November 23, 2016

The Christ depicted in 'Zealot' would be at Standing Rock

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - If the title of this book: Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan seems oddly familiar, it could be because Aslan was roasted by Fox News when this NY Times bestselling-book first came out several years ago.

Well, sort of roasted. In the end, he skillfully demonstrated that Fox News interviewers need to prep more thoroughly - especially if they expect to debate someone like Aslan.

Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan is a theologian - raised as a "lukewarm Muslim," he says.  The trigger word Muslim sent a Fox News interviewer into a such a paroxysm she never asked a serious question about anything in this well-documented (and equally well-written) tome.

Of course, it's also doubtful she read a line of book, outside of the cover and jacket blurb. Here's the link to the interview: FOX NEWS.

It's too bad someone at Fox didn't read the book throughly before the interview. Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is a fascinating review of the era, taking into account the centuries of myth-making that followed Christ's death. It tracks - through examination of documents and a dissection of the Christian Gospels - what transpired up to the Crucifixion and in its wake. It was researched over two decades and has a 60 pages of notes and bibliographic references, at the end of the book.

No, I did not read all of those. But the ones I did were fascinating.

The generally accepted view of Christ as a gentle shepherd of men is replaced in this book by a portrait of a man heavily involved in the politics of the turbulent first century - as were most Jews struggling under the Roman Empire's heavy yoke. The landscape in the time of Christ was alive with rebels, bandits and lawlessness - most directed at the Romans.

Christ - as the book explains in detail - was a zealot for the people. If the Christ portrayed in Zealot were alive today, he would have been on the next bus to Standing Rock to be alongside the Native Americans fighting against oil-company goons.

As others have done in earlier books about Christ, Aslan traces the deliberate transformation of the historical Zealot-Christ from revolutionary to a more ethereal religious figure whose belief system and teachings would not be of any threat to the state.

Evangelicals might hate this book. Historians likely love it.

Zealot is worth a read regardless of your religious orientation. Even the most hardened of atheists will likely find the history fascinating.

The photo/graphic below is not from Aslan's book, but summarizes some of the events...

November 18, 2016

A cure for that election depression: Watch the film 'Casablanca'

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - If you happen to be one of the many millions of Americans suffering from election depression try the Casablanca cure.

Casablanca finale at the airport
No, you don't have to actually go to the Moroccan city, though getting that far from the U.S. for a vacay, while Donald Trump reverses the last 100 years of American civilization, is tempting.

Really tempting.

Instead, watch the 1942 film Casablanca. Maybe watch it a couple of times, at least long enough to learn to sing along with La Marseillaise.

Maybe watch it with a few friends so you can all boo the Nazis and cheer for the Free French.

Ingrid Bergman
Trust me on this. Casablanca tells us that we beat the Nazis before. We can do it again in the 21st century. If you don't feel that way from watching the film the first time, repeat until you  do.

You haven't ever seen Casablanca?

Mon Dieu!

Well, the film is set in Casablanca (Where the $%*&;#+! else?) just before the U.S. jumped into World War II.

The owner of a swanky bar (played by Humphrey Bogart) is nursing a broken heart, broken by Ingrid Bergman who plays the role of an idealistic young political activist, whose activist husband is being hunted by the Nazis. The bar is a hotbed of politics, intrigue, and features great characters.

Oh, and the film features great music, too, including the classic, As Time Goes By.

The Nazis are as despicably evil as you can imagine. And the heroes are, well, damned heroic.

I'll admit to having watched this film probably 20 times. And tonight - if I can get to cooperate - I'll put one more notch in the film canister with another viewing.

And when you get to the end of the movie, I'll bet you'll be ready to sign up to join the Free French garrison at Brazzaville. I always want to.

  Vive La France! Vive La Democracie!

Below is a short video clip of the scene in which Victor Lazlo (Ingrid Bergman's on-screen spouse and hated by the Nazis) uses La Marseillaise to rouse the crowd. It gets me on my feet every time, too.