Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Innocence of Pontius Pilate: How the Roman trial of Jesus shaped history

The book is a marvelous introduction to some great thinkers that at least I was not aware of, and the relevance of Pilate's innocence or guilt to the separation of church and state, and much else in Western European history. 

Here is a link to a more extensive review.

One of those thinkers new to me is Hugo Grotius, whose influence in Western thought is vast. He is the instigator of "the law of the sea", and also the laws of warfare. Philosophers heavily influenced by his thought include Hobbes, Pufendorf, Thomasius, and Rosseau. His thought even influenced the post USSR world order, and some declared the 1990's as "a Grotian moment". 

My memory was restored as to the meaning of the inscription Pilate wrote above Christ on the cross. My memory had "King of the Jews". While aware of seeing "INRI" on crucifixes, I recall looking it up and forgot it long ago.  It is the acronym for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum in Latin, translating to English, as “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (so, I award myself half a point for "in the ballpark"). The "Titulus Crucis", Latin for “Title of the Cross,” is important because it is the statement of the official reason for why the person was crucified. Some claim that Jesus was actually an insurrectionist, and that is why he was crucified. If that was in fact the reason, it seems impossible that a Roman governor would not state that reason in the Titulus. 

Another area of knowledge that I have curiosity about but have not looked into is the idea of holy relics, so important at the time of the Reformation. It is obvious that many were forgeries created to either provide "evidence" of the life of Jesus and his crucifixion, or simply to make money.  The search for the Holy Grail relic, covered in the Indiana Jones movie is one example many are aware of, and I'd put the Shroud of Turin, as an example of a purported relic that exists, and its authenticity has been a subject of attempted scientific verification. 

Possibly, a piece of the cross with the inscription exists, and is currently displayed. Such things are naturally appealing to humans attempting to "prove/disprove" Christianity, or just basic curiosity. Like Thomas, I understand the yearning for proof, but pray that my faith will be sufficient to receive the blessing of John 20;29 "
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

On page 145, there is a reference to Augustine's "City of God against the Pagans". I read and reviewed this massive work back in 2015. To ridiculously summarize; "City", and also the primary significance of the crucifixion to Western secular history, when Jesus told Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world", the idea of there being a kingdom outside the world was radical. Kingdoms had always had a state religion, and although the Romans attempted to assimilate the religions they conquered, the Roman state and its gods were one. The emperor was THE authority and considered a god. 

"And what are these "cities"? Behind the visible screen of global history, Augustine posits (or intuits) the dim presence and cryptic influence of a divine city that is headed by Christ, and constituted by7 love of eternity, and a human city that is seduced by Christ's adversary, Devil, and constituted by a love of the saeculum or present age."

Chapter 4 introduces us to Dionysius Exiguus (who created the BC/AD system (so hated by those who detest Christianity and its foundational importance for Western civilization), and Pope Gelasius I, the first pope called "the vicar of Christ" and is a critical person in the rupture of the Roman church creating the church of Constantinople (Orthodox) in 1054.

Chapter 15 brings us to the thinking of Dante relative to Pilate and the Crucifixion. 

"Who is Jesus' judge per Dante? Pontius Pilate. -- Nothing less than the redemption of the world hangs on the fact that as Dante writes, the sufferings of Christ were inflicted by an authorized judge. To deny this, for Dante is to deny the Christian faith". 

We are also introduced to "The Great Refusal", an error attributed in Dante's Inferno to one of the souls found trapped aimlessly in the vestibule of Hell. Trapped because of the refusal to make a crucial decision he was required to make. Pilate is one of the candidates trapped in that vestibule for eternity. 

 I'll leave my review at this point. The idea of "innocence" in the sense of the book title is a legal idea ... difficult to ascertain because the earthy "authority" at the crucifixion was Roman and Jewish, with Rome being superior. Other than an academic tracing of a lot of history explaining how the Crucifixion and the judgement involved shaped both the Christian church and Western civilization, the book will interest few beyond academia. 

Legally, Pilate is guilty of not doing his duty. He was the authority with the power to rule, and he merely stood by and let Jesus be crucified -- by Roman soldiers, not Jews. Since neither Pilate or the Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah, neither can be guilty 
of "deicide" in a secular/legal context.

 The charge of Jewish deicide based on the Jewish crowds' statement "His blood be on us and on our children!" has sadly been used to justify a lot of antisemitism by Christians. 

As we pass from Lent to Easter, it is important to know that all of humanity are guilty in the crucifixion through our original and many subsequent sins. Those passing judgement at the crucifixion didn't know Christ was the Messiah, we do. We are without excuse. 

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Dreams From My Father

I read this "profiles in narcissism" book back in 2009. 

As I believe that Obama is the puppet master pulling the strings on "Weekend at Bernie's" Biden, it was time to refresh. I'm far from the only one with this theory.

I've updated the original 2009 post quite a bit since time has passed. 

Barry talks of a white woman he loved.
“Well … there was a woman in New York that I loved. She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was."
 Unfortunately, he had to break up with her, because ... 
"And I knew that if we stayed together, I'd eventually have to live in hers. After all, I'd been doing it most of my life, Between the two of us, I was the one who knew how to live as an outsider". 
Nobody in our vast right-wing media conspiracy ever looked her up during two elections and long after. Turns out she wasn't very hard to find.  -- Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College. 
“In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” she told Garrow. Her parents were opposed, less for any racial reasons (Obama came across to them like “a white, middle-class kid,” a close family friend said) than out of concern about Obama’s professional prospects, and because her mother thought Jager, two years Obama’s junior, was too young. “Not yet,” Sheila told Barack. But they stayed together."
Truth is certainly optional for Democrats, but how could you trust a Republican if they got a date or a name wrong? 

Barry was very much a black racist "white privilege" wasn't a term then, but the book reeks of the accusation, even though he is half white. The degree to which he idolized his absent black father, who turned out to have anything, but a model life is utterly amazing. If he has any god at all, it is the "false god" of his vision of that father. His poor Grandparents, who actually made all the sacrifices to raise him get very little credit, and his white mother gets the shortest shrift of all.

The other thing that hits me is that this is what you get when you remove God from the life of a person, they become their own god.  What does Obama really think? One can read through 457 pages and suspect he has no idea beyond what his sort of pastor Jerremiah Wright said that this as a world "...where white man's greed runs a world in need".

A lot of what he says, he puts in someone else's mouth, but since he claims to have written the book, that isn't really much of a dodge -- why put something in their mouths if you think it is not worth people hearing said?
p 258. "The first thing you have to realize ... is that the public school is not about educating black children. Never has been. Inner-city schools are about social control. Period. They're operated as holding pens, miniature jails, really."
Later -- "Just think about what a real education for these children would involve. It would start by giving a child and understanding of himself, his world, his culture, his community. That's the starting point of any educational process."
p406. "What Granny had told us scrambled that image completely [black supremacist Muslim] causing ugly words to flash across my mind. Uncle Tom. Collaborator. House Nigger." Being a black supremacist, not wanting any intermarriage with whites -- that is a GOOD image. Working for white folks in Africa? Well, the "N word" isn't all that positive."
When you are a black supremacist atheist, talking of a "moral compass" is odd. Certainly, if Barry could be declared God, then the "moral compass" would be properly set, and heaven on earth would be at hand ... at least if you are black.
p 438. "All to rarely do I hear people asking just what it is we've done to make so many children's hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass -- what values we must live by."
Well, we USED to be a Christian nation -- there are a known set of values there. "Love your Neighbor", "Do unto others", "First cast the log in your own eye...", etc. Knowledge that man is fallen, and it isn't WE that turn human hearts hard; human hearts ARE hard until they are redeemed by Jesus, and even then, constant attachment with word and sacrament is required. "Obamanation" (abomination) is what happens when sovereign God is converted to a relativistic hodge-podge of tribalism, pop psychology, new age gibberish and polytheistic meanderings. Obama's religion is Obama -- at one time it was his "false god father", but when he found the truth of that mirage, he left it behind.

This is gratuitous, but it gives a little smile. 
p 87, "Gotta have them ribs .... And pussy too. Don't Malcom talk about no pussy? Now you know that ain't going to work."
Nice quote for a president to be writing in a book, huh? Suppose if he had an "R" next to his name, a few of those quotes might have gotten a little more play?
"Without the white man, we might be able to make better use of our history. We might look at some of our former practices and decide they are worth preserving. Others, we might grow out of. Unfortunately, the white man has made us very defensive."
Are the "citizens of the world" going to be able to get rid of the evil white man? It is clear that they have made a lot of progress. 

I knew when I read the book that we had/have much more to fear than "fear itself". I didn't cover much of the Kenya part of the book, but suffice it to say, "He is Luo" -- that is his tribe and identity. I'm not sure there is any point that he says, "I am an American" -- at one point he said, "I am a citizen of the world". Given Democrats ideas on borders, it seems that "citizens of the world" ought to be eligible to be president. 

The climax of the book, needing a lot less than "deconstruction" to interpret in light of the entirety of the book is when he falls on the ground between the graves of his grandfather and father. 
"For a long time, I sat between the two graves and wept. When my tears were finally spent, I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America—the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I’d felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I’d witnessed in Chicago—all of it was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father’s pain."
Today it can be said plainly that the objective of much of world culture is to stamp out "whiteness". Destroy the "colonial powers".  That Google's Gemini failed to generate images of white people is just a case of mistakenly saying the quiet part out loud a little too soon. 

We are in a proxy war in Ukraine, a not so proxy war with Iran (since we have dead and injures soldiers), unknown forces streaming across our southern border, high tension with China, and who knows what else? The US is a woke paper tiger that I suspect will not fare as well as France when the hydra headed attack hits. EMP? Thousands (millions?) of drones streaming off container ships?  N Korea nukes hitting S Korea, and maybe Japan at the same time? Destruction of critical satellites? I'm sure my imagination is inadequate. 

At least we can all focus on Donald Trump and Taylor Swift while we wait for Barry to do something.