Robert Knapp . . . shows convincingly that the better we understand the thought-worlds of ordinary ancient people, whether Jews, Christians, or pagans/polytheists, the less distinctive do the various categories become. Whatever the labels used to identify them, polytheists, Jews, and Christians inhabited very similar worlds of “gods and miracles,” and any credible account of subsequent religious developments has to be grounded in that fact.
I also feel freed a bit from trying to explain the world—to others and to myself. Especially to offer guidance on how to think, on what is true and what is illusory. “Just telling a story, mate. Nothing serious.” (Maybe that’s a factor in why I created a perpetually confused narrator who claims to have no answers to anything.)
I’ve gone so far as to say, “I got tired of telling people what to think, so now I’m just telling a few tales.” To which more than one reader has responded, “Oh, you’re still telling people what to think.”
Busted, I guess I’d have to say.
Michael Amundson, a history professor at Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff, has a quirky hobby: he collects recordings from the turn of the 20th century that rode a brief, kitschy “Western” fad. Any temptation to classify this music as a prelude to the Country and Western music that would serve as one element in the rhythm and blues genre in the 1940s—which itself was a foundation of what became rock and roll—should be resisted, and Amundson makes no such attempt. Rather, this vogue was largely over before World War I. Amundson is dealing in serious arcana here.