Roe Hysteria

If the leaked draft of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion is any indication, the Supreme Court may soon be overturning Roe v. Wade. Naturally, the Democrats are throwing a fit. They are getting out their Handmaid’s Tale costumes

 

Women’s fashion after Roe is overturned

and predicting that overturning Roe v. Wade will result in back-alley abortions all over the country, a ban on contraceptives and interracial marriages, the segregation of LGBTYQEIEIO children in classrooms, dogs, and cats living together, and other signs of mass hysteria.’

 

They should calm down. The only thing that overturning Roe v. Wade will do is return the issue of abortion to the state legislatures, where it rightfully belongs. It is likely that the more conservative states, like Utah or Alabama, will either ban or place severe constraints on abortion, but more liberal states, like California or Massachusetts, will continue to permit abortion right up to the moment of birth. Those states in the middle will place varying restrictions on what point in pregnancy abortions are allowed, as the people of each state see fit. 

It is usually best to resolve contentious social issues like abortion through the democratic process of compromise, give and take, and consensus-building rather than have solutions imposed by judicial fiat. Solutions that develop that way may not be to everyone’s satisfaction; the best compromises leave everyone equally unhappy, but everyone feels as if they have had some input into policymaking rather than having policies imposed upon them. Given that a consensus on any controversial issue is impossible in a continent-spanning nation of more than three hundred million people, controversial issues like abortion ought to be resolved at the state level rather than trying to impose a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire United States. Diverse nations need diverse policies. I thought that the progressives support diversity, but perhaps that is the wrong kind of diversity.

If the Supreme Court had not legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, some general consensus would have evolved over time. The consensus would have changed as public opinions about abortion changed. It is most likely that abortion would have been legalized in most states during the 1970s. Then, in the more conservative 1980s, many states might have imposed more restrictions on abortion, perhaps limiting abortion to the first trimester. If public opinion on abortion changed, the laws concerning abortion would change. That would be the democratic and diverse way to address contentious social issues. I thought the left was in favor of democracy and diversity. Perhaps that is the wrong kind of diversity, while they are only really in favor of ‘our democracy’ as opposed to real democracy in which people govern themselves.

The Democrats are fond of calling pro-life positions extreme. If this is the case, they have nothing to worry about. If the Republicans adopt extreme positions on abortion or any other social issue, they will be punished at the ballot box. Perhaps the Democrats realize that it is their own position, permitting abortion right up to the moment of birth for any conceivable reason, is, in fact, the extreme position.

Americans are deeply ambivalent about abortion. Few Americans want to see abortion banned altogether, yet more and more Americans are coming around to the idea that abortion is morally wrong. A majority of Americans may believe that women have a right to choose whether to get an abortion, yet many feel that this is a choice women ought not to make. Even most pro-choice Americans do not believe that late-term abortion should be permitted. If there is any consensus at all on this most contentious issue, it is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, not that women should shout their abortions.

By imposing a solution by fiat and cutting short the necessary debate necessary in a democracy, Roe v. Wade played a not inconsiderable role in making American politics more divisive and polarized. In the end, overturning Roe v. Wade might be one of the best ways to purge some of the poison from American politics and restore some degree of civility. Unless the Democrats decide the resolve the issue the way they tried to resolve the last major issue they were on the wrong side of.

Elon Musk Buys Twitter

So, Elon Musk has bought Twitter for $44 billion. Musk’s decision to acquire Twitter seems to be due to his concerns about Twitter’s policy of censoring political opinions in particular  Twitter’s suspension of the Babylon Bee for the hateful conduct of identifying Dr. Rachel Levine as a man, even though he is, in fact, a man.

                                                   The New Boss

Mr. Musk promises to make Twitter a free speech platform once again in his words:

Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated

and

I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.

Frankly, I wish he had spent that $44 billion on his spaceship to Mars or improving the Tesla. I am sure Mr. Musk means well, but I don’t think there is any way to save Twitter. The problem with Twitter isn’t just the arbitrary and one-sided censorship that the current management of Twitter is employing. The problem runs deeper than any particular policy that Elon Musk or anyone else could change. The problem with Twitter lies in the nature of the platform.

I have said in the past that if the Devil wanted to devise a social media platform to turn people against one another and make the earth more like Hell, he would design something very much like Twitter. The 280-character limit does nothing to encourage careful, nuanced discussion or even discretion. Instead, Twitter rewards the quick zing, the snarky comeback with the rush and excitement of seeing your tweets retweeted and commented upon. If Elon Musk really wants to help everyone, the best thing he could do would be to shut down Twitter altogether.

Still, it has been both fun and instructive to observe how leftists have come out against freedom of expression. They were never really in favor of the concept of free speech, or really, of freedom in general, but after the events of the last few years, they have taken the masks off, figuratively speaking, that is. They still insist on masking up against COVID. Ever since the announcement that Elon Musk was buying Twitter and intended to make it a free speech platform, we have been warned repeatedly of the dangers that free speech poses to “our democracy.” Robert Reich warns us that:

Musk says he wants to “free” the internet. But what he really aims to do is make it even less accountable than it is now, when it’s often impossible to discover who is making the decisions about how algorithms are designed, who is filling social media with lies, who’s poisoning our minds with pseudo-science and propaganda, and who’s deciding which versions of events go viral and which stay under wraps.

Make no mistake: this is not about freedom. It’s about power.

In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’d be the wizard behind the curtain – projecting on the world’s screen a fake image of a brave new world empowering everyone.

In reality, that world would be dominated by the richest and most powerful people in the world, who wouldn’t be accountable to anyone for facts, truth, science or the common good.

That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.

You may have noticed how dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and all the rest have all been staunch defenders of the freedom of the people they have ruled to say whatever they wanted. Reich, and many other leftists, are saying that someone rich and powerful like Musk or Trump may use Twitter or any other social media platform to spread lies and misinformation, therefore social media companies and perhaps the government should be able to control what is said. In other words, to protect “our democracy” from would-be dictators, it is necessary to act like a dictator and control what can be said, shutting down purveyors of misinformation. This doesn’t make much sense, but little of what the left believes these days makes much sense.

I wish Mr. Musk well in his efforts, but I don’t think I will be reopening that Twitter account that I never even used. I think that we would be better off if we all started to talk to each other instead of tweeting at each other

Easter

We left the story of Jesus of Nazareth last Friday. He had been executed in the most painful and degrading way possible. His closest followers were dispersed and in hiding. It must have seemed that Jesus and his movement had ended in utter failure. But then, something remarkable happened. This something is commemorated by the Easter holiday. Although Christmas is the more popular Christian holiday, Easter is actually the most important holiday in the liturgical year as the celebration of Christ’s resurrection is theologically more important than his Nativity. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Gospel of Mark has the most concise account of what happened that first Easter.

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,out of whom he had driven seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.17 And these sign swill accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:1-20)

Mark 16:9-20 seems to be a later addition. At any rate, the earliest manuscripts do not have those verses. Whether the original ending has been lost or Mark intended to end his account so abruptly is unknown.

Matthew has more details.

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:1-20)

Luke and John have more to say of Jesus after His resurrection but I won’t quote them here.

The date of Easter has been a matter of some controversy in past centuries. The date of Easter is related to the date of Passover. The calculations on which the date of Easter is determined are based on a lunisolar cycle like the date of Passover but the cycle is not the Hebrew calendar. Generally, Easter falls about a week after Passover but it occurs about a month later in three years of the nineteen-year cycle. Various groups of Christians have had different methods of calculating Easter over the years and these differences have led to bitter disputes. There is still a different date for Easter among the Eastern churches since they use the Julian calendar for the liturgical year while Catholics and Protestants use the Gregorian calendar.

Among Catholics and some Protestants, Easter is generally celebrated by an Easter vigil beginning the previous evening. At dawn, a mass or service begins, etc.

And, of course, many people celebrate Easter by finding Easter eggs and eating candy delivered by the Easter Bunny.

 

Passover

The Israelites Eat the Passover (illustration ...
The Israelites Eat the Passover (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

At sundown yesterday, the Jews began the celebration of Pesach or Passover, to commemorate what is perhaps the most significant event of Jewish history, the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. This year, Passover lasts from the evening of April 15until the evening of April 23.

 

Exodus 12

The Passover

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.

17 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. 32Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt[b] was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

43The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover:

“No foreigner is to eat of it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.

46 “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

48 “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. 49 The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.”

50 All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

 

Although Christians do not generally celebrate Passover, it does have great significance for Christianity. The Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples was a Passover seder.

 

Luke 22

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

The Last Supper

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

 

Jesus’s crucifixion is regarded as a sacrifice like the passover lamb and Christians regard the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt as a foreshadowing of Christ’s deliverance of the whole human race from the slavery of sin.

 

26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.  (Hebrews 7:26-28)

28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  (Hebrews 9:28)

 

So, Chag Sameach to any Jewish readers.

 

 

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day of Jesus’s crucifixion. It may seem strange to call it “Good” Friday since being crucified wouldn’t normally be considered as part of a good day but the word good is used in an obsolete sense meaning holy. Good Friday is generally celebrated with fasts and vigils. In the Roman Catholic church, no mass is held on this day.

Once again, I will be using the Gospel of Mark to tell the story.

Mark 15

1Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:1-15)

It would seem that this meeting of the Sanhedrin at night and before Passover was highly irregular and some have questioned the historicity of the Gospel accounts on that basis. I think that if the elders and priests of the Sanhedrin believed Jesus to be on the point of declaring himself the Messiah and leading a rebellion, they might not have been too concerned with fine points of legality in the face of a national emergency. Little is known of Pontius Pilate but in the historical accounts of Josephus and others, he does not seem to be the sort of man who had any scruples about putting a trouble maker to death even if he wasn’t certain of the man’s guilt. It is possible that he was impressed by Jesus’s force of personality. On the other hand, Josephus makes it clear that Pilate was a tactless man who did not like the Jews much. He was eventually recalled because his actions seemed likely to cause rebellions. Perhaps Pilate resented having the High Priest and others, who he might have considered semi-barbarians, insist on his crucifying a man he believed to be innocent. He might have refused just to be obstinate.

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28][a]29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.(Mark 15:16-32)

Luke has one of the thieves taking Jesus’s side.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Crucifixion is probably the most painful method of execution ever devised. The victim is slowly asphyxiated as he hangs on the cross. It was not uncommon for a man to linger for days writhing in pain the whole time. In addition to the pain, crucifixion was meant to be a humiliating, shameful punishment. Only the lowest of the low were crucified, which might have been a stumbling block to early Christian proselytizing.

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Those words were the first verse of Psalm 22. Matthew’s account parallels Mark’s but Luke and John report different last words.

46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last.  (Luke 23:46)

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.(John 19:28-30)

John adds another detail.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[c]37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37)

Strange as it may seem, the breaking of their legs was an act of mercy since they would die sooner. It was surprising that Jesus had died after only being about six hours on the cross.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. (Mark 15:42-47)

To anyone on the scene, this must have seemed the end of the matter. Jesus of Nazareth was dead and his followers scattered. It would seem that, at best, he would only be a minor footnote in history.

 

Holy Thursday

Today is Holy or Maundy Thursday, when many Christians celebrate the Last Supper.

The Lord’s Supper

12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the[covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. (Mark 14:12-31)

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of the climax of his earthly ministry.

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matt 21:1-11)

 

Palm Sunday is often celebrated by palm leaves to worshippers in churches. If palm leaves are not available locally, then other tree branches may be substituted. In many churches, the priest or other clergy blesses the palms and they are saved to be burned at Ash Wednesday the following year.

The actual date of Palm Sunday, like Easter, varies from year to year because the date is based on a lunisolar cycle like the Hebrew calendar. The date differs between Western and Eastern Christianity because most Eastern churches still use the Julian calendar for their liturgical year, even though the Gregorian calendar is universally used for civil purposes.

Palm Sunday begins Holy Week or the last week of Lent.

 

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey
Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

What Would JFK Do?

Brent Budowsky has some advice for the Democrats in his column at the Hill.

While Democrats face uphill challenges in the midterm elections, and Republicans face risks greater than discussed by mainstream media, here is a strategy for Democrats to win the midterms that might well be suggested by President Kennedy if he were with us today.

Liberal and moderate Democrats, who are 98 percent to 99 percent united on the issues addressed here, might consider that JFK’s political greatness was that he was both a starry-eyed idealist and a cold-blooded realist.

With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) the obstacle to these noble purposes, a temptation for many Democrats might be to suggest Academy Award slapper Will Smith meet with Manchin and work his charms. JFK would tell us there is a better way.

Here it is.

The 98 percent to 99 percent of Democrats in Congress who back critical provisions originally proposed in the pending and delayed reconciliation bill should launch a powerful and aggressive JFK-style public campaign to voters across West Virginia in support of the major ideas waiting to be passed.

The most important goal for Democrats today is to enact proposals that help voters in real ways, which every voter clearly understands, and which inspire approval and support from those voters — who would appreciate and support the Democratic president and Congress who fought for them.

As of today, Democrats will enact a bill to dramatically lower the price of prescription drugs, which will be widely popular with large numbers of voters. They will enact a significant increase in support for alternative energy that protects the earth and makes the world less dependent on Russia. They will enact a significant tax increase for those who can well afford it, some of which will reduce the deficit, which all 50 Senate Democrats support, leaving money to finance efforts to directly help middle-income and poor Americans who are hard-hit by inflation.

Through the JFK-like public campaign beginning with West Virginia voters, Democrats can advance proposals to lower the cost of child care, improve education, improve life for women and workers, help rural America or other goals. JFK, the realist, would warn us: We cannot achieve everything now. We must choose which plans to champion today, and get the rest tomorrow. JFK, the idealist, would inspire us: We can achieve significant new, widely understood and highly popular plans in the coming ten weeks.

This JFK-like plan would involve massive and saturation ads on West Virginia television, radio, newspapers and social media. These ads would clearly describe how the selected plans would make life better for West Virginia voters, and would only mention Manchin at the end, suggesting voters urge both West Virginia senators to back them.

This would help Manchin fulfill his commitment to help West Virginians whose lives are lifted by these plans. It would send a powerful message throughout America that it is Democrats who battle for a land of realized hopes, better lives, and shared dreams for all Americans.

If I were in a position to advise the Democrats, I would tell them not to waste their money. Mr. Budowsky seems to be under the impression that the problem the Democrats are having with the voters is that those stupid rubes in flyover country don’t see how wonderful the Democrats are and how their policies are going to help everyone. The rubes don’t know what the Democrats really stand for. The real problem is that the rubes know all too well what the Democrats stand for, and they don’t like what they see.

For millions of Americans, the Democrats stand for defunding the police and letting criminals go free. The Democrats stand for “mostly peaceful protests” that turn our cities into warzones. The Democrats stand for lockdowns and restrictive COVID mandates. The Democrats stand for teachers who teach their students racist, anti-American ideology when they are not grooming them into aberrant sexuality. The Democrats stand for limiting our domestic energy, making America dependent on terrorist-supporting autocrats. The Democrats stand for open borders, cancel culture, high prices, and humiliation abroad. Worst of all the Democrats stand for an arrogant, out-of-touch elite that regards the ordinary Americans that made their country great as Deplorables and Bitter Clingers.

The problem with Mr. Budowsky’s nostrum is that today’s Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party of Kennedy’s day. John F. Kennedy, for all his personal flaws, was a patriotic American. Kennedy’s colleagues in the Democratic Party were patriotic Americans. Kennedy believed in and upheld American values and institutions. Kennedy challenged his fellow Americans to live up to American ideals, the noblest in the world. JFK would have no place in today’s Democratic Party. Neither would FDR or JBJ for that matter.

The Democratic Party is no longer the party of Jefferson and Jackson. The extremists have taken over and the Democratic Party is now the party of Marx and Lenin when it isn’t the party of perverts and groomers. If Brent Budowsky wants to save his party from the looming catastrophe this November, he would be advised to organize the sane and moderate Democrats, if any still exist, to take back control of the party and propose policies that Americans really want.

Theodore G Bilbo

Theodore G. Bilbo. It sounds like the name of a character in a fantasy story, doesn’t it? Perhaps the name of an amiable, good-natured, little fellow who goes on exciting adventures with elves, dwarves, and wizards. Well, Theodore G. Bilbo was an actual person, and although at five feet two inches was small enough to be a hobbit, he did not go on any adventures, as far as I know, and he was far from being good-natured and amiable. Theodore G. Bilbo was, in fact, one of the most racist people ever to serve in the United States Senate.

Not a Hobbit

Theodore Gilmore Bilbo was born in Juniper Grove, Mississippi, on October 13, 1877. Bilbo obtained a scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University Law School, but he failed to graduate perhaps from financial difficulties, although there were accusations of academic misconduct. Nevertheless, Bilbo was admitted to the bar in 1906 and began practicing law in Mississippi.

Bilbo was ambitious, however, and soon entered politics, serving in the Mississippi State Senate from 1908 to 1912. In 1910, Bilbo was accused of accepting a bribe to back a candidate for the United States Senate. Bilbo admitted to accepting the bribe but asserted that he was investigating political corruption. His fellow state senators did not buy the story, and he escaped being expelled from the Senate by one vote short of the three-fourths majority required for expulsion. This scandal did not seem to harm Bilbo’s political career. He was elected Lieutenant Governor, serving from 1912 to 1916. He then served two nonconsecutive terms as Governor of Mississippi, from 1916 to 1920 and again from 1928 to 1932, as Mississippi’s constitution did not permit governors to secede themselves.

Theodore G. Bilbo was a good governor. He became well known as a progressive populist who enacted policies to help the poorest residents of Mississippi, as long as they were White. He improved the state finances of Mississippi, implemented a state highway system, introduced compulsory school attendance, built charity hospitals for the poor, and ended public hanging. In his second term, Bilbo introduced the first state sales tax in the United States. Governor Bilbo had less sympathy for the Black residents of Mississippi, however. Among other things, he refused to prevent the lynching of Black Mississippians. Bilbo’s terms as governor were not without controversy, however, and a feud between the governor and the state legislature prevented the passage of a budget in the final year of his second term.

After his second term as Governor ended, Theodore G. Bilbo moved on to the Senate, serving from 1935 until the end of his life in 1947. In the Senate, Bilbo once again established a reputation as a progressive, fervently supporting Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Bilbo feuded with his fellow Mississippi Senator, Pat Harrison, who was seen as representing the wealthier classes of Mississippi. Bilbo made use of the Senate floor to promote his populist opinions, haranguing against:

 “farmer murderers,” “poor-folks haters,” “shooters of widows and orphans,” “international well-poisoners,” “charity hospital destroyers,” “spitters on our heroic veterans,” “rich enemies of our public schools,” “private bankers ‘who ought to come out in the open and let folks see what they’re doing’,” “European debt-cancelers,” “unemployment makers,” pacifists, Communists, munitions manufacturers, and “skunks who steal Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms.”

Many of Senator Bilbo’s speeches were extremely racist, even by the standards of his time. As a result, the Democrat-controlled Senate would only assign him to relatively unimportant committees. When the Republicans gained control of the Senate after the 1946 elections, they along with the Northern Democrats, refused to permit Bilbo to take his seat because they believed his racist speeches had incited violence against Blacks in the South. Bilbo’s supporters among the Southern Democrats threatened a filibuster unless he was seated. The matter was resolved when Bilbo proved unable to serve his last term because he had developed oral cancer. Bilbo returned to Mississippi for treatment, and he died in New Orleans on August 21, 1947.

By describing Bilbo as racist, I do not mean that he only shared in the prejudices of his time and place. If that were the case, his racist views would be hardly worth writing about. He lived, after all, in the heyday of progressive, scientific racism in which all of the smart people believed that human beings could be graded like eggs from superior to inferior. No, Theodore G. Bilbo’s racism went further than the usual bigotry.
At some point, Bilbo joined the Ku Klux Klan, and he remained a proud member of the Klan his entire life, even after the Klan had dissolved as a formal organization. As a governor and senator, Bilbo upheld and advanced the Klan’s cause of White supremacy.

At the end of his life, Bilbo wrote a book titled Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization, which served as a summation of his views on race. Although in the prologue he professed to have no feelings of hostility against persons of any race but only opposed the mixing of races, a cause he believed the Black man should support as much as the White man, the book’s contents tell a different story. Throughout his book, Bilbo made it clear that he believed that Blacks were intellectually and morally inferior to Whites, describing Blacks in the most uncomplimentary terms possible.

In his view, Whites founded every great civilization; Rome, Greece, Egypt, or Babylon. When the Whites began to mix with other races, these civilizations declined and vanished. Whites founded our American civilization, and only the heroic efforts of Southern Whites have prevented the race mixing that destroyed so many past empires. Unfortunately, the efforts of Northern Liberals to achieve political and social equality for the Blacks threatened to undo everything. Bilbo’s solution was to encourage the voluntary emigration of American Blacks back to Africa, the ultimate separate but equal endeavor.

I am writing about Theodore G. Bilbo partly because I enjoy writing about historical trivia, but mostly because I want to make an important point. It has become conventional wisdom in this country that America is a country based on white supremacy, shot through with systemic racism. As is often the case, conventional wisdom is wrong. America has been racist in the past; there is no denying that fact. Given that White people founded the United States of America, it is inevitable that our society would be based on White supremacy. just as a country founded by Blacks would be based on Black supremacy or a country founded by Asians would be based on Asian Supremacy. Every society in the world has been founded on the idea that its people are superior to the people living in other societies. It is only very recently, that in a few places, like the United States, the idea has taken hold that everyone should be treated equally.

I have said that Theodore G. Bilbo’s racist ideas were extreme even for his times, but his views were not too extreme for the people of Mississippi to elect him as governor and then senator. A large number of people throughout the South shared his racist ideas. That is not the case today. A candidate who expressed the sort of racist ideas that Theodore G. Bilbo expressed would be lucky to get just two percent of the vote. We are no longer the country that would elect a Theodore G. Bilbo to high office.
America has changed, vastly for the better, by embracing its founding ideals. Anyone who asserts that America is a systemically racist country in the twenty-first century is either a fool, ignorant of our history or a malicious liar.

Say Gay

In case you thought I was being unfair when I compared the opponents of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education act to pedophiles. I don’t think I was. This legislation which only prohibits discussion about sexual matters before the third grade and limits discussion above the third grade to age-appropriate language while keeping parents informed, ought to be completely non-controversial. Yet, somehow it is controversial. Consider the reactions of some of the people who believe themselves impacted by the new law.

Here is one example, courtesy of Legal Insurrection:

These people have not read the Parental Rights in Education bill. It says you cannot teach kids about sexual identity or gender whatever. It certainly doesn’t ban teachers from talking about what they did on the weekend whether they’re straight or gay.

The bill also doesn’t have the word gay in it. I’m so sick of these people.

Florida kindergarten teacher Cory Bernaert whined because he is worried the bill will prevent him from discussing his weekend plans with his partner with his students:

“Absolutely. You are 100 percent correct. That’s what we do as educators, we build relationships with our kids. And in order to build relationships you talk about your home life, you talk about what you do on the weekends, that’s building community. It scares me that I am not going to be able to have these conversations with my children because they’re going to ask me what I did on the weekend. I don’t have to hide that my partner and I went paddle boarding this weekend. Because then they ask, what does partner mean, Mr. Bernaert? And I am worried can I tell them what it means. I’m also worried for my kids. I have a little girl from this year who has two moms and the kids are curious about her two moms. They want to know about her two moms. If they go to her and ask her about her two moms and she doesn’t know what to say, they’re going to come to me and ask me. And then, you know, so what do I do? It just — it opens up for patients to really take some legal action against the school and teachers.”

This new law does not prevent  Mr. Bernaert from discussing his weekend with his students (not his kids, did you catch that?) although one might think his time might be better spent actually teaching. He doesn’t have to give any details about the precise nature of his relationship with his partner to kindergarteners. As for the girl with two “moms”, it is really up to the parents to talk about why their classmate has a different sort of family. Mr. Bernaert needs to stick to the subjects he is paid to teach and not usurp the role of the parent. 

Here is another one from Megan Fox at PJMedia:

Libs of Tik Tok on Twitter is at the forefront of exposing all the teachers who are carrying on like stuck pigs because they can’t indoctrinate children anymore (at least in Florida). Not only did the bill outlaw discussions of sex and gender with students from kindergarten to third grade, but it also outlawed hiding information from K-12 parents about their children’s gender identity or any other information that would be important for them to know. There is a disturbing trend of public schools actively keeping secrets from parents, which has led to suicide attempts and harm to children. In Florida, that’s no longer allowed.

But at least one teacher, Amber Mercier who works at The Academy, says she’ll keep lying to parents about their kids, and she’s willing to lose her job over it.

Mercier is gay, and she believes keeping secrets about sexuality from her students’ families — if the student wants her to — is worth losing her job over. “I just want to go ahead and state that I would rather lose my job than out one of my students to their families. Being a safe person and a safe place for kids who don’t have that at home is one of the best parts of being a teacher, so, yeah, I’m not doing it. Fire me, sue me, take me to jail — I’m not doing it.”

Mercier’s statement that she will break the law of Florida to keep secrets from Florida parents is a problem. The law states that it is illegal to “[prohibit] a parent from accessing certain records” and also sets statute “prohibiting a school district from adopting procedures or student support forms that require school district personnel to withhold from a parent specified information or that encourage or have the effect of encouraging a student to withhold from a parent such information” and “prohibiting school district personnel from discouraging or prohibiting parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.”

PJ Media reached out to Governor DeSantis’s office to verify that the new law applies to Mercier and was told by Press Secretary Christina Pushaw that the law applies to K-12 when it comes to secret-keeping.

“That provision of the law applies to all students in grades K-12 in Florida public schools,” she said. “The new law, effective July 1, requires school districts to adopt procedures for notifying parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.”

Again, a teacher is usurping the role that properly belongs to the parents. I could understand if an older teenager who might be homosexual might be reluctant to come out to his or her parents, but I have to wonder to what extent Ms. Mercier is encouraging her students to identify as LGBTQWERTY. Is she encouraging her students to discuss their sexual feelings with her? Does she consider it appropriate to discuss her sex life with minors, and to tell her students to keep such discussions from their parents, who have every right to know anything which might affect the health and well-being of their children?

What is wrong with these people? Why are they so eager to talk about their sex lives with children who do not have the least conception of sex and romance. This isn’t a gay issue. This is an issue of common decency. Adults do not talk about their private lives with children who are still young enough to believe the opposite sex has cooties, particularly not when they are in a position of authority over the children. I do not believe that either of the teachers I have cited is a pedophile or has had any inappropriate contact with their students, but I do wonder how they do not understand that bringing up controversial sexual matters in the classroom might be seen by parents as being weird and creepy. Surely they must understand that parents do not want their children subjected to indoctrination in political and social values contrary to the value the parents are seeking in instill in their children. 

This is the real problem here. The objections to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill are not about saying gay in the classroom or about perverted teachers who enjoy talking about sex to their seven-year-old students. This controversy is ultimately about who has control over what children are taught in the public schools, the parents, or the state. The goal of the activists who are shouting “gay, gay” isn’t about turning kids gay or trans, however much it may appear to be, but to turn every child into a ward of the state and relegating parents into mere observers in the upbringing and education of their children. This is the goal of tyrants to destroy family bonds and turn children against their parents. We ought not to let that happen here in the formerly free United States of America.

 

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