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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


Zeitgeist Continued

August 17, 2009

3P-039 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 39th episode of Third Paradigm, entitled Zeitgeist Continued. In this week's show, I'll review the movie Zeitgeist, putting it together with some of my own research into the Old Testament. This week, Democracy Now interviewed Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, about the elite club used to groom young fundamentalists for positions of power in government. We'll look at whether Jesus-centric Christianity and patriarchal Judaism were written from the get-go with this very purpose in mind.

My daughters and I watched another movie together – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It's a cartoon autobiography of growing up in Iran. Marjane is a spirited and sassy youngster whose uncle was imprisoned under the Shah. Listening to Frieda Berrigan on Democracy Now, who has followed in the footsteps of her uncle Daniel Berrigan, I was reminded of the little Marjane and her revolutionary uncle. While Persepolis conveys the tension and the tragedy of post-Shah Iran, it's also very funny. Satrapi doesn't hesitate to poke fun at her youthful self, and she's unflinchingly honest in a way that's both endearing and uncomfortable. My daughters loved Marjane and her witty, down-to-earth grandmother. But there were also eye-opening hints about the US strategy of funding both sides of a civil conflict to destabilize a region. The uncle mentions that the prison guards had received CIA training in their methods of maximizing pain. The story doesn't preach but a good cartoon is worth a thousand sermons. I'd like to now read two poems: Her Head by Joan Murray and one of my own called Walking the Sierra.

Her Head

Near Ekuvukeni,
in Natal, South Africa,
a woman carries water on her head.
After a year of drought,
when one child in three is at risk of death,
she returns from a distant well,
carrying water on her head.

The pumpkins are gone,
the tomatoes withered,
yet the woman carries water on her head.
The cattle kraals are empty,
the goats gaunt-
no milk now for children,
but she is carrying water on her head.

The engineers have reversed the river:
those with power can keep their power,
but one woman is carrying water on her head.
In the homelands, where the dusty crowds
watch the empty roads for water trucks,
one woman trusts herself with treasure,
and carries water on her head.

The sun does not dissuade her,
not the dried earth that blows against her,
as she carries the water on her head.
In a huge and dirty pail,
with an idle handle,
resting on a narrow can,
this woman is carrying water on her head.

This woman, who girds her neck
with safety pins, this one
who carries water on her head,
trusts her own head to bring to her people
what they need now
between life and death:
She is carrying them water on her head.

~ Joan Murray ~
From Looking for the Parade

* * * * * * *

Walking the Sierra

The campesino ecologist
is released from prison
and can't stop walking.
The reporters have to run
to keep up, asking for details
they can't print anyway.

He says only, "I don't
wish anyone to experience
what I have endured."
Not those who
put him there.
Not those who killed
his colleague's children.
Not even those who
architect the torture.

Ten months in jail he waited for trial,
although video showed him
not even in town for the crime.
Others, including the father whose children were killed,
could be arrested on any dark night,
for who knows what.

Instinctively, he walks fast,
putting distance between himself
and the prison's shadow.
But when he meets the parents,
orphaned by their children's deaths,
he comes up short.
The only meaning to their sorrow
is in his hands,
shaking though they are.

Slowly, he stops walking away
and turns back to the fight.
He talks about the right
of all to a clean environment.
He takes long strides through the sierra,
arm-in-arm with his wife,
patiently guarding the forest.
He says that planting trees
is like planting water,
but this time he adds,
or planting mercy.

~ Tereza Coraggio ~

The first poem is called Her Head by Joan Murray, which talks about one person's pedestrian act of resistance to hydroelectricity vs. life: "The engineers have reversed the river. Those with power can keep their power, but one woman is carrying water."

My poem was about Felipe Arreaga Sanchez in Guerrero, Mexico. I read the details in a newsletter from SIPAZ, a coalition of 50 human rights organizations who observe and report on Chiapas. Phil McManus, a wonderful person local to Santa Cruz, is a founder of Sipaz, which translates yes, peace.

Phil, like many fearless and dedicated human rights defenders I know, identifies himself as a Christian. As I segue into Zeitgeist, I have to reiterate that it's Jesus I'm skeptical of, not his followers. Some people say, "I love Christianity, it's Christians I can't stand"; I'd say the opposite. The Christians I know are sincere, generous, inclusive, and loving, but they project their own goodness on a story that doesn't live up to them. I think, in fact, their goodness blinds them, because the truth is even more sinister than Zeitgeist suspects.

If I had the time here, I'd play the whole first section and present my own sequel – not a rebuttal but a "yes, and..." Zeitgeist begins by presenting Christianity as an astrological myth about the return of the sun after the three-day winter solstice. The star in the East is Sirius, which aligns on Dec 24th with the stars of Orien's belt known as the Three Kings. Together they point to where the sun will resurrect on Dec 25th, in the house of Virgo the Virgin, also known as the House of Bread or Bethlehem, represented by the letter 'M'. The 12 disciples are the signs of the zodiac. The transition from the worship of the golden calf to Moses, blower of the ram's horn, was the age of Taurus moving into the age of Aries. Jesus introduced the age of Pisces, which is why the fish was the symbol of Christianity before Constantine made it the cross. The southern cross is where the sun hangs in place for three days before it rises, lengthening the days. The end of time, correctly translated as the end of the aeon, is the coming of the age of Aquarius in 2150. So far, this is pretty innocent. Let's break for Bad Religion with The Answer to get to the nitty-gritty.

[Bad Religion – The Answer]

Zeitgeist gets more scholarly in its criticism, but with the same conclusion that religion doesn't have a patent on the answers. It looks at ancient predecessors to the stories of Noah, of Old Testament Joseph, and of Jesus. In my episode on Nasty Noah and the Patriarchs (March 1, 2009), I examine Noah's curse of his grandson, Canaan. He condemns all of his descendents to be enslaved because his father, Ham, found Noah drunk and naked and talked about it. What did Ham say and why did Noah curse Canaan instead of Ham? Read/listen to my show to find out my theory. But this flood and regeneration myth didn't just become a personal vendetta – it's justified the land theft from the Palestinians, aka Canaanites, ever since. Shem, the father of the Israelites, is Noah's youngest son who takes his brother's inheritance. The curse of Noah, backed by God, makes his brother's descendents into his slaves.

This is a passage from Isaiah 13 telling how God will deal with the nations that are descended from Canaan:
  1. Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword.
  2. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.
  3. ...
  4. The bows will strike down the young men; They will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children.
  5. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
  6. ...No Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks.
  7. ...
  8. Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged

And continuing in Isaih 14

  1. The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again He will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land...
  2. ... And the house of Israel will possess the nations as menservants and maidservants in the lords land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.

The next patriarch after Noah is Abraham. Sarah, whose name means Princess, is both Abraham's stepsister and wife. They have the same father but not the same mother. Abraham is a younger son without an inheritance, so they travel from place to place telling the "godless kings" that Sarah's his sister. The kings take her into their harems. When they find out she's married, however, the kings are horrified and afraid of being cursed by that god they don't believe in. So they give Abraham any land he wants and cattle and sheep and a thousand shekels of silver. Abraham and Sarah work this scam again and again, so that hundreds of men who were born as his slaves become his army. But since Sarah is childless, one slave, Hagar, is chosen to have Abraham's son and heir, which is Ishmael.

Then angels appear to Abraham and say that 90-yr-old Sarah will have a child one year from then. Then the angels move on to visit his nephew Lot, but "all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old" – surround the house and demand that he send the visitors out to them. Instead, Lot says, "Don't do this wicked thing. I have two virgin daughters, let me send them out and you can have your way with them." If only there had been nine more men in Sodom as righteous as Lot, God had promised Abraham not to destroy it. But alas, these degenerate men don't want to rape teenage virgins. So the angels force Lot and his daughters out of the city before they rain down sulpher on it, while the mother turns to salt. Then the daughters, despairing of husbands, get their father drunk so they can rape him. Or so the story goes.

After this segue, the story returns to Abraham and Sarah. This time the 90-yr-old Sarah gets taken by the king Abimelech to be his concubine. He doesn't touch her before a dream tells him she's married. He releases her with an enormous bounty. In the next sentence after this, she's having the baby Isaac. So whose baby is it, Abraham's or Abimelech's? And how does Sarah, who's too old to have a baby, get chosen for a king's harem? At Isaac's weaning ceremony, Sarah doesn't like the look on Ishmael's face, so she sends him and his mother Hagar into the desert to die. But God sends Hagar back. Then God says to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering." Is Ishmael no longer even his son according to God? Or has the story been switched? Is it Ishmael who's the only son of Abraham, whom he loves? Does Sarah the Princess order his sacrifice instead of her son by the king Abimelech?

So Isaac stole his older brother, Ishmael's, inheritance with his so-called miracle birth, perhaps with the complicity of his mother Sarah. Abraham's dying instructions to his servant is to make sure Isaac doesn't marry a Canaanite. When he find him a wife from his clan, Rebekah, they pull the same ruse on a king, also named Abimelech, that his father did, saying that she's his sister.

Next up is the story of Isaac's son Jacob, the one the Lord had compassion on in the previous passage after he dashed his enemy's infants to pieces. Jacob was a sly character. He tricked his older brother Esau out of his inheritance for a bowl of stew, and then out of his father's blessing by covering his hands with goatskin. His mother Rebekah goads him into it because Esau's Canaanite wives disgusted her and made her life not worth living. When his father Isaac discovers the deception, Esau asks if he has only one blessing. Instead of blaming Jacob and Rebekah for tricking him, Isaac turns against Esau, saying, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." Like Canaan, Esau is cursed to be a servant to the brother that lied. Jacob's name is changed by God to Israel.

But the ultimate trickster is Jacob's son by his second and preferred wife, Rebekah. This is Joseph, who steals the inheritance of his oldest brother Reuben and nine other brothers by his first wife. In addition, he turns all the sovereign farmers of Egypt into indentured servants to the Pharaoh. Let's play an audio clip from Zeitgeist about Jesus and Old Testament Joseph.

[Zeitgeist: The Greatest Story Ever Sold– part 1 of 3]

That was a clip from the movie Zeitgeist about the historicity of Jesus. But let's examine whether the only first century document that mentions Jesus by name really is a fraud. It's called the Testimonium Flavianum after Josephus' adopted name. After he's captured alive by the Roman general, Josephus declares that he's seen the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecy because Vespasian will be Caesar, Lord and God of all the land. Josephus then helps this prophecy along by betraying the Jews back into slavery along with Vespasian's son Titus. To reward him, Vespasian, who's then Caesar, adopts him as his second son.

But the problem remained of how to quell the religion that had emboldened the rebels. The answer was to twist the religion to serve a new Lord and master. It would have taken someone like Josephus who was both well-versed and inventive in Hebrew prophecies. According to Bible scholars, all of the gospels were written in his lifetime. In the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 1995, G.J. Goldberg did a computer study of the word-order correspondence between the Testimonium Flavanium and the Emmaus Narrative of Luke. He found a 98% significance level for coincidence between the two accounts. The leading Josephus scholar, Steve Mason, talks about Josephus' signature literary device, which was a concentric organization around a pivotal event. He would begin a story, interject a separate event, and then conclude the first. Does this remind you of anything in the story of Abraham and Lot? New Testament scholars call this structure the Markan sandwich because of its prevalence in the gospel of Mark. They see Luke and Acts, which are one gospel, as following this structure around the gospel of John, interjected inbetween.

A listener, Duane Eareckson, correctly identified Joe Atwill's book, Caesar's Messiah: the Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, as a big influence on my thinking. Joe and I have become friends and collaborators since I sent him my research extending his theory. Neither one of us, however, can think and drive at the same time, and our cars and garage doors attest to this. So I'd cover Zeitgeist's bet that the story of Jesus was a Roman invention and go it one further – I think the Old Testament, which means witness, was also a Roman invention reverse-engineered.

The literary character of Jesus was created in tandem with the Old Testament characters Seth, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and especially Joseph. Each one is a brother who, through deception and trickery, gets what belongs to someone else. All are younger sons who take their older brother's rightful inheritance. They either lie or go along with a lie. The deceived brother or king, however, acts honorably, ethically, and even generously. But God backs the claim of the deceiver, not out of merit for being a better person, but because he was arbitrarily chosen by God. Fate decides morality; morality doesn't determine fate.

The stories of the Old and New Testament were both "preserved" after the scorched-earth Roman re-conquest of Judea – the old by Johanan ben Zakkai and the new, I believe, by Josephus. Both were favored by Caesar and publicly acknowledged Caesar to be God. All of the phrases used about Yahweh and Jesus – God of Gods, Light of Light, True God of True God – are inscribed on Roman monuments and coins about Caesar, as ubiquitous as advertising. It follows that the God of the Bible, a god of favoritism rather than justice, describes Caesar. And is Jesus a deification of Josephus, the adopted second son of Caesar by a Hebrew mother, the one who should have been king.

This has been Tereza Coraggio with Third Paradigm. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for production, editing, and music, and to David Lombard and Ernest Gusella for copies of Persepolis and Zeigeist. We'll go out with one last clip.

[Zeitgeist Ending – Meaning Of Life Quotes]

Thanks for listening.