It seems that with so many front-burner topics boiling over the pots and pans of modern life — sports, politics, economics, technology, infrastructure, gas prices, gas pains, health care, Oprah’s farewell season, the explosion of two-car drafting in NASCAR, the mystery of why Ryan Seacrest still has a job, sex, sin and Snooki — religion only pops up when Easter rolls around.
And so here we are in another Holy Week and religion has even hit the Zeke Blog, whose author still has yet to give something up for Lent this year. Still, there are five days left for me to get my sack cloth on.
Granted, nothing seems to be sacred with religion anymore. The Borgias and those fun folks who brought us the Inquisition must be rolling over in their graves.
For instance, new research released today claims that the Last Supper took place on the Wednesday before the crucifixion, not on Holy Thursday.
Pass the holy water, please, before I faint. All those Holy Thursdays I spent as an altar boy serving at those incense-choked services at St. Catharine’s of Siena in Mount Penn on the wrong day.
So where the hell, oops, heck did Holy Wednesday come from?
Professor Colin Humphreys, a scientist at the University of Cambridge, believes it is all due to a calendar mix-up.
Humphreys apparently used a combination of biblical, historical and astronomical research to try to pinpoint the precise nature and timing of Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his death. Of course, Humphreys’ research would have been much easier if he could have dug up the receipt for the meal. Speaking of that meal, why did they all sit on the same side of the table? Nobody eats like that in my house or yours.
Researchers have long been puzzled by an apparent inconsistency in the Bible. God forbid, there are inconsistencies in the Bible? Who knew? Does the Pope know about this?
While Matthew, Mark and Luke all say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.
Humphreys has concluded in a new book, The Mystery Of The Last Supper, that Jesus — along with Matthew, Mark and Luke — may have been using a different calendar than John.
In Humphreys’ theory, Jesus went by an old-fashioned Jewish calendar rather than the official lunar calendar which was in widespread use at the time of his death and is still in use today.
This would put the Passover meal — and the Last Supper — on Wednesday, explaining how Jesus’ arrest, interrogation and separate trials all were squeezed in between the meal and the crucifixion.
Whether or not it takes divine intervention, we simply must come up with a universal calendar. Take note, my Greek Orthodox friends.
But wait, there is more about religion on the front burner. Speaking of hot stoves, did you hear that hell might be dead? Then again, I didn’t realize that hell was a living organism, especially since it’s supposedly populated with dead people like Hitler, Stalin and Gandhi.
Well, there are some Christians who believe that only Christians go to heaven. Which would leave Gandhi holding the short straw at the pearly gates, along with zillions and zillions of other poor souls without the proper access code.
Pastor Rob Bell has a new bestseller, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. And this guy is an Evangelical Christian, normally not the most open-minded of folks. Just saying.
The standard Christian view of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of John, which promises “eternal life” to “whosoever believeth in Him.” Traditionally, the key is the acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God, who, in the words of the ancient creed, “for us and for our salvation came down from heaven … and was made man.” In the Evangelical ethos, one either accepts this and goes to heaven or refuses and goes to hell.
Bell begs to differ. He suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal — meaning that, as his book’s subtitle puts it, “every person who ever lived” could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be. Not surprisingly, the book has ignited a holy war in Christian circles and beyond.
So if everybody goes to heaven and nobody goes to hell, I guess it’s OK to play golf instead of attending church services on Good Friday.