So, last year I published a book that I had been writing and researching for three years. It’s a good story. It’s got good characters, good dialog, action (guns and swords), mystery, spans two millennia, delves into the historical origins and subsequent beliefs that underpin Christianity and offers a sensible, although not orthodox alternative to how Christianity could have derived from a fairly ordinary sequence of events involving real people. Not divine intervention. Not holy miracles. Not superstitious tales of supernatural events. Just normal, human stories that have been warped beyond recognition after two thousand years of lies and wishful thinking.
I didn’t write it to prove or disprove anything but to show that as time goes on and knowledge and evidence accumulate, that the facts will show the Jesus story to be really a human story, not a religious one. To do this, I leaned on precedent: the continuing discovery of evidence and information that comes to us, all too infrequently, from the ancient world. Archeology. Ancient documents discovered in a kindling pile in an out of the way monastery. Ancient scrolls hidden in the Israeli desert. All of these things happened, and more will happen in the future that will light a little more of the darkness that enshrouds our past histories.
It was quite simple, really. What would happen if more documented information originating from Jesus’ time were discovered. The Dead Sea Scrolls were such documents, but had nothing whatsoever to say about Jesus or Christians. Or about Jews who were followers of Jesus. But, what if another scroll were to be found that was actually written by someone who was present at the time, who knew Jesus and some of his followers, and was present at the end of his life? What if this person had no vested interest in telling the story, beyond wanting to record what actually happened? Who would have been best placed to do this? A Roman. One of Judea’s occupiers in the first century, and that was the birth of my character, Lucius Quintus.
What would give Lucius’ story the authenticity it would need to be recognized as a true document, a factual recounting, from his perspective, of what happened to Jesus from Nazareth, and how, after he was executed by the Romans, did his body come to be hidden for two thousand years in a cave near the ruins of Khirbet Qumran? You will, of course, need to read The Q Fragments to find out, and I hope you will find it a rousing and entertaining tale if you do.
Old as this tale is, the repercussions of it are increasingly felt today. Christianity was loosed upon the earth, sprung from it’s father, Judiasm. Later, Christianity’s evil twin, Islam, was created as God’s last word on the subject. These three competing versions of reality continue to haunt us today. All claim to spring from essentially the same source, an all-seeing, all powerful, all male being in the sky who rules all the earth with an iron-age hand. Reason, science and skepticism are his enemies and his weapon is mind control. Control over those who have been conscripted into his army young, or cannot, or do not, think for themselves.
They are all three different and at war with one another over which is real. And, they are also at war with anyone who do not accept them. For Jews and Christians, this war has lately been fought with emotion, argument, and the governing bodies of humanity. This has not always been so, as their bloody history will attest. But with Isalm, things have continued to be much more personal. While it is true that the believers of Islam follow the dictates of the Koran, and there is some difference about what all of those dictates may mean, there have always been the core believers who are convinced that they have the perfect word of God and that those who do not accept that word deserve to die. They go further. Those who, in their opinion, disabuse or disrespect any part of their belief, deserve to die, and many of the Prophet’s followers are quite happy to help one along to that end.
When these people were few, and had little access to communications, money, travel and modern weapons, the world had not much to fear. Suicide bombers, assassins, riots over newspaper stories, women shot for supporting women’s education – localized events, mainly, that could be deplored, but largely ignored by the rest of the world. But that’s changed. Introduce the internet, automatic weapons, tanks, bombs, rockets and, get ready for it, the ever increasing likelihood of access to and possession of nuclear weapons, and events just got a lot closer to home.
If you think this is hyperbole, pay a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial and read the names of the innocents on the wall. Then think about the fact that all of the hijackers were educated men, some with PhDs. They were not the downtrodden, economically and politically repressed. They were religious fanatics. It was Isalm that flew those planes into the buildings. Nothing more.
So, I wrote this book to say that the claims of religion, Christianity in particular, don’t necessarily have anything to do with supernatural or religious events, that there is most likely a relatively ordinary explanation for Jesus and his life, and his death, and my tale is just one of those possibilities. But, I’ve found that it doesn’t make much difference to some people. They go on believing what pleases them, regardless of evidence. Or reason. Mostly, this is all right if they keep their ideas to themselves, but when they begin to push them and force them on others, it’s not all right and should not be given special status to do so.
For some, they see it as their holy mission to force their beliefs on everyone else.