William Edelen Blog – The Contrary Minister

William Edelen: Easter Mythology

 

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From William Edelen
The Contrary Minister

The image of a god, buried in a tomb, being withdrawn and said to live again, is thousands of years older than the Jesus stories.

Of all the resurrected savior gods that were worshipped before — and at the beginning of the Christian story — none contributed so much to the mythology developing around Jesus as the Egyptian, Osiris. Osiris was called “Lord of Lords,” “King of Kings” and “God of Gods.” He was called “the good shepherd,” “the resurrection and the life,” the god who made “men and women to be born again.” He was the Egyptians’ “god man” who suffered, died, rose again and lived eternally in heaven.

The Egyptians thought that by believing in Osiris and participating in various rituals they would share eternal life with Osiris. Egyptian scripture says: “As true as Osiris lives, so truly shall his followers live.”

The coming of Osiris was announced by Three Wise Men. His flesh was eaten in the form of communion cakes of wheat. And finally, Egyptians came to believe that only through Osiris could one obtain eternal life.

The much loved 23rd Psalm of the Bible is a modified version of an Egyptian text appealing to Osiris, “the good shepherd,” to lead the dead to the “green pastures, and still waters,” to “restore the soul” to the body and give protection in “the valley of the shadow of death.”

A number of years ago, there was an outstanding television series of 13 shows called “The Long Search,” which documented human religious experience. It was produced for the BBC and shown later in the United States on educational channels.

The section on the ancient Near East was written by Dr. Grace Cairns, who holds a doctorate in religion from the University of Chicago. She wrote: “Because Osiris was human as well as divine, his resurrection signified that every righteous person could likewise rise from the dead and have eternal life if he observed the proper procedures.”

She went on to write of the continuity between Osiris and the mythology that accumulated around Jesus. Like the followers of Osiris, the followers of Jesus made him a part of themselves by eating him symbolically so as to participate in his resurrection.

The Bible says: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelt in me and I in him.” (John 6:56).

Gods of that period who were eaten in the form of bread included Adonis and Dionysus, among many others. Other resurrected gods of that period, before Jesus, were Attis and Mithra. Like Jesus, Attis was sacrificed at the spring equinox, rose again from the dead on the third day and ascended to heaven. Like Mithra and the other solar gods, he celebrated his birthday nine months later at the winter solstice.

We are all going to have a joyful time, hiding and looking for Easter eggs with the children. The Easter bunny goes back centuries before Christianity. He was the Moon Hare and sacred to the goddess in many religions.

I like knowing how our rituals fit into the larger picture of our human family. Knowing the origin of our celebrations enriches their dimensions and places us — and our time — within a historical perspective, religiously.

Once again, it relates us to “time past and time future… where past and future are gathered… pointing to one end… which is always present.” (T.S. Eliot).
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WILLIAM EDELEN: Thanksgiving Thoughts

 

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From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

My mind is filled with thoughts of Thanksgiving. Thursday is the day we set aside to remember blessings that have enriched our days and graced our lives.

I sit back in my chair and let my eyes once again caress the walls of my study, feeling their energy feed my spirit. The book-lined walls, how I love them.

My heart pours out a very special thanksgiving to all of the great and magnificent spirits whose thoughts and words fill these shelves and offer a feast, waiting only for my mind and soul to partake.

Goethe is there, with Albert Schweitzer and Meister Eckhart, the German theologian. There is Jung, Russell and Whitehead, Loren Eiseley and Suzuki, the Zen master, with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. There is Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes, with e.e. cummings, Robert Frost and hundreds more, waiting to once again fill my spirit with food that is timeless.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Mother’s Day and the Bible

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Mother’s Day once again is here with the Sunday sermons filled with clichés, platitudes and banalities. So perhaps it is time to take a good, hard look at what the bible and the church have actually done to degrade women. The treatment of women in the bible is characterized by such indecency and utter contempt that it is total travesty to call this book the “word” of God.

Dr. Gerald Larue, Distinguished professor emeritus of biblical history and archaeology at the University of Southern California, wrote these words: “The Bible has been one of the most powerful social weapons in the arsenal of those who restrict and curtail the freedom of women. No matter what Bible you use, the message is the same: WOMEN ARE INFERIOR. Their inferiority is, moreover, ordained by God. How long are we going to let people who lived and died thousands of years ago dictate the way we live and think today?”

The bible is man-made, written BY men FOR men and promoting the ludicrous party line that they are taking orders from a male God.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Ancient Prophecy, Modern Ignorance

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Well, here we go again. We lived through the superstition of the Millennium and Armageddon, staggered by the onslaught of superstition and ignorance, masquerading under the phony and scary heading of “prophecy.” This virus of illiteracy even affected the Oval office. Then President Reagan’s weird and stupid speculations about an “imminent arrival of Amageddon in the Middle East” left intelligent people gasping.

Today we are playing that tape again with the gullibility of the American public. We are being smothered by radio, books, television and movies by those out to make a buck, about the disaster and world destruction waiting for us on Dec 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse for the end of the year, end of the world (they say). It will be open season on reason, rationality, normal intelligence and religious literacy. “Survival kits” are now being sold by the con men and fast buck operators. Sandra Noble, the Executive director of Mesoamerican Research Foundation, says: “portrayal of that date as doomsday is a total fabrication and a chance for a lot of slick people to cash in.”

But to refresh your memory about the “millenniumn, armageddon” circus for the gullible clowns that set the stage for the circus being replayed today under a different heading, what seemed to be missing from the brain/mind (I use the words loosely) is the fact that time is fiction. Time is man-made. A history of man-made calendars would enlighten many.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Jesus and Wives

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

A very live and contemporary issue today, with many magazines and newspapers covering it, is the question “Was Jesus Married?” This is all due to a lost manuscript that has surfaced. An outstanding article in the New York Times for Sept 27th, was Fighting Over God’s Image. Please find a copy and read it if this is a subject that appeals to you.

A number of years ago when Dr. Robert Funk had his Jesus Seminar here in Palm Springs with over 100 leading New Testament scholars present, he asked me to give the lecture on The Sexuality of Jesus. The fear among many of pursuing this subject has been revealing and shocking. Also a number of years ago The Sexuality of Christ in the Renaissance Art and in modern Oblivion received rave reviews from all quarters. It was written by Leo Steinberg, who delivered the material at a Lionel Trilling Seminar at Columbia University and was honored by the College Art Association of America with its annual award. Some will find it offensive… those who find all expressions of sexuality offensive. The sexuality of Jesus is very obvious in the paintings.

Jesus was a Hebrew male, a man in the fullest sense and a sexual human being in the same sense that all men are sexual human beings. And yet, for some strange, neurotic and weird reason, many want to keep this subject

WILLIAM EDELEN: Thanksgiving Thoughts

 

img_2011

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

My mind is filled with thoughts of Thanksgiving. Thursday is the day we set aside to remember blessings that have enriched our days and graced our lives.

I sit back in my chair and let my eyes once again caress the walls of my study, feeling their energy feed my spirit. The book-lined walls, how I love them.

My heart pours out a very special thanksgiving to all of the great and magnificent spirits whose thoughts and words fill these shelves and offer a feast, waiting only for my mind and soul to partake.

Goethe is there, with Albert Schweitzer and Meister Eckhart, the German theologian. There is Jung, Russell and Whitehead, Loren Eiseley and Suzuki, the Zen master, with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. There is Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes, with e.e. cummings, Robert Frost and hundreds more, waiting to once again fill my spirit with food that is timeless.

William Edelen: It’s In the Genes — The Bright Light of Truth

 

eMy maternal grandparents: Papa and Mama Deaver

From Our Archives August 2014
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Over the entire 40 years that I have been writing “religious” columns… I have received, literally, hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls saying “THANK YOU… for setting me free from the mental prison of organized doctrine and dogma”. Maybe my column today will have a similar effect on human lives, suffering from this issue.

My subject is about ‘GENETICS’ and family history. Why am I writing about that? Because TRUTH matters. And truth is not as bad as our ignorant and half formed fears about it. Everybody today is knowledgeable about DNA (genetics) and its value in family history… relationships… paternity… and so forth. But many remain ignorant about the value of genetics in shaping a human being with values and personality traits and habits. “MAN IS A THINKING MUTANT,” wrote Pascal. And so it is.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Dispensary to the Soul

 

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From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

A Library inscription in Trajan’s forum in Rome reads “Dispensary to the Soul”. Barbara Tuchman wrote: “Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill”.

I am asking: Will the information technology revolution ever displace the almost genetic and aesthetic attachment we feel about books, along with their unquestioned value and contribution to liberal education?

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Fourth of July and Freedom

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

When John Kennedy was President, he gave a banquet in the White House that was without precedent. The banquet was for every living American Nobel Prize winner, with about 150 present. At the beginning of the evening, President Kennedy stood and announced he would give a toast. He said:

“Never has so much talent, and so much genius, been assembled in one room, since Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

The author of the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate today was a brilliant philosopher, scholar, theologian, architect, linguist, statesman, musician, horticulturist, agronomist, humanist, scientist, deist, and master of the civilized arts.

There is no question in my mind that the 4th of July is the most important holiday that we celebrate in this nation.

All of the other holidays, Easter and Christmas included, pale by comparison.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Sacred Humanism

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

That brilliant Renaissance man, Carl Jung, said of his Lutheran pastor father: “My father’s bible stood as a great wall between my father and the Living Present God”… What he is saying is this: organized, dogmatic, creedal and authoritarian Christianity has only one primary objective: to sustain, promote and maintain the institution. Individual spiritual growth and maturation become impossible within such an artificial construct.

The bigger the institution, the more stagnation in mediocrity, the more unavoidable is its blind stupidity, and very often immorality. To raise an individual out of this mindless mass and make clear to him/her that they are the one primary factor, and not the institution, becomes impossible.