An open letter to the pope

*This essay is in no way meant to ridicule or pass judgment on Christians, Catholics, or any other religious organization.

A coworker chose today to have a religious debate. There is no possible way to win an argument – especially a religious one – with a fanatical Christian. I gave him a brief summary of my feelings and beliefs and that was that, or at least that’s what I thought. For once and for all, I will provide a detailed account of my spiritual beliefs. These beliefs are non-negotiable. They are not open for discussion. They are my beliefs. If you disagree with them, that is your right to do so, and I will not judge you for your beliefs, so don’t judge me for mine. If that is your intention then this essay is not your cup of tea. That was your last chance to turn back. You’re committed now. I wish you luck.

I have been asked more times than I can count – if I believe in God. My answer to that question has changed over the years. My parents attempted to spiritualize me by placing me in a church youth group. This did not take. I tried to play nice but none of what they were teaching made sense. And all those bloody crosses, it was like a horror movie. Do you believe in God? The church mother’s would ask me. I haven’t met him yet. That response would send a note home with me and a request to keep me away. It was just as well. Life, to me was not about whether I believed in God. Life was about girls, writing, and music. As a matter of fact, my life still revolves around those three aspects. And yet the God question still baffles everyone. People continue to obsess over whether or not I believe in God. So let’s end that part of the debate right now. Do I believe in God? I believe that there is a supreme power in the universe. The word God confuses me though. God is not a name it’s a title. Who is God then? Listen closely people; we have no idea who God is. Did this God really create us in his image? According to the bible he did. But the bible is nothing more than an account of events that no one was around to witness. What’s the old Baptist adage? How do we know God is real – because the bible tells me so. The Christian bible was written by a group of men that wanted control over a religion that seemed to be getting out of control – rules to govern the spiritual world. The idea of God existed before the bible so I don’t really give the book much credit.
So, God exists, and you want me to believe. So why can’t we give this God a name. Well according to certain religions; Gods true name is unknown and to even whisper it would end the world as we know it. Come on! If God really is God then why would he or she care if someone utters his name? It’s simply more dogma to keep us afraid of the truth: the truth that we know nothing – absolutely nothing. And yet we defend this ignorance with our very lives. Mankind goes to war over their God. Holy wars have been fought for as long as that ridiculous book has existed. Our God, your God, their God. This is the mountain that bore the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses. So if you desecrate it with your ungodliness I will be forced to kill you in the name of God and sacrifice your soul to the blah blah blah.

Those that say they know God say so because they hope to know God. Their faith binds their soul to their beliefs. This is actually a glorious thing. To have a faith so strong that it doesn’t matter what is known and what is unknown. To me, that’s true spirituality. No church, no book of rules, just pure faith. I wish I could say that I had that strong of faith. But my faith – I’m sorry to say, requires proof. And I’m sorry Baptists; requiring proof does not make me an atheist.
So did I answer that question well enough? It’s still pretty vague huh? Let’s move on.

Jesus: no other name in history has caused more debate, started more wars, and incited more heated arguments then that of the alleged savior. I do not pretend to be a scholar. There is much I do not know. But there are events in the account of Jesus’s life that make me wonder. For example: The Immaculate Conception: This is such a laugh. Just look at the situation from Joseph’s point of view. I would’ve loved to be in the room during that conversation.
“My darling, I’m pregnant.”
“You’re what?”
The idea of a supernatural conception is fodder for the faithful. This idea was created by the same men who created the religion in the first place. Jesus was born from the line of kings. From David on his father’s side, and Aaron on his mother’s side; they did not need to make him a king – he already was one. What would be greater than being a king?
“I got it! I got it!” One of the men at the council would raise his hand and shout like a 3rd century Arnold Horshack. “Why don’t we make Jesus a God?” The other members would shout and throw tomatoes at the poor man.
“They already have a God you fool!”
The Council of Nicaea went on like this for days and weeks until they finally settled on the whole “son of God” story. And we bought it like a Chicago style hot dog.

A debate I entered into a few years ago, that was a little less heated and so much more enlightening, had me arguing with 3 Catholics, and two Christians. I was asked why The Roman Emperor Constantine would even care about Jesus. My answer was simplified into one word: power. The final objective of all organized religion is power and control. Don’t believe me? Look at the Spanish Inquisition: Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, innocent men, women, and children were captured and tried for Heresy, a word that gave them power over all the land. If they were found guilty (and they were always guilty) they were killed. Thousands of people were slaughtered because they did not believe the same way or worship the same way. Since its inception, the Roman Catholic Church has been trying to gain control over the world. I know what you’re thinking. “This is the 21st century. The church isn’t doing that anymore.” Wanna bet? Run a Google search on The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. You will find that the former office of the Inquisition, founded by the Dominicans is still in operation and still out to do away with all of you sinners!!! Ha-ha, just kidding. The office does exist though.

And that brings me to the crucifixion. Jesus was tried and killed by his own people; ordered by the roman governor Pontius Pilate. I’m not so sure. This is the point where my belief over extends itself. We know that he was beaten, humiliated, and led through Jerusalem carrying the instrument of his own demise. Now, according to the biblical accounts Simon was compelled to carry the cross for Jesus as he walked towards Golgotha. What if Simon took Jesus’s place? Many theologians and biblical scholars have entertained the idea of an imposter on the cross. There’s no way of knowing for certain. It’s also highly likely that Jesus was taken down from the cross alive. In his book The Jesus Papers, author Michael Baigent claims that after having been taken down alive from the Cross, Jesus was removed from the tomb at night by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, then smuggled away to Egypt along with his Pregnant wife, Mary Magdalene. They moved to Narbonne in the south of France in AD 38, following unrest in Cairo, close to where they had settled (in or near the Temple of Onias). Other Jewish families had settled in Narbonne claiming descent from King David.

Baigent claims to have seen two papyrus documents – the “Jesus papers” – written in Aramaic, discovered in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1960s. Baigent claimed these documents dated to AD 45 and were letters to the Sanhedrin from bani meshiha (“the Messiah of the Children of Israel”), defending himself against the allegation that he claimed to be the Son of God.

Baigent also claims these two papyrus documents were authenticated by the Israeli archaeologists Yigael Yadin and Naham Avigad, which distressed Pope John XXIII. The Pope asked Baigent’s friend to destroy these two papyrus documents, but he refused and said he would release them after 25 years. However, the documents have not been released because of the rift this information would create between Israel and the Vatican, also creating a revivalism of Anti-Semitism.

Get all that?

I would like it noted for the record that I am not inspired by Dan Brown. He’s a wonderful storyteller but these ideas were in my head long before he wrote the Da Vinci Code.

Once this discussion with my coworker had concluded I walked away, only to find this person talking to other people about me. He’s going to Hell. Perhaps I am. At least I will be going there having searched for the truth instead of blindly accepting the lies as they’ve been told to you. I said this to him. Now all the Christians are coming out of the woodwork to pray over me.

In conclusion: I believe in a higher power. Who or what that higher power is I don’t know – I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I find the historical Jesus very fascinating. He was an intelligent and charismatic leader who found himself with a target on his back. That has happened to many world leaders. It is my belief that Jesus lived well beyond his 60th birthday. Whether he survived the crucifixion or escaped the city prior to it. I believe he was married, and his wife was Mary Magdalene – who happened to be pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. His decedents walk the earth today – and they know who they are.