Southern Lilt of Greeting, and Farewell

The hour of loss and final partings

Gone in whiff, the hymnal drowns

While my ears still hear in beatings

Her southern lilt of greeting sounds

 

We lose in loss, good Wordsworth chimes

Of splendor, grass, and death through-seeing

Yet echoes throb our muffled cries

As waters soothe the haunt of being

 

~ A poem of cognac and mourning.

I can hear her still, and she makes me smile.

Reading List from the Year 2015

Books and CoffeeIt has been a great year for reading. I found it gratifying and a little surprising when I assembled the entire list of books that I consumed over the past 12 months. Formats ranged from paperback to hardback to Kindle to Audible. I’ve divided the 39 books into the four categories listed below.

  1. Novels
  2. Books about Writing Books
  3. History and Religion
  4. Still Reading

Each book cover links to Amazon for the publisher’s synopsis. I’ve added my own micro-commentary below each book, not to substitute for a longer synopsis, but simply to highlight what I found notable about each. [Read more…]

Thanks to Mr. Hanks. Admiration for Mr. Olivetti.

IMG_1192I realized that Microsoft Word might amount to a liability. Editing as you go can stall forward momentum. More troubling still, the late great Gore Vidal said he could always tell whether a book had been written on a word processor. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. But what to do? [Read more…]

This Year, I’m Thankful for Stephen King

Blank Writer's PageDuring my years of martial arts obsession, I learned an old Chinese proverb about kung fu. The student’s understanding evolves in three stages.

Before I knew kung fu, a punch was just a punch, and a kick was just a kick.

As I learned kung fu, a punch was no longer just a punch, and a kick was no longer just a kick.

Now that I know kung fu, a punch is just a punch, and a kick is just a kick.

Over the past year, I have spent my spare moments learning the craft of writing long fiction. Put me in kung fu category #2 where fiction writing is concerned. [Read more…]

Infographic – Family Tree of Christianity (Reblog)

Evan T. at On the Way to Ithaca has gone to an incredible amount of work to develop an infographic showing the family tree of Christianity. Click the image below to get web and print versions of the graphic at his site. The comprehensive scope of this graphic has made some points of info verification challenging for Evan, to say the least, and he hopes that the community can potentially provide feedback, error-finds, or corrections that will lead to even better accuracy in the details. Kudos for the excellent work.

online-en-small

Easter Infographic Now Available in Greek

Through the generous volunteer collaboration of blogger Evan T. at On the Way to Ithaca, the Taking Easter Seriously infographic has now been translated into Greek. Much thanks to Evan for his hard work, which can be found here and on the main Easter infographic page. And for those unaware, this Sunday will be the Easter holiday for the Eastern Church.

Taking Easter Seriously Greek Preview

Mark Twain on Slavery and the Church Taking Credit for Society’s Corrections After the Fact

Posted in an excellent article by Ryan Bell today, a quote worth sharing all by itself:

The methods of the priest and the parson have been very curious, their history is very entertaining. In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God’s will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God’s specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery.

Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible.

The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession – and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.

— Mark Twain


– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod/2015/04/07/different-era-same-injustice/#sthash.zLR8RsL1.dpuf

A Recent Resurrection to Consider this Easter: Reblog of “The Curious Case of Alireza M.”

noose

This Easter, advocates of the traditional Jesus tale might consider a more recent example of “resurrection” that foiled a professional execution in the most startling way. The following was a blog post I originally wrote 18 months ago, though the ending has been appended. We now know how the story really ends.

October 18, 2013

An astonishing news story was posted by CNN this morning, with the following highlights:

Convicted by an Iranian court of possessing a kilogram of crystal meth, the 37-year-old man was sentenced to death by hanging at Bojnurd Prison in northeastern Iran, according to Jam-E-Jam, an official newspaper that offered this wince-inducing account:

On the morning of October 9, Alireza M. was taken from his cell to the gallows, where the judge who had issued the order read his sentence aloud and official papers were signed.

Then, a rope was placed around his neck and he was hanged for 12 minutes, after which his body was lowered and a doctor declared he was dead. The doctor, the judge and the prison head then signed the death certificate, and the body of Alireza M. was taken to a morgue for delivery the following day to his relatives.

But the next day, a worker at the morgue noticed that plastic encasing one of the bodies had steam in front of the mouth.

Consider the tally:

  • Executed by suffocation…
  • By professionals that carry out such executions for a living…
  • Death witnessed by multiple people…
  • Dead body lowered and inspected…
  • Carried away, wrapped, and laid on a flat surface

I can think of one notable case where this sort of thing happened before. [Read more…]

Easter Infographic Now in PDF Format

Per visitor request, I have created a PDF version of the infographic. It is available as a link above picture on the infographic page.

Pontius, Our Pilot – Part 1

Resurrecting the Pontius Pilate series for Easter.

Jericho Brisance

What-is-truth02To those who have, of late, recited to me our old evangelical adage – that the scriptures of the Bible are, despite their manifold authors, truthful and without contradiction – I have countered with my standing response: where would you like to begin?

Today we shall turn to one of our preeminent but unacknowledged allies, one who stands as exemplar of the sorrowing fact that the biblical writers were rather making it up as they went along – our old dear villain, Pontius Pilate. Just like Lazarus and Paul, Pontius can help us to pilot up-current, back through the Channel of No Return, to break the siren spell of rose-tinted apologetics.

View original post 2,000 more words

Taking Easter Seriously – Revised & Enhanced

It is that time of year again, and so I am reposting the popular “Taking Easter Seriously” infographic. This 2015 version includes slight enhancements and corrections to the prior version.

Many Christians read the Easter stories year upon year, as I did for several decades, yet we never compare them in detail. As a consequence, we often do not realize that they are not telling the same story. There are indeed contradictions in the texts, but it is very important to move beyond “mere contradiction” — the issues with our gospels are far more extensive than that. Comparison against the historical record and assessing the gospels for trends of legend development are probably far more crucial. As with many non-believers, I left Christianity specifically because of the Bible, and because I considered and examined its content very seriously indeed.

Perhaps it is time for more Christians to take the Bible and our Easter stories seriously.

[Click Image for Full Size Version (PNG), Use Ctrl+ and Ctrl- to adjust zoom.] or [PDF Version ]  or [Greek Version]

I am indebted to scholars like Bart Ehrman, Marcus Borg, & Richard Carrier, without whom I would no doubt continue in my own past failures to take Easter seriously. And as always, I look to improve the accuracy of my work wherever possible. Please reply with any factual errors found, and I will correct appropriately. Thanks.

Also See: Infographic for New Testament Timeline

(C) Copyright 2015, JerichoBrisance.com

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

[In other words, feel free to pass along, distribute, etc., just don’t repackage it and sell it. Thanks!]

 

~

References: [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

2014 in Review & Future Plans

Thanks to all who made 2014 a great blogging year at Jericho. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog, which I’ve auto-posted here.

Followers may have noticed that my attention to blogging has faded during the second half of the year, following the completion of the Paisley series. Over the past couple of months, I have been mulling and planning a more ambitious novel writing project, which I believe I will undertake in 2015. Current plans center around a work of historical fiction with thematic loci of faith, the marrow hope of immortality, and the costs of cult. I believe this task is beyond me, but then, perhaps that is the point. My efforts in this area will largely keep me diverted from blogging, and it may take a year or two for completion, provided I can maintain stamina.

Cheers to all, and may your New Year bring you welcome mountains, an upward press, and the hope of panoramas beyond the grey.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

32-F

Raising the plastic shade on my porthole disclosed little but a grey-white blur. Shaking off my dozing grogginess, I stopped the audiobook drone that had napped me away. The low jostle of turbulence needed some libation and a reminisce through familiar old tunes. After the cobwebs began to fully clear, I seconded my check of the world outside, just as those slow jogging chords began to lilt from the lower middle keys. I found myself transfixed by a vision. [Read more…]

Making Sense of Miracle… Paisley, Part 11

I come now to the brass tacks of fact and fiction regarding Paisley’s miracle, which will be the final post in this series. The ranging anecdotes I have recounted thus far may have left the reader with somewhat mixed signals. Had God answered prayer, or was He absent at the darkest hour? Was Paisley saved by a miracle, or by Pasteurian-Darwinian science? Was the experience a glory to God, or a reason to question His existence?

The force of such opposing arrows teaches a parable all its own, underscoring the deficiency of personal experience for navigating the waters surrounding miracles. Within the compass of a single individual (myself), one could distill nearly any moral to the story.

Nevertheless, real answers do exist. We need not wander in the mist between anecdotes. Malleable personal experience must be displaced by the stone of hard fact. To find it requires that we lift our gaze to a broader view. The cure for flat earth viewpoints hovers at high altitude.

So friends, this final post will present facts to make sense of it all. My question to you is whether you are interested in fact and truth, or whether you wish to preserve a favorite but somewhat fictional anecdote. We sadly cannot have both. [Read more…]

Prayer Most Desperate… Paisley, Part 10

If not now…

How gentle the rise, I thought, as they lifted me on that gurney. Two teams of paramedics had swept noiselessly into my kitchen, to find me collapsed on the floor. Chest pains had dragged me to the earth, coupled with strained breathing and the distinct sound of blood rushing through my ears. Crumpled to my knees, and then pulled further down, I had finally been flattened out on the stained concrete. I felt myself on the brink of losing consciousness, coupled with the sense that I would stop breathing if I did. The color had entirely drained from my face, and my frightened wife called for aid. A great hand had reached down and simply flipped the switch, or opened the valve, and the vital force had bled out of me. So they shuttled me by ambulance to the hospital, leaving my tearfully anxious wife alone with her fears until someone could come to relieve her. Paisley had not yet been born, or even conceived, but our three other children had remained fast asleep in their rooms. [Read more…]

Death of the Casual… Paisley, Part 9

Sinking the Old Frigate

I fell silent after reading that book, laying, as Job memorably stated, my hand upon my mouth. I stopped the grinding mental machinery of dismissal. I pulled back from friends and from life, and I dug in to find out what the truth was. [Read more…]

Dissonance Dawning… Paisley, Part 8

Two Standing Questions

My friends, I come now to the turn in the story which will, no doubt, lead to a good deal of seat shifting among you. However, before rounding that bend, I hope to briefly lay to rest two standing questions that have been put to us. [Read more…]

From the Rooftops… Paisley, Part 7

Lyrical Turn

Within a week following Paisley’s homecoming, my irrepressible happiness began to find its way onto the page, where a lengthy poem about the ordeal began to take shape. Following a period of toil, in which I wrangled with seesawing themes of despair and elation, the incubation yielded a grander idea. Feeble as the poetic embryo seemed, I sought out backup, rather clandestinely contacting my brother-in-law, a gifted musician:

I feel that this poem simply falls short of that moment, of what it felt like to actually be there. Do you think you can turn it into a song?

The smile began in his eyes – could he? Such an unnecessary question. [Read more…]

Equilibrium… Paisley, Part 6

It would undersell the truth to say that our Paisley had survived. She had passed through fire and death, to borrow Tolkien’s words, and without a scratch. She was perfect and whole in every way. Joy suffused us, and we felt a permeating thankfulness to God and to her doctors. She was an example both of Providence and of advanced Western medicine. She was our little miracle. But miracles are curious things, tumbling together the oil and water of the improbable and the impossible. [Read more…]

cas d'intérêt

Reflections of a Francophile

Two Wheels Across Texas

My Quest to ride through all 254 Texas Counties

The Curious Atheist

Freely Seeking Truth After Religion

Class Warfare Blog

I don’t want to start a class war; it started a long time ago and, unfortunately, we are losing.

Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

Variant Readings

Thoughts on History, Religion, Archaeology, Papyrology, etc. by Brent Nongbri

Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain