Sunday, December 21, 2014

Once in royal David's city...

Once in royal David's city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

I expect that all reading here know the beautiful Christmas carol excerpted above.  But was there ever a royal David?  And if so, did he rule anything? Learned historians dispute it.  There was no civilization in Israel at that time, they say  -- only primitive farms.

"Die Bibel hat doch Recht" ("The Bible is right after all") was a German book written about 50 years ago which used then-recent archaeological findings to show that the Bible was historically correct. As time has gone by, more findings to that effect have emerged. The report below now reveals some unusually strong confirmation of Bible chronology.  It seems that recently discovered clay seals show  that biblical accounts of King David and Solomon are probably correct

For centuries, scholars have either dismissed King David and King Solomon as mythological figures, or disputed the era in which they ruled over the Israelites, as told in the Bible.

But the discovery of six official clay seals may finally prove that there was a ruler in the region during the 9th and 10th century BC.

Although the bullae don't directly reference David or Solomon, they do suggest the presence of a government and political activity during their respective supposed reigns.

The clay seals were found at Khirbet Summeily, an archaeological site in Tell-el Hesi to the east of Gaza in southern Israel, by Jimmy Hardin, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at Mississippi State University.

He said the clay bullae were used to seal official correspondence in much the same way wax seals were used on official documents in later periods.

'We are very positive that these bullae are associated with the Iron Age IIA, which we date to the 10th century BC, and which lends general support to the historical veracity of David and Solomon as recorded in the Hebrew biblical texts.

'These appear to be the only known examples of bullae from the 10th century, making this discovery unique.'

The finds contribute to an ongoing debate about whether governments or states existed in the early Iron Ages.

Professor Hardin said that the artefacts hold far-reaching implications for the growing number of scholars who maintain such political organisation occurred much later than biblical texts suggest.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that points to the rule of the House of David in the region.

A large rock, known as the Tel Dan Stele, was discovered in the early 1990s and inscriptions on its surface reference a King of Israel and the House of David.

Although the translation isn't complete, in particular, the eighth and ninth lines have been translated as: 'The king of Israel, and I killed [...]yahu son of [... the ki]/ng of the House of David. And I made [their towns into ruins].

The broken stele is currently on display at the at Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of its Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age exhibit.

The museum calls its inscription: 'the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.'

Epigraphers and biblical historians are said to be in agreement that the letters 'bytdvd' on the stone refer to the House of King David. 

'Some text scholars and archaeologists have dismissed the historic reliability of the biblical text surrounding kings David and Solomon, such as recorded in the Bible in the books of Kings and Second Samuel, which scholars often date to the Iron Age IIA or 10th century BC,' Professor Hardin said.

'The fact that these bullae came off of sealed written documents shows that this site - located out on the periphery of pretty much everything - is integrated at a level far beyond subsistence.

'You have either political or administrative activities going on at a level well beyond those typical of a rural farmstead.'

The Bible claims David ruled the Kingdom of Israel and later Judah between 1010 BC until his death in 970BC.

He is referenced in the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles

Professor Hardin's findings are published in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology.

The journal article describes the dig site as a borderland area between what would have been the centre of Judah and Philistia.

It was originally assumed to be a small Iron Age farmstead.   However, the excavation of the bullae and other recent archaeological finds indicate a level of political organisation previously thought not to exist at that time.

'We believe that the aggregate material culture remains that have been discovered at Summeily demonstrate a level of political-economic activity that has not been suspected recently for the late Iron Age I and early Iron Age IIA,' the researchers wrote in the journal.

Two of the bullae Professor Hardin's team excavated have complete seal impressions, two have partial seal impressions, and two others have none.

Two of them were blackened by fire, but one bulla has a well-preserved hole where the string used to seal the document passed through the clay.

The impressions in the bullae do not contain writing.

The bullae the team found were in the layer of material tested by the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Rock Magnetism at the University of Minnesota.

The markings were examined and dated by Christopher Rollston, an epigrapher in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations at George Washington University.

Jeff Blakely from the University of Wisconsin-Madison said: 'Our dates for the bullae are based on multiple types of evidence we combined to determine a general 10th century BC date.'

'The style of the bullae, the types of ancient pottery found in the same contexts as the bullae, the types of Egyptian scarabs found, the style of an Egyptian amulet, and the overall stratigraphy or layering of the site each suggested a 10th century date.

'In addition, archaeomagnetism dating, which is based on the strength and direction of the earth's magnetic fields in the past, also suggested the layers in which the bullae were found must be 10th century.

'Further research and analysis should refine our dating to decades rather than a century,' he said


Enoch Powell's monstrous reputation hides the real man

What remains of his legacy is a name with which to, if not quite frighten children, at least bludgeon opponents
When Enoch Powell died in 1998, Tony Blair praised him as “one of the great figures of twentieth century British politics” – which, at that time, was an unremarkable thing to say. Powell, after all, was still a familiar figure in the 1990s, appearing on BBC Question Time, speaking at public meetings, contributing to newspapers. His last major foray, in 1994, had been typically idiosyncratic: an attempt to show, by textual exegesis, that Jesus was more likely to have been stoned to death than crucified.

A curious thing happened, though, over the next two decades. As memories of the living, breathing Enoch faded, he ceased, for most people, to be a human being and became instead a symbol – a symbol of irrational hostility to immigrants. By 2007, a Conservative parliamentary candidate in the West Midlands was forced to stand down after asserting, in a newspaper, that Enoch “was right”.

The odd thing was that the man’s posthumous reputation declined at precisely the moment that the multiculti groupthink was fracturing. In 1998, when Tony Blair spoke his panegyric, to call for stricter immigration controls was to place yourself beyond polite society.

During the 2001 general election campaign, William Hague was howled down for voicing far milder opinions than we now hear daily from Labour frontbenchers. It is these days accepted, in a way that it wasn’t then, that decent people might have respectable concerns about pressure on space and services.

Unable to call for unrestricted inward migration any more, a few politicians and commentators have had to adopt alternative ways of brandishing their cosmopolitan credentials. Savaging a man who is no longer here to gainsay them is one way to do so.

So, was Enoch right? Well, on the issue which we’re all now supposed to judge him by, no. He feared, as others did during the 1960s, that mass immigration would lead to social breakdown; and his fears were, I’m glad to say, never realised. The River Tiber did not foam with much blood. Neither, closer to home, did the Rivers Tame or Trent. Britain succeeded in integrating an unprecedented number of settlers without major unrest.

That’s not to say that there were no problems but, by and large, the country was able to enlarge its sense of what national identity meant. To this day, foreign visitors remark on how well Britain functions as a multiracial society. We don’t have to look far abroad for less happy examples.

On the two big issues of his day, though, he was dead right. First, he grasped, long before other politicians, that the post-war corporatist consensus was unsustainable, and that Britain was on the road to inflation, stagnation and debt. The Thatcherism that was seen as almost impossibly bold and radical in the late 1970s had been on his agenda since the late 1950s. He, as much as anyone, taught that creed to the rest of his party.

Second – again, decades ahead of his time – he saw that what is now the European Union was not a trade arrangement but a political project incompatible with full parliamentary democracy.

Of course, these causes are still not universally popular; but they are now close to the consensus whereas, when he first took them up, they were so eccentric as to appear deranged.

The constant of Enoch Powell’s career was precisely his constancy. A master logician, he sometimes followed the arrow-flight of his logic to implausible places. Yet there is no doubting his brilliance. This is the man who, as a 17-year-old translating a passage from Bede into classical Greek for his Cambridge scholarship exam, found the task so easy that, to fill the allotted time, he translated it into Platonic, then Herodotean, then Ionic Greek, and then annotated it. This was the youngest professor in the Empire, the youngest Brigadier in the British Army, a master of several ancient and modern languages, the greatest parliamentary orator of his age.

Fewer and fewer people remember any of these things. Hardly anyone now recalls the issue where he first made his name as an MP, namely his championing of the right of Kenyan insurgents to the full protection of the British laws that they were fighting to throw off. Fifty-five years on, his speech about the Mau Mau terrorists who had been tortured seems uncannily apt to our present discontents:

"It has been said – and it is a fact – that these 11 men were the lowest of the low; subhuman was the word which one of my honourable Friends used. So be it. But that cannot be relevant to the acceptance of responsibility for their death. In general, I would say that it is a fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it, to stand in judgment on a fellow human being and to say, ‘Because he was such-and-such, therefore the consequences which would otherwise flow from his death shall not flow.’

"Nor can we ourselves pick and choose where and in what parts of the world we shall use this or that kind of standard. We cannot say, ‘We will have African standards in Africa, Asian standards in Asia and perhaps British standards here at home.’ We have not that choice to make. We must be consistent with ourselves everywhere."

All this is gone now, lost in time like tears in rain. What remains is a name with which to, if not quite frighten children, at least bludgeon opponents.

Yet, oddly enough, Enoch Powell was keenly interested in turning theories into policy. His close friend and executor, Richard Ritchie, wrote yesterday that Enoch Powell would not have backed Ukip because he would have seen that party as, paradoxically, an obstacle in the path of securing a parliamentary majority for a referendum on leaving the EU. On that matter too, tragically, I suspect Enoch was right.


Christophobes March On

America's Christophobes have been plenty busy lately. Maybe the Christmas season makes them especially nervous.

A few weeks ago, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief Kelvin Cochran was suspended for a month without pay for the unforgivable sin of self-publishing a Christian book in which he expressed his disapproving views about homosexual behavior, among other things.

City spokeswoman Anne Torres said: "We understand that (Cochran) was distributing the book to other employees. We are still not sure yet what the circumstances surrounding that are. ... The bottom line is that the (Mayor Kasim) Reed administration does not tolerate discrimination of any kind."

Now that's an Orwellian assertion if I've ever heard one, for I suppose Torres meant that Reed does not tolerate discrimination of any kind except the kinds he deems worthy, such as his fascist suspension of Chief Cochran.

The city's action against Cochran is, in fact, discrimination, and the entity doing the discrimination is the city itself. So Reed condemns himself with his own statements. His hypocrisy is further illuminated by his characterizing Cochran's mere personal publication of a book as prohibited discriminatory behavior when Cochran took no discriminatory actions against anyone, let alone in his official capacity.

Yes, Cochran reportedly distributed his book to some of his employees. But there is apparently no indication that he followed up with a department pop quiz.

According to news reports, the city is now investigating whether Cochran broke any city laws or discriminated against some employees in the city's fire department. Really? If they don't know whether he broke any laws or committed acts of discrimination, then why did they say he did and suspend him?

I'll tell you why: No one dare utter opinions that conflict with the politically correct dictate that homosexual behavior is above criticism. Thought police act first and then investigate later.

But the city is talking out of both sides of its mouth. While peremptorily suspending Cochran and then saying it's investigating whether discrimination occurred, it's also saying, through its spokeswoman, that "a number of passages in the book ... directly conflict with the city's nondiscrimination policies."

One wonders what passages could conflict with such policies? As long as we still have free speech in this nation — and in the city of Atlanta — how can a passage conflict with such policies? Does she mean that passages advocate prohibited actions or that they express views that the city doesn't allow to be thought, much less expressed? Does it matter at all that these passages are based on protected religious beliefs, which makes the city's action all the more outrageous?

Mayor Reed said, "I am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community." Well, good for him, but is that legal justification for him to discriminate against his fire chief, hitting him in his pocketbook? Is that what it has come to?

Yes, this is indeed what it has come to. Henceforth, Cochran will be prohibited from distributing the book on city property and will be required to undergo sensitivity training. If a city employee, especially one in a leadership position, publicly expresses opinions that offend the sensibilities of the Minister of Truth, he will be forced to submit to re-education camp as a condition to retaining his job.

More recently, the U.S. Army disciplined a military chaplain for making references to the Bible during a suicide prevention seminar Nov. 20 at the University of North Georgia as he shared his personal experiences with depression while an Army Ranger.

Joseph Lawhorn referred to Israel's King David of Old Testament renown. This brought a "letter of concern" from Col. David Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. "During this training," wrote Fivecoat, "you advocated, or were perceived to advocate, for Christianity and used Christian scripture and solutions." Fivecoat warned Lawhorn to be "cognizant of the various beliefs held by diverse Soldiers" and "create an environment of tolerance and understanding."

This letter will be in Lawhorn's file for up to three years.

To show just how paranoid some of our government institutions have become about Christianity, Lawhorn only used his own example of dealing with depression as one of many, and at no time did he suggest that a Christian solution is the only or even the preferred way of dealing with depression. He supposedly never challenged the validity of other methods. Moreover, no one at the session filed a formal complaint.

So as we've seen in other areas of our society, Christianity is so toxic to many in the militant secular culture that its ideas can't even be presented among many others, much less in a stand-alone context, by government personnel — at any level.

In today's America, even a Christian chaplain — is that redundant anymore? — can't invoke Christian ideas, even if he's not evangelizing.

If things keep going this way in America, we'll all eventually have to keep our disfavored opinions to ourselves, inside our own homes — assuming the government hasn't installed monitors in our homes to ensure that we don't share such forbidden ideas with our children.


Australia: Online appeal calls for boycott of stores which 'objectify women' in adverts and products

Online campaigners Collective Shout has released their annual 'Cross 'em off your list' candidates, revealing the retailers they claim objectified women and used sexual exploitation to sell products throughout the past year.

The grassroots campaign movement is calling for shoppers to boycott the stores when purchasing gifts for Christmas, sending a clear message to the companies they allege used marketing which glorifies violence against women, rape, and pornography.

The list includes retail giants Myer, Bonds, Ultra Tune, General Pants Co, American Apparel, Schick, and Priceline, some of whom Collective Shout spokesperson Melinda Liszewski said are repeat offenders.

'Many companies are more than wiling to engage in dialogue about how they are being ethical towards the environment, but seem disinterested in talking about how they are contributing to a toxic cultural environment,' Ms Liszewski told Daily Mail Australia. 

'What we’re wanting to do is shine a spotlight on things that might seem fairly benign, so that people will begin to discuss what it is that they are really buying,' she said.

'Collective Shout has a role in bringing forward the public impact of these campaigns on women and girls, to make people more conscious and to motivate people to speak out and challenge the marketing practices of companies who exploit women for their own profits.'

One of the companies Collective Shout has identified is 'repeat offender' Cafe Press, who came under fire earlier in the year for selling baby clothes with pornographic content and merchandise which activists say promote rape.

The online retailer, which specialises in user-customised products and gifts, had items for sale on their website printed with the slogans, 'You Smell Like Porn,' 'F**k me like a porn star,' 'Awesome butt sex,' and 'Retired XXL porn star,' among many other similar products.

132 items were available in a category labelled 'Adult Sex XXX Porn Baby Clothing', including baby and toddler onesies, shirts, bibs, and blankets.

City Beach was also selling belts with explicit images printed on them.  The site has also been accused of promoting rape culture and trivialising sexual assault, by selling a shirt with the slogan, 'No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal'.

'Café Press has a long history of this kind of behaviour. Many designs are porn inspired, and despite persistent communication the company has continued on with same behaviour,' said Ms Liszewski.

A spokesperson for Cafe Press released a statement which said that the company was an automated design community, and that the user-designed products varied in topic, taste and opinion.

'At times, users may upload designs that others find distasteful or offensive. It has been recently brought to our attention certain content on our site that may be considered offensive,' the statement said.

'We have taken action to extensively remove the offensive content and will to continue to review for other designs that do not meet our content usage policy.'

Recently added to the list is retailer Big W, which Collective Shout has condemned for continuing to sell the controversial Grand Theft Auto V, which depicts women being brutally murdered as part of the game.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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