Yes, Sir, That's Our Senator
(Ouch. Close to the bone, there.)
Experience has sown few seeds of doubt in [Lennon]: not that his mind is closed, but it's closed round whatever he believes at the time. "Christanity will go," he said. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."The paragraph concludes, "He is reading extensively about religion."
As Christianity spread after about 300 C.E. to an increasingly educated and intellectually sophisticated populace, the need for a stable originary narrative--capable of withstanding the skepticism of friend and foe alike--became more urgent. Schonfield argues that the early church stabilized the myth of Jesus' life and worked first by obliterating any lingering traces of the Passover Plot, and finally by mining the Old Testament for every possible prophetic detail until the two parts of the Bible, taken together, constituted a seamless cosmological narrative. To Schonfield, though, in the end this is just a story, carefully and tendentiously abstracted from a chaos of events related only by their having occurred in roughly the same region at about the same time. Those events are capable of being woven into a different narrative, and this is precisely what Schonfield did.Lennon rather famously came quite unhinged during the breakup of the Beatles -- we're informed by more than one biographer that he revealed to the other Beatles that he believed he in fact was Christ during one of their ugly breakup meetings in 1969. Yet given that he and his bandmates were the subject of the most tumultuous outpouring of adulation the newly established Global Village had ever seen, and given the myths and conspiracy theories that grew up around the band -- the "Paul Is Dead" legend being the most potently suggestive of religious overtones -- is this such a mad idea after all? When you see your own life "seized upon, scrutinized, and analyzed, to discover how and in what way it represented a Sign of the Times," what would you conclude?
This is what struck Lennon more than anything else in Schonfield's book. The insights John took from The Passover Plot were more cognitive and historiographic than theological: at no time did Lennon state that he believed Schonfield's hypothesis in all its particulars. Rather, as the Evening Standard interview suggests, reading the book seems to have impelled Lennon to consider his own fame and the phenomenon of Beatlemania in their broader cultural and historic contexts, and to conclude that the psychic, political, and cultural forces that went into the making of Christianity had been revived by Beatlemania. The world of Jesus' birth was characterized, in Schonfield's words, by "an extraordinary fervour and religiosity in which almost every event, political, social, and economic, was seized upon, scrutinized, and analyzed, to discover how and in what way it represented a Sign of the Times and threw light on the approach of the End of The Days. The whole condition of the Jewish people was psychologically abnormal. . . . People were on edge, neurotic. There were hot disputes, rivalries and recriminations".... George Harrison has said that in the 1960s, "the world used [the Beatles] as an excuse to go mad, and then blamed us for their madness."
The book assembled a damning case against senior military leaders for failing to speak their minds when, in the early years of the war, they disagreed with Pentagon policies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, knowing that Johnson and MacNamara wanted uncritical support rather than honest advice, and eager to protect their careers, went along with official lies and a split-the-difference strategy of gradual escalation that none of them thought could work.The guest on this morning's Diane Rehm Show was Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Commander in Chief of CENTCOM (1997-2000), plugging his book The Battle for Peace. He added a detail about McMaster that made my ears perk up:
Rehm: All right, and here's [an email] from Ken, who says 'Our generals and admirals are certainly subject to civilian control, but must be expected to speak out -- even if it costs them -- when there is so much at stake. The current crowd around the Defense Secretary look and act like a bunch of whipped dogs. It's frankly disheartening. What can be done to straighten out some general officers' spines?' First of all, do you agree with that?"
Zinni: Uh, no, not exactly, and I'm not going to criticize people that are making decisions, and I'm not part of the process to understand it -- but I will say this. When I was a four-star general, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, sent us a book -- seventeen four-stars -- sent us a book entitled Dereliction of Duty. It was written by a young Army officer and it was the story of how the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior generals kept silent during Vietnam when they knew the conduct of the war was not being done in a militarily sound way. And later they regretted that silence, they kept quiet. That book was given to us to read, we were called to Washington and at a breakfast we had young Major McMaster, who wrote the book -- now a fine colonel in the Army -- and he described what went on. General Shelton in a very angry way, said that that will never happen with this group while I'm here as Chairman. If you feel strongly about something, you come to me or you go directly to the Secretary of Defense. You express your honest views to Congress when called on.
Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery."Renowned curator"?
He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.Joining the two clauses "it tore from the wall" and "Saunière collapsed" with the conjunction "and" is simply a schoolboy's error, a classic run-on sentence. The fact that Saunière's name is repeated rather than the pronoun "he" suggests criminally sloppy editing: No other characters have yet been introduced -- "he" could only possibly refer to Saunière! "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams Gregor Samsa found Gregor Samsa transformed in Gregor Samsa's bed into a gigantic insect." There: Perfect! Print that sucker!
On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.Again Saunière's a curator! Nice to get that relentlessly established! I forget: How renowned is he? Another solecism: you can't simultaneously freeze and turn your head. You just can't. Try it: Stop all movement (freeze) and now slowly turn your head. Hah! Caught you! You're moving!
Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.
"Do you sell compression hose?"
The noise level from all the people talking and this one screaming child (dear God, leave it at home if you can't control it) is deafening, so I ask her to repeat what she asked for. She gives me one of those "ARE YOU STUPID?" looks and says "Compression hose - you wear it on a plane."
I tell her honestly that I don't know and that I've never returned one. If we do sell it, it will be in the Pharmacy, which is open until 6 p.m. And I tell her that the Pharmacy is just past Register 23.
She moves in closer, then barks. "I want you to call up and ask if they have it."
Now, I try not to sigh at this, because I can tell that this witch would have me fired for "not helping her." So I call. They tell me what's up.
I get off the phone and tell her this. "Ma'am, they have a very small selection. It is on a display rack right next to the pharmacy window."
That wasn't good enough for her. She fires back. "Why didn't you ask them what brands they had and which sizes?"
I give up at this point, and make a passive-aggressive move to get her to go away. "Ma'am, do you need me to repeat the directions to the pharmacy?"