’t trust the priest, don’t trust your wife, your children …
We’re supposed to trust the Bible. The trouble there is we don’t have a reliable Bible. If God’s manuscript exists somewhere in the universe we don’t know where it is, we don’t have it. What we have is a complex set of documents, full not only of errors but also of lies.
Among early Christians what God etc. meant was being thrashed out by vociferous people who didn’t agree on much. The Gnostics claimed to be still receiving messages from God; the Christians who won the major wars said that divine messages were a thing of the past: God talked to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses. God talked to John and to Jesus; God did not talk to you to to me, or to Augustince or Pope Benedict. Without any testimony from God himself, the Bible becomes all important.
Our religion is based on a book, but we don’t know how to read.
Christians, the default Christians, the ones who won the faith wars, and the scripture wars, thoroughly rewrote those scriptures. For example: Bart Ehrman was well documented the misogynistic falsehoods palmed by the victor Bible. Women were important in Jesus ministry, women were important among the earl Christians; but Paul didn’t like women, didn’t emphasize their role, and eager Bible-writers made up Pauline epistles, rehearsing misogynies as thought they were from God!
Now, I want to report some experiences of my own, reporting real thoughts, real arguments, by real people; but I don’t want to name them, not identifiably. I want to tell about a dear friend, I’ll call her Grum, playing on parts of her real name, even though “Grum” gives no hint of how cute, female, feminine, lovable she is. Grum was raised as a Presbyterian, but her boyfriend was Roman Catholic. When they married Grum caved in to the famous demands of the church: the non-Cathlic has to convert (or all sorts of terrible things will happen to the Catholic!) Grum “converted”. Grum became far more of a Catholic than she ever had been a Presbyterian. To this day Grum carries a Saint Christopher medal and rosary wrapped around her car’s rearview mirror: standard RC protection for travelers. Grum became close to a series of RC priests over the decades. Her other friends tend to be rich, Republican, Roman Catholic, in that order: except for me, except for me.
Dig it, I’m more Gnostic than Presbyterian: God talks to me. I transcribe my own Bible, the forgery hawkers can’t allow my transcriptions to be heard. Dante is swallowed as inspired. Milton is swallowed as inspired. pk’s writings aren’t transmitted, there’s nothing to swallow.
(I don’t worry: you’ll see what I wrote, and what it meant, and means, after, right after God shows us his manuscript.
Meantime, in one circle of Grum’s friends, predominantely rich, Republican, Roman Catholic, there’s an old priest, Father Peter. And there’s an aggressive widow of a car dealer, mall developer, Carol. Carol is for the RC Church using women priests; Father Peter is horrified. You all know people on both sides of that question. All I ask is: not which side are you one, which side is Grum on, which side am I on? No: I ask which side is God on? Which side is Jesus on?
Now, RC priests are often trained at some depth. I wouldn’t be surprised if Father Peter once knew the evidence against the Pauline forgeries better than I do: but does he teach what he knows? Or does he ignore what he knows? and teach the lies conventionally taught?
See Agora by the way to see 4th-century Christians being misled by Bishop Cyril: he doesn’t hammer Jesus’ love; he hammers forgeries in Paul’s name. women had won a place, presumably by merit; the patriarchs were denying Christianity’s experience in favor of olde-tyme prejudice.
Now, Grum meets pk. Grum and pk become close. I explain to Grum about my writing, my inspirations, my offered reforms: about my innovations. Initially Grum tries to pass my messages to her friends. She tells her best and oldest friend about pk and Ivan Illich. Her friend interrupts her, contradicts her, warns her: don’t try to tell me that again, not if you want to still be my friend. Grum tries to tell her children: seven years later, her children haven’t gotten anything. Neither do they seem to be aware that they haven’t gotten anything. Grum asks Father Peter what he knows, thinks about Ivan Illich: Father Peter thinks nothing of Ivan Illich. Grum writes to another old RC priest friend: he answers: he doesn’t know much.
Never mind: simplify: Ivan Illich was the most famous priest in the entire world, not just the RC world, in the 1960s. Illich was obviously inspired by Jesus: as much so as Saint Francis: more sensibly than Saint Francis. The Church defrocked him, smote the gadfly.
Remind you of anything? It does me. The Temple of Jerusalem claimed to worship God: but it sabotaged Jesus!
Did the Temple then say, We thought we honored God, but we’ve changed our mind; we oppose God, we honor ourselves: we murder God’s son …
The Roman Catholic Church is an extension of the Roman Empire. Illich was the latest genius priest / saint to try to get the Church to actually represent God, and Jesus. Fat chance.
Illich’s proposals, my proposals when I publicly seconded his proposals, go to the heart of Christianity: misunderstanding them, misrepresenting them, suppressing them, expresses the heart of damnation.
Carol’s arguing for women as priests is merely a detail of what Christianity could benefit from; replacing the church, the govenments, the schools, with cybernetic data bases, no authority, no coercion plunges to the heart of the best of Jesus.
It never got heard.
But it doesn’t matter.
Because someday God himself will be heard from. His disciples will be identified. Then we’ll know.
Till then, all opinions are dangerous, probably fatal.