𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 On Plagiarism

The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral caliber and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.

— from “The Ecstasy of Influence” by Jonathan Lethem

2007

𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 Bipolar God

As polytheism gave way to monotheism, the One accrued the personalities of the gods he encompassed: from benevolent Mesopotamian deities, to the Canaanite warrior Baal, to Tiamat, the serpent of chaos. The same bipolar God would have to create and destroy—raising, for the first time, the problem of evil that the innocent, suffering Job so pitifully invokes. For [Jack] Miles, monotheism became “the story of a single God struggling with himself,” the divided image we are condemned to replicate in our daily lives…

Trapped within his own contradictions, God devised an astonishing way out, according to [Mile’s] second book, Christ… If the omnipotent God cannot liberate his chosen people, nor claim that oppression is his will, “then he must admit defeat”… if he cannot beat the enemy, “God may declare that he has no enemies,” that he loves all men equally, and urge men to do the same… In Christ, Miles portrayed Jesus not as a historical rebel but as the Tanakh’s God incarnate, and read the New Testament as his continuing biography… Arriving in the body of a Nazarene peasant, with a pacifist temperament so different from his usual self, God will, in the words of St. Paul, reconcile the world to himself.

— from “God, the Editor” by Anna Della Subin, on harpers.org

2018

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