Thursday, December 07, 2006

What a day...

Today was just one of "those" days. You know, the ones where you get positively discouraged by the time they're all over. At work today I had to sit through to gentlemen discussing their views on religion, the Catholic Church and the historical existence of Jesus. And all the while having to bite my tongue because their views were not exactly in the realm of well-informed.

The whole mess started about I remember not what. The comment that caught my attention was, "who do they think they are telling anyone what to do when their priests were doing [fill in the blank] in the churches themselves - they need to clean up their own act before they tell anyone what to do". I'd like to think my blood pressure only went up a few notches at that point, but I'd probably be lying. How long, O Lord, will our enemies hold this against us? And perhaps in my more agitated state my thought was, "and just who do these people think they are telling the Church when and what they can say?" Perhaps our greatest failing as a society in this day and age is our utter inability to let wounds heal. If this were the first example it would be one thing, but we as Americans have in recent times been faced with slave reparations, Islamophobia in the form of terming any actions against terrorists "Crusades", failure to stop the Holocaust, intolerance of any and all "lifestyle choices" ... the list goes on. Let me give these folks a hint - let it go. Trust me, you'll feel better afterwards.

Then there was the comment which followed, "well really, what did you expect, they all think their buddy just created the universe so you can't expect too much from them". Ugh. Yes, anyone who is open to the concept that the universe isn't a completely random chance of colliding accidents is a pedestrian simpleton. Of course. Should I remind them that some of the greatest minds in the history of the world were devoutly religious? No, I suppose that might just have a deleterious effect on their world view which as we all know is not an acceptable thing to do. We've replaced "evangelization" and "education" with "religious oppression". So in the name of tolerance we are forced to allow people to wallow in their shallow pools instead of swimming in the great oceans of understanding. Brilliant. Now who is the Neanderthal?

And then of course, the cake topper. "Jesus didn't really exist - the only non-Christian who ever wrote about him was a guy named Josephus and they can prove that he didn't actually write the words attributed to him." Ah, yes, he's talking about the Testimonium Flavianum. While I'm no ancient writings exegete, wikipedia has a good, balanced page about it here, and there are other discussions of it here, here, here, here, and even here. I'm sure there are many more resources, but that's a good starter. Suffice it to say the balance of opinion, excluding the shouters on either end of the spectrum, is that there is a very high probability that Josephus did at least write about Jesus if not in the glowing terms we see in the present copies of the Testimonium. So yet again I get to be bombarded by a poorly understood misrepresentation of simple facts (albeit with complex paths trodden by experts). In an open office environment. And I have to keep my mouth shut because otherwise I'm likely to get myself in a heap of trouble. Religious freedom indeed. Fortunately for my sanity and continued employment my suffering was ended by a well-timed cell phone call to my co-worker.

The good news is I had the opportunity to sit down and listen to Choral Treasure again tonight, which took much of the edge off. Now that I've had all this fun, 'tis time to look forward to this again tomorrow. Once more unto the breach my brethren!