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Year 6 - N° 258 - April 29, 2012
Matão, São Paulo (Brasil)
Leonardo Rocha - l.rocha1989@gmail.com

Liszt Rangel de Miranda Coelho:

“The message of Jesus, this great unknown, is still a mystery to many of us”

A passionate researcher of Ancient and Medieval History, our friend and journalist from Brazil’s Pernambuco state talks about his studies on Jesus and his teachings 

Liszt Rangel de Miranda Coelho (photo), a journalist in the city of Recife, has seven published books, two of them written in trance. He has specialised in Ancient History and is also doing a degree in Psychology. Liszt Coelho was a founding member of several Spiritist Centres in Brazil’s northeastern Pernambuco state and he is on the board of directors of recently founded Sociedade de Estudos Espíritas do Recife.

Where does your passion for old civilisations come from? And what has been the biggest benefit of such knowledge to your profession and

your activities in Spiritism?

I’ve always had a passion for Ancient and Medieval History. My background as a journalist helped me bring in probing questioning to those areas. I can’t underestimate however the impact on me, as a teenager, of the books by Ernesto Bozzano about primitive civilisations and those by the amazing Hermínio de Miranda on Early Christianity. Moreover, I am by nature an inquisitive soul and I happen to believe that by linking the past to the present we manage to get better understanding of ourselves.

How has your research on ancient civilisations influenced your views on the teachings of Christ and even the emergence of Spiritism?

When speaking about my research, I can establish a proper, accurate link between Ancient History and the Roman-controlled society where Jesus lived (or, as I prefer to call him, Yehoshú’a, his original name). Jesus, despite being a Galilean, was deeply influenced by and followed Judaism as a religion. Judaism, however, had old mythology and Egyptian laws as its framework. When I move forward in time and go mediaeval times, it opens up a vast amount of information on the structure of Christianity, but also on the birth of Protestantism and the events that led to Positivism, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire – events that preceded Spiritism. 

And what is the link between Psychology, Psychiatry and the Ancient Civilisations? 

Those sciences enable us to understand a bit better the behaviour of some Roman leaders, such as Julius Caesar, Augustus, the deeply disturbed Tiberius, whom incidentally as Caligula’s tutor introduced him to bizarre sexual practices; those sciences also shed some light on the political and administrative skills of Nero, who was also a sociopath and was shrewd enough to use the anti-Christian feelings of those days to blame them for the great fire of Rome. And when we look closer into the teachings of Jesus using the tools offered by Psychology and Psychiatry, we can clearly see an individual who was perfectly aware of all the cultural influences on his people, but also on the Gauls, the Bretons, the barbarians. The study of the Roman Empire makes it easier for me to understand the Christian movement. But I must warn that we can’t really understand Jesus through Psychology; you must first understand Jesus in History. 

And what is the impact of all that on Spiritism, both on the teachings and on the Spiritist Movement? 

The Spirits assured us in The Spirits’ Book that “Spiritism would take its place among the sphere of human knowledge.” They never said it would replace human knowledge, only that it would also have its place. Beware of fanaticism! Those who don’t know their past can’t fully appreciate their present and can’t live it in full. They will never be able to realise that we are also making History. As Allan Kardec said: “The day science proves Spiritism is wrong in any particular aspect, leave the teachings behind on what concerns that particular aspect and follow science.” Spiritism is for progress; you can’t isolate it as you do with a sect. Our capacity of understanding the big picture wouldn’t make that possible. 

And what is the reaction among Spiritists to that approach? 

All of us who take Spiritism as philosophy to guide us through life understand that good and honest Spiritists are by their nature philosophers, whatever imperfections they may have. The true Spiritist is at least someone who questions and challenges preconceived ideas. Those Spiritists understand why I’m carrying out such research. But some are still deeply influenced by Catholic thinking, others think that there’s no point in reassessing what they know about Jesus. But I can see their point of view. They are scared, as I once was. They fear they will find out that we may be wrong in what we believe. More than that, they fear that some Spiritis might have added their personal opinions to the information they provided to us, which would be proven by new findings in Archaeology and History. 

And what did you found out about Jesus and his place in History? 

Jesus is a great unknown whose message is still ignored. Recent findings, published after 12 years of serious research, concluded that less than 10% of what we believe is the message of Jesus and his life are real. So how can we follow a man whom we don’t really know and teachings that are mostly not really his? Wouldn’t that be one of the reasons why we find it so difficult to live according to his teachings? 

And what is your assessment of Jesus based on all that research? 

Jesus is no longer a subject restricted to religious circles. I don’t believe, by the way, that he ever was. The man of Nazareth is being studied in important universities and for those who still believe he never existed, I have some news for you: “He did exist! He wasn’t what people said he was. In some instances, he did less than we know, in other cases, he did more.” When I spoke in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to 62 young students about the Jesus in History, one of them told me: “We have always admired Jesus, but we never understood how they used his figure to justify war. The Historic Jesus we met today is not on the Christian Bible.” 

Your talks, full of information, attract big crowds and always generate a lively debate. What do you think are the main challenges for people in order to achieve moral and intellectual progress? 

First of all, look at yourself. Second, try to get rid of any guilt, which is a seed left by so many traditional religions. I can feel that many people are looking for inner peace, but the search is often a shallow one, for superficial self-help. People often remain attached to one fixed idea, which can lead to spiritual obsession or attachment, or long for some for of stationary peace, one that brings full joy and doesn’t involve expiating your debts. Full joy is also an illusion. Living is a risky business. Succeeding and failing, living and going through different experiences, are all part of our development and make us different! 

What else would you like to add? 

I would like to highlight what a gratifying experience it is to be part of an edition of O Consolador. I would like to say also that I was also scared when I began my search for Jesus, but the will to discover was stronger than any fear. This is a man who’s worth looking for. My conclusion is that in order to find Jesus again we need to be less Christian and to approach the exercise with an open mind.





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O Consolador
Weekly Magazine of Spiritism