Sunday, April 11, 2004
061: Mithraism Vs. Christianity - Part II
Reader Open Air
challenged me to expound on what little research I have on Mithraism to include visuals as well. Since I am not one to back out on an "argument"
, I present to you a short and sweet visual journey into Mithraism.
There have been some claims that if there were any similarities between Christianity and Mithraism, they were to be found in the arts of both religions. While I am not able to give you a comparative study of art and artefacts from both periods, I will however give you some visuals that might explain my previous post. In case you just joined us and are too lazy to scroll down and read, here's a gist of what this is all about. Some people claim that Christianity is a carbon-copy religion of Mithraism. I, however do not buy into this.
Artefacts illustrating the birth of Mithras
My skepticism towards this theory is based on the fact that Mithraism is too ill-documented to offer a substantial argument on this subject. In some accounts, the god Mithra is born of a virgin, just like Jesus. In other stories, Mithra popped out of rock. In yet another version, he sprang out of a tree. If these other versions were true, wouldn't it question the credibility of the allegations that Christianity borrowed from Mithraism?
THE VIRGIN ROCK
So, how did Mithras come about? Did he have a virgin mother? Or did he in fact pop out of a rock? How do we even know for sure? The proponents of Mithraism can't seem to even agree when it was that Mithras walked the earth. Some say 4,000 years BC, others claim 1,500 BC and still others think it might have been later.
As I have stressed, most of the Christian-Mithraism comparison found online are unfortunately written by people with the sole purpose of debunking Christianity
. Other, more unbiased Mithraic researches offer little or no comparison at all, of the religion to that of Christianity. For more information and pictures, do go to The Virtual Mithraeum"
. Go on, read them.
DO WE HAVE A VERDICT?
As for visual proof, three measly pictures of Mithra's birth is all I can offer you. I have scoured the internet for more artisitic depictions of Mithra's birth but I could find none. Regrettably, I also cannot offer you any information with regards to the pieces. I could not find any studies nor any carbon-dating results for these pieces.
Now, I'm no expert. I have no idea if Mithra was indeed born of a virgin, but looking at the archaelogical evidence, I'd have to say no. Nope. Sorry, not this guy. But hey, don't take my word for it. Look at the archaelogical "facts"
. I did not bother to give any comparison in respect to Christian art for the simple reason that these works were produced long after Jesus. They were commission by the Church and were based on the Bible. The early followers - meaning the Apostles, did not create effigies nor idols of their Lord for the simple reason that that would have profaned God's commandments. Yes, that's the one about not making graven images.
Like I said, I'm not going to be rushing off to worship at any Mithraic temple anytime soon. This week, I was going to blog about allegations that Muslims pray to a Moon God but I got sidetracked. Perhaps next week. Meantime, to all Christians, Happy Easter!
a freudian spit generated @ 4:43 pm |
Sunday, April 04, 2004
060: Mithraism Vs. Christianity
Over the course of our history, religion had been a big thing where mankind was concerned. Just as much as some people want to prove the existence of their Gods, others want to disprove the very notion that any god created the world. Today, I give you a piece of my mind on the Mitraism vs. Christianity debate. Or more appropriately, debacle.
INCIDENTS OF COINCIDENCE
Christianity began approximately two millennia ago, with the birth of Jesus Christ. Mithraism, however found its roots in Persia (some say Rome)
a little earlier, some say shortly before Christ, while others are compelled to believe it started 4,000 years ago. Both religion tells of a saviour born of a virgin and sent to save mankind. In both cases, the saviour is killed only to be resurrected three days later. Both saviours had 12 apostles. The similarities do not end just there. There are more but you'll have to go read them
Mithraism became extinct when Constantine declared Catholicism as the official religion of Rome. It was only in the last few years that some people sought to revive Mithraism again. But here's where things begin to irritate me. I am puzzled as to why anyone would want to bring back Mithraism. Is it because Mithra said so in some old, forgotten lore? Or do people just do it because the very defies Christianity - just to watch this worldwide institution fall apart, perhaps? Or maybe, people just think its cool to bring back a religion that nobody wanted. As far as I'm concerned, any "religion" that doesn't endure the test of time isn't worth a damn.
HITS AND MYTHS
And since we're so adamant about bringing back this myth-like religion, why don't we just revive the Norse gods. Bring em all back, I say! We could use a no-nonsense guy like Odin. How about his cool son, Thor the god of thunder and his shithead brother, Loki the god of lies. Why don't we bring back the Greek gods too. Zeus, Adonis, Venus and who can forget our favourite demi-god, Hercules. C'mon people, there's got to be a good reason why people stopped worshipping these gods. Perhaps mankind got wise and stopped seeing them as gods. Yes, the stories were nice and exciting but that does not mean they were true.
Some of you might say that Jesus is a myth too. Some of you might even say the same for Muhammad, Confucius and even Gautama Buddha. Now I'm open to the possibility that these guys may have been conmen, or just some brilliantly charismatic persons in their society. But surely you'll accept that these guys have endeared simply because they were real people who actually walked the earth. These religions, whether or not truly of God, have endured the test of time simply because there were eyewitness accounts. Let's take Buddha for instance. Whether or not you considered him enlightened, simple logic dictates that he existed. The Chinese travelled miles to see the man and their writings concur that they indeed spoke to him. In the same vein, whether or not Jesus was the Son of God, you cannot deny that he once walked the earth. While the Jews, Christians and Muslims are at loggerheads of his divinity, all of them agreed that he was real.
LET THEM FIGHT IT OUT
So what of Mithra? Fact is, I'm no authority on any of this but I find writings on Mithraism
contain far too much contradictions for my liking. It seems to me that most of what is written of the Mithraism-Christianity parallels is solely for the purpose of disproving Christianity
. However, as always I take the stand that any allegation against any religion is worth examining, every theory deserves to be heard. Whether or not Christianity borrowed from Mithraism or Mithraism borrowed from Christianity, the arguments are entertaining, if not compelling. Click this
, it's really good.
As for me, I will not be leaving my worldly possessions to join the priesthood of Mithra anytime soon, but hey, I have no problems if you'd like to. Whatever lights your candles, people!
By the way, you'll notice that I'm blogging less these days. Unfortunately for me, a new designation at a new office means less time on the net. When once blogging was a hobby, it has become a luxury these days. I don't even read other people's blogs anymore. In fact, whatever little time I do get on the net, I find myself reading and researching the next posting. Oh yes, in the next one I'll be looking at some allegations that Muslims pray to a Moon God! Stay tuned.
a freudian spit generated @ 3:41 pm |
Thursday, March 25, 2004
059: The Passion of Yasser Arafat
Read in the news that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has had a screening of Mel Gibson's controversial moview The Passion of Christ. According to press reports
, Arafat found the movie "historic and impressive
" and not at all anti-semitic. In Reuter's account
, Arafat was said to have described the movie as "historic and moving
In case you have been hiding under some coconut shell in an obscure fisherman's village, chances are you would have heard of the movie. The Passion of the Christ is supposedly a historical account of the last 24 hours of Jesus Christ before he was brutally put to death. It is said to have been closely based on biblical accounts and other writings of the time. While it is not funded by the Vatican or any church group, it is said to be a Christian account of the Messiah. By that, I mean that in this movie Jesus IS the Son of God and is crucified for the salvation of mankind.
In an Islamic context, the Messiah never died a brutal death. Instead, somebody else was crucified in His place and Jesus lived to an old age after which he ascended to Heaven. In fact, according to the Quran, any claims of the divinity of Christ is blasphemy. And yet, a prominent Muslim like Yasser Arafat has not only found no problem in watching the movie, he has in fact, praises for it. As you can see in the photo (lifted from the Palestine International Press Centre
) Yasser Arafat is indeed watching the movie. And from the looks of things, he seems to be watching a DVD version of the movie which is probably Buatan Malaysia since the official DVD is not yet out!
As I read the reports, I have a newfound respect for the man. Yessir, Yasser! One of the things that come to mind about Yasser Arafat is his determination to attend the Christmas parades in Ramallah every year. It's just not the kind of thing you'd expect in a guerilla leader, in my opinion anyways! And now he's gone on to watch The Passion of the Christ and enjoyed it too. Doesn't that give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside?
Which begs the question : Will we ever watch The Passion of the Christ in Malaysia? And by that, I mean legally. In the cinemas. On the big screen. With popcorn. Somehow, I doubt it. In Malaysia, you can have religious freedom but no one said anything about religious-themed movies.
Addendum: Read Resident's review of the movie.
a freudian spit generated @ 6:28 pm |
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
058: My One Political Statement
It's been a hell of a month, hasn't it? And, from the looks of things, things are really cooking here within the Malaysian blogger community, with the 11th General Election just over. A lot of people are riled up about the results, especially the Opposition's poor showing at the polls.
LET'S JUST BLAME THE VOTER
Amongst the disgruntled, there have been theories about how shortsighted the voters were, how underhanded BN was and how biased the EC was. To be honest, it all just sounds like sour grapes to me. But of all the talk, it was Raja Petra Kamarudin's
commentary that takes the cake.
RPK's insights, specifically on the Chinese voters, is especially telling of his shortsightedness. What we have here is a fine example of cluelessness. Raja Petra Kamarudin is like the nerd kid in college who never got laid and didn't understand why. "It MUST be the girls fault that I'm not getting any."
No, no, no, sonny, you ain't getting some cos you failed to live up to anybody's expectation.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
For the sake of argument, let's just see what our political parties have to offer. BN is pitching their experience. After 42 years of ruling the nation, we cannot deny that they do indeed have experience. We have seen some big-ass developments under these guys. We have seen the nation prosper. At least we can expect that much.
PAS is selling Heaven on earth and the hereafter. Whether you like it or not, you cannot deny that many people DO want to see a theoracratic government. For the pious, it is an opportunity to live their everyday life as prescribed by the Quran. Now you may feel that the regular Malay on the street wants property over eternity, but over half the voters in Kelantan have proven you wrong.
DAP on the other hand promises to abolish the Bumi/non-Bumi divide. This is an excellent pitch to the non-Bumi working stiff. If DAP wins, every Ah Chong and Ramasamy can buy a house at the same 5% discount with their Bumi brothers. It means that your regular Ah Kau and Raju can now tender for any government project. Which is great!
But what of KeADILan? If you win, you'll free Anwar? Is that it? Do you really think that Mat Dispatch, who earns an average of RM 3,000 a month, really gives a rat's ass? How does freeing Anwar change the live of Ah Wong Chap Fan who makes RM 7,000 a month selling economy rice? You think it'll improve the livelihood of Kuppusamy Runcit who earns RM 12,000 selling you groceries? That said, somebody should do the decent thing and let Anwar out, even if it isn't particularly life-changing for me.
YOU'RE NOT SO SPECIAL AFTER ALL
Face it. KeADILan doesn't really have anything new
to offer. Oh sure, you say you're honest and you have integrity. But that's only because no one wants to grease your grubby paws. How do we know that you won't turn out just like BN when you get up there? In fact, you're probably exactly like BN, except that you haven't won anything. And as far as the voters go, better a devil we know.
But hey, here's yet another issue that seems to have eluded you. KeADILan is peddling a medicine it does not believe in. Your partner is adamant about wanting an Islamic State. Are we truly to believe you can change their mind? You lost the Chinese and Indians when you went to bed with PAS. And guess what, you lost the Malays as well. The more liberal Malays who prefer a secular state didn't vote for you. And I'm pretty sure some of the "more pious"
Malays wouldn't vote for you either since they probably don't buy into KeADILan's BS.
KeADILan's biggest failure is that it tried to be everything to everyone. Sorry, but you can't sell the same panties to a nubile young chick as you would to her grandmother. Take a firm stand, for crying out loud! Come out with a proper action plan instead of blaming everyone. And stop screwing around with PAS. You probably hurt them too.
YOU WANNA GET SOME, GET SOME
When you walk into Alcoholic's Anonymous, the first thing you gotta do is admit you have a problem. Nope, it's not the drink. Nope it's not your wife. It's you. YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM. Until you admit it, you're not gonna get any better. Until you stop blaming the voters, you're gonna keep losing the elections. By now, the concept of your "enemy" should be pretty clear to you - KeADILan is its own worst enemy.
I have one advice for you. It will serve you well to remember this: The voter is NOT an idiot. She is your wife. Your mother. Your best friend. Your Uncle Din. The voter bailed out on KeADILan because it insulted his intelligence. And RPK, your continuing to do so isn't helping any. You didn't say anything of worth in your article. Nope, not even the "Show Me The Money" part. Because, if you think about it, its NOT all about the money. It's all about preserving our lifestyles. It's about preserving the sanctity of our comfort zone.
And by the way, the message from the voters isn't "Show me the money!"
It's "Show me the monkey!"
And that's when they put you on the chopping block.
It's a pity! Some of the finest candidates to ever grace our elections were wiped out without a ghost of a chance. Still, this might turn out to be a good thing after all. Perhaps it was time the Opposition got a little humbling.
NOTE: My apologies to my regular readers. This blog was never meant for politics and this is probably just a one-off rant. Regular programming will resume soon, now that I am blogging again.
a freudian spit generated @ 10:25 pm |
Sunday, February 22, 2004
057: Exclusive Entrance to Heaven
The promise of heaven, salvation or even Nirvana seems to be one of the most sought-after "commodities"
among the religious. And I believe generally, we are split into two camps concerning the issue. One one side we have people who consider heaven to be the ultimate goal in life. On the other side, we have those who consider the afterlife overrated, if not preposterous. Yet, the funny thing is on both sides of the fence you have both the religious as well as the non-religious.
INSISTENCE AMIDST RESISTANCE
Some of you might find this a little upsetting, but it's an important issue that needs to be addressed. I believe that all the 3 major monotheistic religions claim to have exclusive rights to heaven. While I can accept that this is the dogma of those religions, the approach towards disseminating this "info"
can be unsettling, sometimes to the point of being high-handed or even arrogant. While the underlying intentions may be good, the tactics continue to be the thorn in the sides of a lot of people. Christians, especially the Protestants seem to be guilty of this, a lot. Surely you must have heard this little quip, "Born-again Christians are a bigger pain in the ass the second time around!"
Someone related this sad story to me once. A boy is born into a Taoist family. He grow up and eventually finds God in a Protestant church. The experience was so powerful that over the years, it eventually led him to serve God as a pastor. As his family came to terms with his conversion, he found it difficult to accept that they themselves were not as open to Christianity as he was. It was here that trouble began brewing in his household. Eventually, one day he was confronted with the impending death of his beloved mother. As she laid in her deathbed, he realised that his mother did not have anymore time. If she were to be "saved", and if she were to be guaranteed a place in Heaven; as his Jesus had promised him he would have to act now. So there he was, frantically trying to get his mother to say the "Sinner's Prayer"
before she breathes her last. His family on the other hand, found him disrespectful. "The woman is dying! Let her die in peace,"
they cried. In his frustration and desperation he pleaded with them, "If she doesn't accept Jesus now, she will end up in Hell!!!"
And that was far too much for them to take - so they drove him out of the room and eventually out of their lives and their hearts. And his mother dies without ever receiving her "salvation".
CAN WE HAVE SOME TACT, PLEASE?
Everytime I think of this story, I'm torn. On one hand, I feel for the son who wanted the best for his mother. Yet on the other hand, I also feel the grief of the family. And my only thought about this is: Could there have been a better way to approach this? I apologise to all you Christians if you find this offensive, but the fact is, some Christians just never developed any tact in handling such a delicate issue. Here's an observation for you. It is my opinion that amongst the religious (or so-called religious), the Muslims are possibly the most passionate about their beliefs - sadly, sometimes even to the point of violence! And yet, I have never had any Muslim come up to me to evangelise or preach their religion. While on the other hand, to the Christian it's like this great recruitment drive! Why is that? Lately, I have also noticed some Buddhist doing this. Buddhists youths are walking around town giving handouts about Buddhism and inviting people for special events. What gives!? At least the Christians received their Great Commission
. What's your excuse?
One of the most vivid memories I have of growing up is how my grandmother use to beat away Christians missionaries with her broom. She found them terribly offensive - Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the whole lot of them. So it pays to remember, no matter how well-meaning you may be and even if you indeed have exclusive rights to heaven, a broom in your face is still gonna hurt bad.
a freudian spit generated @ 11:56 am |
Thursday, February 19, 2004
056: The Holy Grandfather
Today, on my way to a regular appointment, I noticed that someone had erected a shrine on the road shoulder in this fairly busy business district in PJ. If you live in Malaysia, the chances are you would have encountered one of these little altar-shrine thingies. It's a tiny hut, usually no bigger than 9 sq ft. It's usually painted red and is embellished with traditional Chinese architecture. This would be the home of the Datuk-deity or Datuk Koong
UNIQUELY MALAYSIAN DEITY
If you're aware of the worship patterns of most Chinese-Taoist, you would know that most believers consider the Datuk-deity pivotal to their well-being. Now, this worship is uniquely Malaysian, in the sense that you wouldn't find a Datuk Shrine in other Chinese populated areas, i.e. Hong Kong or Taiwan. In fact, one of the most surprising thing about this largely Chinese practice is that the Datuk-deity is in fact the spirit of a Malay Bomoh
or shaman! Which is why, you'll notice that the Datuk-deity also goes by the Malay moniker of Datuk Keramat
which loosely translates as the Holy Grandpa.
There's an even more surprising thing all of this. If you are aware of the protocols of the Datuk-deity worship, the you'd know never to give pork as an offering to Datuk Keramat. The reason is plain an simple - Datuk Keramat is assumedly a Muslim. Do you even see the irony of this?
BAD TOILET TRAINING
I've heard some stories. You've probably heard them too. Man decides to emulate his forefathers by going into the jungle for food or medicine. And being a wise-ass, he decides the jungle is as good as any toilet. So he proceeds to take a whizz and in doing so, desecrates the domain of Datuk Keramat. A pissed-off Datuk teaches him a lesson he never forgets by making him really sick. I have even heard tales of the Green-faced Datuk Keramat (apparently there are many
), who is the most ruthless of them all. If you ever take an indiscriminate piss or shit near him, then you'll be the sorriest schumck that ever used the jungle as your john! People have died from such an act - and those are the lucky ones. Others have been paralysed for life. And all that suffering for just doing what nature intended.
So that's where it began. People started praying to Datuk Keramat to appease his anger. People began making offerings to this spirit-of-the-forest, just so he'd leave them alone. And it just went on from there. And then some bright spark probably came by one day and decides, "Hey, maybe I could ask for some nombor-ekor!"
and soon enough, people began to worship Datuk Keramat as though he were a god.
ENSHRINED IN SUPERSTITION
Today, you'll see those little shrines everywhere. In the jungle. On road shoulders. In construction sites - apparently developers and engineers are a superstitious bunch who woulnd't proceed with any construction unless they have made offerings to Datuk Keramat. And the thing about these little shrines is this: if you built them, they will come - the worshippers, in throngs! I think generally, people are so eager to get on the good side of God that they willingly accept anything, or anyone as God.
Here's a piece of advice as good as any you'll ever get: If you need to go, use a toilet. That's what it's there for!
a freudian spit generated @ 7:29 pm |
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
055: The Math of Reincarnation
It's been awhile since I last blogged. Thanks largely to your commentaries, I have set myself on a pilgrimage - an electronic one, no less - to find the true face of Buddhism. However, I believe you will agree that no matter which sect of Buddhism you belong, Buddhism today has become so widespread, infused with so many different traditions and cultures that it's hard to discern what true Buddhism is. But today, I just want to focus on some of the things that bother me about Buddhism - with the hope that someone can provide some answers.
CHECK YOUR BOTTOM LINE
Reincarnation. An important aspect of Buddhism. Aside from the fact that the very concept itself borders on mysticism and the supernatural - which some Buddhist are adamant to say is not characteristic of Buddhism - the very notion that we reincarnate is just doesn't add up. Bear with me, I'm naive. At the last count, the world population was 6,314,000,000. Just a century ago
, the population was a mere 1.6 billion. Do you see what I'm getting at? Should the world population be the same now and a hundred years ago? In fact, we out to have a decrease in the total on account of some nice guys attaining nirvana!
Origins. Does Buddhism have a clue in any of this? Where did we come from? Currently, two theories seem to dominate this subject - creationism and evolution. Creationism calls for the existence of a Creator God, which Buddhists do not believe. On the other hand, purveyors of evolution claim "omne vivum ex vivo
" or "all life from life
" which would have to dictate that life and mind came from nothingness. Buddhists do not accept this at all. So how?
ENLIGHTEN US, PLEASE
Enlightenment. Siddhartha Gautama sat under a fig tree and gained enlightenment. In his meditative state, he found answers from within himself. But didn't Isaac Newton
too find enlightenment under a tree - specifically the apple tree? So why do we not worship Newton instead? While Newton's discovery has been scientifically proven beyond a reasonable doubt, alas the same cannot be said for Buddha's theory of reincarnation. Yes, indeed Siddharta came out with a spectacular concept beyond human comprehension, but so did HG Wells
when he wrote "The Time Machine
". So, was HG Wells enlightened? Or was he merely inspired?
Now let me just say that apart from the supernatural aspects of Buddhism, I must say that Buddha's concepts for living life are practical and almost flawless. In fact, if you subscribe to Buddha's recommendation
of living life, I'm pretty sure you'll be an all-round great guy. But that does Buddha's teaching constitute a religion? Does it satisfy man's search for the ultimate truth?
Here's an analogy to chew on. Supposing as a child you wandered away from your parents in the supermarket. And suppose, a nice couple takes you home and adopts you, bringing you up to adulthood. Would you ever search for your biological parents, if not to rekindle a lost relationship, then at least to see what they look like? Or are you satisfy with your current perception of the truth?
a freudian spit generated @ 8:26 pm |