26 October 2015

Miscellaneous Musing #74

In Daniel 2:31-45, the prophet who gave his name to the book tells New-Babylonian King Nebuchadrezzar (this is the correct transliteration of Nebuchadnezzar):
You saw, O king, and behold, a great image.  This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.  The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thigh of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.  As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces; then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found.  But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation.  You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the sons of men, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.  After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.  And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things; and like iron which crushes, it shall break and crush all these.  And as you saw the feet and toes partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the miry clay.  And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle.  As you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not hold with clay.  And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people.  It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever; just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.  A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter.  The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.
The significance of the passage for this posting, and for all mankind, concerns the “fourth kingdom”.  This can be identified only with the Roman Empire. (After making this exposition, I learned that the author of 2 Esdras evidently came to the same conclusion.  According to Scripture scholar Robert Dentan, on p. 43 of The Apocrypha, Bridge of the Testaments: “Chapters 11-12 contain a vision of … an eagle rising from the sea to dominate the whole world.  This is plainly a picture of the Roman Empire, which our book identifies with the last of the four beasts mentioned in Daniel 7 (II Esd. 11:39 and 12:11).”) It fits the chronology, because it followed the Neo-Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenistic powers in establishing supremacy in the world known to the author of Daniel; it was often divided between East and West, the former being easily the stronger and wealthier of the two (as demonstrated by the fact that the Eastern Roman or "Byzantine" Empire survived the Western portion by nearly a millennium), and it was during the last period of unified rule (AD 324-395) that Christianity (then still a minority faith, like the stone that, as Nebuchadrezzar dreamt, grew into a mountain) became the official religion. (Note that, again in the words of Dentan, the Book of Daniel "can be dated with certainty in the year 165 B.C."; skeptics, therefore, cannot object that this was a retroactive pseudo-prediction.) Christendom is the "kingdom which shall never be destroyed."

19 October 2015

Uncommon Commentary #480: Verbal Abuse

Perhaps no word has been more thoroughly abused than “patriot”, which has been applied to everyone from nationalist hotheads (e.g., Gabriele d'Annunzio—a man who, incidentally, also boasted of having eaten a roasted baby—, whom Italian irredentists hailed for leading an expedition to seize Fiume while the future of that disputed city was still being negotiated by peaceful men) to xenophobes (such as the “Boxers” of the Boxer Rebellion in China, who slaughtered not only whatever foreigners they encountered but also any countrymen whom they considered to have been corrupted by foreign influences, especially converts to Christianity; most of the martyrs in Chinese history were killed at this time) to genocidal maniacs (for instance, Nathaniel Bacon, leader of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and the “Torchbearer of the Revolution”, who wanted to extirpate Virginia’s indigenous population and to launch unprovoked attacks upon Indians even outside the colony) to glorified cattle-thieves (like Braveheart protagonist William Wallace) to thugs and unprincipled propagandists—both terms apply to Sam Adams, who evidently was despised as such, at least privately, by his fellow insurrectionists—to terrorists (the ZAPU organization in what was then called Rhodesia, and countless other examples).  In Orwellian fashion, we Yanks even employ the designation for British colonists who made war upon their fellow Britons and who, further, solicited the military intervention of Britain’s enemies France and Spain: the USA’s founders and those who sided with them in our war of independence. (This may seem to be a radical or unpatriotic statement, but the fact that the revolt which led to the birth of the USA had nothing to do with patriotism is easy to demonstrate.  In what year was the United States of America founded?  1776.  And in what year did the US Revolutionary War commence?  1775.  How could the rebels who fired upon government troops at Concord and Lexington have been fighting for their country if that country had yet to exist?)  Patriotism has been called “the last refuge of a scoundrel”, but, often, it’s the only refuge.
(Thus, it is not the NFL franchise in the District of Columbia but the one in Boston that needs renaming.  My suggestion for the new name appears in the list of domanisms: “Deflatriots.”)

12 October 2015

Uncommon Commentary #479: UC #477 Follow-Up

HR 3504, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, survived the US House of Representatives; there were 248 yea votes, 177 nays, and one “present”, and so 41.8% of available congressmen effectively voted for infanticide. The site Govtrack.us gives this bill only a 15 percent likelihood of being enacted, and the chance given for the Senate’s version, S. 2066, is a pathetic two percent. Compare this situation with that in 2002 (at which time there were far fewer Republicans in the US Congress than there are now), when its predecessor the Born Alive Infants Protection Act passed the Senate unanimously (see UC #336) and “with the support of all but 15 members of the House”. I don’t know whether this quote means that all 15 voted against it or that some actively opposed it and the others abstained, and I know not why there are unequal prognoses regarding the enactment of the House and Senate bills if identical versions must be passed so that a single piece of legislation can be sent to the President’s desk, but I do know one thing: the astonishing increase in acceptance of infanticide that evidently has occurred over a span of just 13 years demonstrates how quickly our civilization is descending into savagery.

05 October 2015

Uncommon Commentary #478: It’s the Teacher Who Needs the Lesson

On 18 September, a teacher in Virginia got into trouble after a member of her history class raised the most important issue of our time, which is, of course, the nickname of the NFL’s Redskins. (Perhaps their name ought to be spelled “R______s” or called “the R-word”.  This suggestion is sarcastic, but some might take it seriously!) Presumably displeased by that fact that “The kids kept saying, ‘It's no big deal; it's a football team’,” Lynne Pierce asked her charges “What would you think if someone started a team called the Newport News Nigger?”  It ought to have been obvious that she was referring to this word as an insult rather than using it as one (see UC #456), yet a student took offense and reported the incident to the administration of the re-education camp—I mean, school—, which put Pierce on leave.  This is outrageous, and, were I the principal, I would reinstate her, though only after warning against turning classroom discussion into a means of political indoctrination; I would also have a talk with whoever informed on her, explaining that, if he doesn’t want to grow up to be maladjusted like the rest of our society, he’ll have to stop overreacting.  The purpose of this uncommon commentary, however, is not to go to the aid of Pierce (in whose defense a campaign is already being waged), but, rather, to note the instructive irony of the situation: that she became a victim of the very paranoia and hypersensitivity that she apparently was attempting to instill in her pupils!