What’s next for National Geographic?

Having seen this morning’s Jesus Book published by National Geographic, reader “moleatthecounter” provided a nice bit of satire for us, which he introduces with these words:

I am annoyed at the Nat Geo Jesus issue that you have just linked to… Awful, truly awful. I continue to make a study of the historicity of Jesus subject, so this annoys me more than I can say here I admit!  It appears to be entirely a myth from my perspective…

Anyway, the reason I write to you now is to send you this – which I have just knocked together in Photoshop. It makes just as much sense to me as their Jesus cover!



  1. rickflick
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Now there’s a god (and a magazine) I can relate to. 😉

  2. Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Well done!

  3. ploubere
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’d read that! Dionysus was probably more fun than Jesus (except for that water into wine trick).

    • moleatthecounter
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Dionysus ‘invented’ wine… allegedly!

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      According to his myth, however, he traveled from town to town with a retinue of perpetually drunk women and other scum of society and demanded from residents submission and sacrifices that did not replace sacrifices to other gods but were added to them. (You can imagine that, with an ever-expanding pantheon, at one point the poor worshipers feel economically compelled to switch to monotheism.)
      As suits a god, Dionysus crushed any disobedience in a gruesome way. He was particularly merciless to his native Thebes, where most residents considered his mother Semele a slut (with much justification). He made local women crazy and forced the king’s mother and aunts to kill their son/nephew by tearing his body apart.


      • Posted July 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        The native hometowns of the gods were pretty much the last place you’d ever want to live.

        You just gave the example of Dionysus.

        Acrisius, king of Argos, was so terrified of an oracular prophecy that his grandson would succeed him to the throne that he exiled his own daughter, Danae, and her infant son, Perseus.

        After Orpheus returned home from Hades unsuccessful in his attempt to rescue Eurydice, the Thracians of his native land fell on him like a pack of barbarians, cut off his head and threw it, still singing beautifully, into the river.

        At Jesus’s trial, the Sanhedrin shamelessly violated each and every sacred principle they would have been expected to have upheld, and just barely stopped shy of flinging poop in all directions. And the Pharisees who are so despised in the Bible were (and still are) the Rabbinic scholars, ancient analogues to Catholicism’s modern Jesuits.

        I’m sure others could come up with more examples. Some have suggested conspiracy theories whereby Greeks introduced Hellenized deities into local religions, but it seems simpler to suggest that the new religions themselves were in no small part reactionary to the cultures they evolved in. The authors wanted to make some sort of rhetorical point about how nasty the old-n-busted long-standing religions were and so caricatured them.

        …of course, in the case of Christianity, this went a wee bit overboard, resulting in a couple millennia of anti-Semitism….



      • Somer
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Dionysus was a cad.
        His more sedate alter ego, Orpheus didn’t do the drunkenness sex and violent orgy thing. In the Pythagorean Orphic cult Orpheus was an outstanding harp player who was into mysticism, the son of a god who was martyred and rose from the dead as a deity. This cult offered special (sober but spiritually ecstatic) wine rites to partake of the essence of Orpheus. Orpheus was a mythological figure who some regarded as parallel to or even an incarnation of Dionysus. Sounds like a joke? apparently not.
        From Bertrand Russell:

        “The Orphics were an ascetic sect; wine, to them, was only a symbol, as, later, in the Christian sacrament. The intoxication that they sought was that of “enthusiasm,” of union with the god. They believed themselves, in this way, to acquire mystic knowledge not obtainable by ordinary means. This mystical element entered into Greek philosophy with Pythagoras, who was a reformer of Orphism as Orpheus was a reformer of the religion of Dionysus. From Pythagoras Orphic elements entered into the philosophy of Plato, and from Plato into most later philosophy that was in any degree religious.”

        A lot of early Christian catacomb paintings have pictures of Orpheus playing the harp to the animals as analogous to Christ the Good Shepherd. W.K.C. Guthrie,author of Orpheus and Greek Religion, describes his cult as Orphic-Dionysiac mystery thought. Early representations of Christ occasionally had the words “I am the true vine” and a seal cylinder has been found with Orpheus name and crucified figure on a cross. The early Christians were trying to overcome the prejudice against them for worshipping a man who had been killed alongside common criminals. Moreover Guthrie points out lots of other contenders for divine resurrection – Osiris, Adonis, and I think Mithras and even some Indian gods ≈ and of course the details of Christian theology are utterly different but wine, sacrament, and resurrection are there!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      I actually thought it was about Dionysus and was excited to read it. 😀

      • moleatthecounter
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Ah, sorry! The good old Photoshop-Poe’s Law interface at work I guess…

        But good point – It would be more refreshing I think than the usual tedious Jesus tropes!

  4. FloM
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    He invented wine? But isn’t wine the blood of Jesus? I’m confused now…

    • moleatthecounter
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Wine – No wait… it may have been crackers. Forgive me, I do get confused easily….

  5. Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious! But, as a pedant, let me suggest a correction: Semele, Dionysus’ mother, was burnt by the sight not of Dionysus but of his father Zeus. She was in late pregnancy with Dionysus and gave a premature birth in the fire.

    • moleatthecounter
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink


      I’m sure you are correct – But there seems to be many different versions of the story though… almost as if it didn’t really happen!

      Surely not…

      Besides, this is NG – not ‘fact’…


  6. Ken Pidcock
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Excellent take.

  7. Alex
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Semele! Now that is a nice Oratorio!

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      It contains the “national anthem” of new parents: “O sleep, why dost thou leave me?”

      (Seriously, though, it’s gorgeous.

      • moleatthecounter
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Yes! Wonderful, and with John Mark Ainsley… this cannot fail. Thanks.

  8. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, that is National Theo-graphic for you.

  9. Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I thought this would happen with the change in ownership.
    It is a shame when a magazine with such an educational history deteriorates to promotion of non-scientific myths. I find this disheartening. The new owners are trying to the well earned reputation of scientific integrity in the articles printed in NG to give integrity to their unsubstantiated myths.


    • somer
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Blatant money peddling by a once excellent magazine to the religious

  10. Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Jerry asks “what’s next” for NatGeo. Well, it looks like they are going to follow Jesus with genes (face palm):


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