Smuggling Grapes

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Ever wondered why the Romans stripped Jesus specifically in order to humiliate him, but then pulled an Ashcroft and allowed a drapery to cover his private parts? You're not alone! Father John Dobson of Caloundra in Queensland, Australia tells the naked truth in his column for Sunshine Coast Sunday newspaper:

"Most certainly Jesus would have been crucified naked, as was the Roman practice," Fr Dobson wrote. "At some stage it was decided that Jesus' sexuality must be covered up, and so he was draped in a loincloth, which somehow would make him more presentable in polite Christian company!

Fr Dobson said the crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity because it was a means of execution.

Condemning Fr. Dobson as "weird," the editor of the conservative Catholic paper Lepanto has reported the priest/columnist to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(What happened to newspaper columns written by priests, anyway? When I was a kid, one of my favorite items in the Atlantic City Press was the regular column by "Monsignor S.J. Adamo," which was entertainingly heavy with profiles of great two-fisted priests. A typical article would tell of some tough Salesian working in Camden who gets mugged outside the rectory; after beating his attacker like a Saracen, the priest would then reach into his pocket and fish out a sawbuck. The defeated mugger would always be amazed at this act of mercy—saving grace delivered with a mean right hook. Sadly, the column-writing man of the cloth, like the tough-but-true priest, seems to be a fading figure from days of yore. )

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  1. Sad. But there is the Spanish-language show featuring the gun-toting, ass-kicking priest you sometimes see playing in the background on “King of the Hill.” (“Via con dios”) I’ve always felt that he deserves his own show.

  2. I’m struck by the assertion that the cross shouldn’t have become the symbol of Christianity because it was a means of execution. It’s as if he thinks that there was some council that met shortly after the first century AD, took nominations (okay guys, is it gonna be a cross, an eagle or that fish thingy?), and thereby picked a symbol to impose on Christians everwhere. But the symbol of the cross grew organicly out of our subconscious, it wasn’t imposed on unwary Christians from above by some governing body.

    Many religons have some sort of cross to show a seperation from god(s) that has been in some way transfixed. The Navajo, Tibetan Buddhists and the ancient religons of Germany all used the same cross symbol (stolen and perverted by Hitler) to demonstrate our seperation from the gods transfixed with the cycle of the four seasons, representing the cycle of death and rebirth. Why Father John feels that a symbol for the execution of Jesus, which all Christians believe was the means by which our sepereation from God was transfixed, isn’t a good symbol for Christianity is beyond me.

    It’s certainly his right to question whatever he wants. But, if he’s right, who should we complain to? I’m not familiar with the Anglican Church in Austrailia. Is the church supported by the state there? Then I guess it would be a matter that should be taken up with your MP.

  3. “[T]he crucifix should never have become the symbol of Christianity…”? What on earth are they teaching priests these days?

    While the resurrection provides hope of eternal life, it is precisely through the execution of Jesus that we are redeemed from the curse of the law. This is a basic doctrine of Roman, Eastern, and Protestant faith. No wonder he’s facing trouble.

    I know, I know, this isn’t a theo-blog, but I was just amazed, that’s all. And yes, I know that he’s been doing this for 12 years, “these days” is a figure of speech… 😉

  4. The theology of the cross must stay and go on serving. How else can the righteous conjure up the invisable? With this sign we shall conquer the world.

  5. While on a motorcycle ride in West Texas this past summer, I rode by what was billed as “the largest free standing cross in the world”. It set my mind to thinking (as long desolate stretches of highway are want to do) about what motivated the builders of this graven idol. Are they planning for the day when they need to crucify a King Kong sized Christ?

  6. >>I’m struck by the assertion that the cross shouldn’t have become the symbol of Christianity because it was a means of execution.

  7. So how are we going to keep the vampires away ?

  8. Hollow-mirrored-garlic-filled crucifix?

  9. As a former Catholic, I understand the theological significance of the cross. However, looking at it from an outside perspective, it does seem creepy at best. Could you imagine what we would think these days of a religious cult that had the electric chair or a gun or the guillotine as it’s most sacred symbol? It is also apparent to me, why early Christians were viewed as a threat and persecuted thusly. They were often even accused of cannibalism, due to the whole, “eat my body and drink my blood” aspect of holy communion. Think about that next time you criticize some religious cult you don’t know much about…

  10. Please post a reference to early Christians being accused of cannibalism. I need to see it for myself.

  11. Pliny the Younger wrote to Trajan about this and other rumours when he was governor of Pontus-Bithnia. Or at least that was how his letters were translated in latin class back in the 80s.

    Sorry, I know of no internet reference for Pliny’s letters.

  12. For some reason, I read the beginning of this post as “When the Ramones stripped Jesus…”

    Neddless to say, the band’s influence on theology mystified me until I re-read it correctly.

  13. Thanks for the reference. I was already familiar with Pliny. He is faulting Christians for refusing to bow to an effigy of the emperor. No mention of cannibalism.

    Back in the eighties, this geezer once told me that AIDS originally infected humans because some perverts in Africa were copulating with gorillas. Um…I was sceptical. Further questioning revealed his flawed logic. It had recently come to public knowledge that AIDS infected gorillas before it infected humans, and this geezer knew that AIDS was an STD. He put two and two together and came up with four.

    Just because Christians were persecuted by the Romans and they had a rite which could be construed as cannibalism by proxy doesn’t mean that Christians were persecuted by the Romans because they misunderstood and thought they were cannibalis.

  14. “?the crucifix, while it has been a time honored symbol of our faith, holy mother church has decided to retire this highly recognizable yet holy depressing image of our lord crucified. Christ didn’t come to Earth to give us the willies, he came to help us out. He was a booster, and it’s with that take in our lord in mind that we come up with a new more inspiring sigil….I give you the Buddy Christ”

    Cardinal Glick

  15. I found this at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/christian-cannibals.html.

    “…Now the story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds. Thirstily – O horror! they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence.

    From Minucius Felix, Octavius, R. E. Wallis, trans. in The Ante-Nicene Fathers
    (Buffalo, N. Y.: The Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), Vol. 4, pp. 177-178.

  16. Jim: As a former Catholic, you didn’t understand the significance of the cross, else you’d still be one. As a current Catholic (for now) I don’t understand it either, but I can tell you we’re not cannibals–we’re deivores.

  17. The cross is bloody magic.

  18. Adamo update: It turns out the Msgr has “gone to his rest in the Lord,” but not before filing an affadavit in which he revealed that Bishop George Guilfoyle had been known around the diocese as “the Queen of the Fairies.” Interestingly, the first place I ever heard about gay priests was in an Adamo column from the early eighties, arguing that if the church wasn’t more forthcoming about this issue it would lead to disaster. I don’t recall him objecting to homosexuality in the column, just to the secrecy. If he moved in the end to the faction that now seeks to blame the sex abuse crisis on excessive tolerance for homosexuals, that would be a surprise. He always seemed pretty tolerant-but tough!-in his column.

  19. The cross was a pagan symbol. Jesus died on a torture-stake.

  20. I saw a picture of a nude crucifix. It was very old, 4th century maybe. Because of its age, I would think that it might be more accurate. When did the Romans stop crucifying people anyway? It must have been well before Constantine, or when he had his solders put crosses on their shields (“By this sign you shall conquer”) it would have been misconstrued as a sign that he was planning on tourturing his enemy to death, not that he was now a follower of the Prince of Peace.

  21. So while we’re talking about crosses and crucifixes, I have a question that’s I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer for. How is a statue of Jesus not a graven image? Jesus probably looked more like me, brown, Arab guy, than the Jesus you see in most churches, white, Anglo/Germanic guy. I mean a statue of Jesus appears to me, a non-Christian, to be in direct conflict with this.

    I don’t mean this to be snarky, either. When I was young and going to Islamic Sunday school, yes it was on Sunday, this was pointed out as an example of one of the ways that Christians had strayed from the word of God.

  22. Mo,

    The belief that statues of Jesus were graven images were chief amongst the complaints of Protestants – it was one of the things they protested about, and led to a definitive round of “iconoclasm” in many parts of Europe: tearing down and destroying the graven images (icons).

  23. Come on, Mo! You really think the Pope doesn’t have an answer ready for such an obvious question?

    From the Catechism:

    2130. “Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.[Cf. Num 21:4-9 ; Wis 16:5-14 ; Jn 3:14-15 ; Ex 25:10-22 ; 1 Kings 6:23-28 ; 1 Kings 7:23-26 .] ”

    2131. “Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons – of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new ‘economy’ of images.”

    2132. “The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, ‘the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,’ and ‘whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.'[St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II: DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council II: SC 126; LG 67.] The honor paid to sacred images is a ‘respectful veneration,’ not the adoration due to God alone:
    Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.[St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 81, 3 ad 3.]”

  24. >>The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.

    Sounds like Jungian Psychology

  25. Well it gets worse.

    Take the story of Jesus and the Centurion.

    Centurions of the day used boy slaves for sex.

    When the Bible culture gets fully explored not only in terms of it’s text but in terms of the culture of the day the world will be turned upside down.

  26. A man dying on a torture stake makes for a great guilt inducing screen play though.

  27. Tim:

    Thank you, but, like I said, I never got a satisfactory answer. 😉 Most of the explainations I’ve heard have basically amounted to, “The idol worshippers were worshipping false god and parying the the idols they built. We’re worshippingthe true God and this is just a reminder to us what we’re praying at.” I always found this odd because I thought that the idols were made as reminders to the various pagans of the time as well, I doubt any but the most primitive societies actually worshipped something the built themselves, but rather it was a reminder/manifestation of the god they were worshipping. I’m gonna stop now before this turns into a big messy theology debate.

  28. It doesn’t really matter what Jesus looked like. The important thing to remember is that the story of Jesus is useful.

  29. Jesus looked like an “arab” ? And here i thought he was a jew !!!

  30. Also, back then wouldn’t they ie Jesus & ilk, have seen themselves as Roman citizens of maybe as ionian or lydian Greeks ? I dont think i have seen a single reference to arabs in any classical text of the time. Any classical scholars here ?

  31. Better be careful or someone will point out exactly who the Jesus story is useful to. Hint: Follow the money.

  32. Speed

    You’re right, it is all about money. Preachers need sinners. The fault lies with the potter. Why should I and the rest of humanity be put into the position of beggars? When this theoretical ‘God’ unconditionally forgives me of my sins, I will forgive his.

  33. Mo, many pagan religions actually worship the idol as a god – think of Shinto shrines. Others, like the Roman state religion, treated statues as images of something higher.

    Scipio, I think the first century residents of Judea would have seen themselves as Jews, being governed by a foreign power.

  34. If you don’t know te maormons have some t-shirts under their shirt, and they have some sings on thouse. Some masonics sings. All mormons who were to the temple have thouse t-shirts with sings. AAHH. thei have and the same sings on their underware. This clouse are given to them from the temple. Wen the T-shirt is very used they must burn the sings.

  35. I whant to find somthing abought their temples

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