Shaming Women

So sayeth Saint Paul. When he wrote this, in the late 40s or 50s CE, women in the Roman Empire were still respected in religious rites, such as the all-female Bona Dea cult and of course the Vestal Virgins. In Judaism, their role was much more limited. I find it interesting, though, that Paul, the founder of Gentile Christianity, who claimed to speak directly to the ghost of Jesus, took such a harsh tone towards women. Why would it be shameful for them to speak, I wonder? From my Random Bible Quotes Facebook group.

The Mythmaker

My latest obsession is using 3×5 cards as flash cards to improve my memory. Especially as I’m preparing for this documentary, there are so many people and dates I need to keep in my head, that I need a new tool – and there’s nothing that says ‘new tool’ like creating flash cards out of a pencil, 3×5 cards and a rubber band to hold them together. I’m using a regular old notebook for taking notes while I read books. The 3×5 cards I’m using to capture the key names, dates, ideas, just like a traditional flash card – question on one side, answer on the reverse, and I’ve got a pile of them wrapped up with a rubber band, that I go through a few times a day, to test myself. I’m also using groups of cards for other things – memorizing The Raven by Poe (which I used to know but have forgotten some of the verses) and the opening soliloquy from RICHARD III. Also using a separate pile for BIG IDEAS – I’m trying to write down the biggest idea I have every day or the best thing I learned and then I’m reviewing them every day. I’ve tried using notebooks and Evernote for this for years, but there’s something about cards that I really like – they are small, which force me to be succinct, they are easy to keep on my desk, and they are easy to randomize (a quick shuffle). And I’m crazy about pencils these days. There’s something about writing something with pencil on paper that makes part of my brain come to life – typing on a computer doesn’t have the same effect.

In other news: Chelsea Manning gets out of jail today. I hope she gets some peace, but I doubt it if she stays in America. So nice to see that “Backers have raised more than $135,000 for housing and other essentials and to assist her with her reentry into society after seven years in prison.”

Closer to home: Victorian police are deciding whether to charge Australia’s most senior Catholic over historical sexual assault allegations. But there’s concern that as Australia doesn’t have an extradition treaty in place with the Vatican, they won’t be able to arrest him unless he agrees to come back to Australia voluntarily.

Meanwhile, as I’m done with my Cold War research for this week’s recordings, I’m reading an actual hardcopy book (I typically only read ebooks) that I bought from eBay because it wasn’t available in a digital edition: THE MYTHMAKER: PAUL AND THE INVENTION OF CHRISTIANITY by Hyam Maccoby (1986). Maccoby was a British Talmudic scholar who makes the case that Paul was born a gentile, converted to Judaism, and later invented Christianity. He believes Jesus was a Pharisee who would have been horrified over what Paul did in his name.

Wardenclyffe Tower

I like to listen to instrumental music while I work, sometimes jazz, sometimes classical, sometimes techno, or Rob Zombie, or Brian Eno. Tonight I wanted to listen to Wardenclyffe Tower by Allan Holdsworth. I haven’t heard it in a long time but I owned it on CD back in the 90s. Anyway I went to Wikipedia to find out what he’s been doing lately, only to discover he died a few weeks ago, heart attack, age 70. I bet a lot of people have never heard of him, but he was one of the most influential guitarists of all time, according to people like Eddie Van Halen (from who I learned about Holdsworth decades ago), Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, etc.

Another guy who died today was Powers Boothe, who played Cy Tolliver on Deadwood, among many other great roles, usually playing the villain. A great actor who will be missed.

I spent most of today working on the script for our Christianity documentary, which is a complete mindfuck. So many rabbit holes, the story is so complex, it’s hard to know what to leave out. I had a phone call with one Aussie scholar who is going to be on the film, Mike Bird, and got turned down by another who doesn’t want to appear on film. Meanwhile, for research, I started reading a couple of books by John Dominic Crossan – The Historical Jesus in Context and God & Empire: Jesus against Rome, Then and Now. I’m sure they will open up completely new cans of worms I’ll have to unpick.

As I told Mike, my study of Christianity is the inverse of every other subject I’ve studied, in that the more I read, the more confused I become. It’s a complete clusterfuck. The scholars disagree on nearly everything, it seems.

Meanwhile Chrissy and Fox are still in the US, visiting her family. They’ve been away two weeks, due back in one more week.

Inventing The Messiah

Inventing The Messiah

My latest project is a secular (non-religious) documentary about the history behind Jesus and early Christianity. We’re going to interview a range of biblical scholars and academics to learn what they believe to be the HISTORY behind the story – leaving aside theology or faith, what happened? How did a fringe, Jewish personality cult from the backwaters of Middle East, end up taking over the Roman Empire? It’s a terrific and fascinating story. Check out our teaser video on Kickstarter for more information and support it if you can!

Baby Killers

I don’t often get into debates with Christians these days – but when they knock on my door, they are fair game.

A couple of JW’s came a’knocking today, a lovely couple in their sixties – Phil and Margaret. Phil is from Arkansas and had a wonderful Dali moustache that I could tell he was quite proud of (and rightly so).

They offered me their magazine and I politely declined, explaining that I’m an atheist. Margaret asked why I am. I said it was because I’d spent decades reading scientific, religious and philosophical books and that I’d come to the conclusion that there was no evidence for either God or Jesus (as an historical entity).

This started a 30 minute discussion which would have been much, MUCH longer, if my mate Adam hadn’t turned up with a donation of baby clothes and cigars.

Here’s a summary of the central theme of our discussion.

P&M: Religion has been the cause of most of the violence in the world.

CR: Well I think greed has been the cause, but it’s often been justified by religion or “spreading democracy”.

P&M: Agreed. We’re scientists. But we don’t believe in evolution.

CR: Seriously? Why not? There is overwhelming evidence for evolution.

P&M: Only atheists believe in evolution.

CR: The Vatican believes in evolution.

P&M: Catholics aren’t true Christians.

CR: Who gets to decide who is and isn’t a true Christian?

P&M: God.

CR: And do you claim the know the mind of God?

P&M: No.

CR: So how do you know Catholics aren’t true Christians?

P&M: Because of the violence they have been responsible for.

CR: Do you believe that the Old Testament is the literal word of God?

P&M: Yes.

CR: So you believe that God ordered the genocide of men, women and children?

P&M: Yes – but he had good reasons.

CR: So you think it’s okay for God to order his believers to kill other people?

P&M: Yes – he has his reasons. They were non-believers.

CR: So if God appeared to you tomorrow and told you to kill me and my family because we are non-believers, would you obey?

P&M: He wouldn’t do that.

CR: How do you know?

P&M: Because he’s a god of love.

CR: But you just told me you believed he ordered genocide in the OT.

P&M: Yes but he wouldn’t do that NOW.

CR: Why not?

P&M: Because things are different.

CR: How?

P&M: It’s the end of days.

CR: How do you know it’s the end of days?

P&M: Because it’s in the Bible.

CR: If it’s in the Bible, how come people keep getting it wrong? Jesus told his disciples the second coming would happen in their lifetime. That obviously didn’t happen.

P&M: He meant the fall of the temple.

CR: Then why didn’t he say that?

P&M: mumble mumble

CR: Anyway, I want an answer – if God told you to kill me and my family, WOULD YOU OBEY?

P&M: He wouldn’t do that.


P&M: No.

CR: Then don’t tell me you know what he would and wouldn’t do. So answer the question – would you do it?

P&M: (after trying to avoid the question for about 5 minutes) – No.

CR: Then you would disobey your God?

P&M: (Starting to get distraught and obviously confused, suffering from cognitive dissonance.) No.

CR: So you would kill me? Are you potential baby killers? My wife is pregnant and you’d be prepared to kill her and our unborn baby? YOU SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME.


And that’s about when Adam arrived and they escaped.