Sunday, October 31, 2010
Background – I appealed to the work of a scholar named Ernst Herzfeld for a point in an older article. In a more recent reply to Thommy, I appealed to the same work, only instead of calling him Ernst Herzfeld, I referred to him as Ernest Herzfeld.
The other day, I said that I couldn’t recall why I did this. I thought it may have been a typo; or it may have been a subconscious remembrance of my community college classes in German coming through, for as I have noted, “Ernest” is just a proper Anglicanization of Ernst. (See an example of both being used here and also an interesting explanation of the relationship between the two, as last names, here.) More recently, I thought it was also possible that Microsoft Word automatically “corrected” Ernst to Ernest, and this seemed to be the case while I typed this entry, at first; but if that was the case, it no longer does so.
But it really doesn’t matter how or why this happened and why Ernst got changed to Ernest. The point rather is that Thommy decided to make a big deal of it, thusly:
Holding claims that I am unaware of the work of Ernst ("Or “Ernest,” if you ask Holding as of 10/28/10) Herzfeld on Son of Man and am unaware of the way that Bar Enash (Son of Man) was used in Old Babylonian to depict royalty.
Since, as I said, the two variations are both legitimate spellings, Thommy ends up looking more of a fool than usual here. It illustrates something I have said of many critics of Christianity: They don’t do their homework before mouthing off. And actually, even common sense and logic should have told Thommy that it MIGHT be possible that the two versions were both legitimate, but Thommy obviously lacked even that component of intellectualism here – which is something else I have said about him.
Everyone makes mistakes, of course. But only a fool chooses to make such a big deal over someone’s mistakes (especially a trivial one), mouthing off about it without checking to be sure his own house is in order. Thus here, Thommy proved himself a fool of the highest order, someone whose concern for accuracy and integrity is at a bare minimum standard. (This is also why I don't mock other people's possible typos, unless they either do so to mine first or there is ample reason to think it is not merely a typo: Eg, Richard Carrier spelling "Revelation" with an S on the end.)
And you can bet I’ll hit Stark on the head with this bungle a lot over the next several years until he admits his error. That, and his error in having Loftus as an endorsee.
Have a happy eternity,Thommy.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I consider myself a moderately capable amateur when it comes to cartooning. Early on some suggested I ought to pursue it as a career, but I didn’t. To this day it’s just a diversionary hobby.
The reasons why have some poignant parallels to the current situation with apologetics, and I want to note two in particular.
The intended audience frequently doesn’t want anything new, unusual, or insightful to disturb their peace of mind. You might notice that when a major cartoonist dies – someone like Charles Schulz (Peanuts) or Dik Browne (Hagar the Horrible), their comic strip doesn’t always disappear. Instead it’s either continued as “Classics” (Peanuts) or someone else takes over (Hagar).
The companies that broker the publishing of comic strips – they’re called, appropriately, “syndicates” – will often, rather than use new talent, find some way to keep the old stuff alive. Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly money, but the reason keeping the old stuff alive makes money is because average readers are too uncomfortable with anything that is new or different.
As an illustration, some years ago my local paper here in Orlando dropped Snuffy Smith – a comic that had even then long outlived its usefulness as a source of humor and hadn't had a fresh idea since the Kennedy administration. The outcry from readers was astonishing, and illustrated by one benighted soul who said, “What’s a newspaper without ‘Snuffy Smith’?”
Um…how about, “a better newspaper”?
That any person would suggest to any serious extent the lack of Snuffy Smith ought to have some bearing on the quality of a product mainly intended to inform the public of current news affecting their daily lives is tragic in and of itself – reflecting a shallowness of mind that is pitiable.
In contrast, I think our comics should challenge people – and the success of those like The Far Side and Mother Goose and Grimm that do break the status quo show that this is the case. So likewise, I think we’d succeed in presenting apologetics if we just challenged our pew sitters a little more.
Relatedly, what’s with the survival of absolutely horrible comics like Hi and Lois which are only slightly funnier than a hotel fire? Why is it that so many comics are just the same thing placed in different settings? There’s no difference at all between atrocious comics like The Wizard of Id and Beetle Bailey except that one is in a supposed autocratic kingdom and the other is in the modern military. The gags from one could virtually be transplanted to the other. The reason: It’s again because too many people don’t want to be challenged with the unfamiliar. They want a situation they can “relate to” instead (so forget an apologetics teaching, instead we’ll have a night of alluring personal testimonies). This is bad enough that, as I recall seeing, there was a new comic offered to papers back in the 80s that featured a family of bears. The syndicate “sold” the strip on the premise that this bear family acted “just like humans.”
Not much point in having bears as characters, then, is there?
I could come up with more, but I’ll just close with a second reason.
The whole business is brokered by people of average ignorance. Ever wonder who decides what new comic strips get to see the light of day? Syndicate editors do. And most of them have no idea what they’re doing, only vaguely thinking of the factors in reason one above.
Their decisions are frequently far from rational. One editor decided that he would add a comic to his syndicate’s roster because he had brought some samples of it home, and his wife had woken him up in the middle of the night to say how much she liked it. Can you imagine if Bill Gates made policy decisions based on something Melinda said during a bout of insomnia?
That comic, as it turned out, did become a moderate success. But that’s nothing compared to the fact that some highly successful comics – such as Garfield – were originally turned down by syndicates other than the ones that took them, as noted by this article from TIME magazine:
Garfield was rejected by two syndicates (King Features and Chicago Tribune-New York News) before United Feature signed Davis to a contract in 1978.
You think maybe King Features and CT-NYN are kicking themselves a little over that?
Obviously, the selection of comics by these guys is more touch and go than it is a matter of being able to read the public pulse accurately. I’ll be the first to admit that the syndicates get a lot of junk submissions, by the way. In that respect the field is also a lot like that current commercial for a job hunting website that shows the whole crowd getting on a tennis court to play the match.
In the end, I’m glad I didn’t take the route of cartoonist as a career, because it’s clear that too often, getting somewhere in that field isn’t a matter of skill, or of talent – it’s a matter of trying to appease minds that are not very quick on the uptake and would rather curl up in a ball in some corner than go for a walk down the street.
Which, all too often, is also a description of apologetics ministry.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
No holds barred here on the Forge, folks -- not even when it comes to bad sheep. So here's the start of a series (sure to be intermittent as well as irritating) on Christians who will deserve to scrub toilets in the New Jerusalem.
I might name names -- later, if the nuclear clock reaches midnight, so to speak. For now let's just deal in categories. Today's category is The Good Old Boys.
Had a quite recent example of this, which is what brings it to mind.
I needed to contact a certain leader in a certain organization. I telephoned this leader's office and left a message. Three weeks later, I hadn't heard back from him.
So I had a friend of mine -- whose last name would have really rung bells with this leader, because he was the son of another leader in the same organization's ranks -- contact this first leader, which he did by email.
The response was nearly immediate.
James 2:1-4 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Friday, October 22, 2010
Oh, dear. One of my atheist admirers seems to have learned some techniques from John "the Liar" Loftus when it comes to posting material under a fake identity and then using it as justification for your point under another identity. Read all about it at TWeb here.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Of course, I'm no adherent to the view of hell as literal fire and torture. But it does serve some fairly good satiric purposes.
Wanna know when the hell will really start for John, though?
When he finds out everyone there already has a copy.
And every one of them wants a refund.