Bill O’Reilly’s Biblical Misremembering

Brian Williams may never return as a news anchor, and while the right-wing wagons circle around Bill O’Reilly the controversy over his “confirmed fabrications” deepens. In the cases of these larger-than-life newsmen the factual infidelity had been allowed to persist for years despite those reporters and members of the military who knew the truth.

None of this should come as a surprise to those who have an understanding of the power of narrative over our lives. Joseph Campbell has explored this ad nauseam in his analysis of the function of myth, and in The Gulf War Did Not Take Place philosopher Jean Baudrillard explored how the larger narrative of an event can be shaped through the, shall we say, misremembering of media outlets.

From Williams braving a downed helicopter, to Iraq attacking us on 9/11, to the enduring myth that Republicans are fiscal conservatives while Democrats are out of control spend freaks, we want, perhaps need, these stories to be true—and after years of reinforcement we come to believe them despite facts to the contrary.

I would suggest that the enduring power of story over fact is what powers a certain kind of fundamentalist interpretive approach. Despite a casual reading of scripture revealing innumerable mistakes and inconsistencies, there are scores of “Bible believing” Christians, for example, who refuse to view the Bible as anything but inerrant.

The Gospels often demonstrate the consistency and veracity of, say, a Brian Williams or a Bill O’Reilly war story. An example: in the gospel of John where, despite his disciples regularly asking Jesus where he is going in the future (John 13:36 and 14:5), he says, “But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” Perhaps the writer of the gospel suffered from some misremembering of his own, or maybe Jesus was playing the trickster—or it’s a mistake in the text.

There are Bible-believing Christians who are aware of these scriptural errors and inconsistencies, but choose to ignore them, the narrative of truth being more important to them than truth itself. When I was in grad school, a classmate who was already serving a congregation was fascinated, if not a little bothered, by the critical method applied to scripture by several professors. As she said to me: “I would love to tell my folks about this, but I’d be out of a job.”

Others respond to errors in scripture by constructing elaborate interpretive models that strain credulity.

In either case, misremembering is a vital element in preserving a chosen myth. For Brian Williams, his narrative was a microcosm of the larger Iraq war, reflecting the preprogrammed storyline of the bravery of American soldiers and the intrepid spirit of beloved journalists who arguably cheered on the march to war in the first place. Once he admitted to his false account, rather than prompting the media to face larger questions over inconsistencies in the accepted chronicle of the war, Williams was essentially out of a job—a fate that would likely befall my friend from grad school were she to pull the biblical curtain back for her parishioners.

O’Reilly, on the other hand, has decided to challenge (or outright bully) his critics and tie the issue into skewed knots—perhaps hoping that by muddying the waters he will preserve his inerrant image among his faithful viewers.

The media furor surrounding the tall tales of Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly might have less to do with celebrity ego and much more to do with the continued deconstruction of an infallible American mythology that has recently taken some serious hits (unmanned drone strikes, for instance, and an illegal torture program). The desperation to maintain this nationalistic illusion is mirrored in the “God said it, that settles it” view of biblical literalists, a conviction that must be furiously defended at the risk of one bad logical apple ruining the whole bushel of belief—a jingoistic exercise in exceptionalism that demands that Williams, who admitted his failure, be cast out of Eden and O’Reilly, whose bloody fingers cling desperately to his mounting pile of lies, will most likely remain.


Photo of Bill O’Reilly by flickr user Justin Hoch via Creative Commons


  •' Jim Reed says:

    She understands, but the religion has convinced her not to pull the biblical curtain back for her parishioners. This means she IS actively pulling the curtain over their eyes. This means she is destroying families. What happens when one member of some family insists on telling other members what is behind the curtain? They have listened to this preacher, so they reject that family member and give thanks to the religion that is knowingly blinding them.

  •' weylguy says:

    Choosing to deliberately ignore the facts when faced with the truth is one way to deal with cognitive dissonance, as is setting up elaborate explanatory models that strain credulity, as the writer correctly notes. Simply electing not to think about something is willful ignorance, a sin greater than most in my book, as is relying on highly implausible schemes to dodge the truth.

    But its seems there is a third option, which is reliance on “smarter and more knowledgeable” people like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity to do our analyzing and thinking for us. We live in an age when just about every influential person has a PhD, and the tendency to defer judgment to them is overwhelming when we simply have too many other things in life to deal with. But this does not explain why right-wingers would defer to obvious liars to run their lives while simultaneously rejecting government regulation, nor does it explain why they gladly fork over their money to false prophets like megachurch pastor Joel Osteen while condemning the IRS.

    I consequently believe that plain old stupidity is yet another option for dealing with things we’d rather not think about. For me, that pretty much explains the actions of most conservative Americans.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Follow the money. How often do the crazy beliefs of social conservatives contribute to some segment of the rich getting richer?

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    To Jess: Unless I am totally insane or need reading glasses, there’s something very wrong here. You misrepresented the John verses 100%; first by picking out a small fragment from both Ch. 13 and 14 for your quote. Then, both verses your explanation and criticism was illogical, totally of the radar. Also, since you are from a theological school, you should have learned not to cherry pick but to read the verses bracketed above and below to get the content meaning. I read each one twice, slowly, in the NRSV (more contemporary) and then in my very old King James Version, (more conservative from the 1600 C.) Both are saying the same thing.
    Sir, I’d like an explanation from you. You being from the Methodist Church and Theological School, something does not add up. Considering your take on media misrepresentation, this is pretty weird. To other responders here on RD, I invite you to check up on this. (Bibles are online, Gateways is one of them with many versions of the Bible.)

  •' Rmj says:

    The simplest example of Biblical conflict is the two nativity stories: in one, Jesus and family live in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt, and come back later to live in Nazareth.

    In the other, they go to Bethlehem for the census, never go to Egypt, and return to Nazareth from whence they came.

    Oh, and one has angels and a manger; the other has wise men and a star, which actually turned up as much as two years later, not the night of the birth.

    We overlap those so much, especially in our nativity scenes, we almost don’t notice they don’t agree with each other in any details except the town of birth and the names of the family members.

    I’ve pointed this out to literalists. They have an explanation, but frankly I don’t bother to keep up with it; it’s too much trouble.

    Narrative trumps all. And I’m not sure what you do about that since, as I said, most of us pretty much know the star shone on the shepherds who knelt by the wise men in the manger just before Herod killed all the kids 2 years old and younger while the Holy Family fled to Egypt and went back to Nazareth by way of the Temple so Simeon could see the kid before he died.

    Besides, George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn’t lie about, and Lincoln was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands.


  •' Jim Reed says:

    There is also the hours of darkness that covered the world during the crucifixion. It was like a super eclipse of the sun that covered the whole world at once, and lasted hours instead of a couple minutes. Another part of the account is the graves being opened and the dead saints rising up and walking around the city. It is hard to verify these things because the chapters covering those birth and crucifixion years in the history books tend to be missing from the libraries. There is speculation that these missing years were either a cover-up by non-Christians trying to make it seem that these things never happened, or a cover-up by Christians trying to keep people from finding out they didn’t really happen..

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    If I was upset and yelled “the sky is falling”, would you take me literally? I hope not. But some insist on literalism no matter what.
    The star mentioned here was most likely a code word for how the ancients represented a star as one’ personal star of destiny. Here it alerts to a great happening. Also most N.T. scripture is drawn from the Hebrew scriptures to show the N.T. as commentary on the original. The Genesis accounts are told in (I believe) three distinct versions. Why? I accept the teaching that Jews apparently saw the value in the narratives for guidance and learning, not as today’s style of it must be factually true or not at all. No need to throw out conflicting versions. Its not science here. They found all versions worthy of consideration. Thats the way it was. We’ve made “words” into something else all together. If its in text it must be factually accurate and:”true”, word for word. Oh come on, isn’t that rather childish? I guess that rules out philosophy as well. Oh, and poetry. How dull.

  •' CitizenWhy says:

    The inerrant/infallibility claim for the Bible is really a ciaim for the infallibility of the preachers. Instead of one pope there are a multitude.

  •' CitizenWhy says:

    Let’s be real, the US right wing has been ordained by God to be infallible on all things religious and political.

  •' Albert Nygren says:

    Jess Peacock, who just wrote this article, gives us perfect example of a Liberal writer who lies throughout the article and yet claims the other person Bill O’Reilly lied about things that the writer has no personal knowledge. He says that Christians are fools to believe the Bible and then points out what he calls a mistake that even if it was a mistake has nothing to do with anyone. I was so disgusted by the obvious lies and 1/2 truths in this article that I am now sick to my stomach and nauseous,

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I don’t believe the Bible because it turns out the Jesus gospel story was made up in the last half of the first century and later when the gospels were written, and there is an earlier written record of Christianity, the letters of Paul where none of the gospel story had been invented yet.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “I was so disgusted by the obvious lies and 1/2 truths in this article that I am now sick to my stomach and nauseous,” – Albert Nygren

    A curious response to inaccuracies and distortions. Do you also get “sick to your stomach and nauseous” when someone lies about or distorts the truth of their work history on their CV or when telling you an anecdote from their past? If not, then I would speculate getting “sick to your stomach and nauseous” is a physical manifestation of your own cognitive dissonance. I could be wrong, but I do find your physical reaction to “lies and 1/2 truths” curious indeed, especially if it only exhibits when discussing religious ideas that are opposed to your own beliefs.

  •' Richard says:

    John 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”1 Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now,2 but you will follow later.”3 John 14:5 Thomas1 said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
    This is the NIV Translation of those verses.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Reading and interpreting the Bible should be left to not only scholars but trained linguists. Since it has been interpreted and translated down through at least 3,4 or 5 languages from its original. The concepts and ideas are metaphysical, spiritual and at times as difficult to grasp as relativity. Even individuals steeped in Bible study might not “get it.” Much less so when individuals with no education, even by todays standards, sit around and have Bible classes. Much of today’s Bible is open to the average person who wants to adapt its lessons to their daily lives but much is not.

    Language changes and morphs constantly. Even within the last 30 years English has undergone radical changes what with “text” language, computer speak and rap that people from the 1940s might not understand spoken or written language of today. Let alone down through 2000 years that Biblical text has passed between other languages and cultures. Just idioms, similes and local jargon would present a maze that would be difficult for even the best trained linguists to navigate.

    The thoughts in the Bible were not only orders and regulations but ideas, inter-relations and behaviors between individuals and their spiritual relationship with their elusive concepts of God.

    Listening to Christ might be considered akin to taking an advanced philosophy and psychology course rolled into one. All this and no prerequisite training. Again retranslated over and over. It seems Christ was not only speaking to those from that time and place but to all future generations who might understand his teachings and abide by them.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    The Catholic Papal concept of infallibility has little or nothing to do with politics nor does it apply to 99.9% of the things the Pope says or does.

    Leftwing politics has its own shibboleths and infallible proscriptions. Both institutions are made up of people and though on opposite poles have the same shortcomings and feet of clay at times. Unless of course leftwing politics is driven by a hidden divine force.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    You might be trying to read too much into it. They are just scriptures from early in man’s writing history. They wrote religious novels back then because that was all they knew, and what the market wanted to read.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    The right might be afflicted with the malady you suggest. the left on the other hand is a slave of the “credentialed” and oh so balanced views of the University professor.

    These repositories of truth and balance would like us to think politics does not enter their pristine world of knowledge and understanding. Their herd mentality and peer pressured world view is just as full of cognitive dissonance as that bathed in by the right.

    You have not conversed with “conservative Americans” but taken your POV from political polemicists and media driven personalities. There is a conservative political movement that has a measured and well thought out approach to problems and solutions. You might not agree but calling people stupid actually reflects on your own elite and oh so smart reflection of yourself in your own self correcting mirror.

    The political left has given us many murderous and horrible governments but their willful ignorance does not seem to have a name in your lexicon.

    The “rights” approach to government might be harsh but the lefts embrace of its all healing and redemptive qualities often results in death, tyrants and revolution. Governments control things and people, big governments exert more and more control until freedom is a distant memory. Just a different POV not stupidity.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Have Bill and Hillary and the Obama’s gotten richer or poorer since entering politics? The left has its share of billionaires and rich Hampton dwelling denizens. Seems a bit of a simplistic world view filtered by political slogans and self generated myths.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Your analysis seems misplaced. Mr. Nygren probably just reacts strongly when someone he thinks is lying and telling 1/2 truths about the Bible on a public forum. The conflating with media personalities and attempted moral equivalency between Williams, O’Reilly and the Bible might be a bit disorienting to some and result in stomach maladies.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    For someone who does not believe much that religion has to offer you spend a lot of time posting here. Are you a troll or just debunking those who do believe?
    Is there not a web site that would better serve your need for “setting things straight ” and disputing arcane points of religious understanding?

    Your calcified ideology seems hell bent on stirring the pot of doubt and religious antipathy.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    This is a mixture of various religions, and people can seek their truth and question anything. I think that is the key, beliefs must be questioned because so often religions just try to enforce a belief structure and discourage any questioning. That is why I like RD. It might be the best website because of that mix of different beliefs challenging each other.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The oil industry gets rich and slants laws in their favor. Wall street invests a lot in laws to allow them to have more ways to extract money from the system. We reduce taxes on companies, and they have laws to allow exporting jobs to make a little more money. Rich people want to run prisons for profit. The party of the rich wants to reduce any control over companies, and turn everything into a possible way to make bigger profits. The Republican party has their rich owners behind the scenes, and they want to get money out of the government and into their pockets. That controls everything they do.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Fiscal conservatives are not stupid. Social conservatives might be, but fiscal conservatives know what they are doing. They live for greed.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The mistake of the church is thinking they are backed up by a divine force. Leftwing progressives are trying to make life better without God illusions, and their power to succeed comes from not having God illusions.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    You might be right that ” They are just scriptures from early in man’s writing history” but given some of the insights and universal applications of Christ’s teachings it is interesting that this “uneducated” and rurally brought up individual could have influenced so many people even up to today.

    Many of his ideas if lived seem to make people’s lives better and relationships more fruitful. The “man” seemed to have leadership skills and a non-aggressive problem solving ability surly lacking in todays world.

    I am sure many would agree but stop short of endorsing his divinity. My Jewish friends call Him a radical rabbi – – the Fr. Phillip Berrigan of his time. Others have a different POV.

    Problem is in todays world the line between skeptical and antipathy is often in the eye of the beholder. With radical Muslims skeptical equates to hostile.

  •' weylguy says:

    “You have not conversed with ‘conservative Americans’ but taken your POV
    from political polemicists and media driven personalities.”

    I don’t watch MSNBC. Many of my friends and most of my family members are conservative Christians that I have long debated with. Their brand of reasoning is primarily based on ignorance, an obsessive love of money and dogmatic adherence to religious and political belief. Lefties also have their faults, to be sure, but willful ignorance is not one of them.

    “…conservative political movement that has a measured and well-thought out approach…”

    Gee, I haven’t seen the people you’re talking about, at least they’re not as visible nor as influential as the morons on Fox News. The “political left” wanted to impeach and prosecute the lying warmonger Nixon, but he was shielded by your people. Same thing with the addle-brained Reagan, who couldn’t seem to remember the crimes he either committed or approved, nor George W. Bush, whose Iraq War was a first-class piece of criminality. And don’t even get me started on the South.

    You say your righteousness is harsh, but I don’t remember the right’s hero Jesus Christ as being harsh — mostly just the opposite (Jesus is actually my hero as well).

    I agree that both the right and left have skeletons in their closets they’d sooner forget about. But in the end it’s really about truth and justice, and I think progressives have a better line on those ideals than the right has.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    He is all the good preaching from first century Judaism and earlier rolled into 4 versions of the gospel story at the end of the first century. And as long as we are building the ultimate myth, it might as well be about a perfect man who can work miracles.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Not to get too tit for tat but Pres. Wilson was a racist in his bones who re-segragated the Federal government and actively kept Blacks out of Princeton University while he was President there.

    FDR imprisoned many American citizens without due process based upon race only. Their property was taken and their rights grossly violated. Italians and Germans were not even detained in most cases.

    Liberalism/Progressivism seems to have control and anti-freedom in its’ very DNA. Their way or the highway. Government fixes all. All this wrapped up in the stench of elitism and self righteous indignation. Progressive prigs seem to concoct new and better methods of “helping everyone” with government money taken from the very taxpayers that they seem to despise.

    The cliche of the greedy business oriented Republican seems as relevant today as the torch carrying Democrat from the KKK. Time to move into the 21st Century.

  •' Ray Dymun says:

    I know this isn’t the point of the article, but perhaps (not wanting to strain credulity) Jesus’ remark was aiming not at the lack of the question, but the lack of depth in the question. Just as it is difficult to get a sense of connectivity in today’s text shorthand, given the condensation of the narrative and the distance from it’s provenance, it’s quite reasonable to presume we have to read with discernment. On that issue, most of us are guilty as charged.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Pretty dark view of people and their motivations. Almost “Lord of the Rings” like in its’ identification of evil forces and their encroachment on the Shire. “Behind the scenes,” “controls everything they do” are expressions used by dedicated conspiracy mongers. Where it that the world was so simple and villains so obvious we all could have good sport hunting them down and bringing sunlight back into the world.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    In my lifetime the rich have raised the gap between the rich and the rest of us about tenfold. They couldn’t do that without putting in the work.

  •' weylguy says:

    You’re right — it’s tit for tat, and everyone’s guilty. As for FDR, I’ve visited Manzanar several times, from the early 1970s (no markers, bleak building foundations, no one to give a damn) to 1999 (memorial markers, tears, forgiveness, etc.). I worked with a Japanese American in the early 1970s whose father had been rounded up and lost everything, and whose mantra from that very day on was “Fuck FDR, and fuck America.”

    And I agree wholeheartedly with you — fer chrissakes, let’s move into the 21st century.

  •' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    Actually, I have never understood the idea that Jesus was ‘uneducated.’ He was obviously very familiar with the teachings of Hillel. In fact, many of his most quoted lines, including ‘the Golden Rule’ and the ‘Two Great Commandments’ and ‘He who humbles himself shall be exalted, and he …’ are all paraphrases of Hillel.

  •' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    Jim, are you aware that not one actual student of the New Testament, whatever their religious background, accepts the ‘mythicist’ theories. Have you read Bart Ehrman’s demolition of the arguments from his specialty?
    For that matter, the same theory was popular in the early part of last century. I would suggest you find the book by Charles Guignebert, JESUS for an equivalent from about 1936 — and, given the fact that the Guignebert is a translation, it is remarkable how similar the restrained, tongue-biting scorn of both authors is.
    I could list all sorts of arguments here — I’ve been hoping for this discussion with you for some time, but it was always ‘not the right time’ — but there is one so insuperable I’ll merely mention it and see if you have an answer.
    Why would someone who was inventing a ‘divine’ character of any sort, deliberately make that person simply WRONG about one of the main parts of his preaching, his belief in the immanence of the Apocalypse he preached. “This generation shall not pass away…” and ‘Some of you hearing me will be alive…”
    And remember, these supposed myth-creators already knew, given the time they must have written, that these predictions did not come true. No one would have included these failed predictions unless they were simply too well known to be ignored, well known because they had, in fact, been spoken by the actual Jesus. Yes, many of the stories about him are mythical and absurd, but they are obviously based on a non-mythical Jesus.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Guess you have never heard of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Che. All godless individuals that at one time or another were icons and guideposts for progressives. The power of ideas and ideology often take on a godlike resonance in the absence of an institutionalized religious structure. People defer to it first then it grows to dominate them completely.

    The intrinsic truth of religion may not be that important; just as the brutality of political ideology is irrelevant. Humans seem drawn to absolutes, ideas and concepts that allow them free and unfettered license to do exactly what they want regardless of consequences, effectiveness or agreed upon morality.

    Politics is often a substitute for religion and is pursued with the same mindless abandon. Humans are all driven by the same demons but can resort to different manifestations when acting on those impulses.

    The Founding Fathers seemed very aware of this chronic flaw in the human psych and attempted to construct a government that could ameliorate our darker natures. Liberals seem blind to the power of large institutions and government agencies to become masters rather then servants of the people. They seem like the religious zealots of past ages in their pursuit of society that exists in their mind and nowhere else on earth. Their past battle cry of “By any means necessary” could have come right out of a religious text from the middle ages.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Statistically you are right. But what do you think is their motivation? To get richer and make others poorer? America has create a thousand times more millionaires then most other societies. Were these evil rich sleeping on the job of keeping the poor downtrodden or is there some type of natural culling and sorting taking place that ebbs and flows by natural economic forces. The rich at the turn of the 1900s were vastly richer then todays rich and the poor lives much worse. The gap was not even measurable it was so enormous. There were very few “rich” people then as compared to now. Were these new rich created by taking from the poor? Is it a zero sum game? I don’t think so.

    Todays poor don’t seem to come close to the poor in other social systems around the world. Maybe this economic gap is just a device being used for political purposes to cause social unrest and some type of divisive revolution so power can be removed from the electorate and concentrated in the hands of “those who know better.”

    Just what is the significance of this gap and who will determine how it is closed and for what purpose? If like after the French Revolution the rich are brought to heel will we create our own Napoleon. Lamenting the lot of the poor and correcting their poverty has too often been a device used for other purposes by people who seek power over justice.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I have read some of the demolition of Bart Ehrman on the internet. The gospel story was a work in progress in the second half of the first century. It seemed at first they were writing fiction, and not something that was supposed to be believed.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The rich were vastly richer than the others when the stock market crashed, and we sank into depression, then world war. Socialist programs to help us recover after the war made us the strongest country in the world. We had higher tax rates, and everything worked well.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It is a step forward to know everything in the gospels was made up and didn’t actually happen.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Not so much for socialist countries like China and Russia and others. America found a balance between social programs and raw capitalism that served it well. As things swing further left there seems to be a debatable contention about over taxing and a government run amok.
    Agencies like those described in GULAG run Russia become large and ossified. Government becomes its own end and the “tyranny of the clerks” the norm.

    Maybe yes maybe no but unfettered socialism and the “You did not build that” mentality could have negative results and a crushing tax burden. Factories and production under Russian 5 year programs that were run by the State were horrible engines of inefficiency and waste.

    Then again small countries with non-multi ethnic populations like Sweden seem to be doing okay. Suicide rate a bit high for people living in paradise.

  •' Albert Nygren says:

    If a person did what Jesus said we should do they would see their life transformed and be 100% positive that whoever wrote the New Testament knew what He was taking about.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The gospels were made up stories. After Mark they were based on the earlier gospels, and additions to the stories. They are not based on any actual person. Paul’s epistles were based on his vision, and on old testament scriptures about the Christ that early Christians were finding. Jesus has a speaking role in Revelation, but that book is not about anything real. Acts is total fiction written in the style of fiction from that day. If you look through the New Testament, you find there is not one book there that was about an actual human preacher who lived in the first third of the first century from Nazareth.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    There seems to be a debate about trickle down.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    But since Jesus was the only perfect person, I guess we will never know.

    The closest we could ever get to knowing would be to look at the lives of Christians today.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    “Trickle Down” is a political slogan NOT an economic program. Sure all boats rise when the tide comes in but some social welfare and jobs training should be done to make up for the government, Union run school system that has failed generation after generation. So called “trickle down” actually happens but not on a consistent bases nor is it dependable enough to fashion an economic policy around.

    No push back, no oversight and no accountability for the thousands upon thousands of neglected and uneducated children passing through the public school system

    Just “we need a raise,” “we need better working conditions and hours,” and “more resources.” The same laments heard from factory workers making widgets. Problem is teachers effect actual lives NOT widgets. Almost all welfare cases are poorly educated even though they attended school for 8 to 10 years minimum

    If a factory worker turned out as many “defective” widgets as teachers turn out clueless students my guess is the factory worker would be fired.

    Probably more complex and nuanced then I am stating but some measure of success should be quantified and teachers held to a standard that includes the ability to read and write coherent english sentences and complete simple math problems correctly. Is it too much to ask of a professionally trained teacher???

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The rich have manipulated the public school system to favor rich kids. Of course that is what you would expect them to do.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Some religion does that to some people.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Neither of the two people you mentioned in the previous sentence has a PhD.

    And you’re damned straight — I will defer judgment on matters on which I know nothing to people who do.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Um, it has nothing to do with “the rich.” It has to do with the fact that we fund schools on local property taxes.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I think it would be hard to change that because of the interests of rich people.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    That may be, but it wasn’t rich people who created this way of financing schools.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Most of the rich in America have become rich within the last two generations. Your 19th century view of the rich seems out of date and stereotypical.

    Did these rich suddenly become immoral and evil upon becoming wealthy? Do they somehow breath different air and develop habits and methods of making others miserable?

    It seems that you are conflating rich with Republican. Fact is many Democrats and liberal people are rich – probably more so then Republicans.. They all are Americans without a single agenda and purpose as you depict them.

    Are you indicting corporate executives with the same zeal as small business individuals who have struck it rich. Maybe it is “old” money you despise — just who are these rich demons you rile so much against?

    The rich seem as different and diverse in their political positions as the middle class and the poor.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    That is all true. I am not lumping all rich together. I know there are good rich people and Democrats who are rich. The problem is the Republican party is the party that does all it can to slant every law in every possible way so that rich can get richer and grow the gap. When I talk about rich people I am referring to a general category which sometimes has certain tendencies. When I talk of Republican, I mean the money behind the scenes that is driving the agenda and creating the lockstep party of No.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It sounds like toward the end of the century when they were writing the Jesus stories that was a primary source.

  • Bill O’Reilly’s arrogance is the fuel for his shame flaming. We can at least point back to Williams record as earned in the field with a few exaggerations. O’Reilly, coming from the entertainment field, needed to bolster his bonafides to quell the right wing hate mongers into believing he was also ravenous for liberal blood. @sweattshop

  •' weylguy says:

    Too bad the writer of this otherwise excellent article chose to mention just one of the Bible’s contradictions, and a very minor one at that. People of faith can easily dismiss it, like the erroneous mention of the transcendental number pi In 1 Kings 7:23, because it’s simply not a big deal. There are many other outright contradictions in the Bible that cannot be reconciled in any way that conclusively destroy the notion of biblical inerrancy.

    Furthermore, it’s not really a matter of people misremembering or dismissing things, but of willful ignorance and denial to support a worldview that they must uphold at all costs. When all is said and done, Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly will be forgiven by the public, not because they admit to their lies but because their celebrity and/or worldviews are important to their admirers.

    But perhaps the most egregious instance of lying and willful denial is that of Bush/Cheney’s insistence that Iraq was responsible for 9/11 and that it possessed ready-to-go nuclear and biological weapons. Although these claims were factually demonstrated to be outright lies, Americans by and large no longer care. And having given Congress back to the same Republican Party that fosters such falsehoods, Americans are already falling for the next batch of lies regarding our need to destroy Iran.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    True and frightening, but things might have changed a little bit. After 9/11 the Democrats were afraid of resisting the push to war because they feared being seen as unpatriotic. 95% of the country followed into war mode. This time, the percentage will be a little less. Maybe 20% will resist, and they will be less afraid to speak up, so the next neocon disaster might be more clearly seen and explained ahead of time. This might even make some difference.

  •' Albert Nygren says:

    Yes, Jesus was and always will be the only perfect person. The Bible is clear about that. But what I said still stands. Also when Jesus was asked by the rich young man what he had to do to inherit Eternal Life, Jesus rep-lied, “Obey the Commandments.” the rich young man said, “This I have done from my youth.” and then it says that “Jesus loved him” and told him, if you would be “perfect”, sell all you have and give all your money to the poor and come and follow Me.” I have heard and read Protestant Ministers say that Jesus didn’t really mean that. (I think they are in big trouble saying that). They said that Jesus only sid that because He knew that this particular rich young man had particular problems with riches!
    In the 1960’s God gave me the grace to believe these scriptures and I did exactly what Jesus said to do if you would be perfect. I sold everything I had and gave all my money away, quit my job and accepted the invitation of an informal Catholic Contemplative group. For 2 years I lived with them in poverty, chastity and obedience to the Bible and to the group leader. I was amazed at how much easier it was to obey the Bible when I was in that situation.
    One more thing. The Greek word in the original Greek texts of the New Testament that is translated into English does not mean, “Without any faults. ” It means “fully mature”, as a red delicious apple is fully mature when it is either ready to fall from the tree or be picked and eaten. None of us will ever be “without fault” while we are in this flesh body; but we can become “fully mature”. God bless you dear Christian in all you do. Amen

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