Friday, June 1, 2007

Required reading

Many people like to believe antiquated nonsense such as the notion that the crucified Jesus once ascended bodily into the sky. In a different domain, other misinformed folk persist in believing today that donkeys are stupid beasts. Once upon a time, in French schools, teachers punished the dunce of the class by forcing him/her to wear a so-called bonnet d'âne [donkey bonnet] adorned with a pair of big cloth ears.

The French term ânerie [donkey stuff] is still used as a synonym for ignorance and stupidity, as in the English metaphor that consists of designating a silly fellow as an ass. Well, in a recent issue of a serious French TV weekly, two otherwise respectable French intellectuals dared to apply this derogatory term to the famous film by Simcha Jacobovici about a tomb to the south of Jerusalem that contained several ossuaries [human bone boxes], one of which was marked "Jesus son of Joseph". [Click here to see my earlier article, entitled Thomas time, on this fascinating subject.] These Parisian intellectuals, who should know better, referred rudely to Jacobovici's work as an ânerie mercantile [roughly, commercial donkey shit]. I would like to offer a symbolic donkey hat to each of these gentlemen, while hoping—as we say in English—that they'll end up being obliged to eat it.

Simcha Jacobovici's film was finally aired on French TV late last Wednesday evening, and it was followed by a well-mannered debate in French between Simcha himself and 65-year-old Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco, bishop of Gap, who has long been looked upon as an elegant and well-informed spokesman of the hierarchy of the Catholic church in France.

I hardly need to say that Jacobovici's astounding film is clear and convincing. Quite the opposite of commercial donkey shit. On the other hand, di Falco's observations were neither pertinent nor particularly relevant, and certainly not persuasive. He even wasted everybody's time by evoking two extraneous subjects: Dan Brown's popular novel [The Da Vinci Code] and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Curiously, Monsignor di Falco did not utter a single word concerning the relatively recent discovery (1945) of the most fabulous Christian documents since the Bible: the Nag Hammadi library. [I've already written two articles on this theme. Click here to see the first post, entitled Sharing life together. Click here to see the second post, entitled Gnostic discoveries.]

This juxtaposition shows the covers of two books. The current situation can be summarized simply. If you're concerned by Christianity today, either as an interested observer (like me) or as a believer (like Monsignor di Falco), you need both these books. The one on the left provides a complex but partial introduction to the subject. The one on the right [hot off the press] offers an even more complex but necessary and complementary view of Christian things. Henceforth, for aficionados of Jesus, both books are required reading. The second book reveals all that was stupidly banned, in year 367, in the days of Athanasius. Today, we're adult enough to read such stuff. In any case, to my mind, Simcha Jacobovici's research and film go hand in hand with the Nag Hammadi scriptures. And together, they'll end up turning Christianity upside-down...

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