Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Review: Esoteric Christianity

I was raised as a Catholic. I was an altar boy for a brief period, and even went to a Catholic high school. When I went to college, I got away from it and went through an atheist period which only ended a few years ago. Now that I'm on the road to recovery, I've seen some things that indicate that I may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. That brings me to the subject of today's review: Esoteric Christianity by Annie Besant. This book talks about the hidden side of Christianity.

You see, Catholicism, which is the root of modern Christianity, was meant to be a religion for everyone. By everyone, I mean even the most ignorant and materialistic of us. As such, it needed to be lowest common denominator, at least on the surface. Where the Catholic Church went wrong, in my opinion, was refusing to admit publicly that there was anything beneath the surface. I'm still not sure about that, though. It may have been necessary from a credibility standpoint. Anyway, here's a quote from the book:
He (Origen) says that the Body of the Scriptures is made up of the outer words of the histories and the stories, and he does not hesitate to say that these are not literally true, but only stories for the instruction of the ignorant. He even goes so far as to remark that statements are made in those stories that are obviously untrue, in order that the glaring contradictions that lie on the surface may stir people up to inquire as to the real meaning of these impossible relations.
Well, there we have it, from an early Church father no less. Whenever we see something in the Bible that seems contradictory or absurd, we should look for a hidden meaning. The book spends a few chapters exploring this idea in the context of the story of Jesus. There are also chapters about the forgiveness of sins and sacraments. I recommend this book for any of you who, like me, come from a Christian background.

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