Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gnostics and Hot Dogs

So, yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a Wienerschnitzel in Pomona, talking on the phone with Mike Benedetti about the so-called Gospel of Judas and about gnosticism in general. The issue is not that there were a whole bunch of potentially sacred writings out there that the early Church rejected out of convenience or pusillanimity, but that the non-Canonical texts were rejected because they were considered false. The so-called Gospel of Thomas, for example, which is really just a compendium of aphorisms, not a story of the life of Jesus, changes the essential message of the Gospels from one of salvation through love and faith to one of salvation through the possession of secret knowledge. In that light, it's not hard to see why an elitist anti-Christian intellectual like Christopher Hitchens would enjoy gnostic texts. Part of the beauty of Christianity is that it is a message of salvation for the whole world. Its messages can be analyzed by theologians or understood by a small child or a mentally retarded person.

After finishing the conversation, I set down my phone, gobbled up my kraut dog (no mustard), looked up, and saw this image:

It's a sign! Literally! Okay, so it's a banner at an auto shop advertising diagnostics (same Greek root word) and air conditioning. But man, if I were a believer in Gnosticism, that would have been deep.

So, back to the issue of Wienerschnitzel, I wonder how often German or Austrian tourists visiting the U.S. get confused and walk into a Wienerschnitzel restaurant expecting to find breaded veal cutlets for sale. Do Germans eat chili dogs?

Update: Mike Benedetti says that the problem with the Gospel of Thomas is less its elitism and more its stupidity.

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