Monday, March 16, 2009

Another ridiculous notch on Morlino's belt

I've ceased being surprised by any of the ridiculous things Bishop Morlino says or does. I am heartened by the growing chorus of dissent amongst area Catholics in response, though.
Forces advocating change in the Catholic Church clashed with the church establishment Saturday at St. John Vianney Church.

The issue was the firing last week of Ruth Kolpack from her job as pastoral associate of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit.

The firing came in a meeting with Bishop Robert Morlino. Kolpack said Morlino asked her to renounce her master’s thesis, make a profession of faith and take a loyalty oath.

Loyalty oaths? I guess some of us are still riding on the "refusing to learn anything from history" train. And as for that masters thesis found to be so objectionable?

Kolpack said her thesis discussed the evil that can come of blind obedience. She said she can understand how that could be a red flag for the bishop.

“But if he would’ve read the whole paper, he would’ve understood it... he didn’t give it a chance,” she said.

The thesis also criticizes the church’s language of worship, which refers to God with words such as “he” or “Father.”

Kolpack said that’s harmful.

“I’m concerned about women, about young girls, who grow up in a patriarchal, male-dominated society. What does it do to their self-esteem?” she said.

But heaven forbid we, as humans, strive to become more egalitarian, more compassionate, more inclusive in all things. Because apparently a centuries old text, written by men living in a very different time with very different understandings of morality and equality, should be considered infallible. This sense of refusing to grow and learn baffles me - it is, essentially, the worst kind of anti-intellectualism. It's saying that everything we can and should know has already been carved in stone, and to study those words or to come to different conclusions based on new evidence and reinterpretations is heresy.

But that's what the people in power prefer. If the hoi polloi were to start questioning the very foundations upon which these officials base their authority, well, they'd be plum out of a job. It's happened before, and they're fools to think it won't happen again.

My favorite (ie: the most outrageous) part of the article comes in the form of a quote, though:
Spokesman Brent King said that Catholics owe obedience to their pastor, bishop and the pope, because they represent Jesus.
I admit that it's difficult for me to understand why anyone could claim to be a direct representative of a man who died 2,000-odd years ago, or of a spiritual entity that goes far beyond physical being. I suspect that it results from one of two things: True delusion, or full knowledge that it's a bullshit claim but still useful in attaining a position of great influence.

My father is a pastor, and he has never claimed to "represent Jesus" (but then, he's a dirty Protestant). Rather, most clergy worth their salt simply claim to be dedicated and tireless scholars of their chosen religions, interested in sharing their knowledge and ideas, and in attempting to bring some degree of order and kindness to their fellow man.

Too many fall far short of that noble goal, though, when they get caught up in the desire for authority, glory, riches, etc. And their all-too common weaknesses sometimes lead to things like war, oppression, and senseless struggle.

So I'm glad there are people like Kolpack who are willing to keep searching, keep trying to improve the ways in which we seek truth, compassion, justice and greater meaning in life. I just wish their were fewer Morlinos to stand in their way.

21 comments:

Katjusa said...

Oh, sigh. This takes me back to Edgewood.

Emily said...

No. Joke.

Emily said...

Wow that's... special. Very special.

The Catholic Church has been working on making official language more inclusive since Vatican II. The council's directives explicitly state that we're to use our native language for prayer where ever possible. So this kerfluffle is in direct defiance of the most recent official ruling on liturgy.

Further, disciplining someone over scholarly work that is in accord with Church teachings is um... well, the easy and obvious way is as part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Except *she* has to confess that she views it as a sin, and making a public brouhaha over it means *he* gets stripped of his priesthood. So, it's not that. And if it isn't that, it's pretty wildly inappropriate anyway.

So no, it isn't just that you were raised Protestant that makes this weird. Stuff Morlino does regularly leaves me (a cradle Catholic with a fair bit of liturgical training) ready to run screaming.

Dad29 said...

The council's directives explicitly state that we're to use our native language for prayer where ever possible.

Really?

I'm sure you have an explicit citation for that.

BzzzzzzT! Sorry! No such thing in the liturgy document.

Emily said...

Dad29, meet Emily. Emily, meet Dad29, the unrepentantly pre-Vatican II ultra-orthodox Catholic. He's full of good times, let me assure you.

Ryan said...

Thanks Dad29 for slowing the nonsense.

The big issue is that many people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have no idea what it really means to be Catholic. Heck, many people/denominations have no idea what it is to be Christian.

When someone stands up for Catholic/Christian ideals, the real stuff, not the watered down version, the general response is opposition. You should talk to the Bishop, do some source checking, find out what is actually going on from the right perspective. Kneejerk reactions are hardly ever useful.

Here we have Ms. Kolpack, who from her own mouth proves she is not in line with the organization she works/teaches for, being fired by her boss. What is so wrong about that? He even gave her a chance to admit her incorrectness and keep her job but it is clear that her academic career (however short) is more important than her faith. Obedience is a part of the Catholic faith, one that is often ignored.

We should commend Bishop Morleno for doing his job, and doing it well.

A notch on his belt? Perhaps, but certainly not in the way you are implying. This will most likely be filed under 'battles lost.' Be assured he takes the loss of the faithful personally. He does not desire to push people away but it is his duty to protect his congregation.

--On a bit of a tangent, there is no 'pre vatican II' and 'post vatican II'. There is the Church that has existed for 2000 years and then there are people who use 'Vatican II' as an excuse to do whatever they want. Most 'vatican II'ers haven't read a lick of any of the documents.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it appears that this action only came about after embittered right-wing parishioners found her name on lists of Obama doners and against California's proposition 8. The diocese only acted after the pastor refused to fire her on this basis, with her master's thesis (done for a Catholic major seminary)only serving as a pretext for the bishop's action. What a sad time to be a Catholic in the diocese of Madison.

Anonymous said...

Why anyone continues to give money to this outfit after all of the scandals is something I will never understand.

Sheep indeed.

illusory tenant said...

Money quote:

"It’s not a teaching that God is a man. It’s an understanding of how God has revealed himself through history," King said.

It's good they fired her, though. In the olden days they just would have shuffled her off surreptitiously to another parish where she could corrupt even more delicate minds.

Emily said...

IT - I would laugh if it wasn't so damned infuriating.

Ryan - You're such an expert on "what it is to be Christian"? Honestly, I don't claim to know the mind of a man dead these 2,000 years or so, but I have a very, very strong suspicion that he'd be horrified by a lot of what people have said and done in his name since, and what many of them claim is "Christian" behavior.

Jesus was a revolutionary. He was anti-establishment in the first degree, and that his modern-day "followers" include a large chunk of incredibly status-quo loving, non-questioning, "obedient" souls is an absolute disgrace.

Ryan said...

I claim no expertise or authority, just merely pointing out that we are human and need to constantly work to better understand Jesus' life and his message. If it was easy people wouldn't take so much issue with it.

Jesus was a revolutionary, but that certainly doesn't make him anti-establishment. He was actually quite pro-establishment, see: Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Matthew 16:18. He created the Church after all.

You are quite right however in your estimation that we Catholic/Christians are not perfect. We will fail sometimes or a lot in our Christlike imitation, but that doesn't make anyone less of a person. Think of it like your own children. You love them a great deal, but you do get angry when they do something wrong. That doesn't stop you from loving and trying to promote goodness from them. It's like that with the big guy upstairs.

It should never be 'Us vs. Them,' it should be 'Us and Him.'

Emily said...

Ryan - I don't doubt that you're being sincere, and that your heart is likely in the right place.

For all that, and how simple I believe Jesus' message really was/is, I guess I just don't understand how so many people can still be so resistant to new ideas, interpretations, and to making the faith more inclusive.

Why this stubborn insistence on the second-class status of women in the church? Why such animosity toward homosexuality? Why the dogged refusal to recognize the importance of honest and truthful education about and availability of contraceptives?

It doesn't make sense to me, beyond recognizing that a lot of people have a difficult time dealing with change and different perspectives. I get that, but it's still no excuse to be so pushy and narrow-minded.

I don't really know you, Ryan, so none of that can be directed at you specifically. But what I do notice is that you seem to be making the assumption that everyone needs to "better understand Jesus' life" to become better people, and there I definitely have to disagree. Christianity and/or religion in general are not required for living a good life. It may be the right path for some, but certainly not all, and we'd all be a lot better off if we fully realized that.

Anonymous said...

One more bit of evidence of why I am no longer a Catholic. I am constantly amazed how righteous the leadership is in face of their dereliction of responsibilities toward the weakest of people. How many young boys and girls have been abused by these people before the true faithful say enough. Reminds me of a saying from the late 60's: God is returning and boy is she pissed off!

Alex said...

"Why this stubborn insistence on the second-class status of women in the church? Why such animosity toward homosexuality? Why the dogged refusal to recognize the importance of honest and truthful education about and availability of contraceptives?

It doesn't make sense to me, beyond recognizing that a lot of people have a difficult time dealing with change and different perspectives. I get that, but it's still no excuse to be so pushy and narrow-minded."

I guess I have to ask who's being narrow minded and not dealing with different perspectives. Have you ever considered that the Church might actually be right about contraception and homosexuality? Have you ever considered that the Church doesn't see women as "second class citizens" but simply and proudly acknowledges that they are different from men? It's you (and millions like you) who have read into the Church's teachings that we must believe women are inferior. But we don't believe that.

I used to be just as far left as you. Then I actually read up on what the Church teaches and why, and I did a complete 180.

Finally, I'd argue that it is pretty easy to know what it is to be a Catholic. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a mere $10.17 on Amazon.

Emily said...

Have you ever considered that the Church might actually be right about contraception and homosexuality?

Alex. Where do I start?

Have I considered whether or not the Church is right about these issues? Sure. And the conclusion I always come to, time and time again, is no, they're not.

I was raised in the Presbyterian church by a minister and a school teacher who somehow found it in their hearts and minds to teach me to be open, loving, and always seeking new perspectives and ideas. They also taught me that we should judge people based on their character, not their race, religion, gender, or sexuality.

It's a novel concept, I know, but I think there was this other, far more prominent guy who'd already said as much in front of a bigger audience.

It's not narrow-minded to suggest that some folks might have the wrong idea when they claim that homosexuality is sinful. I'm not asking that those folks give up their religion entirely. I'm not telling them that they're sinful, terrible people simply for believing one thing or another. I'm not asking that Catholics or any other such group live in shame and hide their faith.

Yet many Catholics (not all) are asking that homosexuals live in shame and hide who they are. They're also asking to deny them equal rights and protection under the law. How you can't see the difference is something that will continue to baffle me.

Have you known many gay people? I mean really known them? Close friends? Relatives? Anything? Because if so, you'd be mighty hard-pressed to continue saying that they should be treated as second-class citizens, taught to repress their true feelings, if you really knew even just a few.

Of all the arguments I've heard on the other side of this issue, not a one has held water. There is simply no reason to continue oppressing this minority. Quite frankly, there wasn't any good reason to begin with.

The same goes for contraceptives and the treatment of women.

Have you ever considered that the Church doesn't see women as "second class citizens" but simply and proudly acknowledges that they are different from men? It's you (and millions like you) who have read into the Church's teachings that we must believe women are inferior. But we don't believe that.

If the Church doesn't see women as second-class, then why does it continue to deny them the right to become priests and other members of the governing ranks? Men and women have differences just like every human being has differences. You should be judging someone's ability to hold such positions based on their individual qualifications. Simply "being a woman" should never disqualify someone from something outright. Same goes for men.

To claim that you're just "proudly acknowledging that they are different from men" while patting women on the head and telling them they can't fully participate in Church life (or society in general, for that matter), is incredibly condescending and patronizing.

In the end, I don't think any one person or any one group has got everything right. I think the key is that we all continue to strive for the greater good, acknowledging when we've made a mistake (even when it's a hundreds of years old one) and doing our best to rectify and move on. That's a big part of what makes us human--our ability to adapt and evolve, to change our minds when new evidence is presented to us. I can only hope that you, and others like you, will eventually see that.

Ryan said...

I'm curious about what you mean by 'second-class citizen' and in general when people speak like that. Why is the church attacked for it's hierarchical structure and recognition of fundamental differences when it happens everywhere. Can't become president if you aren't native born and over 35. Married men cannot become priests, does that make us second-class as well?

Why is value derived from something someone else can do? Shouldn't it be derived from the fact that 'a person is a person no matter how small'? I have no ear for music and could never be a conductor. Does that make me a second-class individual to all the conductors out there? You may say 'sure you wouldn't be good, but you could still be a conductor.' I could be a conductor in name and function, but i wouldn't really BE a conductor. The priesthood is not a job, it is who they are.

More specifically, the priesthood of the New Testament is a priesthood of Christ himself. Priests act in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. Christ was a man and so likewise a man can act as part of his priesthood.

Also, Jesus himself only chose men to be apostles. You may want to say 'sure but that was a mans society back in the day,' and you'd be quite right, but do you really think God would not be aware of these things and acted shortsightedly? If that's the case, then there are lots of churches/groups/cults out there where you're allowed to believe whatever you can imagine.

The priesthood isn't a granting of rights like: "now you can preach and teach the word of God." There's plenty of lay persons who do that. It is a fundamental change to the person. Before ordination they were just your average joe (in a spiritual sense), then when ordination takes place an indelible spiritual character is imparted to him and he is joined in Christs priesthood. Where he was man before, he is now a Priest of Christ.

The priest may bring Christ to the world through the Eucharist, but the woman brings the world to Christ through her children.

On the church and "women's rights." That is another can of worms where the supporters use phrases like "right to choose," and "family planning," to hide the truths of the murder of children and death of the family. Look at what the Pope said about HIV and condoms and how the directory of aids prevention at Harvord agrees: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825_pf.html

Homosexuals have the same right to Marriage as heterosexuals. The only issue is that they want to make marriage something it's not. Marriage is between a man and a women. If it were between two men or two women it would cease to be marriage. I can't call myself native american if i'm not just because i "want equality." What is wrong with civil unions? They offer all the same amenities as Marriage as far as the state is concerned. Does this make unmarried people second-class to married persons and third-class to priests?

I apologize if this isn't very cohesive, i wanted to touch on everything and just realized typing in this small box might not be good for overall cohesion.

Emily said...

You're right, Ryan, these comment boxes can be a bit stifling when it comes to trying to have a debate of any substance.

And while I still disagree with you about pretty much all of this, I appreciate your willingness to engage in a relatively constructive conversation.

To your points:

Comparing the federal rights of individuals (homosexuals in particular, in this case) to priesthood rules is fallacious. Separation of church and state, and all that. I am not, and would never advocate for a federal law forcing religious and other non-profit institutions to perform marriage (or other) ceremonies for anyone or in any situation that went against their beliefs.

When I take issue with the attitudes certain religions and religious people have toward groups like homosexuals, women, or people of different/no faith - it's on a personal level. I can't force anyone to change their minds about much of anything, and that's not what I'm out to do. But when those people try to force their beliefs into federal law, then I absolutely take issue.

Ultimately, I would like to see religious marriage left entirely to the churches. Federal civil unions would be for everyone, gay or straight, and would be legal arrangements only. That we've so thoroughly mixed religious with civil marriage has only created a big ol' mess for all of us.

As to your comments about women, you'll understand (I hope) why I bristle at your assertions. First off, Jesus probably had female apostles. There's a large body of scholarship that suggests Mary Magdelene was likely his first and most favored apostle, but that subsequent interpretations and translations of the literature by men who didn't particularly like the idea of a strong female figure being so close to Jesus changed her story so that she became the harlot. It's fascinating stuff, but more than a little bit frustrating.

Beyond (and even aside) from that, haven't we evolved enough as a species yet to see that the worth of a woman does not lie on her childbearing and rearing abilities alone? You say, "...the woman brings the world to Christ through her children." And I say that's an incredibly patronizing view to take. Why can't a woman "bring the world to Christ" through her own, individual work? Seriously, why not?

And as a post script, in re: your comment about contraception and the Pope's views on condoms, etc.

In a world hurtling toward 7 billion people, most of whom we can't even provide the most basic of services to, I really don't get why there are still people advocating against proper sex ed and contraception. Heaps of research and common sense both tell us that a planned family is a healthy family, and that accurate education about and easy access to effective contraception drastically reduces the rate of STI and other diseases.

I simply do not understand how, in the face of massive overpopulation, disease, hunger, etc., anyone could still be so blind to the problems and their very tenable solutions.

Ryan said...

I'll start with your last comment and work my way back.

Overpopulation? Really? Where? In terms of what? Food? Space? The United states just recently reached a rate of sustainability. What does that mean? It means that we are barely repopulating ourselves. 2.1 offspring per couple is the sustaining rate, we have been lower since the 60's.

How about Europe? Worse, they are at 1.3 and less. According to the UN 40% of the worlds population is declining. The decline of the 40% is at a much greater rate then the surplus the other 60% is producing. This means overall decline.

Condoms increase hiv incidences. Read the article i linked. There are no studies available that say throwing condoms at Africa has had a positive effect on hiv/aids. The leading experts in the field are now realizing that the facts point to the exact opposite.

How did Uganda approach the HIV/AIDS epidemic? In 1991 they had a 21% incident rate. The Uganda Ministry of Health started a prevention campaign with slogans like: "Love Carefully," "Love Faithfully," and "Zero Grazing" (meaning don't have sexual partners outside the home). In 2002 the incident was down to 6%. In contrast where condoms are being used experts (those actually studying the data like Green) are seeing that the number of incidents is still going up and in some cases more quickly!

What this tells us is that the 'idea' of condoms is not effective and the practice of abstinence IS. We can ignore the facts and continuing throwing condoms at Africa but it will not help the problem.

Onto the roles of men and women. I'm confused by this "And I say that's an incredibly patronizing view to take." You think it's incredibly patronizing that I recognize the value in the fundamental ability women have to bear children? Women are created with the astounding ability to bear another human being into this world.

"Beyond (and even aside) from that, haven't we evolved enough as a species yet to see that the worth of a woman does not lie on her childbearing and rearing abilities alone?" Really? You missed what i said about the worth of a person: A person is a person no matter how small. A persons value is not based on what they can do or even who they know. You appear to be saying that in order for a woman to have worth she has to be able to call herself a priest??

"Comparing the federal rights of individuals (homosexuals in particular, in this case) to priesthood rules is fallacious." I'm not sure what this is about. I was pointing out that marriage as a governmental institution is based on christian Marriage which will cease to be Marriage if we change the rules.

The government has an interest in protecting and promoting the family. Dr. Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia talks about just this topic. A breakdown in marriage between a man and a woman is a breakdown in the family. A breakdown in the family causes a breakdown in the society/government because the means to promote the growth and development of these systems (ie children) vanishes. Less children, less people who can run the country when the old administration dies out. He also explains that the basic building block is the family. He shows statistically that a family, where the mother and father are married and faithful and they are the parents to all their children, produces the highest amount of productive citizens. This doesn't mean amazing people can't come from broken homes or families, because they certainly do, it just shows that the most favorable situation is a married man and woman. He argues that the government has a vested interest in keeping Marriage between a man and a woman.

The problem with media today is that it's based on feelings and sentiments and not on facts. Things like 'womens rights,' and 'family planning,' have been turned into these meaningless words that the media beasts use to say whatever they want. When presented with the facts they clam up and move on to the next gossipy topic. Look whats happening to all the information coming from the actual experts saying condoms aren't the answer... it are being hidden. Yet Britney Spears' 'Merry Christmas' slip at a concert is front page news.

We can still hope (the real stuff)

Emily said...

Did you read the article you linked?

..."consistent condom use has not reached a sufficiently high level..."

The main thing being discusses is the fact that simply throwing condoms around isn't enough, because it doesn't convince people to then use them all the time. If there isn't comprehensive and accurate education to accompany the distribution of contraceptives, then of course it's not going to work as well. People need to know that, for condoms to work against the spread of HIV/AIDS (which they most certainly do), then you have to use them no matter what. In a steady relationship, at the brothel, with a fling, whatever. All the time.

It has never been, and will never be, realistic to ask that everyone simply abstain from having sex until marriage (and even then, married couples can pass on disease).

So educate. Provide access to affordable health care. Put the power of decision and protection in the hands of the people. Give them the tools they need to be healthy.

The article's author, Green, even ends by saying, "Don't misunderstand me; I am not anti-condom. All people should have full access to condoms, and condoms should always be a backup strategy for those who will not or cannot remain in a mutually faithful relationship. This was a key point in a 2004 "consensus statement" published and endorsed by some 150 global AIDS experts, including representatives the United Nations, World Health Organization and World Bank. These experts also affirmed that for sexually active adults, the first priority should be to promote mutual fidelity. Moreover, liberals and conservatives agree that condoms cannot address challenges that remain critical in Africa such as cross-generational sex, gender inequality and an end to domestic violence, rape and sexual coercion."

You go on to say, "You think it's incredibly patronizing that I recognize the value in the fundamental ability women have to bear children? Women are created with the astounding ability to bear another human being into this world."

I think it's incredible that women can bear a brand new life, and certainly something to be respected and loved. But why does this also seem to preclude them from performing other duties? It goes beyond the Church allowing them to be priests. It goes to the attitude that many, even the non-religious, still have toward women. Hey, if you don't want women to serve as officials in your institution because you think their only role in life should be as mothers, that's your decision. But I'm still going to call it what it is: exclusionary, sexist, and misguided.

You appear to be saying that in order for a woman to have worth she has to be able to call herself a priest??

Twist my words much? You seem to be saying that a woman doesn't have worth unless she has children. Is that the case? I'm simply saying that should a woman have the desire and qualifications for a given position, who are you to say she can't have it?

And finally, to the "government having an interest in protecting and promoting the family" point. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and being raised by two loving moms or two loving dads is certainly just as good as being raised by two loving opposite sex parents. Heck, even single parents do a good job of it some times. You can't simply write off a whole potential parenting field based on generalizations. The important thing should be that all of our children have a chance at a loving, supportive home environment.

P.S. The US and Europe may be fine for population, but that's a rather Western-centric view to take of the problem. Many countries are already in a desperate struggle to provide adequate resources to their people. And there's significant doubt that the Earth, in general, can sustain much more.

UN report: Ballooning global population adding to water crisis

The American footprint is about 10 hectares. So if all humans lived at US standards, we'd need another four Earths.

overpopulation.org

Ryan said...

I forgot to mention something about the heretical gospels. Take the Mary one for instance. That was written 300 yrs after the death of Jesus. How accurate do you really think that is? The four Gospels in the bible were written first hand by Jesus' apostles. If any story of Mary Magdalene was passed down it had to go through 8+ generations. This gave it plenty of time to change into something completely different. Its similar to a biography of George Washington written by four of his good friends. Then today someone writes a biography based entirely on the stories they've heard. It's highly unlikely that the one written today is even a hair more accurate then the four written in his time by people who knew him. The author might get some media attention because of the wacky things they say, but their story will be highly inaccurate.

That's exactly what's happening here. The Divinci Code comes out and news explodes about these other gospels. They become the hot topic. What do people do with a hot topic? They write books and pretend to be experts to sell those books. "Scholars," appear who are experts on these gospels who aren't actually experts in anything. Unknown to the public, these gospels have been known about since they were written and were NEVER added into the bible, ANY bible, not evangelical, not unitarian, not lutheran. Why is that? Because the real experts know them to be false.

Also the heretical gospels' messages are so completely at odds with the entire bible that in order for those to be real they would falsify much of the bible. There are plenty of churches that don't believe in the bible and would be fine with someone who wants to bring in anything they can imagine up. The Catholic Church is not like that and is rooted in Jesus Christ and his teachings, be it written or passed through tradition.

We all have free will and are able to believe what we choose, which is so beautiful that we are given that freedom, but you can't be Catholic and believe made up things teachings that are contrary to the teachings of Christ.

Emily said...

Ryan, I'm not talking about the crap that popped up in the wake of the Da Vinci Code (which I agree is mostly crap).

I'm talking about scholarship that has existed for a good long while and that discusses the distinct possibility that Jesus had female disciples, and that Mary M. may well have been one of them. Do we know for sure? Nope--like many things in our distant past, it's hard to know definitively what the truth is. But we can keep looking, drawing educated inferences from things like the fact that there are several Marys mentioned in the Bible, and that the harlot mentioned was not one and the same as Mary M., friend of Jesus. It goes on and on.

As to your assertion that the Gospels were written contemporary to the time of Jesus' life, that's incorrect.

I spent a considerable amount of time in college (and beyond) studying the origins of the Gospels with the help of some very knowledgeable (and Catholic!) professors, who in turn pointed me toward many scholars who'd done the same. There's a lot of debate about when the various Gospels were written, but the nearly universal consensus doesn't have a single one of them being authored by someone who knew Jesus directly.

More importantly, I think, none of them were written by Jesus himself, making them all subject to flaws.

Heck, the Gospel of Mark, which is traditionally placed second in the NT, was likely actually the first written, and even conservative scholars put its authorship date at around the late 60s or early 70s AD/CE--well after the death of Jesus. Even more fun? Mark's original ending made no direct mention of the resurrection, simply having the women find the empty tomb and run away "terrified and telling no one." Fascinating stuff (and compelling storytelling, IMHO).

Now if only we could track down the Q source, then we might be on to something more contemporary to Jesus.

Instead, we're left with what are likely, at best, secondhand accounts. Which isn't to say that they're worthless, or that I think Christians should just throw them out entirely. I think there are a lot of great lessons and truisms to be learned from parts of the Bible (and many other holy texts, to be fair), but I firmly believe that we must cast a critical and discerning eye on it all. Because I don't believe any of it to be the direct word of God or Jesus, but rather man's best attempt at interpreting it. And man, as we all know, is a deeply fallible creature.

The Lost Albatross