Palin Revere Rides Again: Is Christianity About Learning the Truth or Making What You Already Believe “The Truth”?

In the hullabaloo about Sarah Palin’s lack of familiarity with Paul Revere, some of the attention seems to me to focus on what is a less important point. Everyone flubs historical details at some point, even major ones.

The bigger issue is one that I highlighted in another post recently, and which Scott Bailey also highlighted, namely an unwillingness, having been caught ill-informed, to admit that one was wrong.

Apparently fans of Sarah Palin have been rewriting the Wikipedia entry on Paul Revere, in an attempt to make it conform to her version of the story.

I would expect nothing less of politicians and ideologues.

But I hope that any and all will acknowledge that the attempt to fabricate history rather than admit that oneself, or one’s favorite politician, is wrong, is absolutely incompatible with the label Christian.

If you disagree, then just rewrite Wikipedia, so that instead of the Gospel of John having him say “the truth will set you free,” it said “you’re free to set the truth.”

On a related note, John Blake has an article on phantom Bible verses, which people have invented, misremembered, or misattributed to the Bible, and how surprisingly difficult it is to persuade people they have got it wrong.

Also, David Miller has a quote from renowned New Testament scholar C. F. D. Moule on the humility that should characterize Christians.

And in mostly unrelated news, Richard Hall has a parable about the difference between climate and weather, and Religion Nerd has a post about weather and religion. But you can connect them with the theme of this post by way of this cartoon, if you really want to.

  • http://tomverenna.wordpress.com/ Tom Verenna

    Well said James.

  • TomVerenna

    Well said James.

  • Chris

    Sarah Palin is being criticized for saying Paul Revere warned the British instead of warned the American colonists.  But he did both.  He warned the colonists about the advance of the British Regulars, and when detained for a time by the British the same day, he told them the militias were arming and advancing (They had a pistol to his head at the time).  So he did warn the British, just as Palin said.  Maybe there are details about this history that are not widely known.  I didn’t know about this until today. 

  • Chris

    Sarah Palin is being criticized for saying Paul Revere warned the British instead of warned the American colonists.  But he did both.  He warned the colonists about the advance of the British Regulars, and when detained for a time by the British the same day, he told them the militias were arming and advancing (They had a pistol to his head at the time).  So he did warn the British, just as Palin said.  Maybe there are details about this history that are not widely known.  I didn’t know about this until today. 

  • sandy

    Guess what Chris–Sarah Palin didn’t know that either! it was a total deer in the headlights moment for her.

  • sandy

    Guess what Chris–Sarah Palin didn’t know that either! it was a total deer in the headlights moment for her.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Wow, I didn’t know they tried to re-write wiki.  That is sacrilege!   That sounds like what redactors did with the Bible.  I think you are right, that “is absolutely incompatible with the label Christian.”  Or wait, maybe they are being really Christian — sticking with the tradition of rewriting to fit their ideology.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Wow, I didn’t know they tried to re-write wiki.  That is sacrilege!   That sounds like what redactors did with the Bible.  I think you are right, that “is absolutely incompatible with the label Christian.”  Or wait, maybe they are being really Christian — sticking with the tradition of rewriting to fit their ideology.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I suppose there is indeed something Biblical about redaction… :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I suppose there is indeed something Biblical about redaction… :-)

  • http://www.gentlewisdom.org.uk/ Peter Kirk

    Charlie Moule lived out that humility in his own life. See my memories of him.

  • http://www.gentlewisdom.org.uk/ Peter Kirk

    Charlie Moule lived out that humility in his own life. See my memories of him.

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  • Anonymous

    I think the process here for people like Palin is to never think in terms of the facts of historical events but to always consider the meaning. Once you reach that point, bells and warning shots are just the special effects useful in communicating the meaning.  If the actual details get in the way they must be discarded because the sterile dates and names will not save America from tyranny.

    Now, can we map this to certain Christians?  I think the answer is quite clearly, Yes. 

  • Anonymous

    I think the process here for people like Palin is to never think in terms of the facts of historical events but to always consider the meaning. Once you reach that point, bells and warning shots are just the special effects useful in communicating the meaning.  If the actual details get in the way they must be discarded because the sterile dates and names will not save America from tyranny.

    Now, can we map this to certain Christians?  I think the answer is quite clearly, Yes. 

  • Scott__F

    I think the process here for people like Palin is to never think in terms of the facts of historical events but to always consider the meaning. Once you reach that point, bells and warning shots are just the special effects useful in communicating the meaning.  If the actual details get in the way they must be discarded because the sterile dates and names will not save America from tyranny.

    Now, can we map this to certain Christians?  I think the answer is quite clearly, Yes. 

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  • Anonymous

    Sarah Palin DID warn the British because they now knew not to mess with Americans.  And there is no proof that he did not ring bells rather than yell.  Whats the difference anyway.

    • Anonymous

      Precisely.  Sarah Palin is interested in the meaning of Paul Revere, not whether he rang warning bells or told some else to.  The result of the sequence of events was a warning to the British that the colonists intended to keep their arms, even if Paul Revere did not write it in a letter to King George.

  • PatriotMark

    Sarah Palin DID warn the British because they now knew not to mess with Americans.  And there is no proof that he did not ring bells rather than yell.  Whats the difference anyway.

    • Scott__F

      Precisely.  Sarah Palin is interested in the meaning of Paul Revere, not whether he rang warning bells or told some else to.  The result of the sequence of events was a warning to the British that the colonists intended to keep their arms, even if Paul Revere did not write it in a letter to King George.

  • Chris

    Yeah, on second thought she was just wrong on her history.  I’ve always had a soft spot for her, though, and an occasional need to defend her.  This episode reminds me of how often the Gotcha Game is played with public figures.  It’s like a brother twisting his sister’s arm until she cries ‘Uncle!’  Palin has infuriated her critics for not crying ‘Uncle’ and admitting fault.  That’s her fault.  But it does raise the question, why does the arm get twisted in the first place? 

  • Chris

    Yeah, on second thought she was just wrong on her history.  I’ve always had a soft spot for her, though, and an occasional need to defend her.  This episode reminds me of how often the Gotcha Game is played with public figures.  It’s like a brother twisting his sister’s arm until she cries ‘Uncle!’  Palin has infuriated her critics for not crying ‘Uncle’ and admitting fault.  That’s her fault.  But it does raise the question, why does the arm get twisted in the first place? 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The fact that every moment a candidate speaks publicly gets recorded and posted on YouTube – sometimes even played backwards! – is leading to some problematic tendencies. I would be happy to chalk many dubious statements up to the fatigue involved in visiting so many states – all 57 of them, in one instance. :-) For me, the problem is not having a brain freeze (although there certainly are instances of candidates not knowing things that they ought to as politicians, or taking stances on matters where it seems that they have not sought reliable advice to offset their own lack of expertise in an area). Perhaps it is the fact that a politician having an affair gets called a “mistake” that leaves them hesitant to call actual mistakes “mistakes”?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    The fact that every moment a candidate speaks publicly gets recorded and posted on YouTube – sometimes even played backwards! – is leading to some problematic tendencies. I would be happy to chalk many dubious statements up to the fatigue involved in visiting so many states – all 57 of them, in one instance. :-) For me, the problem is not having a brain freeze (although there certainly are instances of candidates not knowing things that they ought to as politicians, or taking stances on matters where it seems that they have not sought reliable advice to offset their own lack of expertise in an area). Perhaps it is the fact that a politician having an affair gets called a “mistake” that leaves them hesitant to call actual mistakes “mistakes”?

  • Anonymous

    Some of you need to look at the facts, including the writer of this pitiful piece.  A number of scholars have come out and said that Palin was right.

  • RefudiateObama2012

    Some of you need to look at the facts, including the writer of this pitiful piece.  A number of scholars have come out and said that Palin was right.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Which scholars? I could easily say that ten thousand scholars have gone on record as saying that your comment is off target and inaccurate. Please provide specifics!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Which scholars? I could easily say that ten thousand scholars have gone on record as saying that your comment is off target and inaccurate. Please provide specifics!

  • Bill

    I wanted to quote from David Hackett Fischer’s book ‘Paul Revere’s Ride”, Oxford Press 1994. The following is from the chapter entitled “the Capture”, pp.135-136. “At last the officers (British officers) began to fill the full import of what Paul Revere had been telling them. His (referring to Paul Revere) words of warning took on a stronger meaning when punctuated with gun fire (from the colonist)….As they (the British) came closer to the Common they (the British) began to hear Lexington’s town bell clanging rapidly.”

  • Bill

    I wanted to quote from David Hackett Fischer’s book ‘Paul Revere’s Ride”, Oxford Press 1994. The following is from the chapter entitled “the Capture”, pp.135-136. “At last the officers (British officers) began to fill the full import of what Paul Revere had been telling them. His (referring to Paul Revere) words of warning took on a stronger meaning when punctuated with gun fire (from the colonist)….As they (the British) came closer to the Common they (the British) began to hear Lexington’s town bell clanging rapidly.”

  • jgfgrsefa

    hi


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