Or issue of the magazine or whatever you call it. I found it discarded (as I usually come across them). The title of this issue was “Jesus Christ: The Answers To Our Questions.” What does 1 + 1 equal?
Anyway if you want to read another review I did of a watchtower here’s one.
So yeah, it begins by saying people have thought lots of different things about jesus, that he was a rabbi who was led an awesome life, that he was the son of god, that he is “a fairy tale for grownups”, that he never existed etc. I think it’s kind of a good sign that they feel the need to address the secular perspective, though in a perhaps caricatured way. I always enjoy seeing my views get a seat in the debate. So how do they address the secular perspective? By dismissing it out of hand with no logic whatsoever of course, saying there’s no “valid reason” to be “confused” about who jesus was because the bible says he’s the son of god right here and here and over here…
So much for the secular perspective. But oh well, it’s a watchtower so what do you expect. So then they go on listing all the reasons the bible is a historical document (if you’ve read my blog for awhile I’m sure you’ve heard them all, nothing new here) and they even do the old line that paul said 500 people saw jesus after he resurrected and “who could refute the testimony of 500 eyewitnesses?” As if one dude saying 500 people saw something is the same as 500 people saying they saw something. But whatever.
So then they do an article urging christians who have strayed to “come home” (again, a sign of a trend toward a more secular society I find somewhat encouraging).
Then they talk about baptism and say people should be baptized not as children, but when they are old enough to seek god and whatnot. That makes sense to me. I don’t really agree with it and it could certainly be a peer pressure brain-washy thing that psychs people into being jesusy for psychological reasons (which would be bad even if the beliefs were correct, to believe them for cultish, bad reasons) and I don’t think anything mystical really takes place during baptism, but on the other hand from a christian perspective it’s kind of like getting married when you’re 1 year old. It doesn’t make sense to do something (especially a decision of importance and personal meaning) when it will mean nothing. But alas this is the watchtower so it can’t give me something I even partially agree with one moment without disappointing me the next. It then gives 2 scripture passages to support this view which I thought might indicate the bible supports it (which would be interesting), but they’re just two random passages about baptism. Which is bad writing at best, dishonest manipulation of scripture at worst. I know it’s weird that I’m offended at scripture being abused, but hey dishonesty is dishonesty.
Next is a section on the apocryphal gospels, ie the “nuh uh!” scriptures that christian tradition frowns on because it disagrees with what the catholic church decided way back when were the “real” god-inspired, infallible scriptures. The ones about setting people on fire and curing leprosy with bird’s blood. Clearly infallible. The ones detailing mary’s virgin birth, obviously historical documents. Ones describing her as remaining a virgin however are obviously bullshit. Their argument? “For good reason, it has been described as religious fiction and as a legend. It promotes the idea of the perpetual virginity of mary and has clearly been written to glorify her.”
If there was an argument or any logic in there I must’ve missed it. When reading it I’m reminded of the tim minchin line “I’m becoming aware that I’m staring… I’m like a rabbit suddenly trapped in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap.”
The next one they reject is the “infancy gospel of thomas” which they reject because it deals with jesus’ childhood and has him using his superpowers to basically F people in the proverbial A. Now if a child grew up with superpowers this would so happen. But it piddles on their preferred notion of jesus’ infallibility so out it goes – though if this had been in the canon they’d just rationalize it just as they rationalize the flood or any of the god-commanded genocides in scripture. They just dismiss it as absurd because they have license from christian tradition to do so. Didn’t jesus once use his powers to kill a fig tree for having the nerve to not have any figs on it? And remember the 2,000 pigs he put a demon into and then drowned. From a purely skeptical point of view I think the infancy gospel of thomas should be made into a movie with harry-potter-esque graphics. And no I don’t mean satirically, I just think it could be a really cool what-if story.
Then some stuff about joseph I didn’t read.
Then my favorite and least favorite part. They do a thing about the star of bethlehem and the nativity scene and I was really impressed that they actually pointed out the bits that aren’t accurate, how jesus was a toddler when the three “wise men” met him, how they didn’t meet in a manger, how the names of them aren’t given and they’re not called wise men or kings etc. Then because it’s the watchtower they have to immediately disappoint. They explain that the star and the three magi were clearly sent by satan (because the magi blabbed to king herod which made him kill all the firstborn sons in bethlehem). Again, not a shred of logic. I mean speculate all you like, I love speculation. It’s fun and useful. But if I were going to suggest that say leprichans had given thomas jefferson the declaration of independence or yahweh had invented leprosy because he had a bad day, I’d at least preface it with a maybe.