Nailed for Jesus

Over at Thailand's "The Nation", you will find coverage of a bizarre practice, made all the more strange by the fact that it happens each and every year. In this report, 24 penitents had themselves nailed to crosses in a recreation of Christ's crucifixion and death. They apparently leave out the death part, but they do go through the actual process of having themselves nailed to a cross, with large nails hammered into their palms by guys dressed up as Roman soldiers.

Now you've got to hand it to them (no pun intended), these are people who really truly believe. They're also not entirely sane, I'd wager. But I guess nothing says "I believe" like participating in a brutal display of torture and human sacrifice.

A lot of questions surround this practice, and I'm not even talking about the question of whether there was a Jesus who died for our collective sins. The questions are more along the lines of this:

Found on Wikicommons: Saint Michael parish church in Untergriesbach. Fresco at the ceiling: Last Judgment( 1780 ) by Johann Georg Unruhe - Good souls rising to heaven.Pfarrkirche St. Michael in Untergriesbach. Vierungsfresco: Jüngst

Jesus and the Resurrection. Been There. Done That.

Let me see if I get this straight . . . a long time ago, this guy was born of a virgin, performed miracles, collected disciples, then was eventually crucified, died, was buried, and rose again to redeem mankind? Does that sound about right?

I thought so, except I'm not talking about Jesus. In this case, the guy's name was Attis and he was a fairly popular Phrygian man-god some 400 years before Jesus Christ came on the scene (though the origins of the story go back as far as 1200 B.C.). Attis was born of the virgin, Nana, became the consort of the mother Goddess Cybele. Attis is sometimes depicted as a shepherd, his priests are celibate (they are in fact, castrated),  is crucified to a tree (accounts vary somewhat on this point), dies, is buried, and rises again to bring life to the world. The Attis myth reaches its peak sometime around 200 BC.

Attis isn't special though. In point of fact, guys who were born of virgins, performed miracles, died, then rose from the dead are common to many religions. Christianity adopted a lot of these old stories to make their new religion more palatable to the dominant religions of the day. As for all those miraculous things . . . well, your god wasn't much of a god if he couldn't perform miracles or had some kind of miraculous birth. Born of a virgin sounds pretty miraculous so it makes sense to start there. Water into wine? That's an old one too.

In 405 B.C., Euripedes' "The Bacchae" was released. It features Dyonisus who, among other things, is born of a virgin, turns water into wine, and has someone crucified to a tree. Dyonisus was called "King of Kings", "Redeemer", "Savior", and other familiar titles we associate with that Johnny come lately, Jesus.


The Easter Story, as I explained it to my kids

My youngest son asked me about Easter today. Luckily, as a parent, I am endowed with the power of complete universal knowledge and, naturally, explaining how Easter works is child's play. Or adult knowledge, as the case may be.

Every Easter, a giant invisible white rabbit, only vaguely like the one in the famous play, Harvey, visits every house everywhere all around the world, delivering chocolates for Easter. He goes by the name, Easter Bunny.

Possessed with awesome jumping powers, the Easter Bunny doesn't need a sleigh or reindeer to cover the world. He just hops from house to house. When he arrives at a house where a boy or girl live, he slides down the chimney, in much the same way as Santa does. Unlike Santa, however, the Easter Bunny doesn't care if you've been bad or good. He has Easter eggs to deliver and by gum he's going to deliver them.

Now Santa may be rounder than the Easter Bunny but the Easter bunny is a lot taller. Also unlike Santa, the Easter Bunny can shrink himself down to the size of a fly. This is cool because if you don't have a chimney, he can come up the floor vents. Once he pops out, he returns to his normal size (about 7 feet tall). You won't see him,  of course, because he is invisible.

Once in your house, the Easter Bunny hops around, pausing to poop out chocolate Easter eggs here and there. The eggs are hidden because he's a bit shy about pooping in public so he poops the eggs behind furniture, bushes, and so on. 

Even though the Easter Bunny is invisible, you can tell when he's around because he growls like a tiger. So if you're out hunting for Easter eggs and you hear a low growl when you find an egg, that's the  Easter Bunny.

And that is what Easter is all about.

Note : Originally published 2012-04-05.


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