William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Author: Briggs (page 1 of 752)

Uncertainty’s A Hit!

It hasn’t been a year, but Springer issued its annual report, and, in my eyes anyway, Uncertainty is a hit!

From 30 June 2016 through the first two weeks of April 2017, 821 copies were sold. And more were downloaded—but I don’t know how many. Springer has a licensing deal with many major universities and institutions, which provides on-demand ebooks for members. Uncertainty is one of these books. I have had reports from a good handful of people that they have downloaded it, but that’s all I know. (I don’t get separate royalties from downloaded copies.)

Do not forget Uncertainty’s main page where posts related to the book are indexed (like with most things, I am running behind on this).

I’ve had conversations with many about various points in the book. I haven’t seen anywhere where I changed my mind. But I’ve seen many places where I could have added more explanation, spent more time editing and writing, and I have been told I need add discussions on several crucial matters. Sample size, for instance (relate it to real, not statistical, control). Factor analysis (don’t do it). And so on. Keep the questions coming and I’ll get to them—eventually.


Uncertainty’s been reviewed at The Philosopher by Thomas Scarborough. Bad news first:

I have one demurral ato make. In places, the style seems unnecessarily to get in the way of the content. In particular, outbursts such as ‘Die, p-value, die, die, die!‘ or ‘p-values, God rot them!’, while they are certainly memorable, do not seem to serve the book well as the serious academic work that it is.

I agree. The “die die die” was a joke, which is now obvious of too obscure an origin (think back to Usenet days and you’ll have it). So I wish it were gone. There are an appalling number of typos, too, which is surprising not because of me (I’m famous for them), but because the book was edited by Springer. I will correct these for any second edition.

Now for better bits.

[Uncertainty], writes the author, is not answered by grasping for equations, let alone models. It requires ‘slow, maturing thought’. It is more a matter of philosophy than of mathematics. Yet people shun the effort. Instead, they grasp at pre-packaged probability theory, which is far too easily applied without further thought. In fact, the author sketches a situation of crisis proportions. There is altogether too much that we get wrong…

The publisher describes this work as a textbook. It begins with what one might call a componential analysis of probability. It carefully examines such concepts as truth, induction, chance — and many besides. Then it applies these observations to the field of modelling. While the mathematics are complicated, this is compensated for by the authors’s gift of explanation.

The book really brightens up when one reaches worked examples of what can and does go wrong, and how probability calculations for the self same situations may easily turn out to be quite different. The examples are generalised, too, so as to be meaningful beyond specific contexts. Some particularly illuminating sections of the book include a series of graphs and equations in which the quantification of GPAs, the probabilities of developing cancer, or how one might validate homophobia, are discussed…

All in all, if the author is right, then our world has strayed down a path which is dangerously simplistic — and this tendency towards simplistic thinking has much to do with how we think about uncertainty. One might go so far as to say: that we have misapplied, and continue to misapply, theory which has to do with things of critical importance, including the very future of humanity.

This Scarborough fellow is on to something. Better buy the book to discover what.

I’ll leave the last word to commenter Keith:

William Briggs’s book sounds intriguing, and an important read; there’s so much to the story of probability and chaos. Most people are familiar with the frequently recounted story involving the mathematician-cum-meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who used computer models to predict weather — and in the process serendipitously contributed to the development of chaos theory, and how scientists look at such exquisitely nonlinear systems as the weather. Back in the early Sixties, he decided to rerun one of his weather simulations. However, not thinking it mattered, Lorenz decided to begin the simulation in the middle, using numbers (for the ‘initial conditions’) from the first run. Much to his astonishment, the new virtual weather pattern, which he expected to follow the first run of the model, dramatically deviated from it. What he subsequently realized is that whereas the computer had stored in its memory the first run’s results to six decimal places, the printout, from which he reentered the numbers, had truncated the numbers to just three decimal places, to save space. As for predictions, modeling, nonlinearity, probability, initial conditions, uncertainty, controls, chaos, and outcomes, the rest is history. I look forward to reading this book.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Human Souls Begin At Conception Part III

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Review is a must. We are two thirds of the way through a chapter this week, so please read the Previous post first (link above). This week is long, we must finish this Chapter this week.

Chapter 82 That the human soul begins to exist when the body does (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

26 It must be said that the human soul either needs the senses or does not need them. Now, experience seems to show clearly that the former is true. For a person who lacks a certain sense has no knowledge of the sensible objects which are perceived through that sense; a man born blind has neither knowledge nor any understanding of colors.

Furthermore, if the human soul does not require the senses in order to understand, then sensitive and intellective cognition in man would have so ordered relationship to one another. But experience demonstrates the contrary; for our senses give rise to memories, and from these we obtain experiential knowledge of things, which in turn is the means through which we come to an understanding of the universal principles of sciences and arts.

Now, nature is wanting in nothing that is necessary for the fulfillment of its proper operation; thus, to animals whose soul is endowed with powers of sense and movement nature gives the appropriate organs of sense and movement. Hence, if the human soul needs the senses in order to understand, then that soul would never have been made to be in the first place without the indispensable assistants which the senses are. But the senses do not function without corporeal organs, as we have seen. The soul, therefore, was not made without such organs.

27 The argument that the human soul does not need the senses in order to understand, and thus is said to have been created apart from the body, necessarily implies that, before being united to the body, the soul was by itself cognizant of all scientific truths. The Platonists indeed admitted this in saying that Ideas, which according to Plato are the separate intelligible forms of things, are the cause of knowledge; and thus, the separate soul, having no obstacle confronting it, received full knowledge of all sciences.

Therefore, since the soul is found to be ignorant when united to the body, it must be said that it forgets the knowledge which it previously possessed.

The Platonists acknowledge this inference, also, adducing the following observation as indicative of its truth: If a man, however ignorant he may be, is questioned systematically about matters taught in the sciences, he will answer the truth; so, if a man has forgotten some of the things that he knew before, and a person proposes to him one by one the things he has forgotten, he recalls them to his memory. And from this they inferred that learning was nothing else than remembering.

This theory then necessarily led to the conclusion that union with the body places an obstacle in the way of the soul’s understanding. In no case, however, does nature unite a thing to that which impedes its operation; on the contrary, nature unites the thing to that which facilitates its operation. Thus, the union of body and soul will not be natural, so that man will not be a natural thing, nor will his engendering be natural; which, of course, is false.

Notes We linked to Plato’s theory two posts back. Given the way of the world, if Plato were right, there’s a massive effort underway to forget.

28 The ultimate end of every thing, moreover, is that which it strives to attain by its operations. But man, by all his proper operations fittingly ordered and rightly directed, strives to attain the contemplation of truth; for the operations of the active powers are certain preparations and dispositions to the contemplative powers. The end of man, therefore, is to arrive at the contemplation of truth. It is for this purpose, then, that the soul is united to the body, and in this union does man’s being consist. Therefore, it is not union with the body that causes the soul to lose knowledge which it had possessed; on the contrary, the soul is united to the body so that it may acquire knowledge.

29 Then, too, if a person ignorant of the sciences is questioned about matters pertaining to the sciences, his answers will not be true, except with regard to the universal principles of which no one is ignorant, but which are known by all in the same way and naturally. But, if that ignorant person is questioned systematically later on, he will answer truly concerning matters closely related to the principles, by referring them to the latter; and he will go on answering truly as long as he is able to apply the power of first principles to the subjects about which he is questioned. This makes it quite clear, therefore, that through the primary principles new knowledge is caused in the person questioned. This new knowledge, then, is not caused by recalling to memory things previously known.

Notes This phrase strikes as memorable: “…as long as he is able to apply the power of first principles to the subjects about which he is questioned.” This separates memory, a key component of intelligence, to reasoning, which is greater. But tests designed on this principle are harder to grade.

30 Furthermore, if the knowledge of conclusions were as natural to the soul as knowledge of principles, then everyone’s judgment concerning conclusions, as well as principles, would be the same, since things natural are the same for all. But not all persons share the same judgment in respect to conclusions, but only to principles. Clearly, then, the knowledge of principles is natural to us, but not the knowledge of conclusions. The non-natural, however, is acquired by us through the natural; thus it is through our hands that we produce, in the world of things outside us, all our artifacts. Therefore, we have no knowledge of conclusions except that which we acquire from principles.

31 Again, since nature is always directed to one thing, of one power there must naturally be one object, as color of sight, and sound of hearing. Hence, the intellect, being one power, has one natural object, of which it has knowledge essentially and naturally. And this object must be one under which are included all things known by the intellect; just as under color are included all colors essentially visible. Now, this is none other than being [Quod non est aliud quam ens]. Our intellect, therefore, knows being naturally, and whatever essentially belongs to a being as such; and upon this knowledge is founded the knowledge of first principles, such as the impossibility of simultaneously affirming and denying, and the like.

Thus, only these principles are known naturally by our intellect, while conclusions are known through them; just as, through color, sight is cognizant of both common and accidental sensibles.

Notes Think on it. That something exists is real knowledge, and easy for most things. The study of being and its nature is what we’re doing here. You cannot escape metaphysics!

32 And again. That which we acquire through the senses did not exist in the soul before its union with the body. But our knowledge of principles themselves is derived from sensible things; if, for instance, we had not perceived some whole by our senses, we would be unable to understand the principle that the whole is greater than its parts; even as a man born blind is utterly insensible of colors. Therefore, neither did the soul prior to its union with the body have any knowledge of principles; much less, of other things. Hence, Plato’s argument that the soul existed before its union with the body is without solidity.

Notes (Another straight line finishes this paragraph…) Contra reincarnation next.

33 There is also the argument that if all souls existed before the bodies to which they are united, it would then seemingly follow that the same soul is united to different bodies according to the vicissitudes of time—an obvious consequence of the doctrine of the eternity of the world. For from the hypothesis of the engendering of human beings from eternity it follows that an infinite number of human bodies have come into being and passed away throughout the whole course of time. Hence, two possibilities: either an actually infinite number of souls pre-existed, if each soul is united to a single body, or, if the number of souls is finite, then the same souls are united at one time to these particular bodies and at another time to those.

And seemingly we would be faced with the same consequence if we held that souls existed before bodies but that they were not produced from eternity. For, even if it be supposed that the engendering of men has not always been in progress, nevertheless, in the very nature of the case, it indubitably can be of infinite duration; because every man is so constituted by nature that, unless he be impeded accidentally, he is able to beget another man, even as he himself was begotten of another. But this would be impossible if, given the existence of a finite number of souls, one soul cannot be united to several bodies. That is why a number of proponents of the doctrine that souls exist before bodies espoused the theory of transmigration; which cannot possibly be true. Therefore, souls did not exist before bodies.

34 Now, the impossibility of one soul’s being united to diverse bodies is clearly seen in the light of the following considerations. Human souls do not differ specifically from one another, but only numerically; otherwise, men also would differ specifically, one from the other. Material principles, however, are the source of numerical distinction. It follows that the distinction among human souls must be attributed to something material in character—but not so as to imply that matter is a part of the soul, because the soul is an intellectual substance, and no such substance has matter, as we have proved above.

It therefore remains that in the manner explained above the diversity and plurality of souls result from their relationship to the diverse matters to which they are united; so that, if there are different bodies, they must have different souls united to them. One soul, then, is not united to several bodies.

35 Moreover, it was shown above that the soul is united to the body as its form. But forms must be proportionate to their proper matters, since they are related to one another as act to potentiality, the proper act corresponding to the proper potentiality. Therefore, one soul is not united to a number of bodies.

36 We argue further from the fact that the power of the mover must be proportionate to the thing movable by it, for not every power moves every movable. But, even if the soul were not the form of the body, it could not be said that the soul is not the body’s mover, for we distinguish the animate from the inanimate by sense and movement. It therefore follows that the distinction among souls must correspond to the distinction among bodies.

37 Likewise, in the realm of things subject to generation and corruption it is impossible for one and the same thing to be reproduced by generation; for generation and corruption are movements in respect of substance, so that in things generated and corrupted the substance does not remain the same, as it does in things moved locally. But, if one soul is united successively to different generated bodies, the self-same man will come into being again through generation. This follows necessarily for Plato, who said that man is a “soul clothed with a body.” This consequence also holds for any others. For a thing/s unity follows upon its form, even as its being does, so that those things are one in number whose form is one in number. It is, therefore, impossible for one soul to be united to different bodies. From this it follows, too, that souls were not in existence before bodies.

38 With this truth the Catholic faith expressly agrees. For it is said in a Psalm (32:15): “He who made the hearts of every one of them”; namely, because God created a soul specially for each one, and neither created them all together, nor united one to different bodies. In this connection also we read in the work On the Teachings of the Church: “We declare that human souls were not created from the beginning together with other intellectual natures, nor all at the same time, as Origen imagines.”

Candidate Zuckerberg Launches 2020 (2024?) Presidential Bid

Eschewing the spare, sloppy raiment that looked like it was fished out of dumpster behind a Goodwill that had gone out of business a long while back, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg donned a poorly knotted tie and unofficially officially launched his bid for the Democratic nomination for 2020 at the Political Correctness University Commencement.

This was the main Commencement, incidentally, not the one the blacks of that university held on their own.

Standing under PC’s emblem, on which is emblazoned its stirring motto Verum Non Ut Rideam, and doubtless inspired by the words, Zuckerberg rallied the crowd with cries of “Panem et circenses! Panem et circenses!”

Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.

Little Z, if I may call him that, is right. Every generation does indeed broaden and expand the definition of Equality, aiming toward the goal of Hell On Earth where a mandated and enforced equality of all in everything will be like a pall smothering all existence. At least we’ll then find our roles of trying to escape full of terrible meaning.

When you don’t have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise, we all lose.

Would that the nascent Dr Guillotines among us could form their historic enterprises. I weep for our loses! Shouldn’t everybody get to be CEO of their own historic enterprises and make billions of dollars? If not, we all lose. It isn’t fair. Equality demands not that Little Z sell his possessions and follow the Lord, but that we change the system so that all of us can be rich.

…our society is way over-indexed in rewarding people when they’re successful…

Success brings it owns rewards, Little Z? Is it even possible to define success without the notion of reward? I’ll answer for you: no, it is not.

…and we don’t do nearly enough to make sure that everyone can take lots of different shots. Now let’s face it. There is something wrong with our system, when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in ten years, while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.

He managed to get humble bragging and pandering into the same plug. This means he has native political chops. But what’s this, Little Z, about affording loans? Did you yourself not wisely drop out of school? Or is it that we should not only guarantee everybody free money, but also free funds so that they can start a business and make billions of dollars in ten years? Equality says yes.

I know too many people who haven’t had the chance to pursue their dreams, because they didn’t have a cushion to fall back on if they failed.

So it’s not only a guaranteed income, and guaranteed funds to start a business, but also guaranteed cushions for people to fall back on. That’s a lot of guaranteeing. Little Z has the excessive promising part of political speeches well in hand.

You didn’t build that.

Wait, no. That was the other guy. But Little Z did a good imitation.

Are PC University students, perhaps the most spoiled and coddled children in all of history, really appealed to by arguments of monetary Equality? Aye, they are. Which isn’t a paradox, but proof that coddling makes weak minds.

And we’re all gonna make mistakes. So we need a society that’s less focused on locking us up and stigmatizing us when we do.

Dead silence from the audience. I don’t think anybody told him about that separate graduation.

Listen here, Mark. Take some good advice from your Uncle Briggs. Better make it 2024. Until you can learn to become a better speaker, you’ll get eaten alive in any head-to-head contest. Besides, as it stands now, Trump takes 2020.

One last thing. Your name is unfortunate. I don’t mean that you’re Jewish. Being Jewish didn’t stop people from feeling the Bern. No. It’s that your handle is too easy to pick on. Zuck sucks. Zuck the cuck. Duck! It’s Zuck!. Buck Zuck. Memes of big-nosed icebergs sinking ships. S(z)uckers calling the masses suckers. Hey. Don’t blame me. I’m just guessing. This is a democracy where everybody gets to vote, so these things matter.

One Christ, One Christianity: Part II — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the protest which split an already split Christianity. Let’s instead think of what we have in common, says Watt, both in faith and duty. Read Part I

Last time I said obedience to superiors is half of the recipe for salvation. Mercy to subordinates is the other half of the salvation recipe. And surely each of those three Good Samaritans fulfilled this as well. The leper showed mercy to all those who would be rightly fearful of his presence. How? By submitting to the authority of the priests, who declared him free of corruption, and whom the people could trust in their determination of an actual healing. And the woman at the well showed mercy to all her neighbors by proclaiming that the Messiah was a Jew (thus saving all who would listen and believe). And the Good Samaritan, of course, who showed mercy to the particular victim of the thieves who left him for dead. Each showed obedience to the Priests of the God of Jerusalem, and each showed mercy to their neighbors.

So what does this have to do with us? And what about the siege of Jerusalem? Where am I going here? Let’s look at the siege first, and ask ourselves a simple question. How did Jerusalem fall? Did the Romans breach the walls and then kill (or exile) all the inhabitants? That’s the usual story, right? But that’s not what Josephus relates. And who should know better than a Jewish eyewitness? A member of the priesthood, no less. And a man who was a General in The War of the Jews against Rome.

And what does he tell us? Simply this: the Jews of Jerusalem were divided into three factions. The Zealots, who held the lower level of the city. The Sicarii (the assassins) who held the middle level. And finally, the Temple Guards, under the High Priests, who held the high Temple Mount. And each of these three groups was determined to rule the city, come Hell or high water. And each group was determined to do it even if it meant they had to kill every other Jew in sight. And eat them. Yes, seriously. Cannibalism was the diet of the day. It was a siege, remember? And it wasn’t the bigshots that were on the menu. It was the little guys. The simple people, trapped by the insane hatred of these three groups. Hatred for the Romans, hatred for the other two groups, and hatred of the little man. At least they were consistent, eh?

But wait, you say. Why should we listen to Josephus? After all, he was outside the walls, right? Well, yes, of course. And why was he outside the walls? Because he had been captured. And how was he captured? Because he surrendered. Well now, what kind of a Jew is that? Better to commit suicide at Masada, right? Sure, if that’s your idea of survival. No, Josephus knew when he was beaten. And better than that, he knew what lay ahead for his people if they continued to hold out in the siege of Yodfat. That was the site of the greatest of all the predictable Jewish slaughters before the fall of Jerusalem and Masada.

Yes, Josephus the General had done all that he could. He had confounded the Roman Legions many times as the wiliest of the Jewish Generals. I love how he lowered the giant pillow of chaff before the gates of Yodfat to absorb the blows of the battering ram! And his psychological warfare (the wringing out of the wet garments over the walls, seeming to tell the Romans that the defenders had plenty of water) was so counter-intuitively brilliant! But in the end, he knew it was hopeless, and so he counseled surrender. To live to fight another day. But his Komrades in arms would have none of that. Suicide was better, they said. Even if it was gravely sinful. And so they did it, by lottery. All except the last two. One of whom was Josephus. Talk about playing the lottery.

And so the Romans had finally captured their greatest nemesis in the War of The Jews. Which is how, after Yodfat, he came to be at the walls of Jerusalem. Outside the walls. Watching the slaughter inside. A slaughter of Jews by other Jews. And all the Romans had to do was to sit and watch. Oh sure, there were the usual sorties of defenders out through the gates, and the mad dash back in retreat. But it was not going to be a major confrontation of the opposing hosts on the plains before the city that would decide the fate of the Jews. No, that would be decided inside the walls. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

The Romans settled in for the show. Siege-works all around. Popcorn and drinks as the Romans sat back in their chariots and watched this epic theatre unfold at the big Drive-In Theatre in Judea. They weren’t going to spend a lot of their own lives trying to breach those walls. Why should they, when they could starve them out? And besides, all the other Jewish strongholds had fallen, even those under the command of Josephus. So relax, men, rest up. Dig in and watch the show. And if you catch anyone trying to escape, crucify them. And be sure and check their entrails for any gold they may have swallowed. Be prudent.

The siege lasted 4 years, from 66 to 70 AD. But a funny thing happened at half-time in this game of all games. And that funny thing was this—the Emperor died. And Vespasian, the Roman General of Augustus’ Second Legion surrounding Jerusalem, was named the new Emperor. So he had to leave for Rome. And he left the Legions in the charge of his son, Titus. And Titus, being a man of goodwill towards other men, then did an astounding thing. He appealed to the rationality of the Jews. As if such a thing existed. And Josephus recorded his words.

Now, in the interest of brevity (which I rarely invoke), here is what he said, before the Walls of Jerusalem (and I’m going to paraphrase again here):

‘Hey, you idiots! Anybody in there? Pick up the phone! Let’s talk about this. Nobody needs to die here. Let’s think about this, OK? Look at what you have. The Temple of Jerusalem! The most beautiful work in the world. Why are you endangering it? Does not the Emperor send chests of gold to your priests each year, asking that your High Priest offer daily sacrifices on behalf of the Emperor and his Empire? Who else in the Empire is accorded this honor, this recognition of your exalted place in the minds of the gods? Have we not exempted you from the tax? Have we not given you the highest place in the Empire, next to the Emperor? What the Hell else do you want? Look, all of this started simply because we wanted to hang that silly Roman Eagle over the doors of your magnificent Temple back before that Nazarene stirred up all that trouble a few decades ago. And you guys have been a pain in the neck ever since.

So look, I’ve got an offer for you. Let’s see if we can find a way to end this sensibly. Here’s three choices, take your pick. If you want, let’s move the battle someplace else. Let’s go head to head, anywhere but here. But let’s not destroy that magnificent Temple! Pick the spot. Anywhere in the Empire! Anywhere but here! Or else, let’s just do this man to man. Send out your best guy. One on one, I’ll fight him. Winner take all, OK? C’mon, you guys believe that David vs. Goliath story, right? Well, send him out! Or hey, let’s just take a breath and think about the long term. Think about the children. Why not just stop this rebellion, and we’ll pack it up and go back to Rome. All will be forgiven. Just burn a little incense for my dad, OK? Forget about that eagle thing. Just a little incense, OK? Hey, we do the same for you when we send our gold to your Priests, right? Can’t we all just get along?’

And what was the reply of the Jews to this impassioned plea of Titus? Simply this: Go to Hell! Quite the negotiating position, eh? And so, as halftime of the siege ended (and after Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, escaped by pretending to be dead, thus ending the Torah and beginning the Talmud), the rest is history. His Story. And we’re gonna get to see it again. Up close and real. And ugly.

Huh? What am I saying here? Don’t you get it? Don’t you see it? Are you that blind? Can’t you see that things are repeating themselves? What? Why would God repeat Himself? Well, that’s simple. It’s so you won’t have a single excuse left at the end. Your end. He repeats Himself in each age so that the lesson will be given afresh to each generation. So that none can claim that they didn’t know. So that none can claim that their ignorance was invincible. Which, of course, would excuse them. My dad always used to say, when I would proffer my explanation as to why I had failed to do the right thing, ‘That’s not a reason, that’s an excuse’. In other words, I was claiming ignorance. But he knew better. So did I. And then he would lower the boom. Bam.

I know, you think I’ve gone over the edge. Total madness. Maybe I have. But maybe not. Maybe you’re the one claiming ignorance, when there is no excuse for it. Not in this age of total information. Not in the age of the Internet. You’re not some Pygmy in the bush. You have the means of knowing the truth. And the truth shall set you free. Free to suffer. And there’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Take up your Cross. Or be known as a coward.

Yes, I said coward. That’s the name we give to those who will not help their fellow believer. Those who think that their objections to the excesses of the superiors blesses their withdrawal from the arena. The arena of suffering. Huh? What am I talking about here? Simply this, and I’ve said it before: salvation comes from two things. The first is mercy to your subordinates. And every Good Samaritan is willing to admit that. Sure and begorrah! They see the man, any man, lying beside the road, suffering from his wounds. And they are oh-so-willing to help. That’s good, my brother Samaritan. But what happens when you meet that Priest who passed that man by? Do you give him any respect? Do you accede to his position? Even as he passes you by?

Huh? What position? The position of being over you! So then, Jeroboam, you don’t believe that there are other God-ordained positions in life? You don’t believe that there are Kings ordained of God? And subjects who are subject to him? Of course you do, that’s your entire position! Well, if you believe that, Jeroboam, then why don’t you believe there are those ordained of God to be Priests? And wouldn’t a Priest be over other men? Including the King? Huh? Make up your mind! Do you believe in Scripture or not? Quit waffling here. It’s one or the other. Either all men are priests, prophet, and king (in which case, what’s the point of your kingship?) or you believe there are different stations in life for each of us. The first and the last. Is there a difference between those two words?

So when we are told by that man that we should ‘do as they say, but not as they do‘, who is He referring to, and why? And did He follow His own advice? To His own detriment? Well? I’m waiting. Yes, yes, I know, I’m an idiot. It’s true, I admit it. But I’m still waiting. On you.

And what am I waiting on? I’m waiting for you to come inside the walls. Waiting for you to come and join me inside the walls. Waiting for you to come and exercise that fabulous faith you keep claiming to have. You know, that famous ‘faith alone’ stuff. That faith (alone) you say will save you, but evidently no one else. That faith that needs not what James, that cousin of Jesus, said when he declared that ‘faith without works is dead‘. And is that the faith The Good Samaritan showed? Or did he also show a good work that would lead him to suffer the condemnation of his fellow Samaritans when it became known (as all things do) that he had helped a Jew? A Jew! The unforgivable sin in Samaria! Crucify him!

Think about it, my Cousin. If you have no real ultimate universal superior (and the Samaritans did not, from a religious standpoint), then where is your opportunity to suffer? Who is it that can command you to go to the edge of your faith and to accept the nearly unacceptable? Notice, I did not say that you must cross the bounds of faith. I simply said the edge. Will you accept that man over there as your brother in the faith? As your High Priest? Will you show him any human respect? Even priestly respect? Yes, even that guy named Frank that has convinced himself that our sins need not be forgiven, because they are not really sins! They are just the circumstances of our lives that we have found ourselves in. But instead, the newest High Priest, who should be the judge of these matters, asks ‘Who am I to judge’? Never mind the fact that we have chosen our own circumstances. Like multiple marriages. And live-ins. Like the Samaritan woman at the well.

Well then, how did she escape this dilemma? She had no Pope who seems to be willing to gloss over these multiple failures in moral life. In fact, as a Samaritan, she had disavowed the concept of a Pope, or High Priest, as it was known then. But when she was confronted with the true High Priest, she proclaimed His authenticity. In other words, she submitted to His authority. She submitted to Jerusalem, and disavowed Samaria. She became obedient. And was saved. But there was a price she would pay. She would become an outcast amongst her kin. That’s a high price to pay for a woman, my friend. The price of the Great Pearl.

So what am I saying here? Nothing actually. Rather, I’m asking. I’m asking if you will please help me. Will you suffer with me? Will you suffer with those of us who are under the lash of the High Priest? We’re laying by the side of the road. We’ve been mugged by the followers of the Emperor. That’s what robbers are, you know. And their friends, The Jews. And their High Priest. And we’ve been passed by, by our fellow Jews. Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, lepers and even the Priests. Catholics all. And we’re not long for this world if we don’t get some help. And isn’t this the last thing He prayed for, (John 17:20) before his passion on the cross?

So here’s my final question for the day, my Samaritan Cousin: will you come inside the walls, and help us? Inside the walls of Holy Rome, where the new Jews, and the new High Priest live? Those same people who have no use for the little ones. Will you come inside the walls, where there is no one to defend the little man, the besieged faithful? Little ones, like me. Come inside the walls, to comfort us little guys who are trapped in the burning city, trapped by our own leaders. Come inside the walls, to help us suffer the commands of the people who are more concerned with their own power base than they are with the fate of we men of little stature. To help us as we suffer together under The Big People, who have lost their desire (if they ever had it) to be true to their faith? Big people, who also think faith without works is fine. They’ve passed us by. And no one can help us but you, my Samaritan friend.

Will you help us? Will you show us your faith, by your good work? Will you visit the sick and the imprisoned? Will you be one with us? By your willingness to suffer, alongside of us, the unjust commands of our mutual superiors? Will you offer your obedience as He did? Will you take up this cross? Will you suffer with us? Will you do this good work of salvation, for both you and me? Will you help us become one again? You and I, together? Will you be my brother, and not just my cousin? Because if you will, then you have to come inside. Because the real fight is inside the walls.

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