Tuesday, December 2, 2008

WRAPPING UP with Tom Harpur

Many months ago my insurance company called to tell me that my MX5 car must be removed from the road because under previous ownership, the car had plunged into a salt water ditch, was considered a write off but had been repaired by insurance company mechanics as practice and then company personnel had not disclosed this but had returned the car to the road. I was trusting my life to a compromised vehicle.

Tom Harpur asserts that I have been similarly deceived in my faith life. I have been trusting in Jesus Christ as a real and divine person and a true Saviour when in fact he is a myth not unlike the mythological deities of other faith cultures. In fact, worse than that, my faith ancestors, earliest Christians, adapted, no, they stole the myth attributes and stories about a Christ-like figure and claimed them as unique and exclusively Christian and did not disclose this duplicity.

In fact according to Harpur church fathers, church leaders, church scholars and teachers have turned that once inclusive, universal belief system into a ritualistic institution. People make the mistake of taking the Bible literally and this blind faith is killing Christianity he claims. He believes that our only salvation is a return to an inclusive religion where we understand Christ lives within each of us regardless of one’s religious background.

As a youth Harpur envisioned being a missionary. He was born in Scarborough to Irish parents of the Anglican faith. His childhood memories are of street-corner religious discussions and prayer meetings in his home. Harpur idolized 19th century missionaries who followed the trappers by canoe and dogsled, opening mission stations. They lived off the land, spread the word and saved souls. During the summer between his two years of theological studies at Wycliffe College he taught English on a Cree reservation at Big Trout Lake north of James Bay.

He chose however to be a priest in Toronto, became known through a radio phone in show, changed careers to be religion editor for the Toronto Star, and during that time came to this conclusion. "I could no longer believe in only one right and true faith. I could no longer hold that any denomination's view of Christianity was the unique reflection of what Paul calls 'the mind of Christ,' when I'd seen at first hand the havoc each denomination, in its own way, is capable of wreaking in people's lives." Excerpted from his 1983 second book, Heaven and Hell. Twenty years later he serendipitously uncovered long deceased and virtually unknown authorities and on the negligible weight of their writings which he lavishly overstates as "overwhelming and incontestable evidence … beyond rebuttal" he has posited what for whim is a richer, more spiritual faith.

The insurance company offered substantive evidence that their claims about my car were accurate and the company paid me compensation money. Harpur’s proffered verification based on self proclaimed Egyptology experts is insubstantial. And I haven’t seen one thin dime. There is no hope in Tom Harpur’s gospel.

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