Mishmash…

Sorry for the sparse blogging lately. I’ve been both busy and preoccupied with other things. Nothing in particular to say today so I figured I’d just put together a little of this and that from the blogosphere.

Consequently I am flying the face of number 2 on John Lyons’ list of the 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging. This is actually one of the things I disagree with on John’s list. I rather like blogs that serve primarily as collating services for some topic or another. Paleojudaica is, of course, my favorite of these. Getting caught up on everything in the news that is even vaguely associated with early Judaism is generally as simple as clicking on to Davila’s site.

For those of you who don’t wander about on Slacktivist regularly, shame on you. But for now just check out his last couple of posts on the roles and rights of women around the world. Make sure you follow the link to Joss Whedon’s post on this topic as well, and make note of his points concerning the soon-to-be-released Captivity. And while you’re over on Slack don’t forget to read Fred’s second footnote on his most recent post. I would like to know precisely what precipitated the second encounter with Bishop Tutu.

Finally, I want to weigh in very briefly on Simcha Jacobivici and his “documentary” The Lost Tomb of Jesus. If you want the whole lowdown on this film I strongly suggest that you go over to Mark Goodacre’s NT Gateway Blog and read everything that you find on the Talpiot Tomb, it’s all here. The article I want to mention, however, I ran across via Jim West’s blog (another blog worth daily reading). The Canadian Jewish News gives a report about Jacobivici’s film and the resulting controversy, asking him questions about the rather harsh backlash that the film has received. Jacobivici seems to key in on people who take issue with his film on religious grounds, playing the Search for the Truth trump card on these objections. “What I am doing is reporting objectively about an archaeological discovery,” he says. Later in the article he summarily dismisses the objections of archaeologists by saying “I’ve noticed that archeology is not a science. It’s a body of knowledge” (can somebody explain to me what the hell that means?!). What both he and the CJN completely fail to mention is that more or less the entire scholarly community, including theologians, archaeologists, philologists, paleographers, historians and biblical scholars have explored the possibility that the Talpiot Tomb belonged to Jesus of Nazareth is highly unlikely. There are serious scholars (e.g. James Tabor) who do buy that the tomb does contain the remains of Jesus, but so far as I know not many (readers should feel free to correct me on this). It’s not that I think Jacobivici is ridiculous because of what he believes, but the fact that he dismisses the scholarly community on this subject by citing his journalism credentials just annoys me.

So, there it is. An avalanche of meaningless junk. Cheers all.

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Better Men (and Women) or Willful Ignorance…

I’m reading some more of the platonic Dialogues again right now, partly because Socrates is good fun and partly because I really need to return Mike’s books to him and this is one of the ones I borrowed around (cough, cough) two years ago. Anyhoo, I came across a wonderful little quote. The parenthetical (and women) is my editorial nod towards inclusiveness.

Socrates: I think so too, Meno. I do not insist that my argument is right in all other respects, but I would contend at all costs both in word and deed as far as I could that we will be better men (and women), braver and less idle, if we believe that one must search for the things one does not know, rather than if we believe that it is not possible to find out what we do not know and that we must not look for it.
-Plato, Meno, 86b (trans. G.M.A. Grube; Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1981).

Ignorance is a fact of life. Willful ignorance is a sin.

Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner…

I’ve been listening to a lot of Sting lately. For whatever reason over the past few years popular music has become less and less interesting to me. There are still a few bands here and there that I love, bands that speak to me, but they are few and far between. Among them, however, there is Sting. There are two songs in particular that have reached me in a powerful way. It isn’t that I resonate with either of them. I don’t. They have nothing to do with my life. But they are wonderful stories and there are very few things in life that I like more than a wonderful story.

I Hung My Head is the story of a man who accidentally shoots and kills a stranger. Not surprisingly this song was also performed by Johnny Cash on his American IV album. Though at first glance the song is apparently about death it is really about regret and the powerlessness of much of our lives. It is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful drama and I love hearing it over and over again. It is also written in 9/8 time. Ya, you heard me.

I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying is the story of a man who’s wife has left him. Never have I experienced a song that walks the fine line between sadness and hope so well. And the truly great joy of this song is the perfect marriage between the tone of the music and the one of the lyrics. So few major recording artists truly have the ability to marry a complex emotion like loss with a musical score, but Sting does it marvelously here. The movement from a major to a minor progression in the chorus following verse 3 hits me particularly hard.

This may seem like an odd post for me (though those who know me well know that I love music), but I’m going somewhere with this. It would appear that a lot of people I know are tired and sad right now. I understand, I’m just coming out of a pretty deep valley myself. These songs helped me because they are so deeply human. They touched me with both sadness and the promise of hope. In the spirit of hope then, I leave you with a line from I’m So Happy.

I saw that friend of mine, he said,
you look different somehow
I said, everybody’s got to leave the darkness sometime.