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Stuff you need to know before the POCM makes sense. Ideas, rituals and myths Christianity boosted from the Pagans. Some of the Pagan's dying-resurrected godmen The Triumph of Christianity Discover mainstream scholarship about Christianity's Pagan origins What did the Christians borrow? So what?
the ideas, myths and rituals christianity borrowed from the pagans Jesus saves -- Pagan Gods saved first gods whose dad was a god and whose mom was a mortal woman Christianity has baptism -- Paganism had it first Christians share a sacred meal with their God -- Pagans did it first Christians believe in eternal life -- but Paganism believed in it first
Jesus did miracles -- Pagan Gods did them first Jesus fulfilled prophecy -- Pagan Gods fulfilled prophecy first God and the immortal soul -- Paganism had 'em first Christianity thinks it has monotheism -- Paganism had it first Jesus' God lives in Heaven on High -- Pagan Gods lived there first pagan dead went to the underworld Jesus made clever quips -- Pagan cynic philosophers made them first
Jesus did miracles -- Pagan Gods did them first

Was Christianity new?  Was Christianity unique? Let's talk about miracles

We'll take a close-in look at Pagan miracles -- Isis healing the sick, Aesclepius raising the dead, Dionysus turning water into wine, Poseidon walking on water, stuff like that -- in a minute. But for starters let's back off for a big- picture view.

Miracles were everywhere.   Here's a list of miracles taked from one page of my copy of The Jewish War, written by a fellow named Josephus, who lived through it.

Josephus is telling how the war should have been foreseen, because


"the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their [the Jews] future desolation." [Jewish War, Josephus, 6.5.288] He goes on:

"Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year." [6.5.289]

And in the Temple, "at the ninth hour of the night of the night a great light shone round the altar....This light seemed to be a good sign to the naive, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend the events that followed." [6.5.291- 293]

And, "also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple." [6.5.292]

"Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner temple. ..was seen to be opened of its own accord.. This also the vulgar thought a happy prodigy...but the men of learning understood it." [6.5.293 - 295]

And, "...chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds. [6.5.298 - 299]

And "Jesus, son of Ananus...came to that feast whereon.. everyone makes tabernacles to God in the temple...and began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house." [6.5.300- 301]

Don't believe me, believe the ancients themselves.

Lousy with miracles
Like chocolate chips in mama's cookies, miracles were a basic ingredient in ancient people's understanding of how the world works. Every bite -- another miracle. The ancient world was lousy with miracles.

How come were miracles so common? Because the ancients didn't have science. Inventing civilization? That the ancients got. Everyday all around you stuff like how the wind blows and what the sun is? That they didn't get.

Another SPFYMLMWhich is a big deal. Like the ancient man giving his mother- in- law a sacred penis, this is one of the ways ancient civilization was incomprehensibly different from ours. We know about science; we explain everything we see with a few invisible rules -- Newton's laws, radio waves, germs. Those rules create our picture of what the world is and how the world works.

Take away the chocolate chips, it's not the same cookie anymore. Take away our rules and Dotty, you're not in Kansas any more.

The ancients had different rules. The sun traveled across the sky because God moved it, physically moved it. What made people sick was demon possession. And they didn't mean sissy spiritual demon possession, they meant actual, physical demons living in your body, making you sick.

So it's not hard to see how stories that make sense according to the ancients' rules are impossible according to our rules. And when they're impossible to us, we call them supernatural. Miracles. But for the ancients what we call miracles -- that was just how the world worked.

By the way, Duh

You know that before Jesus, people believed in Gods. You know those pre- Christian Gods did supernatural things -- that's sort of what made them Gods. The supernatural things those other Gods did -- those were miracles. In fact now you think about it, it's hard to imagine a God who doesn't do miracles. Miracles are one of the things that make a God a God. Duh.

When Orpheus' head got cut off but continued to speak -- even kept making accurate prophecies -- that was a miracle. Pagan "mythology" (really Pagan religion) recorded thousands of miracles.

Yeah but look, our Christian miracles really happened, or might have, and their Pagan miracles didn't happen. So our miracles are "real," and theirs are silly impossible myth -- not real. That's how we see it.

But ancient people didn't see it that way. Ancient people believed Orpheus' chopped-off head really did keep talking, or might have. The ancients believed in their miracles. And when we're talking about the Pagan origins of Christian ideas, the point isn't what our ideas are now, the point is, what ideas did people believe when Christianity started. One idea people believed in a thousand years before Christianity began was that Gods did miracles.

Was Christianity new and unique? Nope. Jesus did miracles -- but Pagan Gods did them first.

So there.

Another SPFYMLMHere's another sacred- penis- to- your- mother- in- law moment: ancient Gods were not sissy, supernatural "spiritual beings," they were part of the physical world, sort of like people with extra powers. Like Spiderman. But real.

So when we say an ancient God "performed a miracle" -- say, raised a dead person -- we mean he broke the rules of nature, and for us that's evidence he was outside nature, supernatural.

But to an ancient, a God raising the dead didn't break the rules, it fit the rules perfectly. Gods had extra powers, and they used them. That's what made them Gods. Which made for a system with a lot of miracles.

For example


An example. You maybe remember the bit in St. Mark's gospel where Jesus is touched by a woman looking for a miraculous healing? Mark describes, "he knew it 'cause he felt the power being sucked out of him." That's exactly how Pagan God's worked.

Now do you see how come miracles were so common in the ancient world? Sure you do.

Jesus did miracles -- Pagan Gods did them first


The next time you're in Church
ask yourself:"What about what I'm hearing was new and unique with Christianity, and what was already part of other religions in a culture where over and over again new religions were built with old parts?

Next time you're in church... When they get to the part about Jesus doing miracles, remember Orpheus' chatty head and the hundreds of other pre- Christian Pagan miracles.

You'll know you're hearing about stuff that predated Christianity by hundreds of years -- in a culture where over and over people built new religions out of old parts.


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