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Monday, 29 April 2013

The non-combatant American

An earlier post reflected on the European desire to kill or be killed for the motherland. Rose Wilder Lane very elegantly explained that this ideal never became part of the American psyche:

War has always been the primary function of Old World Government. Men living in the Old World use a large part of their energy in killing men and in destroying food, shelter, and all other necessities of human life. Americans in general do not understand this. Neither do most continental Europeans understand the American attitude toward war.

When I was living in Albania I had a friend who was one of the finest persons I ever knew. He was an Italian of English ancestry. His mother and his maternal ancestors for many generations had been English. He was fourteen and his brother was nine, when their parents were drowned at sea. The boys had no other near relatives and from that time they were inseparable. They stayed together in schools and universities; they got from the King himself a special permission to do their military service together. They went together to Argentine, and in 1915 returned to join their regiment. They were both wounded at Caporetto, and abandoned on the field. My friend reached his brother but was too weak to do anything for him. The brother died during the third night. My friend's wounds still required him to return to hospitals at intervals.

For weeks I tried to explain to him the American attitude toward war. He could not understand it. I was confused, myself, for like most Americans I had taken it for granted that no one wants war. My friend had the best European schooling, Italian, German, and English. He was widely and accurately informed; he was intelligent, open-minded, and eager to understand my puzzling country. The clue, he said, was in our attitude toward war. It baffled him.

"War has always been the primary function of Old World Government." He laughed at the superficial European belief that Americans are mere dollar-chasers. He knew several Americans intimately. He did not find them mercenary, nor cowardly, nor weak, nor — exactly — unpatriotic. American patriotism is peculiar, he said. Americans never say "my fatherland," "my motherland." What a peculiar attitude toward your country, to call it Uncle Sam. And notice, he said, the tone in which you say "Uncle Sam," or, "The States." It is affectionate; it has a sound of — what should he say? equality? tolerance? — as if a confident young man were speaking of a good old uncle. That is not the way in which a man speaks of his country, the fatherland, the motherland, the parent whose child he is. And then, the curious American talk about war. He did not believe that it was entirely hypocritical. But would I explain the facts?

The United States are made by unprovoked military aggression. They attack the Indians and take half a continent; they attack Mexico and take Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California; they attack Spain, and take Cuba; they attack the Filipinos and take the islands. Then why don't they hold and subdue Mexico, when American troops have taken Mexico City? Why don't they attack Canada while the mother country is embroiled in Europe? Why do the United States reverse all history, and fight for an older empire instead of helping to dismember it? Now (in 1928) the United States are the strongest world power; why do they no have compulsory military training? They have used military power to dictate to all Europe; then why has the army no influence in our foreign policy? Why do the sons of our upper classes go into business or professions, why not into the army and navy? Why do Americans not honor their great Generals above such men as Edison and Hoover? Why, when General Pershing is an American, do Americans make a small-town editor the President of the United States?

One morning his servant brought a note, asking if he might see me at once, for only a moment. He came in, excited, apologizing for calling at that hour, "but I could not wait to tell you! It came to me in a flash, suddenly, just now. It is materialism! As you have said, Signora: Americans hate war because it kills men and destroys property. Suddenly, it comes to me. What are lives and property? Material things. All men die, time destroys all property. Lives and property have no value. The immortal value is the soul of a nation, and war regenerates the nation's soul. Americans cannot see spiritual values. That is it, Signora; yes, yes, that is the truth. Deep down, at base, au fond, your countrymen are pure materialists. You see only the material world; you cannot see what war is, because it is spiritual."

He had seen his brother die at Caporetto, and he died in Ethiopia, a fine, brave, honorable man, who believed with his whole mind that an individual is a cell in the body of The State, that Authority controls all human beings, and that his own life had no value whatever but service to Immortal Italy.

That is the cause of war.

Men who have that pagan belief will always make war. They must make war, because of the nature of human energy. Not knowing that individuals control themselves, they do not recognize and accept that responsibility; they try to make their own energy work on a false basis. It will not work on a false basis, and one of the results of trying to make it do so, is war.

--Rose Wilder Lane, from The Discovery of Freedom

Friday, 19 April 2013

[Random] Thoughts on the Latest Chechen Terrorist Bombing

Counter Well, I've spent the better part of the day following the Boston Marathon Explosion, and have tried to pull back a couple of times and think this through. Some questions have finally been answered, such as:

Was this an attack by undercover agents of a foreign government, or Americans? Americans.
Did the perpetrators skip the country immediately, as foreigners were, or stay local? They were locals.
Were they using sophisticated military-grade explosives, or IED's? They used pressure-cooker IED's.
Was this an isolated attack, or part of a general war on America?

Aha. Now once we get to this question, it gets a little stickier. That the two bombing suspects are also accused of robbing a 7/11 would indicate that this wasn't an isolated incident, while on the other hand it also pretty much guarantees that they were lone wolves. Somebody being funded by an outside agency isn't going to resort to armed robbery to raise cash, especially not in their own local neighborhood.

On the other hand, this also demonstrates once again (The Beltway Sniper did if for us a decade ago) that a single pair of terrorists can literally immobilize a major metropolitan region. This was the first time probably since the Revolutionary War that the entire city of Boston was, to some extent or another, under a 24-hour curfew. I believe it's also the first time tanks have been used on American streets. And all this, brought on by a few household chemicals and easily obtained handguns.

Just imagine what this country would look like if, instead of a couple of Muslims taking out their religious angst on the Great Satan, a couple dozen--or couple hundred--gun owners methodically took out their rage on a government that tried to disarm them.

That thought must give the gun-grabbers a churning feeling in the pits of their stomachs.

I should add that although these Chechen terrorists are in fact Americans local to the Boston area, their father at least lives back in the Caucuses, and was hoping to see them there this summer. Muslim Americans who regularly travel to terror-stricken regions of the globe to visit Muslim members should probably be rated considerably higher on the suspect list for crimes like these than non-Muslim Americans who like to blow up stumps on the back 40. A mass-murdering terrorist could emerge from either group, but one is way more likely than the other.

April 20:
Well, I have a few more thoughts. One, if somebody did put these guys up to it, they cut them off after the bombing; these guys were out of cash and desperate to clear town.
Secondly, these guys were determined not to be taken alive.
Thirdly, the FBI is probably going to scale back their terrorist conspiracy sting program. There's a least a hint that this may have been a sting gone terribly wrong when they hired someone actually capable of pulling it off.

Okay, here's a report showing it most likely that Tamerlan at least was a stooge for the FBI. His brother most likely was just going along with him.

More information has come out on the details, but not such as would change the overall picture; for example, their mother also lives in the FSU, and apparently it was only Tamerlan who was determined not to be taken alive; his brother was shot while unarmed and unthreatening. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

The NIV and God's three loaves of bread

"Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine."   --I Samuel 10:3 NIV (2011)

"And thou shalt go on forward from thence, and shalt come to the oak of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God, to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three cakes of bread, and another carrying a flask of wine." --I Samuel 10:3 Darby (1890)

"Go on from there, and you will come to the Oak of Tavor. Three men will meet you there on their way up to God at Beit-El. One of them will be carrying three kids, another three loaves of bread and the third a skin of wine." --I Samuel 10:3 Complete Jewish Bible (1998)

Well, this is about a blatant translation error on the part of the CBT, but really it's not fair to single out the NIV without mentioning that virtually every English Bible in the last 400 years has read "three loaves of bread" in 1 Samuel 10:3. Specifically worthy of mention is the Complete Jewish Bible, the editor of which really should have known better.

What is the problem? Well, in English now, as in 1890, "loaf" carries the distinct connotation of leavened bread. Darby knew that, so he used a word that was rather awkward, but nonetheless more accurate: 'cake'. It's the best English word to use to describe what isn't all that common in English culture: a flat piece of yeastless bread baked by turning it on a skillet. Such a food item is actually quite common as a breakfast dish, but as such it is always made with use of a leavening agent: a pancake.

Cakes of unleavened bread, however, were specifically prescribed for offerings to the LORD:

“‘When you bring a grain offering which has been baked in the oven, it is to consist of either unleavened cakes made of fine flour mixed with olive oil or matzah spread with olive oil." --Leviticus 2:4, CJB

"And if thou present an offering of an oblation baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil." --Leviticus 2:4, Darby

Okay, so David Stern at least recognized the need to use "cakes" here, where "unleavened loaves" just wouldn't make sense in English. But there was a disconnect between the prohibition on offering leavened loaves here, and the implication of offering leavened loaves just six books later.

Now, there's' something interesting about the word translated 'cakes' in 1 Sam 10:3; it's the Hebrew feminine plural noun kikkaroth, from the verb karar, 'to spin or whirl.' The implication is that these are round slabs of bread, like those from which pizza crusts originated. Although the word itself is not used in Leviticus, clearly there are no grounds for assuming that these round cakes of bread being brought before God at Bethel were anything but unleavened.

Simply put, "loaves" was a bad translation back in 1611, still a bad translation in 1890, and unmistakably a bad translation in 2011.

We haven't made much progress--or even regress--in the past 120 years.

"Then you will go on from there until you reach the Oak of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three cabritos, another three tortillas, and another a skin of wine."   --I Samuel 10:3 The Complete Latino Bible (yet to be published)

UPDATE July 2013
It just occurred to me that the NNIV also mentions "three loaves of bread"  in Luke 11:5--
Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,--

As in all the versions cited. As if such a huge amount of food was needed for a traveler's midnight snack.