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Old 12-20-2011, 11:35 PM   #61
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He could have chosen to come in power and glory, showing off for the religious and political authorities of the day. Instead, He came meekly, to the ass-end of a tiny country that no one cared about, born under controversial circumstances to a poor couple that no one cared about, and heralded by angels to shepherds who no one else cared about either.

And still, somehow, He turned the world upside down.

Profound to me.
It's just an appeal to your natural tendency to root for the underdog (if he really was God). Not to mention the convenience of not having to show his 'power and glory' by coming this way if he was a fraud. He could've saved much death and suffering if he had just proved it to everyone when he had the chance. Kind of a dickish move
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Old 12-21-2011, 12:46 AM   #62
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And still, somehow, He turned the world upside down.


Christ or Constantine?
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:04 AM   #63
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He could've saved much death and suffering if he had just proved it to everyone when he had the chance. Kind of a dickish move
Without wanting to barge into one of these debates... I don't even really know what this means. Proved it, how? If, hypothetically, his various miracles were real (I don't really think they were, but let's say), what more proof could the people around him want? To arrange to be born into, gosh, I don't know, the Julio-Claudean dynasty in nearby Rome would have given him a mighty temporal authority to be sure, but so what? Emperors are a dime a dozen and everything else - pre-video, pre-literacy in most cases - is hearsay.

I think some of you guys are bending over backwards to pooh-pooh anything vaguely Christianity related. Put it this way, even if you don't believe a word, it is not as though the narrative is uncompelling. The best novelist is manipulating you, they're just really good at it.
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Old 12-21-2011, 03:32 AM   #64
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Without wanting to barge into one of these debates... I don't even really know what this means.
nathan said he could've come down to earth in his whole 'power and glory' persona. I took that to mean shooting lighting bolts from his fingers, floating around radiating a godly glow sorta thing. But instead he chose to come as a poor nobody. I'm saying, had he shot the lightning bolts from his fingers and made a big deal about it, nobody would have been fighting for the past 2000 years over who the real god is. I'm not saying it isn't an interesting story. I actually enjoy Christmas despite my lack of belief
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:27 AM   #65
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Well, fair enough.

Except that had he done the aforementioned things, in a pre-literate, pre-film era, nobody (bar eyewitnesses) would believe it anyway after x generations. Hence my confusion.

No, people would have been fighting. That's what people do.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:16 AM   #66
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There's plenty still 'fantastic' about the story (virgin birth, three kings, guiding lights etc), it's not that uncommon for the birth/creation story of some god or mythological hero/almighty to begin in a very 'humble' place, and indeed that + underdog positioning is quite common within the Jewish narrative (whether it's the abandoned Moses or David squaring up to Goliath, and many others.) That the Christ story is begun in shit and mud - not that amazing or unusual or unexpected to me.
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:11 PM   #67
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In the early years of the Iraq war Hitchens was regularly excoriated by left-wing commentators, but few of his old opponents have felt the need to renew their fury in the aftermath of his death. The blogger Louis Proyect was one of Hitchens' most ferocious and persistent critics, but his obituary for his old enemy is surprisingly measured. Alex Callinicos, whose Socialist Workers Party was often condemned as an ally of 'Islamofascism' by Hitchens, has also refrained from denunciations.

The many articles published about the end of the American occupation of Iraq have had a similarly restrained tone. Long-time critics of Bush's war have been in a reflective rather than a strident mood.
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To reread Hitchens' writings of a decade ago is to enter again the febrile atmosphere of the early years of the 'War on Terror'. Hitchens admitted to feeling a sense of 'exhilaration' in the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities, and his pro-war articles have a troubling excitement and confidence. After spending decades as a left-wing gadfly, with no influence in the centres of political and economic power, Hitchens felt that Bush's response to 9/11 had given him a cause with which he could identify wholeheartedly. The reformed Marxist's aggressive endorsements of Bush policies soon won him visits to the White House and meetings with neoconservative strategists like Paul Wolfowitz. Hitchens even gave Bush and his inner circle a political pep talk on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

Hitchens' excited response to the War on Terror sometimes expressed itself in a frank delight in violence. In a 2002 interview, for instance, he enthused over the effects of the cluster bombs American forces were dropping on the recalcitrant parts of Afghanistan:

If you're actually certain that you're hitting only a concentration of enemy troops...then it's pretty good because those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. And if they're bearing a Koran over their heart, it'll go straight through that, too. So they won't be able to say, "Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through." No way, 'cause it'll go straight through that as well. They'll be dead, in other words..
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Hitchens' delusions of self-importance are not novel, for anyone who has studied intellectual history. In the 1920s Ezra Pound decided that Mussolini was taking his advice; a decade later Martin Heidegger was stupid enough to believe that, by circulating his writings inside the Nazi Party, he was becoming Adolf Hitler's intellectual mentor, and guiding the progress of the 'new Germany'; in the 1960s Louis Althusser convinced himself that his office at the Ecole Normale was the secret centre of world revolution.
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Hitchens tried to immortalise his writing by making it the servant of powerful men and a world-historical struggle, but it is the very personal work he produced at the end of his life which is most likely to persist in print. Like Pound's Fascist Cantos and Heidegger's rectorial addresses, the feverish advertisements for Bush's wars will be of interest only as examples of the dangers that power, or the illusion of power, poses for intellectuals.

Reading the Maps: Christopher Hitchens and the end of triumphalism
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