Sunday, October 09, 2005

Jesus H. Christ!

I never heard about Secret Mark! Sheesh! The things you never learn in New Testament Seminar!

So Morton Smith, who was a professor of Ancient History at Columbia last century, claimed, in 1958, to have discovered, at the Monastery at Mar Saba in the West Bank, an excerpt of a letter from Clement of Alexandria that alludes "to a homosexual relationship between Jesus and Mark, and casts doubt on the authenticity of portions of the canonized gospel of Mark."

Talk about your ways to undermine Christian theology.

In today's culture, that's even far more explosive than claiming that Jesus had a secret child, covered up by the Church. (Though I think, classically, that undermines the supersessionary claim of Christianity far more neatly. Emotionally speaking, it is harder for a spiritually gifted human to sacrifice his child than himself. So the harder sacrifice for Jesus would have been of his child, not himself.)

Great subject for a novel, too. Just tentatively, you could call it, hmm, The Michelangelo Code.

Some scholars, I note, regard Morton's Smith find as a hoax. And it is being debunked in a book due out next month, named appropriately for its subject Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark.

[UPDATE: Now I've read the relevant text. And it strikes as far more likely to be referring to a mystical initiation- an early Christian version of merkavah mysticism, which is the technical term for first and second century Jewish mysticism (pre-kabbalah) - than homosexual activity. But the gay speculation is so much more fun!]

1 Comments:

At 5:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Duke is a malignant narcissist and a Domestic Terrorist.

Dr. Duke invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. Dr. Duke maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and the trappings of power further exacerbate this. Real life authority and David Ernest Duke’s predilection to surround him with obsequious sycophants support David Ernest Duke’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience.

David Ernest Duke's personality is so precariously balanced that Dr. Duke cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference, the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not. Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

Duke fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, and mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. Dr. Duke monastically denies himself earthly pleasures, or so Dr. Duke claims in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

Duke is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, Duke became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman". But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to, as "nature" is not natural at all.

Duke invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle, and be subsumed by it, the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism - and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon David Ernest Duke like, and rather psychopathic, toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic, feel and act as morally superior, they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are credulous, they are adaptable, and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction. They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy by relishing in their aspirations by masking anarchy with a well-developed smokescreen of order.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. Dr. Duke was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. Dr. Duke acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. Dr. Duke provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. Dr. Duke was not the devil. Dr. Duke was one of us. Dr. Duke was what Hannah Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. Dr. Duke was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

Duke prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - Duke having died, been deposed, or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem exposing the voracious jealousy and covert treason.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of David Ernest Duke. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform David Ernest Duke like narrative. Thus, David Duke who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first. The pacific mask crumbles when David Ernest Duke has become convinced that the very people Dr. Duke purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, and the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, David Duke strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by, the media, big industry, the military, and the elite,” “they don't really know what they are doing,” “following a rude awakening, they will revert to form,” when these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, David Duke becomes mortally injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred. This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To David Ernest Duke, things and people are either entirely bad, evil, or entirely good. Dr. Duke projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. Duke is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country.

The "small people", the "rank and file", and the "loyal soldiers" of David Ernest Duke - his flock, his nation, and his employees - they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of David Ernest Duke. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

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