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Inherit the windbag

By Owen Paine on Friday May 30, 2008 07:32 PM

As we doldrum away the days waiting for St Scorpia to lash the last, and hopefully fatal, blow to the bare black sexist behind of the Oby One's campaign, I'll clear up a Father Smiff request, side-o-the-mouth'ed in his stunningly bright post about Jeremiah Wright vs the National Press Club.

The famous Darrow/Bryan joust: after reviewing the entire typescript of Darrow's climactic witness stand examination of the Great Commoner, here with are my findings.

Short version: zero-sum grapples by well-matched contestants can be very indecisive affairs.

Slightly longer version: neither hero landed a telling blow as they circled each other, throwing long jabs. Most of their energy went into grandstanding asides.

Now truth be told, I enjoyed Bryan's insistence on the original text in Jacobean translation, over Darrow's smart-alec paraphrases. And Bryan's various light-fingered exegetics easily swat down any claims of the old battler's failing acumen. Example of his grand line: "It was inspired by the Almighty and He may have used language that could be understood at that time, instead of language that could not be understood until Darrow was born."

To this question by Darrow, "Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife?" Bryan's answer" "No sir; I leave to the agnostics to hunt for her."

And there's his occasional insistences on exact translation, as in the tale of Jonah: it was "a great fish", not a "whale" that swallowed that overboard soul; or that in the Bible, "day" can mean any "distinct period of time".

So what was proved by this mutually beneficial stunt? On Darrow's part, really not much. How hard is it for a modern fellah with aN educated streak to hash up antique beliefs based on the Good Book, if you don't grasp the spirit of Bryan's line "the Bible should be accepted as it is given" -- if you have an active restless questioning insatiable Faustian mind.

But on Bryan's side there's something more -- maybe even, in the broadest scheme of things, something a bit grand even. His own words: "I want the papers to know I am not afraid to get on the stand in front of him [Darrow] and let him do his worst. I want the world to know."

Just a simple Godfearing old man -- with some guts and a lot of guile -- defending the honor of his people's most sacred beliefs against a sharp scoffing soulless sophisticate.

And a lawyer at that.

Comments (5)


But what if those beliefs are flat wrong? I guess I am too much of a soul-less sophistocate to fall for that old time religion. (More accurately, I find God awful and understand why 1/3 of the angels rebelled)


"what if those beliefs are flat wrong"

to paraphase pilot
but what are beliefs...

"I find God awful
and understand why 1/3 of the angels rebelled"

there are other God's before Him


Most of which were equally awful.


i realize i need to write up something on beliefs
supernatural divine and or otherwise

the complacent entrenched
reflexive worship of beliefs
or the quenchless
belief quest itself
both seem to imply a centrality of self
i find repugnant

one might best wear one's
faith and tradition
with certain lightness of touch
and casual humility


Can't disagree with that, Owen.

My reaction is partly inspired by a reflexive anti-clericalism and suspicion of "the church." (As much as I LIKE Pastor Wright, even!) :)

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