Autodidact: self-taught


‘Where Ya Been, Man?’ Jesus’ Forgotten Years

by V. L. Craven

In the Christian Bible Jesus is rather conspicuously absent for about… thirty years or so. It’s something that’s always struck me as odd. After such an all-singing, all-dancing birth you’d think people would’ve kept up with him, but it seems like we go from: Messiah! Woo! Son of GOD! Right ON! to … “flash forward three decades and now he’s dead.” That’s just bad plotting. I know the book was running on a bit by that time, but a few more details wouldn’t hurt. Sure, there’s apocryphal stories and such, but come on, Christians. If he was such a swell guy then why wasn’t someone taking notes the whole time?

Gary Glass has envisioned a quite plausible, to my mind, telling of what happened during some of those years in his novel Only Begotten, which can be read at that link. Mr Glass and I share a similar view of religion and therefore I was expecting a story about Jesus that would really rile up Christians (and some will be, I’m sure) but it’d be difficult for any rational person to argue overmuch with the premise. Jesus comes across as a regular bloke who simply sees the world in a different, more humble way than most. He struggles with the God he was taught to believe in, much like people now, but his thinking–that being a good person has less to do with what one believes and more with how one acts–continues to be revolutionary.

Besides filling in the gaps left in the Bible, Only Begotten also retells stories Christians would be familiar with, but envisioned from a more logical point of view–those were my favourite parts but they’ll also be the parts that tick off many religious people. Glass’ tone is level-headed throughout, giving the story more credence but some are quite attached to their miracles and may not take kindly to it. I’d be interested in reading reviews from theologians, as well as those believers who’ve studied Jesus’ life more in-depth.

Philosophical, well-written and well-researched, I recommend this to people of any faith (or not)–it gives the reader plenty to think about and new eyes with which to see the world. Four stars.

[Repost from a now-defunct blog. Original post date: January 2008]


The God Who Wasn’t There

by V. L. Craven

Last night I watched the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There, which was made by a former fundamentalist Christian who realised that the Jesus story was extremely similar to other myths going back at least as far back as 2,400 years before the common era.

Wow. At least come up with a new story, people.

I don’t get why people need a person to look up to. The Bible was written by humans so, clearly, we don’t need a supernatural force to tell us to not be jerks to one another. Why can’t people recognise how much better life is if one doesn’t behave abominably to one’s fellow man and go with it?Why does there have to be a supernatural element? People have invented gods for millenia. Why don’t they trust themselves enough to make the correct decisions?

My hypothesis is that it gives your stance more weight. ‘It’s not me saying this, it’s this omnipotent being.’ It’s the ultimate, ‘My dad can beat up your dad,’ argument. ‘Well, if you disagree with me then you’re going to Hell.’ It’s nice to feel that those who dare to hold an opinion than you are going to be punished for not bowing to your superiority. Atheists don’t get to have that. We have no eternal punishment for those who disagree with us.

You also get to be special. Because you have some higher knowledge than the people who say, ‘There’s no scientific corroboration of any god’s existence.’ Those wacky, logical people.

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