Monday, September 26, 2011

September 1

Years ago I thought a two-part movie about religious freedom would be a great idea. The movie would be entitled "The Hammer of God" and the first half would be about Judah Maccabee and the second part would be about Charles Martel. After the release of "The Passion of the Christ" Mel Gibson discussed making a movie about Judah Maccabee based on "My Glorious Brothers" by Howard Fast. Nothing came of Mel Gibson's or my idea. I am not rich or famous and don't really have the means to make the movie-he does. Finally, the movie "300" came out. I saw a hard cover graphic novel of "300" and the making of the movie book. Why I didn't pursue "The Hammer of God was because I wanted to be meticulously historically accurate. However, "300" put style over strict historical accuracy. It also made ancient history cool. Then I thought, "I can do this." So, I have a book and three comics out. I am working on the next comic. I put this on the back burner. Now, something has happened that has inspired me to put it back on the front burner.

Mel Gibson reportedly developing film about Judah Maccabee

Daily News Wire Services

Posted: 09/09/2011 08:33:14 AM PDT

Updated: 09/09/2011 08:47:14 AM PDT


Mel Gibson, who has been defending himself against accusations of anti-Semitism since a drunken tirade at a traffic stop in Malibu in July 2006, was reported today to be developing a film for Warner Bros. about the life of Judah Maccabee, the warrior whose ancient victory is celebrated at Hanukkah. Gibson's Icon Productions has closed the producing deal with Warner Bros., and Joe Eszterhas will write the screenplay, a Los Angeles newspaper reported. Gibson's camp said the filmmaker will decide if he's directing after the script is done and that he has not ruled out the possibility of acting in the film. Maccabee, his four brothers and his father led the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies. The role of his father, the priest Mattathias, might be a logical one for the 55-year-old Gibson if he does opt to appear in the film, the newspaper said. Maccabee is a figure who has fascinated Gibson for years, and at one point he considered this as a follow-up project to "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004, the newspaper reported. Gibson's camp describes the film in terms that resonate with past Gibson projects, such as "Braveheart" or Roland Emmerich's "The Patriot."

Jewish Leaders Slam Mel Gibson, Warner Bros. for Judah Maccabee Movie

By Alex Ben Block, Daniel Miller | The Hollywood Reporter

"Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of 'Judah Maccabee' is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission," says Rabbi Marvin Heir.

Prominent Jewish leaders are beginning to speak out against Mel Gibson and Warner Bros. over their planned movie based on the life of religious icon Judah Maccabee. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League, who criticized Gibson's controversial 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in response to the news. "Judah Maccabee deserves better. He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views," Foxman tells THR of the project, which is being co-developed by Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas. In the lead-up to Passion's release, Foxman could be found on numerous talk and news programs slamming the drama. In a speech to the ADL's national executive committee just before the film's release, Foxman questioned whether Passion could trigger anti-Semitism..Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder and dean of Los Angeles's Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, also is speaking out against the new film. He tells THR that the project is merely the latest slap in the face to Jewish people by Gibson, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.Heir tells THR in a statement:"Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of Christ. I'm talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal. He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. It's simply an insult to Jews." Heir also is criticizing Warner Bros., a unit of publicly-traded Time Warner, for agreeing to distribute the movie. "Warner Bros. is making a terrible mistake," Heir says, adding, "most of the people that are going to come to a film about Judah Maccabee are the Jewish community. Surely they know the Jewish communities are not going to come to this film." Heir says he has no objection to Gibson making a living as an actor or director, but he has not apologized sufficiently for comments deemed anti-Semitic: "Has he shown any sensitivity to Jews after those incidents? Has he gone out of his way to write an editorial to explain himself, to do some outreach and to understand better the implications of the Holocaust or maybe on one of his visits to Europe to stop at a concentration camp and show some sensitivity? Nobody would say a person doesn't deserve another chance. There's no question about that. But he has not shown any of that evidence at all. I am sort of appalled by such a portrayal, because it's a complete misfit for the role of Judah Maccabee, one of the greatest Jewish heroes in all of history to be portrayed by someone who has shown nothing but antagonism and anti Semitism toward Jews." Gibson has not said whether he will play Maccabee, or even whether he will act in the movie. Still, regardless of his opposition to the project, Foxman says, "America is a free country and anyone can do whatever they want, so long as they don't hurt others."

Mel Gibson linked to film about historic Jewish warrior, angering Jewish leaders

Fox News September 9, 2011

Mel Gibson has reportedly teamed up with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" fame to tell the story of the historic Jewish warrior, Judah Maccabee, who led the way to the first celebration of Hanukkah. Wait, what? Is this the same Mel Gibson who went on a drunken anti-Semitic tirade after his 2006 arrest in Malibu, CA? The same Mel Gibson who reportedly ranted, ""F*****g Jews…The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" to a Los Angeles County Sherrif's Deputy? Why, yes it is! According to, Gibson "has long wanted to make" the film, saying that the beleaguered actor and director is "determined" to get back to making movies. While it's entirely possible that teaming up with Eszterhas to make a film about a Jewish hero reflects Gibson's sincere desire to create an historical drama, some Jewish community leaders are not very pleased. "Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews," Rabbi Marvin Heir said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King, Jr. It's simply an insult to Jews." Heir, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, also had a warning for the film's distributor. "Warner Bros. is making a terrible mistake," he said. "Most of the people that are going to come to a film about Judah Maccabee are the Jewish community. Surely they know the Jewish communities are not going to come to this film." The director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, concurs. "Judah Maccabee deserves better," Foxman said. "He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views."

Read more:

So, what is my opinion about this? Mel Gibson needs to make this movie! The story is to important not to! No amount of apologies that Mel Gibson makes will make these people happy. So, he needs to ignore them and go on with his life.

In all of this a very amusing story broke. Mel Gibson discussed his intention of making a film on the Maccabees while "The Passion of the Christ" was still in theatres. I thought he abandoned his idea. Eventually, I put together my re-telling of the Hanukkah story which is entitled "The Hammer of God." (I had the idea years ago. I thought Mel Gibson would tell the story for me. Then the movie "300" came out and I decided there was an audience for my retelling of the story. Anyway, years ago, Jeffrey Goldberg, a journalist, was having dinner with the rabid maniac atheist named Christopher Hitchens. Hitchen's hates Judah Maccabee because he felt that if it wasn't for Judah Maccabee, the Greeks would have been able to make the world a better place by wiping out Judaism and the Holy Bible and would have been able to prevent the emergence of Jesus Christ and the rise of Christianity. Goldberg told Mr. Hitchens about Gibson's plan to make a movie about Hanukkah. Hitchens gave Goldberg an order in no uncertain terms. Goldberg was to immediately go to Los Angeles. "You…must…stop…him!", ordered Hitchens. Goldberg went to LA and interviewed Mel Gibson. Goldberg has no interest in stopping Gibson from making the movie and Mr. Goldberg plans to write a book on Judah Maccabee. In response to Hitchens thesis, Gibson correctly says, "I can see where Hitchens is coming from, but he's pretty puny in his thoughts, because he left out one vital ingredient and that it God can do what he damn well pleases! No matter what the Greeks did!" That is right on! Goldberg had a very interesting and humorous conversation-and vulgar-so you have to look it up for yourself! Mr. Goldberg put a very interesting conclusion to his article. He said, "I see that various Jewish organizations are rallying their forces against Warner Bros. and Mel Gibson [over the announcement of the making of the Hanukkah movie]. Their goal is to get this movie stopped. But what they will do instead is give Gibson yards of free publicity. We've seen this before, with the Passion of the Christ. PWIW: I don't care if he makes this movie or not. He's not actually important. It's better for these Jewish organizations to spend their time focused on Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are things I worry about. I don't worry about Mel Gibson."

Palestinian Christians Engage American Evangelical Community

Bethlehem Bible College presents "Christ at the Checkpoint: Hope in the Midst of Conflict." This is a conference on the issues Palestinian Christians face. See The conference will be held March 5-9, 2012.

Recommended Resources

"The Story of Christianity: An Illustrated History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith" by David Bentley Hart. This good book includes the historical contributions of the Assyrian Church of the East and other Eastern Churches. He also has a rebuttal of the myth of the Christian burning of the Library of Alexandria (it never happened).

"Ox, House, Stick: the History of Our Alphabet" by Don Robb. The book is written in a Children's Book format by it is scholarly. It traces the origins of the alphabet to Semitic slaves in Egypt who derived them from Egyptian Hieroglyphs. The Aramaic, Hebrew, Egyptian and even the English (Latin) alphabet all have the same origins. The Hebrew script the Bible was originally written in looked more like Greek than the modern "Square Hebrew" alphabet. The Modern "Hebrew" alphabet is actually the Aramaic alphabet that was adopted by the Jews. This alphabet continued to evolve and is still used by Assyrian Christians.

"The Basics of Biblical Aramaic" by Miles V. Van Pelt. This looks like a good book. Interestingly, it never states that Aramaic was the language of Jesus. It only focuses on the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament. Perhaps Mr. Van Pelt wanted to avoid the "Jesus spoke only Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic" debate. It is an established historical fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic.

Fakes, Frauds and Phonies

Recently, a lead codex was found purporting to be books from the original Jewish Christian community. Soon thereafter, certain sources (such as the Aramaic Blog) rose up some very valid questions concerning their authenticity. A few years ago, someone claimed to have discovered "The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church." He subsequently copyrighted the design-which I found odd. I have some reservations concerning the authenticity of this "seal."

The symbol does remove the cross-on how it is usually displayed. It is interesting that the inscription above does contain a cross and an Aramaic inscription that says "for the oil-of the spirit." The basic problem with this "seal" and the reason that it is suspect is that there is no evidence that the "star of David" was a Jewish symbol at this time (the first century). There was an interesting article in a recent edition of Biblical Archeology Review that showed the use of the "star of David" as a pagan symbol. Jews adopted it during the Middle Ages. Perhaps this inscription is real. The other thing that makes me suspicious is that it has received no attention from reputable scholars-this is a sign that they have dismissed it as a forgery.

If it is fake-it is so darn annoying! Why do people do it? People are still reading the obvious forgery entitled "The Archo Volume." The man forged it because he felt that there wasn't enough evidence for Jesus outside of Scripture-so he falsified some. This was a hundred years ago. We have made many important discoveries since then an only a few radicals doubt Jesus existed as a historical personage now. There are always people faking "evidence" for bigfoot and UFOs. Bigfoot is a myth. There are some unexplained incidents that have occurred that are described as "UFOs" but there is also a large amount of fraud. And now it is so easy to create special effects and photo shopping-it pays to be highly skeptical.

Machine Gun Preacher

There is a new movie coming out about a preacher who goes to Sudan to help the Sudanese Christians against the North Sudanese Muslims. I think this is great! People need to know what is going on over there. The movie start Gary Butler, a very successful actor.

I have said many times before-we are in a culture war and the way to fight and win a culture war is through culture-i.e. the arts! We are started to get better Christian movies out now. The left has been waging this culture war against Christians for decades. This is thoroughly documented in a recent excellent book by Ben Sharpiro entitled "Prime Time Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story about how the Radical Left took over your TV."



The Silk Road

I have been thinking about research expeditions. I have recently received an invitation to go on a research expedition along the Silk Road.




(JULY 8-AUGUST 7/2012)

This trip is a study tour tracing the footsteps of the great missionaries of the Assyrian Church of the East on the Silk Road and visiting former centers and landmarks of the Church of the East.

The month-long tour is organised by Canada's Professor Charles Nienkirchen and will commence in Shanghai and go through various parts of Central Asia finishing in Beijing.

The moniker 'the Silk Road' (die Silkenstrasse) which originated with the German geographer and explorer, Ferdinand von Richtofen in 1877, alludes to a near 8000-kilometre-long trade route that connected China and the Mediterranean world in antiquity. The widespread usage of the term since that time has infused the vast, wild and harshly beautiful lands of Central Asia with an evocative allure to those who crave travel in lonely, out of the way places. The romance of the Silk Road, however, predates by centuries, the coining of the name. It is evocatively evident in the accounts of medieval travelers like the famed Marco Polo who recorded their exotic adventures enroute from Baghdad to China. The perilous difficulties encountered in the course of their travels served to enhance the romantic attraction. In very recent times, the celebrated travel writer, Colin Thubron, ignites wanderlust in his readers with the suggestion that 'to follow the Silk Road is to follow a ghost….through the heart of Asia [which] has officially vanished, leaving behind it the pattern of its restlessness: counterfeit borders [and] unmapped peoples.'In truth, however, to speak of the 'Silk Road' fosters a couple of large, commonly held, misconceptions. First, there were more than one route connecting east and west in the ancient world. 'The Road' was in actual fact an arterial network of routes from Central Asia to Europe and India which spanned over 12,000 kilometres and developed over three millennia. Commercial goods were actually transported by a series of agents before arriving at their intended destinations. Second, while silk was indeed one of the prized commodities coveted from the Far East by Roman women, the intrepid camel caravans which traversed inhospitable, life threatening, landscapes for the sake of making profit carried more than silk. Their precious cargo included spices, gems, gold, garments, perfumes, furniture and much else. In a broader sense, beyond the economic importance of merchandising, the 'Silk Road' was a metaphor for east-west cultural interchange on a scale unprecedented in world history. The sands of the frightening, Taklimakan Desert which was easier to enter than to exit have yielded long preserved, micro symbols of the civilizational crosspollination which occurred in the form of coinage from the Han dynasty period bearing images of the Greek gods, Zeus and Hermes. Philosophical ideas, religious ideologies and patterns of social behaviour flowed along the same routes as commercial goods bound for distant lands. The exchange of religious beliefs and practices was conceivably the most enduring legacy of the Silk Road. It became a mobile venue for interfaith dialogue and conflict among the adherents of Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeism, Zorastrianism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Business minded merchants and missionizing monks who were travel companions, stopped at oasis towns along the way such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Bactra and Kashgar bearing sacred Scriptures and perhaps winning converts. One can imagine the crosscultural and interfaith conversations which occurred during moments of relaxation when the energies of humans and camels were being replenished in caravanserais. The extent and success of the evangelizing activity of the Church of the East along the Silk Road which reached China by the 7th century is a much undertold and sadly underappreciated story in the Christian West. The 'highway of commerce' did double service as a 'way of pilgrimage.' It made possible what Dale Irvin and Scott Sunquist have claimed in their History of the World Christian Movement.
(2001) to be 'the first sustained encounter between Christian faith and Chinese culture.' The story of Christianity's spread through Central Asia to China is meticulously documented and beautifully photographed in Christoph Baumer's volume, The Church of the East. An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity. (2006). According to Silk Road scholar, Frances Wood, a preponderance of maps depict the Silk Road as commencing in Xi'an in China and then running westward through Lanzhou, following the westernmost branch of the Great Wall to Dunhuang where it split into a northern and southern route. The former, though longer, was less arduous than the latter. Both, however, were equally dependent for survivability on oasis settlements in the shadow of encircling mountain ranges. In the West, the Silk Road(s) concluded in Damascus, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome.On this epic, breathtaking, Down Ancient Paths odyssey we'll undertake the challenges (modest by ancient standards) of travelling the Silk Road through the enchanted world of lost civilizations and a legendary Christian empire ruled by a mysterious 'Prester John' figure whom western Christendom believed would come to its aid in its enervating struggle with Islam. A spectacular digression from our Silk Road itinerary will take us into Tibet, 'the roof of the world', which never participated in Silk Road trade but was the mountainous stronghold of hostile warriors who regularly raided the caravans and cities of the Silk Road, managing even to conquer Xi'an, the Chinese capital itself, in the 8th century CE. Tibet then, was not the domicile of pacifistic Buddhists it is today.

I would love to go on this research expedition. I feel that I can write a book as well as Mr. Baumer-I have done as much research as he did-and have been to many of the places he has gone. The Silk Road-wow-but, really, I can't afford to go, it is to expensive. But it would be a great trip!

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