March 20, 2010 - March 12, 2010
Sorry. The Medusa will win. Snakes DO rule. The
United States is done. All of you who loopily voted for "hope and
change" have killed us. I hope you're happy with your choice. Ours was
the greatest country ever, but doomed for that very reason. Life is
like that. Now we get to do the autopsy, at great length, and hopefully
you too will all die before the end comes.
Me? I'm ready to die right now.
Easter will fall on April 4th this year, so it's predictable
that the History Channel, the Science Channel, The Learning Channel,
the National Geographic Channel, et al are already moving into their
seasonal ratings bid via Jesus TV. What's that?
It's the flood of past documentaries dealing with the various ways in which science has explored the facts that can be known or inferred about who Jesus really was or might have been based on archaeology, forensics, genetics, and history.
I'm not automatically imputing ill will here. It's a legitimate endeavor to apply the tools of science and academe to the mystery of Christian origins. I watch these things. Because I'm curious. Curious about what has been discovered and curious about what scientists of various stripes are doing to position themselves vis a vis the the biggest fact of all -- the near-miraculous existence of Christianity in the first place and the subsequent overwhelming historical dominance of Christianity as a religious and transforming cultural force.
I'm curious and the effect of the programming is curious. It's like watching the kind of production that's common on one of their cable cousins, the Military Channel -- a show we could call 'Sniper Science.'† We study the weapon, beautifully machined steel and optics (laser sights these days!) and coldly impersonal projectiles. We observe the snipers themselves, expertly trained in the art of camouflage, patience, marksmanship, and impersonal execution. Then we watch an individual mission. Research, planning, preparation, deployment, the firing moment, and then, uh, success? No. At the last moment the target is jerked away and as the credits roll, we're assured that in the end all is a matter of faith. Happy Easter.
But I'm not fooled by that. The quarry is well defined and it is Jesus Christ. I'm guessing the snipers think they have wounded the target, again and again and again and again. But also curious is why they feel the need to keep firing new rounds year after year. In recent years what have we been scientifically educated about with respect to the target? (Sorry I don't know all the show titles; I'll provide them when I remember them.) The cross is not a cross but a tee, er a Greek Tau. Jesus most likely had a huge extended Jewish family with aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc, which makes the gospel version of a solitary childhood (or immaculate conception) disingenuous if not laughably fraudulent (The Secret Family of Jesus). Jesus couldn't have looked like Jeffrey Hunter because he looked like Stuart Margolin instead, most likely displaying the same mugshot befuddlement (see photo right above) as Rockford's con-man sidekick, Angel Martin (The Real Jesus.) Unless he was a black man instead. (a.k.a. the WAPO view.)
But that's not enough either. Every year brings new "insights." In 2007 we had the "Tomb of Jesus," pushed by James Cameron, which argued --with all awed reverence -- that the bones of the murdered and definitely dead Jesus had been discovered in an ossuary by a hockey stick-wielding Canadian broadcaster. Last year (or so) we had the "Judas Gospel." This year we have the "First Jesus" and "The Framing of Jesus." Haven't heard of these? "The First Jesus" is a messianic Jew killed in 4 BC, and an Israeli scholar is sorta kinda sure that an ink on limestone text says he rose from the dead in three days. Except, 59 minutes and 59 seconds in we learn that the best archaeological photographers in the world can't confirm that the one letter he needs to prove the resurrection in three days part can't be read. Tune in next week for the second blockbuster, the one about 'Framing Judas,' about which Jonah Goldberg offers this:
A friend writes about the new Discovery Channel special.
Discovery Channel: Who Framed Jesus?
Logline: New suspects emerge in the death of Jesus.
I'm pretty much speechless. I was unaware the case was open. That said, good luck getting the Procurator of Judśa to prosecute. Guy's got a serious conflict of interest.
Based on my knowledge of cable tv, I hypothesize the new suspects are:
4. Midgets or dwarfs (TLC only)
7. A bridezilla
8. Flava Flav or Bret Michaels
9. The Real Housewives of Galilee
10. Some shirtless guy on Cops.
Just a guess,
Update: A fire-hose response from readers says my friend left out a key suspect: George W. Bush.
Three points that occur to me. First, such supposedly objective
scientific tales are always tales.
is no historical confirmation that Jesus actually existed. Only
two sources mention him: the New Testament and the histories of
Josephus, a Jewish scholar. Nothing factual
can ever be proven. Analyzing such fine details about the life of Jesus
are in every way equivalent to claiming that science can perform a
definitive analysis of the forensic contacts between King Arthur and
Merlin. Which doesn't mean that King Arthur and Merlin never lived. It
just means that science has no data
for pronouncing judgment one way or the other. They can act like they
do. But why would they? Unless they have a political dog in the hunt.
Second, what are we supposed to make of the so-called objective participation by 'scientists' in speculation about Jesus Christ? Speculation on this subject is fine. I would never discourage it. But as soon as they bring out their calipers and start measuring things, I begin to suspect the "baffle them with bullshit" syndrome. As if their particular flavor of speculation has more merit than anyone else's because at some level they can dream up a reason to bring electron microscopy into it. It doesn't. There is only one important question about the life of Jesus Christ. I first saw it stated when I was young and confused as a teenager. It was posed by -- of all august scientific sources -- the Encyclopedia Britannica. It said (and I paraphrase, substituting my degraded eidetic memory of near half a century ago for the actual text): "For those who wish to disbelieve in the historical existence of Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead, a disbelief which has been rampant from the mid-nineteenth century onward, there remains the challenge of explaining the rise of Christianity to a worldwide, culture-changing religion based on a man who, if he lived at all, probably spoke to no more than a few thousand persons in his life. This represents a primary mystery in the history of recorded human life on earth."
Third, this is not a narrow religious question. We have just seen that science is capable of not only conspiracy, but also of poisoning the waters, so to speak. The Global Warming 'crisis' -- and the exposure of its corrupt 'science' -- is proof that small, venal, parochially human incentives for career or political gain can result in mass distortions of what is popularly conceived to be indisputably true and factual. We have seen for ourselves that scientists are willing to pervert their disciplines in the name of what they see as socially and politically and financially advantageous or merely congruent with their pre-existing prejudices. Are you scared or angry yet? Are you really prepared to let them do in your conceptions of God and meaning and morality because they have giant instruments they're willing to apply on behalf of their preconceptions? Or are they just greedy mechanics with ready access to a wrench they'll use, when pressed, to bash in their wife's brains? Because everyone knows she didn't have any 'understanding' to begin with. Talk to me.
Actually, I have more than three points. But that's all I'm going to offer for now. What I have, in truth, is the basis for a reconceptualization of the entire human social contract in the age of the Internet, mass media, the so-called information explosion, and a threadbare consensus reality. Anybody want to hear it?
I know all this seems irrelevant during the week when the Democrats are claiming they can defy popular will and transform American life by doing what is best for us even if we don't want it. But it's not irrelevant. The nature of human life and the operation of the universe is never irrelevant.
Nothing is what you think it is. Not even your next breath.
P.S. One of the 'Jesus' shows I can't find is a documentary I saw no more than a year or two ago. A geneticist traced the oldest family grouping in Galilee and showed us what may be the closest surviving descendant of Jesus Christ. Unlike the stereotypical icon above (left)), he had blue eyes, an aquiline nose, long hair, and a deerhound tee-shirt. Not saying that carries any moral weight. Just saying, I'm pretty sure he was Scottish. Who else would have gotten so upset about the moneychangers? Forget that. It was a joke. The important thing? I saw this documentary. NO way to find it now. It's disappeared. Utterly. THAT concerns me. How does this machine work?...