The most frightening concept in human existence is death, which is why the avoidance of death occupies so much of our human energy (from medical science to the beauty and youth preservation industry to insurance to Medicare). It is for that reason that Christianity, Islam and other religions that carry a message of life after death, posess such powerful inducements to believe. There is endless comfort in the idea of resurrection, and endless terror in its absence.
The story of Jesus is one of the most powerful religious tomes ever written, because inherent in it are the incredibly seductive notions of miraculous hope, the endless love of God, and most importantly, eternal life, paid for with the blood of a perfect man: Jesus, who also happens to be the son of God (therefore posessing the authority to grant God's love to us.) But what if everything you ever read about Jesus was true -- the virgin birth, the miracles he performed, the message of love that he preached, his death at the hands of the Romans ... except, that he didn't physically "rise from the dead..." what if after his death, his body remained on earth, just like ours? Would that change your faith? Would it destroy it?
The idea of "debunking" the resurrection story of Jesus carries with it the potential to create massive, worldwide anguish and instability. It also is a tempting prospect for anyone who craves the spotlight, regardless of the cost. I think, despite my almost complete cynicism about, well, nearly everything, that if I were to find difinitive proof that Jesus' story was false, that I would be very, very tempted never to tell anyone. Then again, I'm not James Cameron:
Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you 'The Titanic' is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he's sinking is Christianity.
In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn't resurrected --the cornerstone of Christian faith-- and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem. And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.
No, it's not a re-make of "The Da Vinci Codes'. It's supposed to be true.
Let's go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb. of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.
Israel's prominent archeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn't associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn't afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names.
There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshipping the empty tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ's resurrection, after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a carpenter's wife in a manger is the Son of God.
But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence through DNA tests, archeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10 coffins belong to Jesus and his family. ...
Cameron plans to hold a press conference on Monday to announce his new documentary film, which will air in Britain, Canada, Israel and on Discovery Channel here in the States. At that time, he plans to show three coffins, which are supposed to belong to Jesus, his mother Mary and Mary Magdelene. Time will tell if Cameron eventually is remembered as a character out of the Da Vinci Code or as Geraldo Rivera circa Al Capone's Vault.
Whatever the eventual outcome TIME Magazine's Tim McGirk, who wrote the above blog post, makes the understatement of the year when he notes that "Here in the Holy Land, Biblical Archeology is a dangerous profession. This 90-minute documentary is bound to outrage Christians and stir up a titanic debate between believers and skeptics." No kidding. I sure hope Cameron isn't a Catholic. Because if he is, he's about to be excommunicated.
And then there are the political implications. Inevitably, we're going to be treated to a right wing assault on Cameron on Monday, and reminded, not least by Fox News, that Hollywood hates God, and that therefore, we must reject everything Hollywood -- including their political pals, the Democrats (didn't Barack Hussein Obama just raise $1.3 million in the Sodom and Gamorrah that is Orange County? Brace yourself.
But beyond the hype, and the political sniping, Cameron's "find" raises serious questions about the role of science and showbiz in society, and the moral implications of the former for the latter's sake. I honestly don't know whether I believe in life after death. I'd like to. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. But I think that the way Cameron is going about pulling off his documentary risks looking like a cheap stunt, carried out at the expense of the real sensitivities of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. I'm not saying that if true, this information should necessarily be supressed. I'm just saying that it's disturbing to believe -- as I do -- that Cameron probably hasn't given the matter a second thought.
...and if his archeologists and he are wrong they're all going to look like complete horse's asses.
Labels: Christianity, Discovery Channel, documentaries, James Cameron, Jesus, religion