Monday, December 17, 2007

Entering the Mainstream...

The other day I picked up at a news stand copy of a "Collectors Edition" of US News & World Report, titled "The Secrets of Christianity." I was amazed, for finally some relatively serious information is entering the mainstream, in a format that is easily accessible, and relatively informative. It seems to be a good omen ahead of the publication of my book. After all if US News and World Report is not mainstream, nothing is.

Several years ago, when Tim Freke and Peter Gandy just had their first books out in which they pursued in their way the notion that the earthly life of Jesus is not the point but the spiritual symbolism is -remember the Course calls him a manifestation of the Holy Spirit- I had a correspondence with one of them, I believe it was Peter, and they seemed to be unacquainted with what I assumed to be their precursor literature from the school of Radikalkritik and their predecessors in turn reaching back all the way to the 18th century in France and England. Today their books are featured on websites on Radikalkritik. At its hight, Radikalkritik (the major website is which has multilingual information in German, Dutch and English) flourished mainly in the 2nd half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th in Germany and Holland. The twin pillars of inquiry were the lack of historical detail about Jesus, and the mythological character of the literature, and the exploration of the disconnect between Jesus and Paul, including the fact that some researchers entirely dismissed the letters of Paul as the product of Christian self-justification in the 2nd century, attributed to Paul, but historically dubious. Somewhat to my surprised, Radikalkritik is now discussed in the opening article of this publication, and at some length.

In other words, the fissure between Jesus and Christianity is now entering mainstream awareness, and this ties in very nicely with the growing interest in apocryphal literature, and exploration of the possible meaning of Jesus beyond the boundaries of the Christian churches. So it would seem that after the youthful silliness of The DaVinci Code, which sort of exploded the latent interest in these issues from a rebellious standpoint that daddy lied to us (or in this case the Pope lied to us), without and real historical credibility to its arguments, we are as a society now entering a phase of broader inquiry into the real issues. This connects quite well with the Jesus of the Thomas Gospel and the Course, both of which clearly do not sound like the Jesus of Christian orthodoxy at all. The Course clarifies those differences mostly in the first 6 Chapters of the book, but occasionally reverts to it later, since it clearly deliberately uses the terminology to evoke for the reader an experience of cognitive dissonance, which rousts us out of our traditional understanding of Jesus, as not a figure of history, but as an inner presence which can lead us back home, out of the ego's insanity.

I feel that it is very helpful to realize that amidst the broad appearance that Christianity continued unabatedly to maintain the Pauline dogma through the ages, that in fact there have been very substantive groups of thinkers, who smelled a rat, and who perceived a dissonance between Paul and Jesus. For myself this whole picture did not come together completely until the Course, but being aware of it since growing up, the Course simply clinched it, and once we begin to understand the Thomas Gospel for what it is, it all becomes even clearer why the Jesus who speaks to us from its pages is not a proto-Christian at all.