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18h UTC; FRIDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2013: As if a certain Larry Klayman's hopes for the Luscious Glory of certain and final triumph in his desire to bring down the United States Government next Tuesday weren't good enough (even to the extent of attracting weird and unwholesome company as should, in and of itself, attract FBI attention), it's emerged that the Southern Baptist Convention has taken exception to recent misguided remarks from pseudo-historian David Barton and pseudo-religious Kenneth Copeland suggesting that such a concept as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cannot exist because servicemen should be considered as Esteemed and Venerated by God, citing Numbers 32:21-22 in "evidence."

Joe Carter, in his position with the Southern Baptist Convention as Communications Director for its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, elaborates on this doctrinal error thus (via Right Wing Watch):
"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." Proverbs gives us two approaches and expects us to use wisdom in knowing when they should be applied.

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.

Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.


To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton's application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.

When those verses are read in the context of the chapter, and in the context of book of Numbers, and in the context of the Old Testament, and in the context of the entire Bible, it becomes almost impossible to imagine how anyone with an elementary school level of reading comprehension could have come up with such an interpretation.

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Their mishandling of Scripture is inexcusable, but what makes it unconscionable is they use God's Word to shame and berate veterans with PTSD. Barton and Copeland imply that PTSD is due to guilt over actions carried out in wartime that leads to self-condemnation. This is a profoundly ignorant view of both the causes of combat-induced PTSD and the motivations behind medical and psychological based treatment.

PTSD is psychological trauma that can change how the brain and mental processes function. While in combat, veterans are exposed to the stresses of hyper-violence while living in a near constant state of hyper-vigilance. As psychiatrist Jonathan Shay explains in
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character icon:
A human enemy strikes not only at the body but also at the most basic functions of the human mind. The Vietnamese enemy defeated the soldier's perception by concealment and his ability to understand what he saw by camouflage. The basic mental state of intention and will was attacked by ambush, deception, surprise, and anticipation . . . . The cumulative effect of prolonged attacks on mental function is to undermine the soldier's trust in his own perceptions.
On returning from combat, the veteran is no longer exposed to violence, yet the reflex for hyper-vigilance -- whether conscious or subconscious -- may remain intact and beyond the person's control. "Exposed to continuous threats of warfare," says Shay, "the body remains mobilized for battle indefinitely." Veterans suffering from PTSD can lose some of the authority over mental processes, such as perception and memory, which civilians take for granted.

Throughout most modern wars, from World War I to Vietnam, both the military and civilian worlds denied or downplayed the existence of this form of psychological trauma. It wasn't until the post-Vietnam era that the medical community began to recognize that experiences of PTSD sufferers were not only real, but also that the causes were likely rooted in genes and brain chemistry, rather than a defect in the veteran's character.

For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this "blame the victim" trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.
But then again, let's not forget where the belt buckles of those who served in the Schurzstaffel (SS) back in Nazi Germany had the inscription Gott Mit Ons, as in "God [is] With Us," as if suggesting that the 1000-Jahr Reich of Hitler and Germany, and its anti-Semitic agenda, was Divinely Ordained. So was apartheid South Africa, for that matter.

Meanwhile, some good news from Toronto
, whose belaguered Mayor, by name and stylee of Rob Ford, is tarnishing its name and repute by his acts, deeds and exploits: Police there announced the smashing of a global online child-pornography ring therein based, with 348 people arrested worldwide (73 such in the United States) as engaging in perousal, production or distribution of Kinderporn thus produced; as well, 382 children were rescued from the bondage thereby inflicted--a ratio, by my calculations, of 1.1 children/person arrested.

Come to think of it, how many of those 73 arrests in the United States involved leaders in the "Tea Party," "9/12," "Christian Patriot" or suchlike (pseudo)movements, or otherwise in positions of supposed trust and confidence in the rank-and-file?

As for some worthwhile reading aimed at insight into what drives the Greater Ideological Divide prevailing across Thy Dear and Lovely Land, much of it driven by historical immigration and settlement patterns, may I recommend American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America iconby Bowdoin College history professor (not to mention Portland Press-Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram essayist) Colin Woodard, the which was the subject of this morning's "Deep Dive" on MSNBC's Daily Rundown as Your Correspondent took note of.

Finally, a cluedo as to the titling of this post: During his semi-annual physical yesterday afterlunch, Your Correspondent's doctor discerned an irreguar heartbeat as could be but the sign of a heart murmur aggravated by a leaking heart valve. An echocardiogram has been ordered for Tuesday morning to better discern what may be the triggers therefor, the better to ascertain possible causes; further treatment will likely be advised within measurable distance.

"Another small house is finished in the next block"
(to Engrishfy the closing remarks on every episode of the "slice-of-life"
radio series Vic and Sade through the years)

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