Fake Etymologies

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

A few days ago I posted about the annoying habit of preachers and Bible teachers to illustrate their sermons or lessons with wholly made-up or insufficiently fact-checked stories or claims. but the problem is not limited to preachers and Bible teachers.

Today, on Facebook, I came across a supposed explanation of the origins of the word “hangover“, which is unfortunately entirely fictional.

The claim is that in Victorian England, there were establishments called “penny hangs” where, for a penny, a person could sleep while leaning over a rope. In the morning, the rope would be dropped, and the patrons would be “hungover.”

While it’s true that there were extremely low-cost lodging houses in Victorian England, and conditions in some were dire, there’s no solid historical evidence that “penny hangs” existed in the way the myth describes. Additionally, there’s no direct connection between this concept and the origin of the term “hangover” as it relates to the aftereffects of alcohol consumption.

The story makes for a compelling narrative, but it’s not the true origin of the word “hangover“, and it is because of its compelling nature rather than it’s (non-existent) factualness that it survives and keeps circulating, just as some sermon illustrations survive and are used again and again.

The actual origin of the word is much more mundane and prosaic:

The word has been in the English language since the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

The term “hang” in English has had many different meanings and uses throughout history. One of its meanings relates to the idea of something that remains or is left over. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “hangover” was used to describe something that “hangs over” from one time period to the next.

In the context of the unpleasant aftermath of alcohol, it’s as if the effects of the alcohol are “hanging over” into the next day. By the early 20th century, “hangover” was being used in print to specifically refer to the aftereffects of drinking.

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

Fake Sermon Illustrations

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

I do get annoyed at preachers or Bible teachers who pull illustrations out of thin air for the spiritual points they are trying to make, or, if they have heard it from somewhere else, don’t bother to research and verify the accuracy of the illustration.

Here is an example:

A “right angle” (90 degrees) is right because it fits into the window or door frame. Becoming righteous is being reshaped to fit into God’s Kingdom …

In reality, a “right angle” is called “right” not because it fits into a window or door frame, but because it is derived from Latin “angulus rectus“, where “rectus” means upright, referring to the vertical perpendicular to a horizontal base line.

But a factual explanation of the origins of “right angle” would not have illustrated “fitting into God’s kingdom“, so he made something up.

The world already thinks we are foolish because of the cross; do we really have to confirm their poor opinion of us with such antics?


I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

A Lovely Story But Wrong Conclusions

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

Here is a lovely story that has circulated on Facebook for a while. Unfortunately it ends with a few questionable conclusions.

“Good morning!” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.

The man slowly looked up.

This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.

His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone!” he growled. To his amazement, the woman continued to stand there, smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.

“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”

The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” he asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”

Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked..
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?” The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?” “See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.” “This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”

“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now please let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” “Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.” “And do you make a good amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?” “What business is that of yours?”

“I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of that company.” “Oh.” The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?” “No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.” “Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?” “Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.” The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place” he said. “That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.” “I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.

“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus, He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.

“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the coffee.”

God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor. If you believe, send it. If you don’t believe, delete it.
God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close. If you need God to open some doors for you, send this on.

So much for the story. I am sure these sorts of things happen when people are motivated by gratitude and the love of Jesus. One even hears of non-Christians doing kind things like this, out of gratitude or simple human compassion.

But the conclusion, “God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor,” is very questionable, and it can lead to disappointment when people do acts of kindness, and as is very likely and is borne out by lots of experience, things do not start to work in their favor, if things do not turn around for them today.

As followers of Jesus we are called to act with compassion and kindness without expecting anything in return. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, not so that they will do likewise to us.

History is full of accounts of saintly people, well known for their kindness to those around them, only to end up in prison or die a horrible death, Jesus himself being a prime example of this.

Yes, we are promised a reward, but it may not be, most likely will not be, today or even in this life. Rather, we follow Christ and live out His commandment to love our neighbors in gratitude for His salvation, and in the hope that one day — probably not today — He will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

And forwarding stories like this one on social media is not a magic “Open, Sesane!“ charm which will make God open doors for us. This sounds way too much like the chain letters of my childhood in the 1960s.

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

“This phone number is not assigned.”

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

I just received a call from the phone number +43684937284.

The very friendly lady speaking German with a foreign accent said she was calling from Microsoft and asked if I owned a Microsoft computer. When I confirmed that I did, I was connected to an equally friendly gentleman, also speaking German with a slightly different foreign accent. He informed me that he was the chief technician at Microsoft and that there was an internet problem with my Microsoft computer, and all my data was being spied on.

When I objected, saying I didn’t have a problem, he replied, a bit less friendly, that I was a regular user and had no idea what I was talking about.

When I responded that I indeed knew what I was talking about, he hung up.

It’s a pity because I would have loved to ask him where Microsoft got my phone number from, and why they called me from an Austrian mobile phone number. I would also have liked to ask him, if it was true that all my data was being spied on, why Microsoft hadn’t already resolved this problem with their automatic updates. And I would have loved to ask why the “chief technician” at a huge company like Microsoft was making customer support calls. I never got the chance.

Oh, and before I forget: I tried calling the number back because I found it very rude and impolite of the guy to just hang up on me. The result: “This phone number is not assigned.” 

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

Inerrant Bible, inerrant Bible Translations?

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

In a recent Facebook-Post [1] someone claimed that none of the prominent Evangelical authors and teachers, such as Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Alistair Begg, etc,, who claim to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, are able or willing to point to any translation of the Bible, in any language and of any age, nor to any manuscripts in the original languages, which actually are that inerrant Bible.

He also claimed that the “Critical Text” of the Bible, which scholars have re-constructed from thousands of manuscript fragments in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek  as the closest approximation to the text of the original manuscripts (which have not survived), is “Vatican supervised”, as are all the current translations of the Bible which are based on it—whatever that means, other than being an attempt to discredit them.

I don’t know what exactly the poster’s agenda or message is (he might be a “King-James-Only[2] type), but his post reveals both ignorance of the nature of languages and translations, as well as a massive misunderstanding of the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture as it is understood by all serious scholars, whether they subscribe to it it or not:

Until the second half of the 20th century conservative Protestants[3] generally held to the doctrine of the Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of Scripture[4]. Then, in the wake of the fundamentalist–modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the publication of a series of articles called The Fundamentals, re-iterating the traditional, conservative positions on a number of Christian doctrines. Fundamentalist came into use for those who held to these traditional beliefs. Because of the birth of the movement in a controversy, Fundamentalists tended to be pretty rigid and belligerent, and in the 1940s and 1950s some fundamentalist Christians tried to formulate their views in a more nuanced, irenic, and intellectually robust way; they came to be known as E.vangelicals. During the mid-twentieth century, in the face of continued challenges to traditional views on the historicity, reliabiity, and authority of the Bible, some Evangelicals felt the need to “fine tune” the doctrine of Scripture. The result was the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) meeting held in Chicago in October 1978, and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

The Chicago Statement affirms the belief that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is without error or contradiction in all matters it addresses, including matters of history, science, and theology. 

Just like the earlier doctrine the claim to inerrancy applies only to the original autographs, the original manuscripts written by the human authors themselves, which we don’t have. It applies to the thousands of manuscript fragments which we do have (comparatively many more than for any other text of antiquity) only to the extent that these are accurate and reliable copies of the original text.

The science or art of reconstructing the original test, or at least the best possible approximation of the original test, from the manuscript fragments we have as well from ancient translations such as the Septuagint[5], is called textual criticism; the resulting Hebrew and Aramaic (for the Old Testament) and Greek (for the New Testament) text is referred to as the Critical Text, and most contemporary translations, in English as well as other languages, are based on that Critical Text which reflects the consensus of the majority of scholars. The Critical Text is, of course, not completely static; if new manuscript fragments are found, or new historical artifacts are found which increase or knowledge of Ancient Near East culture, improvements can be made. Neither are translations of the text completely static, eben without any shift of conviction on the part of the translator(s): if there are textual improvements, or a few years of using a translation make clear that a certain phrase leads to misunderstandings, translations are revised. 

Which brings us to translations. Scripture itself does not even mention translations of the Scriptures into other language, thus anyone who professes belief in sola scriptura should not be making  dogmatic statements about the authority of any translation. Not only for this reason no serious Christian theologian, whether he subscribes to inerrancy or not, would claim either verbal inspiration and infallibility or inerrancy for a translation. Both doctrines only apply to the original autographs in the original languages; translations, like manuscripts in the original languages are infallible or inerrant only to the extent that they faithfully reproduce the original autographs. 

Regardless of how one characterizes the original manuscripts or their copies, anyone who claims infallibility or inerrancy for a translation ignores the inherent limitation of any translation which is due to the nature of languages. Since there is no one-to-one equivalence of either words or grammatical constructs between different languages, whether they share the overall culture (i.e. West European languages), or whether their cultures are separated by geography (i.e Europe and the Middle East) and by thousands of years.) Thus, all translation work involves judgment calls on the meaning of words and phrases, and of course these judgments reflect the convictions and biases of the translator.[6]

Given all this, how can we rely on the Bible or anything it says?

First, for the Christian, there is another old doctrine of the church: the belief that not only inspired Scripture, but also preserves it, in such a way that despite lost manuscripts, copyist’s errors and all the problems with translation, since God gave the Bible as revelation of everything we need for salvation and a life pleasing to Him, He has preserved it and still preserves it in such a way that we can know what He wants us to know.

Second, for the one who is not yet a Christian, confidence in the text of the Bible can be inspired by the fact that the text of the Bible is extremely will documented. For the New Testament, we have close to 6000 Greek manuscripts or manuscript fragments, including whole or partial copies of the New Testament books, dating from the 2nd to the 16th centuries. Also, there are numerous manuscripts or fragment of Latin other ancient translations that contain portions or whole books of the Bible. For the Old Testament or Hebrew Sciptures, the primary textual tradition is known as the Masoretic Text, which dates to the early Middle Ages, but it is based on even older textual traditions. The Hebrew Bible has been in continual use as the holy book of Judaism, and the reliability of the Jewish scribes in accurately preserving the text has been confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956. All of this is far better documentary evidence than for any other ancient document. For the Christian believer this is, of course, evidence for the doctrine of the Preservation of Scripture.

When it comes to translations, with the exception of some clearly partisan translations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, all translations, both older and newer, theach the same Gospel. Yes, there are differences between translations, but they are really significant only if one wishes to base a doctrine or teaching on a single word in a single Bible verse—an absolute theological no-go. All the major doctrines of the Christian faith are based on broader evidence, and can be found in almost any translation of the Bible, including Justification by Faith in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

Personally, I believe that the Bible is God’s revelation of himself in words, and thus the words are important, and I hold to the doctrine of verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, which is infallible in what it teaches. However, not every detail in the Bible is part of what it teaches; thus slight differences in the narrative portions of the Bible which do not affect its teaching are of no concern to me.

There are those who believe that if the Bible is inspired it must be 100% correct down to the minutest detail, and that is how they interpret the doctrine of inerrancy. But this ignores the fact that God used human authors to write down His revelation, human authors who were not robots but retained their human personalities. Part of their humanness is varying recollections, and unless these variances would have corrupted the teaching, the revelation, God clearly did not see fit to prevent them That does not take away from the Bible’s reliability and infallibility, which only apply to what it teaches.


  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1567027963614699/permalink/3478211135829696/[]
  2. King James-Onlyism adherents believe that the KJV is the only accurate and reliable translation of the Bible. They argue that it was divinely inspired in its English translation and that other modern translations lack the same level of divine guidance. They argue that the KJV is not only divinely inspired but also perfectly preserved and free from any errors or mistakes. They believe that God has supernaturally safeguarded the accuracy of the KJV throughout history.)1 In part this is based on the belief that the Textus Receptus (Received Text), a Greek text based on the Greek New Testament produced by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1516, is the only divinely inspired text of the New Testament, which is belied by Erasmus’ own characterization of his work. Consequently, KJV-Onlyists consider contemporary translations of the Bible to be corrupted to a greater or lesser degree.[]
  3. The terms evangelical and fundamentalist, as they are used today to describe certain groups or movements within conservative Protestantism, didn’t come into existence until the early (fundamentalism) or mid (evangelicalism) 20th century.[]
  4. Verbal, Plenary Inspiration: God guided the human authors in such a way that they wrote exactly what God intended them to write. This view emphasized that every word, not just the general ideas or concepts, was inspired. This inspiration is plenary, i.e. full: every part of Scripture was equally inspired by God, including historical narratives, poetry, prophecy, and doctrinal teachings. As such, Scripture is infallible, meaning it is incapable of teaching falsehood or error on matters to which it speak.

    This doctrine upholds the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible for matters of faith and practice. Scripture is the ultimate authority for matters of faith and Christian living; it is the final standard by which all teachings and beliefs should be evaluated.[]

  5. The Septuagint, abbreviated as LXX from the Roman numeral 70, is a translation of the Old Testament into Greek, produced by Jewish exiles in Alexandria between 250 B.C. and 100 A.D.[]
  6. The problem of bias in a translation tends to be minimized for translations done by a reasonably broad committee, and more pronounced by translations done by individuals.[]
I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

Bible Translations

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , , ,

In a recent Facebook conversation Chad Bird was asked to recommend a Bible translation. Here is his reply:

«For many years, I have been using the NASB (New American Standard Bible). It leans more toward the literal in translation, thus making it harder to read at times. A more readable translation is the ESV (English Standard Version), which is commonly used in many denominations. Every translation is imperfect, of course, because one can never bring 100% of a language into another language. But those two are the ones I use the most. If you are looking for an even more readable translation, you might check out the CSB (Christian Standard Bible).»

For what it’s worth, I fully endorse this recommendation. For an added perspective I would add the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) to these three.

And as one who has done a lot translation work I would underline this sentence in Chad’s answer:

«Every translation is imperfect, of course, because one can never bring 100% of a language into another language.»

That is so important, yet so easily forgotten.

As for Bible translations I would warn against the currently popular Passion Translation comes to mind which is very much a paraphrase in the service of a specific, highly controversial theological perspective[1], and of course the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation which is likewise biased in the service of a particular theological system.

In general, more mainstream paraphrases such as The Living Bible or The Message are o.k. and can be helpful as long as one does not lose sight of the fact that they are just that, a paraphrase rather than a translation.

  1. New Apostolic Reformation. I highly respect some of the proponents of this movement while considering others equally higly problematic.[]
I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

Linux Mint Mate: Menu Scripting

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags ,

I have been playing around with the Mate menus. Specifically I wanted a convenient way to create desktop files and stick them into the menu, or specifically into a submenu. I know there is webapp, but I wanted something a bit more customizable.

So, I wrote two scripts:

  1. mksubmenu, which takes a name and an icon and creates an xdg *.directory file in $HOME/.local/share/desktop-directories. This effectively creates a new submenu under “Applications“.
  2. mkwebapp, which takes a name, url, icon, menu, and Chromium custom parameter and constructs an xdg desktop item in $HOME/.local/share/applications to call the url via the Chromium browser, with an optional Chromium custom parameter, using the specified icon and sticks it into the specified submenu or into “Other” if none is specified. I prefer this to the app shortcuts created from within the browser using the “Create Shortcut” (Chrome/Chromium/Iron/etc) or “Save as an App” (MS Edge) commands because my script creates shortcuts which are easier to edit and which survive browser changes or re-installs.

I have yet to create a script to create and install a desktop item for some random program, and there are some things I have not yet figured out:

  1. How to install a desktop item into one of the system submenus for which no xdg *.directory file exists, such ad Office or Internet;
  2. How to place new menus anywhere other than at the very top of the menu tree, just under Applications.

So I still need to use the “Edit Menus” feature to move things around.

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

Thoughts on French Riots and What Caused Them

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , , ,

France has been rocked the past few days by riots and unrest in the wake of the killing of 17-year-old Nahel Merbouz at a traffic stop.

I don’t condone the riots and violence of the protesters (and Nahel’s grandmother agrees), but I cannot deny a certain amount of sympathy for the mostly young Arab and Black people of cities like Paris who have long complained of police discrimination. Since their complaints are basically being ignored by the authorities (a charge confirmed by the UN) the politicians cannot escape responsibility for creating the circumstances which lead to these riots.

Now French politicians, including President Macron, accuse social media of stoking the current riots and unrest.

It seems that what they are referring to is the wide distribution, via TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and other platforms, of videos which document police discrimination and brutality towards non-white citizens, such as the video giving the lie to the claim by police officer Florian M. that he shot Nahel in self defence; it shows Nahel fleeing the scene rather than attacking the officers by driving towards them.

Nahel was not, of course, an innocent; but in our societies driving without a license  and not stopping for a traffic stop are not supposed to be crimes deserving capital punishment.

That Mr. Macron and others apparently perceive the riots and the wide distribution of such videos as more problematic than what these videos show speaks volumes.

Florian M. has been charged with voluntary homicide; look forward to more rioting if he should be acquitted or convicted of a lesser offence.

Undoubtedly France has a massive problem with “foreigners”, i.e. people from different cultures. as do other European countries including my own, Austria, and I am not letting any of them off the hook when it comes to dealing with them fairly and equitably. But France’s problem, unlike Austria’s, is home-grown; it is the result of France’s colonial past. It is, so to speak, the sins of the fathers being visited on the children. All efforts to deport, incarcerate, or otherwise dispose of all these people from North and Sub-Saharan Africa will fail: the “ethnically pure nation-state” is an unrealistic pipe dream, and if the French, from the top politicians to the ordinary citizens, do not learn to live peacefully with all ethnicities and cultures in their country, I fear that we will see even more of such scenes in the future.

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

First Reaction to the Refugee Boat Tragedy off the Greek Coast

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , , ,

Here is my reaction to the recent refugee boat disaster in the Mediterranean, with more than 500 dead:

I believe it is time that all of us here in the affluent West, both our governments and we as individuals, undergo serious soul-searching about how we deal with refugees.

1. We must stop using the lack of agreement within the EU as an excuse for doing nothing ourselves. To make our mercy and helpfulness dependant on that of others is a  declaration of moral bankruptcy.

2. We must abandon the distinction between those fleeing war and persecution (‘genuine refugees’) and those fleeing abject poverty in their countries of origin (‘economic refugees’). It is morally reprehensible to sit here in our still comfortable circumstances, despite inflation and rising prices, and shrug our shoulders at the desperate poverty of others.

3. To refuse assistance to those in need so as not to encourage traffickers is deeply immoral. In our countries we all have the criminal offense of Failure to Render Assistance; we are collectively guilty of this towards the refugees.

4. I disagree with those who want to pit defense spending against adequate aid to those in need: The past year has shown quite clearly that external military defense is necessary, just as  a functioning police force internally. And relying on the increasingly dysfunctional United States for our defense is recklessly dangerous.

5. In all of our countries there is enough savings potential in non-essential projects to be able to help much more effectively. We just have to want it and set the right priorities.

6. There are deeply indecent political parties in our countries that find it acceptable not to help strangers for some perverse ideological reason. If decent parties with a Christian or social-democratic value system pursue a “strict policy on foreigners” in order to steal votes from the indecent parties, then this is not only not very successful (because xenophobic people prefer to vote “the blacksmith than the blacksmith’s apprentice”), but also constitutes an immoral betrayal of one’s own values. Rather, what is needed are broad coalitions of the decent, even across ideological borders, in order to keep the indecent out of power.

I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.

On Stupidity (D. Bonhoeffer)

Posted on Categories UncategorizedTags , ,

A few days ago I came across this video:[1]

It is based on a text Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in 1943 while sitting in a Nazi prison.[2]

Bonhoeffer says that stupidity is more dangerous than malice because, as the saying goes, there is no cure for stupidity. or this reason stupidity is not an intellectual deficit but a moral one, a character flaw.

I find this explanation of stupidity and the danger it represents to be as relevant and compelling today as it was when he penned it. This is confirmed for me by the pervasive impact of conspiracy theories and the popular acclaim of politicians who promise their voters the moon, usually at the expense of some group of people or another.

A long time ago I came across the tag line, “Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by ignorance,” and it resonated with me so much that I used it in my e-mail signature for many years. And it reminds me, in this context, of a crucial difference between stupidity and ignorance:

Stupidity is willfully unteachable ignorance, denied ignorance, which does not want to be confused by facts which contradict its own, ignorant convictions.

I believe that part of the stupidity that prevails today is the pervasive rejection of faith in God: as the Psalmist says, The fool (the stupid person) says in his heart, “There is no God.”[3]

I am not a historian, but I would not be surprised ad all if the seed of the destruction of all past civilizations and empires was stupidity: the conviction that one knows it all, and knows it better than anyone else, and thus has no need to learn anything new or listen to any advice.

I fear that this could be the end of our civilization as well, if Christ does not return before then and makes an end to all stupidity and all malice.


  1. Video by Sprouts, www.sproutsschools.com[]
  2. On Stupidity is an excerpt from Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison.[]
  3. Psalm 14:1[]
I do not permit comments on this blog. The reason for this and further information can be found on the page Privacy Policy.