Friday, October 31, 2008

Biblioblog Top 50

According to NT Wrong's newly unveiled ranking system, this was the 29th most popular Biblioblog for October. I'm honored, but also rather skeptical. I'm fairly certain that many, if not all, of those below me actually get more traffic. Oh well, even if a recount reveals massive voter fraud and I'm knocked off the list, I'll take comfort in his disclaimer:

In Biblical Studies the ability to write meaningful pieces that only you and, maybe, one other person in the world understand is the zenith of achievement. The Biblioblog Top 50 is thus no indication of the worth or otherwise of the blogs involved.
But I won't give back the award! ;P

Worshipping the Golden Calf

Oh Dear:



Drew points to this unintentionally hilarious video and article from the (so-called) Christian Broadcasting Network:

“In January of this year, Cindy Jacobs was in a worship service when the Lord spoke to her, “Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington, DC – the strongman lives in New York City! Call My people to pray for the economy.”

“This is so severe in the economic area because we are facing judgment from the actions, not only for our stance towards Israel, but our blatant sin against Him in passing laws such as the one allowing homosexual marriages,” Cindy said....

“We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said. “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”

I'd say their hearts are in the right place (after all, we should trust God in this matter as in all others), but really? The legalization of homosexual marriage is the most "blatant sin" they could come up with? You'd think, standing on Wall Street, that corporate greed might have deserved a mention? Or is that idol too sacred to question?

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween! Or Happy Reformation Day, for you super-spiritual types. It's been pouring rain all day 'round these parts, so Trick or Treating is gonna be quick and dirty, but the kids are cute, dressed up as Jack-o-Lanterns. No, that's not them! ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

SBL Is Three Weeks Away! aka This One Is For the Stalkers

NT Wrong has put together a helpful list of Bibliobloggers, categorizing each (with a whole lot of snarking on all sides) from "Very Conservative" to "Very Liberal." I'm listed as "Fairly Conservative," which I suppose is accurate. John Shuck retorts that the list provides a helpful resource for the stalkers, of whom I'm sure Biblical scholars have many....

In the hope that he's joking, I've decided to finally give up a bit of my own anonymity, so that if I do run into any fellow bloggers at SBL next month, they won't mistake me for a stalker. That said, if anyone knows of any biblioblogger get-togethers planned for SBL (or just wants an opportunity to give me a piece of their mind in person!), I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Did Jesus Exist?

It is a common refrain amongst the New Atheists that Jesus did not exist, that he was invented out of whole cloth by the early Christians. It is noteworthy that the people making this claim are generally not historical critics, while virtually all New Testament scholars (a group which includes a fair number of non-Christians) insist that Jesus' existence and death by crucifixion is an undeniable fact. That said, a mere appeal to authority can hardly be the end of the matter—though it should establish that the burden of proof rests on those who would deny this consensus—so it is worth discussing the matter in a bit more detail.

Just such a discussion has lately been ongoing at James McGrath’s blog. In response to his book The Burial of Jesus, James has attracted the attention of a number of Jesus-deniers and has been attempting to explain a few of the reasons why the crucifixion is almost universally accepted. Before I add my own two cents, be sure to check out these two posts, the latter of which includes this video:




That video drew attention from well-known British atheist Stephen Law, who responded here:

His argument is that the early Christians would not make up a crucifixion story as the Messiah was not someone they would expect to be crucified. The expectation was the Messiah would defeat the Romans, not be executed by them. Of course this is a blog standard argument that gets repeated over and over. He concludes anyone who thinks the story is made up is living in a fantasy land.

This seems to me an amazingly weak piece of evidence.

He is second guessing people's motives for why they would invent a story in which the expected Messiah dies.

First, there may be reasons why they would want their Messiah to die and come back to life. In fact, aren't there some very, very obvious reasons why they would want that? You want to invent a Messiah. But unfortunately no one has defeated the Romans or introduced the Kingdom of God just yet - which is what the Messiah is supposed to do. Hmm. What sort of story might you construct? Or perhaps the Messiah claim got tacked on to a made up resurrection story in order to give it authority, the story then being adjusted to make the Messiah claim fit.

Second, even if the tellers did have a motive not to include this element, and also had no reason to include it, so what?

This chap's argument rests on something like this principle:

If a story, presented as true, reporting many bizarre/miraculous events, contains an element that we think the tellers would have a motive not to include, then that bit of the story is probably true.

This is feeble. After all, alien abductees are often very embarrassed about saying what's been shoved up them. That's not a bit they'd choose to include. Should we conclude that bit of their stories is probably true?

If this is the best Dr. James McGrath has for supposing the Jesus crucifixion story is almost certainly true, I think he's in big trouble....

Remember, I don't say the crucifixion of an historical Jesus is a made up story. I say it's not unreasonable for me, given the evidence I have seen thus far, to suppose it might be.

The truth is, Stephen's own response is the one that is “feeble.” He assumes that the mere possibility that Jesus could have been invented is proof enough that he was. He dismisses James' argument on the grounds that he can imagine an alternative [see Stephen's comment]. He offers no reason to think this alternative provides a better explanation for the rise of early Christianity than that it really was a movement begun by a man named Jesus who was crucified. After all, unlike alien abductees, we have plenty of concrete evidence (archaeological and textual) that many Jews were crucified by the Romans, so there is no obvious reason to deny that Jesus was as well, simply because it was his own followers who recorded it.

Even leaving aside any other reasons to think Jesus existed, James' point about the Jews not expecting their messiah to be crucified is important. The issue is not that it was unlikely that a would-be messiah would be crucified (it was very likely indeed), but that this was generally seen as proof that the claimant was not the messiah after all. It was this latter belief that the early Christians rejected, and the most plausible explanation is that their own favored messianic claimant was actually crucified. What needs explaining is not why a would-be messiah would have been killed, but why anyone would continue to call him the messiah after it happened.

In fact, we know from non-Christian sources (such as Josephus) that there were numerous would-be Jewish messiahs in 1st C. Palestine, many of whom were killed by the Romans. Therefore, if you are going to explain the origin of a 1st C. Jewish messianic sect which claims its leader was crucified, it makes by far the most sense to think they started out as followers of one of those would-be messiahs, and subsequently reinterpreted their beliefs after his death. To claim the sect originated for some other (unknown) reason and then invented an entirely imaginary messiah that never existed and yet was still claimed to be killed by the Romans raises far more questions than it answers. UFO’s notwithstanding, James is right that such “embarrassing” details—of which there are many more, like Jesus’ baptism by John and Peter’s denials—are indeed strong evidence that there is a historical core to the story, however much it may have been embellished and reinterpreted by the early church.

To see this, consider a contemporary analogy: The cargo cults. No doubt it is possible that even if no Western traders ever visited them, the inhabitants of certain Pacific islands might have nevertheless started claiming that white men had brought them extravagant gifts from their gods (and one day would again), but it makes far more sense to see the embellishments and interpretations put forth by such cults as responses to actual encounters with such traders than as pure fiction without historical foundation. Similarly, even if you categorically deny all miraculous elements in the Jesus tradition, it makes much more sense to see those elements as embellishments and interpretations based (however loosely) on actual memories of a crucified messianic claimant than as pure fiction without any basis in reality.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Money Isn't Everything

Nicholas Kristof offers five ways the recession could be good for you (HT Jesus Creed):

Americans haven’t become any happier as they have prospered in the last half-century. And winning the lottery doesn’t make people happier in the long term.

This is called the Easterlin Paradox: Once they have met their basic needs, people don’t become happier as they become richer. In recent years, new research has undermined the Easterlin Paradox, yet it’s still true that happiness has less to do with money than with friendships and finding meaning in a cause larger than oneself.

“There’s pretty good evidence that money doesn’t matter much for how you feel moment to moment,” said Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist who is conducting extensive research on happiness. “What seems to matter much more is having good friends and family, and time to spend on social activities.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Human Sacrifice and the Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival is up at Rodney Olsen's blog. It includes my post on Literalism and the Ascension along with various and sundry others.

In particular, note Henry Neufeld's post on the many meanings of sacrifice, to which I would add the complication that our understanding of legitimate sacrifice has itself changed (thankfully!), and did so even within the ancient world. For instance, I've lately been enjoying an excellent series of lectures on Ancient Greek Literature. The one I listened to on my drive home last night discussed Agamemnon, who sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia at the beginning of the Trojan War, described with great pathos (and sickening detail) in the first part of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy. A similar story, of course, appears in Judges 11, which describes with like pathos (though none of the gory details) Jephthah's sacrifice of his own daughter after a war with the Ammonites.

But the interesting this about both stories is how they indicate a shifting view of human sacrifice from the period described to the one in which the story is told. While Agamemnon and Jephthah apparently considered human sacrifice as an acceptable means of earning the god's favor, those telling their stories saw things quite differently, taking pains to build up sympathy for the victim. These, I think, can provide a model for our own reading of the more gruesome aspects of biblical history. Like Aeschylus and the unnamed author of Judges 11, we must tell these stories, not to excuse or encourage such acts, but precisely to reveal their tragedy. For we still live in a world that is willing to sacrifice its children (whether in the names of various gods, nationalities, or as a "choice"), and too often we are numb to its horror.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jeffrey Overstreet Gets It

Jeffrey Overstreet (whose book Auralia's Colors I just purchased and can't wait to read) sums up my views of this election perfectly. I've never felt more conflicted about an election, nor more tempted to vote third party.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Indiana Jones Denied Tenure

Nice:

The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from “possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency” to “practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics” to “unabashed grave-robbing.”...

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist’s tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Literalism and the Ascension

Over at Exploring Our Matrix, James McGrath has up a couple of interesting posts about “naïve” verses “conscious” literalism, particularly regarding the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Luke 24:50-53), which are well worth reading:

At heart, the difference is as follows. Naive literalism involves someone (e.g. a Biblical author) treating something as factually true because he or she has no reason to believe otherwise. So, for instance, in the case of the ascension, why wouldn't Luke depict Jesus as heading straight up into the sky? Presumably, had Luke lived today, he would have either described the scene differently, or mentioned dilithium crystals.

Conscious literalism means taking something written by a naive literalist, while having information (whether scientific or historical) that was not available to that ancient author, and deliberately choosing to ignore the more recent developments in our knowledge and understanding, and instead treat the naive literalist's description as entirely factual.
This is an important distinction that must be kept in mind (along with the equally important point that ancient Jews, including our New Testament authors, were not opposed to creating seemingly historical accounts to make theological points), but I’m not certain that “conscious literalism” is necessarily illegitimate. It seems to me that much still depends on how we judge the trustworthiness and intentions of the one we're reading. While it is problematic to insist on a "literal" reading of Luke's ascension story, that doesn't necessarily mean rejecting the basic details he gives; it can also mean asking if there was a real event at the base of this story, even if we question his (naive?) interpretation of it.

Just as it is problematic for a "conscious literalist" to insist that Jesus bodily travelled up to a literal heaven just past the clouds (does anyone actually believe this?), it is also problematic to insist that the early Christians couldn't possibly have seen what Luke claims they saw because that would mean Jesus was still floating out in space somewhere. This is merely another form of literalism.

After all, there are alternatives. Perhaps Jesus was (is?) physical but capable of translating out of our visible three dimensions (one might appeal to string theory with its 11 dimensions, or perhaps something like Hiro Nakamura moving through time, who knows? Perhaps this is what James is referring to in mentioning “dilithium crystals”? A warp-powered Ironman suit? Heh). In any case, whether these are plausible or not is certainly a question worth asking, but the truth is that we're talking about something (resurrection) that is completely beyond our experience, and I doubt we'd do any better job describing it accurately than the New Testament authors have, even if it happened right in front of us. We'd use language and imagery from our own experience and texts--time travel, phase-shifting or some such thing--because it's the best we can do. In the First Century the best they could do was talk about ascending to heaven/the sky.

For all we know Jesus did ascend into the sky (then disappeared?) precisely to give that impression, knowing what First Century Jews would tend to infer from such imagery (deity, glorification, etc.). We might consider it more plausible that the early Christians themselves created this story to express those beliefs about Jesus, but that is not a necessary conclusion. After all, something convinced them that their crucified leader wasn't just taken to heaven non-bodily--like any other martyr--but bodily resurrected and bodily ascended. Whether the story is primary or secondary, bodily resurrection was not what we should have expected them to believe about Jesus, so it seems a bit unlikely that they were completely “naïve” about accepting it; they adopted the belief for a reason, whatever that reason was.

The point is, we can't really know what happened, but if we insist on certainty in such matters (whether as literalists or anti-literalists) we'll never be able to accept that any improbable or miraculous event can happen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Self-Interest and Sacrifice on Stargate Atlantis

I think it's fairly well-known around here that I'm a fan of science fiction, and I'm not terribly picky about it. I'll watch just about anything that's not terrible, and even then I'm liable to enjoy the unintentional humor. As such, I've long watched the Stargate franchise, even though it's as often mindless as profound. But this week's episode was a notable exception (ok, obligatory Spoiler Warning):

For those who haven't watched the series, Stargate Atlantis centers on a team of soldiers and scientists who have travelled to the Pegasus galaxy (via a portal created millenia ago... long story) to look for the lost city of Atlantis (even longer story). Upon arrival there, they discover that the galaxy is in fact full of humans (longer story still) who are enslaved by a race of evil people-eating aliens called the Wraith (don't ask). Oh, and everyone speaks English! So anyway... our noble heroes take it upon themselves to try to free said galaxy from said wicked villains, leading to all sorts of entertaining but impossible adventures.

Now--if you've finished rolling your eyes--in this week's episode the team is visiting a planet, offering medical services, and being all good-neighborly. Suddenly a large group of Wraith arrive and demand that the locals turn over some refugees, threatening that if they refuse the entire town will be destroyed (apparently, there's only one town on this planet?). Predictably, the town is divided over this little moral dilemma. Some claim that to give in would make them no better than the Wraith; others insist that it's better to sacrifice a few--outsiders no less--than to let everyone be killed, including the refugees.

At this point the heroes offer a way out: They will help evacuate the town and relocate everyone to another planet. Noble folks that they are, they even offer to risk their own lives to fight off the Wraith to enable this escape. But of course, this only presents yet another dilemma: The townspeople must now decide whether to give up their own livelihoods to save the lives of others, essentially to become refugees in order to save refugees.

Put like that, it's easy see what the noble thing to do is, but what is noble and what actually happens is rarely the same thing. After all, our own world is full of dying people whom we could help if only we'd be willing to reduce our own standard of living and give. We needn't even join them in poverty; you can save a life for just a dollar a day. But they're all strangers, and we don't have to look them in the face as we choose our comfort over their lives. In theory, we're willing to help, but it takes effort and sacrifice, and too often self-interest wins out, whether our own or someone else's.

And so it was on the show. Though the town agreed with the plan to flee in theory, before anyone acted to help a few men took it upon themselves to form a brute squad and turn over a few of the refugees. Though they are arrested, by then there are too many Wraith for the original escape plan to work. So what happens next? Some heroic deeds to save the day and clean up this messy moral dilemma without sacrifice? Hardly. The mayor sneaks into the prison and tells them where the remaining refugees are hiding. He then lets them go and, predictably, they lead the Wraith right to the place. When they get inside, however, they find it empty and rigged with explosives. So the villains are killed. Our "heroes" are able to fight off the remaining Wraith and evacuate the town before more can arrive. The credits roll. Another victory for the "good guys."

And isn't that exactly how it goes in the real world as well? We in the West would like to help but, as nations if not as individuals, we let others make the sacrifice for us (or force them into it). Despite all our good intentions, most of the time we can't or won't prevent others from doing the dirty work for us while we live in relative comfort and sleep soundly at night. Sometimes we may throw the worst offenders in jail, but just as often we let our leaders quietly pat them on the hand and send them on their way--to kill or be killed. For either way, a sacrifice always has to be made, and if we are not willing to make it ourselves, there's usually someone else to make it for us. Some young soldiers perhaps? Or a child we'll never meet? Or maybe some "criminal" we can all villainize and execute in our place? Or does that only happen on TV?

If Only My Wife Would Say This

Ben Byrely's wife (from a great post on "how blogging has tweaked my life"):

If you journal in a notebook with pen and paper, everyone commends you for being spiritual. If instead, you blog in a more communal way, you are wasting time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Gematriculator

Heh, should I be relieved or concerned?

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator This site is certified 62% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Here. HT Jim West and NT Wrong.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life on Mars

This week I caught the series premier of ABC's new show Life on Mars (watch it here). If you were a fan of that short-lived but excellent show Journeyman (my review) or are just hankering for some time travel while you wait for LOST to return, it's worth checking out. Though I'm not at all sure where they're gonna go with it, the premier was interesting and entertaining.

In short, the story centers on Sam Tyler, a New York city detective. Early on, his girlfriend (also a cop) is kidnapped by a serial killer but while Sam is trying to save her he suddenly gets hit by a car. When he wakes up, he's shocked to find himself in 1973, with no idea how he got there. But he hasn't (just) traveled in time; according to everyone around him he lives in 1973. He's got a car and a job (still a cop) and an apartment; as far as everyone else is concerned, the only thing strange about him is that he keeps talking about 2008.

His first reaction is to think this is all some kind of dream, and this seems to be confirmed when he occasionally hears the voices of doctors discussing his accident and coma. But as the voices fade he can't get around the fact that everything seems as real as can be, and his 1973 coworkers are not particularly impressed by his repeated assurances that all this is a delusion. When he then discovers that the case they are working on is eerily similar to the one he was chasing in 2008, he begins to wonder if he might be here for a reason after all.

Without giving away too much more of the plot,* the episode does raise some interesting questions. What you would do if you truly believed your life was just a dream? If you honestly believed that none of the people or situations around you were anything more than a figment of your imagination, how would you act? Would you go on with life as usual, play by the rules, try to be the same person you normally would be? Or would you throw inhibition to the wind, toss your responsibilities aside and live however you want (a possibility raised, perhaps most humorously, in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity")?

On the one hand, such questions (to me) highlight a particular misunderstanding of morality that conservative theists sometimes tend toward, wherein right and wrong are deemed to be entirely dependent on eternal consequences, unrelated to the consequences of our actions in this world. If, as I believe, God's character is the ultimate determiner of right and wrong, that doesn't mean (as so often assumed) that disbelief in God automatically makes everything permissible. Eternal consequences are not the only ones that matter. Actions do have consequences, and these are real whether there is a God or not, whether the world is real or not. That is to say, even if all this were only a dream with no eternal significance, as long as you are stuck here you'll have to live with the consequences of your actions. In fact, even if the dream will end shortly, the choices you make in it will reflect and shape your character, and you take that with you through whatever world you live in (virtual or otherwise).

Which brings me to the last interesting question the episode raised: To what lengths would you go to prevent someone from committing a crime you know they will one day commit? Near the end of the episode, Sam finds himself face to face with a younger version of the person who will go on to kidnap his girlfriend. Sam seriously considers killing him, even though he is only a young boy who hasn't (yet) done anything wrong. Would you? Would it make a difference if it were only a dream?

*For those who have seen it, however (SPOILER WARNING), highlight for some thoughts on the ending: If (as the message over the radio seemed to imply), he really did prevent the kid from becoming a serial killer, thus saving his 2008 girlfriend, why is he still in 1973? Sam himself asks this question, so the writers seem to be aware of it, but really, if the whole reason he got hit by the car in the first place was because he was chasing this killer, shouldn't the fact that he changed the future also prevent him from ever needing to chase him, and thus from ever getting hit by the car? Does this imply (if he's not dreaming the whole thing to begin with), that he has created an alternate timeline, or is this just bad writing?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paul's "Conversion" and the Life of Faith

This past week I've been fighting off a bad cold and busily preparing for a graduate seminar on "Israel's Faith, Paul's Conversion or Call, and the Speaker(s) in Romans 7," huge topics, all three. I taught the class this afternoon, and it seemed to go very well. I can't say we reached too many firm conclusions, but we did clarify the issues in important ways. In case anyone is interested, I've uploaded the handout, though I can't say how helpful or unhelpful it will be without the discussion which supported it. If any of my biblical studies-inclined readers would like to comment on it (or point out gross errors, omissions, etc.), however, I'd be grateful, as this is part of my research for a fuller paper on the subject due later in the semester.

In any case, the other reason I bring this up is to say that, as I have been thinking about Paul and the dramatic change which he experienced, I can't help feeling that there is much more here than just the academic questions discussed in the above seminar. And it turns out that Carmen has been thinking about this as well. As she writes:

Sometimes these experiences are dramatic and stunning, but more often they are quieter and less noticeable. Either way, these encounters are integral and constant in the lifelong process of entering and living in kingdom life. “Conversion is more than just an event,” says Scot McKnight in Jesus Creed, “it is a process. Like wisdom, it takes a lifetime. Conversion is a lifelong series of gentle (or noisy) nods of the soul. The question of when someone is converted is much less important that that they are converting.”

When I look at Paul, I see a man who was not only powerfully transformed by his experience of the resurrected Jesus, but did something about it. He didn't just hide out in a cushy office in Jerusalem writing learned treatises on the relation of Jew and Gentile. He didn't sit in some ivory town offering high-minded but impractical moral advice. He took his faith out, into the world; he shared the good news, raised money for the poor, and helped real people to allow God to transform their lives. He did this on his own dime, and in return he was beaten, ridiculed and imprisoned, yet he kept at it right up to his death.

Paul was, by no means, a perfect man. Even his letters strike me as variously puzzling, profound and profane, but not only are his words part of Christian scripture, but he provides a remarkable example to which I need to pay more attention. Like him, I need not just to talk but to live this faith to which I'm in the process of converting.

Quote - Financial Priorities, Again

Seen on a bumper sticker on my drive home:

It will be a great day when our schools have all the funding they need, and the air force needs to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sanctuary

What grants the right to live? Is it one’s humanity, or something else? This is a question explored by the new SciFi series Sanctuary, which follows a forensic psychiatrist named Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) as he is introduced to a world of monsters that humanity would rather ignore or destroy. Leading him down the rabbit hole is Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a 157 year old exobiologist who runs a “sanctuary for all” that offers protection for such “abnormals”—you know, mermaids, reptile men, 10 year olds with wicked snakes growing out of their sides....

Yeah, it’s all a bit cheesy, not to mention overloaded with CGI, but the premise is interesting enough for a geek like me, and the acting is pretty good. Plus, it’s based on a wildly popular series of webisodes, so you gotta give them credit for selling out seeking new avenues for original content. And I actually enjoyed the show, so there is that.

Besides the usual introductions—the misunderstood protagonist, the immortal doctor and her warrior-princess of a daughter, the naïve techy, the teleporting Jack the Ripper villain and, oh yeah, Big Foot (yes, Big Foot)—the premier raised some interesting questions about life and dignity. Faced with a bewildering array of evolutionary accidents and supernatural beings, Will has to decide whether he will let his own fear and revulsion prevent him from treating even such abnormals with decency and respect. This is particularly difficult for him once he faces the fact that his own mother was killed by just such a creature. In time, however, he discovers that many of these others are just as scared, loyal, thoughtful or selfless as any human, and when his own life is saved by one of these “abnormals,” he is forced to ask himself what really qualifies as a monster.

Perhaps the line between good and evil may not be as easy to see as we prefer. Perhaps it isn't how human a person is that should matter. Perhaps even those society shuns deserve sanctuary and protection. And perhaps all of this might seem a bit more profound if the noble butler didn't look like one of Geico's cavemen. Ah well, I guess I'm still prejudiced after all....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quote - Augustine on Good and Evil

Just in case our economy really does collapse in ruin (though I sure hope it doesn't!), here's Augustine, from the City of God, Book 3:

[E]vil men account those things alone evil which do not make men evil.... It grieves them more to own a bad house than a bad life, as if it were man's greatest good to have everything good but himself. (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2.43)