Timely How-To from the Babylon Bee

13 Ways To Tell If Your Priest Is An Undercover FBI Agent

Feb 10, 2023 · BabylonBee.com

So there you are, trying to worship peacefully, and then out of nowhere a priest tackles you to the ground and arrests you for radical traditionalism because you spoke in Latin. Now you're in Guantanamo Bay being waterboarded about where you were on January 6.

How'd you get here? You didn't keep your eyes open for FBI priests!

Here's how to discern that your parish is under federal control:

1. He's wearing aviators and an earpiece with his vestments

2. The new confessional booth looks a lot like a white van with FBI agents in it

Click over for the rest

A Man Can Stop and Take His Rest

Odysseus wasn't too proud to claim to be a beggar, though I don't think he ever claimed to be a slave. A slave at least was due some food; but a beggar man was free.


I'm recovering from a minor procedure and milking it for all it's worth as an excuse to hang out all day listening to books on tape and crocheting snowflakes, which is what I was doing anyway. I note that I last posted on Jan. 20 in the throes of snowflake mania. Nothing has changed. At this rate I'll cover the entire house in snowflakes and have enough left over to decorate the trees of everyone I know. Two books I can highly recommend: "Index, a history of the" was the contribution of pre-surgery houseguests, and it's one of those wonderful combinations of an offbeat topic handled by a sparkling mind, someone you'd love to be seated next to at a long dinner. The other, also nonfiction, is "The Rescue Artist," about an eccentric undercover Scotland Yard detective with an unusually good record for recovering stolen artwork. Pix from the annual oyster extravaganza last weekend, starting inside and finishing out by the firepit:

Heads Up

 Be that.

I just got a phishing email titled Your post titled "910 Group" has been put behind a warning for readers, and it claims to concern my post on grimbeorn (Grim's Hall) 'way back in December 2006.

I have no such post; I'm not sure I was reading this blog then. There is such a post, and it has no comment thread; although it is behind the "warning" block, and the warning block demands a login in order to view the post.

I don't think even Google (now Alphabet) reaches that far back to manufacture warnings. I'm running a deep scan with my malware package.

Eric Hines

The Religious as Enemies of the State

Today Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post has a piece written out of a poll about "Christian Nationalists," which asserts that those who believe that America ought to be guided by Christianity are also racists; D29 links to a similar piece about an FBI analyst's concern that Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass are 'white supremacists.' 

It concerns me that our national elite has come around to the view that having traditional beliefs is itself evidence of both racism and also being an enemy of the American project as they conceive it. There are a number of reasons to prefer Latin that I can think of, not one of which is remotely connected to race. 

More, the use of Latin explicitly removes the religious experience from the province of American or any other nationalism. While it was once the language of the Roman Empire, no nation now speaks it as a national tongue: one could even say that it has become in that sense a language of the Otherworld. My maternal grandfather once told me only to read a King James Bible because it was the only true word of God. Doubtless Jennifer Rubin would understand that as a racist claim, because the KJV is in English and an English that is tied to America's European (and explicitly British) heritage. Yet if you shift off of the KJV to the Sacra Vulgata, aren't you also rejecting the idea that English is the language of the word of God?

Rubin's decision that Evangelicals are racists mostly hangs on a single question from the poll, which asks if you believe that it is God's will that America sprang forth as a nation where European Christians would set an example for the world. She describes that as explicitly racist, although there was a time (not long ago) when "European" would have been seen by racists as a term covering many different races. More, though, the view the question is asking about is older than the nation itself: in 1630, John Winthrop gave a sermon about a City on a Hill that held:
Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.
That sermon, once well-known to Americans from school, echoed through our national discourse as recently as Ronald Reagan's presidency. The sentiment that the American project was a City on the Hill endorsed by God was probably a non-controversial view in the generation before mine; it is the sort of thing John Wayne might have said in a movie devoted to American patriotism. I imagine it was taught explicitly in schools; it was certainly implied in school as late as my own early education. I can easily recall hearing versions of it from my elders when I was young; indeed, as an explanation from a religious elder that God had willed the South to lose the Civil War so that a unified America might be strong enough to stop Hitler and the Holocaust. (That it also happened to stop slavery did not come up, though that is at least as good a piece of natural theology.)

These were the people who fought Americas wars, who built and then served in her institutions, who made the nation whose elite now considers them enemies. They do so out of a conviction that their own understanding of these principles is the only right one; they do so without even troubling to understand what the people they are condemning understand these words to mean. 

Claim: The US Blew Up Nord Stream 2

The claim is being raised by Seymour Hersh, whose track record includes some significant reports of US government misconduct: the My Lai massacre, Abu Ghraib, and Watergate being examples of his having been right. There are other examples where whether his claims were right or not remain disputed, especially his suggestion that Assad did not use chemical weapons as accused during the (ongoing) Syrian civil war. His claims about the killing of Osama bin Laden were widely rejected by authority figures.

This one is also being attacked and denied by authorities and their allies in the press, who are calling him a "discredited" journalist and pointing out that his piece is helpful to Putin. Well, his piece about Abu Ghraib was helpful to al Qaeda, but that didn't make it false. I didn't want to believe it, but in the end he turned out to be right about that -- as he had been right about My Lai, which I would also prefer had not been the case. 

So here's the thing: somebody blew up the pipeline. That's a hard fact. The list of institutions that could have done it without raising alarm in waters heavily patrolled by Russia, Sweden, and NATO is very short. The US military is one of the small number of names on that list.

The naval exercise he claims was used partly to cover the planting of the bombs really happened; the Navy dive school he identifies really exists. He's right, too, about the prestige aspects of the Navy that make those divers far less glamorous within the Navy than their SEAL comrades; more importantly, he's right about the requirements for reporting to Congress that would make a SEAL operation less likely to have remained secret for six months. 

There are other facts that could be checked. One of them is his claim that the waters chosen lack major tidal currents. I don't know how to check that, but it should be possible. A lot of the other claims can't be verified without investigative resources and authorities. 

I don't know if the claim is true or not, but I can't see anything in it that looks false on its face. If the claim is true, the Biden administration committed an act of war against Germany as well as Russia -- and, again if true, in a manner expressly designed to avoid consulting with or informing Congress of its intent to do so. 

"Like saying Italians..."

You probably shouldn't take pop culture seriously as a source of ideas.
"It's crazy," said Rogan. "Did you see him sitting next to Ilhan Omar, where she's apologizing for talking about it's all about the Benjamins? Which is just about money. She's talking about money. That's not an antisemitic comment, I don't think that is. Benjamins are money." He went on: "The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That's like saying Italians aren't into pizza. It's f****** stupid."

Rogan later said about Oman: "Whether you agree with her or not, she has a bold opinion, and that opinion is not her own. There's many people that have that opinion, and they should be represented.

Sharing a snippet of the podcast on Twitter, Baddiel, the author of Jews Don't Count, wrote... "For the hard of understanding, 'Jews are into money' is not like 'Italians are into pizza. Because unless my history lessons really missed something out, no-one has exterminated a large section of the entire Italian community because of their love for pepperoni."

This debate makes me feel dumber for having encountered it. The only reason to even mention it is that while everyone knows that 'pizza' as we have it here in America is American, not actually Italian, not everyone knows that pepperoni isn't either. If an American were to naively ask for a 'pizza with pepperoni' in Italy, they would be very surprised at the flatbread topped with peppers that came out. 

All analogies always break, though we have no choice but to reason with them as they are the only tool that works for most practical situations. This whole set of analogies, however, are too weak to hold any weight whatsoever. 

Rogan does kind of have half a point, though: Omar is clearly antisemitic, but she really does authentically represent her particular district.  The people who vote for her are disproportionately bad people just like her. 

There's a kind of democratic authenticity to that. Our system tries to express all three of the Aristotelian divisions of government: government by the many, few, and one. Congress is thus the democratic branch to the executive's tyrannical branch and the judiciary's oligarchical branch; and the House is the democratic wing of the democratic branch, with the Senate also representing a kind of oligarchy (though less so than before the 17th Amendment). If it is important for a democratic branch to authentically represent its voters and their interests, arguably she does the job better than anyone else could. 

What Does a Stick of Eels Get You?

I recently discovered Historia Cartarum and a fun article there about paying rent with eels in medieval England. So what does a stick of eels get you? Dr. John Wyatt Greenlee, medieval and cartographic historian, attempts to answer that question. Here's his intro:

A question that has come up several times in conversations with people about eel-rents concerns the value of a stick of eels.  The records tell us that X mill owed Y abbey Z sticks of eels per year…but what does that really mean?  How much value is the abbey actually getting in their taxes?  This is, unsurprisingly, a somewhat difficult question to answer.

There are very few handy charts telling us how much a stick of eels is worth, and it is difficult assessing this type of question from monastery records.  Part of the problem comes from the fact that there are often several centuries between records of payment types, meaning that it can be difficult to make assessments of eel equity when rents shifted to currency.  This is further complicated by the fact that eels had a specific value to monks that went beyond their more general market worth:  since they were not considered flesh, they could be eaten during Lent and during other Church celebratory days that banned meat.

However, there are places where the archive lets us make an educated guess, and so here is a back-of-the-napkin attempt at finding the value in a stick of eels.

Click over for the math. And if you decide to pay your Cornell U tuition in eels this year, he'll give you an idea of how many you'll need to bring to the bursar's office.

Now That Would Be Edgy

The one I heard about today sounded like a joke to me: red leather? Fire imagery? Fake horns on their heads? That wouldn't have been edgy in 1979, after that decade of music. By 1985 Iron Maiden would have made it seem tame and mainstream. 

Backup performers in dominatrix outfits? Displays intended as affronts to mainstream Christians? Have you heard of Madonna? She's not dead yet. Heck, neither is Ozzy Ozbourne, though I hear he decided to quit touring this year. 

These kids should work on being able to write riffs like Black Sabbath. The parody was already done by Spinal Tap, long before they were born. 

Or, if they really want to be edgy, learn to sing opera. I guess you won't get invited to the awards show, though.

More Motorcycle Problems for the Boy

As I am sure I've mentioned before, my son -- who is not actually still a boy -- purchased for himself a used motorcycle some time ago. It was a good starter bike, a 2007 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic. However, he bought it from a guy who'd wrecked it and done only cosmetic repairs, and had left it sitting outside in all weather for many months. It looked great, in other words, but it has a lot of problems. 

In a way that's also a good 'starter' experience, as you learn most about motorcycle maintenance by doing motorcycle maintenance. Today's problem is an electrical problem, which are the worst in terms of diagnosis. I asked my buddy who builds electrical motorcycles to have a look at the wiring diagram while I pulled everything apart with my son and we traced connections and tested them with a multi-meter.

In the end my friend and I came to the same conclusion independently, which is that it was probably the starter solenoid. That's weird, because I just replaced it last summer to address another one of the many problems this bike has had. However, it's a cheap part and an easy swap ("easy" after disassembling the whole bike to test various electrical connections and relays). It's also a part that fails commonly because it takes a lot more current than any other relay on the bike -- the only real drain on the battery is when the starter circuit dumps current through the solenoid to the starter motor in order to turn the engine over until it starts. After that the bike generates enough electricity through normal operation to recharge the battery and operate all the other electrical systems.

Hopefully another new solenoid will fix the issue.

VFD Gets its Money’s Worth

The ‘day’ opened with a midnight chimney fire, then a brush fire in afternoon, at which one of the trucks got stuck on muddy ridgeline precipice.

That took hours to free; then we had a meeting and evening training class.  

I feel like I really earned my pay. As my father used to say, “If we keep this up we’ll get a raise, and next year we’ll make double nothing.”