Can Rolling Stone get us past the UVA rape of faith to the historical UVA rape?
Easter’s here again, and with it the outpouring of journalism and scholarship, reminding us that Christians are confused, anti-intellectual “Jesus of faith” cultists in need of rational tools to find the “historical Jesus.”
Rolling Stone magazine used Easter Sunday like a Friday afternoon, to publish a story they hoped folks would be too busy to see. They retracted their fraudulent narrative of a gang rape at the University of Virginia, so full of symbols conveying the deeper truth of campus rapes across the nation. Yes, I wrote that to read like mainline seminary Bible scholarship pulsed in a media blender.
Most of the arguments summoned by new atheists, journalists, progressive scholars, and your parishioners if you were preceded by a progressive cleric, - “We can’t rely on stuff written so long ago,” “Monks added all kinds of things to the Bible over time,” “The people in those days didn’t have our science and reason,” “The church composed that stuff as propaganda for itself” - seem like projection. The news sources in our age of science and reason lean on unchallenged nostrums handed down in classrooms and political rallies; reporters and “scholars” make up stuff as they go; the folks who cover religion are notoriously ignorant about it; news stories are not reports of events but agitprop to create results.
I harp on Rolling Stone’s UVA rape myth because the irony of an Easter retraction is just too rich. Journalists used the Christian celebration, one they flippantly discount as myth, as cover for their own lying. But it’s just one example.
The simple fact is that our “modern, rational and scientific” age is full of crap. We have time stamped audio/video of “I am not a crook,” “I did not have sex with that woman,” exploding pick up trucks, Hands Up Don’t Shoot and all kinds of other “facts” that turned out to be narratives that turned out to be Very Important Symbols that turned out to be friggin’ lies.
I have a college prof in my congregation who helped demonstrate the relative historical reliability of the Bible. We have shelves full of time worn Books of Common Prayer that we keep around for classes or to give away to folks who want to familiarize with them. The Professor made two towering stacks of these, representing the wealth of ancient Biblical manuscripts still in existence. Next to this, he placed a puny pile of three or four books, representing reliable manuscripts of Caesar’s Wars, a source most folks would accept on faith as “history.” He didn’t need to say much - the visual spoke plenty.
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16 ESV)
By the way, Rolling Stone is not firing any of the folks involved in its hoax. Sort of like churches maintaining abusive or apostate clergy.
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