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An Incredulous Search for the Holy Grail

 article about An Incredulous Search for the Holy Grail




A Holy Grail
That Doesn't Exist!





The mystery of the lost
city of Atlantis

interested my dad. He loved hearing
about such stuff. When asked if it was true, he shrugged his shoulders and
said, "Ah, I don't know. But it's a
great story."






Great story indeed.
Today Atlantis, and other such
mythical places, has taken a back seat to the search for the Holy Grail; the vessel Jesus supposedly used
the night of the Last Supper, or the
vessel housing Jesus' blood, depending on whose version you're reading. This
mystical Grail supposedly has magical powers. Some versions of the myth, such as Richard
Wagner's Parsifal (1882), an opera
loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's medieval poem about Parzival, a 13th Arthurian
knight who searched for the Holy Grail,
accounts for the Grail as the vessel that Joseph of Arimathea used to catch
Jesus' blood while interring him. Although Wagner's Parsifal places the Grail Ė and the lance used to pierce Jesus'
side during the fructification Ė at the
castle of the Grail
in the German forest near Montsalvat, most stories have
Joseph personally taking the Grail to Britain, where he started a line of
guardians to protect it for posterity. Since
Joseph didn't leave any record of what flight he took to Britain, we can
only surmise that he caught an El Al red-eye flight. And, of course, we don't know how it got from
Britain to Germany. All in
all we are the victims of some sloppy reporting!






Although the Indiana
Jones
flicks had already inflamed popular imaginations, or those who are
susceptible to such medieval superstitions, Dan Brown recast the Grail myth in
his novel, The Da Vinci Code. In the
novel
(note: it's only a novel)
Brown insists that the real Grail is not a cup but the earthly remains of Mary
Magdalene (Jesus' wife), plus a set of ancient documents telling the true story
of Jesus, his teachings and descendants. Brown hints that although the Grail
was buried below Rosslyn Chapel, it was recently relocated to a secret chamber
below the Inverted Pyramid in front of the Louvre Museum. The fact that the Louvre has never been a
part of the real Grail myth hasn't sidetracked a gullible public. The Louvre
reportedly has had to rope off the location mentioned by Brown, for fear
visitors would damage the facility.




King's X, as we used to say in our childhood. Let's stop and think about this. First, this Grail was supposedly secreted in a wild and wooly area that wasn't
even part of the civilized Roman world
in the first century. Second, these Arthurian
stories appeared during the middle-ages, some 1100 to 1400 years later, and had
it socked away in a castle in a Germany.
And now Brown has it hidden in Paris! How much sense does that make?




I suspect our search for the truth will have to wait for the next round of Hollywood
installments. Among the earliest and
most notable films, there was the 1922 movie entitled In The Light of Faith, followed by the Paul Newman flick of 1954
entitled The Silver Chalice. Monty Python's debunking of the myth in his 1975
movie, The Holy Grail, should have
extinguished the myth once and for all. But, like a bad penny, it keeps popping
up. The Indiana Jones flicks threw high-octane fuel on the mythology, as
did Babylon
5's
episode, The Grail (1994). It's frightening when even the History Channel,
one of my favorites, airs the Grail story
and leaves the myth's validity up to the viewer. Have we lost our senses?




King's X, again. Fact:
The reported final meeting of Jesus with his disciples was not interpreted as The Last Supper until decades later. Given the existing social conventions at the
time, they would have eaten and drank from ordinary clay utensils just like
everyone else. A silver chalice? Get real, as
they say. The disciples wouldn't have gone out and ordered a jeweled silver
vessel for what was a common, everyday event.
Nor would they have done so for a momentous
event.
Fact: That the meal turned
out to be a final or Last Supper didn't dawn on the disciples
until later. The idea of a silver and
jeweled vessel is a figment of middle-ages
mentality and not based on historical fact.




Fact: When Jesus was executed his disciples, a rag-tag bunch
of illiterates, undoubtedly loved him, but they thought he was going to be a
political leader who would get rid of the Romans and restore Israel to its
former glory. When he was indicted and
executed they all ran off and hid. The
first writings, early Gospels, didn't appear for ten or twenty years after his
death as a Jesus sect began to appear within the Jewish community.




Fact: Finally, for people in the first century a trip to far
off Rome was
about as good as it got. Such trips were
extremely rare. And only a very few made
such trips. A trip down the road five or six miles was a rare event, much less
toddling off to Rome. So, trips to Britain
or Paris? Gimme a break!




Why do we continue to view ancients through the rose-colored
lenses of our own modernity? Its nuts! Fact is, there's no Chalice, silver or
otherwise.



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