JOHN DERBYSHIRE HAS A STRANGE WAY of seeing the world, to put it mildly (“Heavens to Betsy!” TAS, June 2012). He dismisses the argument put forward by C.S. Lewis for the existence of God as “feeble,” and the final straw for him is this passage:
“[Jesus of Nazareth] either was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently…I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
To which Derbyshire writes: “My reaction to that passage was: Why couldn’t Jesus just have been mistaken? Answer, after a few more pages of bogus analogies and unsubstantiated assertions, came there none, and I never did finish the book.”
Jesus was mistaken? How does one mistake himself for God Almighty without being a lunatic?Answer, after laughing out loud, came there none. And I never did finish the article.
L. Brent Bozell III
Founder and President
Media Research Center
John Derbyshire replies:
YOU NEED TO EXCERCISE a little historical imagination. In the time and place he lived in, Jesus’ claim to divinity was not very extraordinary. From the account of him in the gospels, I don’t believe he was crazy. Nor do I think he was a confidence trickster. He believed he was divine; he was mistaken.
What one may or may not plausibly claim is highly variable, even across quite short time spans. A person in 1952 who claimed to have seen a flying saucer would receive much more credence than a person making that claim in 2012. That’s a mere 60 years; we’re talking here about 2,000 years.
I think Jesus thought he was divine, or divinely inspired. I think he was wrong. I do not think he was crazy. A much lesser possibility is that he was psychotic: i.e., he was crazy, but had terrific socialpresentational skills to mask his craziness.
The smallest possibility of all is that he was related by blood to the creator of the cosmos, who was taking a break from supervising the affairs of the Virgo Supercluster to involve himself in Roman- Palestinian politics. Such a very extraordinary claim requires VERY extraordinary evidence. Where is it?
TOM BETHELL’S RECENT ARTICLE “From ‘Happily Ever After’ to the Fall” (TAS, June 2012) was up to his usual superlative standards, but I have to take issue with his statement that “[t]he Communist revolution was Russian, but the sexual revolution (I regret to say) is authentically American…”
While the sexual revolution was self-inflicted in the sense that it was implemented by Americans, the underlying ideology has European and Marxist roots which are as old as the Communist Manifesto. In that document, for example, Marx fretted “[w]hat the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce…an openly legalized community of women.” In the Manifesto, he also predicted that “[t]he bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course…with the vanishing of capital.”
One of the first actions of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution was to promote and facilitate the withering away of the marriage contract.
The Marxist-offshoot think tank known as the Frankfurt School brought cultural Marxism to Columbia University with a vengeance in the 1930s. Let us not overlook such miscreants of the Frankfurt School as Theodor Adorno, who viewed the traditional family as a fascistic and warped institution (The Authoritarian Personality, 1950), protofeminist Erich Fromm, and Wilhelm Reich, who blamed Nazism on monogamy. Above all, the granddaddy of the New Left, Herbert Marcuse, was a Frankfurt School import. Marcuse originated “Critical Theory,” or destructive criticism of virtually every Western cultural tradition, especially the family. He also pioneered the politically correct technique of labeling opponents as mentally ill (i.e., homophobes, xenophobes,haters, etc.), spawned “oppression studies” departments, which have twisted most modern colleges into little North Korean pretzels, and advocated “polymorphous perversity” (Eros and Civilization, 1955).
It would be more accurate to say the cultural Marxists set the sexual revolution booby trap for us, and we bumbled into it.
Edward Elmer San Antonio, TX
I’VE BEEN SUBSCRIBING to the Spectator for decades (when it was the Alternative), and I’ve never written a letter of complaint before. But it seems to me that any semblance of the editorial hand that made reading the Spectator from cover to cover an enjoyable exercise has been thrown overboard.
I am specifically referring to “Fight the Fiat” by Lewis Lehrman and “Murder Allegation Most Foul” by Quin Hillyer (TAS, July-August, 2012). Those articles had all the stylistic panache of a Sunday NY Times Magazine piece, wedded to The Nation and Rolling Stone. With the exception of spell check, doesn’t anybody check to see if articles are readable and comprehensible anymore?
DEAR MR. TYRRELL: Hi. In your recent online article about Justice Roberts and the decision about health care (“Chief Justice Roberts, You Fox You,” July 5), you used “anfractuous.” What a wonderful word. What a joy it must have been to use it. Thank you for the pleasure and the exercise.
Best wishes for a great summer.
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