Discussion:
Re: Galileo, Dan Brown and The Church
(too old to reply)
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
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Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
Please use our Feedback form for any questions or
comments.
?Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
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Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
Please use our Feedback form for any questions or
comments.
?Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
Please use our Feedback form for any questions or
comments.
?Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
Please use our Feedback form for any questions or
comments.
?Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
cornel
2006-05-11 11:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Well said Elizabeth. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this
issue.
Cornel

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elisabeth Carvalho"
In 1633, the Pope imprisoned an innocent man and asked him to recant a
certain hypothesis. The man spent the rest of his life under house-arrest.
His name was Galileo and his assertion was simple.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-12 16:13:39 UTC
Permalink
Hi Elisabeth,

So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.

We are listening to Hutton speak. But Hutton has to give clear recommendations.:=))
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a religious Church?

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts? In fact many beliefs and recommendations in medicine even today radically change every two or three years.

Remember NOW when Hutton talks people listen. You have a REP to sustain.:=))
Kind Regards, GL

Elisabeth Carvalho:
There is a goal, above all else for mankind and that
is the relentless pursuit of the truth. Every new
grain of knowledge that comes our way must be examined
and if it stands the test of truth in the cold light
of day, it must become part of our consciousness.
Because the only heresy is to live in denial of the
truth.

Elisabeth
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-14 20:25:58 UTC
Permalink
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing signs.
The first says, "Burn the book, it's the devil." The second laughs mockingly
or innocently, "Relax, it is just fiction, after all." Trapdoors always lead
down. Here's looking up:

Dan Brown's book is not the devil and it's not just fiction. He purports it to
be a historic novel founded on scrupulous research. In reality, it is a
devilish hodgepodge of well-disguised fiction and fact. His intentions were to
confuse, and confuse he did.

Sticking to our thesis that this phenomenon is a blessing in disguise for
curious minds, today we'll unravel four of Brown's most tightly wound knots.
Some of you expect me to preach, to set the story straight with a call to
belief. You won't find that here. Nonetheless, a clear mind is the best soil
for seeds of faith, and God knows, there's a lot of clearing to do.

ART CLASS
Fiction: Mr. Brown says it is Mary Magdalene seated to the right of Jesus, not
John the Apostle, in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, "The Last Supper."

Fact: In his own "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo Da Vinci says the
classic "student" should be shown as youthful, long-haired, and clean-shaven.
He was true to this approach in his depiction of St. John, as the youngest of
the apostles. Neither his contemporary artists nor reputable art historians
have doubted his original intention.

Fiction: The Da Vinci Code says Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was an
androgynous self-portrait whose title is a mocking anagram of two Egyptian
fertility deities- "Amon and L'isa.

Fact: It was commonly known at the time of the painting and today, that
the "Mona Lisa" portrays a real woman, Madonna Lisa, the wife of Francesco de
Bartolomeo del Giocondo.

Summary: There is no historical evidence Leonardo Da Vinci used his paintings
to reveal secrets or protest traditional beliefs.

THE FORMATION OF THE BIBLE
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims, "...The Bible as we know it today, was
collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." (Dan Brown, The Da
Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 231)

Fact: No Bible scholar holds Constantine played a role in the development of
the Scriptures. The Old Testament canon (the first part of the Christian
Bible) was already essentially developed at the time of Jesus and he and his
disciples recognized its authority (Luke 24:27, John 5:39).

By the late second century, the early Christian community recognized the
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (written from approximately 60-120
A.D.) as the four inspired narratives of the life of Christ. Consensus about
the contents of the entire New Testament was already growing by the middle of
the second-century.

The early Christian Fathers of the second century (Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
and Irenaeus) refer to the four Christian gospels and their authors, and give
them a unique place within worship (liturgy) and tradition. It was not until
the late 300s and early 400s that regional councils of bishops began the
process of official definition.

Summary: Christian theology teaches the Bible was written, collated, and
defined by human beings inspired by God. No major Christian tradition claims
the process was magical. It is easier, not harder, to accept the presence of
such inspiration when we consider the unity of Christian belief on essential
points of Christian doctrine, despite the human, social, and political
influences that could have hijacked its content and interpretation along the
way.

EARLY BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims that before the Council of Nicaea in A.D.
325, the followers of Jesus did not consider him divine. Listen in:
"Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal
prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...By
officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a
deity." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 233)

Fact: New Testament writings (written before the Council), early Church
Fathers, and deliberations of the Council itself, show clearly the belief in
the divinity of Christ. Here are a few quotations from early Christians who
all wrote about their belief in the divinity of Jesus before the Council of
Nicaea:

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan:
of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit." (Ignatius of
Antioch - A.D. 110)

"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we
report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian - A.D. 170)

Perhaps the greatest proof of the early Christian community's belief in the
divinity of Christ are the estimated 100,000 - 200,000 deaths of men and women
of the first centuries of Christianity who preferred death by torture to the
denial of their faith. The Roman emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian
(284 - ) persecuted Christians because they refused to worship pagan gods. In
the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and on the streets of Rome, Christians
uttered the name of Jesus as they went to their death.

Summary: Early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus from the very
beginning. Their beliefs were supported by the Gospels in which Jesus himself
makes the claim (John 5:18, John 8: 58, John 20:28, and many more) and in
early New Testament writers such as St. Paul (Phil 2:6) continued the oral and
written tradition.

MARY MAGDALEN
Fiction: The Da Vinci Code claims:
"Behold...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ
married, but He was a father..."

"The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the
secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the
fundamental Catholic doctrine - that of a divine Messiah who did not consort
with women or engage in sexual union." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New
York: Doubleday, 2003, p. 249, 257)

Fact: Christianity's most fundamental doctrine is not Jesus' decision to
remain single, but rather that God took the form of man to save humanity from
our sins - a thesis, in my opinion, much harder for the human mind to grasp
than that of a God who would marry.

Beyond the unfounded claim of such a relationship, it is important to note
that the underlining thesis should be offensive to women: the only way to
redeem the character of Mary Magdalene is to suggest she had a romantic
relationship with her boss. Whether or not she was the prostitute Jesus
forgave (unclear from the Gospels) makes no difference regarding her personal
worth. She was a beautiful soul and a disciple of Jesus.

Summary: According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus broke all sorts of social
norms of his day, including having close and public contact with women. All
evidence points to the historicity of his decision to break another social
norm and remain single and celibate.

I'm well aware that both my characterization of The Da Vinci Code and my
rebuttal with facts are incomplete and unsatisfying. We could discuss forever
the beliefs of early Christians, the Roman Catholic Church, Gnosticism, and
the responsibility of authors to present fiction and fact for what they are.
My hope, nevertheless, is this three-part series (see Monday's and Wednesday's
entries) is a reminder to each of us to continue our quest for knowledge of
the historic Jesus. Dan Brown says the greatest challenge for religion today
is the evolution of our brains. I not only disagree, I think his theory is
upside down and inside out.

A little knowledge is dangerous, Mr. Brown, for religion and for life. But a
lot of knowledge (and a little humility) makes wise men; men and woman who see
God not only in scientific gaps, but in their ability to grasp, if only in
part, the grandeur of creation, including themselves.

I hope this has helped. Let me know.
God bless, Father Jonathan

To those who have accessed this article from the "Only on FOX" section: Father
Jonathan writes a regular blog for FOXNews.com and it can be found at
www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan.
gilbertlaw
2006-05-15 21:34:26 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,
I agree with you that Elisabeth's post was "extremely well written". I am glad you "understood exactly what she meant." As she has not replied, perhaps you know what Elisabeth meant more than she does.:=))

Elisabeth and others (no names please) are articulate enough to write for themselves explaining where exactly is their disconnect from the rest of us. To facilitate the issue, I provided four possible links of disconnect (in sequence). There may be other links in the chain. This would help immensely and end the circular discussion that I see on the Goa-net when it comes to religion.

Believe me, I am not trying to save their souls. :=)) I am only trying to save their (and our) minds.:=)) Most of their writings to me is like Edward Verdes' Konkani proverb: "Vontivoilo Nal" .... Coconut placed on top of the wall. This can fall inside or outside the wall ... refers to persons sitting on a fence facing both ways like the coconut on top of the wall.

If one is an agnostic (as you claim you are) then IMHO the nature of God, or the differences between religions; or the actions or practices of the Church through the ages are IRRELEVANT. As these issues assume the existence of God.

YOUR ISSUES may be IMHO: the creation of the universe, existence of a soul, life after death or explanations of life.

Just as we need to give the agnostics their due, the reverse is true. You are showing the limitations in your knowledge. The Catholic Church has evolved both in theology and practices. The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so. And this has occurred with every decade, every encyclical, every synod, every thesis written by theologians, and others who have made a career in the field. Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not. Do you think all religious libraries across universities and churches are just static? So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us. We have been down a similar path before.

Mention of anecdotal events of 1000-200 years ago is someone who is stuck in their thinking, unlike the church. Again, for my own interest, I look forward to hearing a FEW lines from OTHER individuals on the WHERE AND WHY of their specific disconnect.
It is easy to be a contestant in the game of "pin the donkey's tail". Any blind peson can play this game. Infact, only a blind person can play this game!!!
Kind Regards, GL

----- Santosh Helekar wrote:
Elisabeth's post was extremely well written and much more comprehensible. I understood exactly what she meant.

In particular, in the above-quoted excerpt I fail to understand why anyone would want to compare the church with all these unrelated disciplines. In what way is a hierarchical religious institution analogous to an expanding body of knowledge such as science?

--- gilbertlaw at adelphia.net wrote:

The church has committed blunders over the 2006 years of existence. Even the Church admits it. So again where is the beef?
But so has every branch of science, medicine, law, history, anthropology, politics, etc..
Do you not go to a doctor because medicine 3500 BC to 1500 AD believed in some / many archaic concepts?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 04:47:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sun May 14 13:42:49 PDT 2006, Marlon Menezes wrote:

Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of
fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us
a review of this work of fiction!

RESPONSE: Firstly, the Bible is a Holy Book, largely meant for Catholics.
Given that you have canonized yourself, not certain it applies to you.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that to state that the Bible contains
anecdotes or myths rather than fiction! You're being more than a tad bit
disrespectful......at the other end of the enlightenment spectrum.

Bosco
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-17 05:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by gilbertlaw
So where is the beef?
Who is stopping one from seeking the truth?
The one place we will not find the truth is by reading fiction - like
Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code".
And what makes one think that the "Judas gospel" may not have been
fiction too? Either way Judas gospel IMHO is not being correlated with
the "Gnostic belief" on the nature of Christ.
RESPONSE: By casting aspersions on the "Judas gospel", you are making a bad
case for the 4 main texts of the New Testament. It is common historical
knowledge that there are/were several gospels (manuscripts) - Thomas, Mary
Magdelena, etc...and that the gospels were developed in the early 2nd/3rd
centuries by Christian communities of the time. Although Dan Brown (Da Vinci
Code) states it was Constantine who decided on the 4 gospels, I've also read
that it was a Roman Bishop or Pope (the name fails me) in the 2nd century who
decided on the number 4 based on the cardinal signs and the apocalypse.
Post by gilbertlaw
Is your beef against the concept of God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or
individuals in the Church who committed civilian acts on behalf of a
religious Church?
RESPONSE: My beef is that you are denying a balanced discussion on the issue
on account of a fictional book/movie by drawing this "line in the sand". Have
we reached the end of our spiritual journey ? Is there no scope for any
further spiritual fullfillment in our lives ? Are we to restrict ourselves to
prayer alone in developing our spiritual health ? Is going to church once a
week adequate for our spiritual well-being ? Or do we read, listen,
discuss and discern ?

Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view "Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National Geographic channel -
historians debating each other and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.

Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that will stir our interests
and make him rich !! Ka-ching...ka-ching !!

Best - Bosco
cornel
2006-05-17 05:56:28 UTC
Permalink
Gilbert
To my simple mind, varied authors generate facts, faction and fiction and
sometimes an admixture of these. I am therefore at a loss to understand why
anyone may want to block anyone else's access to any of the above when they
choose to pay for them.

Should we not be free to choose our recreational needs?

Censorship? Never!
Cornel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gilbert Lawrence"
Post by Gilbert Lawrence
Forwarded with Love!
Kind Regards, GL
'The Da Vinci Code' by Father Jonathan Morris
Have you seen the double trapdoor through which "Da Vinci" critics are
falling
headfirst? It's hard to miss. Both flaps are adorned with tantalizing
signs.
Goa's Pride Goa-World.Com
2006-05-17 12:19:17 UTC
Permalink
Did this current hungama raise its head in the 90s for
Martin Scorsese's, The
Last Temptation of Christ ? That was more graphic and
insipid.

I hope some of us have had the opportunity to view
"Breaking of the Da Vinci
code" that has been running all week on the National
Geographic channel - historians debating each other
and Dan Brown, with his specious conclusions to
the queries raised by Elizabeth Vargas.
Dan Brown, a clever historian, has hit the niche that
will stir our interests and make him rich !!
Ka-ching...ka-ching !!
Best - Bosco

Well said Bosco, here below is some enlightening links
to the debate.

Almeida Gaspar (www.goa-world.com)
Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter Moderator/Editor

The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostics, the Goddess
and the Grail
Released in March 2003, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
has sold more than 4.5 million copies (as of January
2004, despite the six percent decline in hardback
sales overall). It has camped atop the New York Times
bestseller list. In November, ABC aired a primetime
special entitled Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring
Controversial Theories About Religious Figures and the
Holy Grail. Variety.com recently announced, "Ron
Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman?the
Oscar-winning triumvirate from 'A Beautiful Mind'?are
reteaming to make 'The Da Vinci Code' for Sony
Pictures Entertainment.? According to USA Today,
"Code' s popularity shows that 'readers are clamoring
for books which combine historic fact with a
contemporary story line,' says Carol Fitzgerald,
president of Bookreporter.com.... 'They say, "I like
being able to learn something as well as read a
story".'" USA Today also noted at least 90 related
books on religion, history and art, which have seen
sales rise as well.

According to Richard Wightman Fox, author of the
soon-to-be-published Jesus in America in a U.S. News &
World Report article last month, The Da Vinci Code "is
riding the wave of revulsion against corruption in the
Catholic Church." The article continues, "What Brown's
novel taps into above all is a persistent American
desire to recapture the true, original Jesus. 'That's
what Protestantism itself has always been about,' says
Fox."

The book?complete with footnotes of source
materials?is a novel, but in a controversial
introductory note, Brown writes that "all descriptions
of documents and secret rituals are accurate." Are
they? An incomplete list of author Dan Brown's theses
include (the following list primarily based on The
feminist mystique, first published in Haaretz Daily
(Jerusalem) by Aviad Kleinberg November 7, 2003):

early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great
Mother"
Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the
Holy Grail of traditional lore
she was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his
children
Magdalene's womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the
legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded
paining, The Last Supper)
Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers
until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own
purposes
The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context
for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of
Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
"Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents
that tell the real story were found on the Temple
Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First
Crusade.?
Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi
documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945
and this storyline
The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been
kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of
Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci

Dubious doctrines like Goddess worship and
neo-Gnosticism, critics charge, provide the core of
Brown's acclaimed novel (although Brown makes
egregious errors even within those, e.g., Gnostics
would be repulsed by the idea of physical relations
between Mary Magdalene and Jesus). Given the book's
liberal use of long-debunked heresies and flashy but
baseless theories on everything from church tradition
to architecture to the heads of a secret society,
cataloguing Brown's scholarly infractions will exhaust
the casual reader who will likelier readily embrace
such fast-paced fiction uncritically. As Sandra
Miesner (featured below) states, "The Da Vinci Code
takes esoterica mainstream.? Thus, as similar volumes
and a film adaptation follow on its tail, we hope to
shed light on at least some of the critical, if
unoriginal, issues raised by the book.

Critics assail Brown's appeals to scholarship and
history, which range from questionable to outlandish
to (some say) outrageous. Yet, hot sales and fawning
reviews by the press and readers alike (see
Amazon.com's listing of the book and accompanying
opinions) indicate that many are buying into this brew
of conspiracy theory, romance novel and
pseudo-scholarship. Perhaps postmodernists, given to
thinking via emotions and wide-open to conspiracy
theories surrounding empowered groups, have found the
perfect mix. Do Brown's claims and implications line
up with evidence, historical fact or truth? Does this
matter or is "truth" only a bargaining chip for the
empowered group of the day, such as the Catholic
Church?

Where did these notions originate? Dr. James
Hitchcock, cited on Beliefnet.com December 30, 2003
(beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html), writes,
"The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus
and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too
literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at
face value but as stories with hidden symbolic
meanings.? Hitchcock further explains, "Thus it was
possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics
were not bound by what may or may not have happened
while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become
Jesus? intimate, and the New Testament could be
dismissed as essentially false. ([Again,] modern
people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels
as history, miss the point?to the Gnostics themselves
it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus
was on earth, if he ever was.)?

Writing in Crisis , Sandra Meisel coolly notes, "By
manipulating his audience through the conventions of
romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify
with his smart, glamorous characters who?ve seen
through the impostures of the clerics who hide the
'truth' about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is
delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle:
'[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.'?

The wisest sage of all time wrote, "There is nothing
new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1: 9b). Here, in The
Da Vinci Code, we hear echoes of the Jesus Seminar
which in its heyday in the 1990s recycled Gnostic
heresies and took the dead-end path of higher
criticism of the late 19th Century. Apologetics
researcher Rich Poll observes that the early Church
spent much of its energy battling heresy. This
doctrinal war, in many ways, culminatated in the
Nicene Council's creed. How interesting that a
revisionist account of such times and issues dressed
up as well-researched historical fiction brings us
full circle. In our Special Focus, we seek to address:

the historicity and authority of the Bible over and
against non-canonical works
the nature and validity of non-canonical gospels,
including The Gnostic Gospels
Jesus' claims to deity and the early Church's
understanding of it, predating the Nicene Council
Biblical understanding of Christ's view of women like
Mary Magdalene
an obliquely related topic, the Bible code
Please use our Feedback form for any questions or
comments.
?Leadership University Editor/Webmaster, Byron Barlowe

Featured Resources
Mary, Mary, Extraordinary
Ben Witherington III
The Da Vinci Code has resurrected an old debate about
whether Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of
Christ's, even his wife. Biblical scholar and seminary
professor Witherington writes, "She was an important
disciple and witness for Jesus, but there is no
historical evidence for a more intimate relationship."


Was Jesus Married?
Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D.
Seminary professor and writer Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D
writes that "all the available evidence points to the
answer 'no'."

Crash Goes The Da Vinci Code
Dr. Ron Rhodes
Master apologist and recognized author Dr. Ron Rhodes
painstakingly deconstructs the major errors of The Da
Vinci Code in a question and answer format. The
inclusion of direct quotations and page numbers from
the novel provide a real aid for those seeking proof
and answers. Very comprehensive.

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code
Sandra Miesel
Miesel delivers on her title, dismantling the shoddy
history and willfully irresponsible writing of Brown.
She delves into the sources Brown cited, scrutinizing
his pick-and-choose methodology. She critiques his
tortured Christology, built upon Gnostic texts and the
wild claim of a Constantinian edict that first
divinized Christ. She briefly deals with Brown's
erroneous treatment of Mary Magdalene and misuse of
Gnostic extra-canonical gospels, as well as his
misrepresentation of The Knights Templar and Leonardo
Da Vinci.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code: A Symposium (audio,
slide shows)
Dr. Darrell Bock, various others
Dr. Darrell Bock and a supporting cast of speakers
from a three-night symposium on all aspects of The Da
Vinci Code: Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus,
the biblical canon, sex, goddess worship, The Jesus
Seminar, oppression, "The Church, the Academy and the
Culture," spiritual trends in America and more. A full
array of lectures and Q&A sessions via streaming audio
and PowerPoint slide shows (opens on a separate site).

Related Resources on How We Got Our Bible and Its
Trustworthiness

Core to understanding and believing the Bible is
assessing its reliability. But how does one know that
it or any other work of antiquity is trustworthy? And
how did we get our Bible (canon)? Why and how were
certain texts chosen and others rejected? Also, how
does the Catholic Church, accused of hiding the true
Gospel accounts, interpret the Bible?

The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the
Bible came to include the books currently recognized
as canonical.

Truth Journal: The Gospels as Historical Sources for
Jesus, The Founder of Christianity
R. T. France
Various writings outside of the New Testament are
considered for their historical merit regarding the
life of Christ. After sorting through them, we are
left with the Gospel accounts. How accurate are they?
Should they be trusted?

The New Testament: Can I Trust It?
Rusty and Linda Wright
"How can any well-educated person believe the New
Testament? It was written so long after the events it
records that we can't possibly trust it as
historically reliable." This is a common question and
deserves an honest answer. The Wrights provide three
tests: internal, external and bibliographic. A very
accessible article for the nontechnical.

Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
We can trust that the Bible we hold in our hands today
is the same as when the various documents were
written. This essay provides evidence for the
trustworthiness of the biblical documents. Includes a
particularly helpful chart on extant New Testament
manuscripts as compared with other works of antiquity.

Are the Gospels Mythical?
Rene Girard
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the
story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more
than a story? Since ancient times, it has been
compared to Greek myths in order to undermine the
uniqueness, and thus the validity, of Christianity.
The Da Vinci Code's storyline rests upon this kind of
mythological foundation, inverting the accepted gospel
accounts as fabrication and replacing Goddess
mythology as the repressed truth. If the accepted
gospel message is not mythological in origin, the
novel's basis is less believable.

Catholicism and the Bible: An Interview with Albert
Vanhoye
Interviewer: Peter Williamson
Father Albert Vanhoye recently began his second
five-year term as Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission. In this interview with Catholic writer and
lay theologian Peter Williamson, given in Rome on
January 14, 1997, Vanhoye reflects upon key issues in
Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

Related Resources On The Jesus Seminar, Historical
Creeds and Non-Canonical Literature

The Da Vinci Code retreads for popular consumption
several historically contentious theological issues,
including the divinity of Christ and when it was first
acknowledged. Brown's novel sets forth the claim of
Christ's divinity as a power grab by the Christian
Emperor Constantine in a vote at the Nicene Council.
The so-called search for the historical Jesus has its
roots in liberal 19th-century theology and was made
popularly known in the mid-1990s by the Jesus Seminar,
whose scholarly members' "findings" were detailed in
the book The Five Gospels.

Recommended Books (courtesy Apologia Report):
Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way,
by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Univ Press, 2001, hardcover,
272 pages)
Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston,
Beacon Press, 1956, hardcover, 120 pages + index)
Strange New Gospels, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Univ of
Chicago Press, 1931 - perhaps retitled Famous Biblical
Hoaxes)

The Jesus Seminar
Jimmy Williams, Founder, Probe Ministries
An analysis of the Jesus Seminar findings in light of
five critical areas: purpose of the Jesus Seminar
fellows, philosophical presuppositions, Canonical
Gospels, chronology and Christological differences.

Chapter 6: Christ: The Man Who is God
Dr. Alan K. Scholes
From his book (online in its entirety here) What
Christianity is All About. Scholes' breadth and
clarity make this a valuable resource, especially the
section on the "historical Jesus" and the Jesus
Seminar. This provides background for assessing the
presumptions of The Da Vinci Code regarding the early
Church's claim to Christ's divinity.

Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
Actual texts of the Apostles' Creed ((c. 700, earlier
forms from c. 200 A.D.) and Nicene Creed ((325, 381
A.D.).

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: Presuppositions
and Pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
Dr. William Lane Craig
In this first part of a two-part article, the
presuppositions and pretensions of the Jesus Seminar
are exposited and assessed. It is found that the
principal presuppositions of (i) scientific
naturalism, (ii) the primacy of the apocryphal
gospels, and (iii) the necessity of a politically
correct Jesus are unjustified and issue in a distorted
portrait of the historical Jesus. Although the Jesus
Seminar makes a pretention of speaking for scholarship
on the quest of the historical Jesus, it is shown that
in fact it is a small body of critics in pursuit of a
cultural agenda.


The Evidence For Jesus
Dr. William Lane Craig
Five reasons are presented for thinking that critics
who accept the historical credibility of the gospel
accounts of Jesus do not bear a special burden of
proof relative to more skeptical critics. Then the
historicity of a few specific aspects of Jesus' life
are addressed, including his radical self-concept as
the divine Son of God, his role as a miracle-worker,
his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection from
the dead. The former is most pertinent to a discussion
of The Da Vinci Code.


The Historical Christ
Rick Wade
Rick Wade examines the PBS special "From Jesus to
Christ" by focusing on the theological presuppositions
of those who deny the supernatural and instead search
for the "historical Jesus." He examines the
development of these views from Davis Strauss, to
Rudolf Bultmann, to the Jesus Seminar and the work of
Dominic Crosson. Drawing from the work of Craig
Blomberg of Denver Seminar, the author ably presents
arguments for the early dating of the Synoptic Gospels
and the historical accuracy and authenticity of their
authors. Finally, he demonstrates that the differences
in the synoptic accounts can be reconciled without
resorting to questioning their historicity. The
conclusion is that the Christ of faith is indeed the
Jesus of history.

The Corrected Jesus
First Things Review by Richard B. Hays
Hays dissects the volume written by the much-discussed
(and maligned) Jesus Seminar, "The Five Gospels: The
Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus." The "fifth
Gospel" refers to the Gospel of Thomas, "a text known
to us through a fourth-century Coptic text discovered
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt" in 1945 and the "Quelle" or
"Q Source."


Non-Canonical Literature
Wesley Center Online (Wesley Center for Applied
Theology, Northwest Nazarene University)
"Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical
Interpretation." Links to both Old Testament and New
Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and other
non-canonical early Christian literature.

First Things Books in Review: The Jesus Quest & The
Real Jesus
Reviewed by Richard B. Hays
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two
books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest:
The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben
Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided
Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the
Traditional Gospels."

Related Article: Women's Roles
The Da Vinci Code's plot portrays Mary Magdalene as
the chief apostle (as well as the wife of Christ), a
mainstay of feminist theologians. We offer one view of
Christ's perspective on women from a book with a
contrary perspective on women's roles in general
(complementarian view, as opposed to feminist). We are
open to suggestions for resources from the egalitarian
viewpoint as well, as long as it is Christian in
nature.

Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
James A. Borland
Borland offers a brief study of the place of women in
Christ's life and ministry, a chapter from the
complementarian book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood.

Related Resources: The Bible Code
The official Da Vinci Code Web site and a related site
put up by publisher Random House (Doubleday) both
feature mysterious music and a secret-code game
format. (Even the book's cover art supposedly is full
of clues to the encoded messages central to the plot.)
Since secret codes seem to be such a draw, we thought
another kind of code-based issue related to the Bible
that made a big splash in the 90's would be of
interest.

The Bible Code
Rich Milne
How can thinking Christians respond to purported
information embedded in the Bible's original language?
There is more to "The Bible Code" than meets the eye.

First Things Books in Review: Cracking the Bible Code
Reviewed by William A. Dembski
Intelligent Design spokesman known for his own work in
probabilities reviews "Cracking the Bible Code" by
Jeffrey Satinover. An accessible, intelligent review
that helps put the issue in perspective while
analyzing the book.

---- Gaspar Almeida, www.goa-world.com & Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-18 21:16:50 UTC
Permalink
Hi Marlon,

Since you specifically asked for my review on "another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible", I thought I should respond. As I'm sure you know, I did not write the article about the "fact and fiction" on the Da Vinci Code. I just forwarded an article from FOX news related to this "hot topic". I am NOT an expert on the authenticity of the Bible since "aum ek supurlo Goenkar murre."

However one of my quirks has led me to search the exact site / cause of disconnect Catholic Goans have with their religion. Based on the wording of your post, my guess is your disconnect with the Catholic Church appears to me to be related to about 60 - 120 AD when the Gospels were written. Unless "your beef" relates to the translation of the original texts. Or your beef may be with the Jews and the authenticity of the Old Testament. You may wish to clarify with SPECIFICS of your disconnect and research.

BTW, even Martin Luther IMHO did not question the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Gospels. In fact after his break with the Church, he went on to translate them (original Gospel writings) into German.
Regards, GL
Gilbert, it reminds me of another confused work of fiction, also known as the bible. How about giving us a review of this work of fiction!
Gilbert Lawrence
2006-05-20 13:20:27 UTC
Permalink
Hi Santosh,

I assume your questions are genuine and you are seeking some answers. I am not into some "gotcha" exercise here and I trust you are not into some esoteric discussion. Thanks for asking me about the CONTEMPORARY issues that the "Church thinkers" are involved with. This, rather than discussing / referencing some 200-1000 year old theology, philosophy or practice patterns. I am obviously not an authority on the Church. As a practical person, and as I see it, the Church today is into LIVING THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST rather than developing some theoretical concepts of God, angels, heaven, hell, devil, sin, etc, and that itself is a BIG CHANGE. Of course some outstanding and outspoken Christians and non-Christians are still "STUCK" on those issues.

Your religion questions should have best been directed to and answered by persons who have spent their career in the field. It is like asking a theologian / philosophy professor about the advances in the last few decades in cancer. Likely they will tell you that there are no advances; as many many patients are still dying from cancer. There is obviously some humor here. Yet, the critics of religion are very similar to critics of medicine.

I am going to do my best to be helpful. However if you or others keep rejecting my explanations, that is your choice. It is not my job to
educate you about the Church or religion. While I'd like to help, I have neither the time nor the interest to convert you and them. My response (GL) follows each of your Santosh Helekar (SH) questions.

-------------->
GL: The Church too has "an expanding body of knowledge" and continues to do so.
SH: Can you give me one or two specific examples in which our knowledge of something has been expanded by the Church in the last decade?
GL's response: I have already given you a list of texts that you can refer to. The latest one is Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006. From a practical perspective, the church has developed very thoughtful PERSPECTIVES on "web-of-life" concerns such as: Issues of social justice, immigration, just wages, discrimination, death penalty, conduct of wars, right to basic health care, dignity of dying, right to life and prolongation of life (separate issues), right to die and prolongation of death (separate issues), euthanasia, protection of the unborn, protection of the environment, etc. Many of these issues have been expanded on several occasions in the Catholic literature on "Orthopraxis" and "Canons" on social justice, and other issues which theologians call "Epikeia".

Also the Church IMHO no longer holds to the belief that the Catholic Church is the only path to heaven. The church has changed its attitude toward suicide. If one does not believe in God, one may or may not understand and appreciate these perspectives of the Church.

------------------- >

GL: Like in science and medicine, some concepts in theology, philosophy, and ethics survive the test of time and others do not.
SH: Which concept in theology has survived the test of time? And in which theology?
GL response: Many teachings have survived the test of time and form the basis for new thinking in keeping with the advances in the sciences and society. From where I work, I am aware of much new thinking on "Prolonging Life" and "Prolonging Death". The importance of this was well demonstrated in the recent Terry Schiavo case in Florida. She of course is just one example.

Similarly there has been much thought into the ethics of the fate of unused In-Vitro fertilized ova. More recently the religious thinking has expanded into the philosophy, safeguards and ethics into the nuances of cloning, stem cell research, gene manipulation and genetic bioengineering. While these are new issues, the original theology of sanctity of life endures.

On a social level there are continuing issues of moral culpability and moral justice on which numerous popes and conferences of bishops have written many encyclicals and produced many documents. The latest is the Catholic Church's stand on helping immigrants, even if they are illegal, as spearheaded by the Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. Once again, the Church is living its theology and philosophy.

-------------------------->

GL: So perhaps you need to keep an open mind just like the rest of us.
SH: Open mind about what? Please explain.
GL response: There is much shift in interfaith understanding and acceptance. This involves working through the theology, rituals, social practices and finer points of the tenants of different religions. Your closed mind mirrors some of those of the fundamental right. This, though you and OTHERS at times MAY THINK you-all are more concerned and knowledgeable about religious, social and morals issues than the Church. :=))

In summary, religion like medicine is a large encompassing field with a long history. So any superficial and critical statement can be made; which can make the authors of those statements "look and sound intelligent".:=))
Yet, religion like medicine is not above criticisms and close evaluation. However there is a forum to do that by knowledgeable individuals who have made a serious study of the subject rather than as we say in Konkani any "haltur faltur".:=))

Having answered your questions, perhaps you can do some answering of your own.
What is the purpose of life - human, animal and plant? Just to procreate, and then be warm food and / or fertilizer.
If there is no God, as you believe, then you are OK after death. However what if there is a God, will you and others with anti-religion beliefs be OK?
Bosco D'Mello
2006-05-29 04:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Cornel / Marlon,

This is a belated response.

My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters. It's one thing to have a
constructive discussion on religion and another to be openly hostile to any
religion, its customs and practices.

Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist and has consistently
maintained a position of looking down on other religions - the one who claims
to have achieved nirvana - in the shade of the Uluru.

While I would be open to a discussion on religion and its historical origins,
I am disappointed when some of us take a stand that's demeaning to our fellow
citizens. Its immaterial whether we worship Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Mithras,
Dionysus, etc. - we still seek that Christos within us.

Yes, you're right with your allusions to violence within Christianity. The
Catholic church has withstood all that and several campaigns to malign it from
within and outside. Basilio had a good write-up on this subject recently. Most
religions, with some exceptions, have had a violent history. There will be
several justifications for the same just like the justifications we see for
the violence in the world today. But where does all this violence and hatred
lead us. What do we gain by being exoteric, literal followers of any faith?

I'll end here with today's Papal quote while visiting Birkenau, the death camp
section of the Auschwitz complex:

"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread
silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God?Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this
endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?" (ENDS)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/

Best - Bosco
T-dot, CA


On Wed May 17 11:57:09 PDT 2006 cornel wrote:

Bosco,

I have to side with Marlon re the Bible. Apart from much of it being pretty
blood-thirsty, especially the Old Testament, I find its use, by many, to
legitimise the state that is modern day Israel pretty nauseating. Even the
terms "The Chosen People", the "Holy Land", and the "Promised Land" etc are
simply pathetic and ridiculous in themselves and for the edifice of a State
built on utter bloodshed and stolen property underpinned by usage of the
Bible--a text that is definitely of highly dubious provenance. I have been
to Israel and to what exists of Palestine and seen how theft of land and
property, expulsion of millions, and murder in the name of a Biblical fairy
tale is legitimised. I am sorry but I just can't counternance this kind of
nonsense, like many enlightened Jews themselves.

Respectfully, I have to reject something 'sacred' to you but from my
perspective, those who have become "People of the Book" whether via the
Bible or Koran etc, have inevitably limited or circumscribed their thinking
for themselves.

I have no doubt that this post will upset many but I do not dismiss for a
moment, their right to sincerely believe in things like the Bible. All I ask
is for some honest re-think on their part and an understanding of
alternative views with the same sincere personal respect I accord to them.
Cornel
Mario Goveia
2006-05-29 17:25:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bosco D'Mello
I'll end here with today's Papal quote while
visiting Birkenau, the death camp section of the
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there
can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a
heartfelt cry to God ? Why, Lord, did you remain
silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How
could he permit this endless slaughter, this
triumph of evil?" (ENDS)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12964054/
Mario observes:
Pope Benedict XVI supposedly said at Auschwitz, "Why,
Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
all this?"
If properly quoted in context, this is an amazingly
peculiar and insensitive question coming from a Pope.
Sounds like he was pandering to his audience.
My answer to him would be, with all due respect,
"I guess, the same way HE - and the Vatican -
tolerated the priestly pedophiles for decades, and all
the other genocides and mass atrocities before and
after the Jewish Holocaust, some of which, like the
Chinese and Russian pogroms, were far, far worse.
Pope Benedict XVI represents the same Vatican that
opposed removing the brutal and sadistic regime of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq where mass political rapes,
tortures and killings of hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilians had taken place for years.
This is the same Vatican that did not use its moral
capital to speak out against the mass killings in
Rwanda and Burundi in the 90's and has not used its
moral capital to address the genocide in Darfur.
This is the same Pope who is pushing with unnecessary
and inexplicable haste and personal bias for a
"fast-track" beatification of his friend, mentor and
immediate predecessor, Pope JP-II. Pope JP-II, in
spite of his heroic efforts to free the old Soviet
Union and his outreach towards other religions, was
luke warm and relatively insensitive towards the
victims of decades of priestly pedophilia, whose
entire young lives were ruined, and seemed more
concerned about "forgiving" the perpetrators and their
enablers, even elevating the enabler Cardinal John
Law, who had resigned in disgrace, to a prestigious
position within the Vatican system.
Practicing Catholics need to be aware of these
uncomfortable realities and separate the religion and
way of life they believe in from the institutions and
personalities that have often besmirched it, and
continue to do so.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/
Mario Goveia
2006-06-04 20:59:19 UTC
Permalink
Given the predominence of Catholic Goans on this
list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion
if it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals
make insensitive and bigoted comments against
hindus and muslims on this forum, one is often met
with silence. My desire is to defend the under-
represented on this forum.
Mario observes:
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been met
with silence? If you can give me some valid examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of "better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-05 05:09:32 UTC
Permalink
Some people have a very selective or very short
memories! Mario has himself been guilty of backing an
individual who made unfortuate comments against a
muslim goanetter by the name of Tariq Siddiqi on this
this very forum. Ironically, although this person
later retracted his statements, Mario persisted in his
attacks on Tariq. Mission accomplished Mario. You
silenced him out of this list.

Gilbert Lawrence, another defender of the faith has
publically rejected any evidence of christian crimes
against the hindu population in Goa and has gone so
far as to deny the reality that churches were built on
top of destroyed hindu temples!

Finally, let us not even start with Nasci. This
character is on a totally different planet. I had the
pleasure of meeting Nasci in Goa. I'm not too sure
what he has been injesting lately :)

About my mom: Her intent to help a young dying cancer
patient was good, but the means were not. Declaring a
patient cured after some prayers which could result in
the ceasation of conventional health care is not only
quack medicine, it is also potentially deadly. The
fact is that the child died after her prayer group
declared that the child was "cured". If you wish to
revert to quack science and quack cures, I suggest you
try it first of your grand children, before you push
it on us!

Marlon
Post by Mario Goveia
Marlon, can you give us a couple of examples of
"insensitive and bigoted" comments about Hindus and
Muslims or their religion on Goanet that have been
met
with silence? If you can give me some valid
examples,
I would like to address them on the grounds of
"better
late than never".
BTW, your concern for the under-represented is
touching, and perhaps your desire may be to defend
them on Goanet, but, in actual fact, most of what we
see from you are unprovoked, disrespectful and
mean-spirited attacks on Christians and Catholics
and
their beliefs, once gratuitously ridiculing your own
Mom for praying for a relative with cancer who later
died.
Marlon Menezes
2006-06-03 08:02:19 UTC
Permalink
Bosco,

It looks like you only disagreed with the tone of my
message, and not my actual message. I used the word
"fiction" while you used "myths" to refer to aspects
of the bible. Fundamentally, we agree that much of
the content in the Bible is non factual, cannot be
verified or cannot be explained by any known laws of
nature.

While I understand your need to factor in the
sensitivies of christians who may be offended by my
frank statements, I feel it is unfair to compare my
views to the extremely hostile views expressed by some
fundamentalist christians against hindus and muslims
on this forum. Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum.

My views are definately not hostile to Christianity.
People should be free to worship or believe in any
thing they wish, and I have strongly defended the
right of christians in India to prostelize without
any restrictions or government inteference.

The rather extreme and narrow minded response by so
many Indian Christians to this movie is quite
stunning. I'm sure people have received all kinds of
christian spam from their older friends and relatives
urging them to fight/boycott this "evil" movie. Pretty
humorous, but also pretty sad. To me it is not just a
religious issue, but also highlights a clear
generation gap.

Marlon
Post by Bosco D'Mello
Cornel / Marlon,
This is a belated response.
My position was against the dismissive stance Marlon
took, of The Holy Book,
due to the sensitivies of fellow Goanetters.
Marlon's position was the other end of the spectrum
as compared to Nasci who
has positioned himself like a Chistian supremacist
Joe Vaz
2006-06-03 20:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marlon Menezes
Given the predominence of Catholic
Goans on this list, there is a large bank of people
who will mount a vigorous defence of their religion if
it is attacked. Unfortunately, when individuals make
insensitive and bigoted comments against hindus and
muslims on this forum, one is often met with silence.
My desire is to defend the under-represented on this
forum. <
_____________________________________________


What an incredible way of defending the under-represented -- by offending
the rest of the populace and thrashing their religious beliefs. Lack of
self-respect invariably renders insensitivity and disrespect for others.

Best,
Joe Vaz

_________________________________________________________________
FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar ? get it now!
http://toolbar.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200415ave/direct/01/

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