Ross Douthat, Reza Aslan and The Quest for the Historical Jesus or The Misbegotten attempt of the Non-Believer by Political Cynic

Is it a surprise that Mr. Ross Douthat begins his New York Times essay of August 3, 2013 titled Return of the Jesus Wars with the titles of American movies as reference points? The Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas, The Passion of Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ, he appeals not to an audience of readers but to movie fans, being a movie reviewer has it’s advantages. The fact that movies rule American lives and thought is a sobering thought. Although he quickly regains his intellectual footing with a mention of the Dead Sea Scrolls,the Gnostic gospels, aided by a reference to the German scholar Hermann Samuel Reimarus, the first intellectual to seek the ‘historical Jesus’, as his posthumously published writing reveals. Recall that he, David Strauss and Albert Sweitzer, prominent German intellectuals, were the leaders of the quest for that historical personage.

Of course, Mr. Douthat, being a devout Catholic, is skeptical of such a task, it is a misbegotten attempt from the start. But he is a resourceful writer and knows how to fill the page with tolerable arguments, or something akin to that. The impetus for his essay was the ‘Fox News’ interview of ‘the Iranian-born academic and author’ Reza Aslan by Lauren Green. An interview that begat a scandal, and catapulted Mr. Aslan’s Zealot to the top of the Bestseller list. Mr. D. hints at the self-promotional savvy of Mr. A. as ‘the Iranian-born academic and author’. This reference to Mr. Aslan’s place of birth takes on both a sinister and a comic dimension. One might view this reference as part and parcel of Mr. D.’s attempt to discredit Mr. Aslan, still trading on the same currency as Ms. Green, yet in a more tolerable key?

Mr. Douthat’s essay is exemplary of Conservative thought and it’s obsession with itself as political and religious singularity, and it’s inevitable confrontation/conflict with the otherness that is the world.

Political Cynic

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ross Douthat, Reza Aslan and The Quest for the Historical Jesus or The Misbegotten attempt of the Non-Believer by Political Cynic

  1. Thank you for your analysis of Mr. Douthat’s attempt at Christian Apologetics, but let me focus on two paragraphs:
    ‘This means that the best companion reading for “Zealot” probably isn’t an alternative portrayal of Jesus’s life and times. Rather, it’s a recent book like the classicist Sarah Ruden’s “Paul Among the People” or the theologian David Bentley Hart’s “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.”
    Coming from different vantage points — Ruden is more theologically liberal, Hart more conservative — both authors explore just how radical the actual Christian revolution was, how it upended the ancient world’s violent, patriarchal, hierarchical norms, and how many liberal, modern and egalitarian attitudes are indebted to early Christian zeal.’
    I’ve provided the first of my quoted paragraphs to provide context for the second:
    ‘both authors explore just how radical the actual Christian revolution was, how it upended the ancient world’s violent, patriarchal, hierarchical norms, and how many liberal, modern and egalitarian attitudes are indebted to early Christian zeal.”
    How historically ignorant must the New York Times reader be to let this kind of whitewash of the history of Christianity remain unchallenged? The Christian Revolution unleashed a wave of violence, religious intolerance and authoritarianism that ushered in The Dark Ages. The Roman world was the home to many religions and cults, it was a world of pluralities not of a singularity, in fact, Constantine was a member of Sol Invictus. The notion that Christianity ‘upended the ancient world’s violent, patriarchal, hierarchical norms’ is a convenient lie, uttered by the historical ignorant, or the propagandist. And the argument that ‘ how many liberal, modern and egalitarian attitudes are indebted to early Christian zeal.” ‘ The Enlightenment was about the Kantian idea of self-emancipation from tutelage. Christianity and it’s ‘violent, patriarchal, hierarchical norms’ provided a context for a rebellion against it’s claims and practices as defender of the Ancien Regime.
    Queer Atheist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s