Maybe this is just how it works.
Maybe the more sublime cosmic messages, the more winking and tasty revelations come only when humanity is ready, when at least a sufficient portion of the population is educated and awake enough -- and even then, the jolts only arrive in smallish portions we have the tentative capacity to stomach. You think?
Like, say, the size of a business card. Like, say, the dimensions of that astonishing little scrap of papyrus from the second century A.D. -- a rather explosive fragment currently being by studied, and certainly quite adored, by very some smart people indeed, including Harvard's own noted divinity professor Karen King, one of the finest scholars of ancient religions in the land, and one who seems increasingly convinced the scrap is completely legit.
Have you heard? Have you seen? For lo, the news hath spread far and wide, hath surely confounded many a true believer and scowling priest alike, even as it induced another long and beleaguered sigh from the subjugated female species of the world.
For lo, the fragment doth quote Jesus himself as referring to his "wife," to Mary Magdalene herself as being one of his disciples, and to "dwelling with" none other than (oh no!) a woman.
You read that right. Jesus was (probably) married. To a very fine woman indeed.
What? Heresy! Blasphemy! Utter desecration to the hoary, patriarchal view of Jesus as being a tortured, celibate loner who would never touch a woman's naughty bits; to Mary (and subsequently all women throughout history, forever) as being a lowly, repentant whore, and to sexuality and females alike as being lesser and dangerous, fearsome twin forces of chaos and destruction to be avoided at all costs.
Indeed, the language on the tiny scrap of sacred wood pulp, if legit, entirely upends, even voids much of the church's silly stance on Jesus' perfect celibacy (which was hugely suspect anyway), and on its sad endorsement of abstinence as some sort of ridiculous and impossible ideal. Not to mention offering up all sorts of reminders about just who wrote the Bible, and for what ugly, searingly political, authoritarian reasons.
As King herself told Smithsonian Magazine (I'm citing the Guardian here), the fragment casts serious doubt on the whole Catholic claim of a celibate priesthood based on Jesus' celibacy. And that's just for starters.
Is that too dramatic? Too difficult to believe? Hardly. It's exactly those kinds of bleak, soulless teachings the church has leveraged for millennia to maintain control and keep women -- and their terrifying, hysterical sexuality -- in check. You know, for starters.
What's more, a normalized, married, more "human" Jesus just isn't a very good sell to the huddled, fundamentalist masses who've been hammered for centuries by the tragic lie that their gods are distant, judgmental megalomaniacs far separate from lowly, sinful humanity, and the best you can ever hope for is to maybe work hard enough, endure sex awkwardly enough, and pay enough money to the church so you don't go straight to hell.
All this from a tiny scrap of papyrus? Indeed. This might just be how it works. Maybe, just maybe, we're finally ready to hear a bit more explosive truth. Maybe the church's brutal stranglehold on divine insight is giving way just a little bit more. Or maybe it's all just a foregone conclusion anyway. Which do you prefer?
After all, the revelation isn't exactly new. To any intellectually curious mystic, to any scholar worth her black Madonna studies and serious Magdalene inquiries, to anyone with a hotly functioning spiritual pulse, Jesus and Mary have always had a very obvious thing, far more interesting, more archetypal, more fantastically mysterious than the church (or even Dan Brown) could ever conceive.
Put another way: What we don't know about Jesus' life, and about Magdalene as she relates to goddess lore and pagan history, what we don't know of the true (bloody, brutal, heavily political) origins of the Christian faith and how the church founders manipulated and re-wrote everything to suit their needs, still far outweighs what we do.
It's the space dust that points to the cosmos, the drop that signifies the ocean: the papyrus scrap is surely just a hint, a wisp indicating far wider and deeper truths.
Don't you already know? There are thousands of such scraps, scrolls, parchments, fragments, not to mention entire books, gospels, songs, glyphs and mythological tracts lost to history and time, some burned in wars, some intentionally hidden or buried by the paranoid church itself, some lost to long-dead civilizations. The adorable tale of Jesus' sexy wife is like a sly teaser to a grand movie we can't quite see just yet, but which we're all fully participating in, every single day.
What do you think? Will this tiny hunk of evidence be a serious game-changer? Will it be sufficient to upend millennia of dry, sexually numb religious doctrine? Will it advance, even a little, the church's insufferable view of women?
You already know the answer. Authentic though it may be, the new finding will likely not lead to much radical anything. The pope will not smile, the church code will not loosen, the male-owned and operated religions of the world will not suddenly explode and be remade anew. I mean, come now. Old, angry white men have held the reins of power for thousands of years. You think they'll give it up over a two-inch scrap of papyrus?
But it sure is delightful to imagine...
"OMG you guys!" the Catholic church did not proclaim, in a shocking announcement. "We just learned that Jesus was almost certainly married. And had sex! Probably all the time! With Mary, no less! Can you believe it?
"Turns out she was this sort of devastatingly divine disciple of his, this luminous goddess creature who was surely Jesus' consort, lover and equal all in one, not a whore at all and certainly not some lesser, subservient doormat. Amazing!
"Turns out the mystics have been right all along..."
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Mark Morford is the author of 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism,' a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He's also a well-known E-RYT yoga instructor in San Francisco. Join him on Facebook, or e-mail him.
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