17 October 2006

It's In the Way You Say It...

One of the biggest reasons why I hated graduate school was the prevelance of postmodern theory. Postmodernism, in breif, dictates that nothing is new and nothing matters, so you might as well just jumble up everything that has already been said and done into one big bag and pull out whatever you like to use whenever you need it. Postmodernism is the reason why Pig-Man in PCU could do his thesis on the Caine-Hackman Theory and still graduate. In other words, postmodernism is the death of scholarship.

Case in point: I'm reading some college band's website when I come across this explanation for an album name: The CD would be called Deus ex Machina, which literally means "god in machine." This refers to Greek plays. During these plays the gods would intervene at the last moment by being lowered onto the stage. Thus the term refers to divine intervention.

Pardon me whilst I hang my head in frustration for a moment...

Okay, I should begin illustrating my point by mentioning that this band claims to be a "Messianic Jewish rock band." I have no problem with that--they can do whatever they want with their music.

I do, however, have a problem with their translation of Greek terms. The Greek definition of "Deus ex Machina" is "god from the machine" or, as in the case of the plural "Deux" being used, "gods from the machine." Deus or Deux ex Machina was a device employed in Greek theatre, whereby an actor would be lowered into a scene via a machine (machina) off-stage. The actor would play the part of a divine being, often one of the Greek gods, who would provide an otherwise improbable solution to whatever conflict was going on in the play at that moment.

In other words, "Deus ex Machina" was originally a term used to describe the intervention of pagan gods in Greek theatre.

Now, you see, as Jews, we believe in the One, Great and Mighty G-d. We're a monotheistic faith-- which made us different from the Greeks and their garden of non-existent dieties. This is why we're still here, with our own State and a world-wide population, and the most we can say for Greek culture is that those gyros you can get from the carts on Broadway can be pretty tasty if you get one before the vendor pees on the cart.

No one in their right mind, let alone someone who claims to be a Messianic JEW, would associate themselves or their work (which is supposedly glorifying G-d, the One and Only) with a pagan Greek theatrical term that gives supernatural powers to nonexistent beings.

But, this is the postmodern era, so anything goes, right? You can just take a term here, a little history there, and a little religion from over here, slap 'em all together and have yourself a fine ol' time, right?

I was reading in Yiddish Civilization: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Culture the other day that the first Arians were a 4th century Christian sect, found among Germanic tribes that comingled extensively with the Jewish population of Western Europe, often to the point of intermarriage.

I wonder what Hitler would've thought of that one. "But zey are spelt vit an 'i' inshtead of ze 'y'!!!!!"

That's so convincing that I bet he could've written a thesis on it. He would've only had to wait another 50 odd years to get an A.


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