A note on Maclean’s inept hatchet job on Jesus

Vincent Torley wrote about the Canadian national mag’s effort here:

To give credit where credit is due, Professor Bart Ehrman, in his recent scholarly attack on the reliability of the New Testament, at least took the trouble to draw upon the latest scientific research relating to the fallibility of human memory, even though he overlooked equally impressive research demonstrating the reliability of memory, both within a community and within the mind of an eyewitness, over the course of time. However, Brian Bethune’s hatchet job on Jesus attempts to cast doubt on His very existence, citing the work of one historian (Richard Carrier) who is not recognized as a New Testament scholar, and whose methodology is highly dubious. I am forced to conclude that Bethune’s article is not based on sound scholarship; it bears all the hallmarks of being ideologically motivated. [Conclusion] More.

As a person who has spent a lifetime in news, my principal question would be: Why this article on Holy Saturday in the national mag anyway?

This sort of venture made more sense when Time Magazine tried it in 1966. But in those days, far more North Americans were churchgoers, and the more educated ones were often aware of theological controversies. So it was an electrifying event that attracted a vast genuine popular audience.

Canada today is mostly post-Christian, so the question becomes, who really cares?

People who aren’t Christians in any serious way and never go to church don’t care if Jesus existed or not. Why should they, if no one is blowing up airliners over it?

So… as I would ask of any article I have ever edited, I ask of this one: Who’s the readership?

In a nutshell, this article typefies the reason that media across North America are drowning in low audience stats and seas of red ink: They’re mainly writing for themselves and their smoking buddies.

The good news for them is that they are released from the obligation to grapple with serious scholarship about Jesus. The bad news is that the seas of red ink are rising, and those seas are boiling hot.

We see a similar problem afflicting popular science writing. The science writer is increasingly writing for an audience of himself and his buddies, who know that the multiverse is real, as is global warming and the space alien, and anyone who doubts has some kind of a psychological problem.

Note: I don’t think there is anything the media can do about this. The internet flattened and commodified the news landscape. It’s not about whether a medium has a big website either; it’s about the fact that they are no longer gatekeepers of news and cannot help shape what people should care about anywhere near the way they used to. That will have major political ramifications.

See also: As newspapers decline, print media will survive as period pieces and collectors’ items

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  • V10_Rob

    So when can we expect their expose on the life and times of Mohammad?

    • I can hardly wait.

      • Martin B

        Ramadan runs from June 6 to July 6 this year, so that’s when we can expect their “Was Mohammed Really A Prophet?” issue to hit the newsstands.

      • John

        To that end they are presently brainstorming in an effort to come up with every last fucking superlative the english language contains.

        You wouldn’t want to insult!

    • Clausewitz

      Not until Ramadomadingdong rolls around I’d expect.

      • Justin St.Denis

        Give you head a shake.

        • Shebel

          hahaha

        • DavidinNorthBurnaby

          But don’t shake it too hard, you might scramble your brain and convert to Islam. 😀

        • Clausewitz

          Sarcasm is lost on some people. MacLeans has folded to Islam before, expect them to continue.

    • DavidinNorthBurnaby

      The day after pigs fly.

    • DMB

      They have already declared Omar Khadr a devout follower of Islam to be pretty much a saint so don’t hold your breathe on that one!

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        The only thing missing is a knife in his hand.

      • DavidinNorthBurnaby

        Pass the sick bag, Ethel.

    • John

      Hang on to your heads!

    • DavidinNorthBurnaby

      Here’s a suggestion for their cover:

  • ontario john

    Yes, the brave Western media. Always looking for an easy target that won’t fight back. Can’t wait for their brave expose on Islam. Leftists have been trying to destroy the Christian faith for years. The old Soviet Union even had a department to try and prove the faith as phony. They never got anywhere.

  • ontario john

    The article shouldn’t bother the United Church. They don’t believe in God anyway.

    • Clausewitz

      That’s why I left.

      • Shebel

        That is why some people join them.

        • Clausewitz

          Good, let them group together so we know who to avoid.

  • G

    This sort of thing reminds me of that asshole Micheal Shermer who publishes skeptic magazine. He also writes a regular article for Scientific American.

    He loves to bleat on about how there is “no scientific basis for God”. – OK
    But then a couple of years ago he wrote about how radio telescope evidence of the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life will be discovered within 10 years.

    He basis for this belief is Moore’s Law of computer evolution. he stated that present computers don’t have the capability to sift through all the data but as soon as they DO have the capability the evidence will be discovered.

    So he believes in little green men with no evidence but he has FAITH that such evidence will someday appear.

    But Christians are deluded – Yeah right.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Hi again G! Another great post from you! I’m beginning to look out for your handle.

      • G

        Thank you sir.

        • G

          I few years ago I read a book called “War In 2080” by David Langford. It was about the technological future of warfare.
          Despite being written in 1979 it held up quite well.

          But the best line I remember from the book was Langford’s dismissal of techno-prophets who try to predict future discoveries.

          He jokingly predicted that out in the asteroid belt there was a small asteroid composed completely of chocolate cake. He was confident that he would never be proven wrong because no matter how long or hard his critics looked, if they said “We found no such asteroid!”.
          He could always respond that they had simply not looked hard enough.

          This reminds me of Micheal Shermer. 😀

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Skeptics are valuable.

      • Clausewitz

        Some are, some not so much. Depends on their delivery.

        • dance…dancetotheradio

          Super cereal?

  • andycanuck

    I haven’t read it all yet but the first thing I said to myself was, “Oooh. He better not say anything about oral tradition being b.s. in Canada or an Indian group will be up his butt,” and then I see the Haida photo.

  • Shebel

    I thought that V Torley did a good job.

  • andycanuck

    I also recall in a James Burke series (either Connections or The Day the Universe Changed) where he showed that people’s memories were much better further ago in the past because they didn’t have things like cheap pen and paper (or literacy!) to track things; books to store information that could be retrieved later so you just had to remember where it was and not what it was exactly; and (not that it applies fully here) that there was less to know back then so it was easier to know everything. I clearly remember him pointing out that medieval troubadours had fantastic memories (then going on to compare them to then-modern 1970s news organizations for spreading news). So conflating memories of modern computer-assisted humans might not accurately reflect memory capacity of long-past generations.

    • Justin St.Denis

      I thought I was the only person who ever watched that kind of material! 😉

      • DavidinNorthBurnaby

        Oh, no, Burke’s stuff was great. I have the companion books and can confirm andycanuck’s assertion.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I was stuck with the Isaac Asimov Foundation Trilogy in school.
        My uncle has recently revealed my childhood was horrific even through his eyes and I know now that I retreated into books to stave it off.
        I can’t believe what a shit show I endured as a kid.

  • dukestreet

    Satan hates Jesus and will use anybody willing to do so, to lead people into darkness. We can expect more and more of this foolishness in the future. Mo is another fake out that Satan has worked up. He just seems more Satanic than the usual considering the activities of a fair number of his followers. We won’t hear anything about the bad history of Mo. it’s too dangerous to tell the truth and doesn’t fit with the agenda of these writers.

    • DavidinNorthBurnaby

      Mo was possessed by a demon called allah and now he’s in hell.

      • John

        Maimonides referred to Moe as ‘The Meshuggah’ ( crazy man, demon)

    • John

      Satan cannot create anything; he can only mimic. And what is Islam if not a vulgar mimicry of the Judeo-Christian tradition?

      • DavidinNorthBurnaby

        Bingo!

  • RevnantDream

    I might add stay away from right scoop, its gone fill blown “little green apples”.Its Trump hatred is so over blown its become cartoonist.If you like a good laugh go over there for some entertainment, but never real information. Its a cheerleader squad for Their candidate without panties.
    As for the Jesus thing, i’m more worried about Church’s turning on real Christians, than the secularists that are clueless of history or archeology. Nor to mention what passes for most Christianity these days is heresy painted up as belief. From Pick up your debit card from God, instead of a cross, to your a little god yourself types.Claim it & grab it hordes.To those always looking for an “experience”. Historically its been churches that have shed the most blood of Christians along with Islam.
    If you want to know about real Christianity read the New testament in His words, not the wolves of today.

    • dukestreet

      Absolutely right. Although, the Old testament is good to read after you’ve read thee New. The theme of righteousness and redemption in Christ is carried right through from beginning to end. A few really good commentaries that explain the culture etc. are beneficial too. Find a church that has everything Biblically based. There are some out there. You don’t want to go to a church that doesn’t do everything they do based on the Word.