Saturday, August 30, 2003
JOHN 11:46—53 “But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”
Since everyone else is commenting on a movie they haven’t seen yet, I thought it only fair that I get to opine on the subject without seeing the movie either. I have read the book, though, and I will do my best not to give away the ending.
One of the complaints that I’ve seen the most is that the film makes the Jewish leadership of the time look bad. Michael Novak, in the August 25th issue of The Weekly Standard writes, “In the first part of the gospels' account of the Passion, the high priests of Jerusalem standing before Pilate are, painfully no doubt to contemporary Jews, the voice for the prosecution. During the early scenes of the movie, which I tried to watch as if I were Jewish or seated alongside a Jewish colleague, I thought: This is too painful. Having sat through many analogous moments as a Catholic, I did not like the experience.” Very few people do and if you read the section from John’s Gospel above the high priests come off very badly. The worst miscarriages of justice invariably occur when an elite determines that its political power and status are more important than individual justice. The Dreyfus case of a century ago is a perfect example of this. It’s one of the reasons why cops dislike politically sensitive cases; the agendas of everyone involved in the case keep getting in the way of finding out what happened.
But before we start the pogrom, let’s take a look at Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas is the leader of a totally powerless people, living in a country occupied by the Romans, and the Romans are a seriously scary set of occupiers. Caiaphas’ country is occupied by people who think that gladiatorial combat and public executions, the more grisly the better, are family entertainment, and whose idea of riot control is to kill as many of the rioters as possible and then crucify the survivors along the roads so anyone who might take to disturbing the peace will think twice before trying anything.
So for Caiaphas there are few palatable political options. Supporting Jesus might work for him, unless the crowd crowns Jesus King of the Jews, whereupon the Romans will see a threat to their hold on Judea and start massacring people left and right, and possibly destroy the Temple and organized Jewish life as it had been known for centuries (which is exactly what happened forty years later.) He can do nothing, but that means allowing events dictate his responses, and if things go wrong then he won’t be able to control what happens next, and that means accepting responsibility for a whole slew of very bad outcomes. Or Jesus can die and things can go on as before until the next crisis occurs, which, while unsatisfactory, is the outcome with the fewest undesirable consequences. Granted, delivering a Jew to the Romans is not a good thing, but the concept that the needs of the many outweigh those of the few, or the one, is familiar to every Star Trek fan.
On top of all of this, Jesus makes as triumphal an entrance as one can make on a donkey into Jerusalem just in time for the Passover holiday, a holiday that celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from bitter bondage. The symbolism could not have been lost on either the Jewish elite or the Romans, and from Caiaphas’ point of view Jesus must have been out of his mind to come to Jerusalem at this time; it would seem to Caiaphas and the Jewish elite a deliberate attempt to set off the highly volatile mix of nationalism and religious fervor that existed in the city at that time. People who think their backs are to the wall do not make the wisest of decisions, and Caiaphas and his backers in the Sanhedrin may well have felt that Jesus was giving them no choice. Faced with a Roman army that would not hesitate to use massive force against anyone perceived as even vaguely rebellious and no real way to resist such power, Caiaphas and his backers took what they thought was the lesser of two evils. It is not heroic, to be sure, but sometimes Shakespeare’s Falstaff is right when he says that discretion is the better part of valor; the Jewish Zealots were valorous forty years after the Crucifixion, and the price of their valor was the destruction of Jerusalem. So before people go on about what lousy bastards the Jewish leadership were remember what the world looked like to them, remember that no one in history knows how it will all come out, and that in the same situation you might have done the same thing.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
What brings us to this solemn commitment to remembrance was the death last week in Chicago of Jim Szczreszczoywski, one of the last Olympic champion nose pullers. Mr. Szczreszczoyswi was 102 years old. Jim, as he preferred to be called (he always acknowledged that non-Slavs might have a problem pronouncing his name; his first wife, Etta, who passed away in 1973, always insisted that their name was Smith), won the gold medal for nose pulling at the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, defeating the European champion and odds on favorite, Henri Lenezgros of France.
Jim and his partner, Flip Jackson, of Mobile, Alabama, was able to stretch his nose out to a length of six feet, seven and three quarters inches, and have it return to its original position without Jim falling over. Mr. Lenezgros was able to stretch his nose out to six foot six inches before it snapped back to its original position; the force of the snapback knocked Mr. Lenezgros off his feet as well, rendering him unconscious, and he finished the competition with a bronze medal and two black eyes. A true champion, Mr. Lenezgros congratulated Jim on his victory, stole the gold medal, and returned in the 1928 Olympics, the last Games in which nose pulling was an Olympic sport, to reclaim his title. By that time Jim had retired from nose pulling altogether, earning a living as a machine gunner on a beer truck for the Capone mob. Jim remained a true champion right up to his death, a benefactor of charities, youth sports leagues, the Cook County Democratic Committee, and other worthy civic organizations. A great man. RIP
MBABANE (Reuters) - Swaziland's King Mswati III has chosen a 17-year-old girl to become his 11th wife...
You dont think maybe...nah, he'd never do it.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed with the President’s assessment of the road map situation at a new conference today in New York, and went on to say that rumors of dissension between himself and Vice President Dick Cheney were greatly exaggerated. There have been persistent rumors that Secretary Powell wanted to buy the new road map at a Mobil station in the Bronx, whereas the Vice President is known to support the President’s plan to go with a Texaco map.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
You know, sometimes the possibilities are so endless you dont know where to start.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
It is becoming increasingly apparent that meteorology as a science is being overwhelmed by an ever rising tide of predatory socialism. When blizzards take it upon themselves to redistribute wealth with no regard for property rights then who can truly say that they are safe from the heavy handed exactions of Big Weather? And blizzards are only a small example of what the coercive power of the weather can do. Shall we see, in the near future, thirty-year mortgages swept away by hurricanes, or student loans cancelled en masse by tornadoes, or the liquidity offered by the stock market drowned by a nor’easter?
Can meteorology be saved from the neo-Marxist leftist intellectuals who now threaten the very ground on which meteorology now stands? Will Big Weather become the newest liberal threat to American democracy? The constant reader may rest assured that The Passing Parade is keeping a sharp eye on this new threat to our great country.
Rumor has it that both men are running for governor of California.
Monday, August 18, 2003
New York City officials believe the loss occurred because city officials couldn’t see where they were putting the money when the lights went out. "It was so dark and we couldnt see anything," said one city commissioner who did not wish to be identified. All city employees have been ordered to look under their couches and to go to the last place they saw the money in an attempt to find the missing funds.
Sweden’s enemies reacted swiftly to the news. Finland announced that they will begin an invasion of Sweden as soon as the August holidays are over, and Estonia, a close Finnish ally but one who finnished out of the money this season at Saratoga, said today that they will support the Finnish invasion by sending large numbers of troops across the Baltic Sea just as soon as they find the spark plugs for the Estonian Navy’s engine.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Friday, August 15, 2003
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
“…the relentless pressure for ratings on some of the cable gnus shows has led to a constant bombardment of bad gnus that does not reflect the reality of the gnu community and the constant barrage of gnude gnus during the network sweeps week shows a subtle but unmistakable disrespect for the gnus by the television industry. Nor is the constant parade of sexual gnus on television enough for some gnus haters. The violence that habitually affects the gnu community in its annual pilgrimage is also routinely put on the air as though images of gnus being torn apart by lions, jackals, and shriners was a form of entertainment. Is this the level we have sunk to?”
That is a fair question, I think. The answer is yes.
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Thursday, August 07, 2003
IN A SOMEWHAT RELATED STORY, 135 men wearing toupees were attacked by a rampaging flash mob of mongooses today on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. All of the men were apparently on their way to drown themselves in Lake Michigan when the attacks occurred. The maniacal mob of mangy mongooses mangled maliciously all of the mutant mops, except for five merkins arrested and deported to China by the Immigration & Naturalization Service. (No, you dont want to know why merkins were involved in this sordid tale or how they came to be here. Trust us on this one.) Several mongooses, and why are they called mongooses and not mongeese is a mystery to me, have been arrested and charged with rioting, public mischief, grand larceny, and being mongooses in a public place. Authorities are still trying to find an explanation for the attacks.