Lord! Oh, Lord!
Help me to remember that four hundred thousand people died from COVID. As it stands, I’m only reminded of the four hundred thousand COVID deaths every six hours. I’m begging you to remind me more frequently.
Specifically, I want to have alerts about the four hundred thousand COVID deaths sent to my phone every three minutes. And as the minutes go on, naturally, I don’t want you to unthinkingly keep the number at four hundred thousand, but increase the total in real-time.
Lord, I’m on my hands and knees for this request to show you that I understand that in antiquity, maybe as early as the Iron Age even, people thought this posture increased their chances at being heard.
Okay, Lord. Biden is talking again. Got to go. Love you. Bye.
Maybe it’s just that I enrolled in some logic courses in college, but, to begin, I want to say that I am more and more surprised how many particular expressions of logical fallacies are put in play in formal American political debate. Then again, logic is just one part of rhetoric.
However, the main reason for this post is to say the following. There are at least two separate ideas in play at the moment. The first is whether President Trump used some sort of indirect, latent, or *wink wink* vocabulary and phraseology known by supporters and which somehow commanded them to “storm the capitol.” This post is not about this idea, however interesting it may be.
The second idea in play during today’s debate is that the United States of America can be irreversibly conquered in a time period of less than seven days, whether the next seven or some other grouping. This is what I want to write about.
The USA cannot be conquered, irreversibly or not, in seven days. If you disagree with me, then this doesn’t mean that the USA can be conquered in seven days. Instead, it means that you do not believe in the concept of National Sovereignty. By this time window talk I mean to quantify that you already don’t believe in America. This is fine! Just admit it.
There are other options than National Sovereignty. Believe as you please.
But I’m here to say that the USA is not going down in seven days—not if Trump wanted it to happen, not if you feared that it could happen. Give me a break. That’s as clear as I can be to explain why I don’t care about anything he or you say or do this next week.
Should the president be impeached? If I understand political process, it cannot be completed much earlier than seven days from now. So the question is not whether the president should be impeached. The question is whether the effort is merely symbolic. If not, then as my question’s time window decreases to six days, five days, four days, etc. as time goes on, my question’s clarity increases.
Finally, if it is symbolic, then what is the benefit of the symbolism?
Let’s pretend for a moment that my claim, “It’s all hype,” is not your claim. Let’s now go further into this fiction and make it more fantastical too. Let’s have you be curious and bold and ask, “But, Pete, it seems pretty crazy out there. Why do you insist that it’s all hype?”
My answer, “Because of one key phrase that all the hucksters are using: recent memory.”
It’s bizarre actually. There’s some lingering spirit of truth in the profession, some agreed upon need to quantify the false claims, and yet they will not use a definite quantity.
“In all human history…” would be fine.
“Since 1963…” is perfect.
“As far back as I can remember…” is weak, but ultimately has a definite date.
“In my lifetime…” same.
No, sir. None of these are in play.
Because it’s all hype.
Naturally, he is going to disagree with this headline. That’s fine.
Naturally, this disagreement is half the point.
I wrote a post yesterday, “In Defense of the Dark Ages.” It was lucid, it was clear, and it was to the point. Consequently, my bff disagreed with it.
I suppose I should include the detail that my bff has taken to calling himself a “professional historian” of late. (Back when I was growing up, we were taught, “starving artist”. Kids these days.) We spent about, oh, eight hours or more texting about all things disagreeable about my “grandiose pronouncement” (a unflattering tendency of mine).
In the end, after a bad night’s sleep (anyone else fight with their spouse when something good like free money happens at random?) I realized my friend was right. I did defend the “dark ages”. But the real truth, the fullest truth is that I defended the historical view (one of many) that there was a “dark age”. God forbid. And a proper blog post by a professional historian in 2020 (which I am evidently not) would’ve admitted this nuance. In other words, I displayed the fact that I am an ignorant bigot, racist, and probably, at least indirectly, responsible for all that is wrong in the world.
So here’s my correction post. I do admit I mis-titled my post. I should have called it, “In Defense of My View of History—AKA the Right View.”
Because it is the right view, including the void Dark Age and all.
When it comes to history, The West is my hill to die on, or as the kids say, my “ride-or-die”.
And just like that! The muse has left. Suddenly, this claim doesn’t feel compelling anymore. Signs of the times, I suppose.
SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t need Christopher Nolan and his latest sapio-sexy film in order to believe that there are no parallel universes or, what is the same, that we’re all living in one big tapestry of existence. I didn’t need him to highlight that entropy is conceptually unbound from time. No. I already believed it and have proved it. How else could I have spent my COVID money before it was even deposited, huh? How else?!
As the old proverb goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Confession: I’ve been entraipsing through time my entire life. And it’s fantastic.
(To be sure, I needed the money because I thought I had all the books I would ever need—I was wrong. Now I have all the books I will ever need.)
One more note. When we look at the issue as I do, then the entire question changes. Instead of, “Did ‘brothers’ mean ‘brothers and sisters’ in certain passages?” we now ask, “What should we do if the majority of believers want to make that change?”
See how that question reveals a totally different issue than what the Lockman Foundation is defending? (My dad came up with that one when following my argument through.)
I’ll leave it here with: and this is why I love the Bible.
The NASB is the latest Bible translation to succumb to nonsense about gender confusion. Specifically, they have joined the translations who use the more “thought for thought” philosophy. For today, I just want to record my thoughts on the specific change of adding “and daughters”, “and women”, and “and sisters” etc. to verses which previously had only “sons” and “men” and “brothers”.
This post isn’t about the content of the defense of the change. This post is about how the issue at hand is not the one being defended by the Lockman Foundation on its website. See here.
I know of no one who cannot understand that in “the old days” we used one word to convey broader concepts than today. “Men” often meant “humans”. Again, whether “men”, means “only men” or “all humans” is not the issue. The issue is whether informed humans today are really so stupid as to give in to the ignorant humans. Context clues are how humans read and communicate. Period. There are no stand alone words, names being the only possible exception. (Jesus, being the name above all names.)
Are we going to describe the cross as “the cross that was used by the Romans who crucified Jesus of Nazareth near Jerusalem at the time of passover around what we call the year 29 CE (previously AD)” in,
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB1995
Should it say, because the non-believer of today doesn’t even know what a cross is, and in fact only says that word when discussing actions to take on travel-ways (don’t cross the street…, “For the word of the cross that was used by the Romans who crucified Jesus of Nazareth near Jerusalem at the time of passover around what we call the year 29 CE (previously AD) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”??
Because that’s the issue. Context drives meaning. Period. If you’re too stupid to know that Paul meant, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters…to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,” when he wrote “Therefore I urge you, brothers…(no additional word),” then that’s on you. The hard truth of Christianity is that you have to want it to be true for it to work for you.
You have to want it to be true. If you don’t want it to be true, that’s on you. I’d be happy to share the gospel with you, but it seems like an ignoramus like you would only trample the pearl that it is. So until life unfolds in such a way that you need help, as in actual supernatural assistance, leave me alone.
Lockman Foundation translators: bad decision. And worse defense. It’s not about Greek or grammar. You should know better. People react viscerally and emotionally when you change their Bibles. It’s not without reason though. And this is why I do. In this particular change, you’ve communicated that you don’t think people need to want Christianity to be true for it to be true. You’ve communicated, then, that you’re more powerful than you are. That’s a problem. We don’t have time for Hebrew and Greek. But we surely can spot vanity a mile away.
I’ve been following my own advice and spending quite a bit of time watching fantasy movies and reading fantasy books. I should clarify here that I mean romance more than fantasy. All the normal bounds of the time space universe apply. Most recently, I watched the new Costner entry, “Let Him Go.”
These films and books fulfill their purpose just fine. However, as I fancy myself a serious blogger/writer type who could compete with those who perform on the world stage—if only I had the ambition—I often challenge myself to come up with my own take on the genre. What is my fantasy? I don’t mean, “What do I think would sell?” Or, “What do I perceive other people dream about?” No, I mean that I challenge myself to add my own fuel to the warm “good guys win” feeling that I enjoy as I see evil mother-effers reap it and good men be rewarded with beautiful, virtuous women.
Here’s the gospel truth. My fantasy centers on the children I’ve been charged by god with raising to become good men and good women.
The fiction begins with an argument. My character espouses wisdom, in a much too passionate volume. There may even be a hint of what psychologists call “contempt”. My children consistently reply with overly self-righteous bull honkey. Soon after, I kick them out of my house for crossing the line. (I haven’t resolved in which manner they cross it, whether they mindlessly repeat the slander of George Washington, Jesus, me, or one of my military buddies. But I imagine that they say something absolutely retarded and untrue and so they’ve got to go.)
Next, I imagine I resign completely from life. I become a veritable hermit.
Then the world burns.
As for me, I nimbly and deftly survive and do so in style. Eventually, others hear of an older man (they say he was a pilot, back before the Green Skies law) always staying one step ahead of the new troubles brought about by stupid young people. The Captain is suddenly whispered as if the title itself means hope.
Did you hear the latest about The Captain?
I heard The Captain has been planning something big for some time now. He’s got to be getting close.
All the while, in the hands of my children, the world burns.
But then the careful reader and viewer begin to notice new expressions on the faces of The Captain’s, by now, adult children—themselves leaders of the supposed revolution. The faces betray, finally, a wise hesitation. One might almost say the progeny appear, for the first time in their life, uncertain.
Skip to the end, and readers all rejoice as I, The Captain, am unable to outpace my children who are on their way to warn me—themselves being only one-step ahead of their pals who are coming to kill me. The reunion, made all the more compelling by the contrast between painfully slow scenes of family reconciliation and scenes of unabated, furious chase by the enemies, is only long enough for one phrase to pass.
“Father, you were right.”
Having uttered these noble words, they turn to find our mutual enemies have caught up to us. Despite our unified slaying of a significant number of them, they kill us all, saying, “Remember, orders are to kill The Captain and all of his diseased blood!”
Yup. It’s not family happiness that I dream about—that seems utterly hopeless in our current world. Instead, I long for vindication from the mouths of my children before I die.
This one’s going to put me on the map! Time to finally go viral! It’s been a long enough wait, I can assure you.
As a time capsule, then, I want to finally make written record of my interpretation of the book of Revelation’s most infamous passage. I’ll be bypassing, for the reader’s sake, all discussion of the nature of prophecy and all survey of historical interpretations. In the place of these things I will attempt to simply and eloquently write my own thoughts. Let the reader be my judge.
The passage in question:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
Revelation 13:18 NASB1995
My interpretation hinges on the fact that there is no indication whatsoever, anywhere, that the inspired authors of Scripture, while inspired, could do math. Accordingly, the use of the word “number” in the passage calls to mind the wrong idea. Instead, the word should be “total”. With this change, the passage reads:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the total of the beast, for the total is that of a man; and his total is six hundred and sixty-six.”
What’s the difference between “number” and “total”? Ready? Here it is. Number is six. (Period.) Total is six cows. Or again, number is 70 million. (Full stop.) Total is 70 million people. With me? Okay, one more then I’m moving on. Number is nine. (That’s all she wrote.) Total is nine ball players.
In my experience, some humans cannot see the distinction. For my own mind, I have not concluded yet whether I find this ability to see the distinction to be the result of nature or nurture. All I know is some people can’t see it. If this is you, if you can’t see the distinction between number and total, then this post, no matter how appealing, is not for you. Bye bye.
If, on the other hand, you see the distinction, then here’s the theological point. Contextually, the passage is clearly a warning. Lucky for us (lucky for Christians, that is), Jesus wins. So accurate interpretation of the warning is not consequential. (But we knew this already because John wrote that only some folks have understanding. I just want to record my own interpretation, because I’ve never read it anywhere and because I think the other interpretations of this passage are so moronic and childlike that they ought be cast into the lake of fire with all the other hell-born.)
The passage is a warning. And it warns of a method. How does it warn of a method? The only way possible—giving the result. This is a sticky assertion, I know. Hold on tight. And remember, it’s for fun. The interpretation does not matter.
Theologians and scholars agree that early written math in all cultures began by associating numbers to the letters of the alphabet, which otherwise recorded sounds. Roman Numerals are a slightly evolved remnant of this. To be clear, in English we might designate that the letter “A” equals a value of one, “B” , a value of two, and so on. This made for very difficult written calculations. But they were still much more efficient than having to laboriously write, “one plus one equals two.” (Easier version: A + A = B)
Our four-eyed ancestors saw something more though. They saw that a code could be developed, here, too.
Words could contain a meaning hidden to all but the intended, the “read in”, recipient. Love letters, and other private communiques could be communicated in broad daylight.
One such phrase, in Koine Greek (though not in the Bible) is, “the great beast”. Guess what its letters add up to? A value of six hundred sixty-six. But don’t miss the point. Plenty of words and phrases do, too. Quite literally, innumerable words and phrase add up to six hundred sixty-six.
But that phrase does, too. “The great beast.”
The passage’s warning is not of some creature, but of some creation—some total. What total? The total of a man. Which man? Which human? Could be me, could be you.
In other words, I believe that John told us that the beast meritorious of warning is when we mortals leave what is known as “concrete” reality (which does include the spiritual) and move to “abstract” reality (which does include “lies, damned lies, and statistics”, as Twain put it)—assuming we then base our actions on the abstract reality, to the detriment of the concrete reality.
This, of course, has never been done.
There it is. Now you know. Discuss amongst yourselves.
I’ve moved on to, Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver, by Jonathan Swift (known more popularly as, “Gulliver’s Travels”), but before I forget, I wanted to record my concluding thought on the infamous Locke.
It is well known that white people (nothing to do with skin color) generally—and just past playfully—ridicule black preachers (nothing to do with skin color) for their energy. “No need to get so excited. Just say what you’ve got to say and let us go home,” we comment.
I was, accordingly, surprised to hear the following critique by my black mentor after we heard a particularly rousing sermon one day, at our black church. My mentor was a retired former Navy-man who had also worked in prisons. To temper my jubilant, childlike-wonder-filled praise, he replied, “I don’t like when preachers incite. And,” he continued, “now this may just be me, but it felt like he was inciting. I used to see this kind of thing in the prisons. It’s okay to be loud and full of passion—we are talking about the Lord, mind you—but sometimes some folk cross into inciting. Remember, Pete: not everyone that’s preaching is called.”
Returning to political philosophy, my concluding thought is this. I used to think the reason we weren’t assigned John Locke anymore was because he was irrelevant, being old and clearly having rued the day. But now, after reading his essay, in full, I see our predicament differently. The reason we don’t assign each other John Locke anymore is because he is dangerous. His writing and his ideas are so powerful that you will find yourself incited to make war upon our government. Promote an essay suggesting that, anytime government prevents its citizens from bettering their lives, war is the divinely approved method to change the situation? Heavens, no! We can’t have people reading this!
I, for my part, was driving down I-35, halfway to Cabelas’ guns and ammo department (already depleted), before I remembered that I have a family and that things in my climate controlled dwelling aren’t actually that bad—even without TV.
In short, before reading Locke—and subsequently fighting the war that makes America great again—read your Bible. Best to put first things first.