April 4, 2007
"All rise! Our judicial official, the honorable Sheila Rangslinger, entereth the courtroom!"
All rise, except one person, who is in the defendant's chair; he is staring aimlessly at the ceiling, a copy of The Age of Reason open in his lap, and under his breath singing something that sounds like, "I feel numb, And think we're half asleep...We're going dumb, Have we forgotten how to speak..."
"Be seated." All sit. The judge sternly shuffles through papers on her podium, glances down at the defendant.
"You, sir, are Gary Lenaire?"
No answer. The defendant has inserted his pinky in his ear and is digging furiously.
"MR. LENAIRE! STAND!"
The defendant finally stands, though as he does, he looks back to his seat cushion, scratching his head.
"Mr. Lenaire, are you coherent this morning? Take the stand, please."
The defendant turns to the judge with a bright smile on his face. He skips over to the witness stand, gets inside, and sits down heavily, shouting, "PLOP!" as he does so.
"All right. This is a competency hearing for Mr. Gary Lenaire. Will the bailiff please read the charges?"
The bailiff, a large creature that looks a little like Elmo, stands and begins to read from a paper.
"The defendant, Gary Lenaire, is put before this competency hearing to determine whether he still has a mind or not. We present as evidence of his mental incompetence the following." The creature holds up a book with the title, An Infidel Manifesto. The judge thanks the bailiff, then resumes speaking.
"Mr. Lenaire, do you have anything to say in your defense to begin? That was YOUR book, correct?"
The defendant turns and smiles. "Daaaah! Yeah! Pretty colors!"
"Black and white, Mr. Lenaire? Please. But we don't care a great deal about the cover; perhaps 'Publish America' designed it for you. Which does lead me to my first question, Mr. Lenaire, and it covers a great deal of ground. Can you please explain why anyone should read your book?"
The defendant smiles. "Dahhhh....cause I'm smart! And cuz my book is an eye opener!"  The defendant stands and turns his back to the courtroom, swivelling his hips and snapping his fingers as he shouts, "Oh yeah! Wooooo!" repeatedly.
The judge is not impressed. "An eye opener to whom, Mr. Lenaire?"
Lenaire freezes. He turns to the judge, aghast. "Dahhhh....why, everyone of course! Cludin' you!"
Lenaire scratches his head. "Dah, yeah!"
"It isn't to me. Sit down."
Lenaire sits down slowly, his eyes wide.
"Mr. Lenaire, why did you write this book?"
Lenaire sticks his thumbs to his chest and grins. "Hah hah! I wrote it for those who have the courage and wisdom to answer the self-refuting questions that have been passed down to them! How ya like them apples?"
"They're rotten, Mr. Lenaire. Did you or did you not say in your book that its purpose was not to change or confirm your beliefs?" 
"Well, excuse me, Mr. Lenaire, but I'm having a hard time understanding this. You've opened a web domain specifically to promote your book; you have a MySpace page for it; you spent a good deal of money -- at least 4 digits, very likely, in today's market -- to get it printed; you're obviously trying to market it -- and yet you insist you're not trying to change anyone's beliefs?"
"So then what was the purpose of your book? To render thousands of small animals homeless?"
"Dah! No! I said it was an eyewitness examination of what Christian belief really is, what it isn't, and what it is often said to be." 
"I see. And what was your purpose in conducting this examination, if not to change people's minds somehow or persuade them to some point of view?"
Lenaire's jaw drops. He says nothing, though a trickle of drool appears at the corner of his mouth.
"Well, Mr. Lenaire, I can see we're in for an interesting afternoon."
"Dah!! I'm sincere!"
"Sincerely what, exactly?"
"Dah!! Didja know there is absolutely no historical evidence that the Jewish people were ever enslaved by the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt?" 
The judge looks down her nose at the defendant. "Really. Have you ever considered the evidence, or did you just swallow that uncritically from Tim Callahan's Secret Origins of the Bible, or a similar source?"
"Dah! Uh....the Virgin Mary is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the Bible!" 
"Your point being what, exactly? What is this supposed to prove?"
"Dah!! There are multiple other 'gospels' that were excluded from the New Testament!" 
"Really. Would you mind naming three, and telling us why they should have been included?"
"I see. This is something else you just copied uncritically. Perhaps later you'll be able to name some."
The judge turns to courtroom. "Ladies and gentleman, our charge is one of incompetence. The state will be demonstrating that Mr. Gary Lenaire, who professes to now be an enlightened freethinker rather than the ignorant Christian he once was, has in fact made a much simpler transition: From ignorant and gullible Christian to ignorant and gullible atheist. The state will demostrate that Mr. Lenaire has no credibility as a witness, or as any sort of critic of Christianity."
The judge turns to Lenaire. "Mr. Lenaire, did you write this line in your book: 'Biblical commentaries are often theological distortions using contemporary language to paint a picture that was not originally meant.' You did write this?"
"May I ask how many Biblical commentaries you have read, and what they were?"
Lenaire looks puzzled. He begins to count on his fingers, then stops after two, thinking.
"Never mind. Can you name one commentator whose work you have read?"
Lenaire brightens. "Pink! Think Pink! Think Pink Panther...."
"Excuse me. I take it you mean Arthur Pink, since you use him ???"
"Dah. Yeah, that's him."
The judge rolls her eyes. "Mr. Lenaire, Arthur Pink is hardly cutting edge, modern Christian scholarship. Have you ever read the commentaries of Ben Witherington?"
"Whatsa Blomberg? Is that like an iceberg?"
"David de Silva? Bruce Malina?"
Lenaire simply stares and says nothing.
"Did you at least purchase a children's Bible for your research?"
Lenaire grins. He pulls out a copy of Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed on DVD.
"I see. Well, for someone who claims to respect the truth and be big on scrutiny and to verify what [you] have written, and for someone who claims to want to be fair and respectful, you certainly seemed to have done very little to show it. It doesn't look like you've cracked open a single serious work of Biblical scholarship. The only thing that comes close in your source listing in the back [228-230] is a single note to Burton Mack, who is on the fringe of scholarship himself. You use Callahan far more than any other source, and it doesn't get better from there: Robert Ingersoll, John Remsberg -- whose name you spell as "Remsfield" for some reason -- Thomas Paine, Dan Barker, Sam Harris. A regular gallery of idiots, Mr. Lenaire. Did it ever come to your mind that it that perhaps there was a bit more than this out there to look into, by people with better qualifications?"
Lenaire rises from his seat, his face burning red. "Dahhhh! How dare you! I'm a sincere person! I say so in my book!"
The judge leans forward, nose to nose with Lenaire. " 'Sincere' is no barrier to stupidity, my dear. Sit down."
Lenaire is about to speak again, but the judge -- who is a cartoon rabbit -- pulls a giant mallet from behind her body and waves it menacingly. Lenaire sits down, and the judge turns to the courtroom again.
"Mr. Lenaire, we will also note, is a person who can't even see his own contradictions. He claims in his book that language is a limited form of communication , yet this didn't seem to stop him from publishing his book, which he didn't seem concerned would be so limited that it'd be taken as a collection of rutabaga recipes. He claims that he is not stagnant in thinking, as a freethinker , but he clearly stopped his research with just a smattering of sources." The judge sits back. "Mr. Lenaire pleads with us not to file him away in some category of 'evil' or 'hostile'. Well, that will not be our purpose here. We don't care if Mr. Lenaire is evil. However, we do care if he is competent or not as a critic. And in that respect, it will be our purpose here to file him away under 'S'."
Lenaire turns to the judge and smiles brightly. "Sexy!"
Lenaire's face falls. Then he smiles again. "Sensible!"
He scratches his armpit. "Scabies!" someone in the courtoom shouts.
"No," the judge says. "Try, 'stupid.' "
With that, the judge rises. "We will begin with our next session on Chapter 1 of Mr. Lenaire's book. I frankly found it so laden with ignorance that I can only stand a little of it at a time -- there are simply too many mistakes to correct. Until next time, this court is adjourned."
Everyone rises except Lenaire, whose mouth is hanging open. The room empties quickly, except for Lenaire.
He waits a few moments. Then he gets up and heads for an American Heritage Dictionary in the corner. He opens it to S and moves his hands across the pages.
April 6, 2007
Everyone rises as the judge again enters the courtroom; all save one. Lenaire is still sitting in the witness box, unshaven, a dazed look on his face. The judge seats herself and looks at Lenaire silently for a few moments. Then she speaks.
"Mr. Lenaire, have you been sitting there since our last session?"
Lenaire turns and smiles. "Dah. Yeah."
"What? Why didn't you go home for the evening?"
Lenaire scratches his head. "Dah. Couldn't find exit."
Oh, the judge mouths, as she returned her attention to the papers on her podium. After perusing them for a moment, she again addresses the courtroom.
"Today we'll look at pages 22-36 of Mr. Lenaire's manifesto; again, I did try to read more, but unfortunately it simply became too stupid to bear. Mr. Lenaire seems to be more fond of quote-mining than of doing serious research....is that correct, Mr. Lenaire?"
Lenaire grins. "Dah....the odor of cow feces is far less when itís traveling at you at high-speed."
"Yes, dear, we know. Now let's get started. I want to know where you get your justification for saying this : From 586 C.E. to around 400 B.C. there was a lot of action taken by the Jews to redact, interpret, edit, and consolidate their holy books. May I ask what textual or other evidence you have for this conclusion?"
"I mean, Mr. Lenaire, do you have copies of the OT books from prior to their alleged redaction or editing? You aren't very specific in what you say here..."a lot of action." Humph. Try using that kind of language in the Journal of Old Testament Studies."
"Well, it seems we won't get any more specifics out of you then, on that subject. And I think I see why. Mr. Lenaire, you refer to Tim Callahan, of all people, as a "Bible scholar" . I was not aware that Mr. Callahan had credentialed himself to that extent. Does he have a doctorate in Old Testament studies?"
"Then why do you say he is a 'Bible scholar', pray tell?"
"Dah....cuz he's smart and he writes about the Bible!"
The judge sighs heavily and puts her head in her hands. Lenaire says nothing, but he does start to address an itch on his posterior.
"Mr. Lenaire, you are absolutely hopeless. You have no critical ability to speak of. Why have you cited someone like Ingersoll, of all people, as a source for the names of demons among the Jews?"
"Dah. Ingersoll smart!"
"Really? I checked your reference; Ingersoll himself doesn't provide a source for his claim at all. Would you like to know where he probably got it from?"
"What he says, Mr. Lenaire, is repeated practically word for word in a work from his time titled The American Cyclopedia. And do you know what else it says, Mr. Lenaire?"
"It says that those names were created very late -- it reports this after reporting what was believed by the Talmduists and medieval Jews, hundreds of years after the time of Jesus, not at the time of the Babylonian exile. Neither you nor Ingersoll seem to realize this. You say -- copying him directly -- that "at one point" all nine of these demons were believed in, and you both say this immediately after reference to the Babylonian Exile, leaving the impression that that was the time when these beings were created, as it were. Now after this, I just have one question."
"Are you gullible, stupid, or both?"
Lenaire thinks about this for a few minutes. The judge waits, but then decides to move on.
"All right, never mind. I want to move to this bit about stories predating Genesis. Now as it happens, Mr. Lenaire, you're not really opening any eyes here..."
"No, dear. We're all quite aware of these things. What I want to ask you is, why is it that you think the Jews "adapted" these stories, or the name of God ? Do you have evidence for derivation?"
"Dah. Same story!"
"I'm afraid that doesn't say very much. If we pick up three biographies of Lincoln, they'll all have much the same stories in them, don't you suppose? Does that mean they copied each other? Or would you think that they all drew from the same source?"
"My point being, that there's more to claiming 'rip off' than pointing to similarities. What would you say to this or this?"
"Somehow I'm not surprised. Let's try this...repeat what you say about no evidence for the Exodus, and thankfully, you do admit that Egyptians did omit defeats from their records. Good for you. So your only argument against the Exodus is that you think there would be strong evidence  for 40 years of wandering in the desert, like dead bodies. Yes?"
"Dah! No bodies! Nobody got no bodies! Ha ha!"
"I see. Well, can you do me a favor? I'd like to see evidence for the Scythians, please. They lived on the steppes of Asia for many more years than the Israelites were in Sinai, and there were so many more of them; yet it seems we're missing evidence of every one of them except for a few well-heeled sorts in special tombs. Goodness, one expert on them said that if it were not for their royal graves and the writings of Herodotus, the existence of the Scythians at their earliest stage might never have been known at all. By your logic, we ought to be chest-deep in Scythian bodies over there. What then of the mere 40-year trail of the Exodus? Can you explain, please?"
"I didn't think so." The judge leafs through her papers a moment. "Now, then...we don't really take much issue with yiur material for the next three pages or so...it's a very nice sermon for materialism, but doesn't contain any arguments as such....I do have to say though..." The judge guffaws slightly, and shakes her head. "Mr. Lenaire, THIS was simply ridiculous. You say that the Council of Nicaea published the New Testament Bible in 324 C.E. Do you really think that was what the Council of Nicaea did?"
"Dah! Thomas Paine said so, so it had to be right!"
"It is NOT right, Mr. Lenaire. Nicaea was all about the nature of Christ: whether he was an eternal being or a created one. The canon was NOT dealt with at all at Nicaea. That is nonsense. Now really, why is it that you relied on someone like PAINE, for pity's sake, and not a credentialed church historian like Schaff, or a scholar of the canon like Metzger?"
"Sigh...never mind. The next few pages....on Satan. There's not much we care to address here, Mr. Lenaire. Even if your summary was completely flawless, it wouldn't make much difference, but again I have to ask why you're resorting to such cutting edge commentary as that of Arthur Pink . Apparently you think it's enough to check one source to get the full and correct view...though we have seen that from your uncritical use of Ingersoll and Paine."
"In your next few pages, you use anecdotal evidence to try to prove, apparently, that Christian belief is bad for you. I wonder about this, Mr. Lenaire; does this mean we can play the old card of appealing to Stalin and Mao to demonstrate the harm in atheism and freethinking?"
"Of course not; it's a fallacy, Mr. Lenaire. Even if all you say about Mother Theresa, or Mike Warnke, or Bob Larson is true, it simply does not affect one bit any Christian truth claim. Do you think it really does?"
"Dahhh...well....I meant these were zamples of often accurate portraits of the church in history and in the world today." 
"Really! So may I say that Stalin and Mao are 'often accurate portraits of atheists in history and in the world today'? Or maybe you'd prefer I take as examples atheists like J. B. McPherson who believe in UFOs and say that such as he are an 'accurate portrait.' What do you think?"
"Suppose, Mr. Lenaire, I decided to rope off a group -- say 'musicians'. Then I handpicked those that were drug users and boozers. How about we tar you with that brush because you play a guitar?"
"The point being, Mr. Lenaire, again -- showing flaws in the system is one thing; showing flaws in those professing to be adherents is another, and never the twain shall meet. Are we clear?"
"Good. Now...as far as 'end times' goes...we have no interest in that either, as preterists...."
Lenaire rose to his feet beaming at this point and began to gyrate wildly with his hands in the air. "Haaa haaa haaa!" he yelled repeatedly, compelling the judge to bring the handle of her cartoon mallet into view. Lenaire stopped as if in mid-air, then quietly seated himself.
"What was THAT about, Mr. Lenaire?"
"Dah. Pret'rism is just you distancing from teachings that don't suit you, dah. Cycle of change." 
The judge rolled her eyes. "Mr. Lenaire, even YOU admit that it is generally good to discard bad ideas for ones with better evidence." 
"Dah, yeah, but you got none! Ha ha! You do it primarily because of faith." 
At that moment, Lenaire's jaw dropped like a shot game bird. "Dah....you do?"
"Yes. Faith properly defined means loyalty; and loyalty is awarded based on who is the best performer -- according to the evidence. We're just like scientists here, dear; we move on because others have proved a view wrong that was once held."
"Yes, dear. That IS the way it is. Now if you think not, when do you plan to answer our arguments on that subject?"
Lenaire starred for a few moments, then scratched his head. This continued until it became clear, by his suspension of scratching to examine a mite that he had pulled from his scalp, that he had forgotten why he was there. The judge waited patiently, then turned to the courtroom once more.
"Ladies and gentlemen, while Mr. Lenaire may indeed be telling the truth about what happened to him with Bob Larson, and while we do not dispute what is said about Warnke, and have not enough knowledge to dispute what is said about Mother Theresa, it remains that it is a sign of incompetence to have to resort to such 'guilt by association' tactics. We would rather that Mr. Lenaire address truth claims; but it is clear that this is too much for him. His ridiculous acceptance of Paine's evaluation of Nicaea speaks for itself, as does his nonsensical report about the "line of Seth" and the "line of Cain" in the Bible . No such "lines" exist or are specified anywhere in the text; at best, these are classifications of convenience for what is recorded in Genesis prior to the Flood -- it isn't a Bible-wide classification of all persons who are either believers or not. Where Mr. Lenaire gets this nonsense, I can only guess, but it is not hard to see why he became an apostate -- he was never an intelligent believer. I don't think he is an intelligent non-believer now."
The judge turned to Lenaire, who seemed to be trying to get the mite he had picked up to "roll over and play dead."
"Mr. Lenaire, I daresay we can close the day by saying that your mere two pages on the 'problem of evil' hardly would make any contribution to the discussion of that subject. I would suggest much deeper resources, and by that I mean not just longer, but of better quality -- this use of the likes of Ingersoll and Paine is a disgrace. Indeed, it tells me that there is some hypocrisy in your claim that Christians pick and choose what specific Scriptures they will believe in , since it is every bit as obvious that you pick and choose what sources you will believe in, and once you are happy with what you read, you look no further."
Lenaire is ny now teaching his mite to "sit up" and is still not paying attention. The judge shuffles her paperwork a final time for the day. "Court is adjourned. We will pick up again next time, as that's really enough foolishness from Mr. Lenaire for one day."
Once again, the courtroom empties; once again, Lenaire is left alone. He is teaching his mite to heel, even as the lights of the courtroom go out for the night.
April 10, 2007
The judge enters the courtroom to find Lenaire positioned upside-down in the witness chair, his feet waving around in the air. From below his voice seems to be singing:
You have made up your mind
That you don't need religion
You're such a good person
And you live better than some Christians
la la la laaa laaa....
The judge watches for a few moments, then speaks.
"I don't suppose we'll be hearing from Mr. Lenaire today as it seems he's in a world of his own. However, I would like to begin by noting that an observer of this trial has suggested where he got all his nonsense about a "line of Seth" and a "line of Cain" in the Bible. We suspect that Mr. Lenaire got himself a snootful of a cult teacher named Arnold Murray at some point -- which tells us that he was as uncritical as a Christian as he now is as an atheist. Why anything should have changed about his mental ability because of deconversion, it is hard to say."
"But let's proceed to examine the next few pages of An Infidel Manifesto if we may. Lenaire begins with some further guilt by association technique; while we're not going to deny that Luther and Calvin had flaws[36f], including the serious flaw of anti-Semitism, we can find anti-Semitism just as rampant in an atheist like Stalin. So what religion will Mr. Lenaire pick up next, now that that well has been tainted? The point being, Mr. Lenaire once again spends several pages burning a straw man that can just as easily be burnt in his own backyard. For every Servetus, we can likewise cite a Robespierre that "freethinkers" have done in for their own secular "heresies".
"Mr. Lenaire doesn't get off this horse for a while. He gives notice of the 'Dark Ages'  saying that Luther and Calvin's ideas 'thrived on the religious oppression and cruelty of the Dark Ages.' I'm not sure how this could be so given that the so-called 'Dark Ages' ran from 420-1100 AD and Luther and Calvin lived in the 1400s and 1500s. Apparently Luther and Calvin did some backwards time-travel projection. We'd also like to quote a more reliable source about the 'Dark Ages':
First off, we should note that modern scholars no longer talk about the Dark Ages because they were not very dark. Instead they are called the early middle ages as this is less judgemental. In fact, the reason learning collapsed outside the church is that the brutal military despotism of the Roman Empire, that could support a tiny cultured elite by exploiting the vast proportion of the population was destroyed by invasions of Germanic people like the Angles, Saxons, Franks, Vandals and Goths. It is interesting to note that the Greek word for leisure is 'studios' and the Roman word for 'school' means 'games'. For Greeks and Romans, learning was for the leisured upper classes and once they were overthrown, learning disappeared except in the church which preserved it. For this we should all be extremely grateful.
"Mr. Lenaire also briefly alludes to witch-buring  though thankfully he doesn't repeat the canard that 'millions' of witches were burnt at the stake. Though I would wonder if he belives that number correct anyway. He also critiques Calvinism, and thinks it correctly represents the Biblical record; if so, then perhaps he'd like to do some homework. I doubt if he will; he seems content to regard diversity of views as enough reason to stop arguing for himself."
"We find more rap on the problem of evil ; we gave Mr. Lenaire some homework on that the other day, but he now adds original sin to the mix, so there's some more work for him that he won't be doing any time soon. He also makes the statement that the Apocalypse of Peter was probably "rejected from the final New Testament canon"  because it taught universalism. Humph...right. No, Mr. Lenaire, that document never even was a candidate for the canon at all (nor was it "widely accepted"  as he later claims), because it was written around 125-50 AD, and so obviously could not have been by Peter. If you think not, Mr. Lenaire, may I ask why?"
The judge turns, but Lenaire is still out of position. He is now crawling on the floor of the witness box, singing:
I feel a piece of my life escapes me
With every rising of the sun
Subtle thoughts assuring me that I'm not well
Asyndesis, mind undone
"Okay.....moving on, Mr. Lenaire complains that it is 'OK to force people to be born into sin but not OK to force salvation.' There's not much that needs be said here; given the amount of freedom of choice Mr. Lenaire had, he can hardly say he didn't have a fair shot at salvation; what he needs to show is that any given person didn't have a fair shot. By his own life, he had his chance and actually gave it up, so his rant about the unfairness of the situation rings hypocritcally hollow. We would suggest again that he consult the analysis of TULIP refernced to show that he is barking up the wrong tree when he complains about freedom of choice [46f]."
"Mr. Lenaire's list of God's alleged 'atrocities' [49f] doesn't impress. They are little but argument by outrage; not once does he actually go through an argument showing that any given act he lists was unfair or wrong. He complains of God killing an animal to make clothes for Adam and Eve -- so I take it Mr. Lenaire doesn't eat burgers? Or wear leather? Or breathe, since that massacres millions of microbes daily? He says "God kills" -- nothing else -- and gives a verse or two, with no explanation. So, what? On it goes, with all the usual canards -- Elisha and the bears; Jepthah's daughter, the Amalekites; slavery ; hell -- but not one whiff of explanation or defense, much less any interaction with scholarship on the issues. Well, Mr. Lenaire, if a laundry list of sound bites is all you wish to provide, then we're not obliged to answer any more until you answer those five rebuttals....get busy."
The judge checks her watch. Lenaire has now crawled out of the witness box and is inspecting the carpet.
"Well, we'll skip the rest of Mr. Lenaire's first chapter; it's a displaced, rambling sermon and nothing of a real argument. We'll also skip his whole second chapter -- that's a biography of his own, and so we're not going to find anything to argue with or to question his competence. I would simply close by saying that unlike Mr. Lenaire in his former life, we have no idea of Satan whispering in our ears [57-9]. As a preterist, I think Satan was bound in the first century, and it is scholarship that tells me that Mr. Lenaire is an idiot. We'll pick with Chapter 3. Court adjourned."
The judge bangs her gavel, and Lenaire jumps right through the ceiling. A crowd gathers under the hole and looks on. The judge does so as well.
"Hum. I guess he'll be back partway through Chapter 3, huh?"
April 13, 2007
The judge enters once again, sparing a glance at the hole in the ceiling. With her is a small, green creature with some sort of red eyepiece. She directs him to stand by the hole and wait. He nods, and turns his head upward, making some sort of adjustment to his eyepiece. The judge ascends to the bench, clears her throat, and begins.
"My assistant will be watching for Mr. Lenaire's descent, which we have calculated will be very soon. I think its just as well he isn't here, because after reading his third chapter, I have to come to the conclusion that I have never seen such an incompetent presentation. Mr. Lenaire makes the repeated claim that the Council of Nicaea somehow decided the canon of the New Testament, and even builds further claims on that notion. That, again, is false. Nicaea was not ever about the canon. Nor was it about 'whether Jesus Christ was a man or the Son of God'  as he claims -- that's the sort of nonsense one gets from sources like The Da Vinci Code. He IS correct that it decided that 'Christ was consubstantial with the father' -- 2 out of three claims wrong, then. Both sides agreed that Jesus was more than a man, and a god; what they did not agree on was this last bit. Arians said that Jesus was a created being; the other side said he was eternal. I find it amazing that in 15 years as an alleged believer, Lenaire never learned any of this; I expect because he was too busy banging his head against a guitar to actually learn anything. Not that it seems times have changed."
"But as I say, this is the worst chapter so far, and it is hard to see how it can get worse. Mr. Lenaire apparently thinks Christian scholarship begins and ends with McDowell's ETDAV, which he cites at least three times in this chapter as an authority. There is not a hint of credible scholarship consulted on the canon -- one is constrained to ask why the likes of Paine and McDowell are used rather than real authorities on the subject like Metzger and Trobisch, who show that the process was indeed one of careful and rational inquiry. This chapter is marred particularly by several 'soundbites' which I will list here -- broad statements that Lenaire simply throws on the table with no defense whatsoever, expecting us to just swallow them as he used to swallow everything he believed uncritically:
"Now again, Lenaire seems to think ETDAV is the be all and end all defense of Christianity; he purchased it in 1997 . He begins by claiming that "Christians often say that it would be impossible for men to construct such a brilliant and timeless work as the Bible..."  "Often" by what standard, I wonder? This is straight out of McDowell, Ch. 1, and it's not a defensible argument; that we agree with Mr. Lenaire upon. But it bespeaks his own immaturity as a believer that he swallowed it, and now his own foolishness that he thinks there is no better argument to go after.
"Lenaire seems puzzled by why people are offended when he imitates Elijah and asks if "Yahweh is taking a dump."  We'll, we're not; but Lenaire would do well to understand that Elijah was involved in a contest of honor, a challenge as it were, one agreed to by the priests of Baal. Unless Lenaire has some god of his own to put up in such a contest, he's not taunting in the manner of challenge and riposte as Elijah was; he's just being childish, thinking that if he says words like 'poo poo' he can get a fun reaction.
"In the chapter Lenaire also buys lock, stock and barrel into Mack's version of the Q hypothesis. Apparently it never occurred to him to 'inquire rationally' about the validity of Mack's premisses, and of Q itself. Amazingly -- or perhaps not -- Lenaire now goes to the lengths he would have gone for the Bible years ago, making any excuses possible -- such as: "Because hundreds of books were excluded (rejected) from the Bible, the Q manuscripts could have been destroyed or lost." How very convenient for Lenaire. How very convenient also for Mack that all evidence of these alleged "communities" left behind not a trace of evidence, literary or archaeological or any sort whatsoever. But Lenaire gives the Q hypothesis breaks he no longer allows for the Bible. No evidence? Well, that's because it was all destroyed, of course. Lenaire says he used to fall for circular reasoning a lot, and he still does: This acceptance of the "cow eating grass" fairy tale of Q is just an example of one he now falls for as a Skeptic. He claims that evidence from all sides, like the heretics, should be heard; but it never crosses his uncritical mind that the heretical evidence was rejected precisely because it was worthless. It may help him to think of the fact that none of the heretical documents portrays Jesus as a cynic; he is portrayed as a Gnostic -- a view not even Mack would think was a valid witness."
"Lenaire follows then the usual canard about Paul's "silence" about the earthly life of Jesus, saying it "had probably not yet been written."  Er -- so what? This was an oral society; the life of Jesus would circulate that way before the Gospels, thank you; and Lenaire needs to show that the "silence" is meaningful -- not just claim that it is and leave it at that. He says that Paul does not mention the virgin birth "even though it would have strengthened his arguments in several places"  but he doesn't mane even one such place, not explain how saying "Jesus was virgin born" would have added something to what Paul was arguing, to what alleged "doctrinal point" Paul was making. (Not that he could; as the real scholars note, there WAS no "doctrinal point" for which the virgin birth was applied until much later.)"
At that moment, the judge's small green companion yelled, "Heads up!" and ran from the hole. The judge stood and waited. Slowly, there came into earshot the sound of something heavy plummeting; and then, down through the hole came Lenaire, headfirst. He landed SPLAT on his head, burying himself headfirst to a depth of about two feet. The rest of his body fell down to the side, and for a moment all was quiet. Then he began to stir, and tried to extract his head from the hole it had created, raising his hindquarters so that his rear end stuck high into the air, wiggling and waggling as he sought to jimmy his head from the hole. From beneath, a muffled voice could be heard, and it seemed to sing:
Acid head - walk like the dead
Walk like the dead
Life in the red
Walk like the dead
Close the book, it's time to die
Don't get up, don't even try
Think about your soul instead
Where will you be when you're dead
"Well, now," the judge murmured. "This is very convenient."
The judge descends to the floor and stands beside Mr. Lenaire as he continues to attempt to pull himself out of his hole. Nonplussed by his straining, she begins:
"Mr. Lenaire, are you seriously going to tell us that Adonis, Dionysus, Osiris and Attis all "died and allegedly rose to life before the time of Jesus" as though this were meaningful? 
Lenaire stops moving for a moment. Then he bunny-hops his hindquarters excitedly, and emits a muffled, "Daaahhhh.....yeah!"
The judge shakes her head, then delivers a blow to Lenaire's hindquarters with her large left foot. "Owwww!" Lenaire yells.
"Sorry, Mr. Lenaire. None of those match. The evidence for Adonis and Attis is well after the time of Jesus. Osiris and Dionysus died in a way not a bit like Jesus, and their story is too much unlike that of Jesus to claim that they have any bearing. You need to look further into that whole dying and rising gods scenario. Next questions. You say:
The Roman Emperor Nero died in 68 C.E, From that time until 88 C.E. a number of imposters claiming to be him tried to claim the throne. One of those charlatans convinced many that he was Nero; within only a year of his death. This demonstrates that many people were willing to accept the idea of physical resurrection. 
"Mr. Lenaire, first of all, do you know what a 'resurrection' actually is?"
Lenaire stops wiggling for a moment, clearly thinking. "Dah....people come back to life?"
The judge delivers another kick to Lenaire's hindquarters, eliciting another howl of protest. "Not even close. Let's try again. How many imposters did you say there were?"
"Dahhhhh...a number of 'em."
"THREE, Mr. Lenaire. You're trying to make it sound like there were far more, which is not very nice. You say one of them 'convinced many'. How many?"
"You don't know? Let's have a look. The first one is listed in Tacitus' Histories 1.2 and 2.8-9; the latter of which says:
About this time Achaia and Asia Minor were terrified by a false report that Nero was at hand. Various rumours were current about his death; and so there were many who pretended and believed that he was still alive. The adventures and enterprises of the other pretenders I shall relate in the regular course of my work. The pretender in this case was a slave from Pontus, or, according to some accounts, a freedman from Italy, a skilful harp-player and singer, accomplishments, which, added to a resemblance in the face, gave a very deceptive plausibility to his pretensions. After attaching to himself some deserters, needy vagrants whom he bribed with great offers, he put to sea. Driven by stress of weather to the island of Cythnus, he induced certain soldiers, who were on their way from the East, to join him, and ordered others, who refused, to be executed. He also robbed the traders and armed all the most able bodied of the slaves. The centurion Sisenna, who was the bearer of the clasped right hands, the usual emblems of friendship, from the armies of Syria to the Praetorians, was assailed by him with various artifices, till he left the island secretly, and, fearing actual violence, made his escape with all haste. Thence the alarm spread far and wide, and many roused themselves at the well-known name, eager for change, and detesting the present state of things. The report was daily gaining credit when an accident put an end to it.
Galba had entrusted the government of Galatia and Pamphylia to Calpurnius Asprenas. Two triremes from the fleet of Misenum were given him to pursue the adventurer: with these he reached the island of Cythnus. Persons were found to summon the captains in the name of Nero. The pretender himself, assuming a studied appearance of sorrow, and appealing to their fidelity as old soldiers of his own, besought them to land him in Egypt or Syria. The captains, perhaps wavering, perhaps intending to deceive, declared that they must address their soldiers, and that they would return when the minds of all had been prepared. Everything, however, was faithfully reported to Asprenas, and at his bidding the ship was boarded and taken, and the man, whoever he was, killed. The body, in which the eyes, the hair, and the savage countenance, were remarkable features, was conveyed to Asia, and thence to Rome.
"You will note, Mr. Lenaire, that this can't be people believing in 'resurrection' -- what they believe is that Nero didn't actually die in the first place; that he was 'still alive'. You will also notice that he did look like Nero and have some of Nero's talents, and that he resorted to bribery. We could say more, but this one is already dead as a comparison to Jesus. Are we clear?"
"Dio Cassius mentions the second Nero imposter....
In his reign also the False Nero appeared, who was an Asiatic named Terentius Maximus. He resembled Nero both in appearance and in voice (for he too sang to the accompaniment of the lyre). He gained a few followers in Asia, and in his advance to the Euphrates attached a far greater number, and finally sought refuge with Artabanus, the Parthian leader, who, because of his anger against Titus, both received him and set about making preparations to restore him to Rome.
"Here it isn't said whether they though this man was Nero raised from the dead, so this also doesn't help you. The last Nero is recorded by Suetonius in his Life of Nero:
In fact, twenty years later, when I was a young man, a person of obscure origin appeared, who gave out that he was Nero, and the name was still in such favor with the Parthians, that they supported him vigorously and surrendered him with great reluctance.
"Once again -- no indication that they thought this man was raised from the dead, or Nero still alive. Three strikes, Mr. Lenaire. You know what that means?"
Lenaire paused. Then he tried to turn his hindquarters in a different direction; but he conspicuously failed, allowing the judge to deliver three more kicks to his posterior -- one for each Nero.
"Mr. Lenaire, this has been a particularly shameful exercise on your part. At this point I am so disgusted with you that I'm declaring a recess. Court will resume in ten minutes."
Lenaire stopped howling for a moment. "Recess? Can I play on the swings?" he asked.
The judge stared a moment, then put her head in her hands and slowly left the courtroom. Behind her, Lenaire continued to attempt to extricate himself from his hole.
April 17, 2007
The court session resumes to find Mr. Lenaire still with his head stuck in the hole made by his impact. He had given up by now and was whistling a happy little tune that sounded like something to which these words could be put:
In a permanent dream state
Stumbling in the dark
You walk thru life asleep
Confusion overwhelms you
Lifes only what you see
Your eyes look glassy
You've fallen down the stairs
Is there anyone to help you
Find your sanity
The judge takes her seat, ignoring this.
"We'll finish the third chapter of Mr. Lenaire's book now; as bad as it is, that's all we can do today. There's not much to be had. Mr. Lenaire commits the classic confusion between manuscript evidence and historical evidence when he says:
Some Christians claim that Jesus is the most authenticated person of antiquity. That is simply not accurate. Many Christian writers have rightly noted that the earliest writtern attestation of Jesus dates from within 400 years of the claimed crucifixion; much earlier than Aristotle's manuscripts...or Caesar's Gallic Wars. This is all true. However, what fundamentalists don't usually mention is that there are other objects of attestation found in archaeology. 
"Mr Lenaire then goes on to cite coins with the visage of emperors of them and so forth, but it is all misplaced diatribe. He is confusing two issues here: Validity of the manuscript transmission and the historical existence of Jesus. Not even ETDAV gets this mixed up, so I can only conclude that Mr. Lenaire has his head stuck somewhere dark and narrow. Is that correct, Mr. Lenaire?"
From his place, Lenaire gives the judge a thumbs up and yells, "Yeeeeeahhhh!"
"Mr. Lenaire, I have a question, though. You say claimed crucifixion. Are you seriously expressing doubts that Jesus was historically crucified?"
Lenaire pauses, then gives another thumbs up.
"Are you aware that such a position is held only by a minority fringe of persons, with no relevant scholarly credentials? What do you say to the scholarly consensus, then?"
Lenaire pauses. He gives another hand signal, but it is not the thumb he uses this time. The judge signals to the bailiff -- the aforementioned giant, red creature who looks like Elmo on steroids. The creature nods, then takes a running start before delivering a tremendous boot to Lenaire's hindquarters. Lenaire sails through the air, into the wall, and through it. Observers in nearby seats stand and look through the hole for a while, then sit down.
"How far?" the judge asks.
"He was still going when I sat down," says the observer who is closest to the hole.
"I see. Well, let's finish this third chapter then in absentia. It's fairly simple, really. Lenaire does a poor treatment of Josephus; among his boneheaded statements:
"The Gospel of Thomas was part of the Quran....my, my my."
The judge closes her notes and addresses the courtroom. "Errors like these, we may assume, are Mr. Lenaire's way of trying to 'advance enlightened society'. Well, if so, I think we'd prefer to be in the dark. We'll return next time, by which time I expect Mr. Lenaire will be back from his global trip."
April 20, 2007
The scene opens with the courtroom filled. The hole created by Mr. Lenaire's last departure has been patched with plywood; but all eyes are on the wall opposite. The judge checks her watch and waits. At last, there is the sound of a distant arrival....
Lenaire crashes through the opposite wall headfirst, and rolls onto the ground before the judge's bench. He sits up and rubs his head, moaning.
"Take the witness chair, Mr. Lenaire," the judge says sternly.
Lenaire shakes his head, then assumes the stand; he just about trips over some of his own entry debris in the process.
"Mr. Lenaire, while you've been away on your full orbit of this planet, I've taken the liberty of reading this..." She hoists a small sheaf of papers and waves it. "This is your fourth chapter, on Bible contradictions. As I expected, I'm disappointed. Now it's time for some questions."
Lenaire groans, but he waves his hand to signal the judge to proceed. Before she does, though, he growls.
"You guys have a strange concept of biblical faith," he mumbles. 
The judge peers back distractedly. "Excuse me?"
"Dahhhh....the Bible teaches that Christians are to walk by faith, not by sight. You've been rapping about evidence all this time, but when ya do dat, you contradict (yourself) greatly cuz you're not walking by faith in an unseen God." 
"Where did you get that understanding of 'faith,' Mr. Lenaire?"
"Dahhhh....from the Bible, daahhhh!"
"It's wrong. Look at what this says."
Lenaire takes a paper from the judge; it is an article titled Fallacious Faith. He reads for a moment then hands it back. "Dahhhhh....too many big words. What does 'patronage' mean?"
The judge merely stares a moment, then shakes her head. Lenaire continues.
"Dahhh...it's always the same with you guys. You must change the words of the 'perfect' Bible in order to explain away the errors." 
"I see. And would you mind explaining how it is that even perfection can resist impenetrable stupidity like yours, Mr. Lenaire?"
"Dah! Stop callin' me STUPID! I am not!"
The judge sighs. "Yes, Mr. Lenaire, you are. I'll confess you are not as bad as some; you at least admit that there are such things as figures of speech in the Bible. But what you miss is that an ignorant person could just say that you are 'fixing' things like population estimates in round numbers when you 'explain them away' as rounding. The bottom line, Mr. Lenaire, is that you need to answer explanations on their own terms, and though you imply your awareness of answers, you don't answer or even offer any of them. Why not?"
"I thought so. Mr. Lenaire, sorting through this list of 'contradictions' you offer, all I see is a pile of the usual stale canards. May I ask you something? Do you know what 'textual criticism' is?"
"Okay. How about mimesis?"
Lenaire's mouth falls open. He says nothing at first. Then he says, "Dah, I think I had my shots for that when I was two."
The judge buries her head in her hands. "Mr. Lenaire, it takes a great deal of nerve for someone as ignorant as you to speak of believers who 'swim in faith until the questions have departed'  but then do not have even the most basic grasp of the simplest answers."
"Dahh...you think you need the mind of Christ  to answer thesm, huh?" Lenaire says smugly.
"No, not really. A mind by itself would be enough, but I gather you don't qualify on that account either."
Lenaire thinks for a few moments. He is not sure if he has been insulted again or not. But he brightens and says, "Dah, yeah, well, there are real contradictions in the Bible. You got my list, and -- "
A sudden misgiving seizes Lenaire. He looks in distress at the list in the judge's hands. Suddenly, he leaps from his chair and tries to grab the list from the judge. She remains unmoved, a firm grip on the sheaf, as he tugs and tugs away at it.
"Mr. Lenaire," the judge says with a deadly sort of quiet, "may I inform you, since you have obviously not read our lore, that I am six times stronger than a human like you."
Lenaire is ignoring her. Instead, he twists the sheaf sideways and manages to rip it in half. "Ha!" he yells, then he runs from the stand. The red bailiff springs into action, blocking the main entrance, but Lenaire sees the hole in the wall through which he entered and dives for that instead. In a trice he is out, and the bailiff -- who is too large to fit through the hole -- cannot follow. He looks to the judge for direction. She is eyeing the remaining half of the sheaf with a look of bemusement.
"Chase him down," she tells the bailiff. "No rush -- he left us with enough for a start."
The bailiff nods and leaves the room, motioning the small green creature to accompany him. The leave together with the green creature on the bailiff's shoulder.
"Our defendant," the judge begins, "seems to think he's done 'closer study' than the rest of us. Of course he has not. In fact he seems to be as confused as ever. He claims that the church father Jerome questioned the authenticity of Daniel and dated it around 200 BC. [98-9] I think he is confused; Jerome actually defended against that claim, as made by the pagan writer Porphyry. A very poor mistake on Lenaire's part, and one that shows that he doesn't do his work of criticism very carefully. I think it speaks enough that Mr. Lenaire tried to resolve issues surrounding the capture of Jerusalem  with some wild eisegesis -- the simple answer never occured to him that simply because you capture a city's king in battle does not mean you also capture the city. The practical difficulty of siege warfare is a far better answer for why it was so hard for Israel to capture and keep Jerusalem than the eisegetical gyrations he offered as a Bible student."
"Mr. Lenaire simply offers the usual laundry list we've come to expect, so we'll just provide reference to replies, as far as..." The judge checks the sheaf. "...his page 110, since it seems he has taken off with my notes on the rest of the chapter. We'll look at the remainder after he's caught and returned. We'll also skip the science aspects....that's not my cup of tea, as we know."
The judge lifts what remains of the sheaf. "It stops there with what I have; I think we pick up on the New Testament next. We'll wait until the bailiff returns with Mr. Lenaire and then continue. I'm especially anxious to question him about textual criticism as a case of 'fixing' or 'convenience'. It should be fun."
April 23, 2007
An hour or so later the door to the courtroom opens. Lenaire is being carried in by the large, red bailiff, who has Lenaire tucked under his arm like a newspaper. He is not moving or speaking, but there is a bewildered look on his face. The bailiff sets Lenaire down in the witness stand and returns to his place. Lenaire meanwhile is staring into space with an open-mouthed smile.
"Mr. Lenaire, are you prepared to answer questions?" the judge inquires.
Lenaire says nothing at first. Then he says, "Me kidnapped by Elmo!" and looks around the room randomly.
The judge pauses for but a moment before turning her attention to the bailiff. "The rest of the papers?" she asks politely.
The bailiff frowns. "Ate them. Could not stop."
"Oh," the judge says, scratching her head. She looks at Lenaire, who is now grinning pie-eyedly at the ceiling. Then, with a single fluid motion, she reared back her arm and gave him a thunderous clap on the back. Lenaire splutters as he turns head over heels onto the floor; as he does so, he coughs up something gobbily white. The little green assistant rushes to pick up the item; which he does, by the tips of his fingers and with a look of disgust on his face. He looks to the judge for guidance. She sighs. "I'll just do it by memory, then. It's actually easy, because I think all he did was copy Jim Merritt's old canards."
Lenaire remains on the floor gasping as the judge begins again.
"Well, Mr. Lenaire, thankfully, there is not MUCH to remember here. You had a section on New Testament 'contradictions' but it was just a spate of the usual canards:
"Overall, it speaks for itself that Mr. Lenaire says he 'loves' this one: Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.  He asks, which is it, remember or forget?" The judge rubs her forehead as though in pain. "I mean, come now, Mr. Lenaire. Isn't it rater obvious that they are being told not to forget what they are to do to Amalek in the future?"
Lenaire turns to the judge from his seat on the floor and grins. "Dah."
The judge shakes her head. "I think that's about it for today: I'm getting a headache. Mr. Lenaire repeats his error about Nicaea for what must be the hundreth time, and then does the usual bit on prophecy we have all seen refuted before. At this point," the judge concludes, "I have grown so tired of Mr. Lenaire's persistent stupidity that I am taking a vacation. I will return in a couple of weeks or so."
The judge rises, as does the rest of the courtroom except Lenaire. As she passes the bailiff, she takes one look back at Lenaire, who is still sitting in the middle of the room, staring into space.
She sighs, then says to the bailiff: "Make sure he's watered while I'm gone, I suppose."
May 9, 2007
The judge once again enters the courtroom, her fur a slightly more golden shade of white. Lenaire is still in the center of the floor, staring at the same space. The judge glances to her green assistant, raising a single eyebrow. He nods.
"He's been there like that the entire time I've been gone??" She shakes her head, and assumes the bench. The bailiff approaches and places a watering can on the desk, smiling. She nods, then speaks.
"Mr. Lenaine. Are you with us?"
Lenaire nods just a bit, but he's still staring at the same spot. He grins a little.
"This morning I read -- or tried to read -- your fifth chapter, and frankly, because it was so disjointed and rambling, more like a sermon than a collection of formal arguments, I simply have a few questions for you."
Lenaire waves his left hand. He does not look over, but he seems to be watching butterflies.
"You say that we, as people, always defend what we love deeply.  Does that include you even now, as an atheist?"
The grin disappears from Lenaire's face. He now looks down to the floor, his mouth wide open.
"Can you explain why you use Thomas Paine as a reputable source, while not once using the work of a credentialed Biblical scholar?" 
Lenaire's eyes pop open. He yanks a copy of Age of Reason from his pocket and holds it close to his chest, then sticks his thumb in his mouth. Then he glances at the judge defiantly for a moment before looking away.
"Can you explain why it is not 'supernatural' for us to pick up a box, but it is for God to do so? Have you ever read any criticisms of Hume, such as Earman's Hume's Abject Failure?"
Lenaire grips the book tighter. His hands and head begin to shake.
"Can you explain why Smith's 'implicit atheism' definition is not actually a cheap semantic trick?  Do you seriously think that a writing a single page on the subject of 'the soul'  is a worthwhile contribution to the question of the origins of human consciousness?"
Lenaire glares at the judge once more, then turns his back on her.
"Why are you using 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 passages as 'anti-woman' when those canards have been answered time and time again? Isn't it a lot of nerve on your part to accuse Christians of 'pick and choose' with the Bible  when you make not the least amount of effort to have exegetical competence?"
Lenaire says nothing. The judge waits. Finally she speaks again.
"Mr. Lenaire, for someone who harps on for pages about experience as a guide, you seem remarkbly devoid of experience when it comes to Biblical scholarship. So we're going to see what we can do for you."
The judge glances at the bailiff and points to Lenaire. The bailiff nods, and advances. He reaches for the copy of Age of Reason and tears it from Lenaire's grasp.
"Heeeeeeyyyy! Giiiive that back, you biiig red bully! Waaaaaaaahhhh!"
Lenaire begins to beat on the ground next to him. Tears begin flowing. His eyes are closed in agony as the green assistant puts another book in his hand, though he does not see that it is not Age of Reason. As soon as the book touches his hands, he pulls it to his chest and stops crying. A contented sigh emerges from his throat. He is happy again. The bailiff and the assistant slowly draw away.
"That's enough for today," the judge remarks as she gets up. "We'll see if he learns anything. Court adjourned."
The courtoom empties. Once again Lenaire is left alone in the middle of the floor. He is cuddling the book and cooing to it. Then, just as it seems he will never be more content, he draws the book away from his chest and looks at the cover.
Slowly, agonizingly, the look of contentment washes from his face to be replaced by a look that is first confused, then bewildered, and finally, reflects sheer terror.
The title of the book is Handbook of Biblical Social Values.
And once more, Gary Lenaire is crying.
May 23, 2007
As the days passed, Gary Lenaire found that there was no salve for the ocean of pain that flowed over him day by day.
The Handbook of Biblical Social Values offered no comfort. It was full of big words he didn't understand, like "agonistic" and "collectivist". The authors didn't seem to be fundamentalists, but they didn't seem to be atheists either. At the best of times he could almost imagine he was still holding Age of Reason, but all he had to do was open to any page at random, and he would find words and concepts that Thomas Paine had never mentioned.
Why not? he cried deep within himself. My Tom, my Tom, why hast thou forsaken me?
Gary Lenaire laid spread-eagled on the floor, tears streaming from his eyes. He wanted his Paine back. He loved Paine. He sought Paine endlessly, for no one had freed him from the shackles of fundamentalism as Paine had.
He heard, as though from a distance, the voice of the judge. That stupid white bunny rabbit.
"Mr. Lenaire, I have now finished Chapter 6, which is yet another discombobulated sermon on your part, as well as a repeat of some of your past errors, such as about Nicaea and slavery. So once again I have only a few questions."
Lenaire cried out, as though in a dream, but his own voice sounded a million miles away: "Paine! Paine! Paine!"
"We will return your book in due course," the judge sighed, "as soon as you answer some questions. Did you read any of the Handbook of Biblical Social Values?"
With supreme effort, as though it weighed at least a ton, Lenaire lifted the book slightly off the floor. He then raised it high over his head and heaved it, one-handed, towards where the tormenting voice seemed to come from. His effort missed badly; he heard it bounce of the legs of a nearby chair, the pages leafing in mid-air before the book crashed to the ground. He groaned in agony.
"Can you explain why you think it matters that things like the Golden Rule are not 'new'?  If you read that book, you know that in Jesus' time, teachers were expected to reiterate and repeat old ideas. So please explain to us why Jesus was obliged to entertain you with 'new' teachings."
Lenaire tried to flip himself over, failed. His head was swimming. He put his hands to his ears but the voice remained auidble.
"Why do you consider Ingersoll an authority? He complains, as you note, that Jesus did not explain the Trinity, but the Trinity was easily understandable already to the people of that day. So why didn't Ingersoll do a little homework, Mr. Lenaire? Why does he also think that Jesus himself had to write anything down?"
"You say that many people in the first century were 'ready to say goodbye to Moses and his vengeful God.'  What evidence do you have for this? There is none -- all indications are that Jews of the first century were quite delighted to be Jews, and were not at all tired of their God. So where did you get this from? Hmmm?"
"You say heretics change and grow, while orthodoxy is stale.  So what are you saying, Mr. Lenaire? Is there no such thing as objective truth at all?"
"I see you use the Numbers 31 canard. What is your answer to this?"
Something like an enormous boulder landed on Lenaire's sternum. He gasped for air, tried to push it off, failed. He wriggled for several moments, then gave up. His consciousness faded even more. The voice began to fade as well. He heard it slowly drain away as it asked more questions....
"Why do you misinterpret 1 Corinthians?  Did it even occur to you to check even ONE scholarly commentary?"
"You refer to 'many redactors and editors' who wrote 1 Corinthians.  Can you provide textual-critical evidence for these redactions and editings, or did you just make this up?"
"Why do you complain about churches not paying taxes , but say nothing about groups like Dan Barker's Freedo, from Religion Foundation that also do not pay taxes?"
"You provide a list of individual Christians who have done terrible things [179ff]. If I were to provide a list of atheists who have killed people, what would this prove?"
"You condemn those who say they have the 'only true religion'.  Do you claim that it is true that they are wrong? Also, what do you know about the Spanish Inquistion and the Crusades, really?"
There is nothing else heard. Lenaire slips into dreamless limbo.
May 25, 2007
A dash of cold water! Lenaire rises to a sitting position, spluttering. The red bailiff stands above him with a now-empty bucket.
"Approach the bench, Mr. Lenaire."
Lenaire shakes his head. He is not sure where the bench is or even WHAT a "bench" is by now. He starts to head for the jury box. The bailiff seizes him by the arms, hoists him aloft, and puts him before the judge.
The judge sighs. "Mr. Lenaire, I tried, I really, really tried to read your last two chapters but it was just too much. You ramble like a sieve. Fortunately, what few 'arguments' or 'facts' you offered were just more of the same we've seen from you already. Aside from politcal rambling, which doesn't interest us." The judge rubs her eyes. "Well, the section on guilt  was new, yes, but if you've read that book we left you, you're aware that guilt is a phenomenon of modern individualist societies, correct?"
Lenaire snaps to attention. "Dah? What?"
The judge sighs again. "Mr. Lenaire, we have seen and heard enough of your monumental stupidity. Claiming that the doctrines of God's omniscience and omnipotence were invented at Nicaea  truly takes the biscuit. You are so dumb you think Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company. You..."
Lenaire opens his mouth in shock. "Dahhhhh....it isn't?"
The judge stops and stares. There is silence for the space of a minute. Then she rests her head in her hands and sighs again. "Bailiff....read the charges, please."
The red giant steps forward. "Lenaire charged with incompetence."
"Guilty," the judge says, and she pounds her gavel, a bit hard for the liking of Mr. Lenaire's eardrums. "Mr. Lenaire, I sentence you to 500 years of hard labor consisting of reading every book in the Dallas Theological Seminary library. Twice. While taking detailed notes. You will also write I will not pretend to be a Biblical expert 10,000 times on a chalkboard. With your tongue. Then you will be compelled to spend several years in a padded cell listening to musical audio tapes."
Lenaire brightens. "Heavy metal?"
The judge frowns. "Accordion music. Take him away."
Lenaire gapes. The bailiff seizes him and tucks him under one arm, and he is taken away. The judge sits back, again rubbing her eyes and running her hands through he silken blonde hair. The trial is over. She sighs again, this time heavily.
"Next case," she rumbles. "Who do we have?"
The green assistant rises. "People versus 'Honest' John Loftus. All rise."
Everyone rises. The judge, however, hears the name and is dismayed. A bearded man is dragged into the courtroom shouting, a pool cue tucked under his arm and a box of his own books being carried by an assistant behind him.
The judge stares. It's going to be another long day....