March 23, 2017

April 6, 2015

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.”

And yes,there were lots and lots of rational tools telling us about the real Jesus during Holy Week and Easter. CNN was “Finding Jesus” while FOX was killing him. 

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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In the UVA case, people will remember the original story and forget the retraction which is a bad thing, but in the case of the Bible haven’t progressives forgotten the original story and remembered the redacted version?

[1] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 4-6-2015 at 12:01 PM · [top]

Good point.  Yep.  All kinds of bass ackwards.

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 4-6-2015 at 12:05 PM · [top]

The UVA story “fit the narrative” and so facts were unnecessary.  The Easter story doesn’t “fit the narrative” so authenticated videotape would be required for anyone to believe it.

[3] Posted by Katherine on 4-6-2015 at 12:36 PM · [top]

And then there is the meme — from pagans and fundamentalist Christians alike — that claims Easter is a pagan holiday in honor of the wife of a certain pagan god (I’d prefer not to name the pagan god). So there are two whacks for the price of one — the pagans claim Christians are appropriating their holiday, and this somehow proves Christianity to be a lie, and the fundamentalists claim that by calling Easter “Easter” Christians are worshiping this pagan god’s wife. This meme of the origin of Easter being pagan has been debunked, but it persists nonetheless.

[4] Posted by Emerson Champion on 4-6-2015 at 01:30 PM · [top]

The name “Easter” may come from a pre-Christian spring festival, but not the Resurrection event it celebrates. 

On an amusing note, I am reading (slowly) Tom Holland’s “In the Shadow of the Sword” on the origins of Islam.  He reviews various scholarly ideas about the Qur’an, among them that the reference in the Islamic paradise to serving boys “like young pearls” and “large-eyed” women mirror details from stories of Zeus and Hera.

[5] Posted by Katherine on 4-6-2015 at 03:24 PM · [top]

#5 Katherine — Many Christian groups are now calling Easter “Resurrection Day” for that reason. That said, here are a couple of links that refute the pagan origin memes:
<a >Is the Date of Easter of Pagan Origin?</a>
<a >Is the Name “Easter” of Pagan Origin?</a>

I’m not necessarily a fan of everything “Answers in Genesis” teaches, but these I found interesting.

[6] Posted by Emerson Champion on 4-6-2015 at 04:22 PM · [top]

[7] Posted by Emerson Champion on 4-6-2015 at 04:23 PM · [top]

Ah, the Rolling Stone rape story at UVA reminds of the rape at Duke story, one a fraternity, the other a sports team.  I’d say we have a meme: journalism need not involve accuracy save incidentally.  But I could be wrong.  The meme may be we lie well so you don’t have to.

[8] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 4-6-2015 at 04:44 PM · [top]

The story met the Truthiness test used by Dan Rather.  Isn’t that enough?

[9] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 4-6-2015 at 06:58 PM · [top]

Thanks, #7.  I wouldn’t think any Christian who has read the Bible would think the date of Easter is of pagan origin.  As to the name from the germanic root, Bede may be right, or perhaps those other discussions are more accurate, but as your link says, no sensible person should think that when we say “Happy Easter” we are reverencing an ancient teutonic goddess.

[10] Posted by Katherine on 4-6-2015 at 07:12 PM · [top]

Is there enough time and energy to defend against the narrative lies that becomes the fashionable outrages? Truth usually ends up buried under posts of people full of self-righteousness and bad understanding of logic.

[11] Posted by BlueOntario on 4-7-2015 at 11:47 AM · [top]

Frankly, many articles today are DELIBERATE LIES.  The folks who tell them know if they are caught the worst thing that will happen is that they have to publish a retraction in section Z, page 10,000,000.

So long as their story SELLS MAGAZINES OR NEWSPAPERS then truth is optional.  Don’t think for a second that the editors and owners aren’t in on it/pushing this behavior forward.

Total crap.  The entire media industry has lost all moral footing…years ago…

[12] Posted by B. Hunter on 4-7-2015 at 03:14 PM · [top]

I use Resurrection Sunday because I like the image it evokes.  25 years ago, I was explaining to a coworker that the week ending in Easter was the holiest period in the church and he gaped at me.  “A BUNNY????  What in HOLY about a BUNNY?” That is the image of secular Easter to many.  He didn’t know anything about the arguments of pagan origin but growing up in the US he had managed to avoid any understanding of the religious significance of Easter as well.  Much like Santa Claus and Christmas, Easter has come to be dominated by the Bunny bringing treats.  Using the term Resurrection Sunday enables me to direct the emphasis on the action that changed the world.  I suppose I should really be calling Christmas Incarnation Day!

[13] Posted by Fidela on 4-8-2015 at 06:57 AM · [top]

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 love these two sentences, Tim.

[14] Posted by Sarah on 4-20-2015 at 06:57 AM · [top]

Update -

The final paragraph is chilling - “despite its flaws” the story (“debunked” is the correct term) is alleged to have salutary effects!  Orwellian Newspeak!

[15] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 7-30-2015 at 07:53 AM · [top]

I am glad that these students are suing “Rolling Stone”. I would love to see them out of business. I have not heard of any journalist calling for reform at Rolling Stone. Even if UVA has a horrid record of investigating sexual assault case, how is it OK to destroy the reputation of three college students? This will forever be a stigma against them and could have serious consequences for their future careers. At the very least, the college needs to have accurate information and note in their permanent record that the charges were found to totally made up with no bearing in actual fact. This could follow them for the rest of their careers!

[16] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-30-2015 at 08:50 AM · [top]

It looks as though Rolling Stone is going to get an education in legal niceties ...

[17] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-9-2015 at 05:22 PM · [top]

[18] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 1-13-2016 at 10:21 AM · [top]

Here we go with the wheels of justice grinding ever so slowly:

It appears that the historical part is in evidence as “non-existent” and that was soon known as the FOI information reveals.

[19] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 7-4-2016 at 07:31 PM · [top]

Court date:

A rolling stone gathers no moss, but no facts, either.  The saga continues.

[20] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 10-16-2016 at 10:25 PM · [top]

Court results:

The jury decided that Rolling Stone was to be held accountable and that some statements in the article were actionable.

[21] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-4-2016 at 08:21 PM · [top]

Well, the jury awarded damages ...

This might have the effect of improving journalism, possibly, maybe.  But as long as the truthiness of political correctness overrides fact-checking, I doubt it as a generality.  The Rolling Stone may improve a tad for a while.

[22] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-9-2016 at 08:28 PM · [top]

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