Tag Archives: aaron

Qur’an 20: Ta Ha

The twentieth chapter of the Qur’an, “Ta Ha,” describes the birth, corruption, and potential transfiguration of holy orders. Aaron was established priest to help Moses. He helped Moses preach to Pharaoh, and in the Qur’anic narrative deserves credit for the conversion of Pharaoh’s magicians. But he built the golden calf, led the people astray, and mimicked instead of imitated Moses. Yet God was merciful, Aaron was re-united with Moses, and he was able to truly follow Moses after this correction.


Entrance Antiphon

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.
Genesis 4:7

A Reading, from the Book of Exodus

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
Exodus 32:1-6

A Psalm, from the Psalms:

He made a path for His anger;
He did not spare their soul from death,
But gave their life over to the plague,

And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt,
The first of their strength in the tents of Ham.

But He made His own people go forth like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;

And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
And He brought them to His holy border,
This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
Psalms 78:50-54

A Reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:

“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 7:11-19

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory!

“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us.
Acts 7:38

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory!

A Reading, from the Holy Gospel according to John:

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.
John 15:11-17

Communion Antiphon

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.
Exodus 12:43

A Qur’anic Homily

The Lost and the Found

We read of those great events in the wilderness, the Epiphany in the desert. That day of Moses, foreshadowing the Day of the Lord:

So when he came to it, he was called, “Oh Moses!

I am indeed your Lord! So take off your sandals. You are indeed in the sacred valley of Tuwa.

I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed.

I am indeed God — there is no god except Me. So worship me, and maintain the prayer for My remembrance. Indeed, the Hour is bound to have.

I will have it hidden, so that every soul may be rewarded for its endeavor. So do not let yourself be distracted from it by those who do not believe in it and who follow their desires, or you will perish.
Qur’an 20:11-16

Let’s look at what that promised Hour is. It’s the restoration of things, when the way they should have been, are made again. Consider the transfiguration of Moses’s staff:

Moses, what is that in your right hand?’

He said, ‘It is my staff. I lean on it and with it I beat down leaves for my sheep, and I have other uses for it.

He said, ‘Moses, throw it down.’

So he threw it down, and lo! It was a snake, moving swiftly.

He said, ‘Take hold of it and do not fear. We will restore it to its former state.
Qur’an 20:17-21

Now let’s briefly look at another thing, lost but to be found. One man, Moses himself. Lost to his mother, and found again after his sister Mary became his helper.

When your sister walked up, saying “Shall I show you someone who will take care of him?” Then We restored you to your mother, so that she might not be grieve and comforted. Then you slew a soul, whereupon We delivered you from anguish, and We tried you with various ordeals. Then you stayed for several years among the people of Midian. Then you turned up as ordained, O Moses!
Qur’an 20:40

Man, lost during the fall, but regained through the Redemption:

Certainly We had enjoined Adam earlier, but he forgot, and We did not find any resoluteness in him…

Then his Lord chose him and turned to him clemently, and guided him.
Qur’an 20:115,122

Between the apparent triviality of Moses’s staff, the clear importance of a man’s own life and our existential (to us, at least) importance as humans, comes another class of creation: the priest. Like the staff it was created at first for Moses (according to the Qur’anic author), to assist him in his work:

Appoint for me a minister from my family, Aaron, my brother. Strengthen my back through him and make him my associate in my task, so that we may glorify You greatly, and remember You much. You indeed are watching us.

He said, “Moses, your request has been granted!”
Qur’an 20:29-36

Moses, and that kind of other-Moses the priest, are here to provide instruction, correction, and encouragement. Even Pharaoh should be spoken to softly.

Go ahead, you and your brother, with My signs, and do not flag in My remembrance. Both of you go to Pharaoh, for he has indeed rebelled. Speak to him in a soft manner; maybe he will take admonition or fear.

They said, “Our Lord! We are indeed afraid that he will forestall us or will exceed all bounds.”

He said, “Do not be afraid, for I will be with the two of you, hearing and seeing.
Qur’an 20:42-46

God will never abandoned us, never abandon anyone. As Christ said during Maundy Thursday, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you”:

And I chose you for Myself.
Qur’an 20:41

The Magicians

Even those who, from our perspective, were always lost may be found. Consider the Pharaoh’s magicians, who were never Hebrews, and never loyal to the God of Moses:

They said, “These two are indeed magicians who indeed to expel you from your land with their magic and to abolish your excellent tradition.
Qur’an 20:63

God is the ultimate sovereign, and God can save even them. Even persecutors from whom you have never experienced kindness may be saved by the Lord:

Thereat the magicians fell down prostrating. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses!”

[Pharaoh] said, “Did you believe him before I should permit you? He is indeed your chief who has taught you magic! Surely, I will cut off your hands and feet from opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and you will know which of us can inflict a severer and more lasting punishment.”

They said, “We will never prefer you to the clear proofs which have come to us and to Him who originated us. Decide whatever you want to decide. You can only decide about the life of this world. We have indeed believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our offenses and the magic you compelled us to perform. God is better and more lasting.”
Qur’an 20:70-73

Of course, the opposite fate may befall them. Others, who were never gracious, will be destroyed:

We revealed to Moses, “Set out with my servants at night and strike out for them a dry path through the sea. Do not be afraid of being overtaken, and have no fear.

Then Pharaoh pursued them with his troops, whereat they were engulfed by what engulfed them of the sea. Pharaoh led his people astray and did not guide them.
Qur’an 20:77-79

The difference is clear: there is always the option to turn towards the Lord. In all places and in all times the Lord has the right to forgive who he wishes, and the contrite heart is always his desire:

I indeed forgive those who repent, become faithful, act righteously, and thereafter follow guidance.
Qur’an 20:83

Now, let’s turn from these two situations: the once virtuous who were lost, and the simply lost, to another: when the lost are your religious leaders.

When the Priests Turn From God

When Moses went up the mountain he left his brother Aaron as a shepherd over the flock of Israel, as a watchman over the people.

It did not go well.

He said, “We indeed tried your people in your absence, and the Watchman has lead them astray.
Qur’an 20:85

The Qur’anic author sees Aaron’s specific mistake as something between idolatry and iconography. Aaron creates a Golden Calf, and appears to equate it with his own God, Moses’s God, the God of salvation. This is in keeping with the old religion’s view of God as bull-like:

Then he produced for them a calf — a body with a low — and they said. This is your God and the god of Moses, so he forgot! Did they not see that it did not answer them, nor could it bring them any benefit or harm?
Qur’an 20:89

Aaron had turned away from God, insisting the people follow his (instead of the Lord’s) command — until Moses comes again, said the people:

Aaron had certainly told them earlier, “O my people! You are only being tested by it. Indeed, your Lord is the All-beneficent. So follow me and obey my command!’ They had said, ‘We will keep on attending to it until Moses returns to us.”

He said, “O Aaron! What kept you, when you saw them going astray, from following me? Did you disobey my command?”
Qur’an 20:90-93

The parallel to the Catholic Church is clear. Aaron’s conception of intermediaries made it easy for him to become a law to himself. Pope Benedict XVI wrote of a similar phenomenon, the secularization of the bishops, and their move to be powers of their own. This processed criticized as early as the Qur’an was not corrected until the middle 20th century:

While the medieval text prescribed a so-called indicative sacramental formula and saw the ordination as resulting from the indicative of the conferral of power, ordination is accomplished according to the 1947 text in a supplicatory form, in the manner of a petition, of a prayer. Thus it is apparent even in the external form that the true conferrer of powers is the Holy Spirit, to whom the sacramental prayer is addressed, not the human consecrator.

The medieval rite is formed on the pattern of investiture in a secular office. Its key word is potestas. The rite that Pius XII decrees represents a return to the form used in the early Church. It is pneumatologically oriented in terms of both gesture (since the imposition of hands signifies the conferral of the Holy Spirit) and word: the Preface is a petition for the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, the key word is now ministerium or munus: service and gift; hence the words of priestly ordination speak also of the duty of good example and moral discipline.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, p. 241

The Priest mimicked Moses out of love. But the Qur’anic author distinguishes this mimicry from true imitation. Consider the dust came from Moses’s walk on his way. The Priest also throws up dust in mimicry, but by his hands and not his feet:

He said, “I saw what they did not see. I took a handful from the messenger’s trail and threw it. That is how my soul prompted me.”
Qur’an 20:96

From this Aaron is restored. Neither the Torah, nor the Psalms, nor the Gospels, nor the Qur’an itself (according to the Qur’anic author) are there to cause misery, but are hope and help from God.

We did not send down the Lectionary to you that you should be miserable, but only as an admonition to him who fears. A sending down from Him who created the earth and the lofty heavens — the All-beneficent, settled on the Throne.
Qur’an 20:2-4

Aaron was transfigured from a sinner he becomes a sacred priest and a preacher of righteousness.

He said, “Begone! It shall be yours throughout life to say, “Do not touch me!” There is indeed a tryst for you which you will not fail to keep! Now look at your god to whom you kept on attending. We will burn it down and then scanner it into the sea.

“Your God indeed is God; there is no God except Him. He embraces all things in knowledge.”
Qur’an 20:97-98

And thus, the Qur’anic author at last finally turns to his audience: religious and priests of the Catholic Church.

The Audience

The Qur’anic community was Arian Christians who were cut off from the Sacraments. But the novel theology of his denial of the Church and attack on corrupt bishops— combined with his reassuring love of Mary, devotion to the Passion and admiration of Peter — made him attractive for Catholic priests and religious too. The Qur’anic author seems to be speaking to Catholic priests and monks, whose alienation has a different source than the Qur’anic authors (presumably wavering Catholics upset by perceived unfair and unjust treatment, as opposed to Arian die-hards. But to this new audience the Qur’an (“Lectionary”) is presented as addressed to a particular people, and in a way that requires close reading to understand. The response to reading a part of it should not be to actually change one’s practices, but to give the rest a fair hearing as well:

Thus We have sent it down as an Arabic Lectionary and We have paraphrased the warnings in it variously, so that they may be Godwary, or it may prompt them to remembrance. So, exalted is God, the True Sovereign. Do not hasted with the Lectionary before its revelation is completed for you, and say, “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”
Qur’an 20:113-114

The bishops, those antagonists of the Qur’anic author, are much more powerful than either the author or his audience. But in the most prophetic part of the Lectionary, he looks upon the bishops in their cathedrals and remembers others who have been torn down:

Does it now dawn on them how many generations We have destroyed before them, and in whose dwellings they walk? There are indeed signs in this for those who have a good sense. Were it not for a prior decree of your Lord and a stated time… would have been immediate!
Qur’an 20:128-129

The solution is to be patient, as Moses was patient with Pharaoh. In the end the Pharaoh’s armies were smashed, and the same thing would happen to those armies loyal to the bishops. But just as Aaron was able to enlist the magicians to his side, the early Christian sympathizers to the Qur’anic author may gain allies as well.

Say, “Everyone is waiting.” So wait! Soon you will know who are the people of the right path, and who is guided.
Qur’an 20:135

So for now, be patient, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The Sacraments may not be physically available, but God still turns his ears to prayer.

So be patient with what they say, and celebrate the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before the sunset, and glorify Him in watches of the night and at the day’s ends, so that you may be pleased.
Qur’an 20:130

But what of the ‘family’ of these — other priests and religious who are still in the Church? And what of the beloved dead, whose names would be forgotten if monasteries close? Will they be forgotten?

They are not forgotten, because God remembers them:

[Pharaoh] said, “Who is your Lord, Moses?”

He said, “Our Lord is He who gave everything its creation and then guided it.”

He said, “What about the former generations?”

He said, “Their knowledge is with my Lord, in a Book. My Lord neither makes any error nor forgets.”
Qur’an 20:49-52

And the beloved living should be encouraged in prayer. Pray. And trust in God. For God will decide what happens next.

And bid your family to prayer and be steadfast in maintaining it. We do not ask any provision of you: it is We who provide for you, and the ultimate outcome belongs to Godwariness.
Qur’an 20:132


The twentieth chapter of the Qur’an, “Ta Ha,” follows directly from the nineteenth, “Mary.” “Mary” contrasted the grace and simplicity of Mary with the behavior of the apostles and their successors, and asks the question: why rely on sacraments from the successors to the apostles when one can imitate the devotions of our holy mother? “Ta Ha” takes a similar aim but to a specific argument: Catholic religious. In “Ta Ha” the unique features of the Qur’an are minimized, the bishops are sympathetically if critically compared to Aaron, and the true nature of the imitation of Christ is explored.

In a dialogue intended to be between an angel and Moses, but applicable to all the faithful, the Qur’anic author writes:

Certainly We have down you a favor another time, when We revealed to your mother whatever was to be revealed: “Put him in the casket and cast into the river. Then the river will cast it on the bank, and he shall be picked up by an enemy of Mine, and an enemy of his.” And I made you endearing, and that you might be reared under My eyes.
Qur’an 20:37-39

Indeed. It is by entering a casket in a river — dying to ourselves — that we may be re-united with our holy mother. To this pious exhortation the Qur’anic author of course adds his heretical views — in his post-ecclesial community, a priest to die to himself means abandoning the bishops, abandoning the sacraments, and accepting a role as a preacher and a helper to the One whose return he awaits.

The Books of Leviticus and Numbers

There seems to have been an ancient work, long since lost, documenting conquest of Canaan. It is in a way parallel to the story of the patriarchs (partially recorded in Genesis) and the establishment of the Kingdom (in Samuel). In the scriptures we now have, it seems primarily scattered in Exodus (covering the baptism of blood and the construction of the Tabernacle), Numbers (called The Wilderness in Hebrew), and Joshua (the action-climax and post-action denouement of the story).

It’s also the story of Moses’s moral decay: that "most humble man" is the Walter White of the Bible. But just as Breaking Bad is the story not just of Walter’s decay but of the grief of those around him, these scriptures are the story not just of Moses’s decline but the story of the deaths of those he loved.

To see this, look at the book immediately before Numbers: Leviticus. It is primary a book of laws, a journal of the well ordered place of fetishism in human society. But there’s one chapter of narrative in Leviticus that’s required to understand Numbers — the death of Aaron’s sons:

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.

So fire went out from the LORD
and devoured them,
and they died before the LORD.

And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’"

So Aaron held his peace.
Leviticus 10:1-3

The baptism of blood in Exodus may symbolize the loss of the part to save the whole. But Leviticus-Numbers feels like just loss. Aaron loses his sons. Moses loses his brother Aaron.

Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son;
and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain.

Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. Now when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days.
Numbers 20:28-29

Moses loses his divine authority.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron,

"Because you did not believe Me,
to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel,
therefore you shall not bring this assembly
into the land which I have given them."
Numbers 20:12

And then even his humanity.

And Moses said to them: "Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately.
Numbers 31:15-17

The same theme of loss is reflected in the adversaries of the Israelites, the Canaanite kings who fear the loss of their lands, and the wizard Balaam who prophesied the victory of Almighty God:

They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian.

Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword.
Numbers 31:8

And even the people themselves:

For the LORD had said of them,

"They shall surely die in the wilderness."

So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
Numbers 26:65

Through Leviticus-Numbers Aaron the High Priest lost his family, his life, and even (though the horrific actions of Moses) his legacy through his brother. Battles will be won in the future, after the end of his natural life, but for the wilderness generation there is pain, and murmuring, and death, and loss.

What should be made of this?

The High Priest loses everything, including his life, including the lives of his people. He is betrayed by those entrusted to help him. He loses those closest to him.

These themes are documented elsewhere in the Bible. That sense of successful futility in Ecclesiastes and Job, the slow political destruction of Kings, the horror of Lamentations or the post-Resurrection despair felt by John. Are these all types of Lent, best understood as reflections of the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

If we are to imitate Christ who harrowed hell on that day, what does that mean for us?

I don’t know. But whenever I feel pain I have experienced intellectualized like this, I feel like Aaron: hurt, sarcastic, questioning:

And Aaron said to Moses, "Look, this day they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and such things have befallen me!

If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD?"
Leviticus 10:19

What else are you expecting me to do?

What else, when even holding our peace is too much to bare?

I read the books of Leviticus and Numbers in Robert Alter’s translation.


a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

I’ll avoid quoting cliche’ but we all know the text of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Inaugural Address. At a time when there was much uncertainty in the world, the President did not ask us to fend for ourselves but to band together and make sacrifices for the greater good of each other and the world. Later, at a speech at Rice University, he famously said “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

In his speech on January 31, President Bush noted the following:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

In this statement, the President is throwing the onus of oil consumption reduction on scientists and engineers, not on consumers and definitely not on producers. Again, no request for sacrifice from the voting public. Has patriotism gone to exclude the self-giving that Kennedy and others asked of us?

In reading this and reflecting, it occurred to me that this President Bush is very hesitant to ask anything of the American people, the Military excluded. We shy away from heavy environmental regulation because it may hamper our ability to do business efficiently. We opt out of the Kyoto Protocol, noting that other countries would not be expected to sacrifice as much as we do. We continue to decrease taxes for those who need it the least, and when I say need I mean honest, physical need. We ignore the warning signs of global warming, glacial retraction and seawater acidity, because no one has proven definitively enough for the detractors that we can stop it or that it’s our fault… Even though a simple reduction in world greenhouse emissions could show us a positive or negative change in warming acceleration in less than a decade. The President is eager to push Health Savings Accounts on the American public, asking us to spend more of our own money or go to the doctor less, all in an effort to better pad the pockets of investors and CEOs.

It seems that in every turn, the current Administration is only interested in making more, keeping more, and not in using less or making less. I understand that capitalism thrives on the efficiency of everyone being as greedy as possible, but could it not also thrive on people being as giving as possible?

Dan and I discussed at length the idea of a fuel tax. We thought that an increase in the price of gasoline might drive down demand. We discussed that this tax could be made fairer by giving rebates at tax-time for miles driven. In this system, those who drove the least would be rewarded and those that drove the most would even out. But we both know this idea would be political suicide for whoever attempted to legislate it. Again, no ask for sacrifice. Is it that unpalatable to the American public? For every person who volunteers for the military, where is the person willing to pay $5/gallon for gas? For everyone who thinks the President is infallible, where is the person trading in his tax-subsidized SUV for a hybrid, or even a higher fuel-efficiency vehicle? Again, efforts to mandate increased efficiency were retarded to spare the automobile industry the brunt of higher cost of manufacture. Some manufacturers even tweaked their models slightly so as to be larger than the government standard ‘light truck’ qualification, thereby exempting themselves from even the relaxed newer regulation. And who is crying foul? A marginalized Democratic minority?

This year, the economics of the situation got to me. I started riding my bike to work more frequently and I second-guessed a lot of short trips. I already had a fuel-efficient vehicle (32mpg) but I have paid more attention to keeping it efficient… Maintenance and more pragmatic operation. The President is pushing for more nuclear energy, which I applaud, but what’s wrong with wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy? Almost no mention of them in the speech. He mentions switchgrass farming for cellulose alcohol, a more efficient form of combustible than ethanol. But where is the mention of agricultural subsidies to the farmers growing an initially unprofitable crop?

I am interested to see where the Administration goes with this. I have great hopes for the American people. In the same speech, President Bush vowed billions for the teaching of math and science. And in the same term, argues that intelligent design ought to be taught in public schools. I think if we can only overcome the limitation of our President, we just might make it.

And the Seventh Seal breaketh…

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

Well, a month and ten days after the invitation was extended, I decide to sully TDAXP with my presence. I’m posting in the category “Democrats,” although by rights I think I ought to make a completely new TDAXP category, say perhaps “Eat Your Fishheads” or “Things You Know are Right (Left),” but I’ll tamper with Google rank later. TDAXP has put a lot of work into his setup and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize it. Did you know it is Google Search #1 for “polar bear fetish”? Go ahead, look it up. That doesn’t happen by accident.

Anways, enough chicanery. I’ve nearly posted two or three times on various topics since Dan’s invitation to blog, but kept stopping short for fear of not enough time or not enough research to do the topic justice. So, to finally quiet him up about not publishing, and to hopefully stave off another reminder that my own precious “blog” (http://aaron.groundrocket.org) is down, I’m going to pseudo post and do better the next time. Here we go.

A Lot of People Supporting Tom Daschle… In Iowa – Daschle has been all over IA in recent months. He spoke at the annual Democrat’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in November and spoke again at the beginning of this month at the University of Iowa at Ames. Then, just a few days ago, went to bat for IA Governor-hopeful Chet Culver, stating “Chet is in the strongest position to be the next governor.” Why so much time in Iowa when more money could be picked up courting wealthy donors in much bluer states? Naturally, one assumes Presidential aspirations. But why no visits to New Hampshire?

John McCain – Our next president is spending a lot of time getting his name in the news on inconsequential matters. What does John McCain know about ‘ala carte’ cable television? Why does he get in a pseudo-partisan fight with Democrat wunderkind Barack Obama over how to best approach a bipartisan call for lobbying reform? Is any press good press in a Republican primary that thus far seems to be winnable on name recognition?

Abortion in South Dakota – Roger Hunt of Brandon and a number of his colleagues are sealing their political doom during our current legislative session. Another ban on abortion in this state has passed through the legislature by a large margin. This time it does contain a provision for a mother’s threatened life. Governor Rounds will likely sign. There will no doubt be a number of costly legal battles, but at least some lawyers will get rich at South Dakota taxpayer expense. Why bother ending this fight, Hunt, et al? What will you campaign on in the next election? Fiscal responsibility? Your party gave that up with Bush. Devotion to agriculture? Bush and Thune want unprofitable farming stricken from South Dakota’s subsidies list. Family values? South Dakota doesn’t care about families, only the unborn. Families are welcome to be torn apart by legal gambling, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc. as long as all children, wanted or unwanted, get a chance to grow up on the Reservation or the slums of Sioux Falls. South Dakota Republicans won the Events Center battle (rightly so) but their turnouts are going to fall dramatically if they don’t have the Pro-Life zealots holding candlelight vigils before every election.

Finally, some self-serving observation. South Dakota is about to pass a Transportation Bill that declassifies bicycles and horses as vehicles. The local news, then national, then Fark.com all came to the ( ridiculous ) conclusion that this was to allow our hillbilly ( and fit? ) alcoholics to find their way home without resorting to driving under the influence. The unintended consequence, which I believe the lawmakers have not thought through, is to endanger the rights of cyclists and equestrians on public highways. I am concerned that losing status as an automobile will place any liability for traffic accidents not on the at-fault party, but on the cyclist or horse rider. I will be very melancholy the day ( imagine Republican sneer ) “some lawyer” gets a reckless, inattentive, or just plain ignorant asshole off after he kills some bicyclist training for the Tour de Kota.

Well, I thought you could all use a break from Dan’s homework. Thanks for listening. I’ll rant more later.

Blissful ignorance and naivety do not a Rapture make…

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

While no one is being thrown to the lions, much to my dismay, it seems a number of Christians in the United States are feeling rather persecuted. Their beliefs are mocked in schools by men of pagan science and the great unwashed masses prefer to pursue greed and romance during this Holi-Day season, rather than celebrate the birth of a man dedicated scholars of equally mistranslated ancient systems of control cannot agree existed or mattered.

Let’s get a couple things straight.

– Christmas is under no more attack than Bass Fishing or Monday Night Football. No one cares about the Lord until after the presents are unwrapped. For all the faithful lined up to pray for the dismissal of activist judges and the safe return of Natalee Halloway, Christmas sales were as robust this year as any. Christmas is about giving gifts, getting gifts, getting laid, getting drunk, fighting with family, and then getting blitzed and resolving to lose weight, quit smoking, go to church more and have fewer unwanted pregnancies next year. If Christmas is under attack by anyone, it’s commercialism, and I doubt there will be a Justice Sunday protesting holiday opportunism by Wal-Mart and anyone else who makes a buck off the rape of Christianity’s founder.

There are some wackos out there who want Nativity Scenes taken down. But there are wackos out there blowing up abortion clinics, too. You won’t hear Al Franken or Rhandi Rhodes talking about them, though, as if they’re some sort of organized campaign (though they clearly are). But to hear O’Reilly or Limbaugh talk, Democrats and ACLU members are kicking down crosses and burning Baby Jesus, marching to Stalin’s drum. There’s no organized campaign to destroy Christianity. There is a campaign for equal representation. Your religion is exclusive to every other. Just like every other religion is exclusive to yours. Would the Jezalots complain if someone wanted the Star of David taken down, or the Moslem Crescent? Perhaps we should put on a Holiday program in public schools about the Road to Enlightenment the Buddhist follows? “Not in my country!” you howl, Budweiser held aloft. “This country was founded by Christians!” Wrong. I could quote Jefferson and Franklin and a number of others, but you’ve seen that debate before. You know you’re in the wrong, and no amount of clinging to a biography written 3 lifetimes after someone’s death will change that.

The point to it all is “get your mystic bullshit off my public property.” Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, secular humanists, communists, homosexuals, legal immigrants and corporations own every building financed by taxes in this formerly great country. Therefore they deserve equal representation, or at the least, no exclusively single-tracked representation. No one gives a rip they are Christian symbols. They care that it’s religious symbols at all. Your imaginary Guy in the Sky is just as important to you as it is to them. So why can’t we all get along and agree to just leave him at home when it comes to libraries and federal buildings? I guess it would take someone of Jesus’ wisdom to come to that simple conclusion. I wonder how many of the Christians would howl if the government started teaching the Native American creation story in science class? Hypocrites.

– Your misguided morality isn’t under fire from sexual deviants either. I watched with great interest as the sex education fiasco rolled through the Sioux Falls public school system. A bunch of naive parents think their children don’t know what a blowjob is or that sex without a condom might lead to pregnancy. They’ve learned enough about all that in your regular Prime-Time programming. An episode of CSI:Miami recently featured a fraternity hazing incident that involved anal sodomy. I bet Ma and Pa Fundie loved explaining that one to the kids. “That’s what them Democrat Faggots do, Billy. Now go read yer Bible before the Knoxville race comes on.” If you people are so concerned about the inappropriateness on TV, campaign against police dramas and the talentless whores on American Idol. Turn your children onto PBS or the History Channel and open their eyes to the damage caused by ignorance and intolerance over the bloody and terrible reign of Christianity. Or turn the TV off and interact with the product of your blessed union. Educating and caring for your child used to be what parents do. Now they just work to pay themselves to death for the junk they don’t need and divorce when they can’t take the pressure.

– Local ignoramus with a keyboard, “Sibby”, wants everyone to know what Planned Parenthood’s agenda really is. His claim seems to be that they want your children engaging in oral sex and anal sex and having orgies. Newsflash, Sibby. The same reason you got off on your Dad’s stolen Playboys is the reason kids figure out that Tab A goes into Slot B. It’s called hormones, and no one needs to teach Dick and Jane how to make babies. The kids don’t need Planned Parenthood to teach them that. But what Planned Parenthood or a realistic sex education program can teach the kids is that abstinence, while unlikely to happen or endure, is the only safe sex, but when the hormone lid blows, there’s some things you can do to avoid the risk of pregnancy or the spread of disease. Teaching them otherwise would be inappropriate and sad, but it’s exactly what these misguided mystics want. Their Utopia is sexless but full of violent police drama and a lot of turning left whilst accelerating. I highly doubt Sibby waited until he was married to make love to a woman for the first time, but if he did, fair play to you, sir. If not, I hope the dirty damn hippies of yesteryear taught you about proper precautions and maybe some alternatives to seeding the baby beanfield. I really have a hard time believing that Planned Parenthood or the Sioux Falls School Board’s ultimate goal is to have kids having kids. I think anything but. But to hear some blinder-sporting folk tell it, their perversion knows no bounds.

I have a lot more to say about the misguided attempts by Christians to make my life better, but let me close with saying this: Our country was founded by people hoping to escape religious persecution. It went on to become the greatest country in the world. Why don’t you all leave, form a new one where you’re free to practice your caveman beliefs, and in 200 years, kick our Heathen asses? While you’re gone, I’ll be reveling in the reality of violence, pre-marital sex, taxes and everything else nature intended. I just thank your God that my parents had the smarts to tell me to watch my mouth when the other guy is a lot bigger, keep my kidmaker from needlessly ruining my life early, and doing what makes everyone a better person: not forcing my beliefs on anyone else. You’re free to live in a delusion. Don’t legislate it onto my kids, my public spaces and my Constitution.

Response to Aaron’s Response to Conservatives’ Response to Durban’s Response to Bush’s Response to Terrorism

Mortified right ignores message of Durbin speech,” by Aaron, tdaxp, 22 June 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/22/mortified_right_ignores_message_of_durbin_speech.html.

I was delighted by Aarons’ surprise guest blogging. A modified version of this post was going to be a comment to his work, but it exceeds the maximum comment length. So… enjoy!

Borrowing a tactic from Dan, the Right has ceaselessly chastised Senator Durbin the past few days for comments likening Guantanamo to concentration camps.

To the extent it is a swarm attack, it is borrowing a tactic from RAND, if not the very history of war itself.

They’ve happily made so much noise about the syntax that the return value has been conveniently ignored. This is a masterful tactic.

And an old one, even in American politics. See towering genius Chris Bower’s review of “The Republican Noise Machine”.

Focus on the text and not the message. Unlike Dan, however, they have no convenient excuse like “I’m drunk by 3pm” or “I have no concept of right or wrong” to cover for their maneuvering.”

To crib Machiavelli, their “excuse” is that they are attempting to liberate American politics from the barbarians

And to crib St. Paul, they know they wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spirtual wickedness in high places.

Both writers saw struggle as a multi-generational effort to achieve a desired goal. Both knew that one’s enemies whither and die as the strugglign continues. Both had disdain for those who fought just to fight.

Successful movements rarely wrestle for the fun of it. They wrestle to create a better world against an implacable foe.

If they had no concept of right and wrong, they would have no reason for their maneuverings. They manevuer because they do believe in right and do detest wrong.

Former President Clinton was absolutely correct in his comments that we need to either clean up or we need to shut it down.

Former President Clinton was exactly right in what he said.

When we watch the news, we’re horrified to see civilians and military personnel alike taken hostage and presumably harmed or tortured by enemy combatants. However, there’s no outrage that the very same is most likely going on outside the borders of our great Nation, just under our supervision?

What civilians have been taken hostage and tortured under our supervision?

A lot of Americans were dismayed there was no Muslim outrage at the events occurring in the Middle East. Why would there be? There’s no Christian outrage that the detainees holy symbols are being desecrated, that their way of life in regard to women and sexuality is constantly being affronted, or that they’re being forced to listen to American pop music.

“their way of life in regard to women and sexuality is constantly being affronted”


Excuse me, I fell out of my chair from the irony.

The American Left works for generations to radically alter the American way of life in regard to women and sexuality, and now realizes the psychic harm such actions cause?

While I would welcome strippers and would laugh at the misguided destruction of Bibles, as the message is what’s important to me, not the worthless paper it’s printed on, the music would definitely be torture.

Dan has expressed concern that these people “do not deserve honor or humanity or honesty.” What he’s failed to do is distance himself from moral relativism.

See the Machiavelli and Paul comments. Such actions are needed because there is an absolute good. In pre-Modern societies (Chivalrous and Ottoman Europe being good examples), there were powerful codes of conduct in war because they recognized war was meaningless. Likewise, the reason for the Shogunate abolishing firearms.

It’s only when a “happy ending” is discovered, when a morality becomes absolute, that violence spirals upwards.

See also the studies finding a strong correlation between monotheism and violence. Same cause.

He has determined that some of these uncharged “criminals” do not deserve to be treated well, or for that matter, not subjected to cruelty or torture.

They are not criminals. American criminals deserve the protection of American citizenshp. Some of my more leftward posts explore this need.

At Zen Pundit, Mark Safranski and I discussed the role of criminals in society, and I expressed my admiration for Japan’s “management” of a criminal class

The detainees in Guantanemo are not criminals. They are soldiers and warriors.

He says this because presumably they’re responsible for or have some connection to the deaths of Americans, or perhaps they’ve stolen his corporate card number and are charging phone sex. Either way, his hatred for enemy hostage-takers can be assumed.

Hatred is dangerous. In the Christian tradition, Paul and Jesus recognized the self-limiting aspect of hate. In the early Renaissance, Machiavelli saw how it warps rationality and changes desired goals.

So I try to love them, and I know I have sympathy for them. And I recognize them as dangerous soldiers and warriors.

But to them, are the people they are capturing, torturing, and in some cases beheading on television not responsible for the deaths of THEIR people?

We know bin Laden thinks that way, yeah. He has stated that in a democracy the people control the government and so are individually responsible for the behavior of that government.

Despite having some MBA training, bin Laden either never grasped the concept of “corporate governance” or else rejected it.

I doubt these men are blowing themselves up in at military checkpoints because they’ve nothing better to do. They must perceive their way of life must be in jeopardy,


The terrorists do know better.

and it is America that is responsible.

Largely, yes.

While I do not lament the loss of their backwards cultures,

They’re ancient culture was largely destroyed by big-government statist projects from that horrid half-century, the late 20th.

We are witnessing the desperate attempt to hold on to remnants of the past, and hopefully restore it.

I have noticed a similar devout pessimism among Missouri Synod Lutherans.

their human rights violations, or their lack of respect for women, I do understand that these things they think are “normal” and that they do not like having their views changed forcibly.

I’m not justifying their actions. But I’m saying that if we want to level the playing field,

Why do we want to level the playing field? We don’t want a fair fight — we want a very unfair fight in our advantage.

we have to show the enemy that we’re treating prisoners with respect

Why, if the enemy believes that respect must be earned?

and that we are not harming them, we are not being destructive in regards to their beliefs,

Their beliefs are why they are warriors. To the extent practical we must destroy or subvert their beliefs.

and that we have a legal and well-documented due process for them.

The enemy could care less. They will not stop if we are kinder to them.

However, legal and well-documented due process is useful in preventing the enemy from morally isolating us.

The President hides behind comments like “processing these men would put our troops in danger” and other bait-and-switch tactics. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” What damage could determining these mens’ guilt or innocence do to our current operations in the Middle East?

In order to have a fair trial, the accused would need access to the evidence against them. It may be that a substantial portion of the evidence in nearly all cases cannot be shared, because its very nature would reveal sources and/or methods.

If Ackbar is found innocent, what is likely to happen? He returns to Iraq/Afghanistan and tells his comrades “be careful, the employ women in their ranks, who at any moment may begin to dance and remove their clothing to Britney Spears music… I saw it with my own eyes, and I may never sleep again… Oh, also, they’re looking for us in Pakistan now too.” What sensitive information could they give up? “They are searching for our leaders in the mountains along the border… Oh, you know? Yeah, I guess it’s hard to miss the tanks and helicopters and Hum-Vees, and that FoxNews van is quite colorful for a desert setting.

He returns to tell his comrades “I have lived to fight another day.”

While possibly shortsighted as to the quick rhetoric and shallow understanding of his detractors, Senator Durbin was exactly correct. The Nazis detained people they determined to be guilty without a trial of their peers, held them in conditions that were aversive to their needs and their faiths. The SS pulled people from the streets who were never heard from again and weren’t acknowledged as being prisoners of war. The Nazis decided that Jews were the enemy because of their actions that affronted their beliefs. They believed the Jews were responsible for the starving deaths and horrible economy of their people. They provided no evidence to the people of Germany that the Jews were criminals or had done anything wrong.

Genetic fallacy, reductio ad hitlerum variant.

Perhaps we could see a list of crimes the Guantanamo detainees are being held for?

They are not criminals. To the extent they are in that special class, “war criminals,” the charge would be they operated as franc tireurs.

But on that charge, we could care less.

The hostage-taking and murder by suicide-bombing of our people is deplorable. The Arabs in this case are mimicking the Nazis quite well. But we are putting on a good show as well.

Introducing Guest Blogger Aaron

As I mentioned, during my vacation tdaxp will post my thesis. Additionally, I am happy to announce a guest blogger: Aaron. While a liberal Democrat, Aaron is very intelligent and we agree on the systematic nature of most issues. Aaron is an intelligent, creative, vertical, and horizontal thinker. He also runs aaron.mmi.net, a social blog that tdaxp spun off from. To use the cool hip lingo, Aaron would be my blogfather.

Please give him a kind welcome.

Aaron on Everything

I’m Quite Left…,” by Aaron, tdaxp, 22 March 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/03/18/rounds_south_dakota_s_abraham_lincoln.html.

Aaron provides us with an airchair view of the world. He’s right on a lot of things, so as a true friend I will mention only those where he is misguided…

…I don’t support handouts to the rich, like a tax cut that’s done little to rejuvenate a slow economy…

I agree that Keynesian “stimulation” of the economy by providing tax cuts are unwise. Sadly, Keynes’s “something for nothing” philosophy has resounated with Americans ever since FDR, so politicians of all parties use it as an excuse to increase spending and/or cut taxes.

Taxes should be set to create a stable, high-growth economy, not manipulated as a short-term fix for a slowing one.

…or the OK to drill for oil where it won’t do anyone but the oil companies any good

ANWR has three main winners and two main losers


  • Oil providers involved in it
  • Oil consumers
  • Oil-substitute consumers


  • Oil providers not involved in it
  • Oil-substitute providers

Oil providers involved in ANWR could only receive all of the social gains from it if they were a monopoly or perfect cartel.

Of course ANWR has the potential to change very-long-run calculations as well, but the future is too uncertain to dwell on those.

Even Mr. Savage will have a hard time refuting the fact that no oil will come from ANWR for many years, no matter how many resolutions are passed

Aaron knows my dim view of Mr. Savage. However, Aaron’s premise is incorrect. If not changing oil calculations until the long term is a problem, then green strategies would not make sense either. After all, it will take years for hybrid cars to cut into oil consumption!

Prayer in schools? Sure, why not. As long as you’d be fine going to a Hindu country and praying their prayers in their schools

I am not speaking for Mr. Belew, and I’m against force prayers, but…

Hinduism can be just as effective a horizontal control mechanism as Christianity. Therefore, let Hindu communities lead public Hindu prayers in America!

(Not that there aren’t much worse problems with the whole public education system in the first place…)

As a Christian, do you want their ideals forced on you just because you’re the minority?

I would guess a good part of Belew’s anti-liberal disposition comes from having government forcing liberal views on him for years. While Bush is slowly rolling those back, social engineering has been government policy for a long time.

The people who protested the Vietnam war weren’t wrong. It was the wrong war at the wrong time. The fight against communism was just yesterday’s religious jihad. There will always be war. Should women and children be murdered so we can raise our flag and be proud of our work? War is one thing. Rape and murder is another. Vietnam was the latter. Read a book

Vietnam was the right war at the right time. While it failed in its central goal, it was successful. The long-term consistent attack on Communist infrastructure robbed the movement of momentum elsewhere in South East Asia. At the same time, the obliteration of modern Vietnam showed all the the price of Communism was unacceptably high. Like the Cuban boycott, the Vietnam War was a success.

Communism was a system of mass slavery. There was no freedom of religion, no freedom of conscience, no freedom of speech, no freedom of work.

Saying there “will always be war” is either demonstrably wrong (it has been, well, ever since Pennsylvania and New York slugged it out) or a meaningless tautology (business as a form of war???).

The end years of the Global War on Communism coincided with the beginning of a Jihad. But there the similarities ended.

The Viet Cong used rape and murder to destroy South Vietnamese civil society. Fortunately, the VC were destroyed during the disasterous (for them) Tet Offensive.

When Warren Buffett, who should be giddy like a schoolgirl at Bush’s tax cuts writes a letter to the Washington Post questioning the utility of them, don’t you have to wonder?

Almost none of Mr. Buffet’s income is earned income. He was barely effected by the income tax cuts.

It is easy being generous with other people’s money.

Thanks for the comments.