Just one day left to take part in the War on Easter. Got to armor up. Fire the weapons I’ve got available. Can’t disappoint Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and the other paranoid Christian conservative mouthpieces.
They’re quick to take affront and slow to recognize their own unfounded assertions, just like their revered leader, George Bush. Bill O’Reilly, though, broke from the ranks and admitted that there is no attack on Easter.
Well, there should be. And there has been. Back in April 2004 I wrote “‘He is risen!’ No, almost certainly not.” This was an attack on the almost certainly mistaken belief that Jesus rose from the dead. There are countless reasons to doubt this; blind faith is the only way the resurrection can be believed.
I’ll cast my lot with doubt, thank you. Tomorrow I won’t do anything different. Except, I won’t be able to go exercise on Sunday at the Courthouse Athletic Club like I usually do, because it will be closed all day. Stupid Easter. Why should non-Christians have to suffer tomorrow?
However, this week I did think more about Christianity than I usually do. All the publicity surrounding the Gospel of Judas stimulated me to contemplate the divinity of heresy. I’ve been basking in the warm glow of my churchlessness even more than usual.
I watched the two-hour National Geographic program about the Gospel of Judas. It featured realistic-looking reenactments of episodes from the Bible and the Gospel of Judas (though Judas’ hairstyle and short beard looked disturbingly metrosexual).
This was one of my favorite parts. We see the disciples sitting around a table. The narration goes:
The Gospel of Judas uses familiar scenes to convey unfamiliar ideas.
One day, he was with his disciples in Judea. And he found them gathered together, seated in pious observance. When he approached his disciples, offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, he laughed.
Jesus comes upon the group of disciples, and they are celebrating together what looks to be a sacred meal, maybe it is kind of like the Eucharist. And they’re offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, and Jesus laughs. In fact, in the Gospel of Judas, Jesus laughs a great deal.
He’s laughing because they think they’re worshipping the true God, but in fact they have it wrong. They’re worshipping the God who created this world, not the true God. The only one who understands is Judas.
To the Gnostics, the God who created Earth wasn’t worthy of worship. Only the true God, a being beyond comprehension, was sacred. Jesus laughs at what he sees as false piety. But the apostles don’t understand and grow angry at him.
Jesus: “Why have you been provoked to anger? Let any one of you who is strong enough stand and reveal to me the true spiritual person within.”
Their spirits did not dare to stand before him. Except for Judas Escariot.
Judas: “I know who you are and where you came from. I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”
Jesus: “Step away from the others. And I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is a great and boundless realm which no eye of an angel has ever seen, no thought of the heart has ever comprehended, and it was never called by name.”
Jesus issues a challenge to the disciples. He says, let the perfect person inside of you step forward and face me. And that perfect person within is the inner person, the spiritual person, that truly knows, the person that ought to have a knowledge of God and a knowledge of oneself.
And the disciples say, well we can do that. But they couldn’t do it. And so Judas steps forward. And he was able to stand before Jesus.
Great story. This should be the Easter message, not an absurd fantasy about a body coming back to life. We don’t know what Jesus really taught, or even if he existed at all. But if Jesus was real, the Gospel of Judas is likely much closer to the truth than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
For if Jesus were to pop in on an Easter service tomorrow, I bet he’d laugh as heartily as he did at the disciples’ prayers.
“What the hell are you doing?” he’d chortle. “Two thousand years of Bible study and this is all you’ve learned! What a joke. The truth is within, not without. God isn’t a person, nor any other entity that you can wrap your mind around. God is in you. You are a spark of the divine, just as I am. Don’t worship me. Worship yourself. Your true self. All this genuflecting before altars, eating bits of bread, and taking sips of wine is laughable.”
I love it. The Gospel of Judas teaches that Jesus himself would lead the charge in the War on Easter. Heretics, it turns out, are the holiest. Churchless of the world, stand straighter tomorrow. You are the chosen ones.
(For another take along these lines on the Gospel of Judas, check out Mark Morford’s “The Bible’s All Wrong, Again.”)