Category Archives: Not your Daddy’s Bible

On football, Moses and Rephidim…

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

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It’s time to lighten up a bit.  Which is being interpreted:  “It’s time to take a break from the election coming up.”  That is, it’s time to talk about something really important:

Like football!!!

Which is another way of saying we’re halfway through October – Week 9 of the college season and Week 7 for the NFL – and have yet to talk about those 2016 seasons.

And to talk about practices that affect those seasons, like sport superstitions.

For an example of a former player’s superstition:  Michael Jordan – who graduated from North Carolina – used to wear his blue North Carolina “shorts” under his Chicago Bulls uniform, for good luck.  Always.

I wrote about such superstitions in last year’s Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”  But that post focused on those superstitions which were practiced by sport-team fans.

And this one will too…

That is, if you’re a true sports fan, you’ve probably gotten some weird looks.  That is, you’ve gotten some weird looks when you try to explain how one of your actions – or “non-actions,” usually during the game at issue – impacted the outcome of that game.

And you may even have been asked the direct question:  “Do you really think that what you did” – or didn’t do – ” affected the outcome of that game?”  But now – after reading this post – you have a ready answer:  “Hey!  I’m just doing what Moses did, in the Bible!”  (Or you can say, “I’m just following in the footsteps of Moses,” as illustrated in the painting at the top of the page.)

Here’s what happened.  (As told in Exodus 17, some 3,500 years ago.)

The ancient Children of Israel had just Crossed the Red Sea, during the Exodus.  They emerged at Rephidim, near Mount Sinai.  (Where the Water From the Rock happened.)

That’s when the dreaded Amalekites – who would become Israel’s archenemy – launched a sneak attack.  (Not unlike Pearl Harbor, shown at left.)  Verses 8 to 16 – in Exodus 17 – then tell the story of Israel pulling off  an “upset of the season.”  You might say they beat a hated arch-rival, thanks to Moses and his “superstition:”

Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am′alek prevailed.  But 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, one on one side, and the other on the other side;  so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Which – it has been noted – sounds a lot like a modern-day football fan.  (Who – watching his team on TV – may move around the room, or change the way he stands, or sits.  Or – and I’ve done this myself – he may mute the sound on the TV, if that “brings the team good luck.”)

But always – always – the goal is to “help your team win.”  (In the case of Moses, his “team” started winning when he held his arms up, but started losing if he let his arms down.)

https://library.nd.edu/about/history/images/mural.jpgAgain, I wrote about this at length in last year’s Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”   (Which included the photo of Notre Dame’s Touchdown Jesus, at right.) 

For an update, see Superstitious sports fans abound, posted on October 20, 2016.  The article started with this question:  “Are you superstitious about your sports teams?”  Bill White then wrote of an incident several years ago, about “no turnovers so far:”

At one point in the NFC Championship Game, it occurred to me that there had been no fumbles or interceptions [in the game].  I nearly blundered into mentioning this to my wife while the Eagles had the ball, a terrible jinx, but I caught myself…

He caught himself because his team – the Eagles – had the ball.  So instead he waited until the other team had the ball:  “‘No turnovers yet in this game,’ I mentioned casually.”  Sure enough, on the very next play the opposing team’s quarterback threw an interception.

And who hasn’t seen that happen?

White joked at one point, “It’s a good thing I use the powers only for good, not evil.”  He added:

I suppose there are readers who think superstition is stupid, and that the players alone determine the outcome…   I thought some of you sports fans out there would  be able to relate, and the rest of you can just make fun of us.

File:Aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-4574.jpgOr not.  Which is another way of saying that for all the grief we get – for our “idiosyncratic quirks” – we rabid sports fans do get some benefits.  See for example, Why We’re So Superstitious | Psychology Today, which concluded with this proviso, limitation or quid-pro-quo:  “The upshot of this research is that it’s important to distinguish between the controllable and uncontrollable events in your life.”  On the other hand, there are those benefits:

Sports fans, for all the ribbing they take, do have some decidedly positive mental health advantages over non-fans.  Evidence cited by [Kent State researcher Shana] Wilson and her co-workers supports the idea that fans who strongly identify with a team, particularly a local one, are less lonely, feel happier, and feel better about themselves.

On the other hand, there are those people who “think superstition is stupid.”  And there are those people who say things like such fan superstitions are “ignorant, embarrassing, and frankly [make] me a little pessimistic about humanity.  Do you really think that wearing that unwashed jersey [or undershorts] will help your team win?”  To which I will respond, hereinafter:

“Hey pal, tell that to Moses!”

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The upper image is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett Millais ‘Victory O Lord! (1871).”

Re:  Sports Superstitions.  Aside from the article in Fact Monster, you can Google the term “sports superstitions.”  I did that and got some 1,040,000 results.  And for an interesting treatment of the phenomenon, see BBC – Future – Sporting superstitions: Why do we have them?

Re:  “Provisos, limitations and quid-pro-quos.”  See Quotes from Movie Aladdin :: Finest Quotes.  The image of the Genie – with Robin Williams using the voice and mannerisms of William F. Buckley Jr. – is courtesy of Image – Aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-4574.jpg – Disney Wikidisney.wikia.com.

The lower image is courtesy of www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/3o00dy/jeff_fisher.  See also www.packernation.com/its-only-weird-if-it-doesnt-work-of-game-day-superstitions.  That’s where the quote came from: “Athletes know it, fans know it, and even Bud Light knows it….”  

Jesus as a teenager?

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.jpg

 James Dean – the quintessential teen “rebel without a cause…”

 

Did you ever wonder when Jesus came up with the idea that He was Jesus.

Christ, by Heinrich Hofmann.jpgThat He was “special?”  That He was – literally – the Son of God?

That leads to even more questions:  Did Jesus  know the minute He was born that He was “the Son of God?”  Did He – even as a newborn child – have a fully formed adult personality?

Some time ago there was a bracelet trend, “WWJD?”  What would Jesus do?  Turning that question around –  “thinking outside the box” – the question could be put like this:

What would you do – with a fully formed adult personality, able to see and know all around you – yet you were trapped in the body of a baby?

And that in turn raises some more interesting questions.  Like:  What would you do if you could only communicate with those around you, with a smile, a frown, a gurgle or a belch?

To most of us, that would be a living nightmare.  It would be a nightmare to be trapped inside the body of an infant, but have a fully formed adult personality.

Yet many believe that’s just what Jesus went through, from the moment of birth on.

On the other hand, if that isn’t the case, when did Jesus find out?  The only rational alternative is that Jesus did not know who He was at that very minute He was born.  And if that is true, the question becomes:  “At what point in His life journey did Jesus find out?”

Sen. Howard Baker covering mike w. hand as unident. man whispers to Sen. Sam Ervin during Watergate hearings.In modern terms – borrowing a page from yesteryear – the question could be phrased, “What did Jesus know, and when did He know it?

If Jesus didn’t know – the minute He was born – that He was the Son of God, He had to find out later in His life.  And one interpretation of that theory came from the man who wrote Zorba the Greek

Nikos Kazantzakis also wrote The Last Temptation of Christ.  (In 1955.  It became the movie that caused such a stink when it was released in 1988.)  Anyway, in his novel, Kazantzakis theorized that at some point in His life, Jesus started “to hear voices:”

“I fasted for three months. I even whipped myself before I went to sleep. At first it worked. Then the pain came back. And the voices. They call me by the name: Jesus.”

So according to Kazantzakis, Jesus may not have known the minute He was born just how special He was.  He didn’t find out until some time later in His life.

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Whatever the merits of such a contemplation, it seems pretty clear that throughout the first 30 years of His life, Jesus must have had a world of patience.  And in all likelihood, at no time was that more true than when He was a teenager.

Of course He did have that one chance when he was 12 years old, to impress the elders in Jerusalem.  (See Luke 2:41-50).  But except for that one or two days of “mountaintop experience,” it seems that Jesus still had to endure 30 long years of pure, mundane drudgery.

He had to live quietly and unobtrusively – for 30 long years – before starting His life’s work.  And He had to do this before the people around Him started getting the idea who He really was.  (It must have been something like spending all day in a county tag office, multiplied by 10,950.)

Which brings up another compelling question:  What was Jesus like as a teenager?  Suppose – just for the sake of argument – that by the time He was a teenager, Jesus did know that He was in fact the First-born Son of God.  For one thing, He could see into the future.  And He knew, absolutely knew, everything that ever was or ever had been.

So maybe as a teenager, Jesus did know everything there ever was to know, and everything possible that ever could be known.  Yet there He was, stuck in that backwater, hayseed town of Nazareth, far away from any possible excitement, like what He might find in Jerusalem.

And, probably the worst thing of all for Him was that He had to take orders from older people, people who He knew didn’t know a fraction of what He knew about “real life.”  Of course:

Since every teenager in the history of the world has felt exactly the same way, how could the people in Nazareth know this teenager was any different?

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The upper image is courtesy of James Dean – Wikipedia.  The caption: “Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.”  The article noted, “Dean’s premature death … cemented his legendary status.”

The image of Jesus is courtesy of Jesus (name) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Christ by Heinrich Hofmann.”  The article noted that the name “Jesus” is a “rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע), also having the variants Joshua or Jeshua.”  

Re:  “What did Jesus know, and when did He know it?”  One of many phrases – like “Irangate” or “Benghazi-gate” – that can be traced back to the 1972 Watergate scandal.  The phase is credited to Senator Howard Baker, who famously asked, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”  The question was originally written by Senator Baker’s counsel and former campaign manager, future U.S. Senator [and Hollywood star], Fred Thompson.  (See, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Baker, and firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2011/04/what-did-jesus-know-and-when-did-he-know-it.)

The image to the right of the “when did He know it” paragraph is courtesy of 40 Years Since The Watergate Hearings | Getty Images.  Senator Baker is at left, covering the microphone.  Senator Sam Ervin is at the right of the photo, arms folded.

The image to the right of the “contemplation” paragraph is courtesy of that Wikipedia article.  The caption:  “Statue The Spirit of Contemplation by Albert Toft.”  

The lower image is courtesy of krustofsky.deviantart.com/art/Teenagers-Act-Now-261044948.  And an ironic side note:  Harassed has one “r” and two “s’s.”

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This post was gleaned from earlier posts in my other blog, On Jesus as a teenager, and On Jesus as a teenager – REDUX.

Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”

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

 

Friday, October 9, 2015 – Week 6 of the college football season started last night.

Which means that many or most fans around the country will be doing a bunch of weird rituals and/or superstitions, all to help their team win.  (Or avoid jinxing their team, thus causing it to lose.)  All of which may sound a bit weird to the more rational among us.  (Which doesn’t necessarily exclude the aforementioned college football fans.)

https://library.nd.edu/about/history/images/mural.jpgThe thing is, this business of “helping your team win” has been around a long, long time.  (Longer even than “Touchdown Jesus,” seen at left, visible from Notre Dame stadium …)

In fact, it may all have started with Moses, back at the battle of Rephidim, noted above.  There’s more on that later, but first consider “Super”stitions: Fans engage in odd rituals:

[M]any sports enthusiasts have something they do in attempt to increase their team’s odds of winning.  It’s possible that these wacky fan behaviors are related to the superstitious actions some athletes take in attempt to improve their luck … like growing beards or eating certain foods because they think the behavior is lucky.  Adopting their own rituals is a way that fans can feel like they’re part of a team…  “It all comes down to fan identification,” [Dr. Joshua Shuart] said. “They really feel that they’re part of the team.” (E.A.)

But what’s all this about Moses being the first guy who said “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”

For that we have to go back to Exodus 17, about 3,500 years ago.  Like Pearl Harbor, the dreaded Amalekites launched a sneak attack on the Children of Israel, as they emerged from “the Exodus, at Rephidim near Mount Sinai.”   Verses 8 to 16 tell of Israel pulling off  an “upset of the season.”  In essence they beat a hated arch-rival, thanks to Moses:

Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am′alek prevailed.  But 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, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

As noted elsewhere:  “That sounds a lot like a modern-day football fan, watching his favorite team on TV.”  Sometimes he moves around the room, sometimes he stands, sometimes he sits.  Other times he’ll mute the sound on the TV, sometimes he’ll tell his wife to leave the room – because she may be jinxing his team – but he’s “always trying to ‘help his team win.’”

Or in the case of Moses, his “team” starts winning when he holds his arms up, but they start losing if he lets his arms down…

So imagine Moses – today – watching the “battle” from a stadium seat, or on his TV set at home.  For whatever reason, he holds his arms up, and his team scores a touchdown.  But then his arms get tired.  He lets his arms down for a moment and – lo and behold! – the other team scores a touchdown.   So to help his team win – or avoid “jinxing” his team – Moses got his buddies Aaron and Hur to hold his arms up “for the rest of the game.”

That makes Moses the prototype of the modern-day football fan who does all kinds of strange things to help his team win.  But here’s how one “skeptic” explained the phenomenon:

It’s a natural tendency for people to make connections between events.  “When I do this, that happens…”  Primitive people developed superstitions in similar ways.  One year, the crops were bad.  The next year, they put a basket of dead birds in the middle of the field, and everything turned out great.  Therefore, placing a basket of dead birds in the field ensures a good crop…   Like the primitive farmers, we continue to make assumptions of causation [which] leads us to think that prayer works (you pray for your sports team to win…)   [But we should] not jump to conclusions.  We should make multiple observations.  We should try different sequences in various combinations…  Even with all that, we might never be sure about the real causes.  But we can rule some out, and … increase our confidence in others.

See Faulty logic: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc « Gotham Skeptic.

On the other hand, you could just as easily say that such superstitions are a mass example of the scientific method:  “a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.”  (What fool of a college football fan would keep doing things that ‘hurt” his team?)   See also Thesis, antithesis, synthesis:

The thesis is an intellectual proposition.  The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.  The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths and forming a new thesis, starting the process over.

But the bottom line is this:  “Athletes know it, fans know it, and even Bud Light knows it. Superstitions are as big a part of the game as anything.  They were there when your parents and/or grandparents first started watching, and they’ll be here long after we’re gone.”

On the other hand, there’s the “pessimist” who wrote “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work:” the NEW worst slogan in the world.  Among other things, he said in essence that such fan practices are all part of some axis of evil responsible for all the bad things that have happened in the world since Day One.  (Which brings to mind Marty McFly’s “Lighten up, jerk!”)

Then too he wrote that such fan superstition is “ignorant, embarrassing, and frankly makes me a little pessimistic about humanity.  Do you really think that wearing that unwashed jersey will help your team win?”  To which I respond:

“Hey pal, tell that to Moses!”

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett MillaisVictory O Lord! (1871).”

Re: positive outlook on life and/or “accentuating the positive.”  Referring to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the 1944 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also curveball, defined in part as a “particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem.”  The point being that life seems to have a habit of “throwing us curveballs.”  See also the alternate definition of dinosaur, assomeone who resists change or is old-fashioned.”

Another note:  The text of this post was gleaned from other posts in my first blog, Dorscribe.com, including On the readings for September 28, Reflections on a loss and “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I.

The “Touchdown Jesus” image is courtesy of Word of Life Mural // Hesburgh Libraries // University of Notre Dame.  See also Notre Dame Stadium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The “crossed fingers” image is courtesy of  Why We’re So Superstitious | Psychology Today.  That’s actually a pretty good – and non-biased – study of the phenomenon, which included this:

Sports fans, for all the ribbing they take, do have some decidedly positive mental health advantages over non-fans.  Evidence cited by [Kent State University researcher Shana] Wilson and her co-workers supports the idea that fans who strongly identify with a team, particularly a local one, are less lonely, feel happier, and feel better about themselves.

The “SM” chart is courtesy of Scientific method – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The lower image is courtesy of www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/3o00dy/jeff_fisher.  See also www.packernation.com/its-only-weird-if-it-doesnt-work-of-game-day-superstitions.  That’s where the quote came from: “Athletes know it, fans know it, and even Bud Light knows it….”  

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Of related interest, see also Why Superstition Works: The Science of Superstition in Sports:

If you want to see some [sport superstitions], just go to a baseball game.  Baseball players … are renowned for their superstitious behavior.  Babe Ruth, famously, always touched second base when he came running in from the outfield…   Over the years, players’ superstitious habits have become, if anything, even more extreme.  Before each game, for instance, former Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs … always practiced batting and wind sprints at the same time of day (5:17 p.m. and 7:17 p.m., respectively), left his house at the same time on game days, and drew the word “Chai” (Hebrew for “life”) in the dirt before coming up to bat (and Boggs isn’t Jewish).  Likewise, All-Star slugger Jason Giambi had a cure for hitting slumps: gold lamé thong underwear, which must have been quite a sight in the locker room.

So what are you saying, “Mr. Pessimist?”  That Babe Ruth and Wade Bogs are evil?  Hah? 

 

On “Exodus: Gods and Kings”

Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, out on December 12 in U.S. theaters tells the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale, left) rising up against the Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (played by Joel Edgerton, right)

So we meet again,” says Moses to the Pharoah of Egypt, in Exodus:  Gods and Kings

 

I first reviewed E: G&K in my other blog. (E: G&K is the “2014 biblically-inspired actionadventure film directed by Ridley Scott.”  Stars included Christian BaleJohn TurturroSigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley, in a “loose interpretation of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt as led by Moses and related in the Book of Exodus.”  See Exodus: Gods and Kings – Wikipedia.)

So anyway, this shorter version of that earlier review has been “edited for content.”  As in:

The following … has been modified from its original version.  It has been formatted to fit this screen, to run in the time allotted and edited for content…

(Re-edited film.)  The original review is at On “Exodus: G&K,” but here are some highlights.  (From which I came up with a brand-new ending…)

To begin with it’s only natural to compare the 2014 film with Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments (1956 film) – Wikipedia.   Which brings up the anomaly – to some people anyway – that in the Ridley Scott version, God is portrayed by an 11-year-old boy:

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 also Ridley Scott chooses 11-year-old boy as voice of God.  Which brings up the fact that the actual name of the character is Malak:  “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.”  (See Ridley Scott chooses…)

And incidentally, Wikipedia defined Malak as “the Semitic word for ‘angel.’”  See also Strong’s Hebrew: 4397. מַלְאָך (malak).)

And that’s not to mention Angel of the Lord – Wikipedia, which included the image at left, “The Angel of the Lord appearing to Hagar in the wilderness.”  (“The biblical word for angel, מלאך malak, … translates simply as ‘messenger…'”)

So right from the start we have a controversy.  Aside from that, the film got lukewarm reviews like:  Very predictable, Historic mistake, and Ridley Scott made this movie out of contempt.  The third review said “has a personal grudge against all Christians.”

But as the Nathan Lane character said near the end of The Birdcage, “Not necessarily.”  (Which is being interpreted, “Not all reviewers feel that way…”)

To me the movie was well-paced, taut, and featured a compelling love story between Moses and his wife Zipporah.  And it showed the human price of becoming a Biblical icon: having to leave your wife and first-born son to “do your duty.”  Finally, the Moses played by Christian Bale was more human, more like us today and therefore more believable.

The film starts with Moses at the height of his military prowess.  He’s a proud, self-sufficient warrior with little or no patience for the reading of entrails (see Haruspex – Wikipedia) or other religious superstitions of the time.  But later on he “wrestles with the idea of God” after he finds out he’s actually the son of Hebrew slaves.  Then too this more-human Moses has his times of great doubt, and sometimes feels abandoned by God.  (Or at least that God isn’t there when he needs Him…)  The Moses in E: G&K is unlike what we’ve been led to expect because he is so full of pride and stubbornness and self-doubt, just like we “mere mortals” are today.

Another thing the movie got right was how Moses aged as a result of shouldering such great responsibility.  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 that were coming up.)   Up to this point in the movie, Moses had appeared youthful and dark-haired.  But as the movie ends, Moses looks pretty much like the old guy portrayed in the painting, Victory O Lord!   (Shown below.)

Wikipedia said the painting “illustrates a passage in the Book of Exodus” – the Battle of Rephidim in chapter 17 – “which describes how Moses and his two companions watched the battle from the hill.”  (Briefly, when he was “watching the game” from a mountain-top, Moses saw that when he held his hands up, his team started winning.  But if he let his hands down, his team started losing…  See also the Intro to the DOR Scribe blog.)

Thus Moses had “aged” in way not unlike Jesus, as He was described in John 8:57, “‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!'”

That’s strange, because according to tradition, Jesus was 33 years old when He was crucified.  See Jesus year | Dictionary of Christianese.  And yet, like the Moses shown at the end of Exodus: Gods and Kings, Jesus at the end of His ministry seems to have aged greatly, “being a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, as well as of great gravity.”  (Biblehub, and specifically the Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible interpretation of John 8:57.)

Which is something like what happened to Abraham Lincoln after four years as president:

He arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman.  In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds.  “He was sunken-eyed and grizzled, nothing like that bright-eyed lawyer of Springfield [and] looks 75 years old, but he’s 56.”

Which leads to two final points.  First:  To the icons that we choose to throw our cares and responsibilities on – like Moses – we followers are pretty much a pain in the neck.

Second:  Exodus: Gods and Kings is a pretty good movie and well worth seeing, if only in the interest of broadening your horizons.

 

VictoryOLord.JPG

 

The upper image is courtesy of Ridley Scott chooses 11-year-old boy as voice of God in Moses movie.

The lower image is courtesy of Victory O Lord! – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  On “Exodus: G&K,” the movie.  Check out the “Part II” at On Exodus (Part II) and Transfiguration.  The latter review included “some things the movie left out:” 

For one thing, it didn’t mention Moses writing the first five books of the Bible, the Torah or Pentateuch.  For another thing, it left out the part about Moses’ father-in-law “inventing the Supreme Court.”  See On Jethro inventing the supreme court.  Third, the  movie left out Zipporah telling Moses, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!  That was in Exodus 4:25, one of the “more unusual, curious, and much-debated passages of the Pentateuch.”  See Zipporah at the inn – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  Abraham Lincoln “ageing” in office.   See The Age of Obama: Timelapse of President Barack Obama…  The site included a before-and-after set of pictures of Abraham Lincoln:

He arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman. In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds. “He was sunken-eyed and grizzled, nothing like that bright-eyed lawyer of Springfield,” said Von Drehle. Lincoln sat for a famous series of portraits, and “by the last set of photographs, he looks 75 years old, but he’s 56.”

David Von Drehle wrote “Rise to Greatness:  Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year.”

Re: Nathan Lane and The Birdcage – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaNathan Lane played Albert Goldman:  “Armand Goldman is the openly gay owner of a drag club in South Beach called The Birdcage and his partner Albert is ‘Starina’ the star attraction of the club and is a very effeminate and flamboyant man.”  See also: English Script for “The Birdcage” (03)_wallistian_新浪博客:

Val: Dad, couldn’t the Keeleys slip out without being noticed at the end of the show?

Armand: No, they’re waiting for that. They’d be recognized in two seconds.

Albert: Not necessarily.  

[That scene was summarized by Wikipedia as follows:]

As they attempt to leave they realize that the club is surrounded by photographers and they will not be able to leave without being seen.  Albert suggests going through the club’s dressing room and they dress Kevin in drag while Armand choreographs a dancing line through the exit and Kevin goes unnoticed.  Even to the point where his driver; who had earlier betrayed the Keeleys to the press, didn’t recognize him.

[Which led to the following exchange between the arch-conservative Senator – now dressed in “drag” – and his driver, who doesn’t recognize him:]

Kevin: Meet me in 20 minutes at the corner of EI Dorado and Palm.

The Driver: Lady, not for a million dollars.

See also Object lesson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

On Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling”

Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland!

 

Speaking of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, shown above…

I visited that venerable institution last December, during a Christmas visit to Cleveland.

One exhibit was on Pink Floyd, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.  You can see their full bio at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | RockHall.com:

The group carried rock and roll into a dimension that was more cerebral and conceptual than what preceded it.  What George Orwell and Ray Bradbury were to literature, Pink Floyd is to popular music, forging an unsettling but provocative combination of science fiction and social commentary.

Which could be another way of saying they were like some of the prophets in the Bible.  (Those old-timey prophets also made “‘unsettling and provocative’ social commentaries.”)

Pink Floyd’s variation on that theme was undoubtedly Another Brick in the Wall.  That hit was actually “three songs set to variations of the same basic theme, on Pink Floyd‘s 1979 rock opera, The Wall.”

Part 2 of the 3-part set was “a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in the UK in particular.” See Wikipedia, which added –  as a side note – that both the single and album were “banned in South Africa in 1980 after the song was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting racial inequities in education under the apartheid regime.”

See also Pink Floyd’s The Wall:  A Complete Analysis:

Pink Floyd’s the Wall is one of the most intriguing and imaginative albums in the history of rock music…  the Wall traces the life of the fictional protagonist, Pink Floyd, from his boyhood days in post-World-War-II England…   From the outset, Pink’s life revolves around an abyss of loss and isolation…  Every incident that causes Pink pain is yet another brick in his ever-growing wall[, including:]  an out-of-touch education system bent on producing compliant cogs in the societal wheel…

“Compliant cogs in the societal wheel?”  That sounds like what Harry Golden was about.  (In his “sanity amid the braying of jackals,” he was definitely not a “compliant cog.”)

Which brings us back to prophets like Isaiah (at left).  Isaac Asimov said such prophets – 3,000 or more years ago – were also the “spokesmen of protest” and the “radicals of their day:”

The priesthood then, as always, was primarily interested in the minutiae of ritual.  This was something that could easily be followed by anyone and generally presented no difficulties.  It might be a tedious way of gaining God’s favor, but it was not really painful…  The prophets, however, were likely to disdain ritual and to insist, instead, on a high ethical code of behavior, something that could present serious difficulties.

See Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel (1981), page 527, emphasis added.  He noted it’s both extremely difficult to perform that higher good, and difficult to learn just what that ethical good might be.  (See also my post On “another brick in the wall”.)

Which is another way of saying going by the book isn’t always the best course.  It’s always a good place to start, and it’s always easier to do.  The problem comes when that’s all you know.

For example, William Shakespeare had Juliet tell Romeo, “You kiss by the book.”  But I don’t imagine many people like to get kissed “by the book.”  See also SparkNotes: Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, scene 5, which said that the comment could be taken two ways, one involving Juliet’s “lack of experience.”  Or it could be interpreted like this:

Juliet’s comment that Romeo kisses by the book is akin to noting that he kisses as if he has learned how to kiss from a manual and followed those instructions exactly.  In other words, he is proficient, but unoriginal…  (E.A.)

In other words, going by the book can mean you do something “in the correct or proper manner.”  Or it can mean “completing a task according to the rules or without cutting any corners to save time.”  On the other hand, going by the book tends to degenerate into learning by rote.   (Learning “by memorizing without giving any thought to what is being learned.”  As in, “I learned history by rote; then I couldn’t pass the test that required me to think.  If you learn things by rote, you’ll never understand them.”  Emphasis added.)

That in turn can degenerate into some of the synonyms for “unoriginal:” banal, trite, hackneyed and/or uninspired.   See also Rote learning – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Rote learning is a memorization technique based on repetition…   [Alternatives] include meaningful learning, associative learning, and active learning…  Rote learning is sometimes disparaged with the derogative terms parrot fashion, regurgitation, cramming, or mugging

Bartolomeo Montagna - Saint Paul - Google Art Project.jpgWikipedia added that “students who learn with understanding are able to transfer their knowledge to tasks requiring problem-solving with greater success…”   So maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul (at right) took such care to distinguish the dead letter of the law and its “life-giving spirit.”  (In 2d Corinthians 3:6 he said followers of Jesus were ministers “not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”)

See also letter and spirit of the law.  And maybe that’s what Pink Floyd was protesting:  Rigid teachers who seem to have lost sight of the spirit – the originality – of what they were supposed to be teaching.

For another perspective, consider this from The Zen Way to the Martial Arts:

Every martial art – judo, kendo, aikido, etc. – has its own forms, actions, procedure.  Beginners must learn the kata and assimilate and use them.  Later, they begin to create out of them, in the way specific to each art.  (E.A.)

Or take the Bible…   (Please!!)  Some people think it should be taken literally, and only literally.  But others think it should be interpreted broadly, and maybe even – gasp! – liberally.  That way it applies “to more things or in more situations than would be the case under strict construction.”  See liberal Interpretation and also On Jesus: Liberal or Fundamentalist?

Taking the example of the Bible a step further, maybe the “real goal is to help you grow and develop,” and not to give you “an effective instrument of aggression and domination.”  (Which Pink Floyd may have been protesting as well:  the misuse if not abuse of the Bible.)

All of which brings us back to the main point, similar to something Buddha once said:

Do not believe on the strength of traditions even if they have been held in honor for many generations…   Believe nothing which depends only on the authority of your masters or of priests.  After investigation, believe that which you yourself have tested and found reasonable, and which is good for your good and that of others.  (E.A.)

(But see also 1st John 4:1, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  E.A.)

So maybe that’s what Pink Floyd was saying with “We don’t need no thought control.”  Teach us how to create out of the basics.  Teach us how to become both proficient and original.  But don’t try to turn us into “compliant cogs in the societal wheel…”

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, under “Visit the Museum.” 

The lower image is courtesy of Gautama Buddha … Goodreads.  See also Gautama Buddha – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The “Wall” image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article cited in Pink Floyd

The image of Isaiah is courtesy of Book of Isaiah – Wikipedia.  The full caption reads:  “detail of entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza showing verse from Isaiah 33:6 Rockefeller Center, New York.”

 Re: “take the Bible…   (Please!!)”  See Henny Youngman – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  “Buddha … on the strength of traditions.”  See How to Meditate  A Guide to Self-Discovery, Lawrence LeShan, Bantam Books (1975), at pages 101-102.

Re:   “Every martial art … has its own forms.”  See Deshimaru, Taisen.  The Zen Way to the Martial Arts, trans. Nancy Amphoux, Arkana Books, 1991, at page 116.  See also page 3:

Many people these days come to the martial arts as if to a sport or, worse, as if seeking an effective instrument of aggression and domination.   And, unhappily, there are studios that cater to this clientele…   (E.A.)

Re:  “The real goal.”  See, How to Meditate, at page 38, vis-a-vis Zen meditation in the martial arts:  “The real goal is to help you grow and develop … not to become a better archer or karate expert.” 

Re: “thought control.”  See Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 – Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (lyrics).  On the other hand, the members of the chorus singing “we don’t need no education” sound precisely as if they do need a bit of education.  See double negatives and also Wiktionary on “ignoramus.”

Re “compliant cogs … societal wheel.”  See also Whoso would be a man, must be a noncomformist.

 

 

Jeremiah and the Parable of the Dirty Underwear

 

 

 Jeremiah 13:1-11 is an interesting read.  It gives what might be called the Parable of the Dirty Underwear.

Verse 1 begins, “This is what the Lord said to me:  ‘Jeremiah, go and buy a linen loincloth.  Then put it around your waist.  Don’t let it get wet.’” 

A footnote said a loincloth was a “common undergarment in ancient Judah,” a short skirt that “wrapped around the hips.  It reached about halfway down the thighs.” 

(The illustration at left shows a “form of loincloth” – with a cape)…

It’s also translated “waist cloth.” 

So anyway, Jeremiah did what he was told.  Then the Lord instructed him a second time: “Jeremiah, take the loincloth you bought and are wearing, and go to Perath [a small village near Jerusalem].  Hide the loincloth there in a crack in the rocks.”

Then Jeremiah got a third message from the Lord.  He followed orders, went to the “cleft of a rock” a few days later and saw that the waist cloth was ruined.

So Jeremiah said, “There’s some kind of lesson here!!!

All of which got me wondering.  Was a waist cloth some kind of early underwear?  (Before even whitey-tighties?)   So I did some research and came up with the following sources:

1) The Sign of the Loincloth: Jeremiah (13:1-11),   2)  Loincloth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,  3)  Strong’s Hebrew: 232. אֵזוֹר (ezor) — a waist cloth – Bible Hub, and  4)  Intimacy during Menstruation | IslamToday – English.

The first source said, “Jeremiah’s vision of the sign of the loincloth is an affluent passage whose depth cannot be fully understood without a proper exegetical exploration.”

Which is a very wordy way of saying, “There’s more to this story than meets the eye.”

The last source was the most interesting.  It defined a waist cloth in terms of “intimacy.”  And according to this narration, the general consensus is that the area “typically covered by the waistcloth [is] the area between the navel and the knee.”

According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word is ezor, derived from the term azar: “to gird, encompass, equip.”  (Equip?  Verrry interesting)  And aside from “waist cloth,” it’s also translated as a belt or belts, or as a girdle or a waistband.  Not to mention loincloth.

Wikipedia defined that as a “one-piece garment – sometimes kept in place by a belt – which covers the genitals and, at least partially, the buttocks.”  Such cloths are worn:  1) in societies where no other clothing is needed or wanted,  or 2) as an undergarment or swimsuit.  In turn:

Undergarments are clothes worn beneath outer clothing, usually in direct contact with the skin, but may comprise more than one layer.  They keep outer garments from being soiled or damaged by bodily substances, lessen abrasion or friction against the skin, shape the body, and provide concealment or support for parts of it.  (E.A.)

http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/lt/lt_cache/thumbnail/960/img/photos/2014/02/17/e5/46/Buffett.JPG(But see Pencil Thin Mustache, “now I’m gettin’ old, don’t wear underwear, I don’t go to church, and I don’t cut my hair,” a la Jimmy Buffett.)  All of which gets us back to the original question:  Was a waist cloth some kind of early underwear, before even whitey-tighties? 

But first I had to research that term itself.  (In order to be assiduous.)

For one thing, there’s some debate whether the proper term is “whitey-tighties” or “tighty-whiteys.”  See POLL: Do you say whitey-tighties or tighty-whities?  (Some people apparently have way too much time on their hands.)  Then I found this definition:

If you are a boy or man it is the first kind of underwear your mother bought you.  White and tight, you didn’t have anything yet to be proud of, so they were ok.  But then you grew, and you were wearing the same underwear at 13 or 14 that you were wearing when you were 10.

That’s from Urban Dictionary: whitey tightys (emphasis added).   The site added this:  “White briefs, sometimes including brown stains, also known as skid marks.”

Famous manly men who wear whitey tighties were said to include:  “Vegeta, Vin Diesel, Billy Ray Cyrus [and that] mouse in the nutcracker.”  Finally the site said, “The term ‘tighty whitey’ is not only incorrect but inferior.  Whitey tighty is the proper term for white briefs.”

Then there’s Language Log: Tighty-whities: the semantics, which added a few nuggets of wisdom, starting with the idea that the expression is fairly new.  The absence of the term from the “standard dictionaries and sources of information on word and phrase histories suggests that it’s probably not more than twenty or so years old.”  (That is, going back to about 1990.)  The blogger added this, perhaps to explain some negative connotations:

A further subtlety is the evaluative dimension of tighty-whities.  It’s not entirely clear to me whether the judgments here are directly [at] the sort of men who would wear them…  I [do] know that some American speakers now view tighty-whities as a negative, dismissive label (perhaps through association with uptight and tight-assed and even the racial tag whitey)…

I’m not sure what “evaluative dimension” refers to, but like I said:  Some people seem to have way too much free time on their hands.  Meanwhile, back at Jeremiah…

I tried to read through Sign of the Loincloth again, but the International Bible Commentary (IBC) seemed to have the best spin.

The “intimate” nature of the loincloth was supposed to “symbolize the close intimacy the people [of Israel] once enjoyed with their Lord.”  Both sources agreed that the loincloth started out chaste, “placed upon Jeremiah’s loins, without touching any water, and thereby symbolizing that it was pure and lacking damage.”  But then came the soiling

As the IBC went on to say, the “close intimacy” with God – enjoyed by the people of Israel – “had been marred by contact with pagan and idolatrous streams of influence.”  Those streams of influence in turn had “destroyed the people’s pride in their God and so soiled them…  The nation, like the garment, is now good for nothing, and will be soiled in exile.” (E.A.)

So – as Sign of the Loincloth said – this passage is exceedingly more complex than it seems:  “The meaning of this passage in today’s context is very complex and complicated to determine.”

On the other hand it might bring new meaning to Mom’s old adage, “Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.”

For years we Baby-boomers laughed at Mom’s advice, and/or thought it was just ludicrous.  “Heaven forbid if you got your leg cut off and had on dirty ‘drawers.'”  But with the passing years, maybe Mom was right after all.  “The goal is to have a little foresight, and plan in advance such that you can retain your dignity in the case of an unforeseen event.”  See What does it mean to wear clean underwear, and  The Modern Equivalent of Wearing Clean Underwear (which equates a bad picture on Facebook with the old “dirty underwear”).

Then too there’s always that symbolic “close intimacy” that people may still want to find with The Force that Created the Universe.  Or maybe it’s just a matter of sound stewardship

And it should also be noted that Harry Golden had something to say about all this:

Our religions have really conditioned us to what we call good taste and propriety.  I think of that wonderful Jewish legend of the girl who had been sentenced by the Inquisition to be dragged through the streets to the funeral pyre.  She was asked if she had a last request, and she pleaded for a few pins, , and when they gave them to her, she pinned her skirts carefully between her legs so that her body would not be uncovered as she was being dragged through the streets to her death…

That’s from Golden’s book Only in America, and specifically his column, “Causerie on death.”  (What could be called the functional equivalent of a modern blogpost.)

That is, a causerie is generally defined as a short, light, humorous essay, but Golden defined it as “French for ‘schmooze.'”  (See also Dichotomy.)

The point is: few people would use “schmooze” and “death” in the same sentence, let alone the same title, but Golden did.  In fact this causerie was one of his longer essays, but his point was:  Tomorrow may never come.  We all plan to live long, full and rich lives, but for all we know we might get run over by a bus ten minutes from now.  (And so among other things we should focus on important things, like letting our family and friends know how we feel about them…)

In turn, maybe being sure to wear “clean underwear” isn’t as ridiculous as we thought.  Maybe it’s just a form of mindfulness, of being aware that death could come at any minute, yet not being greatly troubled by it.  Then there’s the symbolism of the intimate nature of the loincloth, representing “the close intimacy the people with their Lord.”

And finally, come to think of it:  Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to have clean underwear if you were about to face guys like these. . .

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Loincloth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption, “A form of loincloth worn with a cape by an Aztec ruler, circa 1500.”

See the full text at Jeremiah 13:1-11.  The text and footnote are from the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV).  It was the Old Testament reading for Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the Daily Office.  (See DOR.)

The full reference to Only in America by Harry Golden:  Penguin Books (1959), at page 10.   The quote is from his column, “Causerie on death.”  See also Causerie – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and The “Golden” Era of Civil Rights: Consequences of the Carolina Israelite

The Jimmy Buffett image is courtesy of www.wsbtv.com/news/entertainment/zac-brown-band-kiss

The Jeremiah image is courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The lower image is “Capricho № 80: Ya es hora (It is time),” courtesy of the Wikipedia article Spanish Inquisition – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Los Caprichos “are a set of 80 prints in aquatint and etching created by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya in 1797 and 1798, and published as an album in 1799…   Goya described the series as depicting ‘the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual.'”  

A final note:  the Spanish word “caprichos” can be defined as “caprice,” but there are a host of other possible translations. See What is the meaning of the Spanish word capricho? – Word Hippo