Hearing About Jesus & Co.
I HAVE RECEIVED from the Ignatius Press a catalogue that astonished me. The press publishes the book on the African Plague (“AIDS”) by Gene Antonio, which I recommended in Liberty Bell, April 1988, p. 8, and a book of intellectual and historical significance, The Restoration of Christian Culture, by Professor John Senior, which I have long intended to discuss in these “Postscripts” as soon as I could find space and time.
The Press was doubtless named in honor of Ignatius Loyola (pictured), the founder of the Jesuits. He, in turn, was given the name of the saintly hero of one of the martyr-stories the Christians began to concoct near the end of the Second Century, although wholesale production of such fictions belongs to the time of Jerome. According to this tale, Ignatius was a Bishop of Antioch who hastened to Rome around 115 in joyous expectation that the wicked Romans would throw him to wild beasts in the arena and he, thus martyred would not have to wait for a natural death to become one of Jesus’s buddies up in the clouds. The silly story was probably imagined to provide a pious author for a group of letters about the proper organization and conduct of Christian communities, written in imitation of the series of letters by various hands attributed to Paul, of which a selection was included in the “New Testament.” The seven letters, which are extant in several conflicting versions, were composed before the Fourth Century, when holy forgers produced other screeds to which they attached the name of Ignatius, much as their predecessors had done for Paul.
Although the Press does publish some books worth reading, its staple product is books in which Roman Catholic holy men exercise their imagination and rhetoric to provide soothing-syrup for Catholics who want to be told, over and over again, how much Jesus and his mama love them, and who need to be told how assiduously they must obey and finance the shamans who alone can get them reservations in Jesus’s famous hostelry for devout ghosts.
The catalogue which came to me is of such devotional works now orally recorded on tapes for the benefit of Catholics who can’t or won’t read. There are 240 sets of such recordings, each set comprising from four to twenty-six tapes. Just imagine! Assuming that the average set consists of ten tapes, and that each tape is only sixty minutes long, you could, for almost a year, spend your days listening to practiced and smoothly insidious voices tell you glowing fantasies about imaginary gods and saints, and you wouldn’t need opium, hashish, or alcohol to keep you in a trance and oblivious of reality.
It is not easy to choose anything from this welter of oleaginous gabble, much of it with affectedly quaint titles, e.g.e, Living Bread, a series of “inspirational meditations on the greatest of all acts of love,” the Eucharist, the Christian imitation of the theophagous rites of various orgiastic Oriental sects. The presiding holy man miraculously converts bread into the flesh of Jesus, which is then decorously devoured by well-bred cannibals, who believe they will absorb mana from the psychic meat.
Another amusing set of tapes is entitled Woman Clothed with the Sun. The splendidly dressed female is, of course, the Egyptian goddess Isis, whom the Christians took over and converted into the mother of one-third of their god when they saw the need to add a feminine interest to their cult. The tape recordings are “classic accounts of eight authentic appearances of Our Lady by great authors.” One of the authors may be Harry Daly, whom I mentioned in Liberty Bell, October 1986, pp. 23-25, with reference to his report of an incident in which the Virgin, with the furtive manner that seems characteristic of the shy quasi-goddess, sidled up to some adolescent Spanish girls and confided world-shaking secrets to them.
I have mentioned two titles that caught my eye as I glanced through the catalogue. You can obtain from the Ignatius Press 238 other sets of tape recordings. Is there not something impressive and almost fearsome about that proof of the insatiable human appetite for dulcet illusions?
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Source: Liberty Bell magazine, August 1989