Monthly Archives: August 2011

379 Years of Tradition – shot to hell

The Tuttle Farm of Dover, New Hampshire is up for sale. Not that a farm for sale is all that newsworthy save for the fact that the Tuttle Farm is one of the oldest family farms in America, under continuous operation since—get this–1632. For 379 years eleven generations of the Tuttle family have owned and operated the parcel of land which has varied in size from the original 20 acres to a peak of 240 acres in the mid twentieth century. Among reasons for selling the farm, the current owner Will Tuttle cites—amazingly—the lack of interest of the twelfth generation of Tuttle’s who are too entrenched in their careers to take over!

I am trying to think up a career that one could possibly have that would outweigh a family tradition that has survived the span of centuries and the life of nations.  But I can’t lean too heavily on the Tuttle offspring since most of our American culture has sold out to one form of idolatry or another.  We might ask ourselves what traditions have we secured even for a single generation consider these fading traditions sacrificed to the god of career:

  • Raising your own children
  • Growing your own produce
  • Cooking your own meals
  • Repairing a broken household item
  • Sewing and mending
  • Buying something with money you actually possess
  • Eating together as a family
  • Praying before a meal
  • Observing the Sabbath
  • Time, to do anything

Too much stock is put into one’s career; most careers that are in demand today did not exist a generation ago and probably won’t exist a generation from now. The software, laws, proposals and policies we write will be discarded and forgotten soon enough.  And the ones that will grieve your passing won’t be the people you impressed at a cocktail party with your advanced degrees and impressive titles on a business card.   At any rate, what could be more impressive than a 379 year old tradition?

Just a magazine

In an earlier post I argued against the modern educational premise that the Bible is “just a book” deserving no more, and maybe less, consideration than other literary and historical works. Though the entirety of Western thought and scholarship rests on this collection of book which we call The Bible, many educated people are in the habit of relegating it as an act of historical revisionism if not outright academic dishonesty.

A recent example of this systemic relegation of the Bible came from an article in the December 2008 issue of National Geographic Magazine called King Herod Revealed. Commenting on the Massacre of the Innocents in which Herod the Great is purported to have murdered all male infants in the town of Bethlehem to rub out Jesus, researcher Tom Mueller remarks that “Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew’s[1] account.” Mueller never explains his near-absolute claim nor does he offer supporting evidence that Matthew’s account is erroneous or why he thinks so. Quite the contrary, the article goes on to describe other events in the life of Herod the Great that would give credence to this kind of murderous decree.

My beef with the National Geographic Society: just because the account is presented in one source and that source happens to be the Bible, does that make it “almost certainly” wrong? Doesn’t it simply mean that the account has yet to be either disproved or substantiated by a secondary source[2]? Why couldn’t it be left at that?  Knowing NGS reputation for unapologetically shaping public opinion using erroneous and specious data[3], I viewed the statement as a cheap shot at the Bible (and people of faith in general) but this at the expense of its own scholarship. I was not the only one that picked up on this; a subsequent issue of the magazine had a blood bath of letters to the editor making the same point. Unfortunately, National Geographic would not rephrase and in an attempt to underscore the notion that the Bible is just a book, National Geographic came off looking like, well, just a magazine.

National Geographic has a long history of interesting articles and astonishing photography. But if you think National Geographic Magazine is a scholarly and refereed publication, you would not be alone in thinking so—many hold to that belief.  And you would “almost certainly” be wrong.

[1] Matthew 2:16

[2] Even if there was a conflict with a secondary source who’s to still say that Matthew’s account is the wrong one?