As I recall, the first eyebrow raiser written about the life of Jesus hit the bookstores in the mid-‘70s. A least it was the first one that was published in my lifetime that caused a stir. It was entitled, “The Passover Plot”. It sold so successfully that it was turned into a movie – which was also rather successful.
Now the purpose of this post is not to detail a history of books which contest the orthodox Christian view of who Jesus was and what he did. Nor is it my purpose to defend that traditional view. The catholic understanding of who Jesus was, was rather nicely codified in 325 A. D. at the Council of Nicaea.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that a new book by a former Christian, now converted to Islam, is making such a hit as a best seller. And what surprises me more is that when the author, his motivations in writing the book, the scholarship which he has gained through his education, are questioned, a significant part of the country, the secular humanists – to be found everywhere – seem to make of those inquiries a connection to the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada.
Frankly, I assume he wrote the book to make money. And if that was his goal, he seems to be doing pretty well with his plan. Since I like to find the simplest reason that things happen – I will stand by my simple explanation for the author’s motives – until proven wrong.
Now I don’t have a great deal of experience in child-rearing – but I did have the responsibility of directing a fairly large children’s choir at church. Mostly the children were there because they enjoyed singing. But as will be found among a large group, whatever its composition, there are always a few who want to throw a sabot in the machinery and mess things up – just to see if they can.
We had a few (thankfully, a very few) like that.
What I learned as their director was that they were less interested in creating a disturbance than they were in drawing attention to themselves. Perhaps they had an underdeveloped ego or something along that line. And I found that the more I turned my attention to them through admonition, the worse they behaved. So I made things simple for the rest of the children and myself.
If those few kids got out of line at a rehearsal, I simply sent them home and told them that if they wanted to continue in the choir they would need to follow the same rules of behavior that I expected and could rely on from the vast majority of the children.
Not only did doing this cause most of these children to shape up and behave during choir rehearsals, I think it improved the general decorum of all the kids in the choir – who suddenly realized that as nice as I am, there were limits to what I would accept in the way of behavior.
Of course, there were two children, Jamal and Jasmine with whom this technique simply was not effective. But I’m not sure that anything with which I was familiar would have been more so. Ultimately, I found it unfortunate but necessary to terminate their relationship with the choir. This, of course, led to a few nasty calls placed by their annoyed and flustered parents.
“My little J. is an angel. I can’t believe you threw him/her out of the choir.”
“Well, Mrs. _. – it’s like this. I have no doubt that your child is an angel. But you know the demons in hell were also angels. I simply think that your little J. is trying to emulate the wrong ones.”
The point of my relating this is not to give you an amateur’s advice on child-rearing. But it is to point out how the Christian community is causing a book of suspect scholarship (or so I hear – I’ve not read it) to gain far more notoriety and increase sales to fatten the author’s bank account than it might have otherwise achieved if it had been published and ignored.
Incidentally, the book is entitled, “Zealot” and the author is Reza Aslan – just in case you want to add it to your Christmas list.
The thing that I find most amazing in this entire brouhaha over Mr. Aslan’s book is not his thesis but that he has the freedom to publish that thesis without interference by any government authority, here in a country built on Judaeo-Christian principles – the very ones that apparently must be in error if we are to accept his notion about the historical Jesus.
It is interesting that Mr. Aslan is able to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam without fear of repercussion from those who are among the clergy of the churches. The same may not be his fate should he try to further broaden his religious horizons since apostasy from Islam is punishable by death – or so the Koran and the imams tell us. And they carry out those sentences with piety and swiftness.
This week in Saudi Arabia, a young man was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes because he even suggested the notion of talking about religion and politics and “parental obedience”. While the U. S. has officially “protested” this sentence, Raif Badawi will soon be forgotten as we unload the next shipment of oil from the Arab kingdom.
You don’t need to be a Messiah in order to look at a faith that treats its adherents in such a manner and shed more than a few tears. At least I don’t. And for those who want to establish the same Sharia law here in the USA – let me tell you that I would be one of the first in line to opt out.