Wifi in the Church is bad; it’s as if there’s some sort of super-dampening force that concentrates the mind on the subject at hand, so you can’t google “gospel inconsistences.”

Did you mean "gospel inconsistencies”?

Yes yes of course, unseen all-knowing power.

They’re not really inconsistencies so much as different ways of describing events for rhetorical effect, leaving out or playing up certain things. At least that’s how I understand the arguments. I'm not trying to pretend these things haven't stuck out for centuries, and have been debated by keener minds than mine. I've nothing novel to add to the discussion. But it's interesting.

What occasions this, besides Easter? Daughter was in the choir for Wednesday, aka Spy Wednesday if you like. By “choir” I mean a huge mass of current and alumni singers, along with the church’s orchestra and a knock-out tenor and an amazing soprano. It’s not mega-church level bombast. It’s more approachable and intimate, but still capable of great power: nothing like having a mass of people shout HE IS DEATH-GUILTY! over and over to get your attention.

Since my mind always wanders in church, I read the Bible. No one can accuse you of not paying attention in church when you’re reading the Bible. The Old Testament is always fascinating - dipped into a little Isiah for some wild shouting prophecy about your wine spoiling and your loin clothes unraveling and the general woe that will betide. Then read the last part of the Gospels to see how the Easter story is told from various authorial viewpoints.

Some of the changes are minor - two angels in the empty tomb, or one; stone's rolled back, or an angel shows up and rolls it back. Always amuses me how angels can be so . . . rude. Why are you weeping? Why are you looking for the dead here? Uh - because it’s a tomb? Where we put our dead friend?

I mean, it’s a perfectly normal reaction, and while it’s possible to pose that question kindly, it still seems insensitive.

In one account of the arrest of Jesus in the garden, one of the Apostles is packing heat and whacks off a slave’s ear when they lay hands on the boss, whereupon Jesus says “that’s enough of that, relax.” But in another account he heals the ear on the spot.

Now. Think about that: you’re part of the local group of ward heelers sent around with the cops to pick up this agitator, and your justification rests in part in his claim to be the Messiah. You’ve heard stories about miracles, but you don’t believe in them much; you’re the practical sort. Miracles were fine in the olden days, but this is the modern world with Rome to think about, and so on.

“Arrest that fraud, he claims he performs miracles!”

(Man cauterizes bloody ear with a touch)

“Uh - okay, anyway, arrest that man!”

Post-Golgotha, there are different accounts. In one, Jesus shows up and says “why are you surprised to see me?” which again, is a bit odd; yes, yes oh ye of little faith and all, I know, but of course they’re going to be surprised. (One explanation for this maintains that the author wanted to portray the disciples as being a rather thick and doubting lot.) In another, Jesus comes across two disciples walking into town, and clouds their minds so they don’t recognize him, and says, more or less, “So, what’s going on around these parts?”

“Seriously? You haven’t heard?" they say. "Where have you been?” And they tell the Stranger all about the events of the last few days. Whereupon the Stranger, who was in reality Jesus, launches into an account of how this was all predicted from Moses on. You can imagine the disciples’ reaction, perhaps: oh great, five miles to go and we have one of those guys along for the journey. It's always prophecy with these guys.

But then they get back to the inn, and invite the stranger to stay. Whereupon he unclouded their mind, reveals himself, and disappears.

Which would tend to make an impression.

But my favorite is Luke, which is different from the others. Jesus shows up, shows them the wounds, and then says - I’m paraphrasing - "I’m starving. You have anything to eat around here?” Whereupon they give him some boiled fish. Then he ascendeth.

It’s the most human of the accounts. A ghost wouldn’t be hungry. A god wouldn’t be hungry. A man would be hungry.

Other things nag me: if Jesus said he wouldn’t have any wine until he was in heaven at the Last Supper, why did he try some of the wine offered by the soldiers? To which someone might say “well, he didn’t drink it, he just tried it, and it was bad.” It was wine mixed with myrrh, according to one account. Another said it was wine mixed with gall, which makes you think: blech. Really, gall?

Let’s go to the experts. This is interesting.

Sour wine, a staple in the Roman soldier's diet commonly used by poor people, was certainly considered unpalatable for the Jewish and the Roman upper class to partake of. The sour wine, offered to the Lord Jesus Christ during His crucifixion, has been frequently referred to as vinegar. Vinegar was a drink consisting of wine or a strong drink generally turned sour. In the Old Testament Holy Book of Psalm, vinegar is associated with poison, "They gave me gall for my food, and they gave me vinegar for my drink" (Psalm 68:22; LXX).

Gall, a substance usually associated with bitterness and misfortune, was thought to have been derived from a berry producing plant, often attributed to the poppy plant. The Old Testament Book of Job 20:14 refers to gall as the "gall of an asp". The prophet Hosea (10:4) associates gall with hemlock. In the Pentateuch Book of Deuteronomy, Moses the prophet declared of the wicked, "Their grapes are grapes of gall" (Deuteronomy 32:32).

Offering sour wine combined with gall to our suffering, crucified Lord Jesus may have been a medicinal and merciful gesture to dull the intense pain; but St. Luke in his Holy Gospel implies that the drink offered to our Lord Jesus at His crucifixion was part of the torture. "The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine" (Luke 23:36)

St. Mark in his gospel states that the sour wine mixed with myrrh was believed to have narcotic effects (Mark 15:23). Perhaps sour wine and myrrh were given to a crucified person to intoxicate him in an attempt to diminish his suffering. By combining myrrh or gall with sour wine, an anesthetic herb is created that could be utilized indisputably to lessen the pain of those crucified.

Whether out of routine performance, an impulsive thoughtless act or even the remote possibility of it being out of a merciful act towards the criminal during his last breathing moments; sour wine and myrrh seemed to have had the potency of making the execution of crucifixion somehow bearable.

It’s the lesser characters you wonder about after years and years of Easter. The soldiers. What they thought. What their day had been like the day before. And of course there’s the fascinating character of Pilate. Who as a child wasn't conflicted about him? Who as an adult doesn't imagine someone who's got another full day at the office ahead, and then there's this. It's always something like this with the locals. In one account he sends Jesus to Herod, who mocks him and sends him back; in another he says there's nothing wrong with this guy. Flog him and let him go. You think: flog him? Why? Just to make everyone dissatisfied so everyone thinks it ended up fairly?

This is a great painting: Pilate saying to the crowd, ecce home? Is this the guy?

It's his posture that says it all.

All right, you baying idiots, is this what you want? Because I have work to do. Okay? Okay.

It's by Antonio Ciseri, active in the late 19th century.

Anyway. Much to think about if you think about it a lot; much to think about if you don't.



The parking lot is now a dim memory.


It's going to obscure the tower behind it completely.

This one makes me happy every day I see it, except . . .


Except for the part I'm not showing you, but we'll get to that.



As noted, I'm going through the entire Gildersleeve series this year - and there's a lot. We're still in the early days, when the show had found its footing. As noted, I'm going through the entire Gildersleeve series this year - and there's a lot. We're still in the early days, when the show had found its footing.



Interesting how you figure out what the tortured dreams are about, right?


  This is just early 40s charm at its . . . nicest.



Same here; you can imagine the Scarecrow from Oz dancing and walking. YES I KNOW that was 39.




I've forgotten why the trombones were drunk . . .




But they're still tipsy here, before sober woodwinds come in.


All custom-written for two episodes.



Finally: don't think you'd hear this today. But he's the sponsor, and he gets to do whatever he wants. This is him. This is Mr. Kraft Cheese, and he meant what he said.





AD: From 1946. I give you: the worst add I've heard from years. Not just the chicken, it's what you dread when he says "Another sound is so welcome." NO PLEASE NOT THAT - oh.



Anything she belts is the best.


The moment she starts, the world stops.



  Some wisdom from the Old Fellows down in Pine Ridge. So we end the week.

That will do, I hope; thanks for stopping by this week! See you Monday for a metric bucketload of more, more, MORE!



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