Posted on

Abraham, Martin, and Mithras

When I was a little kid, my grown-up sister Ro took me to visit the Lincoln Memorial. I was much impressed and wanted to memorialize the day with a purchase from the gift shop. I found the coolest thing, and right smack in my price range (under a dollar). It was a Lincoln penny with the face of John F. Kennedy engraved in the blank space, so that JFK was facing Honest Abe. It reminded me of my brother’s 45-rpm record of “Abraham, Martin & John,” which I used to play to death.

Anyhow, the altered penny came in a white cardboard frame that was covered with copy. The headline read:

COINCIDENCE? Kennedy Looks at Lincoln

What followed then was a listing of odd correspondences: “Mr. Lincoln had a secretary named Kenedy. Mr. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln. … Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre. Kennedy was shot in a Ford. … Both assassins had three names: John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. There is a total of 15 letters in each name.”

And so on. It made quite an impression on my ten-year-old mind.

A few years went by and I saw the Harvard Lampoon parody of my souvenir. It sent me into hysterics. The list began with the items on the original, but it gradually morphed toward the absurd: “Mr. Lincoln fought a war with the South. Mr. Kennedy fought a war with Vietnam. Both countries are populated by sneaky, devious citizens. … Mr. Kennedy was a Catholic. Mr. Lincoln was a Satanist. Each religion has eight letters in its name.” The grand finale was: “Mrs. Kennedy liked bananas. Mrs. Lincoln went bananas.”

You’re asking, I’m sure, what this has to do with the Church Fathers, and I’m glad you asked.

Persian Journal, an Iranian new service, posted an article so similar in tone to those little bits of my childhood. But I can’t tell if it’s reminding me of the souvenir or the parody. No matter. It’s titled “MITHRAS EQUALS CHRISTIANITY?” and you probably want to see it for yourself. SPOILER ALERT on the conclusion: “As you can now see, Christianity derived many of its essential elements from the ancient religion of Mithraism.”

Here’s another take on Mithraism and Christianity.

Posted on

Interpreting Ephesians

Ancient Christian gravesites found in Ephesus:

The Ephesus excavations representative of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Dr. Soner Ateşoğulları, also said … the tomb reflected the development level of the era in terms of architecture and jewelry and that it was an important part of culture history, Ateşoğulları said they concluded that the older skeletons were Pagan while the subsequent ones were Christian.

You can tell by the skeleton.

Posted on

In the Grain

Kevin at Biblicalia has posted an excellent review of Father Michael Giesler’s novel Grain of Wheat. Here are snippets:

The book is the third in a trilogy following the lives of several Christians in the mid to late second century city of Rome, from the end of Hadrian’s reign into that of Antoninus Pius…

The story itself is gripping. There is the accurate depiction of a palpable anxiety among the Christians, whose religion was illegal, and who were required to meet in private homes, which could potentially result in exposure by a jealous friend, or embittered slave or family member … The incidental details in the book show the author is very familiar with the period, and has done his research well. The setting is sufficiently authentic and yet without annoying extraneous detail that the picture given of Rome is lively and believable. This is a very enjoyable book. I hope the series will continue.

I think perhaps one of the best things I can say about this book is that I couldn’t put it down. It was a pleasant and a quick read (one late night). I would estimate its reading level to be young adult, so it should be fitting for any teenaged reader and upward.

It’s best to start with the first two books of the trilogy, Junia and Marcus. My review of those books is here.

Posted on

Two Cities, One Lecture

Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J., will lecture on “The City of God and the City of Man: Augustine’s Argument and Some Applications for Today.” He’s speaking at 7:30 p.m. on October 22 in the Robert S. Carey Performing Arts Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. The lecture is sponsored by the college’s Center for Political and Economic Thought.

Posted on

For Mothers of the Church

My friend Kimberly Hahn is leading a retreat for wives and moms.

You’re invited to join author Kimberly Hahn for “Faithful and Fruitful,” a biblically-centered women’s retreat focusing on the joyous juggling act of motherhood to be held October 31-November 2 at Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio). The weekend retreat will offer both biblical wisdom and practical advice on parenting children from toddlerhood to the teenage years.

Every stage of a parent’s life brings new challenges and joys, Hahn says, but through it all, some things never change. “Your children will always need your love, you will always need God’s grace,” she says. “The end goal of all the diapers, the carpools, and the sleepless nights remains the same: helping get your kids to heaven.”

Kimberly Hahn, popular speaker and author wrote Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism with her husband, Scott. Her newest books are Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart and Chosen and Cherished: Biblical Wisdom for Your Marriage.

“Faithful and Fruitful” is the third in the Life-Nurturing Love series, a collection of Bible studies written by Kimberly Hahn based on Proverbs 31. Registration is $55 without meals and $100 with meals. Call the Franciscan University Christian Outreach Office at 1-800-437-8368 or 740-283-6314 to register.