Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Luke 22: 35-38---A Different view

                                         Luke 22: 35-38
[35] Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"
"Nothing," they answered.
[36] He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. [37] It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."
[38] The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."
"That is enough," he replied.”

INTRODUCTION: The above is a more-or-less standard translation of the noted verse. From reading the many different interpretations of these three verses I can only conclude that the various commentators are so divergent as to lead me to doubt that they have a handle on this tidbit of the Gospels. The following comments provide a base for a very different view of these words.
Could it be that something happened after the Christ's earlier sending-out of disciples on the lawless roads of that land? Could it be that his concern for His People (As we are) as moved Him to have them take such measures as were needed to protect their bands?

ON SWORDS IN JESUS' TIME: The sword of c.33AD in the Roman world were the ultimate personal weapon. There were the AK-47s/AR-15s of that time. As all weapons of that era and most of today's they could be used for offense or defense.
Swords required much more metal than axes, daggers, spear points and other weapons. They also required very much more skill, effort and time in their manufacture which made them more uncommon in private hands than not and more costly than otherwise.
The writers of that era (Including those of the Gospels) were very aware of Roman and other weapons and, unlike some of the historically uninformed commentators on the verses noted above, not prone to confuse “swords” with “daggers”.

JESUS' NATIVE LANGUAGE: There is little doubt that the native language of Jesus was a form of Aramaic. He appears to have known enough Hebrew for the purposes of the Synagogue and may have known some Greek, the lingua-franca of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire as demonstrated by his interactions with Pontus Pilot who, as most members of the Roman upper class, spoke Greek.

JESUS' LAST “GEMERAL ORDERS” ABOVE IN ARAMAIC: The interlinear translations of the above verse, in the Christ's own mother tongue, yields the results: “They are sufficient”. This variation from “they are enough” is more-than-sufficient to cast serious doubts on the comments of some that Jesus was being sarcastic about his disciples' reaction to his declaration that they should have swords about them in the future. The first translation implies a dismissal of a wrongful reaction to His earlier statements; The latter a clear statement that two swords are “sufficient” to meet the needs of travelers. [This mistranslation is as wrong as giving “Thou shall not murder!” as “Thou shall not kill!”.]
After all, the roads of that time were not secure from bandits and other ill-doers as Roman and local “law enforcement” provided little security even within cities, let alone on the roads.

THE BIAS OF TRANSLATORS & COMMENTATORS: After reading the many and very varied translations of the noted text and the even more varied comments on it, I can only conclude that some of those persons put into those words what they wished them to mean, too often by convoluted arguments without sound premises or tempered logic. There is certainly no consistency on the interpretation of these verses. Some of these individuals could well be described as “Pathological Pacifists”! They might have done better by applying Occam's Razor and accepted that the words meant what they said (In Aramaic).

IRONY AND SARCASM: I am neither a biblical scholar nor an expert on language usages. However, it appears to me that even the most emphatic and pointed of Jesus' corrective teaching and chiding, often in parables, is ironic and without the harshness of sarcasm.
       Therefore, there is great doubt as to the validity of the statements of commentators who declare that the Christ was being sarcastic in his (Mistranslated as “That is enough”.) “That is sufficient”.

MOSAIC & NATURAL LAW & DEADLY FORCE: Here I will diverge from the actual verses noted above and travel to the related question of the use of force as appears to bother too many who fail to understand the history of this subject.
       From the Talmud (Moses killing the Egyptian attacking the Hebrew slave; And other verses as to slaying evil-doers) to the Torah (It is permitted to kill a night time burglar or trespasser The foundation of some jurisdiction's “Castle Laws”?) to such luminaries of our Anglo-American Law as Hobbs, Locke & Blackstone to even the very recent US Supreme Court's majority decision in District Of Columbia VS Heller the Natural Law right of self-defense (And defense of innocent others) has been supported. The means (Modern handguns) to enforce that right was the real cause-in-action for the Heller case, where the majority decision relied on Natural Law to support its decision.
        For the Orthodox and Catholics explaining the meaning of the scriptures gives greatest authority to the Ecumenical Councils of the Church and, to some extent, the lesser councils and synods. [If anyone can inform me of any decisions of such as to the use of force to defend self and innocent others against criminal attacks, I would be happy to receive such information.]
       Catholics, of course, accept the rare ex cathedra decisions of the Pope as to (Only) matters of Faith and morals [Same request!].
       Both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches also give great weight to the early Church Fathers. Catholics, at the least, grant those persons designated as “Doctors Of The Church” great authority in matters of Faith and morals AND in interpretation of the meaning of the Gospels.
       The only “Doctor Of The Church” who, as far as I know, directly addressed the use of deadly force was St. Bernard of Clairvaux who (In his De Laude Novae Militae) mentioned the “two swords”, closely outlined when Christians may use deadly force AND noted that “the edge of the sword” could be used to defend Christ and His Church.
        He also noted that St. John the Baptist did not demand that soldiers give up their profession; But, only that they not abuse their authority.
        The Christ, of course, gave great honor to the Centurion (A professional soldier and, if you will, a professional killer) and to his Faith.

"PUT UP YOUR SWORD”: To my mind, Christ's command to St. Peter was a “special case” as Jesus's capture, death and resurrection was necessary for the salvation-of-mankind; Such a special case not being a model for other situations or for such lesser persons as ourselves.

LEGIONS OF ANGELS: Yes, the Christ could have called upon “Legions Of Angels” to protect his followers as well as himself. Yet, as to His followers, that would have eliminated the virtue of their becoming witnesses (Martyrs) to Him and his teachings before the world's authorities of that time, rather than having the protection of two swords against common bandits. As to Himself, the same applies as in the paragraph above.

SWORDS AND THE STATE: Of course, those (eg Mr. Mark Shea) who place special weight on the words of St. Paul should recall his approval of the State's use of the sword to punish evil doers.
Some others had thought that the “two swords” referred to the division of authority between Kings (Civil governments) and the Church. This is not scriptural as it derives from the Reformation and is, at best, a strained argument.

AN EXCELLENT PRINTED DISCUSSION: The following book is worth reading on general principle and especially as to the use of force and justified war:
Webster. Alexander F.C. (Fr.) & Cole, Darrell (Professor);
The Virtue Of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West;
Regina Orthodox Press (Salisbury, MA);
ISBN 1-928653-17-1.
       This volume's positions and arguments can be extended, in part, to personal self-defense when the State or international-organizations are unable or, sad to write, unwilling to aid the innocent from criminal attack (eg By the Jihadi in the Sudan against the Pagan, Christian and some Muslim peoples of that nation/criminal-organization).

INSULTS & TURNED CHEEKS: Yes, the Christ told us to respond to insults, even to a slap to the face, by “turning/offering the other cheek”. That is, even the most gross insults are not an excuse for such evils as revenge.
       To better understand this, it must be remembered that for time immemorial any blow to the head or face was the worst of insults in most cultures. Even in the “civilized” Western world, it has not been so many years since such a blow would result in two “gentlemen” standing ten-paces from each other with pistols in hand and murder in their hearts.
        Yet, I do not find in the Scriptures any instructions to accept murder, rape, genocide, mutilation or even robbery/theft (The taking of that part of a honest person's life expended in earning property) without taking effective and immediate actions to forestall the execution of such crimes. Such are beyond insults and are dealt with, above, in the “Natural Law” section of this essay.

CONCLUSION—AN ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATION: It appears that Jesus had sent his disciples out before the time of the noted verses without anything and with some very restrictive commands. Perhaps, some of them were confronted by evil men on the unsafe roads of that time. Perhaps, Jesus then wished them to have the “sufficient” protection of “two swords”, being enough to ward off bandits without giving the appearance of an armed party. This appears to be the simplest explanation of those verses and, therefore, the best one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aurora As Gun Free & Free Fire Zone

According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, Mr. Eugene Kane, the entire city of Aurora is a "Gun Free Zone" to the extent that the carrying of concealed weapons is illegal there.  This provides an answer to my questions|: "Why was there no citizen who used his/her concealed handgun to "double tap" (ie Two rounds to the head) the Aurora Theater shooter.

Aurora Colorado may now be added to such places as Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Nebraska's Westroads Mall and, so hard to believe, Fort Hood. That city can now also be added to those places who welcome terrorists, "crazies" and other criminals to their "Free Fire Zones" and provide some guarantee a very good measure of protection to them from law-abiding and armed citizens.

The citizens of that city should question their public officials as to the sanity of their
anti-CCW measure

REFERENCE:  Kane, Eugene; "Gun laws do little in case of theater killings"; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel;
July 24, 2012, Page-2A)

Monday, July 23, 2012

External View Of Obama & USA

      Business leaders and public administrators sometimes find it necessary and useful to hire "outside consultants" to take a new and, hopefully, independent view of their operations. Sometimes it is equally useful AND necessary for the "body politic" of the USA (ie Its citizens and legal immigrants) to do the same.
      Fortunately and at no cost to us (So unlike our various governmental units) a newspaper in the Czech Republic has provided us, free of charge, such an evaluation of our voters.

Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way that you can quickly understand them. This quote came from the Czech Republic.Someone over there has it figured out.  It was translated into English from an article in the Prague newspaper Prager Zeitungon:

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president."

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Confession Of Racism


Jnne 21, 3012
Yes, alas, it is true. Oh, I am a poor sinner, and have offended against the Lord, and lived in the dark night of racism, and it presses hard upon my soul. Oh, how it does. But now, having seen the light of goodness, I repent and will own like a man to my transgressions. Yes, I will say it here, before God and man: I have believed that things should be done without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin.

The shame, the shame!!!!

I will make a clean breast of yet more. I have been against all discrimination by race or sex, against affirmative action, racial set-asides, special treatment for women, quotas, and favoritism by the government and the media. Oh the guilt I feel! I have been a beast, worse even than the Grand Flagon of the Invisible Umpire of the Ku Klux Klan.

There is still more. I have read, and believed, and steeped myself in the pernicious theories of known racists, such as Martin Luther King, who once said openly, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Yes, yes, I too thought this and—oh, woe—was even proud of thinking it. I believed that behavior counted, not race—that if a mob of teenagers gang-robbed a convenience store, they should be horse-whipped, regardless of their race. I thought they should be judged by the content of their characters. I could not see the injustice of equal justice. I did not yet grasp that being against racism was proof positive of racism.

Understanding was not yet upon me. I thought before my salvation that people should take responsibility for their actions. If jack-booted Nazis beat a black unconscious because of, well, pretty much anything, I figured the newspapers should publish their names and photographs, and the courts should give them a minimum of thirty years, no parole, in which to ponder the wisdom of doing it again. Crimes should not be hidden, I believed, nor the criminals protected, according to race.Or anything else. The same laws for everyone, I told myself. Oh, fool that I was.

I was wrong. I now see that a belief in equal treatment under the law is the foulest form of racism. It discriminates unfairly against criminals. All I can say in defense of myself is that other racists, such as Thomas Sowell, led me into these moral swamps. [Sowell: “Similar episodes of unprovoked violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other places across the country. Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug, as well.”]

In Washington, where I once worked, Intensely Good people encouraged me to correct my thoughts. For example, I was told repeatedly by my moral betters that crime and illiteracy flourished among our black population because blacks were deprived and oppressed. I didn’t believe it. No. Instead I hearkened to Walter Williams, a perilous Simon Legree and known Klansman. A very devil, he wrote “I graduated from Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School in 1954. Franklin's students were from the poorest North Philadelphia neighborhoods — such as the Richard Allen housing project, where I lived — but there were no policemen patrolling the hallways. There were occasional after-school fights — rumbles, we called them — but within the school, there was order. Students didn't use foul language to teachers, much less assault them.”  He also asserts that the kids could all read. Racism, pure and simple.

This, note, was when discrimination and oppression were real. So why, I asked myself, heartless racist that I was, can’t black kids read and behave now when discrimination favors them?

Yes, I know, now I know, when it is too late, that only a racist could think that black children could learn to read, and therefore damned well ought to if other people were paying for it.You see, I was in those days socially dangerous without realizing it. Being a racist, I thought that everyone could learn to read, obey the laws, avoid beating people into brain damage, and behave civilly.

Now, permit me to turn to the environmental consequences of racial virtue. This is a more serious matter than many know. It is a question of clogging. When I was in the nation´s capital, a strange, gummy, yellowish substance began washing up on the banks of the Potomac. It killed fish. Chemical analysis showed it to be PSAG, Polymerized Self-Admiring Goodness. The sources seemed to be the neighborhoods around the Washington Post, and the socially conscious regions of upper Connecticut Avenue and Montgomery County. I began to study the racially virtuous whites who lived there.
I found that those who were most vehemently Self-Admirigly Good regarding blacks didn’t know any blacks. They didn’t send their children to the city’s black schools. They stayed out of black neighborhoods. I had known some of them for twenty years and never been with them in a restaurant with more than a token black or two. Thais, Chinese, Italians, Salvadorans, yes. Blacks, no. They had no black friends that I saw. I didn’t ask them when they had last gone to dinner with a black family. Being a racist, I didn’t think I needed to ask.

The devastattion wrought by PSAG. Fred with the last alligator of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. A lot of gringos live in the hills above the lake, many of them self-admiringly good, and PSAG washes into the lake in the rainy season. Note that the alligator appears to be gagging.

In fact, these Righteous Washingtonians seemed to have no interest in blacks at all, other than avoiding them, but just wanted to feel good about themselves. If I mentioned that the black schools of Washington were horrible, which they were and are, the response was to call me a racist. Which I was, of course. But how does that help black kids who, generation after generation, are being turned into adults whose only ability is to produce similar generations?

Being deeply in error before my enlightenment, I mistook their hypocritical condescension to blacks for hypocritical condescension to blacks. This latter is a known ingredient of Polymerized Self-Admiring Goodness. Everything fits.

Now I shall go and slit my wrist