what is truth?

Obviously I’m going through a Bart D Ehrman phase. It’s not because I agree with him most of the time or that I find him a master debater (sorry, had to say it). It’s because he’s the only public intellectual that I can think of at the top of my head that has a genuine passion for teaching.

Because Ehrman’s area of expertise is the Bible, specifically the New Testament and early Christianity, people naturally have strong opinions about the subject. Some people, specifically atheists but a few Christians aren’t exempt, like to use this subject as a way to “trigger” their opponents.

This is a fad on YouTube. The “Intellectual Dark Web” (IDW), or guys that found fame on the internet during the “alt-Right” hay day (people like Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, etc.) perfected the science of “triggering” (also known as “owning the libs”) and many online personalities have attempted to emulate it, including leftists with varying degrees of success. It’s a way of weaponizing information.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to discussions on the Bible, religion, and politics, but even movies and fucking geography!

Because “owning the line” is currency on YouTube, this has led to many quaks pretending to be experts littering the platform and distracting us away from those trying to present information in good faith.

Just because an opinion triggers someone, that doesn’t give it more credence. But that appears to be sound logic in some circles. Even if the opinion is true, if presented in a way that’s designed to give offense, that doesn’t make the one with the opinion more noble or virtuous…it makes you an asshole.

Thankfully my man Ehrman avoids that.

was Jesus an ascetic?

I don’t know man, I wasn’t there.

I’ll say this though: Jesus at least dabbled in asceticism. Any hard evidence for this? No. And none will ever turn up. BUT the two earliest accounts of Jesus’s life, the Gospel of Mark and the hypothetical “Q source” (which survives in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew) mention Jesus turning to the wilderness after his baptism from John the Baptist.

John the Baptist’s existence can be independently confirmed by Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. This is partly why it is universally agreed upon that the baptism of Jesus by John is a real historical event. The other reason why historians believe this is due to the criterion of embarrassment, which simply means that Jesus’s associations with John the Baptist would have been well known enough that it had to of been accounted for by early Christian writers, despite Jesus’s superiority to John.

It’s difficult to establish any degree of certainty from this period. Was John the Baptist an ascetic? It certainly appears that he had those tendencies from the surviving texts. It’s has even been suggested that he was an Essene, a “semi-ascetic” Jewish sect from the first century. Could Jesus have been a follower of John? We know that they met at least once, and the Gospels (whatever their historical worth) say that Jesus immediately did something ascetic-like after that meeting.

I like questions like these because it helps contextualize this era. I personally think that Jesus did ascetic-like things and might’ve ran with a few ascetic groups. But I don’t think he thought of himself ascetic or even monastic. Like I said, the historical information contained in the Gospels are dubious and hard facts will likely never appear, but I think it’s important to look at the language of the Gospels.

Mark and the “Q” source (or possible sources) seem to address a rural audience, meaning that Jesus likely focused his mission on the poor or “working class”. There are obvious problems with this assumption, the main one being that the entire New Testament is written in Koine Greek while the poor in Galilee and Judea, including Jesus, spoke Aramaic (plus the Gospels are written 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus). How much of Jesus’s message was changed between his death and the written accounts is impossible to determine. Despite these problems though, I do think that Mark and Q are more than likely correct in Jesus’s focus.

So as I’ve said before, I think that Jesus was a religious-populist figure, and as we often find in populist movements, leaders often take a “postmodern” turn by becoming (as Apostle Paul later found out) “all things to all people”. This is why so many people can have so many different interpretations on what happened.

im stupid

I don’t always agree with Bart Ehrman.

He’s an excellent biblical scholar, but a little too conservative for my tastes as a historian. This occurred to me while I was watching him get ambushed by both Christians and atheists during a Zoom call.

If I’m correct in my understanding…and remember I’m a dumbass…then Ehrman’s argument regarding our access to the original intentions of the New Testament texts are completely lost. We cannot know what “Mark”, for example, originally wrote. Not only would this be true for all biblical texts, but virtually ALL ancient texts as well.

In my view, this is an extreme form of skepticism which throws our understanding of history out the window. The entire historical record would be in jeopardy, a point which Ehrman himself seemingly concedes (unless, of course, the record can be confirmed by other sources i.e. archeological, DNA, etc.)

I guess this sounds extreme-having to take the accuracy of ancient historical accounts basically on faith (especially when they sound plausible, but lack supporting evidence)-but what other option do we have until the facts prove otherwise?

I suppose this line of reasoning is how Ehrman can reconcile his certainty that Jesus existed with his extreme skepticism of the historical accuracy of the Gospels.

just one more thing..

So I was eating a bag of skittles when the phone rang.

“What do you want?” I asked.

The woman over the phone spoke. “Hi, this is Arianna. We talked last week. Just want to know that I’ve been fantasizing about you. I’m really, REALLY horny. I want to come over, sit you down, take you in my mouth then ride you as you slide in and out. I want to taste you. I want to feel you inside me. Just the thought of your cock makes me quiver with excitement. Please let me come over. Please PLEASE have your way with me.”

“Sorry, watching Columbo,” I said. Then hung up.

Fisher: Miami Cop

White Collar inspired me to come up with my own totally non-offensive crime procedural.

So Hollywood, if you’re reading, I present to you Fisher: Miami Cop, starring Rob Gronkowski as the Hawaiian shirt wearing, vaguely racist homicide detective with a penchant for hard drinking and always shooting first.

After coming off his suspension for domestic abuse and vehicular manslaughter, Fisher is given a partner: the saucy Latina Arianda Morales.

“But Chief,” Fisher says, “I don’t work with the Cubans OR the Chinese.”

But he quickly changes his mind when he sees that she’s hot.

Fisher and Morales come to a greater understanding of each other and their cultural differences. Every episode ends in playful banter, culminating in Fisher’s famous catchphrase: “get off my ass, bitch!”

Fisher: Miami Cop coming to CBS.

credo quia absurdum

While I was reading Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, I was introduced to the term credo quia absurdum, translated as “I believe because it is absurd.”

The phrase is usually attributed to Tertullian in reference to Christian belief.

However, I have said many times before that the mechanism of religious belief has been franchised out to other forms of belief, specifically in the political realm. This process is exacerbated by constant internet usage.

Naturally, this causes further consternation within civilization because we know intellectually that the internet isn’t real, but our relationship and understanding of the real world is constantly being shaped by it.

When this contradiction is pointed out, there’s an almost violent psychological reaction to it because it undermines our entire understanding of self and society. And to maintain this flawed understanding, we double down on our patently false assumptions.

Therefore this “credo quia absurdum” becomes the de facto mode of political/religious discourse.

THE END 🤷‍♂️

“dr. sí” part vii

We stole guns off some guards that Angelika brutally murdered and ran down the corridor.

“The time weapon is is being held three floors above us,” Angelika said.

We began to feel tremors all around us. I asked Angelika the last time this volcano erupted.

“About 25,000 years ago,” she said.

“Then this thing could go off at any moment. We better hurry.”

We went down the corridors and up the stairs in an attack formation. Angelika and I covered the front. Mr. Ree and Oppenheimer covered the rear.

When we reached the room holding the time weapon, the Kill Squad…along with Izzy….was there. They altered course and stormed into the volcano earlier in a bloody, devastating firefight. Not many survived.

“Thank goodness you’re alive,” the Admiral said. “And you found J. Robert Oppenheimer. Excellent work. Lt. Captain, please dispose of the scientist.”

Lt. Captain cocked his pistol and raised it up to Oppenheimer’s head.

I raised my rifle to Lt. Captain.

“Pull that trigger and you’re dead,” I told him.

“But Colonel James,” the Admiral said, “this time travel stuff is against the laws of God. We must destroy all of the evidence.”

“No,” I said. “Oppenheimer has as much right to exist as the rest of us.”

Dr. Sí then rushed in with his guards. “Well well,” he said. “Glad you’re all here.”

We were surrounded. We dropped our weapons.

Dr. Sí walked up to the Admiral. “I’m happy to see you’re doing well Admiral,” he said.

“This ends today doctor,” the Admiral replied.

“I think not,” he replied.

Dr. Sí walked over to a control panel. In a corner across the room, the floor moved, revealing a lava pit.

“I’m sorry Admiral,” the doctor said. “But you can’t go where we’re going.”

The guards grabbed the Admiral and pushed him towards the pit. “You’ll never get away with this,” he yelled.

“Of course I will. I control time! Think about the possibilities Admiral! We could have taken over the world. You never understood that.”

“Izzy, don’t let them do this,” the Admiral screamed. She walked over to him and the guards.

“You’re one abusive son of a bitch,” she said. Izzy then roundhouse kicked him into the fiery pit. When the screams stopped and the flames died down, Izzy turned around.

“Can I go home now,” she asked. “I didn’t want to be here anyway.”

“I’m sorry madam,” Dr. Sí replied. “I cannot let anyone leave here alive.”

“So what happens now? This volcano will erupt at any moment,” I asked.

“Exactly Colonel. In a few moments, I will time travel out of here and this volcano will erupt, destroying the evidence.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Angelika said. Dr. Sí walked up to her, grabbed her hair and put his lips on her.

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us,” he said. “I gotta go.”

He went back to the panel and a countdown started. A laser dropped down from the ceiling which would release a plasma field around its target, triggering a spacetime ripple that would permit time travel.

“Before I forget,” Dr. Sí said to me, “here’s the $1 million I owe you. Where I’m going, this money is no good.”

He threw a metal briefcase as my feet.

“Alright,” the doctor said, “let’s get this bullshit over with.”

The laser then fired out a beam, creating the field around Sí. While the guards were mesmerized by the sight, Oppenheimer ran into the field, pushing the doctor out.

There was a bright flash of light, then Oppenheimer was gone…lost somewhere in time.

“You fool!” Dr. Sí yelled.

Out of the confusion, Angelika attacked the guards and took a gun. She began spraying bullets across the room. I picked up the briefcase and ran for cover.

I grabbed a rifle from a dead guard and began shielding Izzy. Mr. Ree then engaged in the firefight.

When all the guards were dead, Angelika threw down her semi-automatic and grabbed Dr. Sí. He tried to put up a fight.

“Angelika!” he screamed. “This volcano will go off any second. We don’t have time for this!”

“Time’s up bitch!” she said. Then she threw him into the lava pit. A large flame shot up in the air.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ree was monitoring communications between guards over the radio. “Reinforcements will be here in a minute,” he said.

I handed the briefcase to Izzy. “Make sure Miriam gets this,” I told her.

We shared one last look. “Mr. Ree and I will give you cover while you escape,” I said. “Angelika, go with her.”

“But I didn’t get the weapon,” Angelika responded.

“Let it go,” I said. “You can save humanity without it.”

I reached out my hand to hers and we looked deep into each other’s eyes. “Goodbye Angelika.”

She gave a pause. “Goodbye James,” she said.

Izzy and Angelika, along with a few surviving members of the Kill Squad, ran back down the corridor. The tremors were beginning to pick up.

Mr. Ree and I stood behind the control panel, waiting for reinforcements to arrive. “Ready to go where no man’s gone before,” I asked him.

He put a cigar in his mouth. “You’re reading my mind.”

As guards were pouring into the room, Mr. Ree provided cover while I fiddled with the controls. The laser pointed in our direction and released a beam. The field surrounded us.

Where…or when…we were going, only God knew.

Then there was a brilliant flash of light….

*********

Izzy, Angelika, and the Kill Squad made it out of the volcano just as it erupted. As they watched the explosion from a safe distance, Izzy turned to Angelika.

“Do you think they’re dead?”

Angelika looked to the ash cloud hovering over the jungle. She thought for a moment.

“No,” she replied. “They’re out there…somewhere in time….”

THE END

“dr. sí” part vi

“This is science gone haywire,” J. Robert Oppenheimer said. “I should have never agreed to help Dr. Sí.”

“Don’t beat yourself up,” I said to him. “We’ll get you out of here and back to your own time.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” he replied.

“Sure it does. It’s science! Anything is possible.”

“We can’t just go ‘back in time’. Doing so would violate all sorts of Newton’s laws. When the quantum field is generated, the individual is transported to an alternate timeline. The laws of physics remain the same and the outcomes in these timelines might be similar to our own, but it’s not the same timeline. Am I making sense?”

“Nope,” I replied. “But we’ll get you as close to your timeline as humanly possible.”

“Forget it,” Oppenheimer replied. “Our best option is to disarm the weapon to prevent this from happening again.”

“How do we do that?”

“There’s a special property in the element of gold that penetrates through space and time. If the gold is removed from the nano chambers, the weapon would be powerless.”

“Sounds like a plan Bob.” I looked over to Mr. Ree. “Do you think the Kill Squad will alter course and find us?”

“I doubt it,” Mr. Ree said. “I don’t even know where we’re at.”

“We’re at the bottom of a dormant volcano,” Oppenheimer said. “They’ll never find us.”

“Shit,” I said. “Then we have to take matters into our own hands. We just need an opportunity.”

Angelika then peered through the opening of our cell door. “James,” she said, “just hold tight, I’m gonna get you out of here.”

“Angelika,” I replied, “I thought you were with Dr. Sí.”

She then reached her hand through the opening to touch my own. “Dr. Sí is no friend of the Ionian Liberation Front. He’s no friend of peace and justice. I don’t want this technology to fall into the wrong hands.”

“Get us out of here and we’ll destroy it,” I said.

“No! Think about it James. With this weapon, we can right all the wrongs. We can undo our violent past and create a better future.”

“I don’t know Angelika.”

“Please, I’ll get you out of here. But let me have the weapon.”

I thought for a second and agreed to her terms. Then she grasped my hand tightly.

“What’s your wife’s name?” she asked.

“Miriam”

“She’s a lucky woman. Perhaps in another time….”

She let go of my hand and closed the opening. I heard some rustling outside, then a few gunshots. After a few moments, the cell door blasted open.

Angelika walked across the rubble wearing a skintight leather suit and holding a Heckler & Koch M27.

“Alright boys,” she said. “Let’s blow the top off this volcano.”

“dr. sí” part v

“Well shits assholes,” I said to Dr. Sí. “We’ve been looking for you. I guess the search is over! Can I go now?”

“Not so fast,” he responded. “I need to know where your Kill Squad is going.”

“First I want to know what happened to Angelika,” I demanded.

“Fair enough,” he said. Then Dr. Sí turned to the corner of the laboratory. “Angelika, come join us.”

Angelika stepped out, all dolled up with her red hair flowing down to her shoulders. “Sorry James,” she said. “You’re not my type because Dr. Sí is my type.”

The two kissed passionately in front of me.

“I do want to thank you, Colonel James, for returning her to me,” Dr. Sí said.

“Hey, not a problem,” I replied. “Can you return the favor by removing this explosive collar from around my neck? Once when they realize Angelika’s missing, this thing will blow my head off.”

“First, where is the Kill Squad going?”

“They’re probably coming here!”

“We are certainly not at where they are going.”

“Then what are you worried about?”

The doctor turned around and looked at a computerized map of the Hawaiian islands. “I am a man of science, colonel. In order for my experiments to work, I need EXACT measurements. I cannot afford unpredictability. So again…where is the Kill Squad going?”

I was running out of time. The collar was going to detonate at any moment. Then I remembered…

“$2 million,” I said.

“$2 million?”

“Yes, $2 million and I give up the coordinates of the Kill Squad plus any other state secrets you want in order to sweeten the deal,“ I replied.

I was bluffing about the state secrets part. I didn’t know shit.

“$1 million,” Dr. Sí responded.

“Deal. The coordinates are 113.998N 737.746W. Now get this collar off of me!”

Dr. Sí laughed and ordered the guards to remove the collar. “Thank you for your cooperation colonel,” he said. “But as an insurance policy, I’ll place this collar on one of your acquaintances.”

The guards rolled in Mr. Ree, strapped to an upright gurney.

“They kidnapped me too,” Mr. Ree said. “Can you believe that bullshit?”

“Ohh come on,” I said. “Don’t kill Mr. Ree! He’s cool! Besides, that thing will detonate before the squad reaches its destination!”

“That’s just a chance I’m willing to take,” Dr. Sí replied.

“Look, I don’t give a damn about Admiral Majors or the Kill Squad. But there’s a woman that’s traveling with them: Izzy. Please don’t kill her,” I pleaded.

“Colonel, relax,” he said. “I’m not looking to kill anyone, except for Mr. Ree over there. I just want to see that thing go off.”

“I don’t understand.”

Dr. Sí put his arm around my shoulders and started walking me around the laboratory. “I understand your confusion. You see, has anyone told you the truth about that missing nuclear scientist?”

“To be honest doctor, for this entire mission, I’ve kinda been asleep at the wheel. I don’t even know that scientists’ name.”

“Ah, let me show you.”

Dr. Sí opened a door and out walked an old man in a lab coat. I think I was supposed to be impressed by this.

“I don’t know who this is,” I said.

“That’s J. Robert Oppenheimer.”

“Who?”

“J. Robert Op…the father of the atomic bomb?! What are you? Some kind of fucking moron?”

“You cloned him?”

“No asshole! I brought him from the past into the future! Don’t you get it yet? I invented time travel!!”

I walked up to Oppenheimer and looked him up and down. “Welcome to the future,” I told him. “We killed Hitler.”

“I know that, dumbass,” he replied. “We should have dropped the bomb on him!”

I looked back over to Dr. Sí. “So what? You invented time travel. Big whoop. How can you use that against the Kill Squad?”

“That’s why I brought my friend Oppenheimer to the present. You see, we created a new kind of weapon: a time weapon.”

“That sounds pretty fucking stupid, Dr. Sí,” I said. “How can you weaponize time?”

“Well you see, if you can triangulate the space time continuum, the quantum field fluctuations will…”

“Okay, sorry I asked,” I interrupted. “That science shit is boring. Cut to the chase. What’s gonna happen to the Kill Squad?”

“I will fire a plasma energy weapon at their coordinates. When the weapon reaches them, it will generate a quantum field around them and they will be transported to a different time and place.”

“My god,” I said. “A non-destructive weapon. You’re a genius Dr. Sí.”

“So you’re not a complete fucking idiot after all,” he replied. “It is far more humane than the nuclear weapons of the last 80 years. Imagine: no more nuclear fallout, no more mass death…we simply transport our enemies to a different time, different place.”

I looked around the laboratory…at all the scientists running around, to Oppenheimer, to Angelika, and then over to Mr. Ree.

“I cannot deny your genius, Dr. Si,” I said. “But it appears that the only one in danger here is Mr. Ree. If you’re really are humane, you’d remove that collar.”

Dr. Sí nodded. “I suppose you’re right, Colonel.” He looked to the guards. “Remove the collar.”

The guards walked over to the gurney and removed the collar. As they were about to dispose of it, it detonated, killing and maiming several of them.

Out of the confusion, Oppenheimer attacked one of the guards, grabbing his machine gun.

“Put down the gun Oppenheimer,” Dr. Sí said.

“No,” he replied. “You’ve been holding me hostage here. I’m not your puppet!”

“But Bob,” Dr. Sí pleaded. “We’ve been building something special here. Don’t you want to finish our work?”

“No! No more weapons!”

More guards rushed into the room, forcing Oppenheimer to drop his gun.

“Sorry Bob,” Dr. Sí said. “It appears your time is up.”

Mr. Ree was released from the gurney. The two of us were ordered to raise our hands and were rounded up with Oppenheimer.

“Lock these these scum up,” Dr. Sí ordered.

TO BE CONTINUED