• I missed this piece by Gordon Govier in Christianity Today which further suggests the obsessive quackiness of both the “biblical archaeologist” and the Comet Research Team sifting through the destruction of Tall el-Hammam in the Jordan Valley: “Sodom Destroyed by Meteor, Scientists Say. Biblical Archaeologists Not Convinced.”
CT, being CT, uses that title “biblical archaeologists” to mean two different and incompatible things. It means, for them, both folks like Steven Collins, who use archaeology to “prove” the Bible is historically literal, rejecting whatever doesn’t fit that preconception, and also, more generally, archaeologists working in the lands mentioned in the stories in the Bible. The latter sort of “biblical archaeologists” tend to be frustrated by the former sort, as you can see from Govier’s piece.
Govier also wrote about Collins’ quixotic obsession with finding a literal Sodom way back in 2014, noting that Collins seemed so fixated on “proving” that Tall el-Hamman was Sodom that he was willing to rewrite the entire chronology of the Hebrew scriptures rather than admit that his site just doesn’t fit the timeline he wants it to.
• Oh, and here’s another recent story about a very old story which may or may not carry unwritten memory: “How Indigenous Stories Helped Scientists Understand the Origin of Three Huge Boulders.”
• From one angle, this is an inspiring, encouraging story and a bit of good news: “Jews, Christians and Muslims to paint over swastikas in Argentinian Jewish cemetery.”
From another angle, of course, the story is bad news: people are still painting swastikas in Jewish cemeteries in 2021.
• Monica Cole of
One Million Dozens of Moms is now performing umbrage because “Credit Karms ‘Attempts to Normalize Sin’ by Using Two Dads in Ad.”
No. Credit Karma has already normalized sin by normalizing usury and the abominable, literally God-damned notion that creditors are morally superior to debtors. This Mammon worship is so thoroughly normal-seeming now that even our alleged culture-war turns out to be, in this case, a fight over whether or not same-sex couples have an equal right to have their privacy harvested for profit by the shock-troops of the anti-Jubilee counter-revolution.
It’s still remarkable to me that perpetually frightened and aggrieved white evangelicals have come up with thousands of absurd candidates for their illiteralist notion of “the Mark of the Beast,” but none of them blinks an eye over the three-digit numbers assigned to all of them by the unelected barons of Transunion, Equifax, and Experian, even when those deliberately unreliable “credit scores” literally determine who can and cannot buy or sell.
While you’re over there at Friends of Justice, take a look at their “Completed Campaigns” page for a sense of the group’s history. And there’s a lot of history on that page, even though it only goes back to 2002, which may seem less like “history” than simply memory, or even like current events. But it’s all still part of the history that Republican school boards and state legislatures are aggressively working to suppress.
This is the necessary meaning of all of the anti-“CRT” or anti-1619 Project white hysteria that has become the current Republican/evangelical agenda. It’s not just about suppressing history, but about forbidding memory — about forcing you to forget or to rewrite what you saw with your own eyes.
• Pat Robertson is finally stepping down as host of The 700 Club on CBN, the cable network he founded, thus prompting multiple retrospective articles on the 91-year-old white evangelical archbishop’s long career, including this one by Mark I. Pinsky for RNS: “Pat Robertson turned Christian TV into political power — and blew it up with wacky prophecy.”
Pinsky notes that Robertson’s many, many extreme and ridiculous public statements over the years: “embarrassed his fellow Christians and marginalized the once-estimable political power Robertson wielded, consigning Robertson to the role of what one megachurch pastor called ‘the crazy uncle in the evangelical attic.'”
There’s no need there for the attempted attribution of “one megachurch pastor” — the “crazy uncle” description of Robertson goes way back and has been so widely used that it’s impossible to say when or where it was first suggested. See for example this 2008 Language Log post, which found nearly 800 results for a search for “Pat Robertson” + “crazy uncle.”
Back in 2008, of course, the influence of someone like Robertson still seemed marginal and fringe — not something taken seriously by either the mainstream of the Republican Party or the mainstream majority of white evangelicalism. Robertson won four Republican primaries in 1988 and then, we imagined, the fever broke and the “crazy uncle” was shut back in the attic. It took us almost 40 years to realize that the rest of white evangelicalism and the rest of the Republican Party had locked themselves in that same attic with him.
I suppose one way to describe the evolution of both the GOP and evangelicalism over the past 40+ years would be to paraphrase that quote from Blake: The voice of dishonest indignation makes us deaf to the voice of God.
• Since I’ve now used its lyrics for the title of three recent posts, here’s the “Museum Song” from Barnum.