The Good Man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ

Some time ago, I was asked to draw up guidance for a filmed version of Philip Pullmann’s book. I found some of my notes today and thought they looked entertaining-

The Director/Producer had a background in tv comedy and Philip Pullmann pulled out.

Essential problem lies in the history of Christ on film:

The life of Brian dominates any effort to film the Christ story, and the Monty Python analysis is classic- that everyone speaks sententiously…

3 options:

Either Avoid entirely or fully embrace humour

The passion of the Christ ducks this choice by doing really nasty violence, which is another solution!

Is there humour in Pullman? Certainly, but much of it is the narrative voice which does not translate naturally into film.

Historical issues: can film help? Yes:

1) fill out the multicultural environment of Nazareth

a) Geography: Nazareth is Very close to Sepphoris/zippori (5 km away)

It was considered the capital of Galilee and as such, the absence of any ref in the bible is telling. (Herod the Great makes Sepphoris the capital in 47BC, tho the ROMANS already called it the effective capital from conquest in 55BC). It was recaptured by Jewish zealots in 46 and then taken by Rome again under Verrus, burnt and all inhabitants enslaved. Herod Antipas rebuilt and fortified the city. It was then called Autokratoris (autonomous city)

A direct road connects Sepporis(Saffuriyya) to Legio (Meggido) the military Headquarters in Galilee and also to the sea to Tiberias.

Now, although it was Legio that was the major garrison, the Talmud records on a number of occasions that Sepphoris was the major garrison of the area (b Shabbat 121a: this is about a non-Jew who helps extinguish a fire on the Sabbath. “it once happened that a fire broke out in the courtyard of Yosef ben Shimai in Shihin. The Roman garrison (Gastra) of Sepphoris came to extinguish it because Yosef was the guardian of the kind, but he did not allow them to because of honour for the Sabbath. A miracle took place and rain fell and extinguished the fire….”

In AD 67, there was a garrison of 6000 soldiers in Sepphora mentioned by Josephus under the leadership of Placidus. Otheres followed so that in the end, when Titus arrived the garrison numbered some 60,000 men. This may have influenced Talmudic accounts…

b) Mary’s story:

Silence may suggest that the story of Mary’s rape/ seduction by a man the Talmud calls “Ben Pandera” (son of a Panther) or Pantheus, a Roman legionary, may be true. (this is the section from the Talmud Shabbath 104b tractate:

Rabbi Hisda said: ‘The husband [of his mother] was Stada, the biological father, Pandera…The mother [yet another rabbi says] was Miriam, the women’s hairdresser…It’s like they say in [the Babylonian yeshiva town of] Pumbedita: She cheated on her husband.’

The Aramaic word M’gadla is “hairdresser” so there is confusion in this story between Miriam/mary the mother of Jesus and Mary magdalen.

Pantera may be a joke about “parthenos”, virgin. The greek work Parthenos was apparently very difficult for an Aramaic speaker to pronounce and “Panther” became a mangled corruption.

There is also a reference in ORIGEN that the Jews claim Jesus was the son of a married Jewish woman and her Roman lover

The Talmudic story is set in the 2nd Century but the writing seems to go back only to the 6th Century

2) Other sects:

Essenes: meaning expectant. Was Jesus an essene? Was John? (certainly this is implicit in Kazanzakis)

dead sea scrolls hidden around 70 AD

Nag hammadi library hidden around 200AD to keep away from Irenaeus’ heresy hunt

Archaeology: ossiaries have been found in Talpiot with names of Miriam, Joseph, Joshua and James

Gnostics. A great scene in the book (Christ and the prostitute) suggests Paulician, Waldensian or cathar beliefs about degradation of the body to hasten the judgement,

  • the devil made the world and corrupted the teachings of Christ by making the system of the church
  • -you cannot eat eggs because they are a result of sex
  • all sex is the bad but masturbation is particularly bad, and worse than rape, but gay sex was better than heterosexual sex because it could never lead to progeny. There was a belief that only the mind can sin, so any activity below the waist was not permanently sinful. The lower orders of the Cathars were in slavery to the devil so anything they did was ok because it was not their responsibility! They were saved through the efforts of the elect who had taken a special baptism to free them from slavery to the devil and the world.
  • belief in reincarnation
  • the Heresy of the Free spirit: a corruption of Sufi thought in France – if God created everything then he also created evil: blind obedience to a master and total freedom of action: the individual is above the law, there is no afterlife. Heyday between 1250- 1330

(in the East, there was a similar heresy called the EUCHITES)

Mary’s annunciation:

Rasputin’s sect were called :”the men of God” or Khlysty and they had naked parties, singing, drinking and dancing onto a trance-like state followed by orgies which led to pregnancies. The resulting children were said to be “begotten by the Holy spirit”!!

GREEK! establish Christ as a Greek name, why would Mary opt for a Greek (ie: Roman) name.

(remember the lingua Latina of Ancient Rome was Greek…)

Maybe the Magi speak to Mary in Greek…

Jesus is sometimes referred to in Yiddish as Yoyzl (Hebrew name would be Yeshu, a shortened version of Joshua) Yoske Pandre, little Jo (yoysif) Today, rabbis will say that the word Yeshu is an acronym for “y’mach sh’mo ve-zichrono”, may his name be forever forgotten.

Again, links to Sepphoris would allow for greater use of Greek.

Sepphoris represents the urban elite: Jesus is described as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners and there was a rich young man in the audience (Mk 10:17-22) and a tax collector among the apostles (Mark 2: 13-17); there is even a steward of the royal household among the followers( Chuza, steward to Herod Antipas who is rebuilding Sepphoris…luke 8:3)… does that imply he dined in Sepphoris?? Grin…(maybe he visited John in prison there: Matt 11:2)

Capernaum: needs to be brought into the story. This is where Jesus “settled down”

Fisherman (Matt 4:12-22)

Toll house (mark 2:13-14)

Centurion garrisoned there (John 4:46-54)

Ambiguity : need to preserve ambiguity of the angel/ stranger. Maybe link to soldier Ben Pantera.

Pullman explains the temptation story but not the prayer in Gethsemane. Could the angel be linked to this prayer as a dialogue?

The gethsemane monologue is very important in turning Jesus into a wholly likeable figure.

What should have been, improving the narrative – think of the trinity addition to end of Matthew 28. 19..(vs Acts 2.38 baptism in Jesus’ name only…) no texts contain chapter 28 before 4th century tho the trinitarian formula linked to this text to baptize existed by the time of Ignatius of Antioch, letter to the Philippians (107-112), Irenaeus Against Heresies (130-200) and Tertullian (He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to “go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost“) the Prescription Against Heretics 160-220.

  1. History and truth- stupendous
  2. Stolen body from the tomb (the legion of angels/ satanic horde “my name is legion”)

Albert Schweitzer (1906) thinks Jesus was deluded, thought the kingdom would come soon and thought he would usher it in as a triumphant messiah. He expected to be saved from the cross. I think this is the source of much of the Pullman book. What Schweitzer wrote still has relevance today and anyone writing about Christology or the “life of Jesus” is frankly writing footnotes to Schweitzer.

scweitzer by Tim

It is Schweitzer who inspires kazanzakis.

Christ is Judas. Christ is a nickname. A fairly routine idea actually and also routine would be the idea thatJesus is the twin of Thomas- hence the name didymus, “Twin”

The girl on the swing

I have been drawing the opening sequence for my documentary about Edward Lear, “Following Lear”. Here is the latest version with some detail:

It is a complex scene featuring a swing in a music hall.

PAGE1

One of my early memories of watching black and white tv was of a girl on a swing in “the Good Old Days”. I think that swing was brought out on a number of occasions actually, and at least once, in the 25th Anniversay season, Les Dawson was strapped to it in drag. It was generally there for the song “Swing me just a little bit higher, Obadiah do”. It made a lyric loaded with innuendo seem homely and very jolly.

good-644731

The music hall was full of daring routines and “the Good Old days” captured some of that spirit throwing acrobats and trapeze artistes directly into the auditorium. In the mid 19th Century, there was a craze for tightrope walking over the heads of the audience. Brilliant! I wonder how often there were accidents?

One of the early films made by Dame Joan Collins in 1955 was about Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, tied up in a messy muder trial and called “the Girl in the red velvet swing”. Of course, at a time when she was dazzling in BA and Cinzano adverts, she went on to make a slightly more scandalous film featuring an aquatic swing that arguably re-ignited her career, was based on a book by her sister Jackie, and somewhat incongruously, propelled her as staple fodder for family viewing in nearly a decade of “Dynasty”. What seemed very daring in the “Stud” and the “Bitch”, however, would today seem tame, and the thought of an A- grade star like Joan Collins getting involved in such stuff would no longer raise an eyebrow, particularly after Gielgud, Helen Mirren and O’Toole romped through “Caligula” at the end of the 80s.

I like the “Girl in the Red Velvet swing” though; it treats the subjects rather better than the subsequent film “Ragtime” which is both pedestrian and laboured. The publicity photos for La Collins, moreoever, are a treat. They are even better than the movie! Doesn’t she look radiant!

Annex - Collins, Joan (Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, The)_02

twiggyThere is also a swing scene, though fairly modest in “the Boyfriend”, designed by Tony Walton and a great scene in an early Angela Lansbury film,”Till the Clouds roll by” .

angela lansbury

I think I have now looked at almost all the swings in the movies!

Till_The_Clouds_Roll_By

The problem with swings is that every single frame represents a change in perspective- a nighmare for 2d drawing and I have had a few attempts so far. I am quietly pleased with the lastest effortwhich I will work on over the next month.

The music is by David Watson and the song is sung by Thomasin Tresize. If the spirit of the animation is a bit racy, I suppose that is to do with Joan Collins as much as with the hint of naughtiness that Tom suggests as she sings it!

I think it is meditative of course…. I tried to time the swing to the bars of music and it looks too premeditated- a bit like an early Mickey Mouse film. The idea of timing animation to hit the beat gave the whole screen animation/ music industry a very bad name, and it is bizarre that this was taking place at exactly the same time that Astaire was developing his technique of dancing OFF the beat. It’s when the dancer hits the beat at a specific moment that the magic happens. So the swinging motion is now independent of the beat (just).

how pleasant to know Mr lear6

Here’s the sequence partly storyboarded:

and here is an early sketch:

 

Well done Miron!

http://hiphopdx.com/news/id.44401/title.russian-rap-battle-racks-up-15m-views-in-3-days#

Russian Rap Battle Racks Up 15M Views In 3 Days
August 16, 2017 | 7:20 PM
by Somhairle Cinnsealach
Russian Rap Battle Racks Up 15M Views In 3 Days
YouTube/versusbattleru

170816-Oxxxymiron-vs-Slava-KPSS-800x600

“War and Peace.” “Crime and Punishment.” Oxxxymiron vs. Slava KPSS.

All triumphs of Russian penmanship.

While even America’s most popular rap battlers generally max out at a few million YouTube views (a milestone that can sometimes take years to reach), Russian league Versus is sprinting past its competition — already racking up almost 15 million views on an hour-long video that came out on August 13.

The battle, which went down in St. Petersburg earlier in August, went crazy-viral in Russia, a country famous for its prowess with the written word.

We can’t understand any of it, of course, but if you’re confident in your Russian-speaking abilities then check out the battle below.

One of the competitors, Oxxxymiron, had been undefeated until he came up against his opponent, who took the W after a unanimous decision from the five judges.

As one of Russia’s biggest Hip Hop figures, Oxxxymiron’s battle rap showings have always generated huge interest, but nothing on this scale before.

According to a detailed piece by The Calvert Journal, “Even RIA Novosti, one of the biggest Russian news agencies, has published four news stories and a large feature on the battle in the last two days.”

After his defeat, Oxxxymiron shared an in-depth Instagram post following the battle.

 

 

168.1k likes
4,755 comments
Пара слов о баттле (спойлеры) 1. После драки кулаками не машут (объясните это СТ, который до сих пор доказывает, что выиграл). Поэтому судейское решение я, разумеется, принимаю. 2. На мероприятии были судьи, потому что я поставил такое условие. Вариант “мы час срем друг друга просто так, для взаимного промо” был для меня исключен, т.к. это не дружеский матч. Поражений, в отличие от забытого текста, я никогда не боялся, поэтому настоял на том, чтобы баттл судили – и считаю, что это было верное решение. 3. Почему я проиграл? Потому что, как и на прежних баттлах, ушел в лирические отступления, которые мне реально интересно писать, в отличие от бесконечного “сетап-панч, сетап-панч”. Возможно, я по жизни слишком зациклился на том, что в свое время повлиял на баттлрэп – а вместо этого мне самому стоит поучиться у баттловиков, чей мир с тех пор перерос в нечто иное и самостоятельное. Хотя гонка за количеством панчей все еще кажется мне довольно унылым подходом к баттлам. Но и мой подход “проповедник а-ля Loaded Lux” явно требует корректировки на будущее. Не будь проигрыша – я бы, наверное, так и не осознал, что нужен апгрейд. Апгрейд будет, Нарния пока подождет. 4. От всего мероприятия получил дикий кайф. Единственный облом – “поддержка” Версуса. С таким же успехом мы могли сразу пойти на Слово с 10 корешами – именно столько человек активно топило за нас, остальные версус-резиденты были типа слишком крутыми, чтобы высказывать саппорт рэперам своей лиги, как это делала толпа от Слово (по видео все очевидно, я думаю). Ну и сливщики инфы – конченые. 5. Make Battle Rap Great Again: сказано – сделано, это был исторический баттл. Оппонент молодец. Может теперь кто-нибудь поймет, что я не забронзовевшая статуя, не все всегда просчитываю, и готов рискнуть всем чисто по фану, из спортивного интереса. И вскоре сделаю это снова)
5 DAYS AGO

 

Google Chrome’s translation of Oxxxymiron’s Instagram post goes on to explain why he felt he lost the clash, and why there are no hard feelings.

“Why did I lose? Because, like on the previous battles, I went into lyrical digressions, which I really enjoy writing, unlike the endless “setup-punch, setup-punch.” Maybe I’m too focused on life, That at one time influenced the Battleplay – and instead I myself should learn from the Battlists, whose world has since grown into something different and independent. Although the race for the amount of panche still seems to me a rather dull approach to the battles. But my approach “preacher a la Loaded Lux” clearly requires adjustments for the future. Without losing – I probably would not have realized that I needed an upgrade. Upgrade will be, Narnia will wait.”

“Make Battle Rap Great Again: said – done, it was a historical battle. Opponent well done. Maybe now someone will understand that I’m not a moribund statue, I do not always calculate everything, and I’m ready to risk everything purely for fans, out of sports interest. And I’ll do it again soon).”

oxxxymiron-by-tim

from Hiphopdx.com

 

Who are we?

Just before Christmas last year, a number of conservative cardinals went public about their frustration at getting no response from the Pope to a request in April for clarification on 5 points arising from “Amoris Laetitia”. These points have caused them, they say, “confusion and disorientation”. There does not seem to me to be much to debate, but I wonder whether they have read John 8:7-

he that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her

The five points or doubts (dubia) are these:

  1. can the adulterous (those currently in an unrecognised marriage, more uxorio) receive holy communion?
  2. are there absolute moral norms that must be followed without exception?
  3. is adultery an “objective situation of grave habitual sin”?
  4. can “circumstances or intentions” make an “intrisically evil act” something that is “subjectively good”? (this seems, they say, to contradict the John Paul II encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”
  5. can one act on conscience against “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts”?

The first of the 5 dubia is a pastoral question and specifically refers to a request for confession prior to receiving communion. In fact, Pope John Paul II already allowed for the remarried to return to the Church in “Familiaris Consortio” if they decided no longer to live together more uxorio (not a big issue after a few years, maybe), and they tried to avoid scandal. In fact this is no more than a clarification of Canon 915 that communion should only be witheld from those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” But it is not at all clear from what Pope John Paul writes whether abstinence or the avoidance of scandal is the more important issue.

What Pope Francis has done consistently, however, is to promote a Catholic version of Orthodox “economia” with his statement “who am I to judge?” That, in turn, has a fairly strong biblical backing in John 8:7. It is also rooted deeply in Catholic pastoral work and can be found throughout the Church. It is this principle, for example, that allows a Priest I know in Poland, for instance, to live as a parent (and a very good parent) during the week, while still saying Sunday Mass – esssentially, it is a matter of his discretion and Parish acceptance. Not only does he take communion- he officiates, but he avoids scandal. Whether he lives with the mother of his child more uxorio is a matter for them. Similarly, it was not the fact that he lived with his housekeeper that caused the downfall of the late prelate of St Etheldreda’s – that relationship was never spoken about and did not cause scandal – what went on or did not behind closed doors was a matter for the individuals concerned, and God.

People, and certainly people in the Church, make too many assumptions about what happens in the bedroom. John Paul II has already provided an answer. It needs clarification and Pope Francis has made a small move towards that clarification.

The 4 subsequent “dubia”, however, are loaded and so far, the Pope has failed to respond.

For what it counts, I think the second point is also an instance of “economia”- that there is a difference between the way we understand and implement the law and the way God might. If we take the Christian emphasis on love seriously, we cannot be so judgemental. I would also question whether the acts in question could ever be described as “intrinsically” evil. Adultery might be unwise, improper, unfair, selfish- but rarely “intrinsically evil”! Meanwhile, the Church has tried to weather the storm, insisting on the one hand that essential doctrine has not changed and on the other hand allowing civilly-divorced and remarried couples to communion in Argentina (at the specific request of Bishop Angel José Macin), Malta, Germany and Belgium. Bishops in Canada and Poland (however muvch they may turn a blind eye to what their own Priests are doing) continue to take a more stringent view leading the 4 Cardinals to conclude, “And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: ‘Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.'”

What the 4 Cardinals want is not in fact clarification, but rather, in Cardinal Raymond Burke’s words, for the Pope to make “A formal act of correction of a serious error”.

4 cardinals by tim

I am sure this is not the only issue the Cardinals have with the current Pontiff. A few months ago, he condemned attempts by Catholics to convert the Orthodox as a “grave sin”. That did not stop a scurrilous Catholic press from digging around to unearth the details of canon 751 which states, “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Now, I should have thought that bullying the reigning Pontiff to retract details in his own encyclical comes fairly close to a statement that the Pope is in error- more than a whiff of schism in its own right, then from this mitred quartet!

Now, in fact, the Pope answered the Dubia in an interview with “Avvenire”. He spoke fairly generally but he went on record with the following statement,

“The Church exists only as an instrument for the communication of God’s merciful plan to the people. During the Council, the Church felt it had the responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world. In the ‘Lumen Gentium’, it went back to the origins of its nature, the Gospel. This shifts the axis of Christianity away from a certain kind of legalism which can be ideological, towards the Person of God, who became mercy through the incarnation of the Son. Some still fail to grasp the point. They see things as black or white, even though it is in the course of life that we are called to discern.”

Of course, if the 4 Cardinals so wished, I suppose they could persuade Benedict to emerge from his library and tell the world he was still Pope and had been coerced into resigning. That would make “Amoris Laetitia” null and void and poses a much more interesting question about what we should do with the AntiPope Francis… but somehow, (a) I do not think this is a realistic scenario and (b) I rather like the Franciscan emphasis on mercy above all else.

Let the doubters believe! Who are we to cast the first stone?