A False Theory to Defend

When we peruse the analysis [David Friedrich Strauss] gives of the different Gospel narratives, we cannot but wonder at the exceeding patience and ingenuity which must have presided over their formation. Let us take, by way of illustration, the first that occurs in his book—the annunciation and birth of the Baptist. According to Strauss, this was got up in the following way. An individual had in his mind a compound image blended from scattered traits respecting the late birth of distinguished individuals as recorded in the Old Testament. He thought of Isaac, whose parents were advanced in their days when they were promised a son, and this suggested that John’s parents should be the same. He remembered how doubtingly Abraham asked, when God promised him a seed which should inherit Canaan, “How shall I know that I shall inherit it?” and hence he made Z[a]charias ask, “Whereby shall I know this?”—he called to mind that the name of Aaron’s wife was, according to the LXX., Elizabeth, and this suggested a name for John’s mother. Then he bethought him of Samson’s birth being announced by an angel, and accordingly he provided an angel to announce that of John also—he glanced at popular Jewish notions regarding angels visiting the priests in the temple, and thence obtained a locality for the angelic apparition to Zacharias—he got back next to Samson, and from his history supplied the instructions which the angel gives respecting John’s Nazaritic education, as well as the blessings which it was predicted that John’s birth would confer upon his country—he next went to the history of Samuel, and borrowed thence the idea of the lyric effusion uttered by Zacharias on the occasion of his son’s circumcision—he then fixed upon a significant name for the prophet, calling him John, after the precedent of Israel and Isaac—the command to Isaiah to write the name of his son, Mahershalal-hash-baz, upon a tablet, recalled to him the necessity of providing Zacharias also with something of the same sort; and as for the dumbness of the priest, it was suggested by the fact that the Hebrews believed that when any man saw a divine vision, he usually lost for a time one of his senses. “So,” exclaims Dr. Strauss, after a long enumeration of all these particulars, “we stand here upon purely mythical-poetical ground!” Indeed! then must the people of that mythical-poetical age have been deeply versed in all those artifices of composition, by which in these later times men of defective powers of fancy continue to construct stories by picking and stealing odds and ends of adventure from those who have written before them. No hero of the scissors-and-paste school ever went more unscrupulously to work than did this unknown composer of the story of John’s birth. And, after all, he made it look so natural and so apparently, original, that it required a German philosopher of the nineteenth century to find out for the first time, that it was a mere piece of Mosaic from bits of the antique—a “mere thing of shreds and patches!” I blush for the degeneracy of the age. The most practised of booksellers’ hacks now-a-days is far, very far behind this skillful literary man of a mythical-poetical age.

Such are some of the logical inconsistencies into which Dr. Strauss is betrayed by his theory. I adduce them not as against him, but as against it. They are not the slips of a careless or inconsistent reasoner; they are the errors into which a man of much acuteness and dexterity has been led by having a false theory to defend.

William Lindsay Alexander, Christ and Christianity: A Vindication of the Divine Authority of the Christian Religion, Grounded on the Historical Verity of the Life of Christ

Lords That Are Certainly Expected

When I came first to the University I was as nearly without a moral conscience as a boy could be. Some faint distaste for cruelty and for meanness about money was my utmost reach—of chastity, truthfulness, and self-sacrifice I thought as a baboon thinks of classical music. By the mercy of God I fell among a set of young men (none of them, by the way, Christians) who were sufficiently close to me in intellect and imagination to secure immediate intimacy, but who knew, and tried to obey, the moral law. Thus their judgement of good and evil was very different from mine. Now what happens in such a case is not in the least like being asked to treat as ‘white’ what was hitherto called black. The new moral judgements never enter the mind as mere reversals (though they do reverse them) of previous judgements but ‘as lords that are certainly expected’. You can have no doubt in which direction you are moving: they are more like good than the little shreds of good you already had, but are, in a sense, continuous with them. … It is in the light of such experiences that we must consider the goodness of God. Beyond all doubt, His idea of ‘goodness’ differs from ours; but you need have no fear that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your moral standards. When the relevant difference between the Divine ethics and your own appears to you, you will not, in fact, be in any doubt that the change demanded of you is in the direction you already call ‘better’. The Divine ‘goodness’ differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child’s first attempt to draw a wheel. But when the child has learned to draw, it will know that the circle it then makes is what it was trying to make from the very beginning.

CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“A Short History of Judaic Thought in the Twentieth Century”

Jörg Dickmann, “The Western Wall I”

The rabbis wrote:

although it is forbidden

to touch a dying person,

nevertheless, if the house

catches fire

he must be removed

from the house.


I say,

and whom may we touch then,

aren’t we all


You smile

your old negotiator’s smile

and ask:

but aren’t all our houses


Linda Pastan, “A Short History of Judaic Thought in the Twentieth Century”

Day Bidet #88

Over the seas, to silent Palestine:

  1. Important.
  2. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a politician mention beauty.”
  3. A good introduction to Hebrews.
  4. “The case for statin drugs … has not been made.” (You can’t trust the experts! Related.
  5. “Untangling Anxiety”
  6. Thought-provoking. (Related.) Validating. Interesting. On the mark. Horrific. (Related. Related.) Heroic. (Related. Related.) Humorous. Lovely. Literally miraculous.
  7. “[I]n each case, not only is this verb the narrative turning point of the story—it is also the word which is numerically at the centre of each pericope.”


Clown Investors. Clown Professors. Clown Public Health Experts. (Very much related. Related.) Clown Economic Experts. Clown “Rationalists.” Clown Vice President. Clown Congresswomen. (Causeplay!) Clown Activists. Clown Democracy. Which is why we’re living in a crappy reality TV show. But the sacred exists nonetheless and is stronger than all our rebellions.

“[W]e who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavor to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ.”

Day Bidet #87

The galaxies declare the glory of God:

  1. “Our world is not realistic.” (Related.)
  2. Not National News (hilariously). Not National News—you can’t trust the experts. (Related.) Not National News. Not National News. Not (Inter)National News. And on a different note: Not National News. (Related.) And a bonus Fake News special. (Related—you can’t trust the experts!)
  3. “Why do we need to rethink the dating of the New Testament texts?”
  4. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct. (Related.) Correct. (Related. Related: “Rolling the rock of life up the hill might be Herculean, but it’s not Sisyphean.”)
  5. “Genesis continues to develop the idea that those who dishonor Israel receive God’s judgment, and those who bless Israel receive God’s blessing.”
  6. “Maybe you tell yourself it’s not the same, I see what he was doing but it’s not the same! Why?”
  7. Lewis Mumford: “The segregation of the spiritual life from the practical life is a curse that falls impartially upon both sides of our existence.”


Teach the controversy! (Language warning.) Teach the controversy! (Related—great band name, but the moral of the story is you definitely can’t trust the intelligence experts. Related. Related #nonpartisan.)

“It was almost universally held, until the end of the fourth century, that the subject of the theophanies, the speaker of divine words throughout the Old Testament, was God the Son acting as the agent or messenger of the Father.”

“[Y]ou have similar obligations to your chain of ancestors and descendants; if you don’t have kids, all of the chain after you won’t exist.” (Related: “The woke-skeptical left wants people to have meaning in life, but is uncomfortable with the things that actually give them meaning.” Related. Related.)

“What Language Shall I Borrow to Thank Thee, Dearest Friend?”

Hazony on Progressive Imperialism

Blindness to the existence of competing nations, each with unique laws and traditions that are its own, has likewise found expression in the aspiration to establish a “liberal world order.” In their campaign to establish a universal political community, liberals have assumed that the various rights and liberties associated with the traditional Anglo-American constitution, developed and inculcated over centuries, are in fact dictates of universal human reason and will be recognized as desirable by all human beings. Since the 1990s, this belief has led to American military intervention, with European assistance, in countries such as Bosnia, Serbia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. These operations have sometimes involved protracted military occupations, whose aim has been to impose liberal democracy upon peoples that have no such traditions. At other times, they have involved aerial bombardment aimed at destroying an existing political regime, on the assumption that this would bring the people to rise up and establish a liberal-democratic regime in its place. In all these cases, intervention was shaped by the belief that because liberalism is a dictate of universal human reason, foreign peoples would shrug off their own national and tribal traditions to embrace reason and a liberal form of government. These policies have had an almost unblemished record of failure. In no case have the intensive military operations of recent decades led to the establishment of something resembling liberal democracy—this despite the deaths of perhaps a million foreign nationals, the loss of thousands of American and European lives, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars on these futile foreign adventures. Indeed, far from understanding Enlightenment liberalism as a universal truth, these peoples have tended to retain their national and tribal loyalties and to regard liberalism as the false inheritance of a foreign nation. The more Americans and Europeans seek to instill these ideas in the nations they have conquered, the more certain these peoples become that the ideas in question are nothing more than tools for the extension of American empire and the subjugation of foreigners. Meanwhile, liberals say that such failures are due to “poor implementation,” and continue viewing liberal democracy as a universal truth, which is therefore impervious to alteration in the face of experience.

Yoram Hazony, Conservatism: A Rediscovery

Day Bidet #86

The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming:

  1. “I believe in Puddleglum.”
  2. This is not the happy ending Caroline Emerson thinks it is.
  3. “The crowd is untruth.” (Related. Related—surreal to watch such a seamless profession of newfound faith.)
  4. Carbotoxicity. (Related. Related.)
  5. “Kirillov has liberated himself from every other will in the universe—­including God’s. He has nothing to forgive, and nothing to love.”
  6. Wondrous. Undeniable. Unsurprising. (Related.) Also unsurprising. Also unsurprising. (Related. Related: “‘Diversity, inclusion, and equity’ refers to ideological uniformity, exclusion, and discrimination.”) Tender. Belated. Cyuuuuute.
  7. “If this life is not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it feels like a real fight.”


Clown World—Shot and Chaser. Clown World. Clown World. Clown World. Clown World. Clown World. Clown City. Clown Journalism.

“A Wizard ought to know better!” (Related.)

“He invests in Shenzhen instead of Ohio, reinvests his profits into other foreign operations … and ultimately hands his money over to a hedge fund that speculates in options markets. … He signs the ‘Giving Pledge’ and, dying a wealthy man, leaves enormous sums to reputable foundations that provide addiction treatment and housing assistance to the underemployed residents of his home city.”

Chesterton: “Whatever else is true, it is emphatically not true that the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth were suitable to his time, but are no longer suitable to our time. Exactly how suitable they were to his time is perhaps suggested in the end of his story.”

Day Bidet #85

Did you get enough love, my little dove:

  1. “This is prayer.” This is winning. This is—or was—common sense. This is my ideology. This is fun. This is love.
  2. Read this. Then this. Teach the controversy! (Related—a July 3 throwback: “It’s all now, you see.” And a July 4 throwback—one of the greatest speeches of all time. Happy Fourth! There is much to celebrate—and much to mourn and restore.)
  3. “The book of Judges describes a unique Philistine temple design with two central pillars supporting the structure. Excavations have unearthed four Philistine temples to date that match the biblical description with two central pillars.”
  4. “Accounting for infant mortality, life expectancy for mid-Victorian Britons at age five was 75 for men and 73 for women, not too different from what is enjoyed today in the U.K.” (Related. Related.)
  5. “[F]or every convert to Christianity, there are four deconverts from Christianity who identify as religious nones.”
  6. “[T]he Romans were able to find a successful balance between openness and exclusivity.”
  7. A quick, simple, and effective argument for the Resurrection. (Related: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had imitators for a reason.”)


“[I]ntelligence of males and females were underpinned by different neurobiological correlates, which are consistent with their respective superiority in cognitive domains (visuospatial vs verbal ability).” (Related.)

“Though the majority of Jesus’ ministry was performed within predominantly Jewish areas of Palestine, the Gospels also record several occasions when Jesus traveled beyond Israel and ministered to Gentiles.”


When I was twenty the one true
free spirit I had heard of was Shelley,
Shelley, who wrote tracts advocating
atheism, free love, the emancipation
of women, the abolition of wealth and class,
and poems on the bliss of romantic love,
Shelley, who, I learned later, perhaps
almost too late, remarried Harriet,
then pregnant with their second child,
and a few months later ran off with Mary,
already pregnant herself, bringing
with them Mary’s stepsister Claire,
who very likely also became his lover,

and in this malaise à trois, which Shelley
had imagined would be “a paradise of exiles,”
they lived, along with the spectre of Harriet,
who drowned herself in the Serpentine,
and of Mary’s half sister Fanny,
who killed herself, maybe for unrequited
love of Shelley, and with the spirits
of adored but often neglected
children conceived incidentally
in the pursuit of Eros—Harriet’s
Ianthe and Charles, denied to Shelley
and consigned to foster parents; Mary’s
Clara, dead at one; her Willmouse,
Shelley’s favorite, dead at three; Elena,
the baby in Naples, almost surely
Shelley’s own, whom he “adopted”
and then left behind, dead at one and a half;
Allegra, Claire’s daughter by Byron,
whom Byron sent off to the convent
at Bagnacavallo at four, dead at five—

and in those days, before I knew
any of this, I thought I followed Shelley,
who thought he was following radiant desire.

Galway Kinnell, “Shelley”

Day Bidet #84

There is a love deeper than theirs who seek only the happiness of their beloved:

  1. “He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
  2. “I’ve watched a baby take her first steps and a saint breathe his last breath. But it’s that smile that pushes all seven wonders of the world from mind and memory and claims pride of place.” (Related: “On Saturday evenings, he would go out back and practice his Sunday sermons by preaching to his old mare he called ‘Evangeline.'” Related: “[E]very Sunday, she would cook a large meal after church, open to anyone who was hungry.”)
  3. “Malachi was indeed a prophet for his time and ours.”
  4. “Carnivore gave me back my mobility and my life.” (Related—you can’t trust the experts. Related. Related. Related. Related. Related. Related.)
  5. “Ten Reasons to Think Jesus Cleared the Temple Twice”
  6. Correct. Correct. (Related.) Woof.
  7. Evelyn Waugh: “To make an interior act of renunciation and to become a stranger in the world; to watch one’s fellow-countrymen, as one used to watch foreigners, curious of their habits, patient of their absurdities, indifferent to their animosities—that is the secret of happiness in this century of the common man.”


Biased feedback…or (Related. Related: “Women are totally off and don’t really know what they want.” Related. Related—why, indeed.)

“What does the Bible Say about Dreams?”

Clown World. Clown World. Clown Church. Demon World. (Related. Related.) Demon World. (Related. Related.) Clown World Demon World Always Both World: “US officials are reportedly happy to plunge the world into a global recession and mounting hunger (starvation) to ensure that Russia doesn’t win in Ukraine.” (Related. Related—language warning. Related. Related.) But—lest we forget—a wondrous and beautiful world nonetheless. (Related: “Let me help you with your wings.”)

“Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” (Related. Related.)