Christianity and the Roman Empire, a Book Review

As I do background research for my longer term writing project, I decided it would be a useful side exercise to provide snapshot reviews of various resources that I digest along the way.

I picked up a paperback copy of “Christianity and the Roman Empire”, by  Ralph Martin Novak, at Half Price Books a week ago. It offers a substantial volume of well-chosen textual excerpts from historians and writers taken from the period of the Roman Empire, such as Tacitus, Josephus, Seutonius, Justin Martyr, and so on. Novak provides excellent commentary and discussion throughout as a scholar of Roman History with an education from University of Chicago. His presentation is objective and presents material critical of both the Roman and Christian players involved. The chronological arrangement allows the reader to see how views and policies shifted over time.

Focus of Review

I focused on the period of early martyrdom within the church, from the deaths of James, Peter and Paul, up through the second century. This provided a fascinating cross-section of what martyrdom looked like without the heroic rose tinting that is typically applied by Christian apologists.

Psuedo Policy

As it happens, there were no widespread efforts to hunt down and persecute Christians within the first two centuries. Persecution tended to be localized or regional, often associated with mob uprisings, and was reluctantly pursued by the Roman government at the imperial level. In the early 100’s, Trajan had a policy toward the Christians that would remind Americans of our own stance toward illegal immigrants. A blind eye was turned as often as possible, but there was a precedent for punishment on the books that could be used whenever it was needed or useful.

Nobody Likes a Jonah

Likewise, the Roman view of their gods was in many ways reminiscent of the Christian Right’s position on God in America today. Romans associated the success and size of the empire to their ritual fealty toward the Roman pantheon. The gods had made Rome great, and as long as Rome continued in ritual fealty, it would remain great. Failure to pay proper homage, however, could result in natural disasters, plague, defeat in battle, and eventual demise of the Empire. As such, Christians who refused to pay homage to the gods or to Caesar were viewed as disloyal, and they were viewed as bringers of misfortune.

Hurricane Katrina brought out a decidedly “Roman response” in the United States, as religious leaders pointed to the sins of New Orleans or the Nation as the proximate causes for God’s withdrawn hand of protection. The argument behind such a view is indistinguishable from the way Romans viewed Christians. Romans saw the Christians back then just as Christians often regard gays and unbelievers today. When something bad happens, the superstitious majority can usually locate a convenient minority group to blame. There may not be any visible connection between the unfortunate events and that minority group, but with God as Our Proxy, the connection is always deemed obvious.

Tarnished Halo

The book also does a very thorough job of assessing the social dimension of Christian-Roman interactions. Perceptions shifted from first to second centuries, but Christians nearly all came from the urban working poor during that time. As a group of rag-tags with a reputation for sanctimonious illiteracy, they were often cited alongside other despised classes, like charioteers and actors. Novak sums the balance as follows:

In examining the fragmentary sources on Christianity during the first century CE, one is struck by the sense that the early Christians, who are generally regarded by modern Christians as being the most righteous, gentle, and loving of people, were by the end of the first century CE generally regarded as the worst sort of people by both Jews and Romans. ~ R. M. Novak

Joseph Smith of Antiquity

Though much of historical reading can prove dry and challenging, one occasionally finds fascinating vignettes along the way. Such was the case with Peregrinus Proteus, a veritable Joseph Smith of antiquity. Lucian recounts the story which transpired around 165 CE, and it makes for interesting reading. After having murdered his father, committing adultery, and sexually corrupting a youth, Peregrinus found fertile earth as a quick-rising leader among the Christians of Palestine. Jail time only proved a resume enhancer for the fraudulent Peregrinus, though I will leave the reader to explore the longer version here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_of_Peregrinus.

Deathwish Psychosis

Novak provides so many good quotations, but some of the more eye opening was drawn from the final letters of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. On his way to martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius scrawled out a handful of farewell letters. His somewhat macabre gleefulness at the prospect of being devoured by lions was, at least to me, rather disturbing. I believe that a modern psychiatrist would have little difficulty in diagnosing a range of issues here. And one cannot but hear ancient echoes of modern radical Islam:

I am writing to all the churches and am insisting to everyone that I die for God of my own free will— unless you hinder me. I implore you: do not be unseasonably kind to me. Let me be food for the wild beasts, through whom I can reach God. I am God’s wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, so that I may prove to be pure bread. Better yet, coax the wild beasts, so that they may become my tomb and leave nothing of my body behind, lest I become a burden to anyone once I have fallen asleep. (Ignatius to Romans)

May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove to be prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me quickly, not as they have done with some, whom they were too timid to touch. And if when I am willing and ready they are not, I will force them. Bear with me— I know what is best for me. (Ignatius to Corinthians)

Recommendation

Overall, I recommend this book as a good reference text. It compiles so many excerpts from so many ancient authors that it would be valuable for that reason alone. However, it adds excellent commentary and places the materials chronologically, such that the reader feels the historical movement of events.

Comments

  1. Hi,Matt.
    Does the author treat James, Peter and Paul as real historical characters?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Basically yes. He surveys all the remaining literature, including biblical texts. He compiles all the texts with suitable excerpts, and he talks historically about which parts seem more and less plausible. But the truth is he doesn’t really get too much into the weeds on who historically existed or not. It turns out to be relatively insignificant with respect to his overall question, how did Christianity and the Roman Empire interact with one another?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In a severely disappointing way tour review is as biased as the views you try to disspell. Of course the persecutions were regional, of course there was hatred of the early Christians and name-calling and insulting, that doesn’t mean that early Christians can properly be described by your painfully ignorant and bigoted slam: “group of rag-tags with a reputation for sanctimonious illiteracy, they were often cited alongside other despised classes, like charioteers and actors”. You desperately need to engage with the Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark. Second, you don’t understand the differences between paganism and Christianity. In Christian theology God may use nature or other nations to judge our wickedness and no one is spared. Pagan gods were more like Santa Claus where you could coax them into working for you. Thirdly, death wish psychosis? *Rolls eyes* not only do you clearly not understand what psychosis is, but you do not understand the context of Ignatius’ quotes.

    I am thoroughly disappointed.

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    • Doesn’t bother me. Care to take another swing?

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      • I’m not venting rage against bias. I just expect more out of you, Matt. It’s interesting that you think citing all these makes a difference. I mean are you saying that you agree with these ancient bigots? Are you just taking their word as truth especially at the expense of evidence against their views? Or perhaps you have not sought this evidence before forming your view the ancient Christians. It’s more convenient for the atheist to make these people look bad.

        As far as your ancient “Joseph Smith” I had no comment at first. However, of course there are people who grab power and abuse it. All religions and secular systems have this problem. It cannot be a special problem of either religion in general or Christianity, rather a human problem. Does Peregrinus represent all Christian leadership for all time? I think you agree with me here: no.

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        • I would say that your expectations are a burden you have to bear on your own. As to ancient bigots, perhaps you could suggest an independent witness from the same period whose voice should instead be considered the metric. I don’t believe there is one. That leaves you with the propagandists if you want a high view. The Christians of that time make themselves look bad. We have their litany of forgeries and fabrications, don’t we? Or should we review their writings?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Just go read Rise of Christianity chapter 2. Some select points:
            – based upon an inscription found in Corinth and Romans 16:23 and 2 Timothy 4:20, the early Christian, Erastus, held the position of city treasurer (must have been educated and literate)
            – historians accept that Pomponia Graecina was a woman of senatorial class that Tacitus referred to
            – Acilius Glabrio
            – Scholar Abraham J. Malberbe analyzed the language and style of early church writers and concluded they were addressing a literate, educated audience
            – Ignatius’ letters show that he took it for granted that Christians in Rome were in positions that could influence him being granted a pardon
            – Rodney Starks research on modern cults show that they disproportionately attract upper class educated people, we have no reason to suspect this was different in the first century when Christianity was a cult in the Roman Empire

            There are additional explanations for these ancient bigots. For example, aristocracy was only about 1% of Romans and Christianity was not exclusive (it contained slaves all the way up to aristocrats), so just statistically the perspective would be that it was formed from the lower illiterate ranks. It was not an exclusive club of rich bigots, perhaps as some pagan cults.

            The broader problem is that you are biased to see Christians as uneducated and illiterate. This sort of fits an idea that atheists are the brights, the smart ones which is a kind of self-aggrandizing bias. Also your use of psychosis is an abuse of the word. There are people who really do suffer from psychosis, they don’t need additional stigma from your arrogant quipping. So, do you want me to recalibrate my expectations? That is not my burden, rather yours.

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            • – Rodney Starks research on modern cults show that they disproportionately attract upper class educated people, we have no reason to suspect this was different in the first century when Christianity was a cult in the Roman Empire

              I think there is a side effect to your attempted use of this point as evidence of your position.

              Liked by 1 person

            • You’ve cited 2 Timothy – widely regarded as pseudepigrapha.

              You’ve cited modern cult studies… from modern societies with wide spread literacy? As relevant?

              Yep, Pomponia Graecina was indeed talked about by Tacitus… But you are inferring that the superstition in which she was tangled was Christianity. Tacitus doesn’t say so.

              I think it is safe to assume that the documents written by church leaders sent to recipients who could read, as in other church leaders. That does little to nothing to alter the historical testimony that most believers were of lowly rank, often illiterate (like most others of lowly rank), and willing to believe outlandish claims on insufficient evidence. On this last charge, it is simple enough to find educated people who meet that criterion.

              Regarding psychosis, I won’t pretend to have a clinical understanding of it. Nor do I think I have. Nevertheless, Ignatius was not a mentally well person. His letters read like those of a megalomaniac with a serious overestimation of his own importance… all while stating repeatedly how humble and undeserving he was. Mix that with bloodthirst for his own glorious decimation and, well, let’s just say that we have a range of more modern cult figures who parallel him nicely.

              So, I’m wondering if you have anything of substance to actually put forward here. Just some modern folks trying to defend the happier portrait from what I see. Still no independent ancient witnesses that can refute the generalizations made by the historians I’ve already cited. Or do you have something else coming?

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              • Good thing Romans 16:23 is the more important. You should probably admit that this is counterevidence, especially since we have an independent inscription.

                Yes, modern cult studies are relevant. We don’t expect psychology has changed that much in 2000 years. Just like evolutionary biologists don’t expect that the mutation rate has changed either, right? Do you have a competing social science hypothesis? Do you have a REASON why modern cult studies are irrelevant?

                Tacitus does not need to explicitly say so to mean so. The point is that classical historians affirm that Graecina was Christian according to my sources. Can you produce a classical historian who disagrees? I mean someone who can read ancient Greek, not some internet atheist pseudointellectual.

                I’m not sure non-Christian aristocratic bigots are the best source of information, but I’m puzzled by your insistence that they are. And, this idea of insufficient evidence, give me a break. Like all of your beliefs even meet what your arbitrary standard of “sufficient evidence”. This is just intellectual hubris.

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              • I guess you’re right. That verse from Paul sort of proves that Tacitus, Suetonius, Aristides, Lucian, etc., basically had it wrong. Christians weren’t largely illiterate, largely disliked, mostly from the lower rungs, and so on.

                I can get there by agreeing with you that all we need to do is read between a few lines. We can read between the lines of Tacitus – Pomponia’s “superstition” couldn’t refer to anything but Christianity. There weren’t any other mystery religions floating around… that matter to Christians today.

                I can get there by agreeing with you that we can read between the lines of Paul’s name dropping that those mentioned weren’t simply friends, but professing believers. And I think we can read between the lines further and take that to mean that Christians at the time were a fairly heady group.

                I can get there by assuming along with you that those ancient historians must have written what they wrote out of bigotry, and not because those actually were the reputations by which Christians were known to the broader community at the time.

                I can get on the same page with you by assuming that studies of modern cults in broadly literate cultures must imply – against period testimony – that it was the more scholarly and educated who were drawn to Christianity, and not the illiterate commoners. That Christianity perhaps was the great inversion – that it didn’t even reflect period population stats, that Christians had far higher literacy percentages than the overall population, starting with its origins in Palestine. I can get there by ignoring the clear cultural differences in play between the modern studies and the ancient events by maintaining that, as long as we set aside literacy, sociology, economics, class systems, and so on, the psychology of people remains essentially the same – and that this is all that matters.

                All told, if I read between the same lines as you, and cast aside period evidence with you, and import modern evidences regardless of analogy with you, then yes. Yes, I can agree that Christians back then probably looked basically like you and me, instead of like Jamie Coots (who actually was probably a literate guy).

                What I really needed to tip the balance was that verse from Paul.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Matt, I do appreciate your sarcasm. 🙂 I don’t think anything we’ve superficially grazed over requires the kind of “reading between the lines” that you suggest. It is straight forward scholarship.

                Of course, I’m not arguing that early Christianity did not have some illiterate folks or even gullible folks or people with mental illness. One point is that we cannot infer from all the non-Christian sources who clearly have an anti-Christian agenda anything about the whole composition of this group especially against the counterevidence. And, an atheist going down this route, I mean suggesting that it was even primarily lower rank illiterate, gullible fools, is an indication to me that you have not engaged a wide enough range of scholarship and could represent bias. Because the myth that religion is for non-thinking gullible people is appealing to atheists. Am I wrong about that?

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              • “Some illiterate folks or even gullible folks.” The issue that i had with you some time ago seems to still stand between us. You just arent taking the subject seriously. And that is an unfortunate waste of time for me. If it ever changes, do let me know.

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              • What are you talking about, Matt?

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              • Also, can you positively diagnose Ignatius with psychosis? Are you qualified to diagnose this if someone was sitting in the same room with you? The answer is no and no. You might just assert that Ignatius was mentally ill, but in real scholarship we need reasons and evidence. We need to rule out other possibilities. There are plenty of explanations for the nature of Ignatius letters that do not conclude he was mentally ill. Am I wrong on this? But on top of this you abuse the diagnosis of psychosis by just loosely saying a devout religious person is psychotic. You step out of the purview of your intellectual ability, into the realm of intellectual arrogance.

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              • From my prior comment: “Regarding psychosis, I won’t pretend to have a clinical understanding of it. Nor do I think I have. Nevertheless, Ignatius was not a mentally well person.”

                Are you even reading any of this?

                Liked by 1 person

              • Fair enough, I see that you have augmented your position. Or you’ve admitted that your original reference to psychosis was a bit overblown and used for polemics rather than scholarship.

                At this point I’m unsure what “mentally well” is supposed to mean because it is vague. And, especially what, if anything, this is supposed to imply about ancient Christians in general and what may be extrapolated to modern Christians from this.

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              • I don’t believe I said that it meant anything about Christians in general.

                However, I will say after reading Ignatius that it is disturbing that he has long been held in high regard. He would make a good example for Daniel Dennett, so much like the ant driven up the blade of grass, manifesting suicidal behavior due to a wicked little splinter in the mind.

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              • Matt, this cute exchange feels all too familar and it somehow reminds me of a video that illuminated a foundational understanding of many atheist experience.

                Like that pastor Ryan Bell I am approaching my first full year living out atheism (party on March 23 anyone?) In the course, it has rather become my expectation that in the sorts of back and forths exchanges you are having here, a good many Christians take a quick offiense to seemingly most any fact hoisted as an argument against ANY part of the Christian faith. I quickly become ‘biased’, ‘hateful’, ‘arrogant’, or ‘attacking. This is even when directed towards a target many ‘clicks’ away from the person I’m conversing with.

                I was frustred that I could not have a rational, fact-based conversation without the ‘heat’ rising. The vitriol would arise even with the statement of an an undisputed FACT (like say that the gospels are anonymous) I was puzzled just why this emotional response was so strong—that is until I found this video that put it perfectly.

                I now understand that be be a ‘believer’ means you have turned your thoughts into your god. And that you are ‘praying’ to your god (yourself!) all day long. So even facts that pose risk to that divine personal relationship are briskly dealt with by the greatest tool that that mind has to fool itself—and others—emotion.

                Liked by 2 people

              • That is a great video, and it’s good to hear from you again man. 🙂

                Lord knows I used to do the song and dance for the faith. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. I have to take a deep breath when encountering the fact-blind, the apologetic minded, the ignorant, or the belligerent. I have to stop, breathe, and just say it to myself again:

                “It’s OK. They’re just being a little bit Christian right now.”

                That seems to help. But I feel guilty nevertheless when I wind up in another unproductive vortex in the wider ocean of misinformation. This thread is par for the course in wasted time, spiraling down on something as straightforward as the low literacy rates of the ancient world, much less the rural regions of Palestine. Sigh. A waste. But a clear enough waste to say to myself, “moving on.”

                So, I breathe and repeat the mantra. 🙂

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              • I’m not taking offense. 🙂 There are more sophisticated ways to be an atheist. You know, like valuing skepticism, researching a broad range of scholarship before settling on conclusions, not abusing terms for polemical purposes, and so on. Do you not agree? Or do you think skepticism and sound scholarship is cute as well? I’m not sure exactly where you are coming from, bro.

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              • I find your duplicity… Amazing…

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                NeuroNotes is presently involved with something at the moment, away from the internet, but were she not, I know for a fact that she would LOVE to wade into this with both feet – she and Brandon are old — associates.

                Liked by 2 people

              • Thus far, having seen merely a few bullet points from his lone book, balanced against the volley of citations and historians which I’ve presented, and coupled with his presumption to instruct others about proper research – well, there is only so much of my time I’m willing to donate to those bereft of conscience.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Matt, my book reviews nearly a century of scholarship. The way you describe your book is that it is a quote-mine and does not contextualize anything or make scholarly arguments. Is that the case? Or, do you know something that I don’t?

                Until perhaps 1960 it was the major view that Christianity started from low social rank. Since E.A. Judge “the proletarian view of the early church, a consensus has developed among New Testament historians that Christianity was based in the middle and upper classes.” In addition to the volley of points I listed, there are the privileged women in Acts, and the fact that proletarian mass movements may be perceived as political threats and crushed, which is not Rome’s response to Christianity. The persecutions were haphazard and limited. It was not crushed like Masada or Jerusalem.

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              • Sorry Brandon, you’ve spent your account into the red over here. Can’t take you seriously.

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              • Alright Matt. Goodbye.

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              • What exactly are you talking about?

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                The vitriol would arise even with the statement of an an undisputed FACT (like say that the gospels are anonymous)

                I just had my comments put on “moderation” on ColorStorm’s blog, for saying exactly that same thing. On that blog, “moderation” means my comments will never see the light of day. ColorStorm, much like Brandon here, is a dopamine addict, and will only tolerate those comments that induce an additional flow of that chemical.

                Liked by 1 person

              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                It’s common knowledge that the literacy rate of the Levant, during the time ascribed to Yeshua, was roughly 3%.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I know. Exactly.

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              • Puts the back woods of Alabama or Arkansas in a pretty good light. It is hard for people to admit that Christianity was born in a cradle of ignorance that would make Ozark hillbilly communities look scholarly.

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                The vast majority of those were priests and scribes – what does that leave?

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            • archaeopteryx1 says:

              – Ignatius’ letters show that he took it for granted that Christians in Rome were in positions that could influence him being granted a pardon
              How’d that work out for him?

              En route to Rome, where according to Christian tradition he met his martyrdom by being fed to wild beasts, he wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology.
              — Wikipedia —

              Liked by 1 person

              • I called it cute as you two seemed to think there was a real conversation driving to real insight. And I suspected that Matt was playing along for some reason other than to teach or learn–a ceremonial thread so to speak. I was also chuckling because I still live in a very theist world, and when I browsed one of my favorite oases of reason I see that Matt was engaged in the sort of charade I came here to avoid.

                And finally it was amusing to see Matt kind of use the ‘Were you there?” argument which made me think of another Dark Matter 2525 video:

                Liked by 1 person

              • Your opining on our conversation is far more of a charade than any real intellectual input. But, I suppose it’s fun. 🙂 BTW congratulations on almost a year, I’m really impressed. Please show us another brilliant youtube video!

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              • Yeah, I suppose a newbie like me should stay with YouTube. I’m just sticking to the basics so far. In fact, the extent of my religious discourse lately has mostly focused on convincing my family that a fish would have digested Jonah after three days. Being indoctrinated as deep as I was, it may take me a while to gain some complexity. I admit, wish I was indoctrinated by a more intellectual bunch like you must have been. But, such is life.

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              • Hey secularag, I thought everyone knew that Jonah wore a plastic suit resistant to stomach acid and carried a 3 day oxygen supply. Ancient scuba gear technology, you know.

                Well, I feel your frustration. Seriously, I’ve been there albeit on different subjects than Jonah. I understand you coming to Matt’s for an oasis of reason. Matt is a smart guy who is quite eloquent, and I can’t blame him for being from Texas since I live only a few hours drive from him. I hope his offer to have coffee with me stands when this burns out.

                I hope that you do not perceive that I was insulting you with my comment. For all I know, you may well be a genius, national merit scholar, future Nobel laureate with the supernatural power of ESP to top it off. It just seemed as though you wanted to invalidate our conversation because you might think there is no legitimate conversation on these topics. Maybe that’s not what you think though. Maybe you ultimately mean to say that conversations between two stubborn thinkers who disagree on a topic which, to be honest, doesn’t really affect the truth of either worldview in any substantial way, are in some sense a charade. But, regardless of this, for me it’s not so much the conclusion that matters as much as the methodology and intellectual humility that goes into it. And, none of my criticism towards Matt’s blog post is meant to be a sort of general label for Matt, rather very very specific criticism.

                Anyway, in all seriousness, despite your past situation, I think your questioning of your default belief template and efforts to gain complexity are commendable. No matter what you conclude. Cheers

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              • Sorry I was just being a jerk. It’a because Dez Bryant clearly made a football move and I was ready to take out my Cowboys frustration on anyone handy.

                To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in the topic, and so I apologize for stepping in. I’m not all into the academia as once I learned that there was not such thing as Adam, which means no original sin, which means no justifiable reason to send me to hell, I became a nonbeliever. All Im doing here was just wanting to find a way to say hey to Matt. His blog, and some of the commenters on it, met me in a very dark place. Plus he directly reached out to me, a total stranger in the frigid Midwest and taught me A LOT about what life was going to be like, and for that I’m forever indebted. Because of all this, I periodically check in.

                I’m not overly intelligent. I mean, no one remembers the salutatorian right? I admire people that are. That’s why I read way more than I post. Mostly I want to play guitar, sleep in on Sunday, and teach my kids to hit the curveball and think for themselves, and completely annihilate all religions.

                I wish you the best. I admire people that are so passionate to actually write a book (including both of you guys —and my wife—don’t ask—it’s a Christian book). Keep it up, I will check back in next quarter when I’ve drank a lot after the Cowboys screw up the draft probably make an ass of myself again.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Cody, by no means – you were funny, and that’s nearly always welcome.

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              • Nearly

                Liked by 1 person

              • Actually the Ken Spam video was quite funny.

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              • Being an atheist is not just about reading the book summaries by those that actually read the book. It’s about fun too ya know.

                Liked by 1 person

              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                It’s about fun too ya know.” – and that’s why I have fun at every opportunity, especially with dopamine addicts like Brandon.

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            • archaeopteryx1 says:

              So, do you want me to recalibrate my expectations? That is not my burden, rather yours.

              I rather suspect, Brandon, that that would involve someone caring whether or not you do —

              Liked by 2 people

        • “Lucian’s depiction of the Christians as simple, poorly-educated people, who accepted teachings on faith rather than reason, is consistent with the picture presented by the pagan author Celsus, a decade later in his book” ~ Novak

          Lucian could have been writing about any Christian, from pretty much any era in fact, and especially indoctrinated fundamentalists such as you, anaivethinker. Your unsubstantiated comments, littered across numerous blogs critical of Christianity, reflect the nonintellectual and utterly unreasonable approach that are hallmarks of the religious.

          Liked by 2 people

    • “Either translation would be consistent with the low regard that Suetonius, like Tacitus had for the Christians, whom he associated in his text with the charioteers and pantomime actors, groups regarded by the Romans as the dregs of society.” ~ Novak.

      “I could at least feel no doubt that whatever the nature of their creed might be, pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement.” ~ Pliny the Younger

      “The poor wretches have deceived themselves, first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time… they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by occasions, comes among them, he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk.” (speaking here of Peregrinus) ~ Lucian

      “Lucian’s depiction of the Christians as simple, poorly-educated people, who accepted teachings on faith rather than reason, is consistent with the picture presented by the pagan author Celsus, a decade later in his book” ~ Novak

      “They frequent doorways, talking more often to the doorkeepers than to the masters, making up for their lowly conditions by using impudence. They deceive like flatterers, handle insults like superior men, combining the two most opposite and repugnant vices: vileness and insolence… They are incapable as far as they are concerned of contributing in any matter whatsoever toward any common good, but when it comes to undermining home life, bringing trouble and discord into families and claiming to be leaders of all things, they are the most skillful of men.” ~ Aristides

      “Ignatius’s third concern was his impending death, which he anticipates with a vivid, almost macabre eagerness (Rom. 4.2, 5.3, 7.2). ~ Michael W. Holmes. The Apostolic Fathers in English (Kindle Locations 1995-1997). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

      Let us not even get into the Christian accounts of themselves… such as, say, the Martyrdom of Polycarp. If ever a well steeped broth of falsifications and nonsense has been contrived, MOP stands heads above any pagan source I’ve cited. If you wish to vent your rage against bias, there are far fatter targets at which to aim…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Have you heard of Celsus? He writes of Christians, as can be seen in Origen contra Celsus thus,

      only foolish and low individuals, and persons devoid of perception, and slaves, and women, and children, of whom the teachers of the divine word wish to make converts.

      which almost seem to represents Christians specifically and the religious of all ages. Your comments in response to Matt fits in the description of Celsus.

      Liked by 2 people

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Ah, Brandon – I see you’re at it again! And you wonder why anyone would insult or name-call —

      Like

  3. Interesting stuff. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Matt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “There may not be any visible connection between the unfortunate events and that minority group, but with God as Our Proxy, the connection is always deemed obvious.”

    The Christian world-at-large.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on SelfAwarePatterns.

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Random thoughts

Random musings about everything.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

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