Overweening Generalist

Friday, September 21, 2012

Promiscuous Neurotheology: Pt.4: A Line From Jesus

In John, 10:34, Jesus answered them: "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods?'"

I'm gonna have to go with the Rabbi and married man Jesus here. Realize you are god and act accordingly. 

Some may think, upon realization and a rather deep internalization of their New Identity, that this gives them carte blanche to lord it over others. But that would be a misuse of your superhero-ish newfound god status; someone once said something to the effect that godsmanship has its benefits for sure, but it also carries with it some big responsibilities. If you meet someone and they haven't yet realized they are a god or goddess, give them the benefit of the doubt: they are Holy too. They just haven't realized it yet. 

                              J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, head of the Church of the Subgenius
                              When I read in their first Holy Book, "You'll pay to find out 
                              what you think!," I was on board. If you ask me, Mitt Romney
                              looks WAY too much like "Bob." It's...indecent.

I do not self-identify as a Christian. If I had to identify as anything, go ahead and put me down as some variety of Discordian/Subgenius/Mystical Agnostic/Dionysian. Awe and lotsa laffs, sex and intoxication and music are strictly de rigeur in any religion or anti-religion that might have a congenital non-joiner like myself as a member. 

But this passage in John has always puzzled me: why don't people talk about it more? When I first read this, on my own, as a long-haired heathen/pagan/heavy metal rock guitarist around age 19 or 20, I thought, "Whoa! Check out Jesus's ethical gambit here! The rhetoric is solid: his audience knew the scripture. Check the Law book! Look in the Torah. It's right there. 'I have said you are gods.' Now: live accordingly. Brilliant move!"

A Disciple: Wait...where is that? I guess I skimmed past it...Can I get a page number? Jesus? Where is that...

Jesus (somewhat nervously): Somewhere near the back. But that's not the point. Believe me!

Somehow most folks seem to have not paid much attention to this bit, or they went off and interpreted it  in some odd or less salutary way. And me, alienated always, just wondered why people insisted they were less than gods and goddesses. I still wonder. But I try not to think about it too much. It seems like one helluva missed opportunity. One of those bottlenecks in history. Missed it by that much, Chief.

                         I love this rendering of Eris, Goddess of Chaos, who bears much
                         responsibility for the Trojan War, and therefore The Iliad
                         The Odyssey, a bunch of other books and thoughts and art, and
                         James Joyce's Ulysses. You don't cross Eris and get away with it.
                         If anyone knows who the artist is here, please write me so I can 
                         give credit...I don't want to cause any sort of Havoc!

Sorry: No Elaboration on McCullough and Religion and Self-Control
I wanted to elaborate on my last post, and had a link in my scatterbrained files for an article that seemed to want to address the issue of religion and self-control. The title of the article was "Does Thinking About God Increase Our Self-Control?" The link was dead, with no explanation. Then I realized: it had been written by Jonah Lehrer, for Wired. I will let the sad irony play out in your own nervous system...


Sue Howard said...

Great series on neuro-stuff. Keep em coming...

michael said...

Thanks, Sue.

I'll do many more, but maybe more intermittently like the posts on drugs or books or Chomsky.

lavaface said...

Another great post! By the way, I'm about to fly out to San Francisco for the philp k dick festival. I'll be sticking around town for a few days afterwards. Let me know if you'd like to meet up.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

It's my guess you've done a great job of flagging the verse mistakenly left in when the rest of the Gnostic gospel stuff was edited out!

Thom Foolery said...

Michael, I read this very verse this morning, in the context of Walter Wink's Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament. (This fascinating book examines every power-related term used in the Greek New Testament, in extra-canonical writings, and other contemporary sources.) While I don't remember the exact Greek term rendered here as "gods" (or the Hebrew, since Jesus is here referencing the 82nd Psalm), I do know that Wick's interpretation involved a henotheistic view of the universe, rather than a simple monotheism, in which there are a cosmic panoply of forces arrayed and aligned with various terrestrial forces, nations, etc.

One can also ask the question, to whom does the "you" in "you are gods" refer. Does it refer to the spiritual powers (i.e., angels and demons), their earthly counterparts (e.g., kings, etc.), or to the people of Israel? Opinions differ.

One thing that seems pretty certain, though, and that is that Jesus was not telling the folks around him that they were all gods, at least not in this verse. How I wish it were otherwise...

michael said...

@lavaface: I'm just now seeing this. If you're still around, email me. Hope the PKD Fest was better than you could've hoped.

@Tom: RAW drew my attention to the passage, IIRC, in SCT somewhere.

@Thom Foolery: My, what a learned comment. Thanks. I have always suspected there were some deeper hermeneutical intricacies involved in that line, but gnostics and other troublemakers like myself really must pounce on such a line and use it for our own purposes, yasee.

I had to look up "henotheistic."

Gothic_Pheonix said...

I have a question regarding the image you use. You see I've been trying to find what source an image is from; the person looks like Scarlett Johnson and she is holding a golden apple against an orange like background. It says "Discordia" on the background and in small text to the side it says "Reverend John Wick". I was wondering if you could possibly help me because I am wondering if it's a character from some book, or game.

michael said...

@Gothic Pheonix: In my caption I asked for help in finding the source, but no one has come forth. I'm pretty sure I typed "Eris images" into Google and came up with a bunch and picked that one. When you want to isolate the image it will send you to the website on which it was taken...but when I read that site I couldn't find the name of the artist, which I was looking for.

The main reason was this: those images are taken from any other website, not necessarily the original.

Now my GUESS would be it may have been originally made for the Steve Jackson game that had to do with the Illuminati, which I have never played. Or it could just be from John Wick Games? Ya think? Maybe? And that's only a guess.


Seriously: look there for the image. And did you mean she looks like the actress Scarlett Johansson? Or is there a "Scarlett Johnson" actress too? (I can't keep up on this stuff. Not even close.)

Which brings me to the problem of giving credit for photos and artwork:

Someone on CraigsList was pointing out websites people can go to to feed a URL in and it will tell you if the image on CL was really the person who appears in an ad, or if it was taken from a porn website, but I never followed up on that. I wonder if there is a way to track down the original artist and photographer of images found on Google? You'd think here would be; I'd like to credit someone every time I use an image, but quite often that info is not found on the site from which I...uh...re-purpose the images.

There are other websites I write for that insist images be used, but they must be in pubic domain. Do you know how hard it is to add an image from Wikimedia Commons when your article is about aesthetics? You have to use your fanciful imagination and hope no one calls you on it.