Andrew Garfield, Roman Censors, Judean Dates, and Herod the Great

Andrew Garfield, Roman Censors, Judean Dates, and Herod the Great The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

I had a talk-o on the other day’s podcast episode, when I described Andrew Garfield, not James A. Garfield, as the subject of Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic. In case you caught it, or all the more if wouldn’t have noticed the difference, that was incorrect.

The actor who played The Amazing Spider-Man up on the big screen, in between Toby McGuire and Tom Holland, was not ever, nor do I expect he ever in the future will be, President of the United States.

In point of fact, at nearly 40, my generation’s pre-eminent Garfield isn’t even sure he wants to ever have children. He’s not ready for that kind of commitment and responsibility, nor will he quietly endure the expectation he says is on young men and women to grow up, get married, and raise a family.

This brings to mind a meme a friend of mine who’s a beet farmer in Montana sent me the other day, in which dating before 2020 and dating in 2021 and beyond is contrasted, from the vantage point of the eligible young women.

Dating before 2020:

  • Is he masculine?
  • Does he have a good job?
  • Could I see myself marrying him?

Dating in 2021:

  • Is he unvaccinated?
  • Could I see myself homesteading off-grid with him?
  • Is he post-apocalyptic warlord material?

Yet looking at these two lists, we might channel Pam from The Office when we conclude “They’re the same picture.”

But speaking of the apocalypse, a word or two about the Part V of the “Twitter Files,” in which internal dialog at the social media giant from around the time former President Trump was removed from that platform and others yielded a certain employee who was originally from China, and thus raised a word of experienced caution.

“Maybe because I am from China, I deeply understand how censorship can destroy the public conversation.”

This went unheeded, at least in the moment. But then we are talking about it now, aren’t we? So hopefully there is still time.

By the way, can I just say that the recent firing of cross-dressing sexual deviant Sam Brinton by our federal government was overdue? The guy never should have been hired in the first place, loud and proud as he is about his degeneracy. That it took his stealing the luggage of random strangers at airports to seal the deal of his termination would be just plain silly if it weren’t so serious. But, hey, maybe he was looking for nuclear waste to dispose of in those suitcases and bags.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre says Elon Musk advocating for the prosecution of Dr. Anthony Fauci is disgusting and “incredibly dangerous.” And I think this is proof-positive that we must draw the line somewhere. One must have standards of propriety where speech is concerned. I mean, what might be the result if citizens of these United States started expecting accountability of unelected bureaucrats who insisted on lockdowns, mandates, and general repression of the entire world to check the spread of a virus they helped engineer in the first place? Where would it end? And would we even have a government on the other end of such a pursuit?

On a brighter note for science, Judean Date Palms are making a comeback. After having gone extinct somewhere between when the Crusades started and when the Mamluks were running things in Palestine, ag science took seeds found by archaeologists in the storehouse of the Jewish fortress of Masada and ever so gently and slowly brought them to a state of being able to produce viable trees. Having been at one time famous throughout the ancient world for their taste, nutritional content, medicinal properties, and even as an aphrodisiac, they were even known among the Roman emperors, who made it their business to procure for themselves the best of what could be had throughout their vast holdings.

And speaking of Rome, did you know that there was, in ancient times, an actual office of the magistracy for censorship? What’s more, there were always two Censors, and their verdicts were absolute and final. They could only be undone by the ruling of another censor. Concerned chiefly with public morality, they could penalize and prohibit whatever they deemed to be harmful to the virtue and character of Rome, and what they opposed had to stop forthwith.

Subsequently, the office of Roman Censor is where we get the English word and idea of “censorship.” What is more, it is interesting to me, and hopefully instructive to all of us, to trace back the concept of online censorship in the present day to a very self-conscious, and even pre-Christian, priority on good and evil generally in ancient Rome.

That is to say, if we think such determinations can be made and acted on, either then or now, apart from someone’s notion of right and wrong, we really are kidding ourselves. The only legitimate question is whether the morality we are governed by accords with reality as designed, instituted, and ultimately judged by Almighty God.

This, then, at the last for this episode, brings us to the character of Herod the Great. And did you know that his father’s association with Julius Caesar helped him to secure the appointment by the Roman Senate in 37BC to the position of “King of the Jews”? I did not until very recently, when I was preparing to give a talk to our church’s high school and middle school students about the historical context of the nativity.

This goes a long way to making sense for me of the very human emotional and rational response a man in Herod’s position would have, to Magi from the East showing up unannounced, asking for directions to the baby boy who had been born “King of the Jews,” so they could pay him homage. More Roman than Jewish in his notions of right and wrong relative the exercise of civic authority, it’s no wonder Herod dispatched soldiers to Bethlehem to murder every male infant under the age of two. That kind of ruthless response was not uncommon as a means to getting and holding power back then.

But, again, not to put too fine a point on it, this is why the question is not whether someone can legislate morality. The question is not even whether it is fair or right for someone to impose morality on others who don’t share it. The only real question is whose conception of right and wrong will be imposed on who, and how, and when. Thereafter, the subsequent and downstream question of at what cost or benefit is determined by whether the morality accords with God’s Law.

Make no mistake, God will always remain the ultimate arbiter in the end.

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