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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Weather Channel Joins the Conspiracy

Checking the weather this morning of December 20, 2014, I saw an ad for a video clip called "Mystery of John F. Kennedy's Plane Crash Solved?" and, of course, watched it.

Incredibly, the video text itself made no claim whatsoever to have any new information on the 15-year-old crash. In other words, there was no news--just a lot of lies: JKF Jr. didn't have his instrument rating, therefore, 'when other planes remained grounded,' he took off in the growing haze to the doom of 'all three on board' after the advice of an unnamed onscreen expert to 'get more training before flying solo' "fell on deaf ears."

It's amazing how many boldface lies can make it into a single video minute. As a pilot, I know that flying on instruments is part of basic flight school. If you can't fly through haze without 'spiraling out of control,' you're never even going to get your private license. And the video shot of 'all the other planes that remained grounded?' Well, 'remaining grounded' is another way of saying 'parked at the airport,' and that's what the majority of private planes spend the majority of their time doing, regardless of the weather.

Now, it's true that JFK did not yet have his instrument rating--just as my adult daughter does not yet have a driver's license. Big deal; she has been driving for years, but has to clear so many legal hurdles to be able to 'drive solo,' the paperwork has yet to catch up with the reality of her being a capable, experienced driver.

Thus with JFK Jr. He had all of the training, most of the experience, and almost all of the paperwork needed to be a full-fledged instrument-rated pilot. No way was he still at the level where he would go into a spin at 2500 feet while on approach to a lighted runway; instrument-rated pilots have to be able to safely navigate within 100 feet of the ground without being able to see it. But he still used an instructor every time he flew in unfamiliar conditions.

So, the video hits all the talking points of the original cover-up, whilst ignoring the salient fact that rescuers were intentionally misdirected for an entire day:
1. JFK Jr. was not competent to make that flight (he was).
2. He was warned not to fly solo in hazy conditions (he never flew solo in hazy conditions).
3. The plane spiraled out of control (the plane's engine was turned off and it was flown into the sea).
4. There were three on board (the fourth person on board was removed by a covert dive team, seat and all).

Why, Weather Channel? Why?

Monday, 29 December 2014

Two responses to serious charges

There are two ways to respond to a serious charge of wrongdoing:
1. Refute the charges. This is how it's handled in a courtroom by a defense attorney.
2. Claim that the charges are so ridiculous, they aren't worth responding to. This seems to be how such things are handled everywhere else--at least by those who can actually afford the first option.

The US Government chose the second option when confronted with the charges in my most recent post.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Sad Fate of Flight Three Seventy

I've written before about airplanes that fly into the sea, and the various reasons why this might happen. Which brings us to what may well be my final post on the fate of Flight Three Seventy.
I just ran across one theory, which doesn't seem like it would hold much water: The Electronic Fog. I quote:
The first indication the airliner may have been in trouble is when the co-pilot signed off from Malaysian air traffic control. He said �all right good night 370.� Normally he would say something like �Malaysian 370 contacting Viet Nam at 128.4 thank you goodnight.� Maybe the electronic fog had just attached itself to the aircraft so he cut the procedure short. They never contacted Viet Nam airspace and strange things started happening immediately after that last call. The fog can disable the radios. The Boeing 777 has a glass panel cockpit. All the panels could have turned off and turned blank. The pilots would have no idea of their exact heading because even the whisky compass would be spinning. They would have to rely on their mechanical backup instruments to maintain control. They are the altimeter, the airspeed indicator and the attitude indicator.

They made about a 120 degree turn to the left, apparently trying to aim for the nearest airport. It appears they went up higher trying to get above the fog and down lower trying to get below the fog but it did not detach. When the time came to the point where they should be able to identify the airport there was no visibility. They made some more turns and that would have disoriented them to the point where they are not sure of their heading anymore. Many pilots that have been in the electronic fog that crashed, went through a series of turns then became spatially disoriented and ended up entering what is known as a graveyard spiral which always ends up in death.

They may have been able to control the autopilot but the heading would have to be controlled by their input. After going through a series of turns they would be becoming disoriented so they did something similar to Flight 19. They just continued until they ran out of fuel. Also like Flight 19 they unfortunately aimed for a remote location over the ocean where they may never be found.
I think a better supported theory is that of Marc Dugain:
Dugain, a well-respected French author, argues that the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people crashed near Diego Garcia, a British island in the middle of the Indian Ocean used as a strategic air force and intelligence base by the US military, in the six-page article in Paris Match.
The US has always officially denied that flight MH370 came anywhere near Diego Garcia.
The latest theory into the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 9, 2014 has all the ingredients of a spy thriller and has grabbed the French public’s attention. The former boss of Proteus Airlines travelled to the neighbouring Maldives where residents told local media on March 9th that they had seen an airliner fly in the direction of Diego Garcia. Their claims were promptly dismissed by the authorities.
“I saw a huge plane fly over us at low altitude,” a fisherman on Kudahuvadhoo island told Dugain. “I saw red and blue stripes on a white background” – the colours of Malaysia Airlines. Other witnesses confirmed the sighting.
Dugain speculates – adding to the numerous other existing hypotheses about what happened to flight MH370 – that a modern aircraft such as Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 could have been hijacked by a hacker. “In 2006, Boeing patented a remote control system using a computer placed inside or outside the aircraft,” he noted. This technology lead Dugain to the idea of a “soft” remote hijacking. But the writer also suggests that a fire could have led the crew to deactivate electrical devices, including transmission systems.
Whatever the initial reasons for leaving its flight path, Dugain suspects that the plane then headed to Diego Garcia, where a number of scenarios may have played out – including the US Air Force shooting it down for fear of a September 11-style attack. Dugain met the mayor of neighbouring Baarah island, who showed him pictures of a strange device found on a beach two weeks after the plane had disappeared and before the Maldives military seized it. Two aviation experts and a local military officer concluded that the object was a Boeing fire extinguisher. Dugain points out that for the extinguisher to have floated, it must have been empty, having been automatically triggered by a fire. He adds that precedent exists in which fires on board aircraft caused all passengers and crew to die of asphyxiation, while the plane’s automated systems extinguished the blaze and kept it in the air.
Okay, so we have no direct evidence of an Electronic Fog, but we do have indirect evidence of a fire on board a Boeing aircraft--along with eyewitness testimony of just such an aircraft, bearing the Malaysian livery, being where it did not belong. We know that Diego Garcia is a strategically important air base, in the center of a very strictly enforced restricted zone. By the way, the rumour that Philip Wood was imprisoned there was a cruel hoax, and easily refuted. But no one, apparently, has tried to refute the eyewitness testimony and fire extinguisher, both of which place the airliner within shoot-down range of the Naval Air Facility.

This is what apparently happened: The US shot down the plane when it looked like it was on a suicide run toward the most important US base within a thousand miles. Unsure of what they had hit, government forces didn't say anything at first, but worked to misdirect the search effort long enough to make sure they had cleaned up the crash scene. Then, realizing they could sweep the whole operation under the rug, they kept up the cover-up to this day.

You can count on official disinformation whenever there is a cover-up, and here we have it. Taking a page from the Soviet's Flight 007 playbook, a US submersible faked a sonar ping from the airliner's black box, leading search efforts to concentrate thousands of miles from where the plane was actually shot down. Everything that came out of the US role in the 'search effort' was misinformation from that point on.

This still doesn't address the question of why Flight 370 was misdirected, but the fact that the pilot had practiced simulator landings on Diego Garcia, combined with his Islamic world view, shows a man with the method, means, and motivation to set back the US War on Terror for years to come.

If he really was targeting NAF DG, there's no reason why he shouldn't have been shot down; since 9/11, it is official USG policy to shoot down a passenger jet in such a scenario.  But why admit that they did, when it turned out to be so easy to leave everything a big mystery?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dispensing with the Ambulance

I've made several forays into the field of textual criticism where it involves cybertexts, so I'll not bother to trace how this particular version of an old poem developed into what you see here, other than to say that this scribe made an alteration or two of his own before passing it on. This poem was published at least as early as 1912, and is usually attributed to Joseph Malins, who titled it, The Fence or the Ambulance." An ambulance, back in 1895 when he reportedly wrote it, was a glorified battle wagon drawn by a team of horses.

The Ambulance Down In The Valley
'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke, and full many a peasant.

The people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

The lament of the crowd was profound and was loud,
As their hearts overflowed with their pity;
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day
As it spread through the neighboring city.

A collection was made, to accumulate aid,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave dollars or cents - not to furnish a fence -
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right if you're careful," they said;
"And if folks ever slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below - when they're stopping."

So for years (we have heard), as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell from the cliff,
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Said one, to his peers, "It's a marvel to me
That you'd give so much greater attention
To repairing results than to curing the cause;
You had much better aim at prevention.

For the mischief, of course, should be stopped at its source,
Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
It is far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley."

"He's wrong in his head," the majority said;
"He would end all our earnest endeavor.
He's a man who would shirk his responsible work,
But we will support it forever.

Aren't we picking up all, just as fast as they fall,
And giving them care liberally?
A superfluous fence is of no consequence,
With an ambulance down in the valley."

The story looks queer as we've written it here,
But things oft occur that are stranger;
More humane, we assert, than to succor the hurt
Is the plan of removing the danger.

The best possible course is to safeguard the source,
Attending to things rationally.
If we build up the fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another month, another post

Here in the USA we recently passed the 51st anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. There's always a bit of news coverage every year, but especially on the big anniversaries. I may be a bit behind the times, as I'm just now getting back to it, a year after the big 50.

It's been over seven years since my previous post on the topic of Kennedy assassinations, and in the interval the internet has filled with material on both JFK assassinations--more videos than one person can keep up with. But I have been doing some viewing--and reading--and coming to a clearer picture of what may have, or may not have, happened.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the idea that Lee Oswald fired, in less than six seconds, three bullets from a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano 91/38 in the direction of the Presidential motorcade, striking the President with two of them.

Ballistic tests proved that this was possible. Not easy, not even likely--just possible. One thing, then, is certain: if there was a concerted plan to shoot AND kill the President that day in Dallas, it is impossible that Oswald was the only gunman. As lone-wolf assassination attempts on both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan have shown, even a semi-automatic weapon at short range is unlikely to put even a single bullet into a President's body. Oswald was not at short range, and did not have a semi-automatic weapon. His chances of hitting the president even once were very small; twice, infinitesimal--and it was only the third shot that killed the President.

If there was a concerted effort to kill the President, there was at the very least one other gunman--who was much closer to the President than Lee Oswald. In fact, I strongly doubt that any sort of organized effort would have had any fewer than three men with a bead on the President as he entered Deally Plaza.

If Oswald was a lone wolf, he was not only a remarkable marksman, he was incredibly lucky. He had one chance to shoot the President, and he was able to get three shots off--the maximum possible with that gun in that amount of time. Furthermore, he connected squarely with the second shot--then fatally with the third. And, the range to the target was farther and farther with each shot. As range increased, his effectiveness increased!

So why, a few minutes later, would he have expended three rounds at point-blank range into Dallas policeman J. D. Tippit--and then require a fourth shot directly to the head to kill him? There goes the remarkable marksman theory.

The conclusion that Lee Oswald was acting alone--that he, on a whim, took a junk rifle up six floors, stood at a window, and hit a six-inch-diameter moving target over 100 yards away not once, but twice--is simply preposterous.

Therefore, the Warren Commission was wrong. How could the Commission be wrong? Well, they used the FBI and the CIA as their investigators. The FBI and the CIA must have provided them false information.

I leave it to the reader to draw his own conclusions.

Oh, one more thing. I don't recommend that Ben Carson run for president. It's clear that the office of the president is only a position that can be filled--or at least held--by a puppet. Break free of the strings, and see what happens.

Well, well. This little article hadn't attracted much attention--only 57 views in the two and a quarter years it's been up (perhaps due to having such an innocuous title)--but I return now to admit, to anyone whose hap may be to pass this way in the future, that I'm quite sure I was wrong in that last paragraph. Donald J. Trump is no puppet. Now, whether he dies peacefully after having served out a full term--that remains to be seen.

Friday, 7 November 2014


I noticed this morning that when I typed in the address of this blog, a phishing site appeared. I can still get on it via a googel search, but I'm concerned that some visitors won't be able to get on the usual way.

I don't know what to do about this, but suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE 12-2014:    It appears the problem has been resolved. Time for another post.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

An End to Anonymity?

For the past decade, this blog has allowed The White Man to unleash his creative urges in an atmosphere of anonymity. This has been important for a number of reasons, but as time goes by they are all becoming less significant. My readers have probably noticed that I post here less and less, the reason being that my writings are more and more being read under my own name, and the time is soon coming when the benefits of anonymity will diminish past the point of usefulness.

Even my very first post continues to draw in several readers a week, and it will probably be years before what I write in my own name reaches as many as the 50,000 plus unique visitors to this blog, so it will stay up indefinitely--but I won't be contributing very often. I promised earlier to write at least every three months, and that won't be very hard to keep, but don't expect more than about one post a month for the foreseeable future; the need for anonymity will never go away altogether. I will, however, continue to monitor traffic to this blog, and make any updates as needed to ensure that what's on here never misinforms my ongoing readership.

At some point the person behind this blog may see fit to disclose his identity to the world, but don't count on it; what I wrote here stands regardless of who wrote it.

Finally, I want to thank all of my readers, commenters, and followers. You have helped to shape me into the writer that I have become.

Oh, one last thing, while I'm still anonymous--John Brockhoeft Sr, I recently discerned the sort of warfare you're involved in these days, and I have to say I'm very impressed. Keep it up, and may your tribe increase!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Polygamy--a result of slavery?

Foreign Policy has released an article that shows a correlation between tribes on the West Coast of Africa which contributed males to the transatlantic slave trade, and tribes which practice polygyny today. The implication is that the slave trade freed up a surplus of virgins, who were graciously taken in by the remaining men.

Like so many studies, this one failed to ask the question, what caused which?

Polygyny was already a factor during the slave era--and the authors admit this. But what they don't envision is that a conquering tribe would have retained the captured women of the conquered tribe, whilst selling the men as slaves. This scenario turns the whole theory on its head: the sexual disparity in the slave population was not a cause of polygyny, but a result of it.

West African slaves were mostly sent to the New World, where buyers strongly preferred men capable of performing backbreaking tasks on plantations. By contrast, buyers in slave trades centered on the Indian Ocean and Red Sea were often looking for women who could work as domestic servants or concubines.
Record-keeping by European slave traders shows a consistent pattern, Dalton and Leung found: Between 1545 and 1864, 66.4 percent of slaves sent to North America and the Caribbean from present-day Senegal and Gambia were men, as were 66.6 percent sent from Sierra Leone, 65.4 percent from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and 65.4 percent from the Windward Coast (now Ivory Coast). Going a step further, Dalton and Leung looked at data on the slaves taken from specific ethnic groups and compared it with the percentage of women in those groups who today share husbands with other wives. (They controlled for factors such as education level and religion.) The researchers found that groups hit heavily by trans-Atlantic slavery were significantly more likely to have a high percentage of polygynous marriages.
Now, taking my approach, we see that polygyny in East Africa may have been stifled by a lack of women, the surplus of that sex having been depleted rather than augmented by the slave trade. So if anything was a result of slavery in Africa, it was monogamy. What native culture could not manage to effect--the suppression of polygyny--the outside force of slavery could.

As the Western world slides ever further away from monogamy, we wonder what it will take to reverse that slide, and from where such a powerful force may come.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Life is pretty frustrating if you're an Iranian nuclear scientist

Another mysterious explosion has leveled a building at an Iranian nuclear research site.
Before and after satellite photos here.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Another look at Sarah's three measures of flour

Traffic has been pretty steady lately to this post on Sarah's gigantic tortilla recipe. I already updated it several times, so it's time for a new post on the topic.

Why, one may ask, would Sarah make up such a huge batch of pita bread? Well, it's time to take a new look at the scene in Genesis 18. And please, forget every movie clip you've seen of it, which probably had no more than five actors, including all the extras.

Abraham was a chieftain with a considerable retinue. Note that he had a young man butcher the calf that he selected; he did not leave his visitors hanging for hours whilst he prepared their meal. Neither, are we to suppose, that Sarah ground the three measures of flour herself. She remained in the tent not because her help was needed to make the tortillas, but because women didn't insert themselves into a conversation between men. That she listened in all the same indicates that she wasn't bent over a loudly grinding set of millstones, but rather had her ear pressed to the side of the tent, where her laughter could be heard.

So, given the number of staff that was necessary even to prepare the meal, it makes sense that a large amount would be prepared--way more than Abraham's three guests could consume--with the remainder, once the choicest cuts were shared with the guests, made available to the staff. Three measures of flour would make no more tortillas than a retinue the size of Abraham's could be expected to consume.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review of: “The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism” by Greg L. Bahnsen (Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Vol 3 No 2, 1977)

You thought Postmillennialism had died out a century past? Well, it’s back. Greg Bahnsen has written an eloquent defense of the return to Postmillennialism, available here. What follows is my initial thoughts. I will probably continue to 'refine and polish' this review, so bear that in mind if the initial comments don't seem to reflect the final version.

Excerpts of Bahnsen’s article follow, interspersed with my comments.

“In this article I discuss the recent decline in the espousal of postmillennialism, defend it as a basic system of theological thought against certain misguided criticisms, elaborate its key tenet in contrast to amillennialism and premillennialism, and supply a general defense of its acceptability in the light of the history of Reformed theology.”

First of all, in even using the terms Postmillennialism, Amillennialism, and Premillennialism, Bahnsen tilts the field in his favour. I cannot entirely fault him for this, as these are the theological terms in common use. But note that they all refer to something called a ‘millennium.’ This millennium is that thousand-year period referred to in Revelation chapter twenty (cilia eth in Greek and mille annum in Latin), which neither postmillennialists nor amillennialists actually expect to ever occur. No, their millennium is simply “a period of great happiness or human perfection” (Webster’s) of indefinite length.

Now note, that there is absolutely nothing of either great happiness or human perfection in Revelation chapter twenty, but these must nonetheless wrest from those fifteen verses a couple of words and insert them into their very names. Premillennialism—we may as well simply call it Millennialism (indeed, early opponents called its proponents Millenaries or Millenarians)--naturally follows from a belief that the thousand-year period that features so prominently in Revelation 20 is actually of a thousand year’s duration. Thus what is being contrasted is a literal interpretation of the scriptures, versus anything else—and whilst there is but one right interpretation, there are an infinite number of wrong ones. There are therefore not three competing eschatological perspectives, but only two: belief, and unbelief. Postmillennialism and amillennialism are but two sides of the same coin.

Secondly, Bahnsen puts the cart before the horse. He starts right in by claiming that “the years shortly after the turn of the twentieth century witnessed a general decline in the published advocacy of postmillennial eschatology (he actually traces the roots of this decline back to the late seventeenth century).” For an article with 123 footnotes—none to be found anywhere in the introductory pages—this tome is conspicuously lacking support for several of its key assertions, this being the first. From this unsupported assertion, he jumps to concluding that “these combined elements in turn produced the secularization of conservative, supernaturalistic, biblical postmillennialism.” Note that he has so far given no evidence whatsoever for “the earlier belief in a progressive triumph of Christ’s kingdom in the world.” He is simply begging the question.

Without having ever laid the foundation of showing that orthodox postmillennialism even existed prior to this long decline, his conclusion of its list of causes is rather ironic: “The overall outcome was the discrediting of Scripture’s historical accuracy and the undermining of the objectivity of its theology.” Discrediting the Scriptures is the very cause attributed to the doctrine of postmillennialism by its detractors, and Bahnsen’s failure to provide an alternative origin to the doctrine leaves his position wide open to that very attack.

At this point, we will jump to the next section of Bahnsen’s essay, as what should have been his concluding paragraph actually occurs near the beginning of the article—we, however, shall address it last. In this section, he attempts to characterize “the three fundamental theological positions” of eschatology, comparing and contrasting them to each other. Alas, here, right when he is attempting to give the opposition’s view on things, the footnotes experience another hiatus, and we are left with his word on what others claim to believe.

“People . . . take important exegetical issues pertaining to the millennial question and attempt to use them to delineate the three fundamental theological positions; however, these particular exegetical issues are not decisive for the central and general claims of the school of thought.”

Again, Bahnsen begs the question, as there are not three fundamental theological positions, but only two: a straightforward interpretation of what the Bible actually says, or theological wresting of the words of Scripture into a framework devised by Man. Increase the level of wresting, and you begin to slide down the scale from one end of the continuum to the other, with many possible stops along the way. It is no more logical to limit the number of stops to three, as to five, adding pre-wrathism and posttribulationism to the “fundamental theological positions” of eschatology.

But further: there is no such thing as a doctrinal framework of “premillennialism.” The term has no meaning whatsoever, except as an acceptance of the literal reality of the thousand-year reign of Christ. Having accepted the fact that he will reign on earth, it’s impossible to believe that his return to Earth will occur after that reign, or that no such reign will in fact occur—so both postmillennialism and amillenialism are rejected as a matter of course, without going any further to develop a timeline as to that return. Once you adopt a framework into which that timeline fits, “premillennialism” conveys nothing further toward any theological position—unlike postmillennialism and amillenialism, each with distinctive positions attached to those titles, details varying as they may.

Now, as Bahnsen describes the “three fundamental theological positions,” he admits that not every proponent of each position adheres to everything described therein; but it is interesting how he emphasizes that the two opposing positions hold out a bleak outlook for the success of Christ’s disciples in fulfilling the Great Commission—to “make disciples of all nations, teaching them to do all that I have commanded you.” Instead, in each of these competing frameworks, the nations grow farther and farther from obedience to God, despite the gospel being preached throughout the entire globe (as if that in itself could fulfill Christ’s commission). In Bahnsen’s view, only postmillennialists have any hope of actually being able to obey Christ’s final command.

In fact, pretribulationists are, at worse, ambivalent about the likely success of the Great Commission prior to the Rapture; but they are united in believing that it will be fulfilled before the Second Coming. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The doctrine of immanence alone forbids this from being necessarily fulfilled before the Rapture; in any case, it will be fulfilled by the end of the Tribulation period (which Bahnsen, unlike any of its actual proponents, locates “at the very end of the church age.”)

“Finally then, over the long range the world will experience a period of extraordinary righteousness and prosperity as the church triumphs in the preaching of the gospel and discipling the nations through the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit; however, the release of Satan at the very end of the age will bring apostasy from these blessed conditions.”

So Bahnsen wraps up his overview of the “three” positions. But note, he gives postmillennialism credit for what could just as easily happen under pretribulationism, with one small adjustment:

“Over the long range the world will experience a period of extraordinary righteousness and prosperity as the church triumphs in the preaching of the gospel and discipling the nations through the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit; however, the removal of the Holy Spirit at the very end of the church age will bring apostasy from these blessed conditions.”

Under postmillennialism, the last 2000 years of Satan being bound on the one hand, and the Holy Spirit being active on the other, has very little to show for it in the way of a global golden age; yet things must needs get much better, without any change to the one factor or the other. A pretribulationist, however, can look back on 2000 years of progress, with an average of over one tribe or nation a year sending forward a representative to sing around God’s heavenly throne, and most of that progress having been made only in the last 10 per cent of this present age. In short, a pretribulationist view is much better at explaining the present reality than a postmillennialist one.

“Premillenarians believe the world is growing increasingly worse, and that it will be at its very worst when Jesus returns. Amillenarians agree with the premillenarians on this point.” So Bahnsen quotes the amillenarian Cox, of half a century ago. But this premillenarian of Cox is a straw man. There is no correlation between the amillennialist’s and the pretribulationist’s depiction of the world at the time of Christ’s return. For the postribulationist, the world is under such a travail of destruction and judgment that Christ’s return in glory must be hastened for the elects’ sake, that there be still some of them left to enter God’s earthly kingdom. For the amillennialist, as least as Bahnsen describes the position, this period is God’s kingdom on earth. There is nothing to shorten for the elects’ sake; the elect don’t need saving from anything, as they are all on the verge of going into eternity anyway.

“It becomes apparent that the essential distinctive of postmillennialism is its scripturally derived, sure expectation of gospel prosperity for the church during the present age.” So Bahnsen, but this conclusion is woefully lacking in every way. In the first place, we all have the same scriptures—so if anything is to be derived from them, there’s no reason why it should serve to distinguish one system from another. No, what distinguishes the various eschatological systems is the extent to which they derive from outside of the Scriptures.

Furthermore—but I repeat myself—there is nothing in pretribulationism to keep it from deriving an expectation, either from Scripture or from simple observation, that every tribe and nation be evangelized by the end of the present age. Scripture indicates that it will happen before the Second Coming; observation may yet allow it to happen even before the Rapture. Yet Bahnsen must have millennialists reject this hope along with the amillennialists.

“In short, postmillennialism is set apart from the other two schools of thought by its essential optimism for the kingdom in the present age. This confident attitude in the power of Christ’s kingdom, the power of its gospel, the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of prayer, and the progress of the great commission, sets postmillennialism apart from the essential pessimism of amillennialism and premillennialism.”

To which I say, “Absolutely not!” It was pretribulationists who predicted that the hope of world Jewry for a restoration of the state of Israel would be fulfilled as part of the outworking of scriptural prophecy; amillennialists and postmillennialists alike must dismiss this unprecedented national revival as both prophetically and eschatologically insignificant. It has largely been pretribulationists, along with their fellow millennialists, who have reaped the bulk of the global harvest of souls from an exponentially increasing number of tribes and nations; it has been primarily millennial missionaries who have focused on evangelism and discipleship, while amillennialists and postmillennialists focused on the social gospel; and it is millennialists who believe in the power of prayer to hasten the return of Christ, rather than focusing on good works or political activism to hasten the arrival of a golden age, or to merely bide time until the number of the elect finally reaches its fill.

It is true that both perspectives have a ‘back-up plan.’ Should things head south, pretribulationists have only to contend that all lost ground will be made up, and more, by the efforts of Tribulation Saints. Postmillennialists have only to expect that their generation is not the last one, and present reverses will eventually be themselves reversed. But how have their respective Plan A’s turned out?

Postmillennialism’s Plan A was to conquer the heathen nations by the edge of the sword, failing the success of primary education efforts. Thus Elliot’s evangelization of the Algonquins was considered a success, either by assimilating the tribesmen totally into the English culture as it conquered New England, or it killing off all those who still held to the ways of their forefathers. England’s military might was seen as a way to ensure the dominion of the gospel from the rising of the sun, until the going down of the same. But what did England’s military might avail? England now goes to war, when it does, as an ally of Muslim nations, while Muslims thronging from her former dominions fervently transform her own churches into mosques. And what of Postmillennialism’s numerous predictions that Jews would turn to the gospel? Well, this has finally begun to come in just in the present generation, but in spite of Israel’s official opposition. In fact, the growth of the church has largely been, these past two centuries, under governments that do all they can to either suppress it, or supplant it. This was never in view of the postmillennialists.

Pretribulationists, however, have from their beginning two centuries ago, predicted the restoration of Israel, but in unbelief: an army of dry bones. Indeed, premillennialism has prospered in proportion to the fortunes of Israel, as their ancient land was first populated by Zionists, then wrested from a millennium and a half of Muslim control, then declared independent by the offscouring of Europe following the devastation of the Holocaust. Pretribulationists have been quite adamant that the national conversion of Israel cannot happen until after the Rapture, when believing Jews make up the critical mass of Tribulation Saints.

To contrast the preeminent difference between the two, postmillennialists saw Israel converted, but without any nation of their own to rule; pretribulationists saw Israel first restored as a nation, and only in the following dispensation turning en mass to Christ. The course of history has so far favored the predictions of pretribulationism, rather than postmillennialism.

I should say something more about pessimism. I grant that Bahnsen wrote this essay in 1976, at a time when pretribulationists were fixated on the year 1981 as the likely start of the tribulation (in order to have Christ return by 1988, ‘one generation’ after the rebirth of Israel). China was only beginning to emerge from the Cultural Revolution; the Soviet Union showed no signs of decline; and the emerging nations of Africa were embroiled in civil war. Global cooling was being forecast, and pollution was a big concern; the nuclear arms race showed no signs of abating; and peace in the Middle East seemed beyond reach. It was a pessimistic time, so it’s no wonder that pretribulationists showed an inordinate eagerness for Christ soon removing them from this world of grief.

Ironically, the same turnaround in the world’s fortunes that revived postmillennialism also went a long ways toward erasing a major distinction between it and pretribulationism: as one ‘prophetic’ deadline after another passed without the Rapture occurring, pretribulationists awoke from their long slumber and realized that not only did ‘immanent’ not mean ‘soon,’ it didn’t even mean ‘likely to happen in this generation.’ “Coming events cast their shadows before them” seemed to be less and less useful in application. Pretribulationists started to respond more like postmillennialists, endeavoring to reach every tribe and nation, and thus hasten the return of Christ.

But History has a lesson to tell us. Great revival tends to both follow, and be followed by, great apostasy. Take the area of Asia Minor, which was the most Christianized part of the world at the turn of the second century. During the early twentieth century, visible Christianity in that entire region was reduced to a single congregation, in ancient Smyrna. Christianity found a foothold in the North of Korea first, but the communist invasion reduced it to a tiny remnant, while the Christians taking refuge in the less evangelized south of the peninsula saw that region become a major sending base for world missions within their own lifetimes.

In short, evangelizing an entire nation is not the same as evangelizing the entire world. The church in England, from which sprang the modern missions movement, is in its dying throes. In Asia, the continent to which those first modern missionaries were sent, the church is growing exponentially. The course of history is much more favorable to the pretribulationist model—in which heaven will be filled with martyrs from every tribe and nation—than the postmillennial model—in which the whole world will become not only evangelized, but discipled. And it is the populace of India, China, and Korea that is embracing the gospel first—not their governments (as if Constantine’s example were one to emulate).

Samuel Hopkins saw an essential connection among revival, missions, and the millennium. In 1793 he demonstrated from Scripture that Christ’s church must come in this world to a state of prosperity. Hopkins interpreted Revelation 20 figuratively and said that the millennium will be characterized by peace, holiness, benevolence, knowledge, and joy. Science and technology will develop remarkably and commerce improve. Financial prosperity and general health will see an upswing. Agriculture, as well as the mechanical arts, crafts, or trades will all see vast improvement. More leisure will allow the pursuit of education and understanding; books will spread rapidly. Mankind will be unified under God’s blessing, and the church will rid itself of schisms as discipline becomes charitable and pure. That is, widespread cultural transformation will company the global conversion of mankind. Thus, the mission effort of the church “will serve to promote and hasten on the happy day when the Heathen shall be given to Christ for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” So Bahnsen.

Hopkins’ secular predictions have all come true, although he (along with every other postmillennialist of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) did not think through the implications of scientific wonders being applied to the art of war, so that each successive global conflagration of the twentieth century killed more than all the previous recorded wars combined.

Now before we get any further, it’s important that we examine the doctrine of pretribulationism, which Bahnsen cites as the final 19th-century nail in the coffin of “historic” postmillennialism (he needs to do this, as it wouldn’t do to admit that orthodox postmillennialism still existed at the time modernist postmillennialism was in its 20th-century dying throes). Bahnsen claims, with little support, that dispensationalism, with its embedded doctrine of a pretribulational rapture, first found wide diffusion in the Scofield Reference Bible, Scofield having received the doctrine from Darby, and Darby from Irving, the translator into English of Lacunza’s book in 1826. To this book Bahnsen would have us trace the beginnings of the modern pretribulationist doctrine.

Now, pretribulationism is of course not overtly taught in Scripture, else it would not have taken nearly two millennia for it to emerge. But it could have emerged at any time, once someone accepted as literal and attempted to reconcile the scriptural prophecies concerning the End Times. Pretribulationism’s doctrine of immanence emerged from an attempt to reconcile the four times Christ states in Revelation, “I come quickly” with the fact that hundreds—now thousands—of years had passed without his appearance. There are certainly other reasons why a pretribulationist understanding would emerge from a literal reading of the Scriptures, but this, I believe, was the original impetus to the doctrine. According to this interpretation,“soon,” which had been the the expectation of the apostles (James 5:8, 1 Thes. 4:17, John 21:23) becomes “immanently,” as unexpected as a thief in the night (Matt. 24:43, 1 Thes. 5:2, 2 Pet. 3:10). And, since all of the three verses just cited are thought to refer to the whole end-times package of rapture, tribulation, second coming, millennium, and final judgment, the rapture is therefore seen as the very first sign that the End Times have begun. Millennialism goes so far as to accept both a literal reign of the Beast, and a literal reign of the Christ. Pretribulationism goes even farther, accepting a literal judgment of Christ upon all the ungodly at his return. In none of these systems is there any place for setting a date of Christ’s return ahead of time, as he himself sternly warned that this could not be done (Mark 13:32). Yet millennialism has been haunted throughout its history by those who have done that very thing. To judge the system, however, by those who abuse it to its face, is wrong.

Given Christ’s prohibition on date-setting, there is nothing inherent in pretribulationist doctrine that requires one to expect Christ’s return within his own lifetime, or even allows him to order his life in any other way whatsoever than if Christ’s return was known not to be due for another millennium. Yet Bahnsen implies rather strongly that pretribulationism, as a system, teaches otherwise. He does start providing footnotes about the time he makes this assertion, and though it’s not entirely clear from the sources cited, he appears to rely heavily on secondary sources, namely the opponents of pretribulationism. Not a single pretribulationist, so cited, is quoted as writing in his own work anything along the lines that “the imminent return of Christ totally forbids all working for earthly objects distant in time.” For an assertion so provocative, this is an unacceptable omission and implies that no such sources actually exist. In researching this review, I’ve not had access to many of Bahnsen’s cited sources, but I have read, as the foundation for my understanding of the various views, direct and often extensive quotations from the published works of their respective proponents. I’ll say here that if (in one of his many unfootnoted quotes) by F. W. Newton he refers to P. W. Newton, author of Five Letters on Events Predicted In Scripture as Antecedent to the Coming of The Lord (London, 1847), then not only did this Newton write in opposition to Darby’s pretribulationism, but his testimony (now known to us secondhand), as a hostile witness eschatologically, yet a longtime associate of Darby, also utterly cleared Darby of the charge that he based his doctrine in any way on Irving’s teaching. Irving’s movement itself set an 1833 date for the Rapture, as reported by Robert Baxter, one of their own apostles.

Bahnsen takes umbrage at a long list of authors who dismiss postmillennialism as a dead issue (it is here that he finally starts providing footnotes with regularity). “The fact that an era of gospel prosperity and world peace has not yet arrived would no more disprove the Bible’s teaching that such an era shall be realized (in the power of God’s spirit and the faithfulness of Christ’s church to its great commission) than the fact that Christ has not yet returned disproves the Bible’s teaching that such an event shall take place!” But what is being mocked by these authors, and rightly so, is Millennial Dawnism: “For the Darkness shall turn to Dawning, and the Dawning to Noonday Bright, and Christ’s Great Kingdom shall come on Earth, a Kingdom of Love and Light.” When Ernest Nichol penned those words, postmillennialism did in fact push a gradual emergence of progress toward the millennial ideal. Bahnsen still hasn’t demonstrated that the postmillennialism that he is pushing has any history before the middle of the last century. He can hardly fault writers for not giving it its due if they never heard of it. Nothing can prove him wrong, for however many centuries that this goes on, until Christ does in fact rapture out his saints.

Bahnsen also scoffs at the idea of immanency: “Indeed, it was the error of the foolish virgins to expect the imminent coming of the bridegroom.” Here he reveals his ignorance. While it was undoubtedly the opinion of the earliest Christians that Christ would return in their lifetimes, as well as being the hope of every pretribulationist, that is not what immanency means. Immanence simply refers to the fact that Christ could return at any time, because the Rapture is the very next item in the prophetic timetable. The parable of the virgins illustrates this beautifully: All the virgins realized that the return of the bridegroom was the next item on the agenda, and that it could occur at any time, so they had to remain ready until it did. But the foolish virgins assumed, as have foolish pretribulationists from the beginning, that ‘immanent’ necessarily meant ‘soon,’ and therefore did not bring extra oil for their lamps in the event that the bridegroom’s coming was delayed. The wise virgins, however, did not lose their belief in a literal return of the bridegroom when the oil in their lamps ran low, but simply went with Plan B and re-filled their lamps from the supply they had brought along just in case.

Bahnsen concludes, “Current day writers have offered no good prima facie reason for ignoring or rejecting postmillennialism as an important theological option for biblical believers. It has been unwarrantedly dismissed in the past fifty years on the basis of newspaper exegesis, misrepresentation, two-edged criticisms, and premature or unfounded charges. Postmillennialism deserves to be taken seriously and considered in the light of Scripture; quick dismissal or ignoring of it in recent years has no good justification.” I will grant Bahnsen this: his eloquent defense has deprived us of a reason for ignoring postmillennialism—thus this review. But the prima facie reason for rejecting postmillennialism is the same as ever it was: it’s incompatible with the teachings of the Scriptures, unless they are wrested all out of shape and crammed into the box Bahnsen’s predecessors have prepared for them. No further reason was needed at the time this was done, nor is one needed now.

Now, postmillennialists will say that I have misrepresented Bahnsen, and they are probably right. I have spent way more time and space on this review than I intended, but not enough to make it fit for publication in a journal. I leave myself open to the same review that I have made of Bahnsen, and am quite willing to stand corrected where I have misrepresented anyone. My only interest is the truth.

Update: Bahnsen's position is much more thoroughly refuted in this book, published at the height of pretribulational disappointment in 1988.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Voter manipulation by supercomputer

In this 2008 post, I wrote that one reason Bush won Ohio in 2004 was due to a huge turnout to vote for that state's Marriage Amendment (a now-unconstitutional part of their constitution).
It turns out that Karl Rove was behind much of that turnout.

In Ohio’s Democratic precincts in 2004, he says, “Rove went into union neighborhoods there and found the people who were concerned with gay marriage and just peeled them off."
The sine qua non of voter data crunching is Aristotle, Inc--founded by the guy who famously designed an atomic bomb his junior year at Princeton. Aristotle has a separate file on every voter, cataloging such minutiae as the contents of his library, his winecellar, and his gun cabinet--among other demographically useful details.  It's interesting to note that Aristotle--headquartered just around the corner from the Capitol--also has offices in Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, London, and Spanish Fork, Utah.

Spanish Fork, Utah?

What's in  Spanish Fork, Utah?

Well, that turns out to be the location of the NSA's ubercomputer data center.

Hmmm . . .

Friday, 1 August 2014

In honor of Barack Hussein Obama's 53rd birthday, I'm revisiting the question of his birth.

I was a bit taken aback, a month before the US President turned 53, to be asked if I was a "birther." As one of the 50% of Americans not yet convinced that he fulfills the Constitutional requirement of being a "natural born citizen," I had to answer "yes."

But not being convinced is different than not being convincible. So I now offer this link to refute one of the "birther" accusations which I alluded to earlier: that Obama's Granny Sarah claimed to have been present at his Kenyan birth. It turns out that all she was claiming was being present in Kenya when she received news of his birth--in Hawaii. Quite deceptive it was of those who spread this rumor to cut off the tape right before she explained herself.

Edited to Add:

I wrote earlier about Snopes quietly replacing their claim that Barry had been delivered by Rodney T. West, but I hadn't looked the latest iteration of that website. On it, now, are four videos by John Woodman, author of Is Barack Obama's Birth Certificate a Fraud?. As a result of watching them, and reading parts of the book, I can no longer say that I am a 'birther.' In other words, I'm satisfied with the efforts of ordinary Americans to bolster President Obama's claim that he was born in Hawaii, and at the same time view as sufficiently discredited every person who has claimed otherwise. Although many of the claims themselves have yet to be debunked, the persons offering them all have.

So, all of my questions have not yet been answered--and some probably won't be. But I've seen enough to be convinced: Barack Obama II was, for at least the first five years of his life, a native born American citizen.

It's ridiculous that this had to take six years, and for that Obama's own conceit must bear most of the blame.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Mennonite Modesty Mishap

I've earlier written about misplaced Mennonite modesty, but here comes a whole book on it, as excerpted in this blog post by a former Conservative Mennonite. I quote:
Biblical Mennonite Alliance (BMA) was the Mennonite conference that our family had been a part of before God told our family to leave the Mennonite church a number of years ago. BMA was started in 1998 because of the liberal drift of Conservative Mennonite Conference and other Mennonite groups. Their goal was to be the most Biblical Mennonite group, hence their name Biblical Mennonite Alliance. BMA’s motto was "The Bible plus nothing, and the Bible minus nothing".
The modest, conservative dress of these young girls did not protect them from the sexual advances of this man. The conservative modest dress did not help this man to control himself as we were taught in the Mennonite church that it would. What is significant is that this man did not fall into adultery with an adult; instead it was perversion with young girls.
It is significant that those who take advantage of girls in such a situation are always those who are the most strident in their demands that they dress modestly.

What can be done to rid conservative churches (whether they be Mennonite, Independent Baptist, or Family Centered) of this curse? There is only one solution: take off the heavy lid and expose the wickedness:

Then a lead cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket. “This is Wickedness,” he said. He shoved her down into the basket and pushed the lead weight over its opening. --Zechariah 5:7-8 HCSB
Hershberger did not have natural affection, but was sexually attracted to these "modestly" dressed young girls. He knew the judgment of God, but he did it anyway. God had given him over to a reprobate mind to do that which was not convenient.

Sadly, BMA did not follow the Bible in publicly rebuking their conference leader for his sin of sexual abuse. They covered it up and quickly scrubbed their website of Art Hershberger’s name and his leadership within the conference. They put other names in its place.  
The biblical model is to first expose the wickedness to the full light of day before deleting it. Who will do it?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Amish have returned to Nebraska

In earlier posts I wrote about the Nebraskan legislature running resident Amish out of the state--but according to this data, they're moving back:

Map: U.S. counties with extant Amish settlements as of 2010,  Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Amish communities are spreading at the rate of nearly 15 a year. Since they need lots of land to live on, that means emigrating to wherever land is cheap and Amtrak routes (red lines on the map) or bus lines allow them to get back home to visit. Or to return, if things get too hot for them in their new home.

The two Nebraskan counties now recording Amish residents are directly to the East and South of the beleaguered town of Monowi, now only one obituary away from becoming a ghost town.

So, there may be hope for Monowi. Once its last residence dies and the tavern closes down, don't be surprised if an Amish community buys out the whole town and turns the former tavern into a bent-and-dent bulk food store.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pelagia the Harlot, part three

Having written earlier about Pelagia the Harlot (here and there), it's time to wrap up my evaluation of this ancient account (but see last line).

First of all, we see in this account that literacy was not at all uncommon; both Pelagia and Nonnus were able to write to each other as a matter of course (in this installment, we see that even her slave was able to write). Secondly, we see how new converts were accepted into the Church at a time when it was already customary to give the seal of membership to infants:
- Due to the delicate nature of baptism--similar in some essentials to a gynaecological exam--the presence of a deaconess was required. 
- Penitents were first required to confess all their sins.
- The Bishop then exorcised the penitent.
- "Baptism" was delayed until the penitent could provide proof that they had left their former way of life; in the case of a prostitute, for example, she had to show some other means of support, lest the temptation exist to return.

Now, on to the final segment:

Chapter IX 
As we were drinking the wine, we suddenly heard a great shriek like that of a man suffering great violence. It was the shout of the devil.
"Woe! Woe! Why should I be suffering because of this decrepit old man? Weren't you satisfied with the thirty thousand Saracens whom you snatched from me, baptised and offered up to your God? Weren't you satisfied with Heliopolis, which used to belong to me along with everyone in it, which you have snatched from me and offered up to your God? And now you have taken from me the one in whom I had placed my greatest hope. O, how I suffer from this damnable man! Cursed be the day in which you were born. Her tears have flooded out over the floors of this hospice and all my hope has been cut off from me."
All these things he shouted out, lamenting outside the doors. Everybody there could hear him. And he continued, addressing himself to the neophyte.
"And you have done this to me, my lady Pelagia? Thinking to imitate my beloved Judas, were you? As one of the chosen apostles he had a place of glory and honour, and he betrayed his master. You have done the same thing to me!"
"Cross yourself and renounce him," the holy bishop Nonnus said to her. She signed herself in the name of Christ and breathed upon the demon, and at once he disappeared.

 Chapter X 
On the second day, the devil appeared by night to Pelagia, the handmaid of the Lord, as she was asleep in the cell of her holy mother Romana, and woke her up.
"Just answer me this, my lady Margarita," he said. "Weren't you plentifully supplied with god and silver? Wasn't it I who decorated you with gold and precious stones? Tell me, what have I done to upset you? Tell me, so that I can put things right. Don't make me a laughing stock for these Christians."
Pelagia, the handmaid of the Lord, crossed herself and breathed at the demon.
"My God has snatched me out of your very jaws," she said, "and led me into his bridal chamber. He it is who fights for me."
And the devil was suddenly no more to be seen.

Chapter XI 
On the third day after her baptism, Pelagia had some instructions to give to the slave that looked after her possessions.
"Go to my wardrobe," she said, "and make a list of how much gold and silver I have, and how much richly decorated clothing I have, and bring it all back here."
He did as he was asked and brought back everything she possessed. She asked her holy mother, the lady Romana, to ask the holy Nonnus to come and see her, and gave him everything she possessed.
"These riches, my lord," she said, "are the rewards that Satan has given me. I want to give them freely to your holiness, to do with as you think best. It is my task now to seek for the riches of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The bishop summoned his chief steward, and in Pelagia's presence handed everything over to him..
"I want you to swear by the indivisible Trinity," he said to the steward, "that none of this goes either to the bishopric or to the church, but rather disbursed to widows and orphans and the poor, so that what has been gathered by evil can be distributed for good purposes, and so the riches of a sinner can become the treasury of the righteous. And if this oath is broken either by you or by anyone else who takes any of it for himself, let him be anathema and all his house, and let them be as those who cried out, 'Let him be crucified'".

Pelagia called together all her slaves, male and female, and freed them, taking their golden torcs off with her own hands. "Make haste and free yourselves likewise from this wicked world, full of sin," she said, "so that as we have been together in this world, so also we may be together in that blessed life where pain is no more."

Chapter XII 
On the eighth day, when she was required to divest herself of the white baptismal garment, she got up at night without telling anyone, clothed herself in a coarse tunic which the bishop supplied her with, and from that day onwards she was nevermore seen in the city of Antioch. The holy Romana wept bitterly, but the holy Nonnus comforted her with these words:
"Don't weep, my daughter, but rather rejoice with great joy, for Pelagia has chosen that good portion just like Mary, whom the Lord in the Gospel preferred to Martha" (
Luke 10.42).
Pelagia went to Jerusalem and built a cell for herself on the Mount of Olives, the place where the Lord prayed.

Chapter XIII
A little while later the bishop of the city dismissed the bishops and they went back to their own places. After three or four years, I, Jacob the deacon, had a desire to visit Jerusalem in order to pay my devotions to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I asked permission of the bishop and he let me go with these words:
"My advice to you, brother deacon, is that when you get to Jerusalem, you make enquiries there about a certain brother Pelagius, a monk and a eunuch who has been enclosed in solitude there for many years. Visit him. I am sure he will be of great benefit to you."
Of course he was really talking about the servant of God Pelagia, without actually saying so.

Chapter XIV

When I got to Jerusalem I worshipped the holy resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and next day made enquiries about the servant of God. And I went up the Mount of Olives and found him there where the Lord prayed, in a tiny cell completely enclosed except for a small window in the wall. I knocked on the window and it opened to me. Pelagia recognised me, but I did not recognise her. How should I have recognised her,

when that face which had once been of such marvellous beauty had withered away through severe fasting, and her eyes were sunken in her cheeks? 

"What have your come for, brother?" she asked.
"My bishop, Nonnus, told me to seek you out," I replied. "He told me to ask you to pray for him for you are a true saint of God."

Pelagius immediately shut the window and began to sing the third hour. I joined in the prayer from the other side of the wall, and went away quite uplifted by having seen such an angel. Returning to Jerusalem, I began to visit the monasteries and make the acquaintance of the brothers.

Chapter XV 
Brother Pelagius had a great reputation in the monasteries, such that I decided to visit him again in order to have the benefit of his teaching. I went back and knocked on his window, and even presumed to call out to him by name, but there was no response. I did the same the next day and the day after, calling out to Pelagius by name, but no one answered. I said to myself that either there was no one there at all, or else that the monk who was there had departed this life. Inspired by a nudge from God, I began to think that I really should take seriously the possibility that he was dead, so I pushed open his little window and looked inside. I could see that he was indeed dead. I shut the window and tried to make the best I could of the situation by going back to Jerusalem bearing the news that the holy monk Pelagius, worker of miracles, was dead. 

The holy fathers, together with monks from various monasteries, came and opened up the cell and brought the holy body outside with as much care as if it were gold or precious stones. As soon as the holy fathers began to anoint the body with myrrh they of course discovered that it was a woman. They tried to keep such a wonderful thing secret but it proved impossible to hide it from the people, who cried out loudly, "Glory to our Lord Jesus Christ who has hidden so many riches upon earth, not only among men but also among women". As the news spread further among all the people, all the monasteries of virgins came from Jericho as well as from Jordan where the Lord was baptised, carrying tapers and torches and singing hymns, following the holy fathers who were carrying the holy body to its final resting place. 

So there you have the life of this harlot, a holy life of one who had been without hope. May the Lord have mercy upon her and upon us in the day of judgment, for to him belong honour and glory, power and majesty unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Well, so much for the story. Now me must deal with the question, "Is it factual?" which is a bit more to ask then "is it historical?" because most of history plays fast and loose with the actual facts. If it isn't even historical, however, then we know it wasn't factual either.

This is a hard question to answer. One of the easiest ways to determine that an account is unhistorical is to look for anachronisms. For example, the basilica of Antioch is mentioned, which had been built by the Emperor Constantine about the 330's. So any story set before that time wouldn't fit. But the setting of this story seems to be the Council of Antioch in 341, so--no problem, because that Council was called upon the occasion of officially dedicating the basilica to the memory of the martyr Julian (as it was so identified in this account). The big problem seems to be the presence of Nonnus, whom we know to have attended the Council of Chalcedon in 451, 110 years later.
But wait--I've just come across what seems to be a translation directly from the Greek account, of which the above is another whole step removed. I'll have to start all over by examining it, before passing further judgment.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Should Elijah the Tishbite be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records?

Yes, but.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's fastest Marathon (42,195 metres) was run by Wilson Kipsang in 2013. But according to 1 Kings 18:46, Elijah outran King Ahab's horses from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel--a distance of over 50 km by road. Does this mean that Elijah was faster than Kipsang?

In a word, no. As others have pointed out, the account doesn't specifically say that Elijah was supernaturally powered to run ahead of Ahab. And a man on foot, running carefully over somewhat uneven and rocky ground, can easily outpace a team of horses pulling a chariot. The bus route from Haifa to Jezreel takes an hour and forty-eight minutes, so we'd expect a chariot to take at least a couple of hours. Even the Pony Express, which seldom ran a horse farther than 25 km without breaking a gallop, only averaged about 16 kilometres per hour. So Ahab's horses would have had to be extraordinary even to make the full run without breaking pace.

What Elijah did is not at all out of the realm of possibility. Running downhill from Mt. Carmel, Elijah could have gained quite a lead on a horse-pulled chariot, and held it coming back out of the Valley of Esdraelon, fueled by nothing more than a desire to beat the approaching rainstorm. Then, he ran another 180 kilometers to Beersheba, fueled by an irrational terror of Jezebel. And his servant was able to keep up with him at least that far!

So, no world record for Elijah running the Mount Carmel Marathon. It was what he did afterward--going all the way to Mt. Sinai from Beersheba without eating--that would earn him an early mention in today's record books.

Monday, 30 June 2014

The pagan hero vs the christian conqueror

I've written before about the warrior mindset and the pagan world view, but this is where they come together.

About a year ago I satisfied a sudden urge by reading through the entire Harry Potter series in a single week. I had basically ignored the series when it came out in book form, content merely to read reviews. I couldn't help being exposed, however, to images of the movie series, and after years of hearing one allusion after another I set out to see if I could examine the Potter phenomenon firsthand--thus my reading binge.

I came away from that binge with a better understanding of the pagan mindset--for Harry Potter's universe is, apart from passing references to Christmas and witch burnings, totally pagan. There is no supreme good or supreme evil, only an amorphous power that can be tapped equally for one or for the other, depending mostly upon the skill and dedication of the one tapping into it. And that is exactly the pagan mindset.

As I considered what made Harry such a powerful force (for good, as it turned out--or at least, against evil), I realized that the fact that he was good did help--but it wasn't sufficient. Other people in his universe were good, but being good was not sufficient in and of itself to overcome evil. Indeed, it was only the last straw at the tipping point. Harry's primary virtue was bravery. In every book in the series, he single-handedly took on the personification of evil, and prevailed. At other times, however, evil prevailed until he was able to acquire some magical tool to fight back. Tom Riddle also sought those tools, and had he managed to acquire them all, even Harry's bravery and goodness would not have been enough.

So, the formula for success in the pagan universe basically breaks down to:
Ownership of all the magical tools = victory every time.
Ownership of some of the magical tools + bravery = victory, unless going up against
Ownership of some of the magical tools + bravery + good. In that case,
Ownership of some of the magical tools + bravery + good = eventual ownership of all remaining magical tools, or at least all the most powerful one(s), thus resulting in victory.

Now, in the Christian world view, magical tools can be totally overcome, not by more powerful magical tools, but by spiritual purity (Matthew 17:21). Thus good is not the final ingredient needed only when up against a magically equal but evil force; it is the primary weapon against evil.

Thus  massive power struggle ensues, wherever the Christian worldview confronts the pagan one--with bravery and good on one side, and bravery and magical tools on the other. For the Christian, however, bravery is merely the last ingredient, to be pitted merely against the remaining bravery of the sorcerer who has just seen his most powerful magical tools rendered useless by an invisible foe.

Elijah on Mt. Carmel is an excellent example of the Christian world view confronting the pagan in a massive show of force. Mustering all the magical tools at their disposal, represented by hundreds of ecstatic priests sacrificing their own blood to Ba'al, the pagans were confronted by the spiritual purity of one man, represented by restoring the altar of God on the high place of Mt. Carmel. Elijah showed his superior bravery by daring to challenge and even mock Ba'al, and when the power struggle came down in favor of Elijah, by ordering the deaths of all his opponents.

It was a lack of bravery, however, that removed Elijah from the scene when no number of palace guards could even arrest him. When his bravery failed, all the spiritual purity he could muster availed him nothing, and he fled for his life from henpecked Ahab's pagan wife. Elijah needed some personal ministering, not only by an angel, but from the Voice of God Himself, before his powers returned.

Sorcerers can be defeated without any human or magical powers, simply by applying the formula of good + bravery against the foe of magic + bravery. The pagan's bravery will vanish when he sees his magical powers rendered inert, but he will try to win by threatening the Christian with physical harm instead. In order to prevail the Christian will have to show bravery against both attacks.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Why the government has to control the internet

The historic defeat of the House Majority Leader in a primary race goes to show that government officials can be incredibly unaware of what is going on at a popular level.

Or at least that is the story we are being told.

What is clear, though, is that the government wants to know everything about us. It is in their selfish interests not only to hold on to power, but to convince us that we want them to. Thus, it is inevitable that for a totalitarian government to hold on to power, it must control access to the truth. Fifty years ago, that meant government control of the newspapers, radio, and television.

No more.

Now, in order to suppress unfavorable news, the government will have to control the internet. All search engines must be kept from leading users to unfavorable sites--and must let the government know who is searching for them. The government must be able to read blogs like this one, and know who is writing them. The government must be able to read all subversive emails, and know who is sending them.

Right now, all of this is already possible--it just isn't being openly practiced. If we are ever to be kept under the thumb of a totalitarian regime, that will have to change. And you had better believe that right now, heads are being put together to figure out just how to pull that off.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Another Prophetic rabbi and what he prophesied

Yitzhak Kaduri's revelation of the Messiah shocked the Israeli Haredi community when it was revealed. The paper on which it was written was photographed and published, then cast into the Dead Sea in disgust. But for seven more years, his prophecy awaited fulfillment.

This is a reprint of a cover story that first appeared in the April 30, 2007 issue of Israel Today Magazine. It was subsequently taken from the website, but not before it could be copied elsewhere. It was finally brought back online in 2013 after Carl Gallups wrote a book quoting the article.
A few months before he died, one of the nation’s most prominent rabbis, Yitzhak Kaduri, supposedly wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note which he requested would remain sealed until now. When the note was unsealed, it revealed what many have known for centuries: Yehoshua, or Yeshua (Jesus), is the Messiah.
With the biblical name of Jesus, the Rabbi and kabbalist described the Messiah using six words and hinting that the initial letters form the name of the Messiah. The secret note said:
Concerning the letter abbreviation of the Messiah’s name, He will lift the people and prove that his word and law are valid.
This I have signed in the month of mercy,
Yitzhak Kaduri
The Hebrew sentence (translated above in bold) with the hidden name of the Messiah reads:
Yarim Ha’Am Veyokhiakh Shedvaro Vetorato Omdim
ירים העם ויוכיח שדברו ותורתו עומדים
The initials spell the Hebrew name of Jesus יהושוע . Yehoshua and Yeshua are effectively the same name, derived from the same Hebrew root of the word “salvation” as documented in Zechariah 6:11 and Ezra 3:2. The same priest writes in Ezra, “Yeshua (ישוע) son of Yozadak” while writing in Zechariah “Yehoshua (יהושוע) son of Yohozadak.” The priest adds the holy abbreviation of God’s name, ho (הו), in the father’s name Yozadak and in the name Yeshua.
With one of Israel’s most prominent rabbis indicating the name of the Messiah is Yeshua, it is understandable why his last wish was to wait one year after his death before revealing what he wrote.
When the name of Yehoshua appeared in Kaduri’s message, ultra-Orthodox Jews from his Nahalat Yitzhak Yeshiva (seminary) in Jerusalem argued that their master did not leave the exact solution for decoding the Messiah’s name.
The revelation received scant coverage in the Israeli media. Only the Hebrew websites News First Class (Nfc) and mentioned the Messiah note, insisting it was authentic. The Hebrew daily Ma’ariv ran a story on the note but described it as a forgery.
Jewish readers responded on the websites’ forums with mixed feelings: “So this means Rabbi Kaduri was a Christian?” and “The Christians are dancing and celebrating,” were among the comments.
Israel Today spoke to two of Kaduri’s followers in Jerusalem who admitted that the note was authentic, but confusing for his followers as well. “We have no idea how the Rabbi got to this name of the Messiah,” one of them said.
Yet others completely deny any possibility that the note is authentic.
In an interview with Israel Today, Rabbi David Kaduri, 80, the son of the late Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, denied that his father left a note with the name Yeshua just before he died. “It’s not his writing,” he said when we showed him a copy of the note. During a night-time meeting in the Nahalat Yitzhak Yeshiva in Jerusalem, books with Kaduri’s handwriting from 80 years ago were presented to us in an attempt to prove that the Messiah note was not authentic.
When we told Rabbi Kaduri that his father’s official website ( had mentioned the Messiah note, he was shocked. “Oh no! That’s blasphemy. The people could understand that my father pointed to him [the Messiah of the Christians].” David Kaduri confirmed, however, that in his last year his father had talked and dreamed almost exclusively about the Messiah and his coming. “My father has met the Messiah in a vision,” he said, “and told us that he would come soon.”
Kaduri’s Portrayal of the Messiah
A few months before Kaduri died at the age of 108, he surprised his followers when he told them that he met the Messiah. Kaduri gave a message in his synagogue on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, teaching how to recognize the Messiah. He also mentioned that the Messiah would appear to Israel after Ariel Sharon’s death. (The former prime minister is still in a coma after suffering a massive stroke more than a year ago.) Other rabbis predict the same, including Rabbi Haim Cohen, kabbalist Nir Ben Artzi and the wife of Rabbi Haim Kneiveskzy.
Kaduri’s grandson, Rabbi Yosef Kaduri, said his grandfather spoke many times during his last days about the coming of the Messiah and redemption through the Messiah. His spiritual portrayals of the Messiah—reminiscent of New Testament accounts—were published on the websites and Nfc:
“It is hard for many good people in the society to understand the person of the Messiah. The leadership and order of a Messiah of flesh and blood is hard to accept for many in the nation. As leader, the Messiah will not hold any office, but will be among the people and use the media to communicate. His reign will be pure and without personal or political desire. During his dominion, only righteousness and truth will reign.
“Will all believe in the Messiah right away? No, in the beginning some of us will believe in him and some not. It will be easier for non-religious people to follow the Messiah than for Orthodox people.
“The revelation of the Messiah will be fulfilled in two stages: First, he will actively confirm his position as Messiah without knowing himself that he is the Messiah. Then he will reveal himself to some Jews, not necessarily to wise Torah scholars. It can be even simple people. Only then he will reveal himself to the whole nation. The people will wonder and say: ‘What, that’s the Messiah?’ Many have known his name but have not believed that he is the Messiah.”
Farewell to a ‘Tsadik’
Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri was known for his photographic memory and his memorization of the Bible, the Talmud, Rashi and other Jewish writings. He knew Jewish sages and celebrities of the last century and rabbis who lived in the Holy Land and kept the faith alive before the State of Israel was born.
Kaduri was not only highly esteemed because of his age of 108. He was charismatic and wise, and chief rabbis looked up to him as a Tsadik, a righteous man or saint. He would give advice and blessings to everyone who asked. Thousands visited him to ask for counsel or healing. His followers speak of many miracles and his students say that he predicted many disasters.
When he died, more than 200,000 people joined the funeral procession on the streets of Jerusalem to pay their respects as he was taken to his final resting place.
“When he comes, the Messiah will rescue Jerusalem from foreign religions that want to rule the city,” Kaduri once said. “They will not succeed for they will fight against one another.”

Israel Today was given access to many of the rabbi's manuscripts, written in his own hand for the exclusive use of his students. Most striking were the cross-like symbols painted by Kaduri all over the pages. In the Jewish tradition, one does not use crosses. In fact, even the use of a plus sign is discouraged because it might be mistaken for a cross.
But there they were, scribbled in the rabbi's own hand. When we asked what those symbols meant, Rabbi David Kaduri said they were “signs of the angel." Pressed further about the meaning of the “signs of the angel," he said he had no idea. Rabbi David Kaduri went on to explain that only his father had had a spiritual relationship with God and had met the Messiah in his dreams.
Orthodox Jews around the Nahalat Yitzhak Yeshiva told Israel Today a few weeks later that the story about the secret note of Rabbi Kaduri should never have come out, and that it had damaged the name the revered old sage. 
Okay, the point to be made here is that Rab Kaduri, the most respected Kabalist in Israel, claimed to have met the Messiah, and the his name is Yehoshua. This does not guarantee that: a) Yitzhak Kaduri became a believer in Jesus; or b) Jesus appeared to him. The alternate explanation is that the Antichrist appeared to him, claiming the name Yehoshua. Either are possible, but one is definitely more likely than the other. When Ariel Sharon finally died after eight years in a coma, the question of him being the prophesied messiah could finally be put to rest. And it vindicated at least one aspect of the Rabbi's prophecy: that the messiah would not be revealed until Sharon had died.