CNN, Reuters and other media mainstream a “Jesus relic”, taking it for granted that Jesus lived and was born in Bethlehem

December 1, 2019 • 10:30 am

I’m back with a pile of exigent tasks, all of which are temporarily effacing the memories I had of my fantastic trip to Antarctica.  I see the Roald Amundsen is again crossing the Drake Passage on the way to the Antarctic Peninsula, so the passengers must have replaced much of their luggage that was stolen. But they’ve still lost two days of their voyage.

And so it’s back to the grind for me. First, grocery shopping, which I do early in the morning. When I turned on the radio on the way to the store, the very first thing I heard was Krista Tippett blathering on in her NPR show, “On Being”, in which she regularly emits Deepities whose profundity almost brings her to tears. (She clearly thinks a lot of herself, despite her emphasis on “humility.”) Hearing her whine about spirituality already put me in a bad mood, but when the show ended (yes, I’m a masochist), I thought I heard her say “This show is located on Dakota (or Lakota) land.”

“That can’t be”, I thought to myself. “Even the unctuous Tippett isn’t that woke!”

But sure enough, she is, and I should have known it. For if you go to her “On Being” site, which of course I did, you find this page-long acknowledgment of land theft (click on screenshot):

(It turns out that the Dakota and Lakota were two distinct groups with different languages, both under the umbrella of the Sioux nation.)

But read how “On Being” flagellates its back like a masochistic penitente. If their project in Minnesota is indeed located on Dakota land—it’s 12 miles away from the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers which, according to the site, was considered “the center of the world” to the Dakota people—then why doesn’t Tippett give her headquarters back? After all, she says that “The United States’ land seizures were a project of spiritual destruction that denied the Dakota free and unhindered access to the land that fundamentally shapes their identity and spirituality.” If she’s complicit in destroying Dakota spirituality (and of course “spirituality” is her meat and potatoes), why doesn’t she do something to make up for it?

Well, yes, colonists and settlers quite often treated the Native Americans horribly, but a post facto breast-beating acknowledgment like Tippett’s doesn’t do anything but flaunt her virtue. How does it help the Dakota? If she cared, she could give a lot of her profits to the tribe, but I’m betting that isn’t happening. I find no indication of such contributions on the website—or anywhere else.

Okay, I’ve vented enough, and haven’t yet gotten to the lede.

. . . . well, not quite enough. But here’s the lede: an article from CNN reporting religious news that just appeared in many other places. In this case, a bit of Jesus’s reputed manger, for a long time kept in Rome, is now being permanently returned to Bethlehem.  And in most reports, the media, as CNN does in the headline below, hedges its bets by saying “relics are thought to be” from Jesus’s manger. But in the stories following the headlines, most of these sources take the existence of Jesus—and the Biblical narrative of his life—as being true. Read on (click on the screenshot):

First, the details and the requisite disclaimer (first bit in bold is mine):

Jerusalem (CNN) — A fragment of wood believed to be from Jesus’ manger is back in the Holy Land just in time for Christmas.

The tiny inches long relic was first taken out of the Middle East in the 7th century when St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, donated it to Pope Theodore I. It remained in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore until now.

The wooden relic arrived on Saturday at its permanent home in Bethlehem in time for Advent and the beginning of the Christmas season. Many Christians say it represents the very essence of their faith.

. . . Pope Francis allowed the relic to be returned to the region, according to Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land.

He told CNN that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had been asking the Pope to return the stone and wood manger to Bethlehem for at least one Christmas season for years. “It was important, the request of Mr. Abbas, it was very important,” said Fr. Patton.
Okay, so they’re not buying whole hog the story that this is a piece of the manger. But then there’s this (again, my emphasis):
. . . Fr. Patton said the entire crib was considered too fragile to move. Nonetheless, he says the small wooden relic is an important symbol that will now be permanently enshrined inside St. Catherine’s Church, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square in Bethlehem

This implies that what is taken by believers to be Jesus’s manger, as an entire crib, still exists. I had no idea!  The manger exists! And, looking it up, I found that, well, some bits of the crib do exist—at least some some slats. As reports, the same church in Rome from whence the fragment came, Santa Maria Maggiore (“St. Mary Majors”), is reputed to have a big piece of Baby Jesus’s bed.

Here’s the reliquary, which depicts Baby Jesus lying atop a bed of straw, which in turn is atop a cushion. There’s a manger (or a big hunk of of one) inside!

And some of the site’s description (bolding is theirs):

The reliquary was realised by Giuseppe Valadier in the early 19th century to substitute the previous reliquary from the 1600s that was stolen by Napoleonic troops.  Through the lucid crystal reliquary, you can make out some wooden slats in red maple that are typical of Bethlehem.  The relics date 2000 years to the time that Jesus was born. 

This raises many questions. Is the reliquary large enough to hold the whole bed? How do they know that the manger is 2000 years old? Did someone do carbon dating? And, if the date is right, would it be possible to extract some of Jesus’s DNA from the wood (after all, babies—even baby Jesus—do excrete, and excreta has DNA)? Most important: How did they know to save the manger given that Jesus didn’t fully show himself as the son of God until he was older? And who saved the manger?

Finally, when Napoleon’s troops stole the reliquary, did they really leave the enclosed manger behind? Did they know it was the manger?

Further, it’s not clear whether Jesus—if he lived, and I’m not at all convinced that the Jesus story is based even minimally on a real person—was born in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth. A piece by R*z* *sl*n in the Washington Post explains that most scholars think that Jesus was born in Nazareth, but the myth that he was born in Bethlehem was confected to fulfill a prediction from the prophet Micah.

So be it. I’ll let the religious scholars argue about where Jesus was born. I can finally get to the part where CNN takes for granted that Jesus was real and was born in Bethlehem. Read this (bolding is mine):

Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, lies in the West Bank, part of the Palestinian territories. For years Abbas has tried to work with the Vatican to encourage Christian pilgrims to make the trip to Bethlehem despite security and political concerns, according to Fr. Patton.

This clearly implies that Jesus lived and was born in Bethlehem; the first sentence is not a declaration by Fr. Patton. And so CNN gives credibility not just to the existence of a Jesus person, but also to the Biblical account of where he was born according to the Gospels of Mark and Luke.

Give me a break! This is like saying that “Paul Bunyan’s birth place lies in Minnesota”. It always bothers me that, despite the fact that there is no extra-Biblical evidence for the existence of someone on whom the Jesus myth is based—even an itinerant apocalyptic preacher—the mainstream media always takes it for granted that there was a Jesus, and that his story conforms pretty much to what the Bible tells us.

Isn’t the media supposed to be more skeptical than that? Shouldn’t the sentence above read: “According to legend, a person named Jesus was born in Bethlehem, now part of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank“? But no, the media simply assumes, and tells us, that Jesus lived. They’ve bought into the Bart Ehrman Fallacy, which is that the Bible must be true in part, at least in the existence of a Jesus Person, even if that Person wasn’t the son of God. (The sub-fallacy is that because most religious scholars think that Jesus was real, a Jesus Person must have lived.)

Reuters, the respected news agency, did the same thing in their article on the manger fragment (click on the screenshot, and note that this report is in the “Lifestyle” section”!)

They show the reliquary with a fragment of the manger. The first thing that needs to be done here is some carbon dating.

But again, while the relic is only “reputed” to be from the manger—the media isn’t that credulous—the existence of Jesus is taken to be true (my bolding in the excerpt below):

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A fragment of wood reputed to be from the manger where Jesus was laid after his humble birth went on display in Jerusalem on Friday, ahead of its transfer to Bethlehem for the official launch of the Christmas season.

. . . The provenance of ancient relics is often questionable. Still, they are revered by the Christian faithful, among them the coachloads of pilgrims who squeeze through a narrow sandstone entrance in the Church of the Nativity all year round to visit the birth grotto that is its centrepiece.

Note that while the bolded bit waffles about whether the wood is really from Jesus’s manger, there’s no doubt in the article that Jesus existed, and that his birth was “humble.” You can find this kind of unquestioning fealty to the Jesus story at other sites, too. National Geographic has dined out on the story for several years.

It’s time for the media to not only hedge on the provenance of these relics, but also on the existence of Jesus. (I note in passing that, according to Wikipedia, there are several places in Europe that claim to have Jesus’s foreskin, and one church that has his umbilical cord. But Jesus had only one foreskin! Like religions itself, these things can’t all be authentic!)

And so, as we swing into the Christmas season, and because I’ve returned from Antarctica, I present another rendition of the Nativity, sent in by reader Christopher Moss. This nativity scene was bought for his wife by her father, who was keen on penguins. Note that there is no manger (Jesus is cosseted under Mary’s belly), and why Joseph has a shepherd’s crook (or has he gone missing?) is obscure. And why is the angel penguin given wings when it already has them?

n.b.: Why Evolution is True comes to you from Algonquin land. 

68 thoughts on “CNN, Reuters and other media mainstream a “Jesus relic”, taking it for granted that Jesus lived and was born in Bethlehem

  1. LOL – a hearty, uproarious welcome back to PCC(E) with this storm of a post!

    Even if the pieces of detritus have good dates, baby Schmutz, and frankincense on them, it does zero to prove an ordinary H. sapiens died and rose bodily to “heaven” or will come vacuum up all the souls one day.

    Nice try, religion. The best result of this : I learned how to spell “frankincense”.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful reports from your expedition!

    “n.b.: Why Evolution is True comes to you from Algonquin land.”
    But the penguin Nativity must come from the Falklands, because there are no sheep in Antarctica.

      1. The perch to which that pinin’ Norwegian blue parrot was nailed is perhaps wood from the manger, or at least from between the ears of ‘manger-floggers’? This would tie it all together surely. But what a parrot native to Norway was doing in an Antarctic fjord could be my next research project. Maybe Scott had had yet another dubious means of transport in mind.

  3. I can’t remember where I read it, but if all the relics of pieces of the Holy Cross are put together, one could make three dozen crosses.
    That being said, I also think the evidence for a historic, ‘flesh-and-blood’ Jesus is extremely thin, to put it mildly,
    For one, the ‘spiritual’ Jesus from Paul predates the contradictory ‘fleshing out’ of the Gospels.

  4. The assumption by news that Jesus was a real person goes along with their reporting every lie by Trump no matter how ridiculous the lie. I believe they have sold so many pieces of wood, belonging to the cross he was nailed to you could build many housing developments. A good salesman of valuable relics will always have a few small wooden boxes that he claims belonged to Hitler, therefore Hitler’s pencil box. At least this lie was about a real person.

    1. I have a friend who collects Nazi/Third Reich memorabilia, a kitchen chair with a swastika here, a cup or buckle there, iron crosses, he’s got quite a collection.
      Some of these memorabilia appear so ‘innocent’, but it hits one in the face that the Third Reich really existed.
      (For all clarity: no, he’s no neo-nazi, or an admirer of Hitler or nazism, on the contrary, he considers it an evil aberration)

      1. I think I first heard the “Hitler’s pencil box” thing as a joke on MASH (TV show). This guy had a cart full of everything and was selling to anyone. Everything had a story to make it more valuable.

      2. I once knew a guy who collected Nazi memorabilia. Among many other items he had a long row of Nazi uniforms, including one he said belonged Wilhelm Keitel (boots, too). He also had a long row of tacky, ostentatious Italian fascist uniforms.

        I was horrified but morbidly curious, but what finally did it for me was that the the entrance to the stairs to the attic was almost undetectable behind a door that looked kind of like a panel. I could not but think that this was a truly grotesque twist on Anne Frank’s hiding place. BTW, this guy was half-Jewish on his mother’s side, half Aryan German on the other. A deeply conflicted soul, he was.

        1. Father Ted .
          “Have you anything from the allied side?”
          Nazi loving priest .
          “No ,that sort of thing would not interest me at all i am afraid “

  5. “In this case, a bit of Jesus’s reputed manager, for a long time kept in Rome, is now being permanently returned to Bethlehem.”

    I think you meant “manger,” though I definitely chuckled at the idea that Jesus had a manager. “Jesus, baby, come on! This gig in Jerusalem is gonna be HUGE! Ya gotta do it. Judas is even offering an all-expenses-paid feast in your honor and the Romans will compensate you with wood for your carpentry business! Plus, you gotta keep giving sermons before the public forgets about you and that Joisess guy starts stealing your business.”

  6. I enjoy watching Jeopardy, but I hate when they have categories dealing with christianity, because they always phrase the answers as if jesus/god/bible are settled facts.

    Masochist indeed! Tippett is almost as difficult for me to listen to than Trump, and that’s saying something.

    This post comes to you from Snohomish land.

      1. It seems most people do use the term post when they mean comment. You can post a comment, but you can’t comment a post (or can you?).

    1. …Although I’m thinking it was actually Brian who scored in 98. Both brilliant, but Michael was the one who inspired me to start playing football properly.

      He played against Scotland in an away match and did this trick with the ball that I’d never seen before, the roulette. I must’ve spend the next three or four months practising it at school and at home…

  7. The housing development made with relics of the True Cross could certainly be pinned together with the multitude of Holy Nails from the same. Wikipedia’s entry on “Relics associated with Jesus” includes one bit of interest from the perspective of a possible PCR work-up: “The Sudarium of Oviedo is a bloodstained cloth, measuring c. 84 × 53 cm, curated in the Cámara Santa of the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, Spain.[19] The Sudarium (Latin for “sweat cloth”) is claimed to be the cloth wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died, noted in the Gospel of John (20:6–7).[20]” [There are also claims of a Jesus’ foreskin relic, still more evidence that Medieval life did not lack canny entrepreneurs, or maybe jokers.]

    1. There once was a pile of mud in an English cathedral that was pointed out to the pilgrims has being left over from when god made Adam .

      Holy relics were big business in the middle ages .

      1. Now that I love. AD relics are a dime a dozen (or maybe a dime a boxcar load). BC relics are quite interesting and not well documented, as far as I can tell.

    2. “[There are also claims of a Jesus’ foreskin relic, still more evidence that Medieval life did not lack canny entrepreneurs, or maybe jokers.]”

      How ignorant some of us are and have been. Even Catholics must have known at the time that Jesus was supposed to have been a Jew, and that Jews are circumcized.

      1. Not to put too fine a point on it, that Jesus was circumcised, is the point. I don’t know when the Jesus was not a Jew thing came into play, but in past times, Christians were well aware that Jesus was supposed to be Jewish, and that he was circumcised according to Jewish tradition, and to them, his circumcision is proof that Jesus was human (as well as divine). I’d say, “nuts” but I haven’t heard of any relics of Jesus’ nuts.

        Depictions of the Circumcision of Jesus used to figure prominently in Christian iconography for precisely that reason

        The Feast of the Circumcision was, until recently, celebrated on January 1st.

        The peregrinations and proliferations of this relic make for interesting reading (at least to me)

  8. There is little question that Americans of European descent attempted to destroy Native American cultures and often their peoples. Are people who criticize this virtue flaunting? Probably so, if one accepts’s definition of the term as “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.” The disdain of some for those practicing virtue flaunting reminds me of the contempt some hold for those who practice identity politics. It seems to me that both terms have no real significance since almost everyone practices them.

    In the case of identity politics, those who criticize certain groups as only concerned in promoting their own interests in favor of the needs of the whole, do the same thing except that the identity group is larger than the various smaller ones. In other words, white identity politics is no different in intent than that practiced by a myriad of minorities. In regard to virtue flaunting, the European colonizers and their descendants who established the United States were if nothing else the penultimate virtue flaunters. Until this very day, these people never stop flaunting their virtue. They have never stopped uttering that the United States, as governed by its European descended citizens, is God’s chosen land, democracy and liberty is better than anywhere else, and, of course, that the United States is the greatest country on earth. It is difficult to imagine a more blatant example of virtue flaunting. Indeed, I suspect that virtue flaunting is common among all people across the globe. Few people that are in a majority would care to admit that they personally or their societies are unvirtuous. And those few people who would are accused of virtue flaunting.

    It is for these reasons that I think that the terms identity politics and virtue flaunting add little to our discussion of history or current affairs.

    1. The identity politics of the early Americans was always to their state and not the U.S. I think we call them Anti-Federalist. That is what Jefferson and Madison became and they created the first political party of the new government. That hanging on to state identity has been a big problem throughout our history. They called themselves Republicans back then and what do you know, they are the Republicans today. States rights fanatics I think we call them today.

      On another subject – question for those from this country. Did anyone receive in the mail from the census a request to fill out an on line questionnaire? I just did one today. It takes at least a half hour to go through this thing and really – a lot of questions. I found some of the questions a little more than personal and a bit over the top. We are told in the letter this is required by law and you have to do it. Anyway, you will still get stuff in the mail you have to do as well. Uncle Sam is watching….

  9. I don’t think that article by Reza Aslan can really be taken as having any credibility with respect to the place of Jesus’ birth. His argument seems to be

    1. Jesus was known as “the Nazarene”

    2. There was a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem

    3. The narrative of Luke is an obvious fiction contrived to have Jesus born in Bethlehem but from Nazareth.

    He’s ignoring the other nativity from Matthew that is completely different and impossible to reconcile with Luke, but it does also say Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He also ignores the fact that the only sources for the idea that Jesus was from Nazareth are the gospels.

    I think Aslan needs to explain why he believes the “from Nazareth” assertion is credible but the “born in Bethlehem” assertion from the same sources is not. Personally, I think both claims are manufactured from “prophecies”.

    As far as the manger goes, the claim is nonsense. Even if Jesus really was put in a manger after he was born, he wasn’t famous at the time and there would be no Christians for another thirty odd years. Even if one of them had decided it would be worth preserving the said manger, how were they going to identify an animal feeding trough from thirty years before?

        1. In art,Joseph is often portrayed with a walking stick. There is a medieval legend that when Mary was 14, the High Priest called all the eligible bachelors who were descended from David to appear before the temple; God would reveal which one was to marry Mary. A dove descended and landed on Joseph’s walking stick, which caused flowers to bloom on the end, signifying he da man. In art, the staff is often depicted as a shepherd’s crook, presumably because Joseph is guarding the Lamb of God.

          Penguin angels need wings to fly, because penguin wings don’t work.

          1. I have a Bloom County video (Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat) called A Wish for ings that Work. Opus has to save the day when Santa’s reindeer get sick or something.

      1. Perhaps he was moonlighting as a shepherd to make an extra shekel or two ,what with his wife having a new baby ,plus it was xmas to boot .

  10. First things first: Tippett is an intellectual soap bubble. She’s also annoying and sanctimonious.

    But this line “if their project in Minnesota is indeed located on Dakota land….then why doesn’t Tippett give her headquarters back?” is in my opinion unfair. It’s uncomfortably close to the argument I hear from my conservative friends whenever anyone mentions immigration…’well why don’t you start taking immigrants into your home?’

    The problem is that its logic could be used to upbraid absolutely anyone on earth for being a hypocrite. Eg. ‘so you say you’re an environmentalist? Well why don’t you walk everywhere and only eat from bins?’. ‘So you say you support the military? Well why don’t you sign up all your unborn children to the army?’.

    Personally I think there’s a use for reminding people of things like the theft of native American land. Not every single instance of stuff like this is ‘virtue flaunting’. Some of it is sincere, and plenty of it is useful, educational and ‘consciousness-raising’ as Dawkins puts it.

    1. It’s not unfair; if she wants to help the Dakota, she should be giving them money. I expect that people who really are behind a cause would do something more than just flaunt their virtue. Tippett is just piously following the Zeitgeist here. After all, do we really need reminding that everywhere we live was once Native American territory.

      I wasn’t serious about her giving her headquarters back, but I am serious about her giving money to the Dakota if the cause means anything to her. If you’re an environmentalist because you say it and don’t do anything “environmental”, even recycling, then you’re virtue flaunting. And that’s what Tippett is doing here. She’s following fashion.

      1. Well, we’ve no idea whether she is giving money to them or not. I think you can help in more ways than just giving money too.

        Sometimes sanctimonious, preachy people _also_ do good things. I help old ladies cross the road for example.

        1. Makes me think, who does she personally hold responsible for this land stealing? This is all part of the Louisiana Territory so we could blame Thomas Jefferson who bought it from the French for $15 million. And the French got it from Spain who probably just declared ownership at some point. The title search would be quite long by now with many additional people to add to the blame list. The American Indians never sold it to anyone because they did not think anyone actually owned the land. All they ever experienced was people promising them the land and then taking it away. Other than giving them the land back or giving them money, I am not sure that any other action will do.

          1. Even the first settlers came here from elsewhere, so the land wasn’t actually theirs except by right of possession. There was much movement of Native American tribes over time (from the northwest in all directions) even before white Europeans came (some people believe that the Chinese, Africans, Polynesians or other islnders also came). And Native Americans fought each other for land and made tribes move to other locations. This is not being said to excuse what we did to those living here when we arrived. It is just to point out that this behavior seems to be common among all human beings.

      2. Agreed. Tippett is doing little more than wallowing in white guilt, a very popular sport among well-off white members of the intelligentsia who seek to excuse their privileges. If she instead chose to say that she donated to Native American causes or assisted them (and encouraged her audience to follow suit) one could not easily accuse her of virtue flaunting.

        When Tippett says her headquarters is on Dakota land she’s also opportunistically aligning herself to Native American spiritual traditions, which must greatly appeal to all those “spiritual” audience members. To excuse herself for having her headquarters on Dakota land (which ultimately makes her no better than the majority of Americans) she leading her audience in cleansing fit of breast-beating.

    2. I think it’s just more about ‘visibility’. Same as here in Australia with ‘Welcomes to Country’ and ‘Acknowledgements to Country’ which at least try and acknowledge that there were, and are, aboriginal people living in Australia whose country this once was. I sometimes feel that this ‘acknowledgement’ is a bit of a sop and the very very very least we can do, as a kind of lip service but some aboriginal people who I heard speak on this recently say they feel very strongly about it and they spoke of it as contributing to their visibility in their country.

  11. At first, this impressed me as quotidian religious palaver. However, later it occurred to me how Hitchens remarked on this particular phenomenon :

    … in short, he’s willing to grant the whole kit and kaboodle of Christianity, with all his being – if only for one clear, important observation. The piece is well worth listening to so I’ll let Hitchens say it best.

    1. Excellent rant by the Hitch.

      (Don’t bother with the Youboob comments though, unless you’re feeling masochistic. The deluge of Godbot drivel is nauseating).


  12. How did they know to save the manger?

    The 3 wise men bringing gifts would have been a clue that he was something special.

  13. It’s not true to say that there’s absolutely no extra biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus. There’s Josephus, and scholars seem to accept that one of two references attributed to him is genuine, whilst one is clearly forged, and there’s the Roman historian Tacitus, who appears to be fairly well regarded. I have to say that I try to stay neutral on the subject of historicity as it seems to excite passions like nothing else.

    1. How do we know there was only one Jesus? That is, how do we know the evidence is not for more than one individual?

      1. There are several hypotheses, including the suggestion that Jesus was actually based on the person of Paul. I’ve recently been in conversation with Tim O’Neill of Australian Atheists who has written a pair of well regarded articles (I won’t post them) supporting a historical Jesus, though bearing no relationship to the Jesus of the gospels. The trouble is, of course, that the evidence is sparse, not unusual for a very minor itinerant cult preacher, but scholars do seem to think, in the main, that it’s not inconsistent with other minor characters of the day.

    2. I’m not sure which of the two references to Jesus in Josephus you consider to be “clearly forged”, since both of them are clearly forged . In any case, even if I were to concede the authenticity of both references, as well as the (also highly questionable) single reference in Tacitus, these would have been written many decades — a whole generation or two — after Jesus’ supposed lifetime, and would merely show awareness of the Jesus of faith. That is, those authors would have been describing doctrinaire Christian beliefs, not necessarily historical facts.

      The number of pieces of solid historical or archaeological evidence for an actual living, breathing, walking, talking person at the root of Christianity remains zero.

  14. Well there is a couple of ‘proofs’ that jesus lived, and WAS MARRIED no less! YES MARRIED,
    One, why would anyone take their leave and spend 40 days in the desert ALONE, and two,
    why would you want to fake your own death…
    the son of god? was no match for a women.
    Further proof he was a mortal and slightly whimpish.
    Its true.

    1. Further proofs are all the Holy Foreskins that are kept in several European churches. The fact that there are many of them suggests that either there were several Jesuses or a foreskin can regrow, like a lizard’s tail.

      1. There are undoubtedly thousands of Jesi. Mexico us full of them. Just like Mohammeds, come to think of it.



  15. Don’t forget that in some denominations (like Catholics) even reading the Bible is discouraged. I forgot this once when talking to my sister’s father in law, who *is*, as it happens, from Bethlehem. He had forgotten the story of the two thieves.

    That aside, I think most places are just not willing to rock the boat and learn what the state of the art in the field is, even in mainstream scholarship.

  16. Yeah sure acknowledgement of country is annoyingly sanctimonious. It’s not like we have to bring up the terrible history of countries like the US and other colonial empires every time we open out mouths. However I do reflexively rankle at mealy-mouthed euphemistic downplaying like “Well, yes, colonists and settlers quite often treated the Native Americans horribly”. I mean “quite often”? If by treating horribly you mean invasion and genocide, well that wasn’t “quite often”, that was in fact the entire project. I mean to say that if we are not happy with pandering to the sensitivities of indigenous people then we should likewise not be happy with pandering to the sensitivities of the colonisers.

  17. “Finally, when Napoleon’s troops stole the reliquary, did they really leave the enclosed manger behind? Did they know it was the manger?”

    That was the thought that immediately occurred to me, too.

    I prefer to be charitable in my view of them – they took the valuable stuff and left the rubbish, as all good looters should. 😉


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