Gray Flannel Dwarf


Henry Rollins now ‘person of interest’ in Australia.

Well, if there’s one person I wouldn’t suspect of terrorism in the US, it’s Henry Rollins. Outspoken? Yes. Loud? Yes. Angry? …probably. Hater of western civilization? Not at all. However, it seems he’s caught the ire of the Australian authorities for reading a copy of Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia on the airplane. This raised the supicions of the passenger sitting next to him… and by all accounts, the end result raised Rollins’ hackles, too. In typical Rollins fashion, he sums up the event in a succinct and candid manner. From this bit on…

“The guy phoned me in to their, like, anti-terrorist board, and they found me – they looked me up,” he said. “They looked up the flight and found out who was sitting in seat 10A and they got to me. And they said, ‘OK, you’re now a person of interest. The man next to you does not agree with your politics and he didn’t like the book you were reading.’ This kind of provocation, I don’t respond very well to. I was furious. And so I wrote back, ‘You can tell everyone at your office, including your boss, to go f— themselves. This book has been read by a ton of people – I am not a threat to your state or any state or any republic.’ ” In the actual text of his online response, Rollins added: “Baghdad’s safer than my hometown, and your PM is a sissy.”

A capsule of this event was apparently reported as far back as February 16th in Australia’s Furthermore, Hank himself recalls the account to some degree in his Dispatches. Rollins, who opposes both the war and the current administration, nonetheless supports the troops insofar as he feels they do their duty in serving their country and that they’ve gotten screwed over by their government; he has done several USO tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Honduras. In that light, it’s a shame to see that Australian officials have consumed enough of the White House kool-aid to unquestioningly paint someone with the same broad brush. Hank won’t take it sitting down, however…

“He didn’t even leave his name and address [when he called], and that, to me, is pretty cowardly,” Rollins said. “The next time I get out to Australia — that is, if they let me in — I am going to talk about that guy in every interview I do. And it will get to him. It’s a small country, in that there aren’t a lot of people there and most of the country’s just sand and flies. So it will get to him.”

… and really, I think he could teach us all a lesson with this one. For far too long, those opposed to this war have allowed itself to be stereotyped as unpatriotic… and sans a bit of whining, navel-gazing, and weak, “but, but”-laden denials regarding such accusations, no one has stood up and made a bold statement against such claims. Will anyone have the cojones to tell these warmongers to step down next time the accusation is hoisted? Will you? When will we hear something like:

I don’t support the war or this President, but that doesn’t make me patriotic. And I would recommend that you think twice before questioning me again.

Or -

Opposing the war is not ‘treason’, and to say otherwise puts your own well-being at risk.

I’m sure some of you can come up with better slogans.

If the attacks on those who oppose the war continue to succeed, it will be due to the continued passivity, as opposed to pacificism, of the anti-war crowd. One can oppose the war without being afraid to stand up for one’s self, in a defensive posture if necessary, amidst personal attacks. In closing, I’ll quote Rollins one more time, from his account of this event, as to how he feels about rabid accusations:

I really don’t take kindly to that kind of shit. I like it though. Love it. Confrontation. Tension. Adversarial relationships. More please. It’s the only time it gets real.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 10:59 am


A Defense of the PCUSA versus charges of Anti-Semitism

I just read this article from the NYTimes (registration possibly required), titled “Threat to Divest Is Church Tool in Israeli Fight“, which is about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) threatening to divest from companies who, in its opinion, is aiding and/or supplying the Israeli military. I’m kind of disgusted by it, actually.

If Johnnie Cochran played the so-called “race card”, then some of the people interviewed for this article played the full-on anti-Semitism royal flush.

Rabbi Cooper said the Protestant churches were ignoring the current “reality on the ground” – that Israel is preparing to withdraw this month from Gaza and remove settlements there. “Instead of divesting, these churches should be investing,” he said. “There is so much humanitarian need on the ground in the Holy Land. We’re not telling them: ‘Stay out of it. It’s not your business.’ There’s a ton of work to be done.”

He called the churches’ actions “functionally anti-Semitic.” But he said that after attending the conventions of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ this year, he concluded that the resolutions were being “rammed through” by denominational leaders and were not reflective of the churches’ grassroots membership.

I am not so sure I agree with Rabbi Cooper on this and the way he framed his statement, donning the cloak of humanitarianism, when he suggests the need to invest rather than divest. I find it particularly misleading, especially when the debate is about supplying militaries. Furthermore, as protestant leadership organisations go, that of the PCUSA church has been one of the more progressive ones out there; as one might expect, a large plurality of its congregation shares those goals. It is unlikely anything is being “crammed through” its councils, at least.

The companies in question have, of course, voiced their opinion in the debate, too…

The Presbyterians gave a variety of reasons for choosing these five companies. It accused Caterpillar of selling Israel heavy equipment used for demolishing Palestinian homes, and of constructing roads and infrastructure in the occupied territories and Israeli settlements.

The company released a statement saying: “For the past four years, activists have wrongly included Caterpillar in a publicity campaign aimed at advancing their much larger political agendas. Over that same period of time we’ve repeatedly evaluated our position, as have our shareholders, and determined that while the protests occasionally succeed in getting headlines, they neither change the facts nor our position.”

The Presbyterian committee said in its announcement that it included United Technologies Corporation, a military contractor, because a subsidiary provides helicopters used by the Israeli military “in attacks in the occupied territories against suspected Palestinian terrorists.”

A company spokesman, Paul Jackson, responded by e-mail: “UTC has been widely recognized as an ethical and responsible corporation. Work on military programs is stringently regulated by the U.S. government, and UTC complies wholly with all policies and related regulations.”

The church said it identified Motorola because the company has a contract to develop wireless encrypted communications for the Israeli military in the territories and is a “majority investor in one of Israel’s four cell phone companies.”

Norman Sandler, a manager for Motorola on global issues, said the church’s action “came completely out of the blue.” He said the company supplies radio products to Israel, as well as to many Arab countries.

ITT also made the church’s list because, the committee said, it supplies the Israeli military with “communications, electronic and night vision equipment used by its forces in the occupied territories.” A spokesman for ITT did not respond to a message left on Friday afternoon.

Leah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Citigroup, said: “Any assertion that Citigroup supports terrorism in any way is an outrage. We take all possible measures to ensure that our institution is not used by criminals or as a conduit to fund terrorist activities.”

..but as far as I’m concerned, these statements are irrelevant to the issue at hand. In all, it’s total BS. Now, whether an organisation — or individual — comes to believe that the companies in which it or he invests is supporting an environment of turmoil is one thing, and that is the sole opinion of the investor(s). Nothing can change that. However, to play the straw man, to make blanket generalisations, to play the victim, it’s pretty damned pitiful.

If this is what the PCUSA church believes — that’s fine, and if, from its worldview, the best way to reduce violence and escalation is to divest from companies it believes to promote these things, that’s its own prerogative.

If I see two kids throwing rocks at each other, I don’t care who started it, I don’t care who has caused more injury, I am certainly not going to supply either one of those kids with more ammunition, and I can’t see how it would possibly improve the situation by doing so. Nevermind Biblical teachings about always turning the other cheek… how is aiding either party going to help things?

If the PCUSA church truly believes that these companies escalate the tension in the middle east, it has every right — and perhaps even obligation — to avoid doing so. Doing otherwise would mean blood on its hands. The church as a body should, in the vast majority of cases, be a conscientious objector. The closest to any rational pro-bellum argument that I can think of is that of Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who did ponder a great deal about — and indeed lost his life over — whether it is ever righteous for Christians as a whole to support a military resistance against oppression. This said, the struggles between Israelis and Palestinians hardly meet the burden of proof for such an argument.

Whether it is an investment in Halliburton, supplying the US military in Iraq, or an investment in a company who apparently supplies the Israeli military, the church has no place in promoting violence. To say the church is “anti-Semitic” because of this decision is a cop-out, and a weak, desparate one at that. I find it all terribly disappointing.

The PCUSA church has done a great deal to strengthen awareness of social injustices around the world . Some might even go so far as to argue that it has come at the cost of church membership, noting the ever increasing vigilence with regards to injustice, at the same time that the PCUSA’s congregation finds itself in a steady population decline, as it focuses more on social issues and less on retention. Even if this were the case, though — and such a correlation may not be valid — to follow such a guiding principle to its end does not lessen the righteousness of such goals. The point stands — I can’t understand how refusing to support military-industrial complexes can be seen as a “morally reprehensible” action — much less “functionally anti-Semitic”.

cswiii @ 1:01 am


Dr. James Dobson’s Disingenuity

Well, the whole filibuster thing is old news at this point — for now, anyway. However, I’ve had something on my mind that I’ve been meaning to write about when it came to the reactions of various factions on all sides. Most interesting is the statement made by James Dobson, after news that a compromise had been reached on the filibuster. The segments below interest me most (emphasis mine):

This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.

I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.

It’s this language that really puts the icing on the cake, for me anyway, with regards to the way Dobson has been reacting for the past several years.

I don’t deny that Dobson has always been a social conservative with values based in his particular brand of the Christian faith. However, I see the vitriol that he spews these days, and in my mind, it differs a great deal with the stuff of his that I read as a kid.

When I was younger, I was given a Dobson book — already somewhat dated at the time — about coping with adolescence. I can’t remember the title, and didn’t really get a lot out of the book, but the key parts which I remember come from a “round table” discussion, transcribed in the book, which took up a fairly sizeable portion of the text. In this discussion, Dobson spoke casually with teenagers, running the gamut of teen issues.

What I remember in the book seems to run counter to Dobson today. Not in terms of the values, these all run the same, but in his general demeanor and attitude.

When it came to “modern pop music” talking about love, he quoted a few Partridge family snippets, and reacted with something to the effect of, “c’mon, that’s not love at all!”

When it came to self-conciousness, he talked about a somewhat humourous anecdote about when he was once at a meeting with a large group of women, and there’d been a tray of breakfast snacks and coffee across the room. He noted that, amidst the two breaks in the meeting, no one dared venture across the room to get any. Finally, during a third break, he went over there and was followed by a “trail of women” who had been, apparently, too self-concious to get up and do it themselves, first. This story resulted in a bit of giggling by the teenagers in the group.

Finally, I remember a section where one kid was talking candidly about drug use in his school, with regards to a time when some fellow classmates had been smoking dope in the bathroom, and all the kids in a nearby classroom knew the “unmistakable” scent, whereas a teacher reacted, stating, “my, what is that wonderful smell?”. This got a large laugh from the teens on the round table.

In any case, this book, while touching on issues important to Dobson’s moral values, nonetheless had a somewhat lighthearted feel to it, and Dobson himself didn’t spew any fire and brimstone about these things. He let the conversations go on in a relatively sane way, and whether it was conscious or not, at least appeared to try and be “hip” and “with it”. Whether one particularly agreed with his beliefs or not, he at least evangelised his beliefs in a civil way, contrasting these “roadblocks” that teenagers encounter with what he felt the Bible had to say about these issues.

So I remember those things, and I see the way Dobson is acting lately, and frankly, I wonder if he has gone off his rocker, if the political power he has accumulated has gone to his head, or both. The man is a total smouldering inferno, an embodiment of the Eye of Sauron.

And now that I think about it, it really seems like he’ll stop at nothing to get his hands back on the One Ring.

Dobson, I’m sure, still has his faith, as misguided as it may be these days, and I don’t really think his moral compass has changed all that much. His reactions as of late, however, as compared to his earlier attitudes and behaviours, really seal the deal for me, when I ponder if he’s just (ab)using his position amongst the faithful, and abusing his very faith, for political purposes.

cswiii @ 10:23 pm


Kingdom of God in America

My coworkers and I went to go see Kingdom of Heaven tonight. It wasn’t bad. I am not going to say it’s my favourite, either, though. I wasn’t very familiar with Ridley Scott — at least not conciously — until lately, until the aforementioned coworkers went on about him.

It was very reminiscent of Gladiator, that’s for sure, at least with regards to the fight scenes and general choreography. Regardless, trying to cram hundreds of years of crusades into a couple of years movie-time and 2 1/2 hours theatre-time is going to miss on a few counts.

Anyway, what did I do? Of course! The first thing I did was look it up on Free Republic.

They didn’t like it, needless to say.

cswiii @ 11:16 pm


Feeling a bit Fristy

I guess I got a bit carried away in this thread.

cswiii @ 2:19 am


Prezin’ on.

I never knew that a mere two digits in zipcodes could mean such a crazy distance. See for yourself, however: Apex to Benson is only two digits in the world of zipcodes, but it is, apparently, a heckuva lot further in mileage.

I ended up finding Benson when lookup up PCUSA churches. There is, of course, nothing in Apex, so following their recommendation, I entered the first three digits, and voila.

As an interesting side note, it appears that Benson has a Baptist church that resides on none other than “Drag Strip Road“.

Anyway, I am not so sure I have had any good luck yet, but I guess it won’t be certain until I visit some places. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (garish!) or make predetermined judgements (tiny!), but when I have already have some pretty high standards built-in to my search(es), it’s hard not to be critical (MS-Paint!).

And lest I give the wrong impression, I am not gonna try and judge a church based on the quality of their website (or lack thereof)… but I do kinda wish I could find on these churches’ websites — or any church, really — the real meat and potatoes of what they’re about… assuming they even serve up any of that in the first place, as opposed to sugar and fluff.

In addition to the two above, there looks to be one other PCUSA church in Cary, although I am a bit leery of attending a church there — but again, that’s just preconceived notions on my part, notions that shouldn’t cross my mind.

Does seem to me to be a lot of PCA churches this way, though, which isn’t quite my bag, either.

Maybe I’m just predestined to be on an eternal hunt, of sorts.

cswiii @ 11:40 pm


Won’t you please (not) help me….

Issue I:

* Is it, as a general axiom, wrong to refuse the assistance of others?

I neither imply nor limit this to the general assumption of “financial” matters that this kind of question usually boils down to. I am talking in any arena — financial, emotional, physical, whatever — all things being equal, the parties being family, friend or stranger, and there being no visible threat, is it ethically or metaphysically wrong to not accept the help of others? Is there something inately wrong with refusing help, for whatever reason, or is that an irrational notion?

* Does it change anything if one refuses help after another party has begun to administer assistance? Is the situation any different if help has begun, and then, part of the way through the assistance, help is no longer desired?

* Is it selfish to refuse assistance?

Issue II:
* On the flip side, if someone refuses assistance — does it matter why they refused? Does, or should, it matter to the one assisting why the help was refused? If assistance is refused, should the party providing assistance be concerned as to the reason, or should the party not be concerned in the least?

* If a particular reason is known, should that have any bearing on future opinions or attitude? In absolute terms, should any behavioural change be appropriate, or even expected, when the offer of assistance is refused for reasons known to the assisting party?

My Opinion:

* There is nothing wrong with refusing assistance. Assistance may (or may not) be an act of selflessness, an act of goodwill, or what have you, but in the end, the person most affected is the person receiving the assistance, and thus, said person’s opinion should be of highest perceived value.

* There is nothing wrong with refusing assistance once it has begun. Situations, circumstances, attitudes change, leading to an instance where thie assistance is no longer deemed neccessary and/or desired by the person receiving help.

* It is not selfish to refuse assistance, and any such notion cannot be construed as selfish. Such a statement would be an illogical impossibility! How can not accepting assistance for one’s own issues be interpreted as a selfish motive? In alegebraic terms, that’s like saying “-1 = 1“.

* If someone refuses assistance, that is the end of the cycle. Certainly, the assisting parties may continue to query the troubled party a few times to verify that assistance is truly not desired, but after that — no further analysis is necessary.

* The assisting parties should not attempt to assert reasons as to why the assistance was refused, and if reasons are known, the assisting parties should not attempt to ascertain validity of said reasons. Such assertions, concious or not, are actions which impinge on the beliefs of the person receiving assistance. Such alternate derived validations may, at increased risk, be discussed with the party receiving (or formerly receiving) assistance, but generally, unless it is a situation where the receiving party is in a life-critical scenario, it’s best to assume the person themselves has their own best intentions in mind for the time being.

In other words…
When I have said several times that I don’t want any help, don’t keep trying to help, and expect me to not get pissed off. It doesn’t matter if you know “why” I have refused further assistance. Those reasons have no bearing on, and no relevance to the fact that I don’t want any more help. That is no one’s concern but my own.

cswiii @ 11:37 pm


More lamentations.

From a comment I posted in another weblog.

For about two years after college, I continued to read up on the meat and potatoes; I pored over Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, dabbled in some Merton, scribbling notes across the inside cover of the book (as taking a Dick Ray class taught me) and on coffee-stained napkins. Haven’t read much of that sort of thing in the past few years, however. Been too interested in pop political magazines and public affairs, and while that kind of stuff is okay, it’s not nourishing.

Reading this entry really makes me kind of ashamed at how intellectually lazy I have become. It’s funny that I should come across your entry at this time, however… when my now-wife and I were cleaning out the last vestiges of bachelorhood from my bedroom, I ran across a box, filled mostly with old seminary catalogues from when I was halfheartedly considering it, but which also included a few other theological books that somehow hadn’t made it onto the shelf with the others.

Out from an old yellowed copy of Rauschenbusch’s The Social Gospel fluttered one of those napkins. My wife looked at me kind of quizzically — and probably with good reason, as I tend to have scraps of paper all over the place — wondering why I’d kept some crummy old napkin in a box somewhere.

I explained afterward what it was, and she was understanding, but seeing it was kind of a kick in the pants, spiritually, but not in that gruff-grandfather sort of way… more like a bully-at-the-beach sort of way.

In terms of philosophical heft, my head is resembling something more along the lines of Fat Albert than, say, Jack Lalanne.

cswiii @ 11:15 am


Do what you love….?

So last weekend, my roommate and I drove out to Purcelville to visit the Chile Man, Robert Farr, who was having something of a harvest festival, with a wine tasting booth, and someone selling organic beef, etc…. a small gathering but fun nonetheless. He gave a tour of his gardens, and showed us his bottling facility…. altogether, it was a good time.

Now, if you read his website, Farr mentions Marsha Sinetar’s Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow as that which gave him the inspiration to move out of the white-collar world and into his own small business, doing what he enjoyed the most — taming the fields. He also mentioned this book during the tour, which really kind of indicates he got a lot out of it.

I’ve heard others talk of this book as well, and without having read it, I sort of mentally classify it somewhere in legitimacy between Steven Covey’s Seven Habits and Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Now, I guess I’ll have to actually read it to get a more accurate assessment, but even the title has me thinking.

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow

What do I “love to do”? I really don’t know. I’ve always had a natural penchant for computers, but is it really what I “love to do”? I certainly used to, and it’s still a hobby — a perhaps all-too consuming one sometimes — but to suggest that I get enthralled at the thought of mucking around in a computer’s guts would be a bit of an overstatement.

What do I really love to do? I guess that is the issue. I enjoy camping, I really like to cook, although someone — I think it was JoeLogon — had read that if one likes to cook, that they should cook for friends and family as opposed to opening a restaurant, because they are two totally different worlds.

I like to play a little guitar, but I’m not good enough w/ that to make any sort of money. Actually, I really do like music a lot, but how does one compete with the RIAA, ClearChannel and their ilk?

Maybe I’m being too negative already, making excuses for things, and I am guessing both of those angles are covered in the book referenced above. However, it boils down to a couple of key points.

* I don’t know what I really like to do, and somehow I have a feeling this is a leading factor in why I can never set goals for myself, be them personal or work-related. I can get a job done, but I don’t ever have any scope towards the future.

* I can’t imagine any sort of “niche” field for any interests of mine, where I might be able to make decent coin, that hasn’t been exploited by other intrepid explorers before me. This, in turn, I think is partially because I feel like I’ve lost all my creative flair, ever since going into computers. I used to have creativity, but ever since I began working full-on in computers, I’ve drifted more to the logical.

* Similarly, a lot of these things I tend to “like”, even if I know them fairly well, have a lot more depth of knowledge required if one is going to make a business out of it, and none of these are things that I really want to “study” more about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to revel in ignorance, but sometimes when you study things too much, to such detail, you lose the fun in it. I used to read science and non-fiction books as a kid all the time. I have always enjoyed science, and that is indeed my best category in Trival Pursuit. I could tell you fact upon fact about insects and arachnids. However, once I got to HS, and had to take Biology, I got tired of learning about mitochondria. When it came to Chemistry, I hated learning about how many moles of a given chemical compound it took to effect change in another.

Farr told us that a lot of his inspiration for recipes, and a lot about what he learned with regards to gardening came from reading lots of books and magazines, and that’s all good. I’m not saying my interests are any more important, but I do think that they would involve and require a much deeper understanding of the subjects, simply due to the technology and/or precision involved in all of them, and I am just not so sure that it would remain enjoyable if I got that deep into it.

Just not sure. I mean, I am mostly content doing what I am doing right now, but something is missing, not just in my work, but in everything, and I can’t put my finger on it. I just feel kind of adrift with regards to interests and activities. Even if I ever decide(d) to go out and chart my own path, get out of the rat race… what would I do? I have no point from which I feel I can start.

cswiii @ 9:42 am


The QuadCity Times has an op-ed piece titled “What have they done with John McCain?“. Though not the strongest piece I have ever read, they are the first that I have seen, to ask the same question I have been wondering: Why is McCain beginning — or indeed, it seems, why has he begun — to stump for Bush?

It makes us heartsick to see Sen. McCain stand alongside the man whose supporters launched a racist smear campaign against him during the 2000 primaries. Bush supporters used push polling in South Carolina to insinuate McCain’s legally adopted African daughter was the illegitimate product of an affair.

I have always had a modicum of respect, if not more, for John McCain, whose statements regarding cleaning up the government paint at least a moderate veneer of statesmanship of which many of our public servants should at least pay lip service.


* For reaching across the table, McCain is likened a “maverick”; he is, by some, considered something of a liability to the GOP.
* In 2000, as he is doing quite well, marked as a somewhat moderate and certainly more populist Republican candidate, he is smeared by Rove & Co. with the “illegitimate black child” poll.

McCain has been treated like pond scum by the neocons for some time now, for his attempts to at least try and maintain some sort of dignity for his party. He has continually been dragged through the mud and is, indeed, a poster boy for what happens when one bites the hands that feeds him.

This said, I am absolutely stymied at the reports coming out that the CRKB (Campaign to Re-elect King Bush) is ready to offer McCain a major role in Bush’s reelection efforts and of course, I would be galled to see McCain accept it.

No, I am not “mad” or “upset” at McCain refusing to “cross the picket line”, as it were, like Jeffords. The fact that he didn’t accept Kerry’s veep offer doesn’t surprise me, esp. when one considers that his vacated post would likely be filled by a Democrat. In this light, I can understand McCain not wanting to punch his party in the gut twice. Furthermore, I don’t know that I’d ever have expected him to accept it anyway, precisely because McCain is a politician who stands by what his party believes — or at least, used to believe — in.

It is for that last reason, however, that it would be terrible, terrible thing to see him stumping in a hardcore way for the Chimp.

I do find it interesting, however, that today Bush has apparently called for the attack ads to stop. My hunch isn’t going to go so far as others as to suspect that Bush will pull a last-minute switcheroo, but I can’t help but wonder if, in order to court McCain’s assistance, Bush will make some concessions.

…Not that this will help in the long run, be it him during his loss — or us, following his win.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 5:03 pm


Big^W Bad Mouth

I say things that I don’t mean to say, or sometimes don’t even believe. I don’t know why I say them, and yet I do so, trying not to be offensive or to provoke hurt, but I do, of course, anyway.

It is like I am trying to start an argument, only I don’t conciously go to do it — and I say things that hurt people, even though I try to shape my words as to avoid that.

cswiii @ 5:45 pm


Movie Critics are not Theologians.

Today, Mel Gibson’s (in)famous movie opens in theatres, The Passion of The Christ. Obviously I haven’t seen it, yet. The movie may well warrant criticism, I do not know.

What continually annoys me, though, is to see these news anchors interview other newspeople or movie critics, and ask them theological questions regarding the history of the crucifixion.

Movie critics are not usually theologians nor Bible scholars, and I’ve seen two very fine examples of this in the past week. I can’t remember which the first one was; it was on Fox News or MSNBC, I think. I watched them ask questions to some talking head who’d just gotten out of the theatre… and watched this woman field questions about which she obviously knew nothing. Credit to her, however, is that she at least knew how to pronounce the term “Aramaic”, which wasn’t the case for the newcaster.

Last night’s example, however, was even more fitting. Paula Zahn had some movie critic on, talking about the accuracy of the movie. This guy proceeded to ramble on about some pretty incorrect assumptions. He mentioned that Pontius Pilate was this big, bad voodoo daddy that the locals, mostly Jews, feared. He said that the Jews were terribly persecuted under Pilate. Basically, the point he was trying to make was that the movie might have been pinning more than a fair share of blame on the Jews, as opposed to Pilate.

Hold on, hold on! Step off your high horse, man! Let’s look at some more accurate historical assessments!

* Under the Roman empire itself, the Jews were not “terribly persecuted” — at least, not a lot more than those of other cultures and religions that had been conquered by the Romans. The Roman empire had a specific policy of tolerance, and would not punish religions, per say, unless they interfered with state matters.

* That is not to say that Herod, the King of Judea, per Roman appointment, wasn’t cruel. there is plenty of historical evidence to support this. During his reign over Judea, Herod had tens of thousands of Jews slaughtered; of this, there is no disagreement. However, in Jesus’ case, Herod wasn’t simply going to kill someone off for the sake of “having the opportunity” to kill a Jew. Herod had more important things to do, and besides, what good would this serve? Besides, why would Herod, with his history of cruelty to the Jewish people, suddenly appease them? He was well-aware of their mutual (and well-placed) distaste for him, and knew that nothing could make him any more “honourable” in their eyes. Finally, Herod was a political opportunist — if it wouldn’t go to further cement his power base — why trifle with it?

* Now, if I am not mistaken, Pilate, on the other hand, was not a particularly powerful “governor”. That term is a bit confusing today, if people associate it with the modern concept… but Pilate was something of a “City Manager”, maybe a bit higher. He dealt with the administration of the region. The people under him didn’t particularly “fear” him. I am thinking that the movie critic from above was confusing Pilate with Herod, who was pretty cruel all around. Regardless, Pilate wasn’t a terrible force with which to be reckoned.

* In the district where Jesus was taken before the people, the Saducees were in power; For a local government, it was pretty powerful religious aristocracy that was in charge. They did not have the specific power to execute a man for a crime, however, which is why Jesus’ case was taken up the chain of command, to Pilate and Herod. The idea that Jesus was a “dangerous political activist” was the key claim that was made, so that the higher levels of government would even entertain it. If it was just some religious oddball, Rome, or its subordinates, would have little to say.

* The act of crucifixion in Rome was reserved for non-Roman citizens. Romans could be, and were, put to death via any number of methods, sure, but this most brutal method of punishment was never used on any person considered a citizen under the Roman empire. Thus, the punishment given to Jesus was done against Roman precedent and was, indeed, done with a fair amount of hesitation.

* All this said, Pilate was plenty hesitant to crucify this man, which is why, in a wishy-washy manner he (wrongly) brought Jesus before the court of public opinion. It should be noted that more evidence of religious toleration, particularly Jewish, can be found in his actions of bringing Jesus to the people; when Pilate brought him before the crowds, it was a recognition of the Passover tradition of letting one prisoner go free. Regardless, he left Jesus’ fate in the hands of the crowd, rather than commute this sentence of death that he knew was unjust. In the extended portion of this entry below, I have included the synaptic Gospels’ version of Pilate’s exchange with the people.

Finally, simply put, the “blame”, as it were, for Jesus’ crucifixion spreads far and wide. The crowd called out for his death, and Pilate bowed to public pressures rather than doing the honourable thing. But to say that either Pilate or Herod were sole or joint catalysts for Jesus’ death, as this movie critic was implying is downright incorrect. As it stood, neither Herod nor Pilate had much at stake in getting rid of this guy. Now, the historicity of the Bible is debated by many, and probably will be for eternity, but, assuming Gibson was trying to emulate The Passion, using the Biblical texts below, I don’t really see how making Pilate out to be any more “to blame” would be any more accurate, given the perspective.

Until I see the movie, I can’t make my own assessment of how it handled these issues, but my (rather long) point in illustrating the above ideas is that TV personalities keep interviewing people who are obviously pretty lacking in knowledge, when it comes to theology or Biblical study, yet they are being treated as scholars in such. They are asking these people “what the Bible says”, and how it compares to the movie, and thus are getting totally incorrect answers which just furthers misunderstanding amongst everyone!

Sometimes I wish TV news anchors just could just buy a clue, but I am not sure where the blame lay. Anchors? they’re probably just asking questions? What about the people who scheduled the interview? Didn’t they do any research?

This line of blame keeps going… and can go right up to the heads of the news organisations, as far as I’m concerned.

cswiii @ 11:14 am



Went on a long weekend trip to Hatteras. It was great, a real recharger. Nevermind that I am bright pink — still — four nights after the original burn — I had a great time. I think we all did. I did most of the cooking, which seemed to bother no one. Cooking is a hassle for some people, but for me, it’s a relaxing thing. It was also good to be able to use a real grill again.

Did some thinking, writing while I was there. Glad I brought the iBook to scribble down the thoughts.

Morning thoughts. Rough Outline.

3 Jun 2001

Personal Traits

Everyone has traits about their person, physical, emotional, etc. Likewise, everyone has something “good” amongst those traits. However, these traits are handled and observed differently by third parties, specifically, how quickly they are believed, “admired”.

Let’s cite a few examples. Athleticism — you can see someone sprint 100 metres, lift a lot of weights, and immediately trust your instincts they are athletic. Likewise, you can see someone walking down the street, person looks good, and your eyes immediately tell you — and you trust your own eyes — that this person looks good. Finally, you can go to a lecture, or read a book, and trust that a person is intelligent, based on their output.

But what about kindness, being “nice” — benevolence? You don’t just see someone “be nice”, do a good deed and immediately trust this. Regardless of whether or not it was a faux act, or genuine — the person could very truly be nice, trustworthy — however this person is not immediately accepted based on the merit of his/her true worth (traits), unlike the other examples cited.

Part I – What is to blame? Societal changes? Or is it instinctual?

Did people, early on, tend to trust someone more readily; perhaps even on first impression? Granted, I think we are less trusting today, than years ago, but was it common to have immediate trust in someone, based on their initial kindness?

How much of it is instinctual? It seems almost logical that the instinct of self-preservation would keep someone from granting trust in someone’s benevolence from the beginning, despite this person’s actions… but I can’t shake the notion that such acts of kindness were more apt to influence another’s trust, in the past.

Part II – Can this have a major effect on a person’s interaction with others?

(Can’t think of a right way to title this right now.)
But let’s go back to the athlete. A person can see an athlete perform, and use the trust achieved in that interaction as a basis for formation of a relationship. He sees the athlete. He believes, knows this trait (athleticism) is for real. He pursues an acquaintance based on this trait.

Yes, it can be said that a relationship based on seeing someone perform a good deed is possible. But it’s that trust issue, again. You can’t/don’t/won’t place the same amount of immediate “trust” in this display as you would in that of a scholarly or athletic trait.

(Section added, 4 Jun 2001)

If someone is impressed to the point of acquaintance immediately by, say, athleticism, then it seems to me that someone whose most prominent trait is that of benevolence would have to achieve much more to gain someone’s kinship.

Someone whose best traits are emotional might run the risk of not appearing as “personable” or approachable, simply because his/her traits are not those which are most readily trusted or recognised.

Logic Breakdown: (4 Jun 2001)




cswiii @ 11:03 am