Quotha Archive

Thought for the Day

Posted June 22, 2024 By John C Wright

From the pen of “Darwin to Atheist” on Twitter. He is answering a crackpot who casts doubt on the historical figure of Jesus on the grounds that no contemporary written accounts of Him survive. 

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Below are other historical figures, and the earliest accounts we have of them.

Alexander the Great

•Lifetime: 356-323 BC
•Earliest Accounts:
•Arrian: “Anabasis of Alexander” written around AD 130-150, about 400 years after Alexander’s death.
•Plutarch: “Life of Alexander” written around AD 100, about 400 years after Alexander’s death.

Julius Caesar

•Lifetime: 100-44 BC
•Earliest Accounts:
•Suetonius: “The Twelve Caesars” written around AD 121, about 165 years after Caesar’s death.
•Plutarch: “Life of Caesar” written around AD 100, about 150 years after Caesar’s death.

Tiberius Caesar

•Lifetime: 42 BC – AD 37
•Earliest Accounts:
•Tacitus: “Annals” written around AD 115, about 80 years after Tiberius’s death.
•Suetonius: “The Twelve Caesars” written around AD 121, about 85 years after Tiberius’s death.

Socrates

•Lifetime: 470-399 BC
•Earliest Accounts:
•Plato: Various dialogues written soon after Socrates’s death, but the best-preserved texts are from about 50-100 years later.
•Xenophon: Writings also from about 50 years after Socrates’s death.

**Comparison with Jesus**

•Lifetime: Circa 4 BC – AD 30
•Earliest Accounts:
•Paul’s Epistles: Written between AD 50-60, within 20-30 years of Jesus’s death.
•Gospels (Mark): Generally dated to around AD 70, about 40 years after Jesus’s death.
•Josephus: AD 93-94, about 60 years after Jesus’s death.
•Tacitus: AD 115, about 85 years after Jesus’s death.

For a crucified Jewish carpenter to have records of his existence earlier than all of the above figures… that’s pretty impressive, don’t you think?

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Postscript: an added bonus, from another account called Autocorrect

Regarding the carefully folded burial cloth found by St Peter in the tomb.

In Hebrew tradition, when a Master was done eating he would wad up the napkin and toss it on to the table, so the servant would know to clean up. When he carefully folded his napkin, that meant “don’t touch anything, I’ll be back”

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Poetry Corner: The Friar of Orders Gray

Posted June 22, 2024 By John C Wright

A reader named Jeanine asked about the poem which heads the short story “By His Cockle Hat and Staff”

This short story was published in Forbidden Thoughts  edited by Jason Rennie    (Superversive Press, January 2017). Introduction by Milo Yiannopolous. Stories by Nick Cole, John C. Wright, Sarah A. Hoyt, Brad R. Torgersen, &c. Non-fiction articles by Tom Kratman and Larry Corriea. Buy nine copies today! Send my kids to college!

517VI1QZnLL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_.jpg (196×293)

Unbeknownst to me, this same poem is quoted by Shakespeare, for Ophelia sing in mourning as she goes mad, “He is dead and gone, lady, / He is dead and gone, / At his head a grass-green turf, / At his heels a stone” (IV.v.29-32).

Here is the whole:

The Friar of Orders Gray

Thomas Percy (1729–1811)
Adapted from old ballads

IT was a friar of orders gray
Walked forth to tell his beads;
And he met with a lady fair
Clad in a pilgrim’s weeds.

“Now Christ thee save, thou reverend friar;
I pray thee tell to me,
If ever at yon holy shrine
My true-love thou didst see.”

“And how should I know your true-love
From many another one?”
“O, by his cockle hat, and staff,
And by his sandal shoon.

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Harrison Butker speaks True

Posted May 27, 2024 By John C Wright

Harrison Butker speaks out. He shows immense grace and wisdom under pressure. This is why the Christian church is all one needs to live wisely and well, if we obey Christ and do what He says. I was impressed with how simply directly and clearly he spoke.

God prosper him

For the record, here is his bio line from Twitter:

Christus Regnat! Husband & Father #7 @chiefs 3x Super Bowl Champion.

Note that he puts Christ first, then family, and only then his athletic career.

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Quote from Cecil Chesterton Part II

Posted May 24, 2024 By John C Wright

A second quote from Cecil Chesterton, brother to GK Chesterton, from his slim volume A History of the United States (1919).

I quote it here to solicit the opinions of my readers as to the soundness of the opinion, and its application to the modern day. I draw the reader’s attention to the final line in particular.  

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Another principle, not connected by any direct logic with democracy and not set forth in the Declaration of Independence, was closely associated with the democratic thesis by the great French thinkers by whom that thesis was revived, and had a strong hold upon the mind of Jefferson—the principle of religious equality, or, as it might be more exactly defined, of the Secular State.

So many loose and absurd interpretations of this principle have been and are daily being propounded, that it may be well to state succinctly what it does and does not mean.

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Quote from Cecil Chesterton

Posted May 23, 2024 By John C Wright

Quote from Cecil Chesterton, brother to GK Chesterton, from his slim volume A History of the United States (1919).

I quote it here to help quell the eternal and eternally foolish false controversy provoked by the misreading of the word “equality” propounded during unserious political polemics. 

***

The first principles set out in the Declaration must be rightly grasped if American history is understood, for indeed the story of America is merely the story of the working out of those principles. Briefly the theses are two: first, that men are of right equal, and secondly, that the moral basis of the relations between governors and governed is contractual.

Both doctrines have in this age had to stand the fire of criticisms almost too puerile to be noticed.

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Quote of the Day

Posted March 12, 2024 By John C Wright

The quote of the day for today comes from the eminently quotable Tom Simon:

Then there are the things that are supposed to manifest some kind of ‘artificial intelligence’. Many of these are based on ChatGPT or another large language model. Superstitious folk, such as tech journalists, have a belief that LLMs can actually understand language; very superstitious folk, such as professional linguists, even believe that language can be ‘understood’ merely by knowing how to manipulate words. This is an error, as Searle showed with his ‘Chinese room’ thought-experiment. A chat bot only ‘understands’, for instance, that the symbol rose frequently occurs in the neighbourhood of such other symbols as red, white, bouquet, thorn, or even love; and these are frequently juxtaposed with still other symbols, and by exploiting these apparent coincidences, the bot can squirt out sentences that will appear to a human to make sense.

But it is only an appearance. We are all, I hope, familiar with the cases where superstitious lawyers have relied on bots to generate legal briefs; and the bots, which could easily imitate the form of a brief, knew nothing of its content, and their output was larded with bogus citations of nonexistent cases. For the bot does not know what a law is, or what a case is, or what a brief is actually for. You will, I am afraid, best understand what an LLM is, if you think of it as an enormously well-read parrot. Most of the wisdom of the ages, and all of the stupidity, is to be found in the texts on which the parrot was trained; and some of it is bound to come up in the composite texts which the parrot faithfully regurgitates. But none of it has any meaning to the parrot, and it is to your credit, not the parrot’s, if any of it happens to have meaning to you. At any rate the parrot is not to be trusted.

From his essay Uninteresting Things. Which should be read.

 

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Pascal and Marcus Aurelius

Posted February 24, 2024 By John C Wright

Two great figures of times past, Pascale and Marcus Aurelius, pagan and Christian, address the wager of the unknowable in nearly equal terms.

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Picture Break! Clea and the Doctor

Posted February 22, 2024 By John C Wright

Below are illustrations from DR STRANGE comics from 1974, issues 20 and 22, when Rudy Nebres, more famous for his work on CONAN and the black and white version of IRON FIST, did some guest art work for this magazine.

These images were my first ever view of Dr. Strange, or of any comic, and this version formed my mental picture of Clea, the silver-haired sorceress from the Dark Dimension, ruled by the tyrannous Dormammu, and of Dr. Strange himself.

Years later I would come upon the original drawings by Steve Ditko: while these, technically, form the canonical appearance of the character, in my heart Dr. Strange appears as he does here.

Note the crazy non-rectilinear boxes, the feathering, the shade work, the sheer Homeric beauty of male and female forms.

If you have no idea what is happening in these pictures, but vaguely think it is something mystical, dread and (if I may) strange, then you see what my young eyes saw opening the first comic book I ever bought or read.

I have been a lifelong fan of Dr. Strange since then, thanks to Rudy Nebres.

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Musical Interlude

Posted January 20, 2024 By John C Wright

I was particularly pleased with the cleverness of this particular parody of WE DON’T TALK ABOUT BRUNO by the Christian parody group Resound.

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Poetry Corner

Posted January 16, 2024 By John C Wright

This poem appears, in part, in the front matter of E.R. Eddison’s THE WORM OUROBOROS, which I had read back when I was 16.  Eddison quoted only six stanza, but I thought (for no one told me otherwise) that this was the whole of it.

Now, in my 60’s, only now have I learned there is a complete version.

Ironically, I did not know of the visitor to Elfland who could not lie until this very day: despite how unexpected the coincidence might seem, Gilberec Moth of my own invention is unrelated to True Thomas.

What I did not know what the Thomas the Rhymer, True Thomas, the Scottish foreteller who could not tell a lie, is based on a real man from history.

As the tale tells it, Thomas of Erceldoune meets the Queen of Elfland, who seeks to employ him as her harper, but he seduces her to become his leman. He harps at her court during a feast, which lasts three days there while seven years pass by on Earth.

During the ride to Elfland, whose food he dare not eat, was given an apple whose taste prevented him thereafter from ever telling a lie — hence his name “True Thomas.”

Sir Walter Scott remarks: “The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of Knowledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect.”

The second and third parts of the poem tell of his prophecies regarding the wars between England and Scotland, and his mysterious disappearance at the end of his life, following a snow-white hart who appeared at his doorstep.

Alexander Gardner, publisher to the Queen, in 1865, in the annotated edition of THE BALLAD MINSTRELSY OF SCOTLAND, remarks “As both the English and the Scots availed themselves of the credit which his prophecies had obtained, in falsifying them, to serve their purposes against each other, it is now impossible to ascertain what the real prophecies of Thomas the Rhymer were, if he ever published such.”

He also remarks that the original and ancient poem, on which the later versions were based (such as that of Sir Walter Scott, given below) may indeed have been penned by Thomas the Rhymer.

In his words “Would it not be pardonable, from such instances as these, to suppose it at least probable, that Thomas Kymour (Thomas the Rhymer) was really the original author of this romance; and that in order to give a sanction to his predictions, which seem all to have been calculated in -one way or other for the service of his country, he pretended to an intercourse with the Queen of Elfland, as Numa Pompilius did with the nymph Egeria? Such an intercourse, in the days of True Thomas, was accounted neither unnatural nor uncommon.”

Here is the story as told by a modern (and comedic) historian.

Here is the poem:

First part:

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee;
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.

Her skirt was o the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o the velvet fyne,
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
Hang fifty siller bells and nine.

True Thomas he pulld aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee:
‘All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see.’

‘O no, O no, Thomas,’ she said,
‘That name does not belang to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee.

‘Harp and carp, Thomas,’ she said,
‘Harp and carp, along wi’ me,
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I will be!’

‘Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird sall never daunton me;
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.

This was all the poem I knew all my life until today. It continues onward to epic stature.
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Quotha

Posted November 21, 2023 By John C Wright

Quote of the Day:

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.

Simone Weil (1909-1943) French philosopher
Gravity and Grace [La Pesanteur et la Grâce], “Evil” (1947)
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Job Psalm to Wisdom

Posted October 30, 2023 By John C Wright

This gem is hidden in the midst of the Book of Job, and, as best I can tell, had little to do with anything that comes before or after, differing in mood from Job’s other speeches. Nor does it sound like the accusations of the three so-called comforters, nor the young man, nor the voice from the whirlwind. So I am not sure what to make of it, but I admire the beauty, depth, clarity, symmetry:

CHAPTER 28 of the Book of Job

1 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they find it.

Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.

He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen:

The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.

11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

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12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?

13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

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Quotha

Posted September 26, 2023 By John C Wright

I found a comment on Twitter I would like to share:
Wei Wu 吴伟

@WuWei113

Abortion not good. Why? In China once was one child policy. This mean family only can have 1 child. Many abort kid of girl. I’m lucky. My family do not abort me when find out I’m girl. I’m Alice because my family do not conduct abortion.

i’m alive. not i’m alice. this is typing error.

My comment: just a reminder that deep wisdom can be spoken in plain words, in an unfamiliar tongue, even with typing error.

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Poetry Corner

Posted June 4, 2023 By John C Wright

A poem by William Dunbar in praise of the Nativity.

Note: The first line, Rorate coeli desuper, (‘Drop down, ye heavens’) are the opening words of Isaiah 45:8 in the Vulgate, used in the liturgy during Advent. The refrain “Puer natus est nobis” (Unto us a boy is born) is a Gregorian chant, the introit for Christmas Day.

On the Nativity of Christ

Rorate coeli desuper,
Hevins, distil your balmy schouris;
For now is risen the bricht day-ster,
Fro the rose Mary, flour of flouris:
The cleir Sone, quhom no cloud devouris,
Surmounting Phoebus in the Est,
Is cumin of his hevinly touris:
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,
Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,
And all ye hevinly operationis,
Ster, planeit, firmament, and spheir,
Fire, erd, air, and water cleir,
To Him gife loving, most and lest,
That come in to so meik maneir;
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Synnaris be glad, and penance do,
And thank your Maker hairtfully;
For he that ye micht nocht come to
To you is cumin full humbly
Your soulis with his blood to buy
And loose you of the fiendis arrest–
And only of his own mercy;
Pro nobis Puer natus est.

All clergy do to him inclyne,
And bow unto that bairn benyng,
And do your observance divyne
To him that is of kingis King:
Encense his altar, read and sing
In holy kirk, with mind degest,
Him honouring attour all thing
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Celestial foulis in the air,
Sing with your nottis upon hicht,
In firthis and in forrestis fair
Be myrthful now at all your mycht;
For passit is your dully nicht,
Aurora has the cloudis perst,
The Sone is risen with glaidsum licht,
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Now spring up flouris fra the rute,
Revert you upward naturaly,
In honour of the blissit frute
That raiss up fro the rose Mary;
Lay out your levis lustily,
Fro deid take life now at the lest
In wirschip of that Prince worthy
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Sing, hevin imperial, most of hicht!
Regions of air mak armony!
All fish in flud and fowl of flicht
Be mirthful and mak melody!
All Gloria in excelsis cry!
Heaven, erd, se, man, bird, and best,–
He that is crownit abone the sky
Pro nobis Puer natus est!


An Anglified version :

Rorate coeli desuper,
Heavens, distill your balmy showers;
For now is risen the bright daystar,
From the rose Mary, flower of flowers!
The clear Son, whom no cloud devours,
Surmounting Phoebus in the East,
Is come down from his heavenly towers:
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Archangels, angels, and dominations,
Thrones, potentates, and martyrs sundry,
And all ye heavenly operations,
Star, planet, firmament, and sphere,
Fire, earth, air, and water clear,
To Him give praise, most and least,
Who comes in such a meek manner;
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Sinners be glad, and penance do,
And thank your Maker heartfully;
For he that ye could not come unto
To you is come full humbly,
Your souls with his blood to buy
And loose you of the fiend’s arrest –
And only of his own mercy;
Pro nobis Puer natus est.

All clergy do to him incline,
And bow unto that bairn benign,
And do your observance divine
To him that is of kings King:
Incense his altar, read and sing
In holy kirk, with mind degest, [well-composed]
Him honouring above all thing
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Celestial fowls in the air,
Sing with your notes upon high,
In firths and in forests fair
Be mirthful now with all your might;
For passed is your dull night,
Aurora has the clouds pierced,
The Son is risen with gladsome light,
Et nobis Puer natus est.

Now spring up flowers from the root,
Revert you upward naturally,
In honour of the blessed fruit
That rose up from the rose Mary;
Lay out your leaves lustily,
From death take life now at the last
In worship of that Prince worthy
Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Sing, heaven imperial, most of height!
Regions of air make harmony!
All fish in flood and fowl in flight
Be mirthful and make melody!
All Gloria in excelsis cry!
Heaven, earth, sea, man, bird, and beast,
He that is crowned above the sky
Pro nobis Puer natus est!

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Art as Well as Men

Posted June 1, 2023 By John C Wright

A quote from CS Lewis’ ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY EXCLUDING DRAMA. Here is the speaking of the sudden cessation of Scottish poetry.

But however we explain the phenomenon, it forces on our minds a truth which the incurably evolutionary or developmental character of modern thought is always urging us to forget. What is vital and healthy does not necessarily survive. Higher organisms are often conquered by lower ones. Arts as well as men are subject to accident and violent death.

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