Review of "Christianity as Fairy Tale"

Ron Mazur’s book “Christianity as Fairy Tale” seems an interesting romp through sundry intellectual conspiracies that are part of various Christian traditions.  The style strikes me as perhaps more allusive than comprehensive. For a thorough treatment of some of these themes, I would be more inclined to look in Joseph Campbell’s writing than in the present volume.  Nonetheless, the various allusions do stir reflections and inspire an interest in further reading.

The ephemeral nature of the web does affect the book some. Ron lists Luigi Cascioli’s web-site as www.anti-religions.org; however, that site has disappeared. A search for Luigi Cascioli places the site at http://www.luigicascioli.it/ateismo_eng.php. I recommend an extended visit to Luigi Cascioli’s site. The site does more than attempt to sell books. Full of esoterica, the site makes for some interesting reading. Another site which Ron lists is http://northernway.org/index.shtml, a diploma mill—apparently—for reverends in the Esoteric Theological Seminary.  One of the site’s pages appears to be more directly related to Mary of Magdala. At http://northernway.org/mmag.html, you can  find a page with poetry dedicated to Mary of Magdala and with several articles about her. Ron’s own site at http://www.astroventuresociety.org/ is in the making, and his site at http://spiritofyeshua.net/ is closing down. The content of the sites largely echo the contents of the book. Finally, you may want to visit Acharya S.’s web-site at www.truthbeknown.com; I recommend http://www.truthbeknown.com/radio.htm for some actual clips of Acharya S.’s comments. Note that “Acharya” appears to be a title in Jainism, the traditions of which elude me. You may want to do some research here and let me know. Acharya S. comments in the interview that one should study one’s religion and then it will probably cease to be one’s religion, a view I can relate to very well. Listen to her reasoning.

The chapters of “Christianity as Fairy Tale” consist of The “Never Existed” Movement, The So-Called Canon, Fresh Winds of The Jesus Seminar, The Nativity Wonders, A Precocious Childhood, Heavenly Adoption in the River, A Dramatic Murder, The Life of Parables, Jesus Takes a Lover, Judas and the Band of Brothers, Crucifixion and Resurrection, Paul Gives Jesus a Title, and The Cult of the Christ Finds an Emperor.  The orientation to the effect of such tales on the reader or the believer, rather than the objective veracity of the accounts themselves, is the point of the chapter, which finds easy agreement among readers of the more liberal religious tradition. That these tales may have different perspectives when told from different traditions is quite credible also. The second chapter focuses on alternate traditions, some of which may be new to many a reader. Again, the book’s brevity of coverage inspires further research, a positive effect on the reader. One should experience these themes as a bit of a liberating influence as one adopts a non-literalist outlook on the Jesus myth.

Some biographical tidbits about Jesus as brat are likely to be new territory also for many a reader. Interestingly enough, such information makes Jesus more human than traditional views might allow. This chapter also contains some snippets of free associations that can expand the bible-bound fairy tale into contemporary myths derived from the fantasy worlds of popular culture.

The book briefly touches on the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptizer, throwing a veil of doubt and uncertainty over that relationship between Jesus and John also. I would have liked to have seen Ron allude to the contemporary followers of John the Baptizer, who, as small religious minority, had enjoyed the special protection of Saddam Hussein and who may not be faring too well in the post-Saddam Iraq . Nonetheless, the mere existence of the group indicates a divergence of myths between the fairy tale woven around John the Baptizer and the fairy tale woven around Jesus, a tale that attempts to subsume the myths of John the Baptizer. One wonders whether John really thought that he was mere second fiddle to the Jesus orchestra indeed.

Having explored some of the ambiguities in Jesus’ relationships with Mary of Magdala, the book also focuses briefly on the ambivalences of relationship with Judas Iscariot, a possible collaborator, rather than the archetypal traitor.  That Christianity becomes a world religion is not the result of any miraculous Jesus-person; it is in all probability the result of an assertive missionary in the person of Paul of Tarsus and in the politically wise person of Emperor Constantine. The book reviews those roles also.

I see fairy tales as stories playing with archetypes. I would have expected a slightly more extensive discussion of the archetypes as they play themselves out in the myths of Christianity. But, I suppose, this book does not try to be definitive; indeed, I would classify it as seminative and inspirational. It would probably serve well as the basis for continuing discussions and continuing research.