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Dogmageddon

Take Jesus's Wife, Please


The tale of finding the ancient papyrus at Smithsonian is window-dressing to the actual narrative embedded throughout: the sexism of Christianity.

by Rick Paulas
Sep 24 2012, 2:25pm

You probably scanned the report that there was a gospel found that includes the phrase “Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'” If proven authentic—the ancient papyrus still needs to undergo the paper version of carbon-dating—it could mean Jesus was married, throwing a kink into the whole “priests have to be celibate” tradition. Or maybe it just means he was starting to tell a joke—the dude was Jewish after all. But in reality, it means nothing at all since there's no context for the passage.

Whatever people need to find in the passage to re-confirm their own point-of-view, they'll find. But that's kind of besides the point. The tale of finding the papyrus at Smithsonian is window-dressing to the actual narrative embedded throughout: the sexism of Christianity.

Here is a key passage from an article published by the Smithsonian on the nature of the papyrus: “Whatever the truth of Jesus and Magdalene’s relationship, Pope Gregory the Great, in a series of homilies in 591, asserted that Magdalene was in fact both the unnamed sinful woman in Luke who anoints Jesus’ feet and an unnamed adulteress in John whose stoning Jesus forestalls. The conflation simultaneously diminished Magdalene and set the stage for 1,400 years of portrayals of her as a repentant whore, whose impurity stood in tidy contrast to the virginal Madonna.”

Virgin or whore. Those were the two categories women could be placed in for the past millennium-and-a-half. But, fine. That was a long time ago. Believers no longer feel women are second-class citizens. Except, not really. As quoted later in the story, Kenneth L. Woodward, religion editor at Newsweek, wrote this unnecessarily dismissive rant for BeliefNet.com in 2003:

“Were I to write a story involving Mary Magdalene, I think it would focus on this: that a small group of well-educated women decided to devote their careers to the pieces of Gnostic literature discovered in the last century, a find that promised a new academic specialty within the somewhat overtrodden field of Biblical studies.”

In other words: “Ladies, give it a rest about the 'Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife' thing already. What's the point?” The point, of course, isn't whether she was or wasn't. As I said, that's unprovable. Instead, scholarly investigation about that is a way to track the lies and manipulative techniques that have been used for centuries upon centuries to advance the power of males in the church and, thusly, society. Techniques that, as Woodward proves, are still being used today.

Onto the roundup!

- An ad put out by Dr. Pepper playing off the old evolution theme—showing an ape dragging its hands, a half-standing half-human, and an actual person drinking their delicious beverage—has drawn the ire of Creationists.

- The notoriously gay-hating Ugandan government has imprisoned a British producer who staged a play about “the trails of a young businessman coming out in the religiously and politically charged climate in Uganda.” Not entirely sure if this is a case of someone shaking up a hornets nest, but it kind of doesn't matter.

- The Boy Scouts of America, the same group that recently made it a point to ban homosexuals from their organization, have been helping the child molesters in their ranks cover their tracks. Which, yes, basically makes them the Catholic Church with merit badges.

- Speaking of, Australia's Catholic Church confirmed there have been more than 600 cases of the sexual abuse of children by priests since the 1930s. Critics are claiming that the number should be elevated to about 10,000 victims.

- In Nigeria, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of St. John's Church, killing at least two.

- Al Shabaab, the radical Islamic group who controlled the Somali town of Johwar for a bit, seem to be in the final throes of their sharia law dictatorship. After some in-fighting, over 200 of them surrendered to the local authorities.

- The fallout of the terrible The Innocence of Muslims C-movie continues: A cabinet minister in Pakistan offered a $100,000 bounty to whoever kills the responsible party; Australia closed their Islamabad embassy; Afghan militants suicide-bombed a bus and killed 12; a French satirical magazine made the, let's say, not-so-wise decision to stoke the rage fires by publishing a Muhammed-mocking cartoon; a protestor died after inhaling fumes from a burning American flag.

- Salman Rushdie, on tour for his memoir, doesn't think his fatwa-causing novel The Satanic Verses would be published now because of the general climate of fear enveloping the world because no one wants to piss off the crazy portion of Islam. More to the point: Terrorism is winning.

- A car bomb believed to be the work of the Taliban blew up next to a Pakistan Air Force van, killing at least nine.

- One of the lesser-reported things to come out of Mitt Romney's 47 percent video was his view—at least, his view to a roomful of rich, white dudes—that Palestinians are committed to destroying Israel. These are words of a man trying to raise funds without knowing facts about the issue he's speaking about.

- When putting together the final track-list for his classic album Bad, Michael Jackson had a bunch of gems to choose from. One he wisely left off: "Song Groove (A/K/A Abortion Papers)" which sees the smooth criminal getting all righteous at a nasty woman who got an abortion.

- Samuel Mullet, Sr., the ironically-named leader of the splinter group of Amish who forcefully shaved the beards and cut the hair of other not-so-crazy Amish, was found guilty of committing hate crimes.

- A witchcraft-believing woman tried to “cleanse” her 9-year-old daughter from demon possession by pouring a bunch of bleach down her throat. The girl survived.

- And our Person of the Week: Kind of a if/then logic problem this week. If Chick-fil-A actually decided to end donations to anti-gay hate groups, as is being reported but not yet confirmed, they get the prize. But if not, the award's going to Cecilia Gimenez, the 85-year-old woman from Spain who, as no doubt you'll remember, tried to restore a 19th century church fresco with hilarious results. Why this week? Because she's taken the badass bold step of claiming a copyright of “her work” and demanding a cut of the church's donations. Go get 'em, girl!

Previously - Powder Keg

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