Shabby scholarship 

Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit waste of money
At the exhibit at the Adam's Mar

Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit waste of money

At the exhibit at the Adam’s Mark Hotel of “The Dead Sea Scrolls To the Bible In America” (Calendar, July 14-21), the lectures offered at the exhibit display shabby scholarship.

In one lecture, we are told that the Bible is “100 percent accurate,” and that this is proven fact. The lecturer does not make clear that he means only that comparison of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Latin Vulgate several centuries later shows that we today have the actual text of the Old Testament as it existed centuries before Jesus. The clear implication given was that comparison of Dead Sea texts and more recent texts proves that the Old Testament is historically accurate in every detail.

I pointed out that if they want to prove that the Bible is historically accurate, merely comparing texts from different centuries is not enough. If they wished to show an exhibit giving evidence that the events as portrayed in the Bible are historically accurate, that would be fine. But the lecturer misleadingly leaves the impression that mere comparisons of texts implies historical and theological accuracy. This is sloppy scholarship.

The lecturer later insisted that he did not intend to leave such an impression, but to any casual listener, the implication is there.

In another lecture, we were told that the Hebrew language must have had a “supernatural” origin; that mere men could not have invented the Hebrew language. No actual evidence was given, and when I asked for other scholars in his field who drew the same conclusion, the lecturer could name no one.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful, scholarly presentation of biblical manuscripts and history of how we got the Bible, please don’t waste your money on this exhibit, and seek out sound scholarship somewhere else.

Steven Barger

Governmental fiefdoms

I rarely agree with David Hoppe, but I agreed with everything he said in “What a Second Term Is For” (Hoppe, Aug. 11-18). Mayor Peterson’s “Indianapolis Works” may not be a perfect solution to some of the problems Indianapolis faces as Hoppe mentions. The questions of mass transit, metropolitan consolidation beyond Marion County’s borders, etc. are not addressed. Yet Peterson’s proposal is a very good start in elimination of the myriad of governmental fiefdoms that, instead of allowing governmental responsiveness to people, actually inhibits it.

Rarely do governmental monopolies seek to streamline themselves and make themselves more efficient. Like other monopolies, they usually seek to raise prices (taxes). Peterson realizes it makes no sense to continue to have two major police departments in Marion County. By the way, it makes no sense to have separate police departments, mayors, etc. in Lawrence, Speedway and Beech Grove either. If done correctly, in a few years, Indianapolis (Marion County) could find itself with uniform property tax rates, more police and firemen deployed to help people and much, much less bureaucracy.

Mayor Peterson, the next governor and the state Legislature, regardless of party affiliation, need to vet the plan, urge corrections and then implement it. Changes, if any, need to be considered based on efficiently serving the interests of the people and not the interests of local politicians who will ultimately lose their jobs.

I am hopeful that, within the next decade or two, Peterson’s concept can be expanded to encompass the nine-county metro region because the problems that local government must address are regional in nature, such as public safety, mass transit, economic development, cultural and amenity enhancement as well as environmental protection.

Regardless, consolidation should be based on the following principles: Do it to provide the optimal government, not preserve political jobs; phase in the changes to allow for attrition to eliminate most jobs lost; promise total tax equality for all citizens of the affected area, including property taxes, local income taxes and sales taxes; share a portion of the proceeds to allow for infrastructure downtown as well as in the neighborhoods; allow for as equal representation per currently existing township as possible so as to make sure no neighborhood or area is neglected.

John Sorg

‘Manchurian’ I and II

Johnson-Ott’s The Manchurian Candidate (Film, Aug. 4-11) still couldn’t get over the original, the real MC I. I wish he had reviewed MC II on its own terms, not the faded luster of his one and only.

Who but buffs might really care if MC II doesn’t have his extended tea party scene? Who cares if it lacks the brilliant presence of his unsilky Angela Landsbury? Who cares if MC II replaces his favorite in the minds even of older viewers?

Thank God Demme didn’t give us some refit to match the red scare of the McCarthy era. And too bad Johnson-Ott called Demme’s switch to today’s worse menace a “strained change.” The whole corporate challenge to our democratic republic is proving far worse. But what jolts me most, now that I have seen MC II, is ignoring Meryl Streep’s stunning character portrayal. If she doesn’t get an Oscar, I shake my head, knowing she was nonpareil. Or mutter “De gustibus ...”

Greg Foote

Health care

I have read Stefanie Miller’s column, “As Sick as It Gets” (First Person, Aug. 4-11) a number of times, and I am very puzzled by Mr. Pettinga’s statement that “Stefanie Miller says we are not spending enough for health care” (Mail, Aug. 11-18).

What I find is a very clear message that we are spending far more than other countries and getting inferior results. Not only do almost all developed countries have much lower infant mortality rates than the U.S., but the life expectancies in these countries are higher than that of the United States. Yet no other country comes close to spending the money on health care that the U.S. does, whether we measure actual dollars spent or percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

Ms. Miller pointed out that 44 million Americans are without health insurance and finds that very alarming. So do I.

The only developed country besides the U.S. that does not have publicly funded health care is South Africa. Apparently public funding of health care can be more effective and cost much less than our system. Why wouldn’t we want to study these systems and try to change ours? I am sure that in all countries people in the last years of their lives require more expensive health care than younger people. However, all of the citizens of these countries, regardless of their income, receive health care; and it appears to be superior to that which the majority of Americans receive. Fortunately, all of the polls on this subject indicate that a large majority supports health insurance for everyone and a revamping of our system.

The problem, of course, is that the people in the position to make the necessary changes are beholden to the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the AMA. We must continue to pressure our elected representatives to make them responsive to the people’s needs.

Walt Vanderbush

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