I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Monday, April 10, 2006

That Judas Thing

Over at PeaceBang there is a post concerning the "Gospel of Judas" and its remarkable popularity. I, too, watched the entire documentary last night and enjoyed it as much as one can enjoy the documentaries on National Geographic these days. Frankly, I think their standards have slipped a wee bit. I am tired of the re-enactors looking all spooky. At least this one didn't have soem strange guy using crop circles to find the lost arc. Still, if they took those re-enactors out and spent a little more time with the talking heads, it would have been much shorter and much more informative. Incidentally, my favorite goofy part were the antiquities thieves. Oh, and (quite randomly) a statement from Bob Schuller, just so we know this doesn't really change anything. Thanks, Dr. Bob, I feel better already!

The popularity, no doubt, has something to do with the intense marketing. In one day (Friday, I believe), I read an extensive article in the NYT, recieved an email with link, AND encountered stacks of the two new books on the subject (both published by Nat.Geo.) on the "20% off rack" inside the door at Barnes and Noble. Good work, Marketing Team! Imagine the "man-hours" it took to pull it off! As usual, there was plenty about it Saturday, too, as other religion reporters read the Times article, took the kids to Barnes and Noble, and did their own reports.

Having said that, I have read the Gospel of Judas and a goodly portion of the shorter one of the books. (minus the cloak and dagger stuff as I have already seen the movie). It is interesting and-- I find at least--fairly accessible for an ancient text. Also, because it has to do with Judas, it's appeal is somewhat justified. It is just darn different to think of him as a good guy. Of course, a Gen-X commentator on NPR pointed out the obvious, which is that this bears nice similarities to the Gospel of Tim Rice, set so stunningly to music by some guy named Andy Webber...

Anyway, I might just preach on it. Or, more likely, I will preach a sermon about the ancient church and the many different experiences of Jesus people had. THAT is interesting. Regardless of whether this new gospel shakes the foundations of orthodoxy or not (and I suspect not, but then, I don't really have much of an investment in orthodoxy) , it is another example of how rich the human religious imagination can be. This imagination (or "creativity", if "imagination" makes you think of Mr. Snuffleuppagus) is what we seek in our own religious communities. Maybe we don't all agree with the Gnostics, but I do believe that it is good to think for ourselves and to use our experience of the Divine to make sense of our lives in the world. We can do this. Thank God for that.

Preaching on it would also give me the chance to roll in that Bart Ehrman book everyone in the church read last week (I'm serious, it was quite a remarkable coincidence) and continue on a track started before Palm Sunday with a sermon about the edits and history of the Psalms...

Slightly Later:
I am so ashamed! Peregrinato has quite the essay going on just this subject. His is insightful and scholarly. No Sesame Street character, etc... Check it out!