There was a young man from Scarborough

Who asked: “Could the bluffs harbour a

Woman for me?”

When from out of a tree

Came a voice crying, “Yoo-hoo, I’m Barbara.”

Jesus had a sense of humor. He once told someone to take the log out of their eye.

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With a great Kirkus review that only booksellers and librarians will see, I have to get it out to the rest of the world. I learned during the fall that I’m a crummy marketer. A woman I hired found hundreds of websites in my target audience range; she (and later another) blogger blogged about my book and video. That cost as many pennies as the mint used to make in a week but generated sales in the disaster range. So I hired a company, Smith Publicity, to do a three week blitz as we approach Easter. Now I’ll find out if the professionals are any better than at it I am.

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Why did the Da Vinci Code go viral?

Abundant evidence from around the world (Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cyprus, India, Iraq, Iran, Kosovo, Macedonia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, etc.) that religion can motivate people to commit violence, mass murder and genocide. Thus books that document unsavory secrets in the church’s past fascinate people. That’s what I have in my book: two conspiracies: 1. to cover up its suppression of the Nazarenes who tried to bring in the kingdom of justice here on earth and 2. to cover up the prominent roles women played in in the early church which would undermine its determination to keep them out of the priesthood now.

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Rave Kirkus Review

Kirkus reviews are notorious so I  was stunned to receive this one (on St. Valentine’s Day): 

An exhaustively meticulous work of biblical exegesis has all the drama and conspiracy of a journalistic exposé. First-time author Goudge doesn’t waste any time announcing his controversial intention to uncover a “2000-year conspiracy of silence” designed to “keep the history of Jesus’ Jewish heirs plunged in darkness.” At the personal level, the conspiracy expresses itself as an “epic struggle” between James, brother of Jesus, and Paul, author of a systematic Christian theology. At a more doctrinal level, according to the author, the ancient tug of war is between Jesus’ fundamentally Judaic mission and Paul’s tortured gentile interpretation. Paul, more apostate than apostle, is the villain of this tale, disfiguring Jesus’ pedagogic intention in such a way that permanently drives a schism between Judaism and so-called Christianity. Along the way, the author unpacks several contentious issues with scholarly curiosity and lively prose. For example, is Jesus really a pacifist? Was he genuinely born in Bethlehem? What is the true account of Jesus’ little-known childhood and questionable parentage? What are the real origins of Christmas and Halloween? Is it correct to consider Paul a true apostle? It’s impossible not to be impressed with the sheer breadth of the author’s erudition and his unrelenting interrogation of often scant evidence. However, his thesis is so wide-ranging, he sometimes makes inferences and extrapolations that go well beyond what the text provides. For example, the explanation for Paul’s perfidy is that he was a “profoundly conflicted individual, given to violence and obsessed with ambition.” Also, since the author’s objectives make it necessary for him to accept some biblical sources as canonical and others as spurious, it would have been helpful for him to articulate a set of general interpretive principles. In fairness to the author, he acknowledges these difficulties, admitting that “we have to be careful of all texts,” that “all authors have a slant” and that the texts as we find them could be corrupt or amended.

A fascinating study for anyone interested in the history of the Christian church and willing to roll up their sleeves for some fastidious scholarly analysis.

Kirkus Reviews

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A Story from a long-lost Nazarene manuscript

THE EPISTLE OF EBENEZER THE SNEEZER TO PETER THE FISH-HUSBAND

Ebenezer, son of Caiaphas, the High Priest (the Big Poop—I used to call him that to bring him down a notch when he’d come home all swelled up from ordering priests and rabbis around all day), to Peter the Apostate.
Thank you for asking if the bane of my life has abated. The answer is no. I still cannot inherit the high priesthood of my father, Caiaphas, since the moment I go near the Holy of Holies, the incense brings on uncontrollable fits of sneezing, so my accursed cousin, Theophilus, sits in my rightful seat, may it give him piles. I have pleaded with G-d on the temple floor until my knees are as knobby as a camel’s. Sometimes I even think unthinkable thoughts about him, may his name be blessed, and then I have to go and sacrifice a cow. I must try to be more loving.
Now as to the subject of your epistle, the apostate (aka apostle) Paul, I can give you all the dirt your heart desires.
I was studying under Gamaliel while you were still casting nets into the sea. I hated the old ratfink, but I was spying for my father who always suspected Gamaliel was a traitor, ready to back any messiah who might try to free Judea from Rome, so I pretended to avidly eat up his words while secretly vomiting them into the pit where they belonged. One day, as we students were following him about like a herd of chickens, an ugly Gentile approached, saying he would become a Jew if Gamaliel could teach him the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot. Gamaliel hiked up his leg and retorted, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That’s the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go learn it.” He dropped his leg like a stork that has just speared a frog and the goy became a Jew. His name was Saul of Tarsus.
I almost blurted out, “So what was the point of studying then?” but I caught myself in time.
Then Saul (aka Paul—crooks always have aliases) asked to study with Gamaliel. Saul was a bandy-legged runt and his eyebrows! G-d forgot to separate them (or rather it)—it was just one long black bush beetling across his brows. So that’s what Satan looks like, I thought.
Didn’t we have enough toads kissing Gamaliel’s ass? Well, no. They were rank amateurs. Beetle-brow out-ass-kissed them all. Being a runt, he hardly even had to bend over.
A year of brown-nosing later, Saul/Paul was Gamaliel’s favorite. He’d studied the Torah till it was coming out of his ears, mouth, throat and ass. He would probably have ejaculated it into his wife if he’d had one. Of course, who would marry a creep with wooly caterpillar eyebrows? Commandments hovered around him like bands of demons. I hoped someone would stab him.
And then he decided I was going to be his friend. I’d have preferred vomit. I repulsed him but he just came back for more.
And then it struck me: he came from Tarsus, the city of abominations, of which he is the chief. Of course, I’m important and I’m handsome. So I started talking about my girlfriend (although I didn’t have one) and he listened to my every word as though I were a great poet, wanted to know more, even asked to meet her. I had to say her father never allowed strange men near her, adding that they didn’t come any stranger than him.
I’d been complaining at home when the Big Poop suddenly turned to me and said,
“This Saul might be of use to us. If there are any messiahs around, Gamaliel is probably secretly in touch with them. So, you to become Saul’s friend and keep your ears open.”
I gagged.
“You heard me, boy. Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your G-d gives you.”
The next few years were hell. I can’t just be nice to people because the Big Poop says so. I insulted Saul every day and he pretended it was a compliment. I said, “My dad wants you over for dinner, G-d knows why,” and he came gladly.
Soon he was always peering about the place with those beetle brows. Then I realized what the scum wanted: my sister. I told my dad but he just shrugged and said, “He won’t get her.”
We could hint until the messiah comes, but not one squeak would he make about Gamaliel’s traitorous bent.
You remember, of course, the trial of Stephen, and how they stoned him for blasphemy while Beetle-brow stood holding their cloaks. Afterwards my dad asked why he didn’t join in the stoning. He claimed that he couldn’t with his arms full of clothes.
So my dad said he wanted Saul to kill Christians to prove he wasn’t a traitor.
“I will but, as my reward, I want your daughter.”
My dad stroked his beard for a moment. “Well, let’s just see how good a job you do and then we’ll see.”
Now the ugly little runt showed his true colors and slaughtered Christians with a will. The dirty scumbag knew exactly where to find them. Each day he’d come to our place for approval. After he left, the Old Poop would say, he must have been in cahoots with them.
So he gave Saul a commission. He was to go to Damascus and bring all the Christians he found back bound to Jerusalem. But the sealed commission actually ordered the governor of Damascus to execute Paul as an enemy of Rome.
So Paul set off with two men we had sent along to report back to us on the successful accomplishment of the mission. With half a day’s journey left, he astonished them by suddenly taking out the commission, breaking the seal and reading the orders.
“So that’s the reward I get!” he yelled and took off like a shot on his horse. Our men didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have the commission and they were afraid to pursue him and kill him on the open road.
And so he arrived at Damascus, and is he ever a wily piece of garbage. He managed to ingratiate himself with the Christians there, G-d knows how, and told them that cock and bull story about a vision of Jesus who told him to stop persecuting him. He could tell all the lies he liked because that was when the Old Poop kicked the bucket. Only I still knew the secret.
So Saul the apostate became Paul the apostle. Jesus didn’t send him. It was my sister.
That’s the truth of the matter and I hope you’re satisfied.
Because of a violent sneezing attack, I spattered snot all over this scroll but since you spent most of your life ripping the guts out of fish, I’m sure you won’t mind.
Your gracious informant,
Ebenezer ben Caiaphas.
[This is based on a story Jesus’ Jewish followers told about Paul. They hated him]

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Lawrence Goudge

Lawrence Goudge

Here I am in prophetic mode

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