Dismal tweet for the day

That’s Kevin Williamson, a National Review columnist, on women who have abortions.

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The Will to Power

Book One: History of European Nihilism
II: Nihilism

§86   Your Henrik Ibsen has become very clear to me. For all his robust idealism and “will to truth” he did not dare to liberate himself from the illusionism of morality that speaks of freedom without wishing to admit to itself what freedom is: the second stage in the metamorphosis of the “will to power” — for those who lack freedom. On the first stage one demands justice from those who are in power. On the second, one speaks of “freedom — that is, one wants to get away from those in power. On the third, one speaks of “equal rights” — that is, as long as one has not yet gained superiority one wants to prevent one’s competitors from growing in power.

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Old Testament-world, ctd

I’d be quick to agree that women can be pretty scary, but I think this is an overreaction.

Haredi Orthodox men who refused to sit next to women delayed the takeoff of an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv.

The haredi passengers offered money to other passengers to switch seats on the flight, which arrived in Israel on the morning of Rosh Hashanah eve, Ynet reported.

Haredi passengers who could not switch their seats stood up immediately upon takeoff and remained in place, crowding the aisles and inconveniencing fellow passengers and flight attendants, Ynet reported.

“It was an 11-hour-long nightmare,” one of the passengers told Ynet.

Because, you know … L-U-S-T. I don’t imagine mankind will ever be completely rid of religious stupidity and ignorance and injury, but every uptick in the ‘nones’ means a little less misery in the world, and I’ll be glad when religion is frankly laughed at.

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Character in the pulpit, ctd

Yet another pastor steps forward to say that he lied.

When I was a United Methodist pastor, I learned an unsettling thing from my own experiences and those of some colleagues serving other churches: Many ministers keep secrets about the Bible, lest things they learned in seminary (or otherwise know) hurt church attendance and the Sunday offering.

This put some friends of mine in a terrible quandary, forced to say things from the pulpit that were doctrinally demanded but which they had come to privately question. As for me, I resolved the matter by leaving the pastorate. When I did, I got calls of congratulations from two nearby ministers. One of those calls was especially poignant. He said I was fortunate to have other skills from my previous work experience that I could draw on. But he added that all he had been trained to do was to be a minister and that he felt trapped in the pulpit saying things he no longer believed in order to continue supporting his family.

I have some sympathy for these guys, because a lot of pastors got steered into that career from infancy, and steered toward women raised from infancy to be a pastor’s wife; it’s a strange, self-contained subculture that is nearly impossible to escape when you’re born into it.

My sympathy stops at the point when they injure others rather than stop lying, though.

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Jesus and illegal weapons?

A new paper speculates that Jesus was crucified because his disciples carried swords.

In debating the meaning of Jesus’ arrest and death at Jerusalem, scholars have paid too little attention to normal Roman practices of dealing with persons found armed in public in Rome or other cities under their control. Moreover, the idea that only one or two of Jesus’ disciples were armed has been accepted uncritically in spite of the probability that more or all of them were armed.

I’ve been unable to connect to Newsweek’s account of the paper, but it seems that Bart Ehrman thinks there might be something to the idea, while others reject it as seriously flawed.

This would seem to be in the spirit of Reza Aslan’s idea that Jesus succeeded John the Baptist as the leader of a Jewish nationalist movement — and is yet another example of how little is actually known about the life of Jesus and what sort of man he was.

On one hand, for instance, we have the account of the disruption at the Temple, the violence accompanying his arrest, and the gratuitous humiliation of his mother and brothers:

Matthew 12:46 While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47 Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

These give a picture of someone you really don’t want living next door.

And then there is the distinctly non-Jewish, but very Socratic, Sermon on the Mount — admired by people as different as Thomas Jefferson and Friedrich Nietzsche — which has given rise to the eminently plausible idea that Jesus was merely a down-market demagogue and rabble-rouser upon whom the Greek authors of the gospels layered the ethical teachings they were acquainted with.

The take away? We don’t actually know who Jesus was, or what he taught.

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