About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Playing the Trump Card


At this point, I have to say, Donald Trump is running the most brilliant, if the most cynical campaign of the 2016 election season.  While it would be utter disaster for this man to be elected, I think that pundits who are dismissing him are sacrificing themselves at the altar of conventional wisdom. 

This man actually stands a chance a good chance to be nominated, and possibly even elected.  I'd like to examine the reasons that could come to pass.

First, we need to go back to 2012.  While Mitt Romney was "inevitable," the GOP base kept trying to find ANYONE but Mitt.  They tried a succession of frontrunners, each who surged past Romney in a comet-like blaze of glory.  This shows a deep dissatisfaction in the base for the establishment candidate: the guy "who's turn it is."  The stream of candidates who briefly flared showed an angry and tempestuous base. 

But the problem in 2012, was that the supernova candidates didn't resonate past a certain area.  Gingrich was popular in the South, but not so much outside of there.  Santorum inspired the Religious Right, but scared more secular voters.  Ron Paul fired up the Libertarians, but terrified the Neo-Cons who pull the strings in the party. 

So basically, each alternate candidate couldn't sustain a real challenge to Romney, because they'd win a couple, then lose when they were outside of their stronghold.  Then the base who was desperate for a change would flee to another candidate, only to have the pattern repeat.

So, at the start of the season, there is a large group of angry voters who hate the GOP Establishment almost as much as they hate the Democrats, and who will not tolerate the anointed one, who is probably Jeb Bush, getting the nomination.

Into this scene enters Trump, stage center, to take control of everything.  He is the perfect combination of narcissism,  megalomania, psychopathy, and wealth to fill a void in the unhappy Republican soul.

Now to look at the perfect storm of things that make him a viable candidate.

First, and this is the most brilliant point in his actual campaign, he is spewing Fox talking points.  He only says what regular viewers of Fox, listeners to Rush Limbaugh, and readers of the Drudge Report want to hear.  He is being unabashedly racist and sexist.  He is articulating all the things they want to hear, and given his wealth and position, he has no care about the ramifications.

Conventional wisdom would say this is exactly the wrong strategy, that you need to code your politically incorrect views in language that is not overt.  However, in this, I think conventional wisdom is wrong.  Every racist or misogynistic statement out of Trumps mouth seems to add to his lead, not reduce it. 

The reason that I think this is occurring is that people view this as brave and principled.  While that may seem strange to many, having lived in the South, I can hear people say, this man says openly what we are all thinking.  In a Right Wing World, sick and tired of Political Correctness, this is a welcome image of someone finally standing up against the tyranny of Liberal Oppression.  Finally, they have a candidate who will say the vile racist things they want to say themselves.  (And honestly, I actually appreciate this myself, because it is easier to show and talk about the inherent racism and sexism of the Right, when its on open display; you can't cover this up when it is on display in the frontrunner)

But even further, every single thing that comes out of his mouth is an echo AND answer to the things that the Right hears on their media. America apologizes for being who we are, so we'll make America Great.  Mexicans are evil, so we stop them from coming to this country.  And so on, and so on.  Every talking point is framed in the exact language that articulates the rage on the right.

Never mind that there are no actual solutions in his speeches, he says what they want to hear, just like every demagogue in the past.  And the worst thing is, just like those orators in the past, people are flocking to his banner.

And this also leads to a more widespread appeal.  Since he will say literally anything his audience wants to hear, he can move beyond the limitations that crippled Santorum and Ron Paul.  Every speech is market researched, focus group tested and field approved.  This makes him the perfect firebrand to inspire people.

Further, when he spouts some batshit crazy thing, he doesn't apologize or back down, he doubles down on it, sucking all of the oxygen out of the criticism.  When someone apologizes, or uses the modern equivalent of the non-apology, "if anyone was offended" then the conversation shifts to "today, X issues another statement disavowing Y" which paints the person as at minimum, wishy washy, at worst completely fake.

And I want to point out that I am stunned by the irony of the most fake candidate in American history being viewed as authentic by refusing to walk back his insanity.

Which leads to the next point about Trump's success, he perfectly fits the zeitgeist of America.  We are so inured to crazy behavior because of reality television, that we have normalized out of control antics.  Worse, we are beginning to like them.  We love Hoarders, Bar Rescue, and the entire Real Housewives franchise because of the crazy people yelling at each other, putting our national sociopathy on full display.

Thanks to our TV, we now equate belligerence, anger and disrespect with real leadership.  The way Trump dominated the stage at the debates wasn't viewed as him being a narcissistic asshole, it came across as a real leader who dominated the competition.  People all over America envisioned him talking like that to Putin or the Iranian leaders, and got a hard-on by proxy.  While he can't ACTUALLY do that sort of thing in a diplomatic situation, he fulfilled the fantasies of old white men all over the country.

And following from this, he has now managed to turn even Fox News against him.  This isn't the liability it seems like, and in fact, is probably an asset.  This means that the entire "Republican Establishment" is arrayed against him.  As crazy as this may sound, many of the people on the Right view Fox as middle of the road, and I have had a couple of people tell me that they are still "slightly liberally biased, just not as bad as the rest of the media."  Given that many people on the Right are disillusioned with the Republican brand and the establishment, this will likely be an asset to Trump.

He can run as the guy the Republicans want to silence, because he speaks the truth.  He can spin this in the same way that many on the Left do, that both parties are essentially the same, and he won't hold to the party orthodoxy.  (And this is the same reason that Bernie Sanders has the same appeal on the Left) 

By running as the guy who the party wants to get rid of, he can mix in victimhood into his run.  This plays well for people who view "Happy Holidays" as a personal attack, and who claim that Christians are the only people in this country who it is OK to discriminate against.  It adds a component of, "I'm just like you" into the mix.

Then there is the other issue of him being a business man.  This serves his campaign in two ways.  First, he is wealthy enough to be able to say in the race through self funding.  He doesn't need a billionaire patron, he is his own funder.  This means that the establishment can't pull the plug by withholding funding.  He literally doesn't care.

And then the other part of this, as a businessman, he is not used to being told no, and is very used to being able to buy what ever he wants.  He had decided that he wants the presidency, and he will do whatever it takes to purchase it.  The opening bid of his negation was on full display at the debate.  When he refused to rule out an independent run, he wasn't being petulant, he was laying his bid on the table.

Basically he told the Party, either nominate me, or I'll ruin you.  He knows full well that a third party bid would devastate the chances of the Republicans winning the election.  It's very simple, as a businessman, he knows that he has to negotiate from a position of strength.  It made it clear that if the Republicans want to stand a chance in 2016, he'd better be their nominee.  (Now it this does presuppose that he will continue to have his current strength) 

Still as a man used to winning and getting whatever he wants, he will be utterly ruthless in a way that the Party is likely not prepared to handle.  Political negotiations typically are we each get a bit of what we want.  Business negotiations tend to be much more one sided, especially with someone like Trump,. who won't be afraid to execute his hostages.

Finally, there is an additional strength that Trump possesses that might contribute to his victory, and this time in a general election.  It's called the "Boris Johnson Effect."  For decades, London had a highly competent, if very boring mayor.  Boris Johnson ran against him, on more or less the same antics that Trump is using.   For his behavior, he was widely viewed as a buffoon.

And yet Johnson won.  He's the mayor of London.

The main reason he won was no one believed he had the remotest chance, so they voted for him as a joke.  It would be a funny story to tell in the breakroom or by the water cooler.  But the joke was, enough people cast the ironic vote to elect the guy mayor.

And given the cynical nature of the American Hipster, I could see this repeat here.  The "haha, I voted for Trump, isn't that funny?" can easily become, "OH. MY. GOD.  WHY DID I VOTE FOR TRUMP."

And has been pointed out elsewhere, we will have about two months to prepare for Armageddon.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Don't Paint the World With That Brush


So, as I often do, I have a question, brought about by the rush to accusation in this country.

After the Chattanooga shooting, I saw a number of posts saying that ALL Muslims need to be locked up to keep us safe, because they are inherently evil and un-American.   The hate leveled at the Muslim community ranged from mass deportations, automatic revocation of American Citizenship for any Muslim to, in the most horrifying case, a person who said that Hitler had the right idea, just the wrong religion to run through the gas chambers.

Any by the way, I do want to point out, that has now set a new high (or low) bar for the use of Godwin's Law.

Another example, today, I saw a post that had a guy in a medieval Knights Templar outfit standing "guard" outside a recruiting office, to "scare off the Muslims."  I guess because, obviously a war that occurred almost a thousand years ago, still should strike terror in the hearts of Muslims.  Also, as a point in fact, the Christians lost that war.  Constantinople became Istanbul, Rhodes fell, and the Keys to Holy Sepulcher are still held by a Muslim family.  (Although this last one is actually a funny story for another day.)  

Now the question, if we need to lock up all Muslims in this country, why are we not saying the same thing about the Tea Party and other Right Wing groups? We've had 2 mass shootings in the last month or so from those terrorists, and only one from a ,Muslim Terrorist.  Doesn't that mean that Right Wing Terrorists are twice as dangerous as Muslim Terrorists?

Although the worst act of terror in this country came from Islamic Terrorists, let us never forget the second worst, Oklahoma City, came from a Right Wing anti-government terrorist.   We call Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood Shooter, a terrorist even though he was an active duty officer in the US military.  In fact, the Wikipedia page calls it the worst terrorist attack to ever take place on a domestic military base.

Let's contrast that with the Charleston shooting.   Dylan Roof was a self avowed Neo-Nazi, who literally confessed that he staged the attack to start a race war.  The Wiki page on the attack asks whether it was a hate crime or a terrorist attack and concludes that it was a hate crime.

And here, I have to ask, WTF?

Starting a race war, ie killing all non-whites, is simply a hate crime?  It is a terrorist attack, and also an act of sedition.  Any action intended to start a Civil War, is, by definition, an act of Sedition. 

I'm going to digress for a minute.  Why is one event a crime, and the other is a terrorist attack?  I have to be honest and state, one was done by a white guy, and the other by a "non-white Muslim"  (And yes, I know, most Muslims are actually Caucasian by the anthropological definition, but try explaining that to most Americans.  This is a country where the Irish used to be classified as a "non-white" race.)    I can't deny racism and religious bigotry play into how we are classifying the two attacks, and I'm not even going to try.  That is far beyond the scope of this post.

To return to the point, the Department of Homeland Security has said in the intelligence assessment of February 20, 2015, that Right Wing Terror Groups are the single biggest security threat that we face on American Soil.  (Other organizations are very dangerous abroad, but not inside this country.)  In fact they estimate 24 attacks by "sovereign citizen groups" since 2010.  And we can add at least 2 more shooting rampages in just the last month, plus the 8 Black Churches that have been burnt, bringing the total number of attacks to 34 in less than five years.  If you do the math, that averages to 7 Right Wing Terrorist Attacks in this country per year in the last five years.

For comparison, there have been 15 attacks by Muslim Terrorists in this country in the same period.  And, to cite sources, that number comes from an Anti-Muslim group that wants all Muslims removed from the country, so that number is not going to be purged in any way.

This means that just like in the last month, historically, over the last 5 years, there have been TWICE as many terrorist attacks from Right Wingers in this country as there have from Muslims.  I think it is apparent which group is actually more likely to go on a rampage.

So again, I ask the question, "Where are all the calls to lock up all Right Wingers, especially those that espouse Neo-Nazi, anti-government, or sovereign citizen beliefs?"  Obviously, those groups are even more dangerous than the Muslims.

But that is, simply put, complete idiocy.

We can't paint with a broad brush.  You will never get safety by arbitrarily locking up large segments of the population.  Let's stop the rhetoric here.  Imprisoning large groups of people on the possibility that they MIGHT commit a crime is not only going to do nothing to make us safer, it is a complete rape of the Constitution.  The Constitution states unequivocally that you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  This is a freedom that is guaranteed under the bill of rights, along with the right to face your accuser, the right to a trial and all of the other freedoms that our Founding Fathers established to protect the minority from the Tyranny of the Majority.    We haven't always been really good at protecting these rights, but anyone who loves the Constitution should always strive to become better and hold to it's principles more strongly.  

Further, the actions of someone with the same beliefs you have do not, under any circumstances, establish YOUR guilt.  Guilt by association is not a legal precedent.  Also, it is one of the great fallacies that completely undermine a debate position.   I know a number of people who hold extremely conservative beliefs, and they are no more a threat to this country than the Muslim friends I have. 

And as a point of historical fact, the last times we got this hysterical about specific groups in this country, we ended up with the McCarthy hearings of the 50's and the Japanese Internment of World War Two.  It has taken decades, but we have finally realized that both of those were atrocious behavior on the part of the Government.   We have paid reparations, to the victims of both, but how can you mend lives shattered? 

So my point is, stop the rhetoric.  Accept that there will always be a fringe element in all groups that will do horrifying things.  Try to stop them through honest police work, but don't eviscerate every single thing that generations of brave men and women fought and died to protect, just because you are afraid.

Fear isn't worth losing your soul over.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mad As Hell


I am getting sick of the bullshit lately on Facebook.  I literally can't open it anymore without seeing some attack on Liberals, claiming we are un-American.  Traitors. Evil.  Post after post about how Liberals are offended by the American Flag, offended by expecting people to work, and offended by Christianity.  How we hate everything "American."

And to this I have to say: shut the fuck up.

I love my country.  Every Liberal I know loves their country.  We can be disappointed in it, want it to be better than it is, and be pissed off at the things it does, and still love it.   Stop beating us with the traitor stick just because we don't agree with you.  (And also, stop waving in our faces that the Democrats were behind the Civil War.  Of course they were, we know that, but we also know that the two parties have changed significantly since Lincoln.)

Let me give you a brief of my family history.  My family has been here since the 1650's.  I have ancestors who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.  My family has fought in EVERY war America has been involved in, and has since before the United States was the United States.  They have pioneered the West, and built cities in the East.

I had an uncle who was immortalized in the Band of Brothers; he was the soldier who got shot in the ass.  My Grandfather sacrificed his lungs and his health working in the shipyards during World War II.  My father served in the A Shau valley, where he earned a Bronze Star.  And he wasn't drafted, he signed up willingly as an enlisted man, and then went to college to reenlist as on officer.   Then, working for the Department of Defense after retiring from a 20 year military career, he was the arms negotiator for the Camp David Accords.

On the Civilian front, My great Aunt Winifred was one of the first Doctors to research a cure for Polio, funded personally by Franklin Roosevelt.  My Great Uncle was the Vice President of Caterpillar Tractors.    My mother served as a deputy Press Secretary for two Governors, a US Senator and a two US Representatives. 

And all of them, EVERY SINGLE ONE, as far back as we go in this country, was a Liberal. 

So, I have to say, I'm sick of it.  Sick of being accused of being a traitor, just because I believe in the Social Compact, Equality and Justice, because I am sick to death of war, because I don't believe that apologizing for atrocities committed by the government equals hatred for my country, because my heart is torn apart every time I see a black man executed without trial by an out of control police officer.

But apparently, these views and beliefs are no longer acceptable thoughts for a true American.

So I'll tell you what is not acceptable, the Confederate Flag.  It is a flag of treason.  It is a symbol of hate, and in my opinion, ANYONE who proudly flies it is a traitor to
America.  It's simple.  It is a symbol of taking up arms against the lawful government of this country, and of disdain for the US Constitution.

But even more, what is not acceptable is the fetishization of rebellion and revolution.

If you hate an America that allows people like me to be citizens of this country, please have your revolution, build camps and execute us all.  We had a chance in this country to finally start to move the dialog forward on the inherent racism of the Confederate flag, and of the systemic discrimination that still plagues our country.  We had a chance to come together as one nation and say, enough, no more.  We had a chance to finally start healing the festering wound that has refused to heal for a hundred and fifty years.

But what do we get?  The nincompoops on Fox not-news claiming the Charleston Terrorist Attack is not racially motivated, but is better understood as an anti-Christian Crime, perpetrated by a person who hates America.  Yes he hates America, in that he hates seeing a Black Man walk down the street unbound and unshackled.  We get a massive condemnation of any company that exercises their right to refuse to sell anything related to the Civil War.  We get outrage that the left dares to be outraged by racism, discrimination and symbols of hate.

I see the Right in this country shred both the constitution and every single human dignity, while claiming to be the only TRUE Americans.  I see the Fundamentalists eviscerate the message of Jesus, all the while claiming that "GOD HATES FAGS."  I see the Neo-Confederate traitors call for revolution, all the while screaming "I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK."

So I will put it out there.  If you don't think that I am a good American, if you think I am damned to hell because of what I believe, if you think this world would be better off if I was dead, then FUCKING DO IT.

Quit your whining, and pull the GODDAMN trigger.  Round us up and stick us in those camps that you claim are being built to execute YOU.  Have your Kristallnacht and your Reichstag Fire to paint us as the enemy, and lock us into Ghettoes to prevent us from committing race treason.  And then live with what you have done.  Own it, revel in it.  You will get to write the history to paint yourselves as the saviors of America, and since we will all be dead, we won't be able to contradict you.

OR, SHUT THE FUCK UP, and admit that even though we disagree, we can agree to do so, and still respect each other.  Work with us to heal the wounds that have now bled for a century and a half.  Admit that we care as passionate as you do about this nation, and join with us to make the country better and stronger.  Meet us halfway, and we will do the same.

The country stands at a precipice like none since the Civil War, and just like then, our side cannot stop what is coming.  No matter how hard we might try to change the course of the ship,  there's still a madman at the wheel trying to crash into the iceberg.

And if we do so, the whole ship will sink, not just the liberal half.  

The choice is in your hands.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Actual Facts Don't Matter


So today is Easter, and as such we are subjected to an onslaught of news stories from two camps.  The first group starts out with the headline "10 Facts that Prove Jesus Never Existed."  The second group's headlines claim "Evidence of Jesus' Life Found."

Both sets of headlines are complete bullshit.  Further, both sides completely miss the point.

However, before I address that story, I need to address the issue of mythologization and how it relates to the Jesus Myth.  I also want to point out here the actual meaning of "Myth," which means a story that reveals a Truth, regardless of whether it is actually factual.   In no way am I insulting Christianity by claiming it to be a mythology.  ALL religions are mythologies because they reveal Truth, and define the method by which Man is connected to Man, Man to Himself, and Man to God.

Basically the process of Mythologization, when it relates to an actual person goes through several stages: heroism, villianization, propaganda tool, legend and  finally myth.  (If you want a more complete description of these stages, please read my blog post "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars.")  I will briefly outline it here before proceeding.  Great and important people start out as heroes, then typically at some point, often during their lives, but also sometimes after their death.  This is an attempt to kill their message.  This villianization often leads them to then become a propaganda tool, either in a positive or a negative manner.

This propaganda begins to detach the real person from their message and their ideology.  It can be used negatively to become a symbol of despite, or it can be used positively, as a paradigm to illustrate.  In either case, the person's actual message gets twisted to fit a very specific end.

After propaganda comes legend, when the actual person is subsumed by the propaganda.  The individual is no longer even able to be separated from the story.  Further, their name becomes a metaphor for an entire concept.  Think of what the name Robin Hood evokes; it creates very specific concept for anyone who knows the legend..  At this stage, we know a story about the person, but we have very few facts.

The final stage is mythologization, where the person becomes symbolic of not just an idea, but an entire ideology.  At this stage, all facts are lost, not because they are forgotten, but because they are no longer important.  Hence the fact that the Gospels all tell a different story about the life of Jesus.  It does not matter that they can't be reconciled, because the facts are utterly unimportant.  What has become the prime mover is the concepts and the ideas that found the myth.

Which now brings me to the point of this post.  The actual fact of Jesus does not matter. 

I know this sounds radical, and probably offensive to many people, but let me explain.  Faith is either obliterated or strengthened by fact, but not in the way that people expect.  In fact, proof that Jesus never lived will do nothing but strengthen the faith of Christians.  Similarly, proof that Jesus lived will kill the religion, because of the actual nature of faith.

So first, let's look at the "Jesus Was Not Real" side.  Many people on the atheist side believe very strongly that they can kill Christianity by proving that there was no actual Jesus, and he was created out of whole cloth by a bunch of first century writers.  Their point is, "if it can be proven that Christianity is founded on a falsehood, essentially a 2000 year old lie, that it will rapidly fall apart.

Before I address why this view is incorrect, I will grant that they have a number of strong facts in their favor.  There is no actual historic record of Jesus in the way that we have of Muhammad.  You would think for all of his revolutionary preaching, he would have been at least mentioned in Roman records, or possibly in Greek or Egyptian accounts of the region.  Even if he isn't named, it stands to reason that such a charismatic person would have drawn the attention of someone outside of Judea.

Add to this all of the contradictions found in the Bible, and the fact that, when you read the Gospels and Paul chronologically, the story of the Life of Jesus becomes increasingly elaborate and fantastic.  And just to state, the actual order chronologically is: all of Paul, in the 50's; Mark, in the 60's; Matthew, in the 70's; Luke, no earlier than the 80's and possibly as late as 110; and John, written between 90's and 150.  The conflicts and contradictions show that much of the Bible was written legend and story, not first hand accounts.

However, in the interest of fairness, there are some rebuttals to these points.  First, it was not a mass media world, and very few people wrote anything.  What was written and preserved was generally the most important things.  A rebellious leader of a small sect in an very troublesome province of the Empire probably wouldn't warrant a lot of accounts.  For all we know, the Governor of Judea sent weekly reports to the Emperor that have been lost to time.  The Romans would not have had any reverence for Jesus, and would not have seen any reason to preserve any missives about him.

Also, the conflicts in the Books of the Bible are also not any sort of proof, as almost all serious Biblical Scholars recognize this, and do not feel that there is any sort of a problem with the facts not aligning.  They understand that the New Testament was written many years after Jesus, by a number of different authors, and for very different political and religious purposes.

For example, Matthew was written for a congregation mixed between Jews and Gentiles, and therefore Matthew 20:9 "And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour they received every man a denarius..." refers to the dissention of how could people who were not Jewish and came to Jesus late should receive the same heavenly reward.

Now to return to the point, that if the atheists can prove there was no Jesus, it will kill the religion, and by extension, destroy the idea of religiosity.  This actually is not how the brain works.  First of all, neuroscientists are discovering that faith and belief is hardwired into the human brain.  In other words, even if by some chance we destroyed Christianity, another faith would spring up to take its place. 

But beyond that, there is another quirk in the human psyche.  If you attack a person's deeply held belief, you don't kill it, you actually make it stronger.  It is essentially a human reflex, and the more the belief is attacked, the more intransigent it becomes. 

An interesting aside to this is a study done a number of years ago with medical students.  The devoutly religious students counted different numbers of ribs for men and women, and no matter how many times it was tried to prove to them that there is actually no difference, they could not count the same number of ribs on male and female skeletons.  The more the researchers pushed, the more angry and distraught the religious students became.

So, in the end, the more that people try to disprove the existence of a historical Jesus, the stronger the belief in Him becomes for the Faithful.

This leads to the other situation where Biblical Archeologists work very hard to prove the actual existence of the "real" Jesus.  They discover Ossuaries, uncover buildings and other artifacts or proofs of Jesus.

However, these actions are completely antithetical to faith.

Faith is founded in a belief that transcends facts.  In fact, faith is destroyed by proof, because once there is proof, faith becomes fact.  Further, once something becomes fact, all of the mystery and discussion dies.  There might still be respect and reverence, but something essential has left the picture. 

It illustrate this, lets examine how kings and queens are treated.  Queen Elizabeth  is a fact.  We know she is real, that she exists outside of the stories about her in books and papers.  Many people revere the Queen, they respect her and consider her a symbol for everything British.  But that is where it ends.  They do not worship her, and if they invoke her in prayer, it is to ask for her to be blessed, not to ask for Her blessing.

And this goes further back.  I am not trying to offend anyone, but Muhammad was an actual historical figure.  There are many accounts of his life written contemporaneously with his time on this planet.  There are also many legends that were later attributed to him, but he is a unique religious figure (in the West at least) in that there are many known facts about him. 

Now, while the Muslims revere him, and hold him in the highest esteem, they do not actually pray to him.  (And  you question this, or think I am being offensive, please read this Salafi webpage on this)  The Muslims worship only Allah, and recognize that Muhammad was a man and a prophet.  And on a side note, they believe that Jesus was also a prophet, not himself Divine.  Further, this was a belief held by many Gnostic Sects, and a number of early Christian communities.

But the point is, it is all but impossible to worship fact.  You can revere it, and hold it in the highest esteem, but when a person becomes fact, their nature fundamentally changes.  If Jesus were proven to be fact, much of the text of the New Testament would come into question, especially the miracles and other direct manifestations of God's power through His Son.

If he was proven to be a real person, and, for example, his bones recovered, the Resurrection would become, in the best case, metaphor.  In the worst case, it would become a grand Santa Claus lie in many peoples' eyes.  In any case, the underpinning of faith that is the necessary foundation of religion and myth would be undermined.

Because of this, the conversation of whether Jesus was actually "real" not is irrelevant.  Jesus transcends fact.  The truth is that the religion founded in His name completely altered the course of the ancient world, and has been a positive influence in the lives of many for almost 2000 years.  It has also been the cause of many deaths and much horror.  The actual facts of His life are not really important, no more than they are in any myth.  The myth IS the meaning.

But in the end, if the Atheists want to kill Christianity, they should be trying to prove that Jesus was real, and if the Christians want to make their faith even stronger, they should be trying to prove Jesus never was an actual person.

And that is yet another perfect irony.