Showing posts from October, 2013

Catholic Mass from Pagan rites

Christians believe Jesus is uniquely divine. There is nothing Jewish about this belief, but Pagan beliefs included mortal humans becoming immortal divinities.  Christianity flared into flame in Jewish communities well leavened by Paganism, as Christian scholars acknowledge.   Richard Reitzenstein, German historian of religions, writes in Hellenistic Mystery-Religions that some parts of Judaism “had dissolved in paganism.” Christianity took off in these communities embedded in the Pagan milieu, where our hero Jesus, who was born, lived, and died a Jew, took on the traits of Pagan gods. Abundant evidence demonstrates that Christians borrowed Pagan religious practices—their beliefs, sacraments, modes of piety, and liturgical language. The most important factor in the spiritual life of the Greco-Roman world was mystery religions. They created “the climate in which a new Eastern cult such as Christianity could be propagated,” writes Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Mystery religions

Jesus, savior and sacrifice

At the School of Theology we were planning a liturgy in Frank House where non-seminarians hung out. A fellow graduate student said firmly, “He’s not my savior.” It was an electric moment for me. Not because I accepted the belief that Jesus died for our sins but because I didn’t and had not had the courage to say it. Her statement spurred me to be more honest. I see many, many religious people refusing to tell what they know for fear of losing their jobs. For more than three decades I have studied Christian doctrines in comparison with other traditions religious and non-religious. Christians who can step out of our religion’s traditional mindset get my respect. One such wrote an article that a member of our Mary Magdalene, First Apostle, community found during her theological studies—“ Sacrifice and Social Maintenance: What's at Stake in the (non-)Ordination of Roman Catholic Women ” by Joseph Blenkinsopp. The matter rose when we were dealing with a request that our liturg

Francis on women's authority

He remembers the exact intersection where it happened. He can still see how everything looked around them when the other man in the car suggested he pray “Our Mother” instead of “Our Father.” Immediately he rejected the suggestion. It did not sit well with him because he had a long-standing and deep relationship with “Our Father.” But he was aware enough that he kept coming back to the idea and could not dismiss it. He had to try it. And with repeated returns to “Our Mother” he realized how obviously appropriate it was. He thought of his own mother now passed away, his Grandma, other mothering women, the nurturing that mothers do. Now he appreciates the gift given him when his business colleague suggested he relate to the Divine Mother. He can rest in Her heavenly arms. I feel privileged that he shared this with me and allowed me to share it here in the hope that it frees others from patriarchal training. One person needing such liberation is Pope Francis. Amid the raving re