Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Can we stop picking on Anubis?

It never fails to amaze that the supposedly "firm in their faith" Christians always lose it when they get any competition, even from a god long dead! Case in point, today's letter in The Denver Post from an obvious orthodox believer pitching a fit about a recently erected statue of the Egyptian god Anubis (see photo) outside the Denver International Airport, and associated with the Denver Art Museum's "King Tut Exhibit".

The letter writer complains that Anubis was "akin to the Grim Reaper and is an inappropriate and macabre symbol to be placed outside an airport where living souls prepare for their own journey."

He goes on to add, without a scintilla of hard evidence, that "the public would never approve of the 'Grim Reaper' as a piece of art to welcome both guests and residents to Denver."

But he confuses chalk and cheese, and projects all manner of phantasmagorias that are in no way in synch with Anubis or his charge. This isn't surprising, since most Americans are more au fait with their bibles than say, The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

But according to that book, Anubis or Anpu was the son of Osiris, and thus has come to represent a nature god. Osiris, for those who may not know, was the forerunner of Christ in terms of his suffering, death and resurrection. (And thousands of years earlier!) Indeed, even the ancient Greek writers have preserved their texts concerning this resurrected god- much of the god-man legend due to the reconstruction of Plutarch.

According to Plutarch's recounting, Osiris first made Egypt peaceful then set out to instruct (not convert!) the other nations of the then world. Alas, while he was gone, the Evil One (Set) plotted with 72 other lesson evildoers (or "demons") and Aso, the Queen of Ethiopia, to slay him. This they did by a fell ruse, but Osiris got the best of them when he resurrected with a glorified body.

Now, in certain of the Egyptian inscriptions in The Book of the Dead, the described role of Anubis was to stand guard and protect the dead body of Osiris. In another Judgment scene in the same book, he's depicted as the guard of the balance - the pointer which decides and determines one's afterlife fate.

This, however, is as far from being a "Grim Reaper" (the American cultural caricature of Death seeking out victims to cut down with a scythe) as Pastor Mikey's version of Albert Einstein is from the real person that actually lived.

But leave it to careless folk to misconstrue the interpretation, and for slack newspapers to give it credence by publishing it.

Good thing that some blogs exist to clarify the issues!

No comments: