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Easter

Nailed For Jesus

Apr 02, 2013 - Tags:

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.

Jesus and the Resurrection. Been There. Done That.

Mar 30, 2013 - Tags:

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.

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I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist. Yet I am fascinated by the concept of devotion.

Joss Whedon