Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“You Hate Us ’Cause You Ain’t Us” and Other News You Can’t Use During the Big Blizzard of ’15


“This time it’s the Patriots against the world!” the digital Boston Globe crowed this morning.

I don’t know if the print edition carried the same headline. If a paper Globe were still being delivered to my house, I would not look for it until Thursday or find it until spring. 

Right now (see weather map) the snow is streaking past my office window horizontal, my back door is blocked by a drift, and I am happy. Nothing to do today but finish off Christopher Dawson’s Religion and the Rise of Western Culture and blog my fanny off. No point in shoveling until the end of Armageddon, or about 5 p.m. EST, according to the latest forecast. 

But about our New England Patriots—not yours if you live west of the New York state line. My Pats had a big send-off from City Hall Plaza yesterday, and the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy was there to watch:

“Flipping the bird at the league and a nation of skeptics,” Shaughnessy wrote, “the Patriots trotted out Super Bowl champ Jermaine Wiggins for Monday’s send-off, and Wiggy whipped the loyal legions into a frenzy, telling them, ‘They hate us ’cause they ain’t us!’”

Yeah, Wiggy baby! You tell ’em!

This is professional football, people, so please stop deflate-gating me. Everyone’s dirty, from the players to the owners. Fans get dirty just watching the Super Bowl halftime show or any two of five commercials. Maybe three of five. So put away your holy-roller pompoms and get the game on.

I’ve been a fan since 1973, the year John Hannah and Leon Gray were drafted. I suffered the indignities of the 1986 Super Bowl (Bears 46–Patriots 10), Victor Kiam, and James Busch Orthwein. I can handle prosperity without guilt.

My prediction: Pats by seventeen (yeah, that’s right, two TDs and one FG). Followed by: An investigation that finds that Brady ordered the ballboy to deflate the balls. A Congressional committee convened. John Dean out of retirement. Belichek raises two V signs and deadpans, “I am not a crook” while announcing his own retirement. And the brilliant Kraft family (Bob and heir-apparent Jonathan) hire a new, better coach who leads Jimmy Garappolo and company to another six Super Bowls, including four victories.

In Other News . . .

Marcus Borg died last week. I was not impressed by the only book I ever read by the prolific “liberal Christian scholar” (characterization of the Times in its obit). That was Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, a book my Episcopalian mother highly recommended. I would not recommend it.

Though I am no Scriptural scholar and I am sure Borg was a good man (he looks like a good man, doesn’t he?), he came from the Jesus Can Be Whatever You Make of Him, and This is What I Make of Him school of exegesis, and I don’t study at that school.

The Times explanation of Borg’s place in his field may be more balanced:

Borg “was among a group of scholars, known as the Jesus Seminar, who set off an uproar with its very public efforts to discern collectively which of Jesus’ acts and utterances could be confirmed as historically true, and which were probably myths. His studies of the New Testament led him not toward atheism but toward a deep belief in the spiritual life and in Jesus as a teacher, healer and prophet. Professor Borg became, in essence, a leading evangelist of what is often called progressive Christianity.”

So according to Marcus Borg, RIP, Jesus was “a teacher, healer, and prophet.” I would rather think Jesus was what he and his first-century followers said he was. But that’s just me.

And so much for Eric Metaxas (left) and the fine-tuned universe, which I blogged about last week. Turns out that the author of Miracles may be wrong about the latest science and its making a case for God. He subscribes to the school of thought that has also been tagged “Rare Earth.”

Writing this week in The New Yorker, Lawrence M. Krauss claims that Metaxas’s reasoning and that of the entire fine-tuned rare-earth gang is “fraught with statistical perils.” Examining that statement is above my pay grade, so I will leave the links for you to study if you’re inclined.

Meanwhile, I would point out that another great scientific thinker-speculator, Isaac Asimov, came at the ET question from another angle. Asimov noted first: “There are so many books on extraterrestrial life (I have written one myself) that they would almost seem to be a cottage industry. This is in a way surprising, since we have absolutely no evidence that any such phenomenon as life on other worlds exists.”

I believe it was Asimov who pointed out that, with so many possible life-bearing planets out there, and the seeming probability that some have more highly developed intelligence than our own, it is surprising that none have ever tried contacting us.

It’s getting to be Oscar time, when I like to play expert. Which is stupid, of course, because Hollywood operates by its own commercial logic. “Birdman” won this weekend’s Producers Guild Award for best picture, and because that award is viewed as an Oscar bellwether, “Birdman” is now seen as some kind of Oscar favorite.

You know what I think about “Birdman.”

Meanwhile, Harvey “Machiavelli” Weinstein, producer of “The Imitation Game,” is working the room to promote what the Times calls “a filmic standard-bearer against past injustices directed at gays.”

You know what I think about “The Imitation Game.”

Until I’m proven wrong—or see “The Grand Budapest Hotel”—I’m all in for “Boyhood” as Best Picture, so long as Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything.

Final note. If you’re still reading and still worried about the blizzard, read The Onion and laugh.

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