Length of Days, Functional Gnosticism

The days are getting longer as Winter wanes Spring is nearer now.

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’m reading Metzger’s take on the development of the canon of the New Testament.  Thursday morning 29 January, during a seemingly interminable wait to see a bone and joint specialist about the shoulder that’s been tormenting me the past eight or so months,  I read these words (italics mine):

Valentinus’ system is an elaborate theogonic and cosmogonic epic.  It describes in three acts the creation, the fall, and the redemption; first in heaven, then on earth.  The spiritual world or ‘pleroma’ comprises thirty ‘aeons’ forming a succession of pairs (syzygies).  The visible world owes its origin to the fall of Sophia (‘wisdom’), whose offspring, the Demiurge, is identified with the God of the Old Testament.  Human beings belong to one of three classes, the spiritual people (pneumatikoi, or true Gnostics), those who merely possesses (sic) (psychikoi, or ordinary, unenlightened church members), and the rest of humankind, who are made up solely of matter (hylikoi) and are given over to eternal perdition.

Valentinus derived his teachings from his own fertile imagination, from Oriental and Greek speculations (including Pythagorean elements), and from Christian ideas…

(Metzger 80, 81)

My point in going on like this is not to interest the reader in the dead-end teachings of the so-called “Christian” gnostics.  Rather, I was surprised to find that my own functional worldview, unflattering as it is to admit the fact of it, (that bit I’ve italicized) is like unto that of an early Christian Era gnostic heretic.

Metzger, Bruce M.. The Canon of the New Testament: Its origin, Development, and Significance. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Bold Italics, Sound Familiar?

When we left the flat frozen northern farmland of our Christmas holiday, I also left behind the two books I’d been reading, Metzger’s The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, and Rossiter’s The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness. So, when the first Sunday of January rolled around and we had potluck at the Zachariades home with most of the Cafe Church congregation, I asked to borrow a couple of books. One, a book written for masses purporting to set forth the history of Arthurian legend and fact, and the other, a revisionist tome dealing with the factual basis for the claims and charges of the late United States senator Joe McCarthy.

Yesterday, reading on a break from my own writing and prep-work for today’s interview and testing, I read the following, and found the bit I’ve italicized in bold, infra, particularly applicable to our own time.

As with Chambers and the response to Martin Dies, there was as noted a cultural subtext embedded in the reaction to McCarthy. He was a rough-and-tumble scrapper from the boonies who hadn’t been to Yale or Harvard, spoke in blunt phrases, and taunted the smooth sophisticates in the salons of Georgetown and plush corridors of official power. His targets, often as not, were Ivy League respectable types in the mold of Hiss or Duggan. How could one believe such outlandish charges from such a lout, aimed at his social betters? One couldn’t, and one didn’t.

In which respect, it’s worth recalling that Hiss-Chambers, the original McCarthy fracas, and other security battles this side of the Atlantic erupted in the period 1948 – 50, before the truth about the Philby ring came filtering out from European sources. Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean didn’t abscond to Moscow until May of 1951, well over a year after McCarthy’s initial speeches. Kim Philby would be cleared of “third man” charges in 1955, only to bolt in 1963. Anthony Blunt wasn’t exposed in public as a Soviet agent until the 1970s. Had the truth about the Cambridge spies been general knowledge in 1948 or 1950, it’s likely the Chambers allegations, perhaps even the charges of McCarthy, would have been viewed in a different light. If it could happen in Great Britain, it could just possibly happen here. And, in fact, it did.

The parallels between the British and American cases weren’t coincidental, but sprang from similar intellectual and moral causes. In both countries, there had been a long decline of faith in Western institutions – beginning with religious faith itself, then spreading to other aspects of a culture that appeared in the depression era of the 1930s to be on its deathbed. To many already afflicted with anomie and dark misgivings, the economic/political crisis of the age looked like the coup de grace for traditional views and customs. The supposedly ironclad theories of Marx and Lenin and alleged wonders of Soviet planning were thought to have the answers no longer provided by the older culture.

Aiding the transition was the vast flowering of party front groups that has been noted. In these Potemkin village outfits, Communist ideas and projects were presented in appealing masquerade, and many who weren’t Communist to begin with, or ever, mingled freely with those who were – Marxism and its subspecies made respectable and fairly trendy by the systemic crisis.

Evans, Stanton. Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and his Fight Against America’s Enemies. New York: Crown Forum, 2007. P. 64, italics mine.

I Am Having a Great Day

Another blessed even – a paid day off from serving the public as a tiny but extraordinarily significant cog in the wheel of what passes for government in this corner of the cosmos.

I spent the morning looking after my little son, the lion boy (some times when he wakes up in the morning, before we go in and get him out of his room, he’ll crawl back and forth in his crib like a lion in a cage – I’ve taught him to roar, too), played blocks with him, read books with him, comforted him when he bumped his head, changed him a couple of times, and fed him his solid food, rocked him to sleep.  Nothing is better than being that kid’s dad.

Took Seventy-Six to see his mom, the Cautious One, at work where she’s being tormented with a school-district in-service today.  She took him to lunch with her and a couple other teachers, then over to my mom’s house.

I came home, made lunch, ate it while watching a couple of episodes of Dr. Who on NetFlix Now – one good reason to keep an old Windows computer running and hooked up to the Internet.  That’s got to be one of the greatest shows ever.  I remember when I was a kid, exhibiting an interest in science fiction, and my dad tried to introduce me to The Doctor.  I couldn’t get past, even at the age of maybe 9, 10, 11, the funky production values.

dr_who_jigsawThanks to K von K, I looked up Daleks, and am now fully addicted to the most recent incarnation of that oddball television series that first aired some twenty days before my birth.  Yeah, it’s fate, synchronous geekery, or some idea of reference.  No matter.

Somebody, I can’t remember the source now, wrote or said that we read because we want to know we’re not alone.

So I’ve got the laundry-twins, Scott and Jennifer, working away – expensive Bosch front-loading home appliances.  Jennifer washes and Scott dries.  Nice suburbanite Stepford names.

A couple of the Australian cartoons in my previous post are a little over the top, and the gallery software would not, even though I selected the option, arrange the image files by name.  Dunno why not.

Some Australian Political Cartoons

Got these in an email yesterday, and thought that, although somewhat dated, they might be of interest


1/14/09 – phoned the doctor’s office yesterday, and there is some reason to think the problem is just severe indigestion.  I’ll have to do a better job of choosing better food.

Beaten about the torso last night with an invisible lead pipe drinking water helped alleviate the pain, quell the sweats, and kept me from finding a crochet needle to use in removing my own gallbladder.

This is supposed by some to reduce the sypmtoms I experienced last night

This is supposed by some to reduce the sypmtoms I experienced last night

Diet problem? Unlikely.

Heredity? Maybe.

Age? Yeah, maybe.

Zoomie – A New Baby Word

Thursday or Friday morning, Seventy-Six said ‘zoomie’ while holding aloft in his left hand and looking at a wooden cutout of a crocodile – an identification puzzle piece.  Also on the floor around him were the puzzle pieces cow, eagle, rhinoceros, lion, as well as four or five others.  He pronounced the “z-sound” something like ts,” but when I repeated zoomie back to him, he made eye-contact and gave me his happiest smile by way of saying, “Dad! You understood me!”  He’s heard the word frequently – whenever he and the Cautious One play with little cars, she moves them around on the floor saying, “Zoomie, zoomie, zoomie!”

The Urban Dictionary defines Zoomie in ways that don’t apply to the utterances of Seventy-Six.  Trying to maintain a lingusitically baby-safe environment, we don’t say “fart” in our house, we say, “toot.”  Who’d’ve thought?

Blogroll Addition

At right you’ll notice I’ve added Key and Cindy’s Flatiron Archive to my blogroll.  Like many sites, it could fit in two or three categories, but I’ve put it over there where it’s easiest to find.  Although I’m usually offended by music files that play from where they’ve been embedded when a website opens in a browser, I didn’t mind this one.  Seventy Six really enjoyed the music making his opinion known by waving his arms and emitting a couple of high-pitched shouts of glee.

Nashville Luminary, Annoyance, Gone Dark

Update:  Mystery Solved

1/3/09 – I was able to contact Mr. Warner, former publisher of Mother Tongue Annoyances, and he wrote back as follows – his remarks appear with his permission:

Yes, I am ‘that’ Tim Warner. I took the Mother Tongue Annoyances blog offline because (a) I lost interest in it; (b) I had some privacy concerns based upon some overly revealing things I described about myself in some of my articles; and (c) I was tired of fielding negative commentary from the proverbial ‘peanut gallery.’

Resource Lost

With a sense of loss I write to say this morning I found dead the link to Tim Warner’s Mother Tongue Annoyances.  The Snap thingummy at right when you mouse over the link appears to still work, showing a tiny webpage preview snapshot of the site with a large Asian language character of, to me, unknown provenance upper right near the site’s Search box.

Cadged from the Snap.com mouse-over

Cadged from the Snap.com mouse-over - page thumb appears to date from April, 2007

Blissfully, I clicked on the little picture and found, to my horror, this:

Fare Ye Well said the site's title bar

Fare Ye Well said the site's title bar, and Web PDF downloaded this long, sad, nearly empty page

Warner’s important work has contributed to my understanding of the term, “Asshat.”  I’ve spent much time happily perusing his site for information of the sort I’ve been unable to reliably find elsewhere.  My reason for consulting MTA this morning was to find information for this site.

I recall reading somewhere on the site that Warner’s employment brought him to Nashville from some other part of the country, possibly the north-central states.  He published, I read at one point, a snarling diatribe of sorts against my own religion, Christianity, but I excused him on the grounds that his work was sound, interesting, and his education was undoubtedly a product of what passes for higher learning in these United States.  Also because he seemed to take issue more with my coreligionists, and to have little understanding of the religion, itself.

So what’s happened to Warner?  I don’t remember seeing that Asian language character upon his website prior to today’s mouse-over.  Has he become enamored with the speech and related cultural habits of a language and people group not natively his own?  I would like to know.  It is a mystery.


I’ve been pondering the etymology of some current uses of the English word, “Shit.”  Specifically “Crazy Shit,” and “Wild Shit,” usually preceded in speech by “Dude (or other mode of address), that’s some (insert type of shit here).”  In my experience, the term “Crazy Shit” connotes something unacceptably bad in the past tense unfortunately unpreventable, whereas the term “Wild Shit” is spoken with a wistful and grudging admiration for a daring, large surprisingly truthful or defiant act or statement.

“Shit” also may refer to marijuana, perhaps the gateway drug through the use of which the unacceptably bad and unfortunately unpreventable, or the daring, large surprisingly truthful or defiant stepped out into the world of human act or omission.

Something to think about.