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    Supply-Side Jesus Is a Lie

    NPR broadcast this piece, on American Christians' disagreement over Christianity's economic teachings, on Morning Edition today. Unsurprisingly, left-leaning Christians like me feel Jesus taught a basically leftist approach to social welfare issues; we feel that when Jesus is talking about feeding the poor and the hungry, comforting prisoners, and helping the homeless, that he means exactly what he says. Right-leaning Christians, perhaps also unsurprisingly, feel that Jesus forbids public spending on the poor, or taxing the rich, or interfering with personal economic liberty. Their Jesus generally sounds a lot like Ron Paul.

    After the House passed its budget last month, liberal religious leaders said the Republican plan, which lowered taxes and cut services to the poor, was an affront to the Gospel — and particularly Jesus' command to care for the poor.
    Not so, says Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee. He told Christian Broadcasting Network last week that it was his Catholic faith that helped shape the budget plan. In his view, the Catholic principle of subsidiarity suggests the government should have little role in helping the poor.

    I know intramural religious disputes can seem completely mystifying to outsiders, and even to nominal insiders who haven't had much religious instruction. It's too easy to believe that whatever a particular preacher on TV (or NPR) happens to be saying on the air is "what Christianity teaches," but Christians disagree passionately about almost everything, including things that might seem straightforward and simple. So let me put this religious disagreement in context:

    If Congressman Paul Ryan went to church yesterday, the first Bible reading he heard was this:

    Acts 4:32-35

    The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
    and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
    but they had everything in common.
    With great power the apostles bore witness
    to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
    and great favor was accorded them all.
    There was no needy person among them,
    for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
    bring the proceeds of the sale,
    and put them at the feet of the apostles,
    and they were distributed to each according to need.

    How do I know what selections from the Bible were read in Ryan's parish yesterday? Because, like every Sunday, the same three readings from the Bible were read in every Catholic parish yesterday.  So this reading wasn't just read in Paul Ryan's church. It was read in Rick Santorum's church, and Newt Gingrich's, and all five conservative Supreme Court Justices'. If they went to Mass yesterday, this is what they heard near the beginning of the service. And if they happened to sleep late yesterday, this passage comes by (like every single passage in the New Testament) every three years in a systematic rotation. They all know this passage.

    Now, what the Apostles are doing in this passage might sound a lot like socialism. That's because it is a lot like socialism: no individual property, redistribution of wealth according to need, collective decision making, and what is basically a 100% capital gains tax. Where did the Apostles get such ideas? From hanging around with Jesus, whom they worked with closely during his life and from whom (if you believe in the New Testament) they received further direct instruction shortly after his death and resurrection. Now, if you don't believe in Jesus's resurrection, that's fine. If you're not interested in what Jesus or his personal disciples thought about economics, more power to you. But if you're making a claim that Jesus opposed socialism, you're just making up your own Jesus who says whatever you want him to say. You aren't the first, so don't feel special.

    Compare what St. Peter and the gang are getting up to in Acts of the Apostles with the kind of "socialism" that Republicans accuse Barack Obama of. If you think slightly higher tax rates on people who make a million dollars a year, a few new bank regulations, and a national health-care plan built on private for-profit insurers is "socialism" then Jesus's best friends are all screaming Commies. (Although, to be fair, Judas wasn't involved in the socialism recorded above, having already taken the path of individual enterprise.) You won't catch Barack Obama whipping any moneylenders.

    If we want to ask "What Would Jesus Do?" about the economy, it is very clear that Jesus, unlike Obama, would not regulate banking. Jesus forbids banking outright. He forbids lending any money at interest, clearly and explicitly. What he meant by that is not up for debate. (If you want your Jesus to sound like Ron Paul, it's important not to quote much of what he actually says.)

    I'm not recommending socialism, or the abolition of banks. I would not urge Jesus's economic program on the modern United States. But that's the point: it's not that left-leaning Christians are following Jesus's economic teachings and right-leaning Christians aren't. It's that even most left-leaning Christians are far, far to Jesus's right on economic issues. The Gospel's teachings about wealth and poverty aren't somewhere in the middle of America's current political spectrum. They're completely outside our terms of debate. (In fact, following the Gospel's teachings without any rationalizations would mean dismantling capitalism. I have no stomach for that.)  Neither the American left nor the American right is obedient to Jesus on these questions. The right simply happens to offer a more intense and flagrant version of the left's disobedience to these teachings.

    How do Paul Ryan or Rick Santorum or Antonin Scalia consider themselves good Catholics? The same way the rest of us do: by picking and choosing the teachings they pay attention to. For a long time, liberal American Catholics have been derided as "cafeteria Catholics," picking and choosing the teachings we find attractive and ignoring those we find less congenial. And it's true: my spouse and I try to be good Catholics, but we disobey the Gospel every single day. (We have a joint savings account). Yet American conservatives use the cafeteria model too, and as conservative ideology has gotten more fervent and intense over the past years it has moved conservative Catholics into ever-more-restricted selections from the cafeteria line. At this point, Ryan and Santorum aren't just choosing cafeteria style. It's like they're filling their trays with nothing but the Jello. Ryan's budget wants to punish the poor, the sick, and the elderly in the name of individual economic liberty, by which he means the moneylenders' profit margin. Santorum fixates on relatively minor teachings (and on teachings that he finds indirectly implied), while blatantly disobeying major teachings. Conservatives deplore contraception as abhorrent to God, but accept and even cheer the death penalty, despite the Church's condemnation of it. (It's true that no one uses contraception in the Gospels, but you might recall that it includes an execution. It's not in favor.)

    Conservative Catholics often scold liberal Catholics for not properly respecting the teachings of the bishops and of the chief bishop, the Pope. But the bishops' religious authority is based, directly and completely, on the authority of the Apostles. The theory is that they're the Apostles' successors, with the Pope having St. Peter's old job. If the authority of the bishops matters, the Apostles' authority has to matter as much or more, and as you can see above, the Apostles themselves are a bunch of leftist hippy communists. You can't make a big deal out of disobeying Peter's two-thousand-years-later replacement but flout the actual Peter.

    I'm in no position to judge others' practice of Christianity. I am absolutely terrible at it. But the truth is, almost every one of us is. Jesus never promised any of his followers that any of this would be easy. I'll freely admit that the Christianity I manage to follow, and to be honest even the version of Christianity that I try to follow, is different from what Jesus actually taught. But when you see Christians debating their politics and their faith, remember that all of our Christianities are different from what Jesus taught. That's been true in American politics since the Pilgrims got to Plymouth Rock, and it's not going to change in our lifetime.


    How do I know what selections from the Bible were read in Ryan's parish yesterday? Because, like every Sunday, the same three readings from the Bible were read in every Catholic parish yesterday.  So this reading wasn't just read in Paul Ryan's church. It was read in Rick Santorum's church, and Newt Gingrich's, and all five conservative Supreme Court Justices'.



    Lingua Latina!

    Feast days and fast days and....

    I just love this blog!

    No snark embedded.

    I just love this blog!

    Maybe even Fulton J. Sheen might be smiling from above.

    Well done!


    It is questionable if Conservative Christians believe in social justice. We have been taught to reflexively think of Sodom as a sermon against homosexuality we overlook Ezekiel 16:49 which warns against ignoring the poor. The neglect of the poor was part of why Sodom was destroyed.

    Ezekiel 16:49

    Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

         King James version

    Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

         King James 2000 version

    The sin of neglecting the poor is a major one. The sin was upon the entire city. 

    From Gill's Commentary on the Bible

    Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom,.... Namely, the first after mentioned, the source and spring of the rest; the causes and means of which are declared; and the same, as is suggested, was the sin of Jerusalem: namely,

    pride; which was the sin of the devils, and the cause of their ruin; the sin of our first parents, by which they fell, and destroyed themselves, and their posterity; and is the prevailing, governing, sin of human nature: it has been the ruin of kingdoms and states, of cities and particular persons; a sin hateful to God, and destructive to man:

    fullness of bread; the land of Sodom was very fruitful before it was destroyed; it was like the garden of the Lord,  it brought forth plentifully, so that there was great fulness of provision, of all sorts of food, which is meant by bread: this, considered in itself, was not sinful, but a blessing; it was the Lord's mercy and goodness to them that they had such plenty; but it was their sin that they abused it; luxury and intemperance, eating and drinking to excess, are here meant; which led on to that sin, and kindled the flames of it, and were the fuel to it, which has its name from them; and, besides, this fullness of good things enjoyed by them was the source of their pride, and served to increase that, as before mentioned:

    and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; or, "peace of rest" (b); prosperity and ease, security and quietness, at leisure, and without labour; two words are used to express the same thing, and to denote, as Kimchi observes, the abundance of it: sloth and idleness, as they often arise from the goodness and fruitfulness of a country, said fullness of provision, so they are the cause of much sin and wickedness; for, if persons are not employed in some business or another, either of the head or hand, they will be doing evil:

    neither did she strengthen the hands of the poor and needy; though she had such abundance of food to supply them with, and so much leisure to attend to their distress; but her pride would not suffer her to do it; and she was too idle and slothful to regard such service; perhaps more is intended than is expressed; that she weakened the hands of the poor and needy, and cruelly oppressed them; which is often done by proud men, in great affluence and at leisure, which they abuse to bad purposes.

    There is a huge difference between government coercion and charity. It is my choice to be charitable and the pain I feel in giving is a good pain as opposed to the coerced extraction of my wealth at the threat of violence from the US government (IRS, prison).

    Jesus in reality did not have a problem with possessions unless they possessed you. Take for instance Matthew 19:21 (if you want to be perfect sell all your possessions...). While as a Libertarian I oppose government coercion to charity, of which only a small percentage will make it to their intended recipient, I favor and do contribute to missionary work and Catholic charities. 

    Likewise, I feel we need to render unto Caesar his, (money for military, etc) which is dictated by the US Constitution,and render unto God what is his, out of our own volition. God gave us free will to choose, and sin, and repent, and ultimately come back to God; he could have forced us to be good, but he didnt. The US govt. being so miniscule in comparison to God should never force morality, faith and good works. If it is forced, then what spiritual growth would come from it? 

    So, "giving Caesar what is Caesar's" for un-Christian purposes, such as wars, is following Jesus, but if Caesar wants to use your money for Christian purposes, that's unjust coercion? You only want to pay taxes for things that Jesus opposes? Okay. But let's have no more complaining about taxes being spent for immoral purposes. By your logic, it's only okay to tax Christians for immoral purposes.

    Your main argument presumes that giving to the poor is about you giving to the poor so you can have that experience, rather than about the needy being taken care of. That is a very common perspective. It is also solipsistic. Let me suggest, politely, that Jesus's command to care for the poor is actually about the poor, and not about your personal self-discovery.

    And Jesus doesn't really say that nice thing about it being okay to have possessions if you're not mastered by them. He says to get rid of your money. I, too, wish he said the first thing: I like my house and my car. Like you, I have my rationalizations. But don't expect other people to take your rationalizations as the truth.

    Just to be a little argumentative, my dad's a Republican-voting Christian (but not on the far right), who puts his money and energy where his mouth is. I.e., he donates his time and money to causes his church supports, and I respect him for that, even if I disagree with how he votes. We actually agree on a lot of issues, or don't differ much on them, but we disagree on which issues are more important, and which politicians we trust more on those issues. He thought the war in Iraq was a bad idea, and he told me so at the time. That said, I do fear he's more of the exception than the rule.

    This "render unto Caesar" comment does not mean what you think it means, and positing equivalency of  Caesar's occupying government's "coercion" with the tax policies of a democratically elected government is an insult to the teachings of Jesus and leaves out the entire history of secular humanism that inspired the US Constitution in the first place. 

    Well, I guess you can tell where I stand. But, let's take a look at this.....

    Jesus was in the middle of a discussion about how God is the ultimate authority when some paid hecklers showed up to try to trick him into saying something for which he could be arrested. The "whose picture is on the coin?" and the "render unto Caesar" comments were a way of getting rid of them so he could get back to explaining to people about God. 

    Even if read on a deeper level, the message was that while there are things you have to do to get by in the real world--for example, pay taxes to an occupying authority so they don't come and put you in jail--allegiance to God is something higher. (Of course, Jesus chose not to "pay the tax" and kept insisting that his existence was justified by somebody more important than Caesar...well, you know the rest of that story.)

    But on a more practical level, it's very important to keep in mind that in addition to wanting to get back to his sermon, Jesus was talking about paying taxes to an OCCUPIER, not about paying taxes to a democratically elected government. I don't think Jesus ever commented on whether he'd support paying taxes to a democratically elected government to help create a better life for everybody, but I'm pretty sure he would have at least considered it.


    Uh, this was year 32 AD - "democratically elected government"? what be that?

    Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC.

    Of course their version of democracy was quite limited. (As was ours for a significant time, of course.)

    That said, unless you assume Jesus to be some sort of God-like figure, it's reasonable to assume he'd have no grasp of modern-day notions of government. However, Erica's point wasn't that he was comparing the Roman empire to a democratically elected government, but just that the Roman empire wasn't one, a point even you would find hard to dispute. wink In the Roman empire, for example, the people didn't vote (even indirectly) on how their monies would be spent, so any discussion of whether the people should support a government health system wouldn't seem to be one worth having. Similarly, Jesus is mighty quiet on the merits of using Predator drones, although one could do some reading between the lines… (As a bumper sticker asks, Who Would Jesus Bomb?)

    Yes, jack-boot Rome 32AD, not enlightened Greece 5 centuries earlier.

    That's a long time lapse for people with no typewriters or printing press.

    (and curious - was there democracy in Palestine prior to the Romans?)

    That's a long time lapse for people with no typewriters or printing press.

    Unless you're the Son of God, of course…

    Yes, jack-boot Rome 32AD, not enlightened Greece 5 centuries earlier.

    That's a long time lapse for people with no typewriters or printing press.

    I really enjoy that a poster with the moniker "Peracles" keeps saying ill-informed things about the ancient world.

    Rome in 32 AD had been a Republic in living memory; they were only up to Emperor #2. And they actually maintained a fiction of still being a Republic. (None of this is relevant to Jesus, who viewed the Romans as foreign occupiers, on the sensible grounds that the Romans were foreign occupiers.)

    I don't have time to truth-squad every misinformed thing you post, but when another poster busts you for making sweeping assertions that aren't backed up by facts, you might not always want to double down.


    It's also humorous (although Peracles has already asserted that he is not named for Pericles) that in the article I linked to, it says:

    The greatest and longest lasting democratic leader was Pericles

    I should also point out these tidbits from the article: although democracy was overturned, it was restored in 403 BC (making it only 4 centuries from anno domini). During the 4th century it oscillated between between being controlled by outside forces and its "traditional form of government" (i.e., "democracy" such as they knew it). The last of those restorations to democracy happened in 86 BC (only one century from anno domini).

    I suspect that it wouldn't even require divinity to be somewhat aware of the concept of democracy during the time of Jesus.

    Edit to add: It's worth reiterating that, much like the spelling of Pericles, whether or not Jesus would've been aware of the concept of democracy has little to do with Erica's point. Her point (as I understand it) was that Rome was not a democracy (a point that no one is disputing, thankfully), and that thus Jesus would not have been preaching specifically about actions appropriate in a democratic nations (which isn't to say that many of his ideas wouldn't transfer, however).

    Athens, democracy - Rome, kleptokratic jack-booted oligarchies.

    If you were rich, male and in Rome to vote, you might have had something of a "democracy" aside from all the imperialism. But out in any lower classes, and occupied territories, fuhgiddaboudit.

    Even a kingdom is a democracy of 1. It all depends who you exclude.

    But I doubt the Palestinians had high expectations of freedom or democracy.

    You're making a distinction between Rome and Athens based on Rome not extending the franchise to women or to the poor?


    Remember what I said about not doubling down when you were called for not knowing what you're talking about? Yeah.

    Had it covered with Lysistrata. While not actually encoded in law, it's an amazing paean to gender equality that never would have come out of imperialist Rome.

    As for the rest (early Athenian democracy when citizenship wasn't capped):

    Direct, not representative

    The biggest difference between Athenian democracy and almost all subsequent democracies is that the Athenian version was remarkably direct rather than being representative. With a few exceptions, Athenians didn't vote for politicians to represent them; all Athenians voted on just about every law or policy the city was to adopt. Shall we fight the Spartans? The people vote and decide. Raise taxes? Build a navy? The people decide.

    A limited role for officials

    To make the government run, the Athenians did have to have public officials, of course. But they took radical measures to limit their power. Most public offices in the developed Athenian democracy were chose by lot, i.e., were chosen randomly. All those citizens willing to serve in a certain office put their names forward, and the winner was chosen rather like we choose lottery numbers. The Greeks considered this the most democratic way of choosing officials, for it ensured that all citizens, whether prominent, popular, rich, or not, had an equal chance to serve. (It may also have been considered a way of letting the gods pick the right people for the right jobs.) There were thousands of public offices chosen this way; and in almost all cases, an individual could hold a given office only once. Most offices were relatively unimportant, and far from full time work. But the sheer number of offices ensured that not only did the Athenians vote directly on most issues of state; most of them served many times during their lives as public officials.

    Yes, that's true. All the Athenian citizens voted. But that doesn't mean the poor got to vote.

    It means they didn't get counted as citizens.

    "Everybody voting directly" sounds like utopia. But really, you're only talking about a small percentage of the population as "everybody."

    As for Lysistrata showing that Athens was less sexist ... sorry, no.

    Didn't see a wealth test for citizenship in original democracy.

    If you include foreigners & slaves, a small percentage. In any case, women didn't have the vote most places until 90 years ago or less (Switzerland in the 1970's), so might as well not discuss.

    And we're a long way from whether Jews expected democracy under a Roman imperialist system 500 years later.

    In order to be a citizen, you had to be male, both of your parents had to be citizens—presumably there was some sort of grandfathering (and grandmothering) clause, and you had to be a landowner. That last bit is a kicker, especially because both of your parents also had to be citizens, meaning they also had to be landowners. Keep in mind that Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac didn't come into existence until 38 AD (or possibly some time after that) so being a landowner was no simple feat. I do suspect that with enough money/power you could bend those rules a bit, but that was surely the exception.

    Also, there was a system of democracy in place in Athens as late as the 1st century BC (less than 100 years before Jesus' birth), albeit somewhat more corrupted from its apex under Pericles, and no one ever even hinted that the Jews expected the Romans to give them a democracy.

    Edit to add: it's worth pointing out that the situation wasn't significantly better in the United States prior to 1850, when property ownership was removed from being a requirement for voting. And, as you point out, women couldn't vote until 1920.

    Might as well not discuss?  !!?!??! (cue sound effects of apoplectic rage)

    Er, Peracles, I'm not actually SAYING that your point that democracy did not exist yet is dumb--but...did you notice that your name is spelled wrong?  :^D

    Yes, it's written in Roman characters rather than Greek - why can't y'all learn a proper script?

    Περικλῆς Περακλής, παρακαλώ

    αν επιμένετε...

    Now I officially feel bad about having brought it up. Peracles, you can spell your name whatever way you want.

    (But I'm gonna stick to my idea that Jesus wasn't telling people they oughta pay their taxes 'cause Caesar was such a great guy, and pretty much made it clear to the hecklers that he thought they were assholes, which also applies to his conversation with Pilate later on. Not that Jesus would ever say that to their face.)

    I think the original Greek was "makes me no nevermind", or paraphrased, "pay him in shekels for all I care".

    You see, still so much more diplomatic than I!

    When thoroughly provoked, my ultimate is "Bugger off, douchenozzel." And speaking of spelling choices, I do spell it "douchenozzel" in my mind in that particular circumstance--the genteel "le" ending could have the unfortunate effect of inviting further discussion, and the "el" ending seems more definite.

    Yeah, I'm funny that way.

    Imagine it written in Greek, or worse, Arabic (only 3 vowels, but only implied, not written)

    The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
    They all believed the same things.

    and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
    For tax purposes everything belonged to off-shore corporations.

    but they had everything in common.
    They mostly attended the same private schools, dated the same women and golfed at the same clubs.

    With great power the apostles bore witness
    to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
    For an hour on Sunday, and whenever anyone was watching.

    and great favor was accorded them all.
    Just favors mind you—a job here, a pardon there—no money changed hands.

    There was no needy person among them,
    It was a gated community.

    for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
    bring the proceeds of the sale,
    and put them at the feet of the apostles,
    Nowadays they call this derivative speculation.

    and they were distributed to each according to need.
    As yearly bonuses.

    Yet American conservatives use the cafeteria model too, and as conservative ideology has gotten more fervent and intense over the past years it has moved conservative Catholics into ever-more-restricted selections from the cafeteria line. At this point, Ryan and Santorum aren't just choosing cafeteria style. It's like they're filling their trays with nothing but the Jello.

    This is a good analogy and applicable to all organized religions (IMHO).


    Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise that the economic teachings of a guy who lived more than 2000 years ago would differ from contemporary life.  It would be nice to just end the discussion about who has the more "Christian" economic policies.  As you say, Christ's teachings on economics are not part of the modern discussion.  If Paul Ryan wants to push his budget and call it Christian, I don't really care.

    Along these lines, Adam Smith, were he alive today, would probably not get along with modern Conservatives on economic issues either.  He did actually believe that the economy had to be regulated, that monopolies needed to be prevented and that banks could cause a lot of trouble for everyone if left only to be tended by the invisible hand.

    Conservatives make up a lot of things.  They are very imaginative.

    I'm a bit sick of people throwing out Paul as a poster boy for insensitivity.

    He's the only one this campaign to talk about getting out of wars, ending the war on drugs & terrorism, fixing the inequalities in black sentencing, spoke out supporting Occupy Wall Street.

    I don't recall anywhere in scripture Jesus saying, "get government to set up a safety net for the poor". It was all about personal action and interaction.

    Granted I can understand extending his words to joint social action, but "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, give unto God what is God's" is about the most he meddled in politics.

    He did seem to be the ultimate church vs. state separatist, including overthrowing the market in temple.

    The Apostles weren't a group of legislators - they were self-appointed volunteers.

    So please, enough holier than thou - the problem with Ryan and Santorum is not only the nature of their religion - it's their mixing it in with politics. If you want to build a safety net, do it simply on public policy reasoning.

    Like most things Jesus is quoted as saying, the Caesar quote can be taken more than one way. I always took it to be slyly saying that everything's God's without actually saying it. After all, what isn't God's?

    Edit to add: that's not meant to disagree with your larger point, however.

    I've seen your interpretation before. Doesn't seem to make as much sense - he seems to be trying to comfort Pilate, that he's no threat to the Roman order - he's a threat to human order. He doesn't care about taxes, etc. He cares about kindness.

    Of course he could just be being tricky.... Jesus a coyote?

    PS - nice Ron Paul piece here:


    Being a coyote seems like his MO (and I don't mean that disrespectfully). He never claims to be the Son of God — he merely asks the disciples, who do you think I am? He doesn't say that Judas will betray him, just that someone at the last supper will betray him.

    If it's like Murder on the Orient Express, perhaps all 12 betrayed him. Quick, call Poirot.

    Actually, I'm more reminded of the Buddha…

    Pericles is spelled with a 'i' not an 'a'. Can anyone give much credence to a guy who can't spell his own moniker?

    Obama, not Ron Paul, ended the Republican administration initiated Iraq War BTW.

    If you're going to pick on him for his screen name, try this instead:


    (Maybe he means some other Peracles. Regardless, I'd be surprised if he didn't know how Pericles is spelled. Remember, he is our most consistent contrarian, after all…)

    Speaking of Buddha and being a contrarian, I think these two quotes remind me PeraclesPlease's posting habits (and I mean this with all respect):

    “Doubt everything. Find your own light.” ― Siddhārtha Gautama
    “Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” ― Voltaire

    Please.  It's spelled: Περικλῆς

    I did think about pointing that out myself, but the transliteration of iota to i in the hero Pericles is pretty universal, I think. Perikles is a rarer transliteration, but I've never seen Peracles. Thus, based off what else I know about PP, I'm wagering it was deliberate.

    As Ancient Greek had many more sounds, it's all possible. Later half their vowel sounds converged to become like i "eee"

    However most Americans pronounce it as "pair-uh-klees", while a Frenchman says "clayse".

    There was a major movement in the 1800's to re-evaluate how Ancient Greek was being pronounced.

    In short, being smug about how ancient writing systems worked, that we "know" how they were, etc., is a bit smug. Here's one site noting that "alpha" would have been pronounced "uhlfuh" in Ancient Greek:

    English Name
    common Eng.

    This analysis of ancient Greek may be a little controversial but it is not new.  Notice that even in the beginning there was ambiguity as to the sound associated with upsilon (ipsilon).  There is a similar ambiguity with respect to omicron (umicron) and omega (awmeguh).

    While we know how Pericles/Peracles was spelled in Ancient Greek, the letters as commonly transcribed do not reflect how Americans actually pronounce it. Even Pi π should sound like urination - "I need to take a π", not like a dessert for kittens ( "mew mew mew mew... you shall have no π")

    I'm very familiar with all of this. I've studied Greek as an amateur, and I've experienced how it's pronounced by Germans, Russians, and the British. (As well as Chinese and Indian individuals, but their pronunciations are influenced by whether they learned British English or American English.)

    That said, and as you acknowledge, iota is pretty universally transcribed as the letter "i", which can also be pronounced in many different manners.

    Finally, as you've also acknowledged elsewhere, your choice to call yourself PeraclesPlease instead of PericlesPlease was made with the full knowledge of how Pericles is typically spelled, as I surmised… wink

    I never doubted your knowledge in these matters, as I think my comments made clear.


    Why in God's name would people attack you on languages, when there's so much more obvious stuff?

    Your Ron Paul car dealership... being born with the 3rd testicle, and that botched surgery that ended up removing two... the dwarfism, sorry, your "elfin" nature... the fact that all your calculations are done in base 6, JUST THE WAY YOUR SERBO-BANIAN FOREBEARS DID.... the way you love slaves, though I may have misread that, and turns out you're a big fan of the Slavs, but nevermind, I like to think of you as racist... your low average rate of income taxation, based on taking all your earnings as a capital gain.... your incredible driving skills, but inability to distinguish left from right.... the fact that Salvador Dali was your great-great-great grandmother, and how rarely you brag... your inability to sustain an erec, oh sorry, already covered under "botched surgery"...

    Anyway, like I say, get with it people. Hit him where he ain't (much.)

    They're good cars - if you can get someone to loan you a battery.

    And you're the one who introduced me to dwarf-tossing - not my fault I liked it. When a sadistic urge goes wrong, I'd say. You said you didn't care to return to Belgrade anyway.

    As for surgery, I still have a rectum that hasn't been sewn shut, besides being still one ball long of a eunuch - but can understand how you'd feel bitter.

    But that's all I can get up come up with for the moment. My slave, as you call it, has the morning off to play with the other kids, so I'm stuck typing this noise myself. Damn unhired help. Now where's my hankie?

    Jesus, do I have to explain everything?

    It's a pun - "pair o' keys" (Fr.: une paire de clés). If you spell it "Pericles" it doesn't work.

    Of course this was a 2 second brain fart, not something to obsess over.

    George W Bush negotiated & planned the end of the Bush-initiated Iraq War, BTW. Obama just had to follow the rut around the circle. Not that I want to presume Bush a great planner.

    Bush, Ron Paul and the GOP also planned that the Iraq War would be over in six months, and they forecast a federal balanced budget about 4 times from 2000-2006 as a result of the usual GOP 'tax cuts produce more revenue' baloney.

    Both Republican Presidential candidate McCain and Republican Presidential candidate Romney have severely criticized Obama our exit from the Iraq, using the words 'scorn', 'disdain' and 'ineptitude'. If the GOP was still in charge, troops would still be dying there.

    You can look up the exit negotiations and timelines with Iraq. They were in place before Bush left office.

    Republican candidates might have criticized Bush as well - if you want to argue the plan would have changed - well, even Obama tried to keep troops in Iraq after the exit date, but couldn't get immunity.

    I think NCD's point is those weren't Bush's first exit plans or timelines. There's no reason to believe that Bush himself would have followed the exit plan he laid out had he managed a third term (shudder), and even less reason to believe that McCain would have. I'm not super excited with how Obama has handled Iraq and Afghanistan, but I continue to believe that he handled it better than McCain would have. I have no voter's remorse, even though I continue to wish Obama would be a better president.

    There's no reason to believe that Bush himself would have followed the exit plan he laid out had he managed a third term (shudder)....

    No reason? First, he wasn't running for a 3rd term. Second, he came up with a straightforward plan that his opposition successor managed to follow. Third, did Obama do something so difficult to stay on plan?

    Let's try this:

    There's no reason to believe the sun will come out tomorrow. There's no reason to believe people enjoyed sex in biblical times.

    Prove me wrong, I dare you. All this contrary speculation & denial is just a gas. Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland or Calvinball. When I say a word, it means what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less.

    Bush never stuck to one of his timelines as far as I can remember. Obama was criticized by McCain for sticking to Bush's timeline, so there's no reason to believe that he would've stuck to a plan that he criticized Obama for sticking to. A better thing to try is this:

    There's no reason to believe an invisible teapot is orbiting the Earth.

    Oh come on, Obama used Mitt Romney's health care plan and Mitt criticizes him for it - that's how politics works - Republicans criticize Democrats, Democrats criticize Republicans for the same things they would do.

    Imagine if Bush kept Gitmo open or was doing more drone attacks in Pakistan, or an extra-judicial killing of an American in Yemen - how much more screaming would appear from Democrats?

    Regarding the timeline, it was approved by the Iraqi Parliament in Dec 2008.

    Bush resisted forever making a timeline, so making one signals a more serious commitment. Teapots or no.

    Actions speak louder than words, which is why I'm placing Bush's actions (not getting out of Iraq, repeatedly missing any specified deadlines) ahead of his words/plans (which he quite clearly didn't want to feel compelled to follow). You seem to agree that a politicians words mean little. Yet, you're minimizing Obama's actions by praising Bush's words. Puzzling. wink

    What "specified deadlines"? You're full of vagueness. I noted already Bush worked very hard to avoid giving a timeline until he agreed to SOFA. If you have a specific example contrary, show it.

    Yes, fine, Obama stuck to Bush's timeline - though he was legally bound to as well, unless he got Parliament to change its mind - which he tried to get it to do, to have a residual force there long term. The Parliament wouldn't agree.

    And also, you misspelled your own name. 

    Or as the Greeks would say, que sera sera.

    Qnonymous Bosch, is it? Beware of Greek-bearing Gifs. Or is it DILFs?

    And "Que sera sera" doesn't hold a candle to "Hey, Nona Nona" or "Mony mony" - Doris Day or not.

    #1 Nonny.

    I don't have nothing to say, I just like posting when it's all over on the side like this. It's cool looking.


    You're the big man, I'm just a little fish.

    But you might try right-justified like this,

    even cooler

    - PP

    wouldn't upsetting the human order have an impact on the Roman order - a subset of the human order? if one starts putting kindness at the top of the list, then the practice of crucification as punishment comes into question.  and what exactly is a taxation that is kind as opposed to unkind?

    he was probably definitely trying to comfort Pilate, but doing so without giving any real specifics, thereby undermining the notion that God is the supreme ruler.

    I'd say that being a threat to the human order is, in Pilate's view, the same thing as being a threat to the Roman order, and Pilate was pretty aware of the threat even though Jesus evaded Pilate's direct question.

    (Also not to be picky, but you know I am--I don't think "comfort" is what J was trying to do there.   :^)

    To answer both, no, I don't think "comfort" was a threat to Pilate like "we won't fill your coffers".

    As someone noted, Jesus answered in a way that didn't make him a refusenik, nor a lap-dog. So yeah, he was trying to comfort someone with an answer that couldn't have him killed in soundbite form.

    There are many passages that address an entire city/country being judged by the way the leaders and people neglect the poor. The unfair taxation of the poor is also mentioned.

    While reading Dr. Cleveland's post, I didn't get the impression he was using Ron Paul as a poster boy for insensitivity so much as questioning whether Paul's was an adequate body double for Jesus.

    Ron is pretty good at highlighting the foibles of central planning but probably would not be very effective delivering the Sermon on the Mount.

    The Libertarian point of view is at the other end of the scale from saying something like "render on to Caesar what is Caesar's."  It would be more apt to cast Ron in the role of Brutus than Jesus. 

    It interesting to hear the narrative of whipping the vendors at the Temple as an argument that Jesus did not meddle in politics. The act always struck me as the clearest statement of political authority he could make. It played no small part in him being killed a few days later.

    Right-leaning Christians, perhaps also unsurprisingly, feel that Jesus forbids public spending on the poor, or taxing the rich, or interfering with personal economic liberty. Their Jesus generally sounds a lot like Ron Paul.

    When did Jesus talk about taxing the rich? When did Jesus say taking care of the poor requires public spending? Fine if you do, but the Jesus I'm familiar with doesn't get involved in funding issues.

    The marketplace in the Temple? It was in his father's house - why is that political? "Go whore yourselves elsewhere". "Get off my lawn". So he pissed off the pharisees - why is that "political" vs. a basic religious tenet/property rights?

    I get what you're saying, and it's a good point to consider, but one could argue that what he did was political exactly because they didn't have separation of church and state back then…

    When did Jesus talk about not taxing the rich? When did Jesus say taking care of the poor does not require public spending? These two questions are just like yours in so far as the answer is obviously no, he didn't talk about those things. This shared absence suggests that none of these sorts of questions qualify or disqualify an interpretation of what Jesus meant through his words and actions.

    When you speak of the Jesus you are familiar with, is he a person asking you to give up all you own in order to follow him? The radical quality of that invitation is what is being compared with the interests of property owners. All struggles about property involve the political, especially when the parties wish it wasn't so.


    You would assume if he gave a damn about taxation, he would have talked about it.

    Instead, he talked about "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's". He didn't care. It was irrelevant to what he was doing.

    "Do not judge lest thee be judged". If you think a Christian axation policy is to do X, then do X. But being smug because some GOP guy thinks Y - well, it may be stupid and bad policy, but careful with the idea of being a super-Christian because you have the more godly lock-box on Social Security. 

    This diary had "Their Jesus generally sounds a lot like Ron Paul." Well, was welfare policy in the 1980's helping, or was it a huge expensive mess that didn't get too many people out of poverty. (and again, differentiate between Clinton's welfare reform and Bush's draconian modifications later)

    If Jesus had a Jesus-sounding policy and it turned out it sucked, could he swallow his pride and come out with a Ron Paul-sounding policy that worked?

    I'd guess he'd just punt to Spike Lee and say, "Do the right thing", but without the halo over your head. Or as Todd Rundgren said, "no no no, a little more humanity please"

    "It was irrelevant to what he was doing."

    What was he doing?

    I agree with you that he wasn't a member of the AEI, writing position papers on the tax code. But that doesn't tell me what you think he was doing.

    Saving their souls, getting them out of the daily grind, getting away from Dems vs. GOP, focusing on issues of the heart and less of the ego and human greed.

    He did talk about it. If you use Google you'll find he very precisely said that you should/should not pay taxes, and that a libertarian/authoritarian approach to government was best. wink (As I said before, he spoke in riddles, or koans if you prefer. That wasn't limited to his discussion on taxation.)

    Ron Paul would cast a sole and useless 'no vote' for feeding Christians to the lions in the Coliseum. He would also be a lifelong member of the Roman Senate supporting, and being a Party member, of whatever war starting Caesar is in power.

    The hypocrites of the right believe:

    - Jesus gives them the right to not pay taxes except to invade other countries, and kill people.

    - The Constitution gives them the right to have any kind of gun, anywhere they want to take it, and the right to kill anyone who needs killing.

    - the Bible gives them the right to tell you how to lead your life, and use the government to enforce it.

    - God gives them a pass on any moral or legal transgressions they commit.

    - Fox News makes up facts to fit their opinions.

    - Rush gives them the right to blame the long list of real world failures of their Party's ideology on liberals.



    Well put.

    What are you going on about Christianity for, Doc? It's a deranged, ugly, violent and genocidal little religion, which offers no additional progress or traction in a world of modern religion, politics or morality. 

    So how about we dress this Jesus character in his favourite robes, bury him in the ground where he belongs, sing one last Silent Night, say God-be-with-ye, and let the poor bastard die in peace. Christians actually left him behind long ago. They just won't admit it.


    Read the red letters. Jesus stood for helping the oppressed, love, forgiveness, and humility.  Being a Christian means trying to model those values. Which of them are you opposing? Listen to Jackson Browne's "Rebel Jesus".

    Sorry Decider-Dude, I was pulling Genghis' leg, after he wrote this sort of thing about Judaism the other day. Was pretty much quoting him.

    Jesus and I are good.

    I was talking to his sister, and she said he had some problems with you. Of course you returned his Caddy fuel-gauge empty - that was a bonehead move... try to get into the gates of heaven after that - 

    Neil and I worked converting that dude's Caddy for 3 months, man. And now that we got it truly humming, what thanks do we get? 

    One helluva conversion, that's all I'm gonna say.

    Oh my, I saw the Trans tour. "Long May You Run" indeed.

    I heard that.

    PS When's the funeral? I'll wear my fishnets.

    The Catholic Bishops are saying that the Ryan budget places undue burdens on the poor. Boehner tell the Bishops to place their lips on his Gluteus Maximus.

    I thought G.Maximus was that character that was played by Russell Crowe......

    Trying to think of a Mini-Me joke that incorporates Gluteus Minimus :)

    I was thinking Jolly would go with Biggus Dickus.

    Why, yes, yes I did.


    Click G. Maximus....

    Edit to add : Warning, choking hazard, do not eat dry breads (a bagle, for instance) while watching.

    OK, can't get youtube at work.

    I ran across this article ... Jesus The Man, The Myth by Rev. Madison Shockly ...

    on TruthDig a few years back. What I found interesting was that even amongst theologians, they can only agree 20% of the words traditionally attributed to Jesus can be proven. Everything else is made up ... my interpretation.

    As for the discussion about where the responsibility lies for taking care of the needs of the poor, I find it's based more on politics than in scriptures.

    The article goes into Liberation theology which identifies Jesus with the marginalized in every society. I believe this is where the social justice implications of Jesus’ teaching and preaching come in conflict with the fundamentalist Christians on the right where social darwinism rules supreme.

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