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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blasphemy

We listened to an interview on NPR with Nick Tosches on his new novel Under Tiberius.

"A work of dangerous and haunting beauty by America's last real literary outlaw. Under Tiberius is a thrilling story of crime and deceit involving the man who came to be called Jesus Christ. Deep in the recesses of the Vatican, Nick Tosches unearths a first-century memoir by Gaius Fulvius Falconius, foremost speechwriter for Emperor Tiberius. The codex is profound, proof of the existence of a Messiah who was anything but the one we've known -- a shabby and licentious thief."

We ordered it of course. I don't think I'll send it out as a Christmas present to my Christian family and friends. They would be scandalized. If this were about Mohammed, there would be a fatwa against the author (which proves to me that most Christians are not idolaters and understand metaphor)

In the interview Tosches said he was exploring which came first--good and evil or the gods. It's another way of asking my question of the relation between morality and religion. My sense from the interview is that Tosches believes that religion brings evil into the world without which there would be no awareness of good. The interviewer intervened , "but I have seen nuns and priests who have given up their lives for others." Oh yes, said Tosches, but that's the way they are. They did that not because of religion, but because of their goodness.

The interviewer asked Tosches about the darkness of his vision of humanity. "Isn't there a place for hope?" Yes, of course, he responded. Hope is an illusion of our evolved brain. But it is an important illusion for the survival of humanity and perhaps of spirit.

I was reminded of the story of Pandora who opened the box manufactured by the gods and let out all the evils that were placed within by the gods. What was left however was hope. Perhaps an illusion. But one it is in our power to make a reality.




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