Monthly Archives: January 2015

On Oscar Wilde and Psalm 130

Oscar Wilde Sarony.jpg

Oscar Wilde in 1882, before he was sentenced to prison for “gross indecency…”


January 30, 2015 – I just saw The Imitation Game, a “2014 historical thriller film about British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing who was a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany‘s naval Enigma code which helped the Allies win the Second World War, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality.”

This was after I’d gotten a lead connecting Psalm 130 to Oscar Wilde, who also got “sent to prison for ‘gross indecency,'” away back in 1895.

Note that all this occurred in another country – England – and before the year 2003.  That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court issued Lawrence v. Texas, thus ending such sentences:

[T]he Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory.  The Court overturned its previous ruling on the same issue in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick…   The Court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment. (E.A.)

Thus as a general rule it pays to remember our past history.  That’s good advice even when – and perhaps especially when – that history isn’t all that glorious.  As Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”  (See Harry Truman and his History Lessons, and also my fairly-recent post On Harry Truman and the next election.)

Which brings us back to Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde.

Wikipedia said this:  “The film’s closing titles tell of Turing’s suicide in 1954, the royal pardon granted to him in 2013, and how his [code-breaking] machine inspired the invention and design of modern computers.”  Turing’s suicide followed – and may have been caused by – his court-ordered Chemical castration.  (Turing had been given the “choice” of spending some two years in prison or taking the court-ordered drug treatment…)

Wilde on the other hand got two years of hard labor, without a choice of “castration.”  And when he tried to speak, his voice was drowned out by cries of “‘Shame’ in the courtroom.”

Wilde was imprisoned first in Pentonville Prison and then Wandsworth Prison in London.  Inmates followed a regimen of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed,” which wore very harshly on Wilde…   His health declined sharply, and in November he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger…    He spent two months in the infirmary…   Richard B. Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited him and had him transferred in November to Reading Prison…  The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform.

See Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Which brings up Psalm 130.

Between January and March 1897, near the end of his prison term, Wilde wrote a letter.

The letter was sent from “Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas.”  The title of the letter was De ProfundusPsalm 130 is one of the “Penitential psalms.”  In English it begins:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!”  The Latin for “out of the depths” is De Profundus, and that’s where the title comes from.  See De Profundis (letter) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Which brings up the popular opinion that some of the world’s best writing has been done in prison.  See for example 12 Famous Writers Who Did Time | Robert Rotstein – Huffington Post, and 10 Great Works of Literature Written in Prison – Flavorwire:

When we imagine the places where our favorite authors penned their greatest masterpieces, a jail cell usually doesn’t come to mind.  But, whether their writers were prisoners of war or victims of bigotry, the solitude and lack of distractions have produced many a great book.  From Oscar Wilde’s apologia on spiritual awakening to Thoreau’s thoughts on civil disobedience, we survey authors whose great mental escapes from incarceration resulted in some of their most insightful and profound works…

Whether that solitude and “lack of distraction” still applies in today’s prisons is a matter of debate.  But a fairly recent example does come to mind, Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Written on April 16, 1963, the open letter “defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws…  The letter was widely published and became an important text for the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s.”

In Wilde’s case both the prologue and epilogue of his letter were a bit different.

Throughout the 1880’s Wilde had been a popular London playwright.  He was noted for his epigrams – his “witty, ingenious or pointed sayings” – and a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Then there were the plays, including a “masterpiece,” The Importance of Being Earnest.  Also:

He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to the absolute prohibition of Biblical subjects on the English stage.  Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London…

But Wilde’s world came crashing down when he filed the ill-advised lawsuit that led to his own arrest, trial and conviction for gross indecency.  In brief, he went from the heights of fame and pleasure, literally to “the depths.”  And there, for whatever reason, he found “serenity:”

In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure.  Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain.  There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.  He died destitute in Paris at the age of 46.

In other words, he “lost everything dear to him,” but didn’t blame external forces.  The letter quoted Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, and came to see “Christ as a Romantic artist.”  In a word, instead of blaming other people, Wilde “rather absorb[ed] his hardships through the artistic process into a spiritual experience.”  See Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, and also Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde’s Cry from the Depths.

Incidentally, Wilde had to publish his last work, “Reading Gaol,” under an assumed name:

The finished poem was published by Leonard Smithers in 1898 under the name C.3.3., which stood for cell block C, landing 3, cell 3.  This ensured that Wilde’s name – by then notorious – did not appear on the poem’s front cover…   It was a commercial success, going through seven editions in less than two years…

So, in a few short years Oscar Wilde went from the highest acclaim to cries of “shame” in the courtroom.  When he was transferred to Reading Prison, a crowd gathered to jeer and spit at him.  During his exile in France he had to publish his last work under an assumed name.

And now he brings tourists to Dublin, the city of his birth…

Aside from his statue in Dublin’s Merrion Square, there’s also an Oscar Wilde Centre, at Trinity College in Dublin.  Which brings to mind what John Steinbeck wrote about another writer…

In his book Travels with Charley, Steinbeck wrote of wanting to see Sauk Centre, where Sinclair Lewis was born.  It was also the metaphoric setting of Lewis’ satirical novel, Main Street.

As Wikipedia noted, the novel was set in Gopher Prairie, “a town modeled on Sauk Centre.”  The heroine, Carol Milford, is a free-spirited liberal who disdains “the town’s physical ugliness and smug conservatism.”  The novel itself portrayed “petty back-stabbers and hypocrites in a small town.”  It mocked the prevalent desire to live in such “‘wholesome’ small towns,” with its “vicious realism and biting humor.”  Small wonder then that some “small-town residents resented their portrayal and the book was banned in Alexandria, Minnesota.”

Small wonder too that when Steinbeck met him in his later years, Lewis was shrunken, shriveled and constantly cold.  So he too took a voluntary exile – he died in Rome, of advanced alcoholism – prompted in part by the violent hatred his novel “aroused in the country of his nativity.” But now, as Steinbeck noted, “There’s a sign in Sauk Centre all right:  ‘Birthplace of Sinclair Lewis:'”

The only good writer was a dead writer.   Then he couldn’t surprise anyone any more, couldn’t hurt anyone any more….   I’ve heard he died alone.  And now he’s good for the town.  Brings in some tourists.  He’s a good writer now.

There’s probably some kind of lesson there, for writers and for bloggers.   In the meantime, here’s Psalm 130 – that Oscar Wilde found so comforting in his later years – in its entirety:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice!  Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.  It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.



The upper image is courtesy of Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption:  “Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony.”  The lower image comes from the same article, with the caption: “Statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin:”

[Merrion Square] is a Georgian garden square on the southside of Dublin [and is] considered one of the city’s finest surviving squares.  Three sides are lined with Georgian redbrick townhouses; the West side abuts the grounds of Leinster House (seat of the Oireachtas),Government Buildings, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery. The central railed-off garden is now a public park.

The full reference to the movie-lead reference is Imitation Game – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full reference to the Lawrence case is Lawrence v. Texas – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full reference to Turing’s “rehabilitation” is Chemical castration – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: Steinbeck on Sinclair Lewis.  See Travels with Charley, Penguin Books (1980), pages 133-34.   See also Sinclair Lewis Biography – CliffsNotes:  “Although the reaction of Sauk Centre toward the book was at first unfavorable, there is no evidence that it was ever banned from the local library.”  And see Main Street (novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Psalm 130 was quoted in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

Notes on a Blog


The title for this Page – Notes on a Blog – should not be confused with Notes on a Scandal, a movie dealing with a much more exciting topic.  (As shown above and as discussed below.)

Briefly, I created this page to shorten up the Home page.

As a side note, I generally I try to make the article-posts about “two clicks” long.  That’s about 900 words, and hopefully no more than 1,000.  That’s another way of saying that if you click your “page down” key twice, you should get to the bottom image.  That’s the ideal anyway.

The bottom image separates the main text from the notes in these blog-articles.  But when I finished creating the Home page, I saw that the notes themselves came to over 800 words.  That was much too long, so I created this separate post for the Home-Notes alone.

In the process I learned that the year 2006 saw three icky films on such “May-December” relationships, one of which was Notes on a Scandal.   The other two were Venus, starring Peter O’Toole as a “decrepit womanizer,” and The History Boys, with Richard Griffiths as a “venal and self-deluding” boy-stalker.  (Notes was the only film I saw, and for that matter I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain either, but we digress…)

I suppose there’s a lesson in all this.  One lesson could be that in writing these posts I tend to go off on tangents, which can be annoying.  But the other lesson could be that going off on tangents or “rabbit trails” can be a lot of fun, and also rewarding and instructive.  (See for example Meeting God Down A Rabbit Trail – Sermon Central.)

But enough of rabbit trails for now.  Here – without further ado – are Notes on a Home Page.

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The first note from the Home Page told of a “previous lead-in image,” which led to a Wikipedia article on Pilgrimages.  The value of such pilgrimages are an ongoing theme of this blog.

The previous lead-in image, courtesy of Pilgrimage – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, is one the reader may wish to visit.  The caption of that prior lead-in was “Pilgrimage to Kedarnath.”  Kedarnath is a Hindu temple in the northern Himalayas, with “extreme weather conditions that only allow the temple to open from the end of April to the beginning of November.  The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek…”  See also Kedarnath – India – Sacred Destinations.  (14 kilometers is about 9 miles.)

There followed notes on the “BCP,” Charlie Chan and carbon-copy Christians.

Re: Book of Common Prayer (BCP).  The quote on corporate and mystical sides is at page 339.

Re:  “one great philosopher.”  That would be Charlie Chan, as discussed at length in Some Bible basics from Vince Lombardi and Charlie Chan, and in “What’s in it for me?”

Re: “Carbon copy Christians.”   A carbon copy is a document made “when carbon paper is placed between the original and the under-copy.”  See Carbon copy – Wikipedia, which said the use of carbon copies “declined with the advent of photocopying and electronic document creation.”  Yet the term continues in today’s e-mail abbreviation cc or bcc (blind carbon copy).  As updated the term refers to  “simultaneously sending copies of an electronic message to secondary recipients.”  The term can also be used – as here – to refer to “anything that was a near duplicate of an original.”   See also Urban Dictionary: carbon copy:  “a person that has no personality and tries to emulate yours exactly.”

Then there are notes on a carbon-copy Christian being like “another brick in the wall,” and on copying painting masterpieces as a metaphor for learning from Bible stories.

Re: “Bricks in the wall.”  An allusion to the song(s) by Pink Floyd.  See Another Brick in the Wall – Wikipedia.  There were actually three songs, or parts, and “Part II is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in the UK in particular.”

Re:  “Copying masterpieces.”  There’s a book at, Copying Masterpieces (Watson-Guptill Artist’s Library), by Jose Maria ParramonThe site said:  “Every student of art has been encouraged to copy works by renowned masters to better understand the skill and spirit that inform a great artist’s vision.”  The same might be said of copying people like Moses and Jesus…

Then I expanded on the metaphor of the “vast, unexplored continent of the Bible” being like the vast American continent opened up by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The lower image is courtesy of Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, and seems to best express a sense of both exploration and contemplation.  To see the original image click “The Expedition,” or see, which added:

Since January of 2009 the ownership and management of Discovering Lewis & Clark® has been in the hands of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundatio … to make this the most comprehensive and useful Lewis and Clark website on the Internet.

To extend the metaphor, the reader could consider me a guide or scout, not unlike those used in the great “Western Expansion” of the early and mid-1800s, after the Lewis and Clark expedition.  See for example  Westward Expansion – Facts & Summary –

On a more mundane note, see Wagon Train: Season 1: Ward Bond, Robert Horton, and/or Wagon Train –, Wagon Train followed the trials and tribulations of pioneering families as they set out from the East to carve out a new life in the West soon after the American Civil War.  For some of the travellers [sic] it was a happy ending, but not for all, which only heightened the drama along the way…”  In the same way, in trekking the “vast unexplored continent of the Bible” you could find both a “new life” and a sense of “coming home.”   (It’s like a metaphor…)

Then I brought in Hebrews 11:14-16, LeShan’s book How to Meditate, and pilgrimages in general.

On that note see also Hebrews 11:14-16, a Daily Office Reading for Saturday January 5, 2015:

[P]eople who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.  If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.  But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland.

(New Living Translation, emphasis added.)   That reading followed the one for Friday January 4, 2015, which included Hebrews 11:6 (GNT):  “No one can please God without faith.  Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  (Another blog-theme.)

On the subject of seeking a “better country,” see also Lawrence LeShan’s How to Meditate[:]  A Guide to Self-Discovery (Bantam Books 1974), at page 1.  He was at a conference of scientists – “all of whom practiced meditation on a daily basis” – and asked why they meditated.   Various unsatisfactory answers were given until:  “Finally one man said, ‘It’s like coming home.

On the subject of pilgrimages in general, see also and/or


The upper image is courtesy of the New York Times review of the “2006 British drama/psychological thriller film” Notes on a Scandal, at  See also Notes on a Scandal (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe Times review was titled “December and May: Desire vs. Ick Factor.” (Emphasis added.)  The caption for the lead image included above spoke of “Cate Blanchett as a teacher who has an affair with a 15-year-old student,” and contrasted that film with the “icky” Venus and equally-icky History Boys.  (See also Venus (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and The History Boys (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apparently 2006 was the year for such films, “whose target audience seems to be aging, upscale baby boomers,” as the Times noted.  As also noted, I suppose there’s some kind of lesson in all this…


The lower image is courtesy of the Grand Tour link in the website.  The “linked” Wikipedia article began:  “The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means … as an educational rite of passage.”  The Wikipedia caption reads:  “Northerners found the contrast between Roman ruins and modern peasants of the Roman Campagna an educational lesson in vanities.”


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On “Exodus: G&K,” the movie

Exodus Gods and Kings Bale and Edgerton Exodus: Gods and Kings: Christian Bale on Moses, Biblical Scale, & Charlton Heston


January 28, 2015 – The image above is from Exodus:  Gods and Kings

But come to think of it, another image comes to mind.  The movie – E: G&K – ends with Moses riding in a wagon, with the Ark of the Covenant in the back.  (This was after the parting of the Red Sea and after he was re-united with his family, but before the 40 years of Wandering in the Wilderness.)   Up to now in the movie, Moses had appeared youthful and dark-haired.  But as the movie ends, Moses looks pretty much like the guy on the Home Page, to wit:  Moses at the Battle of Rephidim, “in John Everett Millais‘ Victory O Lord! (1871).”

But we digress…

In the photograph above, Moses stands in the foreground.  He – Moses – will eventually become the “greatest prophet, leader and teacher that Judaism has ever known.”  In the background stands Ramesses II.  He will soon become the all-powerful Pharoah of Egypt.

The kicker is that up to the time shown in the photo, these two powerful men of Egypt had considered themselves life-long blood brothers and fellow warriors.

Wikipedia described what happened later, when Moses learned the truth about who he was.  (This was shortly after Moses saved Ramesses’ life in battle.)  The reigning Pharoah – Seti I, played by John Turturro  – sent Moses to the city of Pithom, to check out the man overseeing the Hebrew slaves.  See Exodus: Gods and Kings – Wikipedia:

Upon his arrival, he encounters the slave Joshua and is appalled by the horrific conditions of the slaves.  Shortly afterwards, Moses meets Nun, who informs him of his true lineage; he is the child of Hebrew parents who was sent by his sister Miriam to be raised by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Moses is stunned at the revelation and leaves angrily.

The point?  Until he was 40 years old, Moses thought of himself as an Egyptian, and only as an Egyptian.  More than that, he thought of himself as literal Prince of Egypt.  Small wonder then that he was “stunned” as he listened to an old Hebrew slave named Nun.  (Whose son Joshua would become Moses’ second in command and go on to write the sixth book of the Bible).

It was at that moment – when he was 40 – that Moses learned that everything he’d been told about himself was lie.  He wasn’t a prince.  He’d really been born a lowly and despised slave…

And so the movie – indeed the original Bible book – could well have been named Pilgrimage.  (As in Pilgrimage:  Gods and Kings.)  Both versions show a pilgrimage, in large part from an “Eden-like” state of innocence and ignorance.  From there Moses’ pilgrimage took him through the pain of increasing knowledge, and the pain of failure that led to that knowledge.

So again, during the first 40 years of his life Moses came of age believing he was a literal “Prince of Egypt.”  He had the power of life and death at his disposal.  In a sense he believed that the “world revolved around him.”  But then he learned who he really was…

*   *   *   *

Before exploring that topic further, let’s see what Wikipedia said about the movie:

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a 2014 biblically-inspired epic film directed by Ridley Scott.  It was written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian.  The film stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley.  It is an interpretation of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt as led by Moses and related in the Book of Exodus.  The film is dedicated to Scott’s younger brother and fellow director, Tony Scott, who committed suicide in 2012.

See Exodus: Gods and Kings – Wikipedia.  To see how Christian Bale prepared for his role as Moses see ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’: Christian Bale on Moses, Biblical Scale, & Charlton Heston.  He started out by watching Cecille B. DeMille’s 1956 epic, The Ten Commandments.  One of his first conclusions:  “You can’t out-Heston Charlton Heston:”

This was a man with an incredible weight on his shoulders.  This is about a man straining.  He fought against being the Chosen One [but with the film] “Ten Commandments” it was very much sort of an uplifting…   I felt like ours should be about [Moses] desperately trying to move forward because of the enormous pressure that is on him. (E.A.)

So right from the start, the newer version tried to focus on a more-realistic Moses, a more human Moses who had his times of doubt.  A man who sometimes felt abandoned by God.  (Or at least he felt God wasn’t always there when he needed Him…)

But first a bit of foreshadowing.  Back when Moses got sent to Pithom, his task – as noted – was to “check out the man overseeing the Hebrew slaves.”  That overseer, the Viceroy Hegep, wanted more troops to control the unruly Israelite slaves.   To make his point (that they were unruly), he told Moses that the very name Israel – in their own language – meant “fights with God.”   But Moses corrected him, saying the better translation was “wrestles with God.”

(Remember, this was before Moses learned he was born an Israelite, a “wrestler with God.”  For more on that pointabout wrestling with God – see the post On arguing with God.)

This version of Moses – played by Christian Bale – later does “wrestle with God,” until the day he dies.  He challenged God, and even argued with Him.  What’s more, God argued back.

Which brings up the anomaly – to some – that in this movie God is portrayed as an 11-year-old:

If there’s anything daring in Scott and his screenwriters’ take on this oft-told tale …  it’s the decision to depict God, or his earthly iteration, as a bratty kid with an English accent.  As Moses struggles with issues of faith, madness, and spousal neglect … this pint-size Brit (Isaac Andrews) challenges Moses to rise to the occasion.  The lad warns the beleaguered Hebrew of the coming plagues, browbeats him, taunts him.  If you want a less portentous title for this big and curious cinematic endeavor, The Prophet and the Pip-squeak could work nicely. (E.A.)

See Exodus: Gods and Kings‘: God as a bratty kid, and Ridley Scott chooses 11-year-old boy as voice of God.   The second article quoted the director:  “Sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction…   Malak [the “God character’] exudes innocence and purity, and those two qualities are extremely powerful.”  (And incidentally, Malak as defined by Wikipedia is “the Semitic word for ‘angel.'”  See also Strong’s Hebrew: 4397. מַלְאָך (malak).)

So right from the start we have a couple of controversies about this film.  It’s gotten reviews like this:   Very predictable, Historic mistake, and Ridley Scott made this movie out of contempt.  The third review included a comment that Scott “has a personal grudge against all Christians.”

To which I say, “Well, apparently not all Christians…

To review the theme of this Blog:  It’s all about reading the Bible to expand your mind and your horizons.  On that note the blog includes posts on people like Thomas Merton.  (See On Thomas Merton.)  One  biographer wrote that Merton was helped in his spiritual quest by both Christian mysticism and his ongoing “wide knowledge of Oriental religions.”

That is, later in his life Merton studied Taoism, “regular” Buddhism and Hinduism.  But dallying in these exotic disciplines didn’t weaken his Catholic faith.  (Merton was a Trappist Monk.)  If anything, such “dalliances” strengthened his faith, as a biographer wrote:

 …by approaching the spiritual quest at unexpected angles, they opened up new ways of thought and new ways of experiencing that invigorated and released him

Which is pretty much what this blog is about:  Reading the Bible in ways that can invigorate and release you.  (Only in that way can you expect to perform even greater miracles than Jesus did.  See John 14:12, discussed in “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”)

Now, about that “God as bratty kid.”  For one thing, there’s Matthew 18:3, where Jesus said unless you “become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom from heaven.”  Then there’s the ancient Buddhist proverb:  “A child looks at a mountain and sees a mountain.  An adult looks at a mountain and sees many things.  A wise man looks at a mountain and sees … a mountain.”  And finally – if you want to get all Fruedian – you might say Moses’ vision of God as a young boy was prompted by a sense of guilt for his abandoning his family, including his first-born son Gershom, to go and save the Hebrews from their slavery.

All of which leads to the point:

This will have to be continued…




Re:  “This will have to be continued.”  See On Exodus (Part II) and Transfiguration.


The upper image is courtesy of  Exodus: Gods and Kings:‘ Differences Between the Movie & the Bible.  The lower image was borrowed from On Moses and “illeism,” and refers to the Heston-DeMille “original” movie version of the Exodus.  In turn the image is courtesy of  The tagline in the “illeism” post reads, “Moses doesn’t like this.  Moses doesn’t like this one bit…“   (Illeism is the practice of “referring to oneself in the third person instead of first person,” and is exemplified in the first five books of the Bible.  According to tradition, Moses himself wrote those first five books…)

 Re: Moses as greatest prophet, leader and teacher Judaism ever knew, and being 40 years old when he “heard the truth.”  See Judaism 101: Moses, Aaron and Miriam:  “The biblical narrative skips from his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter to his killing of an Egyptian taskmaster some 40 years later.”

Re: blood brothers.  The term refers to either “a male related by birth, or two or more men not related by birth who have sworn loyalty to each other.”  See Blood brother – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: anamoly:  See Definition of anomaly by The Free Dictionary, referring to a “deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule,” or something that is “peculiar, irregular, abnormal, or difficult to classify.

Re:  Trappist monks.  The full citation is Becoming a Trappist Monk or Nun: Homepage.

Re:  Thomas Merton.  See Monica Furlong’s Merton  A Biography, Harper and Row (1980), page 325.

Re:  wise man … mountain.  See (of all places) Can I? – Mitsubishi Delica L400 with the 4M40 engine.

Re:  Gershom.  See Gershom – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the added note:  

The passage in Exodus concerning Moses and Zipporah reaching an inn contains four of the most ambiguous and awkward sentences in Biblical text.  The text appears to suggest that something, possibly God or an angel, attacks either Gershom or Moses, until a circumcision is carried out by Zipporah on whichever of the two men was being attacked.

The passage in question is Exodus 4:24-26, and is one of the topics bearing further meditation.


On Jesus “cracking wise”

*   *   *   *

First a note: I originally posted this on January 23, 2015. I updated it on August 26, 2023, because the original “Laughing Jesus” image at the top of the page got fouled up somehow.

*   *   *   *

January 23, 2015 – The Gospel reading for January 18 was John 1:43-51.  It told of Jesus meeting Philip and Nathanael. My post Bible readings for January 18 told of a commentator, saying Nathanael  was a bit of a “wiseacre.”  This commentator also suggested that Jesus greeted Nathanael with a sarcastic joke, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom [there] is no guile!”   This was after Nathanael was reluctant to “come and see” the man Philip thought was the Messiah.

The idea of this “sarcastic joke to Nathanael” came from a Sacred Story article.  The article said the Israel Jesus referred to “was the new name of Jacob, who was well-known as a deceitful trickster who fooled both his father and brother.’  I also noted some contrary, “more traditional” interpretations, such as John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael:

[Jesus] is described as knowing what was in man…  He makes use of his Divine prerogative [and] penetrated the surface to [Nathanael’s] inner motive and heart.  Behold, an Israelite indeed; one who fulfils the true idea of Israel, a prince with God, a conqueror of God by prayer, and conqueror of man by submission, penitence, and restitution…  In whom is no guile; i.e. no self-deception, and no disposition to deceive others.

So the Pulpit Commentary on John 1:47 had Jesus saying Nathanael was not a deceitful trickster.   Rather Jesus was saying Nathanael was a true “prince with God,” a penitent man with “no disposition to deceive others.”  And Gill’s Exposition of John 1:47 interpreted the phrase “behold an Israelite indeed” as meaning “a true son of Jacob’s; an honest, plain hearted man.”

So which was it?   Was Jesus saying Nathanael was an “honest, plain-hearted man,” without guile or deceit, “just like Jacob?”  Or was Jesus being sarcastic, “cracking wise?”

We can start with the fact that the name “Israel” referred to a man who literally wrestled with God.  (See On arguing with God.)  That’s how Jacob got his name changed to Israel.

(That post also said maybe we too should wrestle with God:  “that’s how we get spiritually stronger, by ‘resistance training,'” not “passively accepting” everything in the Bible.)

But we also know that Jacob was shrewd, starting from the moment of his birth.  Jacob and twin brother Esau literally “wrestled in the womb.”  And while Esau was born a few seconds before his brother, “his heel was grasped by the hand of Jacob.”  The name Jacob – Ya`aqov in Hebrew – literally translates to “heel-catcher,” “leg-puller,” or “supplanter.”  See Jacob – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and also Genesis 25:19-28.   (Verse 28 also notes that while the father Isaac loved Esau – his first-born son – Rebekah the mother loved Jacob more.)

Isaac Asimov added that since Esau was born first, he was entitled to inherit the first-born’s “main portion of his father’s property.”  (Such a blessing had “great legalistic value in the society of that time.”)  But Jacob outmaneuvered his older brother, getting his birthright in exchange for some “pottage,” when Esau was starving.  See Genesis 25:27-34, “Thus Esau despised his birthright.”  So this was when Jacob “fooled his brother,” as noted in Sacred Story.

Then – as Asimov noted – came a “second successful deceit on the part of Jacob.”

Years later, as Isaac lay “blind and awaiting death,” he wanted to give Esau his final blessing. (That also had “great legalistic value”).  But Jacob fooled his father by dressing up in Esau’s clothes and putting goatskins on his arms “to imitate Esau’s hairiness.”  (This all happened as Esau was out hunting, at his father’s request, to prepare one last time the “savory food” his father Isaac loved so much.)  The story in Genesis 27:1-45 goes on to tell of Esau hating and planning to kill Jacob, because of his trickery.  (The blind and “tricked” Isaac gave Jacob his final blessing, not Esau.)  Genesis 27 also told of his mother’s scheme to save him.  So here we’ve seen the story of Jacob fooling “both his father and brother.

But wait, there’s more!

Rebekah sent Jacob to stay with her brother Laban.  Laban ended up as Jacob’s father-in-law, after first tricking him – Jacob – to marry Leah, his first-born daughter.  (See, Jacob really loved and “bargained for” Rachel, but Leah had to get married first, by the law of the time, so he ended up marrying both of them.)  Which led to yet another bit of “guile” on the part of Jacob.

He wanted to return home – with wives Rachel and Leah – but he also wanted compensation:

Laban was reluctant to release him, as God had blessed his flock on account of Jacob.  Laban asked what he could pay Jacob.  Jacob proposed that all the spotted, speckled, and brown goats and sheep of Laban’s flock, at any given moment, would be his wages.  Jacob placed peeled rods of poplar, hazel, and chestnut within the flocks’ watering holes or troughs…

See Jacob.   See also Genesis 30 … Bible Gateway, verses 25-42, titled “Jacob Prospers at Laban’s Expense.”  Briefly, Jacob agreed to be paid by taking only the “speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats.”  But then he made the peeled rods of poplar, hazel, and chestnut noted above, and put them in front of watering holes.  According to the Bible, that’s the trickery that made Jacob rich:

[S]ince they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the rods and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted…   Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding Jacob laid the rods in the runnels before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the rods, but for the feebler of the flock he did not lay them there; so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.  Thus the man [Jacob] grew exceedingly rich…

So Jacob grew exceedingly rich at the expense of his father-in-law.  He bargained for “only” the speckled and spotted sheep, then took steps to make sure that most of the sheep and the strongest of the sheep turned out to be “speckled and spotted.”

In the fullness of time, Jacob went on to “wrestle with God” and become the patriarch Israel, as told in Genesis 32:22-32.  He fathered 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes of Israel:  “The children named in Genesis were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, daughter Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin.”  (See Jacob, which also indicated that the daughter Dinah didn’t count as one of the “tribes”.)

Which gets us back to the question:  When Jesus greeted Nathanael in John 1:47 – Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom [there] is no guile!” – what was He really saying?  Was He saying Nathanael was a “prince with God,” a penitent man with “no disposition to deceive?”  Or was He “cracking wise?”  (Or maybe He was quoting Psalm 32:2, “Happy are they to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile!”  Which still doesn’t solve the question.)

John 1:43-45 described Philip meeting Jesus, then going to find Nathanael and tell him the news; “Jesus of Nazareth was the one foretold in the scriptures as the savior of his people.”  As the Sacred Story article went on to say, “Nathanael listened, and made a wise-crack – ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?‘”  (See John 1:46)

So the question is:  Did Jesus respond to Nathanael’s sarcastic comment – under the fig tree – with a sarcastic comment of His own?  Did Jesus laugh, make jokes, be sarcastic?

That’s ultimately for you to decide, but I’ve said all along that God has a sense of humor.  

Aside from making Mick Jagger a grandfather, there’s also Psalm 2:4, “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.”  Psalm 37:13 says, “The LORD laughs at the wicked, because He sees that their day will come.” (That’s Psalm 37:14 in the BCP Revised Standard version.)   Then there’s Psalm 59:8, “But you laugh at them, LORD; you scoff at all those nations.”  And finally see Psalm 104:26, “there is that Leviathan, which you [God] have made for the sport of it.”  (Psalm 104:27 in the BCP RSV.) 

In turn I’ve done many posts on the subject.  Just type in “God sense humor” in the search-box above right.  Those posts include On Robin Williams’ “Top Ten,” in memory of man who “had a gift for turning tragedy into something we could laugh at – and with.”

But don’t just take my word for it.  There’s also the site Who was Canadian behind iconic image of “Laughing Jesus?”  That’s where the image above came from, but there’s some debate about who actually created the original.  Be that as it may, it’s popular:  “One of the most popular images of Jesus today is a painting of him laughing.”  See also Laughing Liberator – ReJesus.

Reports are often published in newspapers of people who believe that statues of Jesus have been weeping real tears.  But very rarely – if ever – do we hear of laughter being heard from those statues. Why is it that Jesus is always thought to be so sad?  This unexpected image shows Jesus roaring with laughter.  Maybe he’s laughing at one of his own parables.

Unfortunately, time and space – not to mention the reader’s “attention span of a gerbil” – are running out.  That means it’s time to wrap this up.

We can close by noting there’s also some question about who this sarcastic Nathanael really was.  The consensus is that he was actually Bartholomew the Apostle, “one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is usually identified with Nathanael (alternatively spelled Nathaniel).”

See also Nathanael – Believed To Be The Apostle Bartholomew:  “Church tradition says Nathanael carried a translation of Matthew’s Gospel to northern India.  Legend claims he was crucified upside down in Albania.”

Which means there’s enough tragedy to around, as if we didn’t know that already.  (Crucified upside down in Albania, indeed!)  In turn it would be nice to think that Jesus, like Robin Williams, “had a gift for turning tragedy into something we could laugh at – and with.”

And speaking of Leviathan, here’s an image of the beast God made “for the sport of it…”

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The original upper image was courtesy of  Who was Canadian behind iconic image of “Laughing Jesus?” Now apparently defunct. For some background see Jesus Laughing – About Us. Or see Willis Wheatley Laughing Christ – Image Results

The full citation for the “Sacred Story” article is  From the Sacred Story home page:  “Do you wonder about your life as a spiritual journey?  Do you have questions about the Bible?  Are you interested in conversations about God?  Then this blog is written for you – not as an easy source of authoritarian answers, but as a shared exploration of the questions.”   Ditto!!!

The lower image is courtesy of Leviathan – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “‘Destruction of Leviathan,’ 1865 engraving by Gustave Doré.'”

See also Bartholomew the Apostle – Wikipedia, “He is described as initially being skeptical about the Messiah coming from Nazareth, saying: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'”

The post Bible readings for January 18  included notes on the term wiseacre:  “variously defined as:  1) a person who possesses or affects to possess great wisdom;  2) a wise guy;  3) ‘Old person speak for smartass…’ said the term is ‘often used facetiously or contemptuously.’”

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On St. Agnes and 12-year-old girls


Saint Agnes by Domenichino


Today – January 21st – is the Feast Day of St. Agnes, “martyred at Rome.”   She’s one of the lesser-known saints, but her story deserves some notoriety, in a good way.

Agnes was born into a wealthy Roman family in 291 and was martyred when she was 12 or 13. (The dates are a little iffy.)   This happened in large part because her wealthy Roman family was secretly Christian.  At the time, Christianity was an illegal “cult.”

(At least it was a cult to the powers that be; the authorities of the Imperial Roman Empire.  It wasn’t until 313 – some 22 years later – that the new Emperor Constantine converted and then issued “the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship.”)

But Agnes was also martyred in part because she wouldn’t “put out” for the local hotspurs:

Agnes, whose name means “chaste” in Greek, was a beautiful young girl of wealthy family and therefore had many suitors of high rank…  [T]he young men, slighted by Agnes’s resolute devotion to religious purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity.

See Agnes of Rome – Wikipedia.  But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was the “Prefect Sempronius condemned her to be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel,” where the local Roman troops would have their way with her.   But one legend said “as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body.”  In another legend all the men who tried to “rape her were immediately struck blind.”  Then for some reason Sempronius excused himself, and another judge sentenced her to die.  Then this happened:

[S]he was tied to a stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn, or the flames parted away from her, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her, or, in some other texts, stabbed her in the throat.

So for reasons that by now should be readily apparent, the 12-year-old Agnes was deemed the patron saint of [chaste] young girls.  “Folk custom called for them to practice rituals on Saint Agnes’ Eve (20–21 January) with a view to discovering their future husbands.

This superstition has been immortalised in John Keats‘s poem, ‘The Eve of Saint Agnes.'”

Incidentally, the article on Keats’ poem added an interesting twist (shown in the painting below):

Keats based his poem on the superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rites on the eve of St. Agnes;  that is she would go to bed without any supper, undress herself so that she was completely naked and lie on her bed with her hands under the pillow and looking up to the heavens and not to look behind.  Then the proposed husband would appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her.

All of which is fascinating, but we digress…

The fact that Agnes is one of the lesser-known leads to a reasonable question.  What’s all this patron-saint business anyhow?  On that note see Patron saint – Wikipedia:

A patron saint [is] regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person…  [A]lready transcended to the metaphysical, [they] are able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges.

See also Patron Saints – American Catholic:  “Certain Catholic saints are associated with certain life situations.  These patron saints intercede to God for us.  We can take our special needs to them and know they will listen to our prayers, and pray to God with us.”  (Wikipedia said such practices are deemed “a form of idolatry” by “branches of Protestantism such as Calvinism.”)

Be that as it may, patron saints are remembered each year by celebrating Feast Days:

The calendar of saints is [a] Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the day as the feast day or feast of said saint.  (The word “feast” [here] does not mean “a large meal, typically a celebratory one”, but instead “an annual religious celebration, a day dedicated to a particular saint”.)

See also CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Ecclesiastical Feasts:  “Feast Days, or Holy Days [‘holidays’] are days [commemorating] the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of our redemption…   A feast not only commemorates an event or person, but also serves to excite the spiritual life by reminding us of the event it commemorates.”

Which is also what this blog tries to do:  “excite the spiritual life.”

In today’s case we remember Saint Agnes, patron saint of young girls.  (In folk custom, young girls lying abed, awaiting a vision of their future husbands…)


Madeleine undressing, painting by John Everett Millais…”



The upper image is courtesy of Agnes of Rome – Wikipedia.

Re: “hotspurs.”  See Henry Percy (Hotspur) – Wikipedia, which noted: “Henry Percy, ‘Hotspur’, is one of [William] Shakespeare’s best-known characters,” based on a real-life “Sir Henry Percy KG (1364-1403), commonly known as Sir Harry Hotspur, or simply Hotspur.”  Sir Henry was known as “one of the most valiant knights of his day, and was a significant captain during the Anglo-Scottish wars.  He later led successive rebellions against Henry IV of England, and was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 at the height of his career.”

Today a hotspur is generally defined as “an impetuous or fiery person  an impetuous or reckless person; a hothead,” or someone “who is rash, impetuous or impulsive.”  In other words, “a typical [young] guy.”  There is also the Tottenham Hotspur, an “English football club whose home ground is at White Hart Lane in the north London district of Tottenham.  It was established in 1882 and has had many successes. In 1961 it became the first club in the 20th century to win both the League Championship and the FA Cup in the same season. It has won the FA Cup eight times and the League Championship twice.”

The lower image is courtesy of in “John Keats‘s poem, ‘The Eve of Saint Agnes.'”  The latter site provided the caption, referring to Madeline, one of the two main characters in the poem.  “Madeline pines for the love of Porphyro, sworn enemy to her kin…  In the original version of his poem, Keats emphasized the young lovers’ sexuality, but his publishers, who feared public reaction, forced him to tone down the eroticism.”


On Jonah and the bra-burners…

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Jonah and the Whale, 1621, Museum Kunstpalast

“Jonah and the Whale” by Lastman – and what became a “negative and trite association?”

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Sunday, January 25, 2015 – The Old Testament Bible-reading for today was Jonah 3:1-5,10. (To see all the readings, check Third Sunday after Epiphany.) Here’s the full reading:

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah set out [and] began to go into the city, going a day’s walk.  And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  And the people of Nineveh believed…   When God saw … how they turned from their evil ways, [He] changed his mind about the calamity that He had said he would bring upon them; and He did not do it.

Note the emphasized, “second time.” That’s what makes Jonah like the Bra-burners.

“Bra-burners” became a generic name for “Women’s Lib” and feminists alike in 1968. It began when a reporter tweaked a story on a protest at the Miss America pageant on September 7:

The feminist protest … included tossing a collection of symbolic feminine products [and] other items into a trash can on the Atlantic City boardwalkThey did not burn bras [but drew]  worldwide media attention and national attention to the Women’s Liberation Movement.  A reporter covering the protest drew an analogy between the feminist protesters and Vietnam War protesters who burned their draft cards, and the bra-burning trope was erroneously and permanently attached to the event and became a catch-phrase

See Miss America protest – Wikipedia, emphasis added.  One organizer thought beforehand that the protest “might be a good way to launch the movement into the public consciousness.”  That effort did succeed, but the success turned out both a blessing and a curse. See Deuteronomy 11:26, and also Feminism Has a Bra-Burning Myth Problem | TIME:

The way we remember the Miss America Pageant protest in 1968 in Atlantic City, New Jersey is a good example.*  There is no statue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to commemorate an important protest about standards of beauty for women and a contest tied into capitalism, war, and race.  Instead, our cultural touchstone from that day is the negative and trite association of feminists as “bra-burners.”

See also Pageant Protest Sparked Bra-Burning Myth : NPR.  That article said organizers intended to burn some items:  Bras, girdles, cookware and Playboy magazines.  But since the protest happened on the famed Boardwalk, police officials refused consent to burn.  So they threw the offending items into a big garbage can instead.  Then a New York Post report “included a reference to bra burning as a way to link the movement to war protesters burning draft cards.”  As one organizer later noted, “The media picked up on the bra part.”

Which brings up the question: “What the heck does this have to do with Jonah?” Just this: To this day Sunday School students and Bible readers in general have “picked up on the whale part.” In doing so they ignore the real message. The real message behind the Book of Jonah is that God’s love is universal. In Jonah’s case, that love of God extended even to the people of Nineveh. 

At the time, Nineveh was capital of the Neo-Assyria, an empire both Israel’s arch-enemy and noted for being ruthless and cruel. See Assyria — Ancient History Encyclopedia:

[T]he Assyrians and their famous rulers, with terrifying names like Shalmaneser, Tiglath-Pileser, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, rate in the popular imagination just below Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan for cruelty, violence, and sheer murderous savagery… [I]t is tempting to see the Assyrian Empire … as a historical forebear of Nazi Germany:  an aggressive, murderously vindictive regime supported by a magnificent and successful war machine…  (E.A.)

See also Nineveh – Wikipedia. In a college football “trope” – God telling Jonah to go to Nineveh would be like telling an FSU fan to go to Gainesville and proclaim salvation for Gator fans too. The same could be said of God ordering an Alabama fan to go to Auburn with that message, or a Michigan fan to go to Columbus, home of Ohio State University, but we digress...

The point is this: The whale in the Book of Jonah became a catch-phrase.  The whale got the story into public consciousness, but that attention-getter has been both a blessing and curse.  The average reader “picks up on the whale part.” (You might even say there’s a “negative and trite association” between Jonah and the whale.) Or as Isaac Asimov noted:

Clearly, the Book of Jonah … is the product of that school of Jewish thought which was universalist and which opposed the nationalist view…  It is the universality of God and the attribute of divine mercy that are the lessons of Jonah.  Those who think of the book as nothing more than the story of a man and a whale miss the whole point.

Then there’s the question whether you have to believe the whale-part of the story is literally true, in order to “get into heaven,” but that’s a subject for a future blog-post…

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“At the ‘Freedom Trashcan” – 1968…

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The upper image is courtesy of Pieter Lastman – Wikipedia

Re: Bible reading for Sunday January 25, 2015. That was according to the Revised Common Lectionary.

Re: “tweaked.”  See Tweak – Definition and More … Merriam-Webster:  To “change (something) slightly in order to improve it : to make small adjustments to.”  No doubt the reporter in question thought the tweak made a much better story.

 Re: Boardwalk. Wikipedia noted, “One of the earliest such boardwalks was designed in New Jersey and opened June 26, 1870, in Atlantic City.”

Re:  “The way we remember … a good example.*”  I.e., an example of “our conflicted feelings about women as major players in American history,” as a reason for “our failure to honor the movement.”

Re: New York Post report. Wikipedia said a story by “Lindsy Van Gelder in the New York Post carried a headline ‘Bra Burners and Miss America.’   It drew an analogy between the feminist protest and Vietnam War protesters who burned their draft cards.”

Re: Assyrian brutality. Assyria — Ancient History included a counter-point to the accusation of some that this particular empire was excessively cruel:  “While the reputation for decisive, ruthless, military tactics is understandable, the comparison with the Nazi regime is less so.” The quote in the main text was attributed to historians Paul Kriwaczek, “Simon Anglim and others.”

Re: Jonah’s “real message.” See also Grace In The Book Of Jonah – Sermon Central: “the story of Jonah is so well known that we can sometimes skip over it and ignore what the true message of the book of Jonah is.”  See also Jonah Summary – Bible Hub:  “The purpose of this book is to show that God is a merciful and gracious God.  Although the wicked city of Nineveh deserved to be crushed immediately, God was patient towards them.  A reluctant prophet, Jonah originally ran from God before delivering a message of repentance to the nation of Nineveh.”

The lower image is courtesy of Recalling the 1960s ‘bra-burning days of women’s lib’ | Media Myth Alert. Also on this subject see Bra Burning Feminists of the Sixties – NOT.

Also Re: Isaac Asimov. The quote on the Book of Jonah is from Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), at pages 648-49.  Asimov (1920-1992) was “an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.”  His list of books included those on “astronomy, mathematics, the Bible, William Shakespeare’s writing, and chemistry.”  He was a long-time member of Mensa, “albeit reluctantly;  he described some members of that organization as ‘brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs.'”  See Isaac Asimov – Wikipedia.

On the Bible readings for January 18

Eli and Samuel,” from this week’s Old Testament lesson…


January 14, 2015 – As noted in 12 Days of Christmas, the full season of Christmastide ended on January 6.  January 6 also begins the Epiphany season, a.k.a. Epiphany-tide.

Epiphany runs from January 6 until Ash Wednesday.  This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 18, and begins the season of Lent.  The day before Lent begins is called Shrove Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras, or in England “Fat Tuesday.”  I.e., church seasons alternate times of penance and celebration, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves

The Epiphany – this year, January 6 – “is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.”  More to the point, in the Western Church the feast “commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles.” See Epiphany (holiday) – Wikipedia.

An epiphany is “an experience of sudden and striking realization:”

Generally the term is used to describe [a] scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective…   Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences [often]  triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.

See Epiphany (feeling) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Simply put, the Epiphany on January 6 is a celebration of the point when humankind as a whole came to realize that they – we – have a Savior who loved us so much that He came to live among us and “show us the way…

That means the Bible readings for Sundays from now until February 15 will be those readings “after the Epiphany.”  For example, see Second Sunday after the Epiphany, where you can see the full readings for next Sunday, January 18.  Here are some highlights.

The Old Testament reading is 1st Samuel 3:1-10(11-20).  It’s about the prophet Samuel, and about Eli, a “High Priest of Shiloh.”  (See Samuel, and also Eli (biblical figure) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)  Here Samuel is a young “novice” mentored by Eli.  This night Samuel heard God calling him – literally – but thought it was Eli, sleeping in the next room.

Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, `Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Samuel did what he was told, then heard God say that he was going to punish Eli for the sins of his sons.  (The two sons were “Levitical” priests at the church at Shiloh, but among other things “they were having sexual relations with the sanctuary’s serving women…  Eli is aware of their behavior but he rebukes them too lightly and is unable to stop them.”)

Samuel tells this to Eli, who responds,  “It is the LORD; let him do what seems good to him.”  The reading ends:  “As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet…”

Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17, is part of a hymn “known for its affirmation of God’s omnipresence.”  See for example Psalm 139 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Some scholars have interpreted this psalm to be a response to an accusation of idolatrous sun worship, something forbidden in the Jewish faith, but incredibly common in rival religions of the time. (See Ancient Egyptian religion…)  Through this psalm, the psalmist insists on God being the only true god and challenges anyone to question his faith.

The International Bible Commentary (IBC) uses the sub-title “Honest to God,” and said the setting is best viewed as a religious court.  The writer is “protesting his innocence before almighty God who knows him through and through, is never absent from his side and has superintended his life from its beginning.”  It begins, “LORD, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”  It ends:

How deep I find your thoughts, O God!  How great is the sum of them!   If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

Which serves as a reminder that we can never learn all there is to know about God.  See also On reading the Bible, which cited Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”  (Some folks seem to re-make God in their image, rather than the other way around.  See Genesis 1:27, on the possibility of living on “in the spirit.”)

Turning to the New Testament reading, 1st Corinthians 6:12-20, the IBC that said it’s all about fornication and purity“Fornication, condoned by the average Greek and Roman alike … became a snare to test the moral discipline of the local church.”  Paul concluded:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … and that you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

The Gospel reading, John 1:43-51, tells of Jesus meeting Philip and Nathanael, and about the “fig tree.”  See Philip, Nathanael, and the Fig Tree | Sacred Story.  After Jesus recruited Philip as a disciple, he went and talked to Nathanael, who apparently was a bit of a “wiseacre:”

Nathanael listened, and made a wise-crack –  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  [He] was always making sarcastic remarks [but] Philip didn’t give up on him…    Nathanael dragged his feet.  He kicked rocks…  But he came…    Jesus wasn’t surprised [and even] greeted him with a sarcastic joke.  “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”  …Nathanael looked up and blurted out, “When did you get to know me?”   When Jesus answered that he saw him under the fig tree before Philip called him, Nathanael let go of all his sarcasm and hostile defenses, and believed that what Philip said was true.

As such Nathanael may be patron saint of all such “wiseacres” among us, to this very day!

The upper image is courtesy of Eli (biblical figure) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Depiction of Eli and Samuel by John Singleton Copley, 1780.”

The full “holiday” references include Epiphany (holiday) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Epiphany (feeling) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The latter noted that the term epiphany “originally referred to insight through the divine.”

Re: Genesis 1:27.  See So God created mankind in his own image, which noted in the commentaries:   “It is the soul of man that especially bears God’s image.”  See also What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God?  That site said this:

Having the “image” or “likeness” of God means, in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God.  Adam did not resemble God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood. Scripture says that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and therefore exists without a body.

The lower image is courtesy of Philip, Nathanael, and the Fig Tree | Sacred Story.  The full reading ends with Jesus saying to Nathanael, Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than these…   I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Note too that I changed the wording of the “Sacred Story” emphasized quote, in part using “guile” instead of “deceit.”  Sacred Story said of Jesus’ sarcastic joke to Nathanael, “The Israel Jesus referred to was the new name of Jacob, who was well-known as a deceitful trickster who fooled both his father and brother.”  Other commentaries have a different – and apparently more “politically correct” – take.  See for example John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael (“Biblehub”), which said Jesus was referring to “one who fulfils the true idea of Israel, a prince with God, a conqueror of God by prayer, and conqueror of man by submission, penitence, and restitution.”  See also On arguing with God.

Re: Philip.  See Philip the Apostle – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A “wiseacre” is variously defined as:  1) a person who possesses or affects to possess great wisdom;  2) a wise guy;  3) “Old person speak for smartass;” and/or a term “essentially synonymous with the terms jerk and jackass…”  See Urban Dictionary: wiseacre, and also Define Wiseacre at  The latter adds the term comes from the Middle Dutch wijsseggher [or] soothsayer; related to Old High German wīssaga [and/or the] German Weissager,” and that by popular etymology it is “equivalent to wīs wise + sago sayer, from earlier wīzzago wise person.”  Finally, said the term is “often used facetiously or contemptuously.”

And finally, “even to this day” is a phrase used repeatedly throughout the Bible.  (Or “words to that effect.”)  See for example Matthew 28:15.  In the Expanded Bible the verse reads, “So the soldiers kept the money and did as they were ·told [instructed].  And that story is still spread among the ·people [L Jews] even ·today [to this day].”  The Good News Translation and Living Bible read “to this very day.”  For more examples type the term into Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages.

Reflections on a loss

Moses at Rephidim:  “If I let my arms down, the other team will win!



Tuesday, January 13, 2015 – With Ohio State’s victory last night, the 2014 college football season came to an end.  That means among every other set of college-team fans – aside from Ohio State’s – there will be some who ask, “Why did my team lose?   What did I do wrong?

Devoted fans love to think if their team wins, they – the fans – helped out.  (Through their rituals, “lucky shirts” and the like.)  See “God’s Favorite Team” – Part II:  “It’s a natural tendency for people to make connections between events.  ‘When I do this, that happens…’  Primitive people [and perhaps modern football fans] developed superstitions in similar ways.”

The flip side is that today – among every set of fans except Ohio State’s – there are some who feel guilty for “jinxing” their team.  And among Ohio State’s fans there will be some who say – quite confidently – “My team won because of what I did.  Ohio State won because I [fill in the blank].  To see some examples check out On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I], which added:

Superstition is a large part of a fan’s repertoire these days, especially when the home team is in Super Bowl XLVIII today…   Kenny Shisler has similar superstitions.  The lifelong Broncos fan said he will wear Broncos gear all week long, but refuses to do so on game day… “Like the Bud Light commercials [say], ‘It’s only weird if it doesn’t work…’”

Emphasis added, with the emphasized part referring to last year’s Super Bowl.  For those who don’t remember, that was an example of Bronco-fan superstitions not working.  Which is another way of saying that when their team loses, lots of fans feel somehow guilty about it.

(Then too there’s the sentiment in James 5:16, in the New Living Translation:  “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  So why wouldn’t the prayer of a righteous football fan help his team win?)

Of course there are some who think all this superstition is really weird.  But as it turn out, today’s fans are just following the example of Moses at the Battle of Rephidim.  That’s when Israel pulled off their first big upset of the season, over the “hated arch-rival, the dreaded Amelikites:”

Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  [Essentially, to “watch the game on wide-screen.”]  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am′alek prevailedBut Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands … so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

See “God’s Favorite” – Part II, citing Exodus 17:8-16.

That’s where I come in.

I started my spiritual journey that led to this blog back in the summer of 1992.  That’s when I started reading the Bible on a daily basis – using the DOR – and also started fine-tuning my exercise “ritual sacrifice.”  Ever since then I’ve kept on searching for the functional equivalent of Moses holding his hands up at the Battle of Rephidim.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but in the process I’ve learned lots of valuable lessons in ten trips through the Bible.  One of those lessons is that sometimes “winning” gets in the way of spiritual development.  Put another way the question might be, Why do the most intense periods of spiritual growth always seem to come after a disaster?

I explored this subject in God’s Favorite Team, the novel.  See the notes at For a book…

God’s Favorite Team is the story of an “ordeal and triumph…”   The ordeal … came in the ‘dark days after The Great FSU Loss to the Gators in the 1997 Sugar Bowl…’  Through it all, the Teller of This Story [looks] to the Bible for guidance on how to overcome the trauma of such defeats, and ultimately to learn and grow from them.

Then too, the book explored “the mystery of ritual on the part of football fans in general, and how – through such ritual ‘in the proper manner’ – those fans can grow and develop.”

So what lessons might be gleaned from God’s Favorite Team being humiliated on national TV on January 1st?  For myself, in doing my ritual “exercise sacrifice” – in the week before the game – I seem to have overplayed my hand.  I put in too much time doing too much exercise.  In essence I seemed to believe that I could earn that second title, and that’s always a temptation you’ll run across during your spiritual pilgrimage.

In doing so I may have disregarded the ancient wisdom: “dance with who brung ya.”  See “Dance with the one who brung you,” noting that while the phrase was popularized by University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal, it originated in a song popular in the 1920s.

Or I may have simply ended up doing the functional equivalent of Moses dropping his hands during the Battle of Rephidim.  During the season I got into the habit of not watching GFT‘s games, feeling too old for such aggravation.  But then for reasons too complicated to explain, I had to watch the ACC title game, and in doing so may have somehow “messed up the mojo.”

But in the end I probably can’t put it any better than what Brian Banks said:

“I do know that what I’ve been through has been an experience for me, but I feel it’s also a platform for some higher purposes.  Whether its people in the same situation I’m in, whether it’s people who can’t get  past some tragic incident or just people who need hope, I know there’s a reason for all of this.  It’s not just football.

So, my team lost, but we’ve been here before and come back.  I’ve written three posts on the subject of this humiliating loss, and tried to learn from it.  But now it’s time to move on.

From where the sun now stands I’ll mention it no more forever.   I’ll get back to my routine, mostly writing about the Bible readings for next Sunday.  So, along with Forrest Gump:

That’s all I have to say about that!




The upper image was borrowed from On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part II, and in turn is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett MillaisVictory O Lord! (1871).”

Re: Bud Light commercial.  See Touchdown: Bud Light captures fan superstitions in new TV spot.

Re: “Dance who brung ya.”  See also Thisness of a that: You’ve got to dance with the one who brung ya, and What does “dance with the one the one that brung ya” mean?  The latter noted in part the phrase “means you are loyal to the person who got you into your position even if that person is in disfavor and you would benefit yourself by turning against him/her.”  A valuable lesson indeed.

Re: Brian Banks.  The quote is from Sports Illustrated, Volume 116, No. 24, June 11, 2012, at pages 13-14, “Back to His Future?”   The subtitle:  “Exonerated after five years in prison, former USC recruit Brian Banks looks to the NFL.”  I discussed Banks’ case in On Jameis Winston’s future, in partial response to one Jameis-basher’s claim that the “odds that you will be falsely accused of rape are basically the same as the odds that you or someone in your family will be struck by lightning.”  For the latest on his case, see Brian Banks takes job with NFL front office –

The lower image is courtesy of  See also Forrest Gump (1994) – Quotes – IMDb., and Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The latter noted a statement by producer Steve Tisch: “Forrest Gump isn’t about politics or conservative values.  It’s about humanity, it’s about respect, tolerance and unconditional love.”


And finally, see also It’s Time For FSU and its Fans to Embrace the Role of the Villain:

The media has had an agenda to cover all issues that are even vaguely related to FSU in a manner that shows the school in a negative light.  The most notable example of this is the coverage of the sexual assault allegations against the Heisman trophy winner.  Jameis Winston was simply accused, he was not charged.  Although there are indications of mishandling on the part of FSU and the TPD in this case, there is also a bevy of evidence that points towards the allegations against Winston being false.

See also – for example –  Oakland Raiders – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “Today, the Raiders are known for their extensive fan base and distinctive team culture.”  For more on the latter, type in “oakland raiders distinctive team culture.”  You’ll be surprised…

As to The Scribe’s vastly enjoying last night’s national title game, see The enemy of my enemy is my friend – Wikipedia On a related note see also Imprecatory Psalms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, to be the subject of a post in the near future…



On Jameis Winston’s future – Part II

Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim

Jameis Winston  …   On the long road to redemption?



I ended Jameis Winston’s future (Part I) with a discussion of the article Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim.  That post discussed the “Not A Victim” writer’s saying the odds of being falsely accused of rape “are basically the same as the odds that you or someone in your family will be struck by lightning.”   This post will start with that writer’s chastising Winston for saying the “only thing as vicious as rape is falsely accusing someone of rape.”  (Note the “cottage industry of Jameis-bashing” mentioned in “Part I.”)

Note also that Winston said these words at the end of a long “student conduct” hearing, which itself was preceded a year before by a criminal investigation by State Attorney Willie Meggs.

See Jameis Winston’s hearing concludes; ruling expected in 2-3 weeks, which noted, “Over two days and approximately 12 hours, former Florida Supreme Court [Chief Justice] Major Harding heard testimony from witnesses presented by the university, Winston and the woman.  Armed with that and voluminous records provided by FSU … Harding now must decide if Winston is responsible of any of four violations of the code of conduct.”  (He was cleared.)

Leaving aside the heat of the moment factor, Not A Victim said “Winston’s statement is truly remarkable in its self-victimization.”  It noted that despite “very good odds that Winston is guilty,” he is “projected as a first round draft pick in the NFL draft, where he’d be guaranteed millions of dollars.”  Thus the writer concluded, “I ask you, is it fair for Jameis Winston to draw an equivalence between himself and a rape victim?

Let’s start off with the fact that under Florida law, such rape is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years prison.  The judge is required by law to impose a minimum sentence of 34½ months in prison, and must also impose “sex offender probation:”

A person convicted of Sexual Battery or Rape would not only be placed on sex offender probation, but would also be declared a sexual offender…   As a result, they would be required to comply with sexual offender registration laws in Florida and throughout the United States for the remainder of their lives.

See Florida Sex Crimes: Sexual Battery or Rape.  So the fact that Winston didn’t end up in prison for 15 years, and have to spend the rest of his life after that trying to comply with the mandates of  sex-offender probation apparently didn’t factor into the Not A Victim equation.

But  what does the Bible say?  (Remember, we’re trying to make this a Bible-teaching moment!)

For one thing, there’s Number Nine of the Ten Commandments.  See Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighborWikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Hebrew Bible contains a number prohibitions of false witness, lying, spreading false reports, etc…  [W]here false testimony was suspected, the judges were to make a thorough investigation, and if false testimony were proven, the false witness was to receive the punishment he had intended to bring on the person falsely accused.  For example, since murder was a capital crime, giving false testimony in a murder case was subject to the death penalty.  Those eager to receive or listen to false testimony were also subject to punishment.

Emphasis added.  (Which raises the question:  How many people “eager to listen to and condemn” – based son what they hear in the media – now face such punishment?)

Note that rape itself isn’t mentioned in the Ten Commandments.  (Possibly because in Bible times women were treated as chattel, but that too is a “whole ‘nother subject.”)

Note too the “equal punishment clause” was based on Deuteronomy 19:16-21:

If a malicious witness comes forward to accuse someone of wrongdoing … the judges shall make a thorough inquiry.  If the witness is a false witness … then you shall do to the false witness just as the false witness had meant to do to the other…    Show no pity

(Emphasis added.)   Accordingly, reasonable people could say Winston was eminently correct in claiming that being falsely accused is as bad as rape itself.   “The Bible says so.”  Under the code of the Bible, the two crimes were punished equally.  The “false accuser” got the same punishment that he – or she –  intended to bring on the person falsely accused.

So, we were talking about the four main themes of the Bible:  creation, sin, judgment and redemption.  We covered the creation and sin, but we’re not quite finished with judgment.

On that note, lots of people got a big kick out of Winston and his team being humiliated in the first round of the college football playoffs on January 1st.   See for example The internet explodes with hilarious Jameis Winston memes, and also Jameis Winston May Have Lost The Rose Bowl, But His Memes Won the Internet.  The latter site noted, “The talented, troublesome Florida State star was front and center in his team’s College Football Playoff meltdown at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

On the other hand, there are still those who think Jameis is a person worth saving…

On that note – and in case you were wondering – I’m biased.

My writings on FSU football make up an entire category:  “God’s Favorite Team”.  I’ve covered Winston’s legal troubles in prior posts like On “guilty until proven innocent”.  I’ve also covered the current cult of vigilante justice in  “Gone Girl” movie review and Media Frenzy.

For better or worse, Jameis Winston is larger than life.  And so, for better or worse he has a chance to be a great role model in the future.  For that to happen, there must be redemption.

I happen to believe he’ll work out that redemption, in the fullness of time.

He’s a talented young man, full of testosterone as young men tend to be.  He’s brash, cocky and full of himself, which of course annoys the hell out of the losers among us.  And he has that rare and highly marketable ability to bring out the best in his teammates on the football field.

And so, how might that redemption occur?  It could have happened by Jameis staying at FSU, leading an exemplary life over the next year and beyond, leading his team to another national title, but that never was likely.  He has now “declared for the NFL,” and may end up drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  (They have the first-round pick.)

That – in my humble opinion – would be a perfect fit for both parties.  (Reasons include but aren’t limited to the fact his on-field exploits could again be described by the dulcet tones of Gene Deckerhoff.  He does the radio play-by-play for both FSU football and the Buccaneers.)   Then too the 2014 Bucs were “on the cusp.”  Despite going 2-14, they were in most games.  They lost four games by seven points or less, five by three points or less, and one by one point.

Winston would almost certainly help put the Bucs “over the hump.”

But wait!  Winning alone still wouldn’t convince the doubters and haters among us…

For that to happen Jameis would have to give back to the community somehow.

It could be something like Payton Walks!  See also FSU helps fan Payton Poulin walk – Tallahassee Democrat and Florida State fan Payton Poulin walks with, inspires Noles.

Those articles were published in December 2014, a day or two before the Rose Bowl debacle that had so many cackling with glee.  It seems there was a young man from St. Cloud, who overcame tremendous obstacles just to get admitted to Florida State.  As a child he was expected to “be a vegetable” or die at a young age.  But he got into FSU, and once there he was adopted by the team; “The Florida State University freshman loves his job cheering on his family.  ‘I love the team because they accepted me as a brother,’ said Poulin.”

The “Payton Walks” link shows an “emotional scene at the end of practice as honorary Seminole Payton Poulin was walked from the 50 yard line to the end zone.”  And there, in the middle of the crowd of football players stands the tall Number 5, Jameis Winston.

I wonder why there were no cackling internet “memes” about that?



The upper image is courtesy of article Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim.  

Re: Gene Deckerhoff.  See Gene Deckerhoff (, and Gene Deckerhoff – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   And for a break from the current FSU drama and a glance back at better times, see also 2013 FSU National Title Final Radio Call – Gene Deckerhoff – YouTube.

The lower image is courtesy of Florida State fan Payton Poulin walks with, inspires Noles, with the caption:  “Florida State fan Payton Poulin, who according to media reports suffers from schizencephaly, which is similar to cerebral palsy, walked dozens of yards with the team after Tuesday’s practice. Coach Jimbo Fisher spoke about the touching moment afterward.”   The full video shows Payton walking with Jameis Winston holding him up by his left arm. 


Going back to the topic of false accusations discussed in “Part I,” see also Community of the Wrongly Accused: Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich Applauded For Disciplining Players Who Taunted Jameis Winston, which noted:  “Because of the sexual assault accusation, Winston has been the whipping boy of the media (you may recall Heather Cox of ESPN’s disgraceful ‘gotcha!’ momentClay Travis’s disgraceful rush to judgment; and Geraldo’s cherry-picking facts).”


On the matter of such “prophecies,” see New American Standard Bible:  “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken.  The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”  But see also Deuteronomy 18:20:  “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

So this is where I say – along with Ben Johnson as Sergeant Tyree in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – “Of course I’m just guessin’ you understand…”


Finally, note the story in the USA TODAY: Latest World and US News –, for Friday, January 9, 2015, Armour: Hernandez saga a warning athletes should heed.  The story begins, “The Aaron Hernandez trial should be required viewing for every athlete who thinks the rules don’t apply.Ms. Armour did mention Winston, but relegated him to a virtual footnote:

What incentive was there for Jameis Winston to act like an adult when Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was there to defend him at every turn?   Marshall Henderson’s boorishness was tolerated so long as he was keeping Ole Miss in contention for a coveted NCAA tournament bid.  And on and on and on it goes…

Who knows?  It may be progress when Jameis-bashing is moved from front-page news to being sandwiched between Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Johnny Manziel on the one hand, and Marshall Henderson on the other.  Armour also described Cam Newton’s post-college-football saga:  “Newton would leave Florida … and eventually wind up at Auburn, where he won the Heisman Trophy and the national title.  He would be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft and has been, by all accounts, a model citizen.”  For more see Nancy Armour – USA Today.

The same issue had another story on 1-C, Ohio State, Oregon recover quickly after major NCAA sanctions.  See Dan Wolken – USATODAY.  It may be that – for whichever team wins the national title – it’s already started!  On a possibly related note see Enough Celebrity Bashing! Psychology Today, with the subtitle, “Let’s stop holding everyone but ourselves to impossible standards.”



“Jameis Winston latest news”



This post is about Jameis Winston’s future in the NFL.

On February 8, 2015, I edited the title of this post-column – to “Jameis Winston latest news” – in a blatant attempt to get more readers by paraphrasing the first phrase that comes up when you start typing into your search engine, “J-A-M-E-I…”  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Briefly, here’s my prognostication about Jameis’ future:  If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft Jameis Winston, they’ll win another Super Bowl within 3 years…

Moving right along, if you mention Jameis Winston – the former quarterback for FSU – what comes to  mind?  One thing that comes to my mind are the following four words:

Creation.  Sin.   Judgment.  Redemption.

These are the four main themes of the Bible.  In the saga of Winston’s college football career at Florida State, we’ve only seen the first three play out.  So far. So:  Let’s make this a Bible-teaching moment! But first, note that part of his “redemption” has started, at least as that term is defined by our popular culture.   Aside from the “JW” categories noted below, Winston has spawned another new cottage industry.  Just type in “jameis winston greeting cards.”  You’ll get a host of new sites exploiting his image, like “Jameis Winston Winner’s Smile” Greeting Cards & Postcards, Jameis Winston: T-Shirts & Hoodies, and even the slightly humorous Rottenecards – Went to Red Lobster for Crabfest….Jameis Winston beat me to it. Simply put: He’s become good for the economy!   (As in the cottage industry of “Jameis-bashing…”) But enough about the shallow world of popular culture.  (See The shallow world of Popular Culture. – The Escapist.)  Let’s get back to the subject at hand.

So again:  Let’s make this a Bible-teaching moment!

Before we get into that, there may be some who ask:  “What the heck does college football have to do with a Bible blog?”  Simply this.  I started the Mystic Quest that led to this blog in an effort to help my favorite team win football games.   That is, in the summer of 1992 I started reading the Bible on a daily basis, using the Daily Office.  (See WHAT’S A DOR?) I also started trying to perfect the “ritual sacrifice” that would also help my team win.  In that I was not unlike Moses holding his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim.   (See On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part II, and also Exodus 17 – Bible Gateway, and especially verses 11-13.) 22 years and 10 trips through the Bible later – and 33 to 40 trips through the Psalms and Gospels as well – I’m still at it.  I’m still learning spiritual lessons through that Quest

*   *   *   *

But let’s get back to the Bible-teaching moment.

Creation is about “how we got here.”  In Winston’s case, we got here when Jameis burst onto the college football scene in 2013 as a redshirt freshman.  He then led a dominating FSU team to a national title win in a game of the century against Auburn, one short year ago.

But as we all know, “there’s got to be a morning after…” Put another way, after every mountain-top experience there’s usually “a valley experience…  We can’t stay on the mountain top all the time.”  See The Valley Experience, which added, “they return back to the valley of their world [and] come under attack from the enemy.”   (But that’s a whole ‘nother post-subject entirely…) Which leads to the second great theme of the Bible:  Sin. Sin?

By now the American public has been inundated with Winston’s real and imagined sins. Start typing “J-a-m-e-i” in your computer.  You’ll get at least the following results:  Jameis Winston latest news, Jameis Winston hearing, Jameis Winston accuser, Jameis Winston fumble, Jameis Winston memes, Jameis Winston hearing results, and Jameis Winston rape case. An example of the last category includes:  Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim – Deadspin.  The writer gave facts and figures ostensibly showing – in essence – that “women never lie about rape.”   He added, “one must be extraordinarily unlucky to be falsely accused of rape.”  He then said, “the odds that you will be falsely accused of rape are basically the same as the odds that you or someone in your family will be struck by lightning.”

Really?   Former football player Brian Banks might have a different take.  He served five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.  See Exonerated Brian Banks signs with Atlanta Falcons –, which noted that Banks was only released from prison after his accuser “recanted.” Then there was the “Duke lacrosse case” in 2006.  See Duke Lacrosse Player Still Outrunning His Past | Vanity Fair, which described the lingering after-effects of such a “scandal,” then noted:

When three Duke University lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape, in 2006, the media descended on Durham, North Carolina, quickly turning the case into a story of race and privilege.  Most of the country all but assumed their guilt

Some things never change, and it seems that popular “assuming guilt” is one of them. (But here’s a thought.  As noted in Part II, the Bible punishes both those who make false accusations and “those eager to receive or listen to false testimony.”   The Bible does not seem to punish those who “believe in their fellow man” and/or give him the benefit of doubt…) See also Duke lacrosse case – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, about “what proved to be a false accusation of rape made against three members of the men’s lacrosse team at Duke University…  The fallout from the case’s resolution led to public discussion of reverse racism, among other things, and the resignation and disbarment of lead prosecutor Michael Nifong.” Then there was the scandal that came up just a month ago about the University of Virginia.   See A Rape on Campus – Wikipedia.  An article in the December 2014 Rolling Stone “alleged a vicious gang rape at a fraternity at the University of Virginia against a victim identified as ‘Jackie.'”  However, other journalists started finding “significant discrepancies,” after which Rolling Stone had to issue multiple apologies, especially about it’s “vetting:”

The story was included in a Columbia Journalism Review feature, “The Worst Journalism of 2014,” where it was described as winning “this year’s media-fail sweepstakes.”

See also 8 Campus Rape Hoaxes Like UVA Rape Story | The Daily Caller:  “With very little effort at all, The Daily Caller has found eight twisted, totally false and especially astonishing rape hoaxes proffered over the years by female college students.” Of course the writer of Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim is entitled to his opinion.  However, readily-available data show otherwise.  At the very least, reasonable people could disagree. Beyond all that, the Bible tells us such false accusations go at least as far back as 3,500 years ago.  That was the time of Joseph, son of Israel, the Old Testament patriarch “formerly known as Jacob.”   See Potiphar – Wikipedia, which told what happened after Joseph’s brothers faked his death but actually sold him into slavery in Egypt.   In the fullness of time the slave Joseph was bought by Potiphar, captain of the Pharoah’s palace guard:

Potiphar makes Joseph the head of his household, but Potiphar’s wife, furious at Joseph for resisting her attempts to seduce him, accuses him falsely of attempted rape.  Potiphar casts Joseph into prison, from where he later comes to the notice of Pharaoh through his ability to interpret the dreams of other prisoners.

See also Joseph (patriarch) – Wikipedia:  “Angered by his running away from her, she made a false claim that he tried to rape her, and thus assured his imprisonment. (Genesis 39:1-20).” The incident proved fertile ground for artistic minds, if not license – especially in the 1600s – as seen in the image below.  (One of the few not too “racy” for a blog like this.)   One point to be gleaned could be: this was “all part of God’s plan.”  Joseph eventually found redemption. And who knows?  Maybe the same will be true of Jameis…

This essay is continued in On Jameis Winston’s future – Part II.  That post will expand on the fourth-of-four great themes of the Bible – redemption – and on the “prophecy” that if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft Winston, they’ll win a Super Bowl in three years.

The upper image is courtesy of ‘Jameis Winston is a bust’ and other Week 1 overreactions in the NFL. I added this photo on October 9, 2015, along with the article-link.  

Re:  “Four central themes.”  See Course Content, under The First Year – The Old Testament, line 2, “The Book of Genesis – The Themes of Creation, Sin, Judgment and Redemption.”  See also The Central Theme of the Bible – Covenant Worldview Institute. Re: “Creation” definition.   See How did we get here? – Christian Apologetics and Research.

Re: “Winston’s real and imagined sins.”  The most infamous charge involved an alleged rape in 2012.  On or about December 5 2013, State Attorney Willie Meggs announced no charges would be filed.  He did not feel “we had sufficient evidence to go forward to trial to prove it was not consensual.”  See Cleared a year ago, developments threaten to envelop Jameis Winston. Similarly – and as noted in Part II – on or about December 21, 2014, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Major B. Harding concluded a “student conduct” hearing.  His finding?  “The preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for any of the charged violations of the code.”  See FSU hearing clears quarterback Jameis Winston –

Some further FYI:  1)  Willie Meggs began his career in 1965 as a police officer, moved up to deputy-sheriff sergeant, then to Invesigator for the Tallahassee Police Department.  He was first elected State Attorney in 1985 and has been serving ever since.  2) Major B. Harding, former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, was born in1935.  He received his “undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University.  He also holds a Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia.”  He began serving as a judge in 1968 in the juvenile court.  See State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit.  See also Major B. Harding – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Major B. Harding, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and The Justice Major B. Harding American Inn of Court, which noted:

American Inns of Court (AIC) are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar.  An American Inn of Court is an amalgam of judges, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students.  Each Inn meets approximately once a month to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism.

3)  The preponderance of evidence standard is met “if the proposition is more likely to be true than not true.  Effectively, the standard is satisfied if there is greater than 50 percent chance that the proposition is true.” See Legal burden of proof – Wikipedia4) Misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance are types of failure to discharge public obligations existing by common law, custom, or statute.  See Misfeasance – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Under Florida Statute 838.022, “Official misconduct” is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. See Chapter 838 Section 022 – 2011 Florida Statutes, and also Fifty State Survey of Official Misconduct Statutes.   Re: “Morning after.”  See also The Morning After (Maureen McGovern song) – Wikipedia. Re: Brian Banks.  See also Brian Banks (American football) – Wikipedia, which noted: 

Banks was a standout high school football star at Polytechnic High School (Poly) in Long Beach, California, and in 2002 had verbally committed to play for USC.   After being falsely accused of rape by a classmate, he spent more than five years in prison, but had his conviction overturned in 2012 after his accuser was secretly recorded admitting she had fabricated the story.  (E.A.)

Thus the “recanted” in quotation marks. Re:  “Vetting.”  See Vetting – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:   “To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race.  Thus, it has taken the general meaning ‘to check.'”

The lower image is courtesy of Potiphar – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, by Guido Reni 1630.”  The point being that Potiphar’s wife made a false accusation of rape, and that despite his being innocent, Joseph got thrown into prison.