Why are our enemies always so irrational, crazy, deluded, risk-seeking, suicidal and just plain nuts?

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by Neil Godfrey

Another notice via Mano Singham of a worth-while article by a “politically conservative” writer, Stephen M. Walt. (Though I think Mano has mistakenly linked to an article about Walt’s article and not the Walt article itself.) Some of Walt’s words of wisdom as cited by Tom Boggioni …..

Noting a New York Times piece that marveled at Kim’s transformation, Walt dismissed it out of hand.

“America’s self-defeating tendency [is] to portray adversaries as irrational, crazy, deluded, risk-seeking, suicidal, or just plain nuts,” he wrote. “Instead of seeing foreign-policy disputes as the product of straightforward conflicts of interest or clashing political values, even well-experienced U.S. officials and knowledgeable pundits are prone to seeing them as a reflection of personality defects, paranoia, or distorted views of reality.”

“Similarly, many Americans continue to view international terrorists as deeply disturbed, irrational, deluded, or simply crazy individuals, instead of seeing them as politically motivated, calculating, and more or less rational actors who have adopted a particular tactic (sometimes including the use of suicide bombers) because they believe (with some basis) that it offers the best chance of realizing their political aims,” . . . . .

He then wrote,

“Some of the individual attackers may indeed be driven by wholly fictitious beliefs, but to dismiss these groups and their leaders as simply crazy underestimates their own resilience, strategic behavior, and capacity to adapt.”

It’s always been this way, hasn’t it? During the Cold War era weren’t we always being told how deluded the various liberation and anti-imperialist movements were — they had fallen for the crazy communist propaganda. And the Palestinians, too, are irrational, crazy, deluded, suicidal hate-filled terrorist lovers who just want to kill Jews. And as for those Muslims, well, ……


Trump and Another (Australian) Baby Boomer Drop Kick

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by Neil Godfrey

When I read . . . .

The thing about Donald Trump is that he was never one of the Cool Guys. He was the schmuck over there across the room who was feeling up women and picking our pockets while we looked the other way. He ran a campaign that said, you know the club they would never invite you into? I’ve been there, and it’s all bullshit, and I’m going to tear it down, the whole stinking meaningless system run by these people who have looked down on you from their suites in Davos and the Renaissance Weekends, the places they kept you out of while they were making decisions about your lives and not listening to anything you had to say.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, Don’t blame yourselves millennials (like you would), boomers created Donald Trump at Salon.

What is it about the hair with these guys?

. . . . I was reminded of Bob Katter, the leader of Australia’s Katter Party — (pro-guns, anti-gay, pro-racist/corrupt/dictatorial state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen supporter . . . . you get the picture). . . .

He was one of those who threw eggs at the Beatles when they arrived at Brisbane airport in 1964.

Is this statement about historicity within the Gospel of Mark true?

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by Neil Godfrey

The same can be said of the alleged first-century fragment of the Gospel of Mark. The aim was presumably to “prove” that the Gospel is reliable. That’s even more ironic, because no one seriously doubts that the Gospel of Mark was written in the first century, and whether it was or not is independent of questions about the historicity of information in it.

James McGrath, Rumors of First-Century Mark and the Resurrection, on the Religion Prof blog.

Even if the Gospel of Mark were composed in the second century (which “no one seriously” believes) that late date would have no relevance to the historicity of its contents? How can that be?


The Study of the Historical Jesus Depends On . . . . .

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by Neil Godfrey

The study of the historical Jesus depends on reconstructing oral tradition and honoring it with the same dignity we give the text.

That’s from David Galston’s, The 19th Century and Us, on the Westar Institute’s Biblical and Theological Reflections Blog.

Those words point to an even more fundamental dependency: The study of the historical Jesus depends on the assumption of oral tradition being the source of the gospel narratives.

Vridar posts addressing that assumption are archived here.

The Jeff Sessions Test for Hypocrisy Concerning Holy Books

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by Neil Godfrey

Oh what a funny lot we are. Watching the outrage of offended defenders of the Bible over Jeff Sessions passing mention that the Bible teaches submission to government — I could not help but compare the Christian world’s often heard criticism of the Koran on the basis of the way a minority of Muslims use it to justify inhumane actions.

Muslims are by definition potentially violent because they follow the Koran and the true interpreters of the Koran are those who read it literally in justifying their violence — so the common assertion goes. That’s what the Koran says so that’s what Muslims (really, if secretly) believe, they say. The voices representing the vast majority of Muslims are accordingly shut behind closed doors by the hand of a generally wilful ignorance. Wilful? Whenever a reminder of them or a pointer to them is made the claims are generally trivialized and dismissed as irrelevant.

Now the Bible really does command obedience to government authorities. Christians and governments have known and preached that throughout history. There can be no denying it.

So out come the rationalizations. The reputation of Christian values and its holy book is at stake, after all. So we are now told that one cannot just use such a passage as Romans 13:1-7 “out of context” – like the context of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, for example. One has to be kind to strangers, etc etc etc. Sure. But that doesn’t change the clear direction to submit to government authorities. Christian pacifists have even taught that they must accept punishment and go to prison if they do not submit to the government’s direction to go to war.

Many people refuse to allow such rationalizations by the majority of Muslims for the Koran’s violent passages, however.

Surely the Jeff Sessions remark should wake us up to the absurdity of modern folk having any respect for an ancient text as a guide to living today.

Failing that, one might wish that the followers of one book might see just a little more of themselves in followers of another holy book.

Update to I Cor 2:6-16 post

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by Neil Godfrey

I overlooked William O. Walker Jr’s arguments for 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 being an interpolation in my previous post and have since added his name. The insert now reads:

* Two outlier voices arguing that 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 is a non-pauline interpolation into the original letter are those of

Widmann, M. 1979. “1 Kor. 2:6-16. Ein Einspruch gegen Paulus” ZNW 70: 44-53.

Walker, W.Jr, 2002. Interpolations in the Pauline Letters. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, London. pp. 127-146.


Widmann’s arguments are challenged by

O’Connor, J.M., 2009. Keys to First Corinthians: Revisiting the Major Issues, Oxford University Press, New York. 257-260

Walker’s argument takes O’Connor’s rebuttals into account and attempts to strengthen Widmann’s case.

I may set the pros and cons for interpolation in a future post. In this post I assume the passage was penned by Paul.