sung by Della Reese
written by Bruce G. Belland & David Troy Somerville
Some of my older posts on the topic of Easter:
Hugh Thompson, Jr.
(April 15, 1943 – January 6, 2006)
…Thompson then flew over an irrigation ditch filled with dozens of bodies. Shocked at the sight, he radioed his accompanying gunships, knowing his transmission would be monitored by many on the radio net: “It looks to me like there’s an awful lot of unnecessary killing going on down there. Something ain’t right about this. There’s bodies everywhere. There’s a ditch full of bodies that we saw. There’s something wrong here.”
Movement from the ditch indicated to Thompson that there were still people alive in there. Thompson landed his helicopter and dismounted. David Mitchell, a sergeant and squad leader in 1st Platoon, C Company, walked over to him. When asked by Thompson whether any help could be provided to the people in the ditch, the sergeant replied that the only way to help them was to put them out of their misery. Second Lieutenant William Calley (commanding officer of the 1st Platoon, C Company) then came up, and the two had the following conversation:
- Thompson: What’s going on here, Lieutenant?
- Calley: This is my business.
- Thompson: What is this? Who are these people?
- Calley: Just following orders.
- Thompson: Orders? Whose orders?
- Calley: Just following…
- Thompson: But, these are human beings, unarmed civilians, sir.
- Calley: Look Thompson, this is my show. I’m in charge here. It ain’t your concern.
- Thompson: Yeah, great job.
- Calley: You better get back in that chopper and mind your own business.
- Thompson: You ain’t heard the last of this!
Thompson took off again, and Andreotta reported that Mitchell was now executing the people in the ditch. Furious, Thompson flew over the northeast corner of the village and spotted a group of about ten civilians, including children, running toward a homemade bomb shelter. Pursuing them were soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, C Company. Realizing that the soldiers intended to murder the Vietnamese, Thompson landed his aircraft between them and the villagers. Thompson turned to Colburn and Andreotta and told them that if the Americans began shooting at the villagers or him, they should fire their M60 machine guns at the Americans: ”Y’all cover me! If these bastards open up on me or these people, you open up on them. Promise me!”
…Initially, commanders throughout the American chain of command were successful in covering up the My Lai Massacre. Thompson quickly received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions at My Lai. The citation for the award fabricated events, for example praising Thompson for taking to a hospital a Vietnamese child “caught in intense crossfire”. It also stated that his “sound judgment had greatly enhanced Vietnamese–American relations in the operational area.” Thompson threw away the citation.
above text and more on this
brave American found here
First off, what they were authenticating was not the validity of the text, but the piece of
paper papyrus it was written on.
The fragment has a dubious history. Its chain of possession can’t be accurately tracked back past 1999. The scholar who first studied it thought it may have dated back to the 4th century AD; others scholars who investigated it felt the 7th or 8th centuries AD were more likely periods for its origin, though one dissenting scholar still thinks it is a modern forgery.
This authenticity has kicked off a bit of a kerfluffle in both the Christian and skeptic camps because of how the translated text reads:
It’s important to note what the authentication of the document means.
It does not mean the information contained on it is accurate or even bona fide.
It means the fragment of papyrus did physically originate sometime between 699 and 899 AD, and was written on during that period with an ink common to that era, and in a language that was used at the time.
The text could be:
- An authentic teaching of some Christian offshoot (possibly Gnostic)
- An inauthentic teaching written for some unknown motive (possibly profit)
If “1”, the fragment either:
- Accurately reflects what it appears to reflect (i.e., that there was a debate among Jesus’ disciples and followers as to whether women could be disciples, and Jesus said, “Well, duh, look at my wife…” [paraphrased])
- Or that there was a debate and Jesus was using a rhetorical device (as in “the church is the bride of Christ”, etc.)
- Or that it was an entirely different topic of discussion and Jesus was not referring to an actual real woman he was married to but was making some other reference that is now impossible to follow due to the missing portion of the manuscript.
No matter: Some folks have appeared eager to glom onto interpretation “1a” and insist this is proof that Jesus was married despite lack of reference to a wife in the four gospels, the book of Acts, or the various epistles (including those written by his brothers; more on them in a moment). They correctly cite that in first century Judea all men were expected to marry and at least try to produce children, and only after producing at least one male heir were they allowed to slack off.
Their argument is that if Jesus was indeed a first century Judean, then logically he should have been married.
Well, that ain’t necessarily so…
Jesus was not an only child, at least not for Mary. The Bible indicates a minimum of six siblings: Four brothers (James, Joseph a.k.a. Joses, Judas a.k.a. Jude, and Simon) plus a minimum of two sisters (as they are referred to in the plural).
We know very little about Jesus’ life prior to his ministry’s start, but we do know at age twelve he accompanied both Mary and Joseph on a yearly pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover.
We know they traveled in what must have been a fairly large group of extended family and friends. While no siblings of Jesus are mentioned, one can assume if any had been born by that time they would have been in the group as well.
The charming story in the Gospel of Luke has the party getting a full day’s journey out of Jerusalem before realizing Jesus is not with them but back at the temple chatting it up with the rabbis.
Anyone who’s seen Home Alone
can appreciate how easy it is to
misplace a kid in the bustle
of holiday travel.
The next time we get a glimpse into Jesus’ home life, he and Mary are attending a wedding in Cana where mom twists his arm to perform his first public miracle and turn water into wine.
Joseph is not mentioned in that story, nor anywhere else in the gospels, so it is presumed he has died by this point.
Somewhere between his twelfth year and the start of his ministry at about age 30, Jesus became the head of his household by being the oldest male son after his father died.
The oldest male son with not one, not two, not three but six younger siblings to care for.
The boys, once they reached thirteen, would be out of his hair:
At that age the would be leaving home to enter apprenticeships, or if at home would be earning money to support Mary and their siblings while simultaneously socking something away for the day when they would marry.
The girls, however, presented a different challenge:
They would require dowries in order to find suitable husbands, and that would mean setting aside some nest egg from the family budget.
Jesus, in this position of responsibility, would have a good reason not to seek marriage himself until the last sister was married off. While his brothers could be expected to contribute something to the extended family coffers, they would also have families of their own to look after.
No one would have looked askance at Jesus for not marrying under those circumstances; rather they’d have pity and respect for the young man trying to do right by his widowed mother and younger sisters.
But they would have also assumed that after the youngest girl was married off, Jesus would start looking for a wife of his own.
Remember that wedding in Cana?
Whose wedding was it?
Luke doesn’t specifically say it was the wedding of Jesus’ youngest sister, but the time line fits. Men were expected to establish themselves in the world before seeking a wife, but girls tended to get married off ASAP. If Joseph had died when Jesus was 16 or 17, nobody would have thought it unusual that his eldest son hadn’t married yet. An infant sister at that age would mean Jesus would have reached his 30s by the time he was ready to hand her off to her husband.
The story of the wedding at Cana (a.k.a. Jesus turns water into wine) occurs within three days of Jesus being baptized by John. Jesus had clearly been talking to and recruiting his band of followers in the days preceding that; while more were to join afterwards he already had a core group who were willing to follow him as their teacher.
Further, while Mary seems to have been a key participant in the wedding feast, Jesus and his disciples are considered less important guests.
Jesus’ youngest sister no longer needs him to look after her or build up a dowry. Once freed of family responsibility, Jesus begins spending more time with the men who will become his first disciples; maybe he lets one or more of his younger brothers take over the carpentry shop (and no one begrudges him this; hey, he’s been bearing a man’s burden since his teen years).
But he is starting to get a tad flakey, and his own family is beginning to wonder if his interest in religion isn’t making him go a little funny in the head just like it drove his goofy cousin John out into the wilderness to preach like a wild man.
So Jesus and his best buds get invited,
but nobody wants them to be too
deeply involved in the affair.
Towards the end of the feast the bridegroom hits a major faux pas: The party has run out of booze. For some reason this is A Big Deal to Mary, who promptly tells Jesus he needs to do something about it.
Why would Jesus have any obligation to save the bridegroom from embarrassment for his own failure to adequately plan ahead?
Why would Mary get her kethōneth in a twist?
Who was this bridegroom to them that saving his face was so important?
Well, who was the bride?
Jesus’ kid sister?
The Gospel Of John doesn’t say, but it’s easy to imagine that apostle being eager to tell this story of Jesus’ first public miracle but at the same time not wanting to hurt the feelings of the holy brother-in-law or kid sister so he opts to refer to them anonymously.
This first miracle done, Jesus realizes there’s no point putting off the inevitable any longer, and heads out into the wilderness for his 40 days of fasting before launching his full time ministry.
 Though perhaps “kerfluffle” is too strong a word. “Ado” might be a better substitute, possibly “blather” though it certainly doesn’t reach the proportions of a full-fledged “brouhaha”.
 Judaism having a couple of lines of rabbinical thought that same sex relations between men was excusable provided the men were doing their religious / cultural duty by marrying women and producing children.
 Outlaw theologian Matthew Fox has speculated Jesus was a widower who had no offspring, which helps explains his enlightened view of women and children in his teachings. There’s nothing in scripture to specifically refute that, but neither is there anything that indicates it, either.
 Roman Catholic and some Orthodox Christian churches hold these were not biological children of Mary but either Joseph’s children from a previous marriage left orphaned, or cousins who for some reason were counted among Jesus’ household. There is nothing in the Bible to support either of those two ideas; they spring from the argument that Mary remained a virgin her entire life.
 And we’re presuming a sudden death, not a lingering malady that may have rendered him incapable of supporting his family and having to rely on Jesus to run the carpentry shop on his own.
 While Matthew and Luke report that subsequent to this Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and be tempted, only Mark indicates it happened “at once” after Jesus emerged from the Jordan river. “At once” is one of those terms that seems to mean one thing, but in reality is highly subjective and can be legitimately interpreted in a variety of ways; ask any mother / toddler combo what “pick up these toys at once” means and see what you get.
 From the frequent mention of wine and drunkards in the gospels, we can only assume that first century Judeans — Jesus’ followers in particular — were one hard drinkin’ crew.
 Indeed, Jesus later tells the parable of the Ten Foolish Virgins who get shut out of a wedding feast because of their lack of preparation.
 John jumps abruptly from the immediate aftermath of the wedding feast to a point two or three years later when Jesus’ ministry is in full bloom and he enters Jerusalem for his final week of confrontation with the Pharisees. Did John write a longer account and the middle was lost in transcription? Or did he just assume the three synoptic Gospels covered that part of the story well enough and chose to focus more on the death and resurrection? Good question, and one I have no answer for…(yet)
Did the original Planet Of The Apes movie revive the fading creationist movement by unintentionally preying on the racial fears of rural and suburban white Christians?
Planet Of The Apes was one of four major ground-breaking / trend-setting sci-fi media concepts that landed within an 18-month period of one another in 1967-68. It was the biggest popular hit of the quartet, launched a successful series of features, a not-so-successful live-action TV series, a somewhat more successful animated series, numerous novel spinoffs, comic books, and a host of imitators and rip offs.
Then as now the film was viewed (at least on one level) as a parable of American racial politics, with the apes implicitly understood to represent the downtrodden finally getting the upper hand over the previously dominant white culture.
Michael Wilson and Rod Serling’s script followed the lead of Pierre Boulle’s original novel to show a satirical (albeit not particularly humorous) view of “normalcy” turned upside down. In many cases it was done by showing humans used the way we use animals: For taxidermy, research, and sport. In others, it was an implicit criticism of dominant white culture with the promise / warning: “You’ll get what’s coming to you.”
While the apes were presented as antagonists in the first two films of the series, African-American audiences tended to sympathize with them more than they did with stalwart Chuck Heston (even before his NRA days).
By the times Escape From… and Conquest Of… rolled around, the identification of African-Americans with the apes was clearly overt (albeit it in a sympathetic and not denigrating manner). Conquest in particular hammers the apes / slavery issue home with a 12-lb sledge, and it’s pretty hard to whip up any sympathy with (predominantly white) humanity in either of those two films.
Recognizing this, and desiring the success of the series to continue, 20th Century Fox watered down the message in the fifth and final film of the original series, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, which ends in a bright future where apes, humans, and mutants co-exist peacefully and happily.
That vision of the ape-ocalyptic future flopped miserably at the box office and the films series ended, tho it continued thriving on the small screen and in comics with the original potent message.
It’s hard for modern audiences to understand the impact of these films when first unleashed from 1968-73. First off, nothing quite like this had ever been seen before. The closest anyone might have come to it is The Wizard Of Oz with its myriad of bizarre cultures in an even more bizarre world, but that was a fairy tale and not meant to be taken seriously. With the exception of a few post-apocalypse movies that featured mutants in cheesy make-up, nobody had ever tried to create not one but three entire species of realistic non-human characters for a film, complete with costumes, props, and buildings designed with apes in mind.
And despite the nervousness of the studio, producer Arthur P. Jacobs & co. pulled it off with remarkable aplomb. There had been serious sci-fi films before Planet Of The Apes, to be sure, but Apes was one of the first that easily crossed over into main stream audiences instead of relying primarily on the (admittedly growing) sci-fi fan base.
But the cinematic / literary / pop culture impact was only a small fragment of what the world of 1968 – especially the United States of America – was going through at that time.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was only four years old at the time Apes was released.
Had the nation not been in a period of shock and mourning in the aftermath of President Kenney’s assassination, conservative southern politicians would have probably blocked the act until the 1970s.
The nation was only four years away from segregated bathrooms, segregated diners, segregated water fountains. Loving v Virginia was only one year old!
African-Americans were still pretty much invisible in their native land. They were starting to make a few token appearances in TV shows and movies but they were far from ubiquitous.
Planet Of The Apes, without directly referring to the apes as analogs for African-Americans, pretty much forced audiences to draw that unavoidable parallel.
And, yeah, there were some who sneered and hooted and derided contemporary blacks by likening them to the monkeys on the silver screen…
…but the inescapable conclusion was that
those damned monkeys were in charge!
…and things were not going to be
so rosy for Mr. Whitey in the future.
This was the first time a lot of white people were forced to realize that the times, they were a’changin’ and what they were changing into was not going to resemble the world they grew up in where everyone knew (and kept) their place.
Planet Of The Apes did not present its topsy-turvy world as one laid down by divine fiat, a wrathful God punishing sinners by letting apes rule over them.
Planet Of the Apes said pretty plainly that humans – white humans in particular – were not fit to survive, and that a more vigorous, more capable breed was going to take over.
That was classic evolution,
and there wasn’t a damned thing
white humanity could do about it.
Creationism was not unheard of or even unargued in the late 1960s, but it was pretty much losing its steam. Evolution existed; there was no denying genetic changes in various species with common ancestors, and even prehistoric humanity had been guiding evolution along for their domestic plants and animals (“survival of the fittest” in this case meaning those most fit to serve humans). Creationists were pretty much giving up on the new earth / six literal twenty-four hour days version of creation and instead arguing what is now referred to as Intelligent Design (only with God explicitly in control).
Their basic point was that God had a plan, and that everyone in the world was assigned a place in that plan, and if God ordained one race to be the
masters leaders and another to be the slaves servants workers helpers then who are we to argue with God?
Planet Of The Apes pretty much says God is no respecter of species, much less persons, and in fact famously ends with Heston ranting and screaming that God has rightfully damned humanity for being a buncha murderous self-centered pricks. It was a pretty shocking ending for mainstream audiences at the time and has been lampooned so often and so successfully that contemporary audiences have no idea just how chilling it was to Joe Six-Pack and Mrs. & Mrs. Suburbia.
…especially in light of the ongoing societal change / upheaval and
the rapid advancements in civil rights by African-Americans.
Mind you, the majority of white audiences seeing the film for the first time were not racists in the classic sense of the term: They burned no crosses, lynched no victims.
But they kinda liked the fact that they got to live over here while those people had to live over there, and while many of them knew and genuinely liked black folks they encountered daily, few of them realized they held a protected and privileged position that was paid for by the sufferings of others.
Apes kinda sunk home the message that there might not be a soft landing for their genteel lifestyle, that rude awakenings and abrupt changes may be the order of the day.
And yeah, Planet Of The Apes is at heart a big budget goofy Hollywood movie, with a whole bunch spectacle & action and a smattering of smarts, not really the sorta thing that can withstand close logical scrutiny for long…
…but that didn’t matter.
The message is what mattered.
And the message was: Time’s up. Things are changing.
A lot of people did not like that change.
They rendered lip service to it, but were willing to do so only so long as things didn’t change for them.
Now, when faced with major changes in one’s life, there are two basic approaches one can take:
You acknowledge the change even if you don’t willingly embrace it; life may get rough but at least you’ll be prepared for it and it won’t catch you by surprise.
The other is to double down on the old system, to bet the heart transplant money that the way things are is The Way Things Are Meant To Be, and that if you just hold fast this faddish craze of modernity will pass and things will once again be good and wholesome and sweet with you in the driver’s seat, just like when you were a child and your father was a child and your great-great-great grandfather was a child.
It’s no accident that the big push towards homeschooling – which originally began among hippy-dippy parents looking to raise their children outside the conforming standards of the dominant class public schools – took off among rural and/or white and/or conservative religious fundamentalists in the south and midwest during this period.
And it’s no accident that creationism takes – nay, demands – a centerpiece of that movement.
Because creationism allows the believer in it to deny the humanity of others, to deny their rights, to deny their equality.
Creationism allows the believer to dismiss all claims for justice with a derisive “God doesn’t want that” and never examine the basics of the question.
Creationism, as has been pointed out, is the handmaiden of Mammon, the self-righteous belief that one’s personal enrichment is God’s master plan for the universe, that every sub-atomic particle in every atom in every molecule of every speck of dust and wisp of gas up to and including the hugest of stars exists solely for the purpose of making your life materially easier and more comfortable…
…and maybe the lives of your immediate family as well…
…and perhaps even a few of your closest friends…
…but certainly not the lives of them – and especially if making their lives any easier requires you to give up an hour of TV or some outrageous demand like that.
Planet Of The Apes is downright terrifying
to people with that mind set.
Small wonder so many conservative whites willingly and eagerly embrace a disproven anti-intellectualism that denies the reality of the world around them, because embracing that fantasy makes it possible to deny the change going on around them.
Like little children threatened by a big mean dog, they sincerely believe if they squinch their eyes closed reeeeeeeeal tight that it will go away.
No, one single silly movie does not a religious heresy make, and in a different time it’s doubtful that the film would have had much more impact than as a popcorn muncher (much like the recent remakes and sequels have landed with resounding thuds).
But one thing Planet Of The Apes sure did was to give millions of scared white people a very very frightening glimpse of a future where they would no longer be in charge, when the first would indeed be last, and the low would be risen high.
And rather than embrace that spiritual truth, they flock to a self-serving myth that not only will fail to protect them, but will make the eventual change that much more painful for them.
As for me,
like Mark Twain wrote:
When it’s steam boat time,
you steam boat.
 It isn’t an exaggeration to say the shadows from these projects – both in film, TV, comics, and other media as well as literary and other pop culture influences – is still being cast today. The other three were the original Star Trek TV series, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Barbarella. Of the four, Barbarella received the worst response from the public, a critical drubbing, and a commercial flop…and yet each year a loyal cult grew and grew around this film. Today it’s a fondly remembered classic of the era and has aged better than the other four. Go figure…
 I may be wrong, but I can’t remember any African-American actors among the primitive humans in the original film, not unless one counts the ill-fated astronaut who ended up lobotomized.
 Tho who wasn’t an antagonist in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes? It’s the only major studio Hollywood production ever to end with the hero thinking that blowing up the entire planet was A Real Good Idea.
 The world of the final film was much different that the original concept and script. Jacobs originally wanted a world like the one in Boulle’s novel with full size cities, cars, and helicopters designed for apes. By scaling the size back to a few isolated middle-sized towns with low grade industrial age technology, the film actually became more convincing than a modern version. An exact ape parallel to our own world would have only invited laughter, but changing it significantly enough while still leaving it basically recognizable helped sell the idea to audiences.
 And basically, because of all the projects of that era, Planet Of The Apes offered the one concept that every body in the audience, including the dullest witted, got right away: The five-fingered shoe is now on the other foot.
 And more importantly, cast in commercials as users of the product being sold, not servants making white folks’ lives easier, thus tacitly acknowledging them as part of the American fabric and not just an accessory after the fact.
 …or words to that effect…
 No matter than we fan boys saw it marching down the avenue from the moment the film started talking about archeological digs involving humans.
 No, I am not saying Planet Of The Apes was responsible for that; it was the general societal upheaval of the late 60s and early 70s that scared much of the mostly white religious right into fleeing society with the hopes of one day leading a counter-rebellion against it.
 And mind you, screenwriters Michael Wilson and Rod Serling managed to have their Darwinian cake and theologically eat it as well: A strong argument could be made for the film as the mene mene tekel uparsin of mainstream American values, a judgment handed down from on high and executed with our own hands around our own throats – but holding to that argument requires denying human supremacy in general and American exceptionalism in particular and recognizing both our personal and national sins and shortcomings and, hey, who wants to believe that becuz America! Right? Right?!?!?
 And embracing it not in a little way but going all out: None of this namby-pamby “God created the universe billions of years ago and guides the natural processes in it” but “Bang! Done! Full and complete in six twenty-four hour days and you can’t change it – ever!”