With this episode, we arrive at the third season finale of America Unearthed, a show that set out to prove that “the history we’ve all been taught in school is wrong” but which has failed over the course of 39 episodes to offer anything more than speculation and assertion in favor of that hypothesis.
I have it on good authority that conspiracy researcher and self-described open-minded skeptic Micah Hanks thinks I have serious issues that are driving me to attack fringe researchers rather than collaborate with them on exploring the truth. This is of a piece with his earlier statements from October in which Hanks said that my “hubris of this sort is actually worthy of study.” It’s reflective of the ethos of the relentlessly positive that offering criticism, no matter how constructive, is considered pathological. Why are you so negative? Why can’t everyone get a trophy? After all, fringe researchers are really trying even if they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Expedition Unknown is a strange program, not for its content but rather for its lack thereof. It doesn’t seem to have much of an identity. One week, it’s an Indiana Jones expedition to the ends of the earth, and another it’s a dull as dishwater slog through the boring dregs of American history. Granted, it’s a new show and trying to see what sticks, but I can’t fathom who the audience for this is. Each episode contains too little travel information to make it a travelogue, too little history to be a documentary, and too little analysis to clear the low bar set by History Channel and H2 crazy-quilt conspiracy shows. And with the topics veering from ancient history to Nazis to the Wild West, the only factor giving the show any unity is the fact that all of the show’s topics are mirror images of topics covered on the History Channel and H2.
As you know, there is a cottage industry of people who think that a hand gesture featuring the middle and ring fingers pressed together between outspread index and pinky fingers is a secret symbol. Before Scott Wolter made it into a symbol of Mary Magdalene, it had previously been claimed as a secret symbol of Freemasonry (M for Mason), Satanism (multiple V’s and I’s for 666), and the Marranos, or crypto-Jews of Spain (M for Marrano). The supposed symbol is popular with anti-Semitic extremists who see it as a sign of “Judaizing” within Christianity. You can find references to it on New World Order conspiracy sites and anti-Semitic webpages.
Yesterday we heard from Scott Wolter that he believes that St. John the Less did not exist and was in fact Mary Magdalene, whom the Church replaced with an imaginary man. It’s interesting that Wolter’s ideas about the Magdalene are based on medieval French myths that sought to explain the veneration of her in the area around Aix, but that he has very little understanding of them or their development, nor the way they were massaged and altered to support the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.
Scott Wolter: Priory of Sion Is Real, Jesus Was King of the Venus People, and the Crusades Were a Conspiracy
I didn’t really want to talk more about the Holy Bloodline “mystery,” but some of what Scott Wolter said on his blog yesterday is so revealing that I can’t really let it pass unnoticed.
OK, so we’re in crazy Holy Bloodline mode for the next week or so as America Unearthed resurrects the Da Vinci Code and Scott Wolter and Steve St. Clair imagine themselves the heroes of a fast-paced thriller. To that end, Steve St. Clair has offered his analysis of a 1531 sculpture of the Holy Sepulcher at the Abbey of St. Remi in France, the same sculpture Scott Wolter asserts represents a pregnant Mary Magdalene wailing at the tomb of Jesus.
I hope you will forgive me if this episode’s review is a bit shorter than some of my earlier efforts. I injured my wrist today when I slipped on some ice and fell while trying to clear some snow. I’m trying not to aggravate it too much with excessive typing.
Yesterday Andy White offered a thoughtful blog post on the reasoning behind the search for giants among creationists. White discovered that creationists subscribe to a theology of degeneration, whereby God’s perfect creation is gradually winding down, leading to smaller and weaker creatures over time. As a result, for the Bible to be literally true, it would require that ancient animals and people be larger than those alive today, for they were closer to the perfection of the original creation, before original sin. Thus, the search for “giants.”
Last night’s episode of Expedition Unknown focused on the Amber Room, a lost treasure of Baroque art most closely associated today with Tsarist Russia. The room, clad entirely in amber, gold, and precious gems, was created in Prussia from Frederick I in the 1700s and later given by Frederick William I to the Russian Tsar Peter the Great as a token of the alliance between their two countries. The chamber was modified down to 1755, and in its final form stood in the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg until the Nazis looted it during World War II. Host Josh Gates traveled to Russia and to Germany in search of the expensive and missing room, which vanished during the war years.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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