fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
For me, personally, the final evidence of the guilt of British criminal Hanratty, of anarchist Nicola Sacco. and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - however different the circumstances - have been a personal shock. They are the undeniable proof that people can lie even in the face of death and eternity, that claims of innocence from the scaffold are no more reliable than from any other point. The case of Sacco's fellow-accused Bartolomeo Vanzetti seems even darker: he was probably himself innocent, but he knew that Sacco was guilty as Hell, and he deliberately died with a lie on his lips, for the sake of his imagined revolution. (And to add a further taste of futility to his false sacrifice, the historical fact is that the only party who benefited from his and Sacco's executions were the Communists, who had organized all the protests against their executions, and who were sworn enemies of Vanzetti's Anarchists and would have murdered him a good deal more nastily if he had ever fallen into their hands.) But perhaps the most significant of these is the lie of Hanratty, because that had nothing of the ideological justifications of Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. Hanratty was not fighting for any "cause", however bad: he was a rapist and murderer with no ulterior motives. And he declared his innocence right to the point of death with a passionate intensity that deceived generations of activists including myself.
fpb: (Default)
Suppose you're travelling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you
do? That depends on how you exegete (interpret) the stop sign.

1. A post modernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car),
ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west

2. Similarly, a Marxist refuses to stop because he sees the stop sign as
an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeois use the
north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers in the east-
west road.

3. A serious and educated Catholic rolls through the intersection
because he believes he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its
interpretive community and tradition. Observing that the interpretive
community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to
take it too seriously either.

4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist
or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign but he'll
stop the car if the car in front of him does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop
sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

6. A seminary educated evangelical preacher might look up "STOP" in his
lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which
prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that
prevents a door from closing; 2)a location where a train or bus lets off
passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this
text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is
naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your

7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things: a) Take another route to work
that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of
disobeying the Law; b) Stop at the sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord
our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to
stop," wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.
Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage:
Rabbi Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel
says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R.
Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He,
gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says:
Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a
stop sign? Because it says, "Be still and know that I am God."

8. A scholar from the Jesus Seminar concludes that the passage "STOP"
undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself because being the
progressive Jew that he was, He would never have wanted to stifle
peoples progress. Therefore, STOP must be a textual insertion belonging
entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first
confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

9. A NT (New Testament) scholar notices that there is no stop sign on
Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes
that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on
a street no one has ever seen called "Q" street. There is an excellent
300 page doctoral dissertation on the origin of these stop signs, and
the differences between stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the
scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunate omission in
the dissertation, however; it doesn't explain the meaning of the text!

10. An OT (Old Testament) scholar points out that there are a number of
stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage
"STOP." For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and five line
endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line
termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is
different from the author on the first part and probably lived hundreds
of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself
actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic
differences between the "O" and the "P.

11. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop
sign would fit better into the context three streets back.
(Unfortunately, he neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly
it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus
exegetes the intersection as though the sign were not there.

12. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar
amends the text, changing the "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to
understand in context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores
in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because "SHOP" is
so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back, that it is a
natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be
interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area. If this is
true, it could indicate that both meanings are valid, thus making the
thrust of the message "STOP (AND) SHOP."

13. A "prophetic" preacher notices that the square root of the sum of
the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi
in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and
divided by four (the number of the world-north, south, east, and west)
equals 666. Therefore, he concludes that stop signs are the dreaded
"mark of the beast," a harbinger of divine judgement upon the world, and
must be avoided at all costs.


fpb: (Default)

June 2017

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