Sympathy for the Devil

I was thinking about how a lot of movies and shows (a rewatch of The Sopranos is what made me thing of this) could be called Sympathy For The Devil.

Isn’t the premise of this show to take a murderer and crime boss and get you to sympathize with him?


Ron Hansen

found in my notes some quotes from an interview with novelist Ron Hansen:

You may pray to God for guidance about some decision in your life, and God might say, ‘Look inside yourself and see what you want. It’s not necessary for you to be a priest. It’s not necessary for you to be married. It’s whatever you decide.’ In essence, God says, ‘Surprise me.’ We’re co-creators in a lot of ways, and what God relishes most about us is our creative freedom.

How about this:

For me, each Mass has a plot. It’s a kind of murder mystery. There is for me within the liturgy a sense of the importance of this celebration-this reenactment of the conspiracy and murder and resurrection of an innocent man. Here’s a man who on the eve of his betrayal celebrates dinner with his friends. Then he’s led away and whipped and has all these terrible things happen to him. But at the end the story we find out it’s a comedy, because it has such a wonderful, happy ending. And we get to share in it, in this mystery of the redemption.

love the idea of Mass as murder mystery slash comedy.

The opening of Ron Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford:

He was growing into middle age and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue.  Green weeds split the porch steps, a wasp nest clung to an attic gable, a rope swing looped down from a dying elm tree and the ground below it was scuffed soft as flour.  Jesse installed himself in a rocking chair and smoked a cigar down in the evening as his wife wiped her pink hands on a cotton apron and reported happily on their two children.  Whenever he walked about the house, he carried serval newspapers – the Sedalia Daily Democrat, the St. Joseph Gazette, and the Kansas City Times – with a foot-long .44 caliber pistol tucked into a fold.  He stuffed flat pencils into his pockets.  He played by flipping peanuts to squirrels.  He braided yellow dandelions into his wife’s yellow hair.  He practiced out-of-the-body travel, precognition, sorcery.  He sucked raw egg yolks out of their shells and ate grass when sick, like a dog.  He would flop open the limp Holy Bible that had belonged to his father, the late Reverend Robert S. James, and would contemplate whichever verses he chanced upon, getting privileged messages from each.  The pages were scribbled over with penciled comments and interpretations; the cover was cool to his cheek as a shovel.  He scoured for nightcrawlers after earth-battering rains and flipped them into manure pails until he could chop them into writhing sections and sprinkle them over his garden patch.  He recorded sales and trends at the stock exchange but squandered much of his capital on madcap speculation.  He conjectured about foreign relations, justified himself with indignant letters, derided Eastern financiers, seeded tobacco shops and saloons with preposterous gossip about the kitchens of Persia, the Queen of England, the marriage rites of the Latter Day Saints.  He was a faulty judge of character, a prevaricator, a child at heart.  He went everywhere unrecognized and lunched with Kansas City shopkeepers and merchants, calling himself a cattleman or commodities investor, someone rich and leisured who had the common touch.


in my Quora digest


The source

Most scholars seem to agree that Mark, Luke, and Matthew used a common source, a sayings source.  A list or record of Jesus sayings.  This now lost source is called Q, from the German Quelle, meaning source.

The stories about John Belushi in this book were written down at about the same time distance as the stories about Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.

rylands

Though the oldest written fragments of the Gospels are on papyrus from 100-200 CE, most scholars seem to agree Mark was written around 70 AD.

Richard Bauckham, author of this book:

and this one:

makes a strong case, I believe, that one of Mark’s main sources was Peter.  Directly or indirectly, who knows.  But in Mark we’re getting something like Peter’s version. Peter himself is a character in the story.  Mark tells stories only Peter (or only Peter and a few others) could have known.

“Get behind me Satan!”

There are times in Mark when Jesus is angry and frustrated with Peter.  In a way Mark tells Peter’s version of a story of a complicated bromance with Jesus.

How much was Mark getting his stuff from Peter?  Or other eyewitnesses to Jesus? Here is a lowkey fiery debate on this topic.  Gets very hot around 19:54 as these guys try to jab each other over how many people were literate in Palestine two thousand years ago.  (Hard not to root for the American tbh.)

Luke alone has receipts:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.  With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

It feels infuriating that Paul says that the time he’s writing 1 Corinthians (15:6) there are 251 at least (?) eyewitnesses still alive who saw Jesus after the crucifixion:

New International Version
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

New Living Translation
After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.

and yet Paul doesn’t bother interviewing any of them!  Paul was a better philosopher than a reporter I guess.

Going back to the source is a passion here at Helytimes.


Did Jesus have a brother?

My take?  Yes!  Definitely, sounds like he had some sisters too!

This isn’t that hard.  Mark 6:

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

We’ve been talking about Mark, and how the evidence is compelling that it is probably the oldest record we have of a guy who lived and taught sometime around years now marked 1-30 AD named Jesus.

Mark says that guy had brothers and sisters.

So do all the other Gospel writers!  Matthew, 13:55-56.  Luke, 8:19.  They all got him having brothers. I’m not even gonna get into it with the sisters.  John’s pretty straightforward about it too. 

The Greek word used is (I’m told) adelphos.

In Paul’s Letters, written sometime after this Jesus was executed, he mentions Jesus’ brother.

In a number of other early Christian sources, there are discussions of Jesus’ brothers.

Why is it a problem that Jesus had brothers, maybe sisters too?

It’s not.

Unless having brothers and sisters like a human of his time screws up what you think you’re supposed to believe about Jesus God status.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches are determined to insist that Mary was a perpetual virgin who never had sex.

Why?

That seems twisted and conjured up out of nowhere.  When I hear that I’m like ok I think maybe you guys are a little weird about sex.

You can ponder and explore for yourself why the theologians cooked up that one.  I’m sure there’s whole shelves in the Catholic libraries about it.  It matters enough that you find scholars twisting themselves into pretzels about the meanings of different words for brother in 1st century Greek and Aramaic.

But hey, maybe they really were his cousins!

Who cares?

Well, if you are trying to get back to primary sources about a historical Jesus, and what that guy actually said, and what he was like, and possible brothers, or cousins so close they used the same word to describe them, that’s something.

Of the brothers, James comes up the most in early Christian history.  What this James believed Jesus was up to is too big a question for us today.

What I can tell you about James’ views is that he and Paul did not see eye to eye.

Interesting to me, because it suggests you could be a Jesusist without being a Paulist.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cites Romans 13.

Check out The Brick Bible.( I hope Elbe Spurling doesn’t mind me using this screenshot)

Jesus, it’s easy to forget, was arrested and executed for causing trouble for the authorities.

Discussion question for brunch:

Which characters in the New Testament remind you most of the Attorney General and the President?  Do you like those characters?

Have a joyful Sunday everyone!  (We welcome your letters btw!  I know we got some Bible scholars out there who can school me!)

 


“donned lewdly by Rihanna”

lol Ross Douthat are you doing a bit?

(h/t the Wrensh)


Mark Five: Weird

Fifth in our series about the Book of Mark: 

Mark One, about the scraps of Mark on Papyrus One. 

Mark Two, an intro to Mark, and what’s going on with it. 

Mark Three,  about “The Secret Gospel of Mark.”

Mark Four, about J. B. Phillips.

As a kid the first time I heard The Book of Mark was read aloud to me, in deliberate boring tone, in Catholic church, a notoriously stiff and elderly kind of place, not all that appealing to the average child.

On the plus side, you did get a good education in a way in the Bible and some aspects of human behavior.

Wanted to stand up and cheer when I got to this part of Ross Douthat and Tyler Cowen’s conversation.  Connecting Catholic theology to what the Guy says on the hillside in Galilee in the Gospels takes insane mental labyrinth building.  A fun project in a way but not what the Guy himself seems to describe as the way forward.

Take, for example, Mark Five.  (Turns out we’ve discussed it before).

Here’s what the NIV gives as the rough sections of this chapter.

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

JB Philips gives it:

Jesus meets a violent lunatic

Faith is followed by healing

Weird, supernatural type stuff.  How’re you gonna deal with this?  Unpacking the events of Mark Five could probably be a career for a theologian.

Hard to make your church last 2,000 years without sanding the edges down a bit I guess but when you go back to the source you can sometimes feel like what’s missing is the compelling, almost alarming strangeness of the story.

Let’s say only that by Chapter Five of his book, Mark’s Jesus is unstoppable, coursing with power that flows almost like electricity.

If Mark is avail they should hire him for a Marvel movie.

Next time: