Those theologians just arent keeping up
By DAN McDONALD
I have friends who are priests, nuns, pastors, deacons and Christian teachers. I worry about them. Theyre reading the Bible, taking theology classes and paging through learned journals -- but theyre not keeping up. Theyre not reading the Weekly World News.
For decades now, the News has printed dramatic revelations about scriptural events. Usually, the headlines tell the whole story.
Theres news about the Creation. The tabloid announced The Bibles Garden of Eden Discovered South of Denver! (June 2, 1992) and Gods Tree of Good and Evil Found! (March 26, 1996). The explorers who located the Tree (in Turkey) were debating whether they should eat the fruit. They might become wiser, but the situation is chancy.
There are revelations about our First Parents. We learned about a Baby Discovered with Adam and Eves Skeletons! (Feb. 25, 1997). A provocative article declared Bible Expert Discovers Adam and Eves Last Name! (Oct. 29, 1996). An Oregon scholar is sure they were Mr. and Mrs. Yahprima. He didnt say what the babys name was.
Old Testament discoveries are always dramatic. We read Original Ten Commandments Found in Ethiopia! (March 24, 1998). And even more amazing: Ancient Stone Tablets Prove God Gave Moses 13 Commandments -- Not 10! (Jan. 13, 1998). The three lost commandments require us to protect the environment, keep ourselves physically fit and abolish slavery.
The News reports incredible discoveries: Noahs Ark Found in Pennsylvania! (Jan. 8, 1991). And Bibles Burning Bush Found in Holy Land! (April 5, 1994, and again March 10, 1998). We learned the bush burns 24 hours a day with 2,000 degree flames. Another story proclaimed Sodom and Gomorrah Found! (Jan. 30, 1996). And the following headline was inevitable: AIDS Mummy Found in Ancient Ruins! (Nov. 5, 1996).
New discoveries keep occurring. The tabloid announced Samsons Hair Found in Israel! (Jan. 28, 1998), and Lost Ark of the Covenant Discovered! (March 24, 1998), and Goliaths Skull Found in Holy Land! (June 25, 1993). As you might expect, the skull was identified by the gaping hole over its left eye. Some revelations challenge our religious complacency. A classified document from Cape Canaveral produced the headline: Tower of Babel Found on Mars! (June 19, 1998).
Some stories are not directly scriptural, but theyre related. Many occurred in America. We read Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Photographed in America! (June 17, 1996). And Wing Found in Arizona Came from an Angel (May 17, 1994). Witnesses say it flew into a helicopter. We read Satans Burial Ground Found in Arizona! (April 14, 1995). And Satans Mummy Found in Mexico! (April 1, 1997).
Some stories concern the geography of the afterlife. One said Religious Task Force Finds Door to Hell! (June 18, 1996). This was a deep channel near Starkweather, N.D.
Some speculations are extraterrestrial. We read Newly Discovered Planet may be Location of Hell! (Feb. 25, 1997). The News even argued that Saturn is Heaven! (March 10, 1998). One proof is that it has a glowing halo.
New Testament discoveries are also prominent. We learned Jesus Was 6-foot, 8-inches Tall! (June 16, 1998). And 7 Ancient Prophecies found in Jesus Tomb! (April 14, 1998). One predicted UFO abductions. We read 2,000-Year-Old Letter from Jesus Found! (March 4, 1997). This is particularly revealing. We now know that Jesus had a twin brother.
Many Christian stories range beyond the Holy Land. We read 200-foot Jesus Appears in Washington! (April 2, 1996). And Wine Cup Jesus Used at Last Supper Discovered in St. Louis Pawnshop! (June 19, 1994). And Jesus is Buried in Japan! (June 23, 1998). This last story claimed that, after his resurrection, Jesus traveled to Shingo, Japan, where he lived out his days as a garlic farmer.
How many Christians know these things?
I could go on and mention secular parallels. Recent discoveries include King Midas body, Draculas skull, and Snow Whites poison apple tree. But Ive made my point. I submit that Christians who want to stay au courant should pick up the Weekly World News. Its there at the supermarket and its always thought-provoking.
Three final headlines should make my case.
These are the kind of stories youll find. Check them out.
Dan McDonald writes from Mobile, Ala.
National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 1998