An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 4

          “I think that [the Catholic Church] stands for everything most hostile to the mental emancipation and stimulation of mankind. It is the completest, most highly organized system of prejudices and antagonisms in existence. Everywhere in the world there are ignorance and prejudice, but the greatest complex of these, with the most extensive prestige and the most intimate entanglement with traditional institutions, is the Roman Catholic Church. It presents many faces towards the world, but everywhere it is systematic in its fight against freedom.”         —H.G. Wells, in an interview with J. Rowland, editor of the London Literary Observer (March, 1944).   The conclusion of excerpts from Wells’ book, Crux Ansata:       (P. 109) The history of England since the Reformation … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 3

… Ever since the Church of Rome became rich in the fourth century there has been a spirited struggle for the control of the treasury. As early as 366 more than 160 of the supporters of the rival candidates had to be buried, and as late as 1492 the ‘butcher’s bill’ was more than 200. This struggle is now more refined; though when the Pope says his first mass he still has nobles at hand to take the first sip of the wine and see that it has not been poisoned.    If Pius IX had soreseen the election of Leo XIII he would have excommunicated him, but if Leo XIII had foreseen that at his death the cardinals would vote for … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 2

Excerpts from Crux Ansata (cont.) (P. 22)     As early as the fifth century Christianity had already become greater, sturdier and more enduring than any empire had ever been, because it was something not merely imposed upon men, but interwoven with their deeper instinct for righteousness. It reached out far beyond the utmost limits of the empire, into Armenia, Persia, Abyssinia, Ireland, Germany, India and Turkmenistan. It had become something no statesman could ignore.    …The Church was to be the ruler of the world over all nations, the divinely-led ruling power over a great league of terrestrial states… The history of Europe from the fifth century onward to the fifteenth is very largely the history of the failure of this great idea … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells)–Pt. 1

Book review with excerpts Part One H.G. Wells (best known for his science fiction classics War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau) penned his provocative book, Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church in 1943 during the Second World War, following the author’s tenure as Minister of Allied Propaganda. Crux Ansata (Lat: “Cross with a handle”) refers to the symbol which in the late Middle Ages came to represent the Christian religion centered in Rome. The book caused an immediate sensation, provoking bitter rebuttals from the Church and conservatives in the West. Such reactions are understandable when one notes that Wells ends with a chapter entitled “Why don’t we bomb Rome?” (In … Continue reading

Announcing: New Nazareth book to appear in 2014

The Tombs Under the House of Mary and Other Nazareth Scandals 2006–2014 by René Salm American Atheist Press. Fall 2014. Softcover and Kindle editions. My second book dealing with the controversial archeology of Nazareth has been accepted by American Atheist Press for publication in the fall of 2014. Frank Zindler has graciously agreed to write the book’s Foreword. Richard Dawkins (with whom I once had the pleasure of addressing the audience), Sam Harris, and other notable Atheists will be approached for “blurbs” for the back cover. The book continues where The Myth of Nazareth left off, namely, with developments since 2006. And—oh my—have there been developments! The Tombs Under the House of Mary begins with a reconsideration of the Nazareth … Continue reading

The Hellenistic Origins of Christianity (Ory) – Pt. 2

by Georges Ory (1965) Collection “Feuilles volantes” no. 40 Translated from the French by René Salm with added notes in green (2013) Dying and rising gods There are numerous resemblances and parallels between the Christ and the pagan divinities. Some are more than a little troubling, particularly those similarities which relate to dying and rising gods. Thus the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. She came down from heaven, was reduced to powerlessness, but was eventually reanimated and returned back to heaven. Ishtar was preceded in history by another goddess, Inanna, who was sentenced to hell, killed, hung on a tree for three days, resuscitated, and finally resurrected from the nether world. The Babylonian Marduk endured a passion. He traveled to a fabled … Continue reading

The Hellenistic Origins of Christianity (Ory) – Pt. 1

by Georges Ory (1965) Collection “Feuilles volantes” no. 40 Translated from the French by René Salm (2013) The history of Christian origins must be re-examined from new perspectives. It demands review, correction, and completion in a scientific and objective spirit, that is, lacking doctrinal presupposition and disengaged from every metaphysic and superstition. In the twentieth century, mankind has the duty to consider every belief as a provisional hypothesis. We must not ignore that the history of Christian beginnings—as it has been taught to us—corresponds neither to the needs of a reasonable faith (to the extent that any faith can be reasonable), neither to the lacunae in our documentation, nor to the parameters of science. We shall not discuss here notions … Continue reading

The Politics of Archaeology in Israel

Christine R. Perdue’s master’s degree thesis, “The Politics of Archaeology in Israel” (University of Oregon, Interdisciplinary Studies, 2005), is a blistering indictment of Israeli government policies regarding the practice of archaeology both on Israeli soil and in the occupied territories. According to WorldCat only one copy of this thesis exists, namely, at the University of Oregon library. In a fortuitous coincidence, I happen to live only a few blocks away. Perdue reveals her overall goal on page 2: “I will argue that archaeology in Israel has been politicized successively through the efforts of colonialists, biblical archaeologists, the process of nation-state building and tourism, and that ‘the facts’ of archaeological investigation have been and continue to be determined through political agendas … Continue reading

Pt. 8: The chronology of a crime (final)

Reconstruction of Vardaman’s activity during the 1962 Caesarea excavation season [All the available entries from Vardaman’s field notebook are found at Govaars 2009:185-86. Suspicious facts are in red.]         On July 15, 1962, the excavation season began in Area A of Caesarea—an area north of the Crusader walls and near the seashore. The director of the excavation was Michael Avi-Yonah, with the support of Avraham Negev. Assisting were E. Jerry Vardaman from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS, Louisville, Kentucky), as well as Eliezer Oren, a young graduate student of archaeology. Vardaman had some students from SBTS along for the season. For some reason Avi-Yonah and Negev immediately go to Tel Aviv and leave Vardaman temporarily in charge.         On July 16 … Continue reading

Pt. 7: The perfect storm

The unscrupulous archaeologist Over the last several months, my understanding has grown regarding the context of the “Caesarea inscription,” and also regarding Professor Vardaman’s central role in its genesis. As a Baptist minister notably employed by several conservative southern institutions, the late Dr. Vardaman’s values aligned strongly with the evangelical strain of Christianity, including belief in the inerrancy of scripture and in the personal call to act in defense and advancement of the true Christian faith. Jerry Vardaman was an evangelical activist. Unfortunately, he was also unprincipled, as we learned here and here. More correctly, he was a ‘super-committed’ Christian who apparently thought nothing of breaking man’s law for the higher law of Jesus Christ. From the microletters to the … Continue reading