Blessing and Cultural Advance - RR156A2

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Blessing and Cultural Advance
Course: Course - Law and Life
Subject: Subject:Law
Lesson#: 2
Length: 0:59:53
TapeCode: RR156A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Law and Life.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


[Rushdoony] Let us begin with prayer. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in Whose hands are the issues of life, and Who does make all things work together for good to them that love Thee, to them that are the called according to Thy purpose. We come into Thy presence, mindful of how rich we are in Jesus Christ. We thank Thee, our Father, that Thou hast ordained that all things shall serve Thee and us in Thee. We thank Thee, our Father, that Thou knowest the beginning and the end and all things are naked and open in Thy sight. We praise Thee, our Father, for Thy goodness and for the certainty of Thy government and Thy victory. We pray that Thou wouldst prosper us in our work, and bless us in Thy service. Be, we beseech Thee, with all our members who are this day absent, give them travelling mercies in their journeying, and guide them safely homeward on the morrow. We thank Thee for Thy Word, for the certainty of Thy truth, for Thy so-great salvation and for the blessed assurance that is ours in Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, amen.

Our Scripture lesson is from the book of Joshua, the book of Joshua, the 15th chapter, verses 16 through 19, and also Judges 1, 11 through 15. And our subject is blessing and cultural advance, blessing and cultural advance. First of all, Joshua 15, verses 16 through 19. “And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land (or a dry land); give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.”

And now Judges, the first chapter, 11 through 15. Judges 1, 11 through 15. And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher: And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou? And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.” [00:04:51]

In the last couple of centuries, the perspective of...[edit]

In the last couple of centuries, the perspective of the faith has been very sadly deformed in all aspects of Christendom by the influence of pietism. Pietism has stressed personal religion to the point of excluding the larger issues of our faith. It has spiritualized away many things and made them totally concerned with the soul. As a result of the influence of pietism, many major aspects of Scripture are either neglected and forgotten or when people think about them they are embarrassed by them. One such episode is this: the marriage of Achsah, how embaressing to the modern mind to think that the Bible actually cites without criticism, in fact with more than apparent approval, a man offering his daughter as a prize, as though here were a raffle or something and his daughter were the door prize. All kinds of things are said to try to explain this episode away, and some of the comments by commentators in recent generations are really painful to read. Now before we go into an analysis of what has been said and what this episode means in Scripture and why it is important to us, let us look at the background briefly. Of the spies that were sent in by Moses into the Promised Land, all proved to be cowards and gave a coward’s report, except two; Joshua and Caleb. And for this God blessed those two men mightily, and said that of the generation that had left Egypt, only those two would enter into the Promised Land because the others looked not at the power of God but at the power of the enemy, and therefore God had no respect for them because they had no respect for Him; for God’s power. Now Joshua became Moses’ successor, the other, Caleb, when the land was almost entirely conquered and the division of the land was being made, came forward. He had been promised for his stand some years before, forty years before, first choice when they entered into Canaan. He looked around, he did not choose many of the fine areas that had been conquered, but an area to the south which was poor land. But Caleb declared, I am as strong now and vigorous as the day when I entered this land as a spy. Give me that area and I will take it, this yet unconquered area, I will conquer for the Lord and I will make it mine. So, at an age when most people have retired and been retired for many years, Caleb took his clan and went to battle. They conquered Hebron and the adjacent areas, but there was this one armed town, Debir or Kirjathsepher, which they could not take. And so as he turned to his clansmen, Caleb said the man who takes the city, who has the strategy, provides the leadership for taking Debir or Kirjathsepher, to him will I give my daughter Achsah for a wife. [00:09:37]

Not only is the idea of offering a daughter offensive...[edit]

Not only is the idea of offering a daughter offensive to many people, but also what ensues. Let us turn now to one commentator who normally is the prince of commentators, and allows Scripture to speak for itself; John Calvin. Here unfortunately he falters, and falters badly. He says of this episode, “Although we may conjecture that the damsel Achsah was of excellent morals and well brought up as marriage with her had been held forth as the special reward of victory, yet perverse cupidity on her part is here disclosed. She knew that by the divine law women were specially excluded from hereditary lands, but she nevertheless covets the possession of them, and stimulates her husband by unjust expostulation. In this way ambitious and covetous wives cease not to molest their husbands until they force them to forget shame, modesty, and equity. For although the avarice of men also is insatiable, yet women are apt to be much more precipitate. (Now this is unfortunate, Calvin normally had a very high opinion of women, but here he says they’re more avaricious, for which there is no evidence, as far as I can see.) The more carefully ought husbands to be on their guard against being set as it were on flame by the blast of such importunate counsels. But a greater degree of intemperance is displayed when she acquires additional boldness from the facility of her husband and the indulgence of her father. Not contented with the field given to her, she demands for herself a well-watered district. And thus it is when a person has once overleaped the bounds of rectitude and honesty, the fault is forthwith followed up by impudence. Moreover, her father in refusing her nothing gives proof of his singular affection for her. But it does not therefore follow that the wicked thirst of gain which blinds the mind and perverts right judgment is the less hateful. In regard to Acsa’s dismounting from the ass, some interpreters (Some who are far, far more radical than Calvin in damning Achsah and Othniel) ascribe it to dissimulation and craft, as if she were pretending inability to retain her seat from grief. In this way her dismounting or falling off is made an indication of criminality and defective character. It is more simple, however, to suppose that she placed herself at her father’s feet with the view of accosting him as a suppliant. Be this as it may, by her craft and flattery she gained his consent, and in so far diminished the portion of her brothers.” [00:12:50]

Now, by way of apology for Calvin, because that’s a...[edit]

Now, by way of apology for Calvin, because that’s a terrible statement, we know from the register of the company of pastors, that about the time apparently that he was writing Joshua, they had some very serious problems with women coming to the company of pastors with family problems and so on, so he may have been momentarily fed up with women, but it still gave him no excuse to make such a statement. He certainly gives Achsah a bad time, calls her action perverse cupidity, and declares her ambitious and covetous, declares her to be impudent and to have overleaped the bounds of rectitude and honesty, and to have used craft and flattery to gain her father’s consent and diminish her brothers’ inheritance. Now other commentators are far, far worse, they really give poor Achsah a bad time. I’ve never known of a women who wrote a commentary on the Bible, perhaps if one had, Achsah might have had a defender before this. Some, as they face the whole episode of Achsah and the inheritance, don’t even try to deal with it, they spiritualize it away, and this is something that has been done through the centuries, been done in the middle ages with it, done right to the present by a prominent preacher in the East, Joseph R. Sizoo, who in the Interpreter’s Bible titles this section Nourishment from Hidden Springs, and he says, and I quote, “The roots of life are nourished in the soil of a living faith.” Unquote. Well now that’s true enough. But what has that to do with what the Bible here teaches? What Sizoo was doing was to use this text as a jumping off point to talk about something totally unrelated, and this is a wrong use of Scripture. Now this is an important passage of Scripture. God felt it was important enough to repeat it twice and to make reference to it elsewhere. Now if God felt this episode was important to enough to repeat twice and refer to other times as well, He certainly intends for us to understand its significance. We’re so far removed from the world of the Bible that sometimes the obvious does not strike us. What does this text say? [00:15:55]

First of all, Caleb offered his daughter as a prize...[edit]

First of all, Caleb offered his daughter as a prize, yes. Was this wrong? Well, from the modern, romantic point-of-view, it’s a horrible episode. But modern romanticism did not prevail in the Biblical world. It was a world of arranged marriages, now the daughter, if she did not like it could object to it, her wishes were considered, but the family basically arranged the marriage. Moreover, look at it from Achsah’s point-of-view. She did not have modern romantic notions, she was not a silly girl. She knew that the leaders around her father were young men of courage and ability and character, all of them covenant men. Now to be the wife of a man who was a leader was indeed a privilege and an honor. So, offering his daughter was a prize and inducement to young men to go out and conquer, and it was also an advantage to Achsah because she was going to be the wife of a leader, she had a privileged future in terms of her perspective. A leader of men was going to be her husband. Now second we must say that a desire for possessions is not bad in itself. In fact it is very good when it is coupled with Godly motive, as a means of furthering the dominion to which God has called us. Othniel was a leader of men, he was the one who took Debir. Now a man who is a leader needs a commanding position. And so Achsah rightly felt that he should ask for some land as well, the request was a sound one. Caleb granted it. But then, Achsah went a step further, the land did not have water, and so she went and asked her father for some springs. Caleb did not hesitate to give it as a due reward. Moreover, he didn’t give her just the upper springs or the lower springs, but he endowed them with both the upper and lower springs, obviously Caleb was happy to do it. He liked exactly what was done and what was involved in it, as we shall see. Because what was involved, and most important of all, and this is the key point, was Achsah’s words; give me a blessing. We’re going to spend the rest of the time understanding the implications of those words. [00:19:48]

Blessing and cursing are central to the Bible...[edit]

Blessing and cursing are central to the Bible. Throughout the Bible from beginning to end, we find the words blessing and cursing, bless and curse. From the early pages of Genesis to the closing lines of Revelation. It says something about how far gone our idea of Christianity is that the idea of blessing and cursing is so remote to us. But we so seldom ever think of either, or use either. Brichto has said and I quote, “Blessings include health, long life, many and enduring progeny, wealth, honor, and victory. Curses are sickness and death, barrenness in people and cattle, crop failure, poverty, disease, and disgrace.” Unquote. Now we’ll go into what these involve later on and how they cannot be read superficially. With God, blessings and curses are decrees, with man, they are a prayer. Moreover, blessing is very closely connected with inheritance. When Isaac, for example, in Genesis 27, divides up the inheritance between Esau and Jacob, he blesses them and endows them with certain things. So that his blessing was his inheritance that he gave to them; the idea is inseparable. The same is true in Genesis 49 when Jacob blesses his sons. In other words, when Achsah said give me a blessing, she asked for an inheritance. She said in effect to her father, I have brought you a son, a lieutenant, one who properly deserves not only to be regarded as your son, but your central heir. Calvin at this point was right, she was diminishing the portion of her brothers. And Achsah was saying in effect, my husband is a better son to you than your sons. And Caleb agreed. [00:22:59]

Now, some people when they have dealt with this matter...[edit]

Now, some people when they have dealt with this matter of blessing as inheritance, say oh yes, but when you look at blessing as inheritance in Genesis, it is inseparable from predictive prophesy. So they use this idea to eliminate its modern relevance. Then they also look at it from an evolutionary perspective, and they say there has been an evolution of blessing from the material to the spiritual. Now this is a Neo-platonic idea, not Biblical. From the Biblical perspective, God made all things, material and spiritual, and pronounced them very good. When man fell, everything material and spiritual was involved in the fall. Christ’s redemption redeems everything material and spiritual. It is a Neo-platonic heresy to see the material world as evil and the spiritual world as good. Sin is a spiritual fact, the devil is a spiritual creature, both can alike be fallen, both can alike be good. But, Scripture does not allow us to see this as something for the past only, but as something permanent. Psalm 37:22 says, “For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth, and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off.” But some will say, oh but this is the Old Testament. Now of course, to limit God’s truth to the Old Testament is a fearful heresy. But, in answer to such, we can point to the New Testament, saying the same thing. For example, our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount began with Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” [00:26:35]

Now our Lord here is saying that blessings mean inheritance...[edit]

Now our Lord here is saying that blessings mean inheritance, spiritual and material, temporal and eternal. So that when he pronounces blessings in the Beatitudes, they are for time and eternity and they are material and physical. They are not limited to any one realm. They are total. Blessings, thus, are clearly, unmistakably associated with inheritance by our Lord. As a matter of fact, you can go right through to Revelation where there are seven Beatitudes and find that this is true there also. Thus, when Achsah said, give me a blessing, an inheritance, she spoke as a young woman who felt highly honored by the man who was her husband and knew his work. She asked Caleb to make Othniel not only a son-in-law but his son. Now the first step to that was when Othniel received the field. In a sense, you could say that was a reward for his victory, an extra reward in addition to Achsah. But now, Achsah came to the point. She knew how highly her father though of Othniel, he had given him the field. And so she was ready now with what was uppermost in her mind; give me a blessing. I bring you a son so that now you have not only me as your daughter in your own household, but my husband is your son. Make him your heir. And Caleb was happy to do so. In Judges 3, verses 8 through 11, we learn that Othniel became the first judge of Israel. We are moreover told that he was a “deliverer”, or this can be translated as “savior” of the people. Caleb’s confidence was rewarded. [00:29:26]

Now there’s another aspect of blessing and inheritance...[edit]

Now there’s another aspect of blessing and inheritance. Under normal circumstances, primogenitor prevailed in Scripture, the oldest son received a double portion of the inheritance, that is if there were two sons, the inheritance was divided into three parts and the older son received a double portion, which meant that he also assumed a double portion of responsibility and if there were any debts, he inherited a double portion of debts. Privilege, in the Bible, always means responsibility as well. Now, inheritance also meant succession. As a matter of fact, to this day the Old Testament, the Rabbinic, the Talmudic tradition prevails. We use the word inheritance, they use, and have used from ancient times, the word succession. Numbers 27, verses 8 through 11, we have the law of succession. So that inheritance was succession. We have laws of succession in various parts of Scripture. The law tells us the succession could not be denied a Godly child, nor could the ungodly receive a succession or inheritance, they had to be cut off. Succession, therefore, meant Godly succession. Thus, inheritance as blessing, inheritances as succession, gives us another perspective, another insight. The Bible, we see, is concerned with succession, with continuity. It has a number of laws designed to further it, including the Levirate. The emphasis on succession is very anti-revolutionary. It stresses roots in the past, and looks to the future in terms of faith. But, succession in most of history outside of Scripture has been by blood, not by faith, and hence it has been reactionary. It leads to revolutions. The idea of blood succession as the European monarchies and nobilities held to it led to the overthrows of them all. Because in competent men, succeeded by blood, we know of idiots who succeeded by blood, how long can a succession last when blood overrules and idiots and incompetent people are placed in power. In the Bible, succession is by faith. The true apostolic succession is one of the faith. It is not blood, but the faith that counts. And hence, one of the cardinal doctrines of Scripture is adoption. It has theological import. And over and over again from Genesis on through, we find blood succession and primogenitor set aside. [00:33:49]

Now, Caleb, in stressing Godly succession, and choosing...[edit]

Now, Caleb, in stressing Godly succession, and choosing Othniel, not only blessed himself, but he blessed all Israel when he gave to Achsah and to Othniel his blessing. Much, much later in David’s day, we find that Othniel’s clan provided the divisional commanders for Israel. Moreover, it is interesting, that although among Christians, Othniel is not a familiar name, Jewish legends give him a very high place, and they say that he and Enoch and Elijah were the three who were taken bodily into Paradise, a very interesting point. Why? Because he was the first to restore the faith, and to reestablish the law in Israel, and to bring it peace for a generation. This is a historical fact.

Now the idea of succession is indeed tied very closely to the family. One of the Hebrew terms for the family in the Old Testament is “house of the father”. We find also to found a family spoken of building a house. But the idea is one of Godly succession. And hence, the importance of adoption to protect Godly succession. Jacob adopted, having been disappointed with his sons, Joseph’s two children, Manasseh and Ephraim as his main heirs. Moreover, and here is a key fact in this narrative, a fact that has been forgotten, but which Scripture points to and which ancient Hebraic documents tell us more about, Caleb was himself an adopted son. He is spoken of, he is given two genealogies in Scripture, one which traces him back to an ancient people, the Kenizzites, and he is called the Kenizzite; and also the son of Kenaz, the son of Esau, the other genealogy of adoption is into the tribe of Judah. As a matter of fact, one contemporary scholar, Aharoni, has said and I quote, “It would seem that it was only with the advent of the monarchy that the Calebites were completely integrated into Judah and became one of its major family groups.” Unquote. An interesting fact. Caleb was a foreigner who had been adopted into the tribe of Judah. Perhaps this is why when he had his first choice, it was not only a matter of his character, but also a way of demonstrating his independence, that he said I’ll go out and take unconquered land. No one could then say with resentment, this adopted man, a foreigner in our midst, has gotten the choicest land. Adoption was thus a familiar concept to Caleb. He as an outsider had become a leader and a representative of Judah. He knew the emphasis as one who had come in and by faith had become a true Israelite, but it was not by blood, but by faith. That the most important thing was Godly succession, which brings us to the heart of the whole matter. [00:38:45]

The doctrine of adoption has deep roots in Hebraic...[edit]

The doctrine of adoption has deep roots in Hebraic history. It is a very commonly used thing in Biblical times. Very often the adoption was of a grown and mature person, as someone to carry on, to transmit, to provide Godly succession. Now, failure to adopt Godly succession meant nursing a curse rather than inviting a blessing. For those who looked only to blood and said I’m childless, was to invite God’s curse. But those who could say, and here Calvin was right, that Godly succession is basic. God’s blessing was present. Calvin was taunted in his old age for being childless, and his answer to his enemy proudly was, all Europe is peopled with my sons. He may have missed the point with regard to Achsah, but he got the point with regard to Godly succession.

The worldview, thus, of Caleb, of Achsah, and Othniel, is very different from the worldview of today. The modern view varies between atomistic individualism and totalitarian collectivism. On the one hand, the individual is nothing, on the other, the group and God’s law are nothing. One of the most recent books, incidentally, is written to demonstrate that adultery is a virtue. Why? Well, doesn’t the person who commits adultery enjoy it? Then it’s good for you. No consideration at any point in the book of anything beyond what does the individual want. In the Biblical perspective, while the family is basic, the central institution, even with regard to the family, succession is Godly succession, not by blood. So that, the future is to develop, there is to be cultural advance. Precisely because the people of God recognized the centrality of Godly succession, that there is something to transmit, and it must be transmitted from faith to faith. And so Scripture gives us twice this episode, and refers to it other times in the Old Testament. Caleb, a man who had been adopted, a man of faith who proved to be the greatest of the sons of Judah in his day, although foreign born, transmitted that heritage by Godly succession to Othniel rather than to his blood sons and made Othniel his heir, his central heir. Achsah therefore was a wise daughter. She knew what the issues were and in terms of this approached her father. Give me a blessing. And she brought her husband as his son. Let us pray. [00:43:29]

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto...[edit]

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee for Thy Word and for its plain speaking. Give us grace to reorder our lives, our times, our world in terms of Thy Word and of Thy grace. And bless us to this purpose, in Jesus name, Amen.

[Please turn over the cassette at this point and continue the message.]

Are there any questions now on our lesson?

[Audience member] I think in classical culture, also had a theology of adoption, the man who had no son could not be sure of the perpetuation of the family ritual, and therefore he and all his fathers that went before him would be cut in the netherworld because {?} the family riches. And therefore their necessity of adoption was {?} it was very much feared {?} where the Scriptural view is for the future and the instrument of {?} for the sake of God’s glory, so that the whole division, {?} Paul or John to come, or the fact that the world is {?} the word recognized by the preaching of Romans, but it was completely reverse meaning to them.

[Rushdoony] Yes, the background of adoption in the Greek and Roman world, as in China, was ancestor worship, and therefore it was past-bound, totally personal. To have someone to take care of the right and the rituals, the family lustrations after I am gone, so that my spirit will have peace in the other world. Whereas in the Biblical perspective, it is personal and yet trans-personal in that you’re looking to the future and God’s kingdom, God’s rule, God’s authority. Very good point. Any other questions, yes? [00:45:48]

[Audience member] ...[edit]

[Audience member] {?} I know I was reading some of the Calvinistic literature you see coming out, it seems like overwhelming concern about {?} life of God {?}. It seems like {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, what I’ve called this is majoring in the ABC’s. In other words, there are certain things that are basic. You learn the alphabet, and you use the alphabet the rest of your life, but you don’t spend the rest of your life studying the alphabet. You grow beyond it. Now what pietism does is to say the alphabet is the sum total of our religious world. We’re going to spend the whole of our religious life on the alphabet. And as a result, it becomes totally concerned with what are the basics and nothing more. And then it reduces the basics progressively downward. Some years ago, when I was visiting a professor in his home at Harvard, his wife, who was very fed up with religious education in the churches, said she was going to write a book on the modern theory of religious education, and she was going to title it Religious Education from Cradle to Crib, and then she said, but sometimes I think I should reverse the title from Crib to Cradle. Because she said there is such an impoverishing of the spiritual life of man, going backward as it were, trying always to simplify, to simplify. So she said, at best it progresses from the crib to the cradle, from the cradle to the crib, and at its worst it’s from the crib right back to the cradle. Now, this is the fallacy of pietism, it never gets beyond that stage. A baby is a beautiful thing, but if it stays a baby all its life, it’s a tragedy to parents, because it’s defective. Pietism puts a premium on this kind of defective Christianity, a lack of growth.

[Audience member] I mean, just looking at the liturgy, it seems like it’s a great waste of time and energy. Just look at {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, allright.

[Audience member] Well, if {?} were childless and when it got a child, then looking for Godly succession, they might disinherit an adopted child.

[Rushdoony] Yes, right, very good point. Because Godly succession will set aside those personal considerations in terms of the faith. What you have built up in your lifetime must be used not in terms of blood or purely personal ties, but how will it best further the kingdom of God, provide Godly succession for those things you believe in, for those things you have stood all your lifetime. This is the heart of the matter. Well we have just a few minutes and I’d like to share with you a couple of things that I think are of interest. [00:50:59]

One, I think you all noticed in the paper yesterday...[edit]

One, I think you all noticed in the paper yesterday, Italy fears epidemic of cholera. Well, cholera is a very interesting thing, very significant, because so much has been learned about it in recent years. Cholera arises periodically and spreads across the face of the earth and kills millions upon millions of people. Now what causes it? Here they’re concerned about perhaps certain unsanitary conditions. Well the fact is there are cholera germs all over the world all the time. But normally, people can live with cholera germs, because it is a very fragile thing, and normally, you can even eat things that are infected by cholera bacteria and they will not bother you. Your normal gastric juices will destroy them. This is automatic. What happens? Cholera flourishes in times of lack of faith, of tension, when people are restless and worried and their normal reaction to things is falsified. When their normal digestive processes are no longer functioning, then no matter how sanitary conditions are, cholera tends to flourish. And yet, at times when very unsanitary conditions have prevailed and people have been content and have had faith, there has been no problem. Now Naples has never had the reputation of being a clean place, why now cholera? Cholera has often flourished in areas that have become more sanitary than in their previous periods of history, and the key is always in the mind, in the heart. Now another thing, which while humorous, I think has a great deal of significance because ours is an age when plain talk and forthright facing of issues is gone. Everyone is ducking and sidestepping issues and giving noncommittal answers. Well someone has written a satire, Peter Berger, on a press conference in the White House at some unnamed date sometime in the future when the avenging angel of the Last Judgment suddenly appears in the sky. And this is the press conference. “We have the following announcement to make this morning. The president again met for three hours today with the members of the special task force on the alleged apparition. As announced yesterday, these members are the Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Henry Kissinger, and General of the Air force; Warren Z. Angst. At about 6:30 pm, Eastern Standard Time, today Dr. Kissinger will leave for Rome for consultations with His Holiness. You will be kept up-to-date as to Dr. Kissinger’s schedule after that. Question by a reporter. Last night a flaming red sky in the north could be seen from every part of the United States. Also, last night, millions of Americans saw on all three networks the mile-high figure of an angel with a sword in his right hand. Do you feel that the term ‘alleged apparition’ is still the proper language for this? Answer of the Press Secretary. I am not authorized to change the language of the announcement. Question: How long will Dr. Kissinger stay in Rome? Answer: I am not in a position to indicate at this time the length of the meetings. Question: Is it true that nuclear bombing against the angel has been discussed? Answer: The special task force has discussed a number of contingency plans. Question: Does the presence of General Angst on the task force indicate that military measures are being considered? Answer: I am not prepared to engage in speculation. Question: It has been reported from Rome that the Pope feels the national act of repentance may be in order. Answer: I regret that irresponsible press reports have confused the public since the beginning of these events. I am not in a position to reveal the contents of the Pope’s message to the President at the present time. Question: Is a national act of repentance under consideration? Answer: Well Jack, you have all received the statement of non-culpability, issued here at the Florida White House two days ago. Question: Non-culpability is not quite the same as repentance is it? Indeed it could be construed as amounting to the opposite. Answer: I cannot comment on that. Question: Why is Dr. Kissinger going to Rome? Answer: For the purpose, Chuck, of continuing consultation with the Pope and Vatican experts on these matters. Question: Can you indicate the President’s reaction to the Pope’s message? Answer: I am not prepared to do that. Question: It has been suggested that Dr. Kissinger’s going to Rome violates the constitutional separation of Church and State. Can you comment on this? Answer: Yes, Barbara, the question has been fully discussed and decided negatively. I should add that the Reverend Graham was in full agreement with the decision. Question: Has there been further consideration of the possibility that the apparition has been caused by the Soviet Union or another foreign power? Terrestrial power I mean. Answer: All possibilities are being continuously reviewed by the President and by the special task force. At this time there is no indication of anything along the lines of your question. Question: Is it true that the President has had second thoughts about the morality or the wisdom of American policies? Answer: There has been an awful lot of speculation along these lines and of course a lot of media bias. I am not prepared to address that speculation, as I have not been prepared to address any speculation related to the alleged apparition, even if it is right or if it is wrong. Question: Is it correct that the President spent two hours in seclusion with Billy Graham. Answer: No, they were watching the Miami game with Bob Hope. Question: Is the White House aware of the possibility that the apparition may spell the end of the world? Answer: It seems to me that the use of alarmist language is counter-productive in this situation. Question: Is Dr. Kissinger to meet with Monsignor Pazzo of the Commission on the Devil. Answer: I am not prepared to provide you with that information. Question: Will the President have a message for the national service of contrition at Washington Cathedral this evening? Answer: George, there are no plans for that at the present time. Question: Is General Angst leaving for the Air Base in Greenland. Answer: I cannot give you information as to General Angst’s schedule at this time. Question: There is not a wire embargo on your announcement. Answer: There is a wire embargo until 12 noon, just move it on the wire at about one minute of 12.”

[End of tape]