April 9th, 2006

lindisfarne gospels

My take on the latest NT controversy

A sixth-grader in my confirmation class asked me today about the newly-discovered gospel-according-to-Judas. Specifically, she wanted to know if there was anything signficant in it being found now, after centuries of being undiscovered.

I replied that all the really good stuff was held onto and treasured from the first, which is why the NT really hasn't changed since it was formed. The trash was mostly thrown out, or kept only by a few people out of the mainstream. Such stuff disappeared because it wasn't of much value. Archaeology, however, loves to dig up trash (in fact, this is the main stuff we leave behind).

So out of the huge volume of stuff once written about any subject, the good stuff is faithfully recorded and passed on, and all the ephemeral or wrong stuff tends to get preserved in a haphazard fashion. Which means, you shouldn't worry too much about this "earth-shattering" discovery, because it isn't one. It's just more substandard material that wasn't worth much then, and isn't worth much now, except as a curiosity.

The Quitter

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten -- and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight --
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try -- it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

-- Robert Service

Tomorrow: Kipling!