Monday, 22 June 2009

Weinland & Harpur: A Match Made In Hades

Mike over at Flavor Aid reveals that Ronnie Weinland was a warm-up act at ideacity for Tom Harpur. It seems Ron, after giving his own address, was upset to hear Harpur's talk and, like Elvis, left the building.

Which says an awful lot about just how completely dense Weinland is. Harpur is a well known Canadian. Before gaining notoriety as a proponent of the mythical Jesus position, Harpur (an Anglican clergyperson) was a popular liberal Christian author - with a high media profile. In fact, I have a couple of his earlier books (prior to The Pagan Christ) sitting on a shelf somewhere. And yes, there's a copy of The Pagan Christ there too (though I'm not all that impressed by it.)

My point is, if you were speaking at something like ideacity, wouldn't you want to do a little research - even if it's just a bit of googling - to see who you're on with?

This thought never seemed to have occured to Witness Ron. Here in far flung New Zealand even a doofus like me knew more about Harpur than Ronnie, who took offense, then apparently spat the dummy and left in a huff.

The ideacity organisers must have had a wicked sense of humor to put Harpur on immediately after Weinland. It'd be hard to find a greater contrast. Harpur is understated, eloquent and intelligent. Ronnie is... well, he's Ronnie.

Many of those folk who sat through Weinland's presentation were probably drawn there because of Harpur. Ron was the equivalent of a free Tom & Jerry matinee feature.

Which seems somehow quite apt.

Related link: Tom Harpur's website.


Purple Hymnal said...

"Many of those folk who sat through Weinland's presentation were probably drawn there because of Harpur. Ron was the equivalent of a free Tom & Jerry matinee feature."


I love it. I'm grinning ear to ear. I'll never call Moses Znaimer Canada's answer to Rupert Murdoch again. :-D

Yes, Harpur is quite well-known up here, so well-known, the fundies drove him clear to the other side of the country. I've flipped through the book in Coles the odd time, but the price tag is a bit off-putting, I confess; I'll wait till it goes on the front shelves with the big $4.99 sticker on it I think. :-) (Sorry Tom, I'm broke.)

Funny synchronicity, the year I really started getting involved in online ex-member interaction (on the old Shadows board), was the same year CBC DocZone decided to air the Pagan Christ (on YouTube in 5 parts) for the first time.

That was the first time I'd heard of Harpur's theories specifically, although I used to read his column in the Star whenever I saw a free copy laying around. (Trust me, no one pays for The Toronto Star, you just find it lying around when you've got nothing better to read/do/are waiting in line/etc.)

Bear in mind, I was reading his column at a time when I had completely shut off everything from the church that had happened to me when I was a kid, but Christian theologizing still gave me the creeping horrors (falsely-so-called professing Christianity, y'know). Harpur's writing was the ONLY explicitly Christian opinion that I could stomach, that also made me think.

Also, for those who haven't seen it, I recommend his (sparse, but a good starting point) website as well.

Harpur is not only well-known in Canada, he is very well respected by the average person on the street, regardless of religious affiliations or non-. It's only the fundies that want to string him up and burn his books. (Which pretty much advertises why it's not good to be a fundie, yes?)

Anonymous said...

yeah I noticed that...I think Harpur is just as big of a nutcase as Wineland.

Purple Hymnal said...

"And yes, there's a copy of The Pagan Christ there too (though I'm not all that impressed by it.)"

I forgot to ask in my earlier comment Gavin, can you elaborate on this? I would be interested in hearing your views on the book.

Purple Hymnal said...

"I think Harpur is just as big of a nutcase as Wineland."

I repeat: Which pretty much advertises why it's not good to be a fundie.

Anonymous said...

Hey Purple, I got the message from Youtube that this video is not available in my country (USA) due to copyright issues. Can you try embedding it in your blog?

Byker Bob said...

Harpur is just another straw our amateur deprogrammers grasp at. Our discussions become quite hilarious from time to time, what with non-believers attempting to disprove the trinitarianism in which they don't believe, quoting apocryphal gospels about Jesus Christ in whom they do not believe, or excerpting the Ante-Nicene fathers whose entire, often tortured lives were devoted to these same topics.

Still, I may obtain and read Harpur's book, based on Gavin's most excellent and insightful comments!


Anonymous said...

I also read "Pagan Christ" and was more impressed with it than Gavin. I view it as just a starting proposition with a lot more to be filled in.
Like Purple, I'd be interested in your reservations, Gav?


Purple Hymnal said...

So Mark tried a nameless ad hominem attack (when everyone knew who he was referring to), and now you've jumped on the bandwagon too, Bob?

I shouldn't be surprised, really, it is typical Christian behaviour, after all. Good work demonstrating those Christian fruits Bob, keep it up!

But back to actual discussion, instead of petty sniping and self-righteous posturing.

Gavin: Your input on The Pagan Christ please?

(thanks Loch)

PPS - Re: the Pagan Christ documentary: Try this link instead.

Gavin said...

Hard to make specific comments on The Pagan Christ without dragging the thing off the shelf and putting some time in which I don't have at the moment. I'll try and knock together a short review, but it'll be a few days off. I think there are better expositions of the Jesus Myth position than Harpur's.

Byker Bob said...

Why, how could anyone interpret wonderful constructive criticism as being an ad hominem attack?


Purple Hymnal said...

"I think there are better expositions of the Jesus Myth position than Harpur's."

Thanks Gavin. What do you recommend?

kiwi said...

BB,I'm continually surprised at how much reassurance is constantly sought by some for their non-belief. Seems nothing short of the total de-Christianization of Christianity will do. To what end I wonder?

Byker Bob said...


Truer words were never spoken! I do understand the mindset, and psychological needs, though. I did exactly as they are now doing, for decades. As I see it now, I was compiling and writing a bad thesis to present to the Almighty on Judgment Day.

At the end of the day, one has an opportunity to sit down, review one's life, and to examine to see whether there has been a little thing I call "fulfillment" present. And, I just didn't derive any of that from my system of agnostic postulates (they hate it when I refer to that as religion, but, oh well!) Obviously, if one does not derive fulfillment from this life, one could not even begin to appreciate the merits of an afterlife.

At any rate, I've had long term opportunities to observe the lives of both believers and non-believers. The quality of life of the believers, and some pretty interesting occurrences in my own life are what ultimately made a believer out of me. The Road to Damascas exists in every nation on planet Earth, and it's amazing when one accidentally stumbles upon it!


Neotherm said...

While we have a lot of fun with the surprising and unusual ideas of RW, there is a part of the RW phenomenon that is not surprising. He is really just a trite mimic of HWA. Look how many followers of HWA are still out there and still believe in the model that RW is using. These people would not find RW laughable at all. Because to deny the RW model is to deny the HWA model. They Armstrongites no doubt disqualify RW on the basis that he is not HWA in personage even though RW may be a espousing the same ideas. It is an argument based on person not on behavior model. I think the RW behavior model is perfectly acceptable to Armstrongites. After all, are the Armstrongites going to say someone is goofy because they are leveraging their finances using the "end of the age" concept? Not without self-condemnation.

And, of course, we, of all people, should understand this. While we deride RW, most of the contributors to this blog used to be Armstrongites, I would guess. We were avid believers in just the kind of ideas that RW is now marketing. While we may deride RW and his glazed-eyed followers it should give us an uneasy sense of de ja vu.

-- Neo

Purple Hymnal said...

"Seems nothing short of the total de-Christianization of Christianity will do."

Considering the fact that Christians de-humanize humanity, is it any wonder?

And yet ANOTHER ad hominem attack by a professing Christian; a nameless one, so that it will escape the comments filter, but everyone knows the Christian in question is talking about ME, personally, even though "it's not a personal attack". I'm sorry, what was that about knowing a tree by its fruits again?

Good job showing Christianity in a truthful light, though: As a withered, maggot-infested tree, that produces truly poisoned fruit.

Mike (Don't Drink the Flavor Aid) said...

And if you talk yourself into a prophetic corner, then do a little shrinking.

kiwi said...

Undoubtedly organised Churchianity over the centuries has often de-humanized its fellows because of the attendant political power. The record is there for all to see in history. What psychopath wouldn't join the politicized "Church" if that was how to climb the greasy pole, nab a nifty pension and get your jollies in general, all the while scaring the great unwashed rabble into submission with nasty bed-time stories?
Even today, the forming of new denominations, or ministries with followings, will always contain the seeds of politicization, with the potential to sprout into a controlling mechanism. None better illustrate this factor than the ACOGs, though they are, mercifully, tiny.
This has little to do with the Messiah of the Scriptures, who is sufficient to follow without joining any man-made denomination. Sadly so many miss that very point. No one sincerely striving to follow his teaching would endorse the de-humanizing of anyone. An observation that active non-believers need constant affirmation of their non-faith is not the equivalent of "de-humanizing" them, but simply noticing and commenting on what non-believers intend believers to notice in the first place, hence the (rare from me) comment. That is, I presume believers are permitted freedom of speech, too?
The irony in this whole subject is that Tom Harpur may well have built his (I believe Theosophy-influenced) case for the "pagan" Christ on the Christ of Churchianity, and not on the Jewish Messiah who did not come to start any new religion but to empower the covenant of life promised long before to Israel, and to invite all nations into Israel's covenants through faith in him.
Footnote: actually the big player in any future religious enforcement is more likely to be that other globe-girdling proselytizing monotheistic religion, well known of course for its, ahem, humanity... :-)

Purple Hymnal said...

"While we may deride RW and his glazed-eyed followers it should give us an uneasy sense of de ja vu."

That describes me, the whole year I was running the WW blog.

Purple Hymnal said...

"And if you talk yourself into a prophetic corner, then do a little shrinking."

First link's busted, Mike.

Handy feature, that "collapse comments" link. Quite anxiety-reducing I find.

Purple Hymnal said...

In other news: Bob Thiel reads World Net Daily??

And The History Channel believes Ethiopian folktales about men being afflicted with cataracts, over the sane explanation that it is a Third World country?!

Happy impending (end of the world) Sabbath, tabloid believers!!!

Seriously. Does anyone have any legit info about this? I can't turn up anything on the Net about it, and usually my Google-fu is stronger than this.....

Purple Hymnal said...

"An observation that active non-believers need constant affirmation of their non-faith..."

OK so against my better judgement, I read the un-collapsed comments today.

"kiwi", if you think I am posting my spiritual journey for "constant affirmation of [my] non-faith", you have completely missed the entire point.

I post the comments that I do, partly to help myself figure my own brain out. And also partly to offset the close-minded, literalist and fundamentalist evangelical Christian attitude that WOULD de-humanize me, and does, on a fairly regular basis here. All because I do not externalize human consciousness into a majority-sanctioned archetype.

People reading AW fall into one of two categories: They've already made up their minds as to what "The True Truth of the True Church of God" is, or they are still trying to sort through the mess that the church left behind in all of our heads.

The thing is, we've ended up all going in vastly different directions. What I most want readers and lurkers and my fellow commenters to take away from these discussions is that, going in a different direction is OK.

I have no need to externalize or deify the spark of human consciousness that I have; I also have no right to deny you, or any other Christians, the option to do so.

Please don't misunderstand me, Christians, I am not trying to "convert" you, myself, or anyone else. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make sense of the universe as I know it. You may perceive my ramblings and speculations as attacks (and you then respond in kind), but please believe me, they aren't attacks on my part.

I just want to show that, if there is someone out there reading AW who doesn't want to be Christian, or a professing Christian, then that's OK. It's also OK if you want to be a Christian or a professing Christian, or some other flavour of Christian, as long as you [general "you"] follow the "love your neighbour" prescription that you say is so important to you.

I just wish that the professing Christians who take the most potshots and snide little digs at me here, would see that I'm just as human as they are, regardless of whether or not we share the same worldview.

I'm trying to see you as equal human beings as well, but the more you try to "cast me out" because I don't fall perfectly in line with your literalist ideologies, the harder it is.

Maybe it's not worth bothering at all, because none of you will ever think I'm "good enough", simply because I don't "believe" the Nicene Creed.