Friday, April 09, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 99: Qaneh Bosm, Linda Lovelace and the marketing of addictive, enmeshing, deceptive evil

In his recent path-breaking book, The Marketing of Evil, David Kupelian argues that evil often sells the destructive and enslaving by manipulating our sympathies or desires, while alienating us from corrective information and sources.

Thus, it first induces doubt in traditional views then acceptance of addictive, polarising deception.

This conversion to the perverse is then multiplied by alienation from that which and those who would correct us.

So, we see the three phases of the marketing of evil:
1 --> Desensitising us by making evil seem attractive or at lest plausible or sympathetic enough to be tolerated and entertained

2 --> Jamming out correcvtive information and voices

3 --> Conversion to supporting and/or addiction to the corrupt, perverse and destructive.
I was reminded of this pattern in recent days, while closing out my participation in discussions at an influential regional blog frequented by some of the more rabid anti-Christian voices in our region.

One of the rhetorical tactics used in a thread where the ganja culture was being promoted in the teeth of Bible-based [and medically rooted] objections, was to repeatedly post comments asking the question: "what is qaneh bosm?"

This is of course not a commonplace phrase.

It turns out that the reference is to a hitherto generally obscure discussion of the ingredients of the sacred anointing oil used by the Priests of Israel for anointing the temple and its instruments and priests, etc.:
Exodus 30:22 [NIV] Then the LORD said to Moses, 23 "Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels [about 12 lb] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane [= bosem kawneh, i.e. "fragrant + cane [or reed]" in most lexicons], 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin [about a gallon] of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

30 "Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, 'This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32 Do not pour it on men's bodies [i.e. as a perfume] and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.' "

Here we see the stringently protected formula for the holy anointing oil used as part of the dedication of the tabernacle, its instruments and priests. So, why is there an emphasis on asking about the phrase "fragrant cane," or bosem kawneh?

An investigation soon turns up the investigations of Polish born anthropologist Sula Benet, which reportedly led Hebrew University to state in 1980 that the specific "reed" or "cane" most likely in view is hemp (i.e. Cannabis sativa), and to suggest that the specific ingredient is hemp blossoms.

Thus, we see the current NET Bible rendering: "sweet-smelling cane," and the rendering in the 1978 and 1984 NIV or 1977 New American Standard Bible: "fragrant cane," as well as the widely respected recent Roman Catholic translation, the New Jerusalem Bible: "scented reed," as opposed to the older KJV and 1902 American Standard version, "sweet calamus." (In short, we plainly have a more accurate translation in light of onward evidence.)

Revealingly, however, the Wikipedia article on Ms Benet inaccurately states:
. . . the words 'Kaneh bosm' are not in the KJV or the new international version of the bible. [sic] This is because the translators from the original language determined that "Kaneh bosm" should be interpreted as "Calamus" and other similar sounding plants.
This is both plainly false and suggestive that there is an attempt to suppress the truth.

Immediately, a scan of the four references cited in the article shows that -- apart from an initial reference to the Encyclopedia Judaica that tells us how hemp was in common use as a fabric fibre until linen took its place -- the three focal references for the article are from Ms Benet and from a more recent advocate of marijuana decriminalisation.

However, even though it cites a highly relevant reference on the primary use of hemp in the ancient near east, the article fails to bring out the key fact that here are two distinct varieties of hemp that are cultivated: C. sativa sativa -- which has very low THC content and is grown for the fibres -- and the high-THC cultivar C. sativa indica, which is grown for use as a drug. (Given the known context of cultivation for use as a fibre plant in the general time and place, it is inherently likely that the variety referred to in Exodus 30 would be the former, which would indeed have various aromatic compounds in its flowers etc. but would be most likely quite low in THC.)

Worse, the Wiki article on "Religious and spiritual use of cannabis" roundly declares: "Early Christians used cannabis oil for medicinal purposes and as part of the baptismal process to confirm the forgiveness of sins and "right of passage" into the Kingdom of Heaven," again citing an advocacy source.

Nowhere do we see any note that biblically, baptism is in water, and that the anointing with a smear of oil that may have been a part of baptismal services -- it is not a biblical mandate, but would have been symbolic of the descent of the promised Spirit -- would have as likely been with plain olive oil as with the formulated holy anointing oil.

Similarly, the oil used to anoint the sick when they are to be prayed for under James 5:14 - 18 was and is as often plain olive oil [or a substitute], and admixture of herbs according to the Exodus 30 recipe would not have served a significant specific medicinal purpose. (The focus of the prayer is on God's healing in response to the prayer of faith, not he medicative efficacy of perfumed oil.)

The discussion page for the article also adds a revealing corrective on the claimed rendering of bosem kawneh:

The citation of Aryeh Kaplan very inaccurate in it's portrayal of his position on the matter. Here is the original quote from Kaplan:

"fragrant cane Keneh bosem in Hebrew. Ancient sources identify this with the sweet calmus (Septuagint; Rambam on Kerithoth 1:1; Saadia; Ibn Janach). This is the sweetflag or flag-root, Acoras calamus which grows in Europe. It appears that a similar species grew in the Holy Land, in the Hula region in ancient times (Theophrastus, History of Plants 9:7). Other sources apparently indicate that it was the Indian plant, Cympopogan martini, which has the form of red straw (Yad, Kley HaMikdash 1:3). On the basis of cognate pronunciation and Septuagint readings, some identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis, the hemp plant. There are, however, some authorities who identify the 'sweet cane' with cinnamon bark (Radak, Sherashim). Some say that kinman is the wood, and keneh bosem is the bark (Abarbanel). "

Kaplan clearly identifies it a one of several possible interpretations, and doesn't endorse the cannabis interpretation in particular, much less state it as the only possible interpretation.

Perhaps that first paragraph should be rewritten something like:

"The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosem (קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם [21]) which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in Holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Aryeh Kaplan mentions cannabis as one of a few candidates for the identification of this herb."

(Dorvan (talk) 23:52, 22 October 2009 (UTC))

Thus, we clearly see the three phases Kupelian described in action:
1 --> Since the Bible is a respected religious text, the plausible identification of the use of cannabis in it -- note the other possibilities, which makes the cautious renderings in modern translations very apt -- is used to open a wedge of perceived legitimisation of widespread use and approval that goes far beyond the formulation of a strictly restricted sacred oil of anointing based on flowers of hemp most likely of the fibre producing cultivar.

2 --> By falsely implying or suggesting that willfully inaccurate translations are being used to suppress the implied approval and widespread use of Cannabis sativas indica, there is a subtle attempt to discredit those who would object to the above agenda.

3 --> Thus the doorway is further opened for the addictive and destructive use of high-potency high THC marijuana.
Similarly, even with fairly simple web searches these days (often with no intent to find such), one easily comes across quite explicit and graphic pornographic sites, with words, pictures and video.

The imagery may easily lure in the unwary, and one may then miss key cues like -- and I specifically confirmed this as a fact before making his post -- the wistful or shocked look on the face of a victim "star" as she turns and looks into the camera; even while she is being portrayed in a degrading fashion, shamefully spread apart or spurted upon for keyhole-peeping delectation, as if we have a mere sexual plaything, not a real human being prostituted in front of us.

(Shouldn't we notice instead, what the pleading look tells us: am I not a person with inherent dignity, maybe your daughter, maybe your sister? Will you not have pity on me instead of callously and selfishly fantasising about me?)

Or, as the recent Carrie Prejean case shows, a semi-nude "glamour" photo shoot made on a conveniently windy day, or personal video shared in a moment of ill-advised loneliness with a boyfriend will easily be manipulated, the resulting materials will be circulated as porn, and if necessary used in demeaning attacks.

So, it is again time to bring our attention to the telling testimony of Linda Lovelace; the "star" of the notorious 1970 porn movie that broke out of the sleazy peepshow into the mainstream movie theatres. For, once she escaped the control of the domineering, dangerous Chuck Traynor [who as her legal husband prostituted her and forced her into porn films at gunpoint and under the duress of blows and sexual torture], she exposed the sickening truth behind the movie and others like it; passing lie detector tests in the process.

For instance, before the Meese Commission on pornography in 1986, she stated:
“When you see the movie Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped. It is a crime that movie [which grossed US$ 600 millions in thratres, with Mr Traynor collecting the "fee" of $ 1,250 for the "star"] is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time.”
Of course, her claims were stridently disputed and dismissed, and she was tagged by "anti- censorship" activists as in effect a lying turncoat against the "liberation" of free sex and pornographic portrayals of sex and related acts.

So, again, we see the agenda:
1 --> Pornography is sold as being liberating, harmless "adult" entertainment.

2 --> Those who object or who escape and oppose it are smeared and attacked. (Indeed, the Meese Commission's members -- including Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family -- were sued.)

3 --> And as the camel's nose of social acceptability gets under the tent, every means of widespread distribution from Cable TV to the Internet is used to make an addicting behaviour pattern with a known track record of feeding the twisted imaginations of molesters and serial killers instantly and easily accessible.
Kupelian gives another, perhaps even more revealing example.

As Paula Adamick summarises in her review of his work (which is cited herein under the fair use provision):
. . . homosexuality has been sold to the world as equal to heterosexuality, contravening the natural law and ushering in same-sex "marriage" as "fair" and "good" and a "right" which brooks no opposition and prosecutes it critics.

How were long-held views opposing homosexuality so easily transformed into "enlightened tolerance" and open support?

Easy, Kupelian argues: "The debate will be won by whoever conjures up the strongest emotions of sympathy in the audience." By skillfully attaching "positive" images and emotions to homosexuality, listeners begin to question their "assumptions" about it.

With doubts entering the mind like a camel's nose under a tent, it isn't long before the kind-hearted person abandons his moral beliefs and says to himself: "Who am I to interfere with a homosexual's happiness?"
We see here a clear pattern.

One that is all too reminiscent of Rom 1:18 - 32:
Rom 1: 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

One that is now not only coming into our region from outside, but which is increasingly being used in our streets and opinion fora by advocates who are within the walls of our culture. indeed, in some cases, they are influential voices, or even our opinion and general social leaders.

One, that we must expose and resist, lest evil overwhelms us like a deceptive* but destructive tidal wave. END


*Footnote: Quite often, the first marked sign of a tidal wave is the rapid withdrawal of the sea (termed a "drawback"), leaving fish and other bottom creatures flopping on the newly exposed sand. If the curious come closer to inspect or collect "free fish," they expose themselves to the overwhelming surge to follow. (Instead, as one simply cannot withstand the destructive force of a full scale tsunami, the wise course of action is to avoid the danger by heading as rapidly as possible for refuge on the highest ground one can reach; as soon as signs of danger emerge or a warning is issued. Then, after the immediate danger has passed, those who have educated, prepared and protected themselves can help victims and the community impacted by the disaster. Applications to the spiritual tidal waves that are now impacting our region are all too plain.)