The Mind of the Bible-Believer

A really great book, though it suffers from 1) verbosity, and that 2) the idea that the gospels are mind-controlling is interesting, but not possible from what I understand of form-criticism, i.e. the gospel authors are largely independent. Although, in regards to 2), it might make our readings of Luke more fruitful if we consider the possibility that he is writing his gospel to obfuscate as much as to enlighten the gospels beforehand.

This book was written in the late ’80s by an Edmund D. Cohen. I would like to contact the author if possible by email, but email wasn’t a thing back then! I will see if I can find a postal address.

The Tweeting Styles of Trump and Clinton

I’m teaching a graduate course called Stylistics and Editing this semester, and I used Trump and Clinton’s twitter accounts as analysis fodder in the first two classes.

Trump’s tweets typically have a fixed style. Long sentence, short sentence, exclamation point. “Sad!” Most seem to be by his own hand, given their reactionary content, occasional use of ALL CAPS, and distinctive vocabulary. He uses graphics and video sparingly.

Clinton’s tweets are shorter, usually just one sentence, but they are always accompanied by a link to a graphic or video. Half are moderating utterances or secondhand quotations designed to make her look reasonable, and half are direct assaults on Trump. The chances of the bulk of the tweets being written by her, the class felt, were very small; they felt safe and vetted.

The larger point I was trying to make with these analyses is that style is, for the most part, highly detectable. At a glance, you can see who is who. Clinton’s team will almost never write a one-word sentence with an exclamation point, and Trump will rarely ever write anything simply stating his position, save for the very recent “Mexico will pay for the wall!”

a long time coming

I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been busy with vacations (to Tennessee and Massachusetts), going to RSA, raising our son, and a lot of background reading about the Japanese military in WWII, among other side projects.

What provokes me to pose today is the RNC, where Trump stands poised to seize the Republican nomination.

I have to say, this is a new low for the party.  Trump is odious. So is Pence. Neither is qualified to run a lemonade stand. And Trump beat out a dozen radical right-wingers to get here. Moderate Republicans are either dead or too scared to speak against him.

Trump/Pence appear to have the automatic 40% that any party nominees enjoy.  They will doubtlessly get a boost from the convention. Then it’s Clinton’s turn.

It seems like the stakes just get higher and higher every four years. Right now we’re looking at a man whose ego is the size of Mt. Everest – with the attention span of a gnat – who wants to have control of the nuclear football.  Unless your goal in this election is to start WWIII, there are only two reasonable, rational choices. Either sit out the election or vote Democrat.

So, Republicans, I suggest you stay home in November. I won’t ask you to vote for Hillary, but you could take a stance against feeding Trump’s ego. He’s not in this out of a sense of duty to the country. He’s in it out of narcissism, pure and simple. Hillary may not be the perfect candidate, but at least her moderate experience as SOS means she won’t fire off nukes for an ego boost.

Think about that. Temperment has always been a key factor in evaluating presidential candidates. Watch what Trump does when he is criticized.

Does he EVER admit fault? Of course not. He’s always right.

Does he respond civilly? Of course not. He goes ad hominem out of reflex. Anyone who speaks against him is a “loser.”

Does he show any evidence of being able to make complex decisions based on complex information with the aid of advisers? Hah. I listen to his speeches and I can’t even imagine him doing something thoughtful. He already has all the answers. Why bother consulting anyone?

As Clinton gears up for the general election, we’re going to see more and more of the populace become aware of these qualities, which are already in evidence, but not widespread knowledge.

Oh, yeah. Warren should be the VP pick. Clinton needs all the Sanders voters.



I have an online subscription to the New York Times. For the most part, I enjoy it. But today, I’m going to cancel it.  Why? Not enough coverage of Bernie Sanders. The paper is uncritically pro-Clinton to a nausea-inducing degree, and I’m sick of it. The man is winning state after state and this is not deemed newsworthy. Normally I can subtract the bias and get my news, but right now I get a better news breakdown from Facebook that I do from the Times.

The impossible task

One of the more interesting things that I noticed when I first started studying rhetorical theory is that some rhetorical situations are impossible tasks. Everyone, I think, at one time or another, has encountered an audience that cannot,  or, rather, would not, be moved.

The distinction between ‘cannot’ and ‘would not’ is important; if an audience cannot be moved – if there is some gulf of values that somehow cannot be crossed by any conceivable method  – then that is one thing, to say that rhetorical power has limits.  But if an audience refuses motion – if it chooses not to move when it could have – that implies something else, that namely, the audience has all the real power, and we should speak less of rhetorical power and more about audience power. Rhetoric becomes more of a curious byproduct – a residue of an interaction – than a means to an end.

So if audiences can choose not to be moved, all rhetorical situations are impossible tasks. People cannot be persuaded – rather they choose to persuade themselves in the light of certain situations or stimuli.

Where does this place the so-called persuasive speaker, the charismatic, the leader? Obviously some people can move others and are demonstrably better at it than others, right? So I think that the power to refuse movement is present but not always used, comparatively. It would require a mechanism that is the reverse of cognitive dissonance; that is to say, instead of rationalization in the face of dissonant input, there is an resistance to information that does make sense to the listener – an unwillingness to move, to listen, to process. I may be equivocating between “dissonant input” and “makes sense”


I decided to try something new in the last few days. Well, something old, actually.

Remember me mentioning that I wrote a novel two summers ago? Well, I didn’t get much interest from agents back then, but I didn’t exactly do a great or comprehensive job of marketing. I pretty much suck at selling myself. Work and life get in the way quickly, and I’d nearly forgotten about it until a few days ago when I realized I have a little time to try and pitch it again.

This time the book is a little different thanks to a bit of editing, and I queried to many more agents that I didn’t even know existed. Time will tell if it piques any interest. I’m ok with it if it doesn’t; I have a career already. But it would be nice to have two!

I don’t think this summer is going to be fruitful for writing. It really needs to be devoted to vacation and stress-relieving. But it’s strange how the writing bug strikes me.

Luke continues to be awesome.


I’d almost forgotten about this site.  I’ve been busy dealing with the new house, a rapidly growing baby (now almost ten months!), and work, to the point that some things have started to slide off of the radar.

I have a lot to say about the presidential race, and very little of it pleasant, so I’ll spare the reader that and instead talk about what I find positive. Namely, I favor Bernie Sanders this time around. Finally, a promising candidate that is almost as far left as I am! He just narrowly missed beating Hillary in Iowa, so he’s off to a pretty good start that would have seemed impossible six months ago. He’ll probably win New Hampshire, but South Carolina looks dicey. Time will tell.

I have started preliminary work on a new collaborative article that involves translation from the Japanese. It’s excited and new (actually, exciting and old) and that is all I will share for now.





pay no attention to that man behind the curtain