World Domination Update
“Absinthe Makes the Fart Grow Stronger”
vol. VIII, iss. vii
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”
of the Moment: “Wow, what
song was that?”
Secret Word of the Day: “hukkah buddhist”
Site of the Week: www.JFKreloaded.com — downloadable game that lets you be Oswald
Barbecue Sauce of the Month: Chez Gila’s Monster Sauce
In this issue:
· 2004 Obtusity Awards
· PNAC Primer
· Brothers of Jesus
· Ask Evil Matt
· Crow Conspiracy
Hi, Boys & Girls!!!
Hello from Mongolia!
Seems I made the right choice a few years ago by exploring alternate stomping grounds for Branch Floridianism, and on November 3rd the wisdom in this became readily apparent when Brain Police poster child George W. Bush got the nod for four more years. You think I’m sticking around the States facing the prospect of another term under this twitiot?!?
Now that Bush has a free reign of four more years, we can expect to see the mask drop off and his true colors come out unhindered. First and foremost will be the unbridled, full-bore emergence of the PNAC Agenda. I’m also expecting the ‘war on Terror’ to expand into the second partner of the Axis of Evil: Iran. North Korea is probably counting its blessings at this point that they don’t have petroleum, or we’d be doing something more than just snappy sound-bites with them, too.
But before griping about the future, let’s backtrack and bitch about the past. I actually agree with a comment Dubya made during his victory gloat: “The American people have spoken.”
Yes they did, and they said loud and clear “we’re gullible as hell!”
Although John Kerry lost this election, the real losers in this were the collective American populace, plus any unfortunate nation out there that dares disagree with Dictator Dubya. I saw several polls that put dissatisfaction with the choice of candidates at about 66%. No shit?!? I think the majority of not only Democrats but everybody else would have wished that someone less left-of-center and more clue-bearing than Kerry had run, but what can you do? The prevailing attitude was “Anybody But Bush!” Alas, that anybody turned out to be John Kerry.
The same can be said of the Republicans with IQs above double digits. I was raised a Republican, and Bush doesn’t represent or resemble any Republican party I grew up with. Ol’ Boy is the poster child for that dark and dangerous faction that started rearing its head in the late ’70s and went full-bore by the ’90s: Neo-Conservatives. The Republican Party sold its soul to the Christian Right to get Reagan elected, and it’s no coincidence that during his first term we started seeing grass-root challenges of Church and State, such as attempts to get Creationism into public school curriculums. But Bush (or at least Karl Rove) understands this base—and how to manipulate its fear and ignorance—and it’s not surprising in that context that huge chunks of Bush voters sited “moral values” as their top criteria for voting for him.
From that stance, the real winners in November’s election were Brain Polices spin doctors. Kudos to them for being able to make everyone forget Bush’s abysmal record and actually con the populace into thinking he was the best man for the job. The results of a Bush reelection show that their campaign for the Dumbing Down of America is well underway with startling success. I haven’t seen such slick p.r. like that since Joseph Goebbels. But apparently Bush’s Brain Police handlers learned from the best; speaking of Herr Goebbels, here’s a quote that’s startlingly appropriate for how Bush has maintained his popularity:
“Why of course the people don't want war. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
I think most of y’all will agree with me that the person who contributed most to Bush’s reelection bid was Osama bin Laden. And I don’t doubt Osama was overjoyed to see the election results, either. Dubya’s misunderstanding of the War on Terror and his half-assed sledgehammer the symptoms approach has done more for Al Qaida recruitment than any bin Laden tape.
The post-election public opinion surveys on why people voted for Bush were particularly illuminating: aside from this vague “moral values” crap, they all bought the jingoistic drumbeating Dubya had done that during a war you don’t change horses mid-stream.
Yes you do, folks: if the horse is in over its head and can’t find the shore, yes you do.
Sadly, 51% of the voting populace didn’t think so, and Bush won not only the popular vote but this idiotic Electoral College we have been shackled with.
But at least 51% wasn’t the “blowout” Pat Robertson had predicted.
Also on the bright side, I have a guaranteed four more years of fodder to bitch about in Updates, because Bush material just writes itself.
And with such blatant inanity coming at the end of the year, that can only mean it’s time for...
The 2004 Obtusity Awards
As usual, we seem to have had another landmark year for mind-numbing moronity, with obtuse fools on the prowl and getting in everyone’s face—especially mine. I’m sorely tempted to make a jacket out of No-Pest strips to see if this keeps these gnat-brains away.
In the mean-time, entering the ignoble rolls of the Don’t Be That Guy Hall of Lame...
Aside from demonstrating his (ahem) mastery of historical information such as how Moslems invaded Spain to fend off an invasion by Genghis Khan, Malcolm also showed off a stuperior grasp of cooking skills in between all the awkward pauses, ellipses, and random babbling. Curiously, Kiwi claims to have had a run-in with “some drunken sod who said he was tops in his class at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute.” This can only be our same boy, who did let it slip that he was a fry chef at some greasy spoon near-by.
“Hey, there's room to move as a fry chef. In two years I could be manager! King! God!”
—Kevin, in Repo Man
2) The Ignoranus
What can one say about a guy who was oohing and aahing (his exact words: “this is the wisdom of Solomon!”) about the “brilliance” of the Wizard of Oz song “If I only had a brain.”
How about, “Oh, the irony!”
It’s my understanding that Jack is still up to his old tricks—he’s too closed-minded to learn new ones, with one possible exception. Aside from being the archetypal Three-Chord Nazi, he has apparently expanded his portfolio to include “Balsamic Vinegar Nazi,” in that he insists all his food should contain some, and any other type of vinegar is heresy. Word is he’s even trying to incorporate balsamic vinegar into a new form of ranch dressing. Granted, I’d rather crawl naked through three miles of broken glass fragments than hang around him long enough to have dinner with him anyway, but one must remember that this is the same guy who once authoritatively told me, “now, anyone who knows anything about cooking knows you just don’t mix onions and garlic.”
I wonder if he learned that from Malcolm?
1) 59,108,395 American Voters
Bet you thought I was gonna give Dubya the number one slot, right? Nope; I’d have to say hands down the most obtuse people of 2004 are the 59,108,395 people who voted for him.
Not wanting to rehash the speech I made at the beginning of the Update, but this election was a victory for Dubya’s Damage Control Spin Doctors, who were able to feed on people’s ignorance of politics and paint Bush as the best man for the job. Voters were able to ignore or conveniently forget about 100 mistakes Bush made and reelect him despite his abysmal record.
As we can see, the Brain Police agenda for the Dumbing Down of America is making great strides...
...meanwhile, in other news...
The camaro came out in 1967 and was actually a poor man's substitute for the Corvette. The trans am came out in 1969 and was a poorer man's substitute for the camaro, and of course the trans am... it's like using a mimeograph machine to make a copy of a mimeograph tha came from a bad photocopy of a fax of a smeared drawing of a beautiful picture.
None of these cars were a match for the pre-mid 70's mustangs and only lasted as long as they did because of "Smokey and the Bandit."
This lineage, I believe, eventually devolved to the Yugo which is now extinct. Like the dodo. And now the camaro and trans am are going out of production which (hopefully) will lead to the death of the mullet. Every other point about the camaro/trans am/firebird white trashing is perfectly valid, if somewhat on the mild side.
I'm not really a gearhead, I had to look up the model dates. I also grew up in a time and place where mullets and trans ams were considered cool (camaros were too costly), firebird owners were always a little looked down upon and over half the phone book was taken up by 5 family names. Hooray for middle America, W's OTHER base!
Interesting Camaro trivia (from wikipedia):
Though the car's name was contrived with no meaning, General Motors researchers found the word in a French dictionary as a slang term for "friend" or "companion." Ford Motor Company researchers discovered other definitions, including "a shrimp-like creature" and an arcane term for "loose bowels!"
I was always under the impression that the Trans Am was the high performer of the three (Trans/Camaro/Firebird) but I’m not a motorhead so I’m relying on hearsay. But if the Trans Am was good enough for David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider....
Fortunately, Camaros and Firebirds were discontinued in ’92. Unfortunately, the mentality that worshiped them is still active and out there.
Btw, my arch-rival DK just got back into town, and had traded in his Trans Am for... an AMC Eagle.
On the Subject of David Koresh’s Camaro, curiously the car went up on ebay (auction 4500243653) back in November.
I already checked; the guy didn’t accept Flax.
If you haven't seen this, then watch it! Well put together. Good discussion piece for BF members.
shade’s Flight 77 peshar
For those too lazy to click the above link, it’s a flash presentation (with some heavy techno/industrial music which I suspect is to trance you into a more malleable receiving mode) that spells out the short version for something other than a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon on September 11th. Admittedly, it does pose some awkward irregularities with the accepted story, inconsistencies that are not in the common knowledge database and (ahem) fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
Rumors, or at least dissatisfaction, with the “official” story about September 11th have been floating around since the very next day. Most are easily disproved, but the façet about the Pentagon plane is a bit more difficult. Curiously, back in August, WackaWacka actually passed along the site referenced in the Reverend’s mail, so this is old news.
To be honest, I don’t buy it, for the following reasons:
First and foremost, nobody to my knowledge questions that at one point there was an actual Flight 77 with 58 number of passengers and 6 crew. There are existent cell phone calls from passengers on board saying they were being hijacked. Of all the proponents of conspiracy theories such as the website you sent, no one has ever explained what happened to the “real” flight 77.
Second, it makes no sense that three other planes would be legitimately hijacked—Osama himself has admitted Al Qaida was behind the attacks—yet “someone” would manage to orchestrate and synchronize the otherwise “false” Pentagon strike. Why would you need to do this when there are “real” kamikaze hijackings going on? Likewise, if you think that someone other than Al Qaida were really behind 9/11, why would the two Trade Tower flights and the one downed in Pennsylvania be “real” planes yet the Pentagon strike be something else?
I admit the video presentation does present some abnormalities, and it is curious that the government would round up all video tapes of the Pentagon strike and not allow them to be released. However, unless someone can convincingly answer my two questions posted above, I’m going to have to go with Occam’s Razor on this and side with the majority that the Pentagon was hit by a 757 hijacked by Al Qaida.
Feel free to .
[subject: False Branch Floridians]
shows what a "crock of shit" publications like URBANDICTIONARY are!.....I am HOPPING MAD!!!!!.........who is responsible for that half-witted, inaccurate, tight-assed, uneducated, lam-brained, biased, half-baked write up anyway?????? Obviously they did not do their "homework" in any real depth or they could never have written such a foolish "opinion" for fear of being sued!!!! That's like calling Monty Python's brand of humor about moral and political satire seriously seditious and dangerous!!! Could I be any more furious!!!! It is NOT a misunderstanding...it is character assassination of an association as well as attacking beliefs and opinions while posing as "experts" about something they obviously know nothing about...........a pox on their flax..........
Damn; harsh words from Herr Momandant!
In an effort to get to the bottom of this, I petitioned the Anarchist Alliance board they frequent, asking for membership, so I could talk to the various people involved. I was up front about why I wanted to join, and perhaps not surprisingly, I was turned down. As a last-ditch effort, I emailed a member named ViveLaRevolucion, who had been posting anti-Morley/anti-Branch posts on the board. I made it clear that I was *not* Michelson-Morley, and was trying to find out who this fiend was because of his claims to be Branch Floridian.After a week, I got this reply:
Hello Saint. I am a friend of vive's and was right at the centre of the troll wars.
First of all, apologies for the Urban Dictionary post. I don't know who put it up, but it was no doubt someone responding to Michelson's antics (though I had previously raised the Branch Floridians in a group called Anarchist Alliance after researching the name Fairinheight 451). I was under the impression Michelson-Morely was part of your group because he was using the nickname Fairinheight451 which is connected to your group - in fact, your website was the only hit for this, anywhere on the web. It certainly seems he was impersonating you, and I apologise that I took this impersonation seriously. (He has since, by the way, posted offensive remarks under nicknames which appear to belong to myself and vivelarevolucion...).
Michelson if you are looking for him, is really known as Dean West, and uses a bewildering array of online aliases such as Michelson-Morely, Michelson-Morley, Teljury, Amberlin4, Westwind40, CubicleSlave, Birdsong, Freebird, Darkwen2, Fairinheight451, Consuela3333 and others (or at least, either he does, or his supporters/followers/co-conspirators do). He used to run the group www.teljury.com but this is apparently defunct. He associates the Michelson-Morely nickname with the name Marcus Grattan.
Vive thinks he is based in Alaska, although I don't recall how this conclusion was reached.
I had gathered that your website was humorous, but still, the association with Michelson worried me rather... The urban dictionary posts are easy enough to delete - just put in a "remove this post" request and explain, and it should be gone quickly.
Again, apologies for getting you needlessly involved in the troll wars.
So there you have it: all this started because Dean West had created a user i.d. called Fairinheight451, and the anti-Morley brigade Googled, found “our” Reverend Fairinheight 451’s page, and understandably confused the two. I clarified and verified this with ldxar, who confirmed:
To be honest I can't remember if Michelson ever said he was involved with BF, though he didn't exactly deny it either. But the initial link was just the name I think, combined with the fact that Michelson has extensive, and somewhat strange, religious group affiliations which would confirm some of what he says. I don't know about whoever put up the urban dictionary post, but I admit I didn't spend long on your website during the whole controversy, the reason being that, with trollshit flowing at the rate of about two dozen posts a day at the peak, I didn't have much time to spend long on anything!
Ironically, about two weeks later, I got mail from Herr Morley himself.
A group of people at the Anarchist Alliance were indeed angry at me. Really just one of them in particular.
I am sorry that some goofy net battle has impacted a bunch of innocent people.
I have nothing against your group. I think I know why he tied me to you, but I told him repeatedly I wasn't affiliated with you.
Yeah, I had a net nic that I created called Fairinheight451, a take off on Ray Bradbury's book.
When those alleged "anarchists" posted about your group, I didn't know whether you were their creation or a joke that they mistook, or what.
Oh...and so you know. At an MSN Community called Debate, Critical Thinking and Philosophy, they have cut and pasted your site there...most all of it...and are using it to "prove" that I am the Reverend 451.
That is how I knew you were looking for me.
So you like people to think for yourselves? Good. I had originally pegged your site as sarcastic humor, and wondered at Idxar taking it as real. Of course I also wondered how this guy thought that two 19th century scientists (Michelson and Morely) had anything to do with Flat Earth theories. They didn't. They were the ones who tried to prove the existence of Ether, and failed.
I'd like you to know that I'm real, real sorry that you all got drug into this. I'm pretty sorry I pissed idxar off, to tell you the truth.
Sincerely,Dean West (net nic Michelson Morley)
So I guess I’ll chalk this up to an unfortunate coincidence and let it slide.
Since none of the myriad of aliases Herr Morley/FairInHeight/Teljury/whatever are FWIS, I can safely say that the Dean West behind all this is not Chris PpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo.
As for UrbanDictionary reference, I must admit that it did amuse me to be classified as “a small and dangerous cult,” but what pissed me off was not so much the slanderousness of the rest of the description, but the gross inaccuracy of basic facts in it. I’ve since published updated definitions; curiously, both mine and the original are listed.
...meanwhile, moving on to World Domination...
to the Conspiracy
behind the curtain
Actually, I take that title back: this conspiracy isn’t a “conspiracy” per sé, because traditionally conspiracies operate in clandestine fashion. With PNAC, there’s nothing secret about it: it’s all out in the public domain. All subsequent quotes in this piece come from (and are linked to) their own web site.
The Partnership for a New American Century (“PNAC”) is a D.C.-based think tank first formed in 1997—though the paper trail on its ideology and objectives dates back to ’92. Granted, you can’t walk a block in Washington without bumping into half a dozen such groups, but this one deserves special mention if only due to its membership. Prominent people [and their government function] involved in PNAC include:
- Darth Cheney [Vice President]
- Donald Rumsfeld [Secretary of Defense]
- Paul Wolfowitz [Deputy Secretary of Defense]
- Richard Armitage [Deputy Secretary of State]
- John Bolton [Undersecretary of State]
- Stephen Cambone [head of the Pentagon’s Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation]
- Eliot Cohen [member of the Defense Policy Board]
- Devon Cross [member of the Defense Policy Board]
- Lewis “Scooter” Libbey [Cheney’s Chief of Staff]
- Dov Zakheim [Comptroller for the Defense Department]
- Elliot Abrahms [member of the National Security Council, in charge of Mid-East policy]
- Zalmay Khalilzad [Dubya’s “Special Envoy” to Afghanistan]
- Richard Perle [until recently, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board]
In other words, the major players in Dubya’s cabinet, especially in the “strong arm” department. Surprisingly, I have found no evidence that George Jr. himself is a member, though his brother Jeb is. Other PNAC alumni include James Woolsey [former CIA director,] William Kristol [hyper-conservative media commentator,] William Bennett [self-appointed Morals Czar,] and J. Danforth Quayle [paperweight.]
In terms of a World Domination Agenda, PNAC certainly gives groups like the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission a run for their money. Now, before you dismiss such a statement as paranoid fear-mongering, let’s quote PNAC themselves on the matter. According to its own website (www.newamericancentury.org) it describes itself thus:
The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership.
PNAC is pretty open about its aims for a Pax Americana In September 2000 it published a paper outlining its pogrom for Amerocentric World Domination called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” It laid out in detail what policies our government should, indeed must adopt if its (ie: PNAC’s) vision is to be achieved:
Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East;
Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing our fighter aircraft, submarine and surface fleet capabilities;
Develop and deploy a global missile defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space
Control the “International Commons” of cyberspace
Increase defense spending to a minimum of 3.8% of gross domestic product, up from the 3% currently spent.
All of that will help achieve their ultimate goal: to “...shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests.” Not surprisingly, we’ve seen all of these implemented except the “control cyberspace” tenet, though I’m sure they’re working on that as we speak...
As you can see, they’re pretty open about their agenda and the obviously military means by which to achieve it, hiding it in the open on the assumption that it is too audacious to be believed. But there it is, folks. The September 23rd, 2002 Moscow Times summed it up best: “Not since Mein Kampf has a geopolitical punch been so blatantly telegraphed, years ahead of the blow.”
When it was first formed, it was in the dark days of a Democratic incumbency. Unhappy with the direction Clinton was taking, one of PNAC’s first public moves was to whip off a letter to the President, advocating “... a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.”
If American foreign policy under Dubya’s administration is starting to make more sense now, that’s hardly surprising, especially given the number of PNAC people in his cabinet. Indeed, to see the true extent of the influence, all one has to do is compare PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document with Bush Administration’s September 2002 “National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” Although the verbiage is different, ideologically, they are almost identical documents.
As I said, the paper trail on this can actually be back-dated to the early ’90s, when then Secretary of Defense Darth Cheney and Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz co-authored a D.O.D. strategy report. The report is not available in full (that I can find) though significant chunks were leaked and appear in the March 8, 1992 New York Times. The piece called for pre-emptive attacks and ad hoc coalitions against perceived threats, but added that the U.S. should be ready to cowboy it alone when “...collective action cannot be orchestrated.” The central strategy was to “...establish and protect a new order...” that accounts “...sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership,” while at the same time maintaining a military dominance capable of “...deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” A particularly forward-looking statement had to do with military intervention in Iraq as necessary to “...to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threats from terrorism...” and, more importantly, to assure “...access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil.”
Any of this sounding familiar?
When the Rebuilding America’s Defenses manifesto was first published, it did contain one especially interesting line:
The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.
Perhaps now you know why just after 9/11 George W. Bush proclaimed “Lucky me — I hit the trifecta!”
...moving from political conspiracy to religious...
The Brothers of Jesus
I recently had an extremely unpleasant run-in with a vicious little vixen whom I shall hereafter refer to as The Harpy. The Harpy had apparently deemed herself Resident Ms. Know-It-All, so it would be natural that there would be friction between us: I was intruding on her territory.
The occasion was my friend Malaria’s birthday, and as Malaria and The Harpy had known each other for ages, she naturally was invited. I’d only recently met Malaria through Kiwi, but she, Kiwi and I had spent many nights discussing theology. By her own admission, Malaria had only just recently become interested in Christianity, so her curiosity about the subject was as great as her lack of actual knowledge. Malaria made mention of our conversations to The Harpy, pointing out that she had learned a great deal from me that she was previously unaware of, and cited as example the fact that Jesus had brothers.
“Jesus had brothers?” The Harpy asked me, tone dripping in skepticism.
“Four of ’em: James, Simon, Joseph, and Judas.”
“And Ouriki,” Kiwi added helpfully.
Seeing her continued look of incredulity, I added, “The Bible’s pretty specific: Mark, chapter six, verse three. Feel free to look it up.”
Caught off-guard, she switches tactics. “Well, don’t you think it means like a ‘brotherhood of man’?”
My turn for incredulity: “Do you mean that Jesus only had four people who were his spiritual brother, and they weren’t even among the apostles? The context of the passage is pretty specific: literal, blood brother.”
She was still unconvinced, and then derisively replied, “Well, if that’s true, how come I haven’t heard about it?”
I just shrugged, and dropped it; I can’t be held accountable for other people’s ignorance, especially when they don’t want to learn. Curiously, though, she reprised that reply several other times during the night over a number of other, unrelated subjects, enough for me to bestow a title upon it:
Harpy’s Law: “If I don’t know it, it can’t be true.”
But I digress.
Jesus had four brothers (five, if you believe the local legends of Herai, which claims to be the burial place of both Jesus and his brother Ouriki.) Here is the most direct passage (with parallel) attesting this, the one that names names:
Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
—Mark 6:2-3/Matthew 13:54-55
You will notice, by the way, that the word “sisters” is also present, and in the plural, so not only did Jesus have four brothers, but he had at least two sisters to boot. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
Admittedly, the word “brother” gets thrown about on both a literal and metaphorical level, and this can—indeed does—cause some confusion that requires common sense to clarify. The closest to a rebuttal that can be offered to all this—that “brothers” is to be taken on a metaphorical level and not a literal one—comes from a passage that actually underscores the fact that Jesus had physical siblings:
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
—Mark 3:30-35/Luke 8:19-21
These are not isolated verses; the New Testament is actually rife with them. A random—and by no-means complete—sampling, which makes it clear that these “brothers” are something other than like-minded disciples/Apostles:
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near,
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.”
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter,
John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Two of the Four brothers mentioned, James and Judas, wrote epistles preserved in the New Testament. James’ is called “James,” and Judas’ is that called “Jude” (most likely to avoid any confusion with the like-named Iscariot.) Admittedly, it is curious that the introduction to Jude identifies the writer as the “brother of James” and not of Jesus, but that is probably the result of the high status (Bishop of Jerusalem) that James had after the Resurrection. After all, of the four brothers, it would be James who stands out as most important. He was a direct witness to the Resurrected Jesus (1st Corinthians 15:3-8), rose to prominence in the post-Resurrection Church, and argued like hell with Paul (curious readers should see my commentary on this and his epistle). James features prominently in the latter half of Acts, and it should be obvious that it is not the Apostle James who is being referred to here, as the latter was executed at the beginning of Chapter 12. Arguments over doctrine aside, though, Paul had no problem with the fact that James was Jesus’ brother, and called him such:
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.
As Christian doctrine began to evolve in the decades after Jesus’ death, the brothers of Jesus became something of an embarrassment that had to be hidden, downplayed, or at least re-explained. After all, it was eventually decided that Jesus was the Divine Son of God, so followers of this faith had to reconcile how the Son of God could have brothers. Likewise, the concept that the Virgin Mary remained a virgin her whole life is not specifically stated anywhere in the Bible, but instead evolved over time. But if Mary were perpetually virginal, she could not have had any other children besides Jesus—despite what the Bible says.
The answer was to mistranslate the applicable passages.
In Catholic doctrine, Jesus’ “brothers” suddenly became “cousins” or “step-brothers.” Step-brother (as in children sired by Joseph from a marriage previous to Mary) was the most common view, one even popularized by the apocryphal 2nd-Century Protoevangelium of James, but by the 5th Century, Jerome mysteriously deduced that they were in fact cousins.
Unfortunately, a rudimentary knowledge of Greek undermines this: the New Testament texts specifically use the word αδελφον(or its plural, αδελφος) which, as I have pointed out, means a literal brother. Greek has perfectly good words for the other concepts:
stepbrothers:αδελφος ουχ ομοπατριος
It is interesting to note one other passage out of the New Testament on the matter:
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
You will note the term “firstborn” (πρωτοτοκος). If there is a “first,” there must be others.
Deconstructing the Devil’s Advocate
While researching this piece, I decided to see how the other half lived, and check out the apologetic defenses the Orthodox offered to explain away the “brother” conundrum. All of the “proofs” struck me as esegesis—reading a pre-conceived idea into the Bible, as opposed to exegesis, reading the Bible unbiasedly and seeing what it actually said. In other words, the Orthodox, determined to defend the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, worked some admittedly impressive linguistic loops to twist Scripture into saying what they wanted it to say, rather than reading the text unbiasedly and working from there.
Unfortunately for the Orthodox supporters, their attempted defenses were flimsy and fell apart under even the most cursory examination. Let’s take a look
A common argument tossed out is that while Greek may indeed have distinct words to distinguish between brother, step-brother, and cousin, Hebrew and Aramaic do not. After all, Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek, so their logic is that we should revert to those rather than the texts handed down. Although there may be merit to this argument, champions of that line of thought haven’t worked out what the implications are: if the wrong words were used in converting concepts from Aramaic to Hebrew, it is a fatal challenge to their claim that the Bible is inerrant. In other words, even if Aramaic does not support these terms, Greek does and thus the wrong word was used, and thus the Bible is wrong. Since any discussion along this line undermines their own basic inerrancy tenant, I won’t discuss it out of politeness.
Probably the best defense I read was a rather curious passage from the Gospel of John:
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” And to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
The point being raised here can be distilled to: why would Jesus need to dole out his mother to the Disciple whom Jesus loved (ie: John himself—see John 21:20-24) if Jesus already had extant brothers and sisters? This is a valid question, though you’d have to wonder why it would be necessary to have Jesus “adopt” John if he had step-brothers or cousins as well.
The answer to this comes from the curious structure and character of the Gospel of John itself. The above scene is missing from the other three Gospels, as are many other incidents in John versus the Synoptics. This immediately makes it suspect, as according to the above scene, John was present at the Crucifixion—something flatly contradicted by the other three Gospels. Of course, contradictions between John and the other Gospels are nothing new—the Synoptics say Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ Cross (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26) where John 19:17 says Jesus carried it himself; etc. However, the author of the Fourth Gospel often goes out of his way to portray himself as an insider privileged to special teachings of Jesus—one need only look at his self-designated term for himself: “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to see this. Therefore, it somehow seems fitting that John would contrive it that he himself was bestowed a place in Jesus’ own family by Christ’s will as an adopted son appointed to take care of Mary. In fact, this little incident is one of the main reasons why I have trouble taking the Gospel of John seriously as an unbiased source.
Jesus having brothers does not in any way lessen his status—whatever said status is that you wish to accord him. Obviously, the earliest sources—Paul and the Gospel writers—had no problem with the concept, and used unambiguous vocabulary to that effect. It was only until later that theologians began to rework the texts to fit their own agenda of what Jesus was.
The concept that Jesus had physical siblings is more a challenge to the status of the Virgin Mary than it is to Jesus, and I think this is where most of the chaffing comes from. Over the centuries, Mary began to develop her own cult within Christianity, and claims about her began to appear that had absolutely no Biblical or historical basis, but rather were formed from wishful thinking and esegetical revisionism. The Immaculate Conception and Assumption are two prime examples, but the thought that she remained a virgin for all her life is yet another one, which directly leads to the downplaying of the four brothers and at least two sisters that Jesus had.
Ask Evil Matt
The Evil One fields your queries, as channeled by Sister Ob’dewlla ‘X’.
Q: When is Charles Manson up for parole?
A: His next hearing is set for 2007. His probability of getting it is about the same as my getting the Pulitzer Prize, largely because he tends to make statements like this at his hearings.
Q: Why is Absinth illegal?
A: Absinth (more commonly spelled absinthe) is distilled from wormwood, which contains an oil called thujone. In high doses, thujone can cause renal (kidney) damage or even failure, blindness, and epileptic-like convulsions. However, when I say “high doses” I mean just that—you would have to drink a vat a day of the stuff, and at that point we can also add the usual liver damage that would accompany such heavy alcoholic imbibing.
Absinthe averages 90 proof (compared with 80 proof of most
whiskeys, rums, tequilas, etc.) and even gives mild hallucinations; for this
reason it was especially popular among the artistic crowds—known absinthe aficionados
included Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Toulouse La-Trec, Oscar Wilde, and
Ernest Hemmingway. However, many “common” people also partook,
and a number of sensational, violent crimes in the late 1800s were blamed on absinthe. In
1915, absinthe was banned in France by temperance leagues which were ironically
bankrolled by disgruntled winemakers concerned that absinthe was infringing on
their market. Most of Europe took its cue from this and banned it; this
ban extends to the United States. However, in the past decade or so, it has made a comeback of sorts
as laws on it have been relaxed or went unrenewed.
here's one for you: why do your hair and nails continue to grow when you die? A: They don’t; this is an optical illusion
caused by the corpse desiccating and shrinking.
Q: Hey, here's one for you: why do your hair and nails continue to grow when you die?
A: They don’t; this is an optical illusion caused by the corpse desiccating and shrinking.
The Hedgehog Corner
By Harriet the Hedgehog
A month or so ago, shade and his main squeeze FireSkunk made a weekend road-trip up to Camp Verde, which included a sightseeing stopover at Montezuma’s Castle. Apparently something disturbing happened there, which shade related to me for commentary and clarification. My reply was, “well, duh!” but let me back up a minute and relate the tale in its entirety.
The first harbinger of something wrong was on I-17, when both noticed a dead javelina on the side of the road. For those who don’t know, a javelina is a kind pig with a white collar around its neck, usually hanging around between Texas and Paraguay, sometimes ranging as far west as Catalina. They also go by the name “peccary.”
Hoping it wasn’t Greggery Peccary, they continued on to Montezuma’s Castle, where things got really weird.
First, a bit of background. Montezuma’s Castle is not a “castle” nor was it built by “Montezuma,” but the name stuck, so there you are. It is classified as a “national monument” and is run by the National Park Service. An unknown tribe of used to live there, but about 600 years ago they pulled an Anastazi and simply disappeared. All that remains are this humble cliff-side dwelling.
While strolling around, shade and FireSkunk heard a loud, ominous cawing, and the slow, heavy flapping of wings. Up above, some very large crows were patrolling the area. They had apparently taken up residence on the cliffside, possibly within the structure itself.
While wondering what happened to the former “Castle” inhabitants, shade speculated that maybe the crows got them. This quickly led to conjecture that maybe the crows were the ones who killed the javelina they’d seen earlier.
Near the Castle was a small river that the inhabitants had doubtless used, Beaver Creek. Looking around, shade noticed the absence of the stream’s namesake.
“If this is Beaver Creek, where are the beavers?”
Fireskunk replied, “I’m surprised you’d ask. The crows got them.”
On cue, cawing punctuated the comment.
Deeply disturbed by this, shade related the above story to me when he got back, to which I could only reply, “what, you didn’t know this?”
In terms of intelligence, crows are the smartest birds there are. And let’s not forget the term used to describe a crow collective. Just as there are “herds” of cattle, “pods” of whales, and “prides” of lions, a grouping of crows is called... a “murder.”
With such attestation to
their aggression, it should come as no surprise that crows
have been major players in World Domination dating back to before the
Mesopotamian Era. And they should be taken seriously in terms of being a
threat. Think about it: it’s already documented that beavers (the
That’s it for now, folks; and y’all know the drill:
Trust no one
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