The Whole Racket Started with the Egyptians
Posted by honestpoet on December 13, 2006
Last night we watched a two-hour special on the Egyptian Book of the Dead (history chanel — one of our favorites, after the science chanel — knowing one’s place in time is as important as knowing one’s place in the material order). Fascinating, and probably the first time I’ve seen anyone on TV mention the similarities between the Isis/Osiris/Horus myth and the Christian story, which clearly recycles the old symbols of that as well as some others.
You know, I understand the human desire to believe in an afterlife. My father died young, when I was in my twenties. It would be comforting to imagine that he’s up in some Heaven somewhere, waiting for me to join him in my time. I certainly miss him plenty. And if my husband or children were to go, I’d be devastated, and really have trouble with the idea of never seeing them again.
But as I wrote in a poem that’s coming out in a magazine in February, about the time I almost died myself (and discovered, to my relief, that I did not fall back into prayer and grasp at the white robes of Christ in my fear, nor find anything but nothingness while I was without brain-stem function — no tunnel with light at the end, no deceased relatives waiting to welcome me), accepting the impermanence of life can add to its sweetness (grateful for every day), as well as strengthen one’s resolve to treat one’s family as one ought, with the love and kindness they deserve.
In researching markets for poems, I read a bunch of secular humanist articles yesterday. One was interesting, about whether or not we need to respect religion. The article came down strongly on the side of “no.” And I have to agree. Especially in my writing, I will not make any attempt to temper what I say to make anyone feel better about the fact that they cling to what’s clearly nothing more than ancient superstition. The world is speeding to a hell of its own making, fighting wars motivated at least on one side by religious intolerance (while many Americans may feel intolerance toward Islam, I don’t believe that’s the actual motivation of the adminstration…I think it has a lot more to do with that god of money, Mammon). I don’t believe Jesus even existed. And Muhammad was clearly a bi-polar nut who justified his bloody wars with spoutings of recycled stories picked up from traders in the desert. And why the hell is half the world held captive by the scriptures of some Semitic tribe who decided a few thousand years ago that they were the chosen people? Most of the Old Testament seems to me to be a lot of rationalization for killing and looting, not to mention a land-grab that covers pretty much the entire Middle East.
Allah is a moon god, and Jehovah’s the god of thunder, and their representatives have been killing each other for centuries. And thanks to the frickin’ Romans and their revisionist histories, all of Europe (and now the Americas) are caught up in this mess via the allegedly Holy Church.
We watched the Terry Jones miniseries on the history chanel some weeks ago, about the so-called barbarians. The episode that intrigued me most was the one on the Celts, and not only because I’ve got a lot of ancestry from those folks. What really amazed me was the advanced and egalitarian society they had before the Romans “civilized” them. Their legal code gave equal rights to women (women were second-class citizens in Rome, practically property), and protected children, the elderly, and the mentally handicapped, which seems pretty enlightened to me. The “civilized” Romans threw unwanted babies on the garbage heap. Egads.
Back to the Egyptians and their scrolls, I learned last night that those Egyptian priests really had quite a racket going. A scroll (to be buried with you to guide you through the trials of the afterlife) would cost a royal scribe half a year’s salary. This morning my husband joked about needing one. I said, “Yeah, you gonna spend $75K on it?” He said he figured if Bibles cost that much, there’d be a lot more folks around here reconsidering the whole church thing.