Streams (Of Consciousness)


Sorry I haven't posted for some time. I haven't been blessed with tremendous bursts of insight worth sharing with the world. But it is time to write something, so this post will consist of scattered thoughts ranging throughout all my areas of interest. My inspiration for this sort of post is one of my favorite writers, Jay Nordlinger of The New Criterion and National Review. You should regularly check out his "Impromptus" column on National Review Online. Always some nugget of interest and wisdom. Oh, and he's a terrific writer.

Occasionally we are given stark reminders of how ignorant the general populace is. Last week we got just such a glimpse, when Dr. Karen King of Harvard University unveiled a tiny papyrus fragment that appears to put the words "my wife" into Jesus' mouth. Immediately, a firestorm erupted and a variety of media outlets breathlessly reported "new evidence" that Jesus might have been married!

This is beyond stupid.

21st century Americans still have a great deal of difficulty figuring out Thomas Jefferson's exact relationship with Sally Hemings; but a three-inch scrap of papyrus composed at least three centuries removed tells us something about Jesus? Whatever. Dr. King deserves no criticism whatsoever because she is smart, and knows that this fragment indicates absolutely nothing about Jesus, and she never claims it does. Nothing. Even if the fragment is authentic, all it indicates is that some small, obscure sect in the fourth century, a full three to four hundred years after Jesus lived, might have thought that Jesus was married. And, for those of you who are Dan Brown fans, that means they would be the first such group. There is no other extant evidence that anybody ever thought Jesus was married. 

Of course, just as that inconvenient fact didn't stop Dan Brown, it doesn't stop the UK Guardian from describing the fragment as "providing evidence that Jesus was married." Pathetic.

In any case, it took all of a few days for the brilliant Francis Watson (formerly of my alma mater, the University of Aberdeen) to all but decisively demonstrate that the fragment is a modern forgery. Oh, yes, the papyrus might be really old, but whoever wrote on it probably didn't speak native Coptic and, conveniently, appeared to have a modern edition of the Gospel of Thomas lying around! Strange, for somebody living in ancient times. Maybe Dr. Who is playing tricks with his time machine. I'll let the academic world of ancient textual criticism sort it out, but there is nothing to get either excited or agitated about. Hope they sold a few newspapers, given the state of the economy.

Speaking of public ignorance, I found this Saturday Night Live "commercial" absolutely hilarious, and worth watching.

In a recent Facebook dust-up I said that one of two people is going to be the President of the United States next January: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. And I added that voting for somebody else is "childish" and "poor stewardship of the gift of voting." A couple of people immediately jumped in to prove me right. Always helpful when people do my work for me.

Since I bring up the presidential election, I should say a few words about where things stand. Doug Wilson (of whom I've been very critical on this issue) memorably writes this week that the ancients had legions of priests tasked with reading goat entrails. We have pollsters. Very, very nice. The polls continue to be utterly laughable. Quinnipiac with Democrat turnout at +9, +11, and +12 in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, respectively? Remember: these people get paid handsomely for reading the entrails of their diseased goats. If you think the Democrats will have a +9 to +12 turnout advantage, you are either on hallucinogens or else engaging in pure wish projection, not reality. Hugh Hewitt puts it nicely when he says the mainstream media "has their fingers on the scales." Exactly right. Follow his advice and analysis: tune out the polls.

There is one number I do believe in the polls however: the 46% or 47% always attributed to Barack Obama. Obama's popular vote total will be between 46% and 48%. I believe that is his high water mark. Make of my prediction what you will (not worth much, I grant you) and I will eat an old, crusty, bony crow if I'm wrong: I'm calling it Romney/Ryan 53%, Obama/Biden 47% in the popular vote total. And if those are the numbers, the Electoral College should not be particularly close. Yes, I know the reality is that it is probably tied right now. But "undecided" eventually means, in the vast majority of circumstances: "Not the incumbent."

Hewitt brings up another very interesting thing in his blog post today. I listened to the soundbyte of our President declaring before the United Nations that "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam," and I simply took it as more Progressivist, hand-holding, Kumbaya-singing lunacy. Which it was. I've become so accustomed to it that I missed the significance. Hugh takes it as an astounding foreign policy blunder. I find his analysis quite compelling. That is the only sentence that will be extracted from the speech and played on Al Jazeera and Jihadist websites all over the world, the one where the U.S. President says: "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." Duly extracted, it is almost a positive endorsement of the Jihadist cause, no? Speaking fluff has its hazards. Mr. Obama and his speechwriters should learn to be serious.

So NFL football, if it wasn't already, has become utterly unwatchable. I took in a couple of games recently, and was treated to an endless barrage of yellow flags flying. I find this amusing, because football fans like to complain that Major League Baseball does not have "instant replay." Yes, how is that instant replay working for football? Leaving aside the absurd amount of play stoppage, instant replay didn't stop the pathetic travesty of the game last Monday night. The NFL is flirting with having the entire integrity of their game unraveling. I realize this is due to a referee lockout, and they'd better fix that problem pronto. But considering that it is the everything-is-reviewable-by-instant-replay NFL that is suffering integrity issues compared to the hardly-anything-is-reviewable MLB, I find it very, very ironic. And a compelling argument for no instant replay in baseball. (Although I do approve of the current replay regimen on home runs, fair or foul, purely at umpire discretion.)

Speaking of, the playoff races in MLB are quite compelling this season. Since my hapless Twins are now stuck in "spoiler" mode, I'm thinking of throwing my support around the Orioles (AL) and Nationals (NL). Those are two franchises that could really use a championship. About the only thing to cheer for, for a Twins fan, is Joe Mauer (Oh, okay: and Josh Willingham!). Mauer is making a very nice run at his fourth batting championship, and he is a pleasure to watch. Last night's victory over the Yankees (yes, the Yankees!) featured a three-hit Mauer night and two (yes, two) strike-em-out, throw-em outs by Joe, in back-to-back innings. It was impressive enough that the Yankees simply stopped running on him.

Fall has arrived in Big Sky Country. And it is this time of year that I wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, the sky is huge, the sunlight is golden, and the water on the rivers is crystal clear. Last Friday was a banner day on the Stillwater River. I caught an even dozen. (Hint: if you're nymphing on the Stillwater, this is a chocolate candy bar for Browns and Rainbows alike.)

And, just for the fun of it: It's Open Mic night at Cellar 35 in Aberdeen, Scotland, tonight. If you make it, say "hey" to my friends for me. I'll make it back. Someday.

Brian Mattson