21 September 2023


Hardcore: I saw this on Tubi a couple days ago.  First time I've watched it in probably 40 years.  It has held up remarkably well.  The only weak point remains the *Shakespearean* climax. 

I can't think of another film with a flawed *Christian* as central character in which the supposed Christian is actually *fleshed out* in terms of their belief.  Most *Christians* in films, even in relatively successful ones, have their spirituality shallowly depicted.  They may show them silently praying, or singing a hymn from a church pew, or clutching a rosary, but the viewer has no idea what the *Christian* believes.  The character is just *Christian,* the way characters in our contemporary entertainments are just *gay* or *ethnic.*  In Hardcore, writer/director Paul Schrader makes sure you know that main character Jake VanDorn is not only a *Christian,* but a Dutch Reformed Calvinist, and even has the character explain the Calvinist belief to another character, just so the viewer knows exactly what this Christian believes.

Anyway, I suppose most 21st century viewers couldn't care less.  They have their idea what *Christians* are, and nothing in this film would challenge their view.  In other words, you can watch this film without the slightest interest in its theological point of view and still be entertained.

Jake VanDorn (played in his typical gruff blowhard style by George C. Scott) is a Grand Rapids, MI businessman whose daughter goes missing while on a church retreat in California.  VanDorn hires a sleazy LA private investigator (played with great greasy gusto by Peter Boyle) to find her.  It doesn't take the PI long to discover what happened to her, and he seems to really enjoy showing VanDorn his evidence: a low budget porn flick starring the missing daughter.  There's a great scene of George C. Scott sitting in a seedy adult theater watching what he thought was his nice young Christian daughter fornicating with two unwashed hippie-types.

In this day and age, right wing self-proclaimed Christians fixate on sexual sins, from fornication to transgenderism, but they only project an anti-Christ legalism.  They believe unrighteousness is a physical act that violates the law of their legal desires (and just as their Christianity is self-proclaimed, so also are their desires, with neither reflecting their true spirit). 

The greatness of the scene in Hardcore in which VanDorn sees his daughter in the porn flick is that the discerning viewer will understand his anguish is not just from the sordid tangle of naked flesh, but from understanding what has happened to his image of his daughter, whom he had imagined to be a disciple of Christ:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? (I Corin 6:19).

His daughter has become the abomination of desolation, Christ has been rejected, or, more accurately given his Calvinist belief, Christ was never received, she had been merely impersonating a Christian.

Up to this point we have a nearly flawless film, devoid of melodrama or cinematic bombast.  But when the screenplay has VanDorn travel to Los Angeles to try to find his now porn actress daughter, the movie increasingly declines until its rather predictable (violent) climax.  

In his increasingly desperate schemes to find his daughter, VanDorn meets sex worker Niki, and pays her to help him find her.  It is at this point in the film also that George C. Scott stops playing Jake VanDorn and starts playing George C. Scott. As he traverses the gutter world of pornography, playing a supposed devout Dutch Reformed believer, Scott acts more like Patton than Calvin, slapping around anyone who stands in his way.

is saved from Scott's antics by Season Hubley, who delivers a fantastic performance as Niki.  Hubley is completely believable as a sex worker, and performs her skin flick and peepshow booth scenes without a trace of artifice.  She presents the absolute neutrality of carnality, and does so with or without her clothes on.  Considering the era the film was made, it was a daring performance, and remains absolutely emotionally and psychologically authentic.  Paul Schrader's and Season Hubley's Niki is one of most unforgettable characters of the '70s and had an influence on future characters such as Nastassja Kinski's Jane in Paris, Texas
, Melanie Griffith's Lulu in Something Wild and Heather Graham's Rollergirl in Boogie Nights.

The film's devastating final scene, in which VanDorn and Niki go their separate ways, confirms VanDorn's Calvinist belief in limited atonement.

Hardcore is a Dutch Reformed neo-noir pulp thriller. . .and despite a weak ending dependent on tired action movie plotting, it remains, over 40 years later, both thought-provoking and revelatory.

18 August 2023


Oppenheimer: The most over-praised movie since Saving Private Ryan, and possibly of all-time. This film is piss-poor on every level. It’s edited seemingly to maximize confusion, and has a poorly drawn cast of supporting scientific eggheads whose political and personal loyalties are obscure, at best.

The movie‘s greatest sin, however, is the filmmaker’s bizarre and mistaken belief the great dramatic issue of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life is not the creation of the atomic bomb and his responsibility for the horrors it inflicted upon the Japanese people, and how that crime against humanity would affect a person’s conscience and psyche, but whether or not the egghead Oppenheimer is allowed to keep his precious security clearance years after he melted tens of thousands of Japanese and expressed some vague reservations about the development of the next generation of weapons of mass destruction, thereby provoking cold war
überhawks into limiting his influence on the Atomic Energy Commission. At least 90 minutes of the tedious 3 hour script is devoted to this trivial professional concern.

In contrast, there is only one scene, which depicts Oppenheimer somewhat agitated as he watches a documentary on the effects his bomb had on the people of Japan, and which lasts no more than 30 seconds, that is devoted to what the viewer would reasonably consider to be the chief concern of Oppenheimer’s life.

Add some laughably bad sex scenes meant, one supposes, to suggest not only did egghead Oppenheimer have a big brain but a big cock also, and some preposterously conceived nude scenes meant, one supposes, to suggest Oppenheimer may have suffered some post-bomb juvenile psychoanalytic crisis, and you have a pitifully small film masquerading as an *important* work.

The acting is nearly uniformly atrocious, beginning with a lead actor named Cillian Murphy, who plays Oppenheimer so woodenly, so withdrawn and cold, you’re left to assume he and the filmmaker believed Oppenheimer was autistic. So lifeless is this Murphy person’s performance, the film’s brief attempts to portray Oppenheimer’s romantic life are cringe-inducing failures. It’s difficult to imagine any woman drawn to Murphy’s anemic Oppenheimer, let alone to the point of suicide, as the movie’s somnolent script suggests one woman was over the end of her relationship with the waxen egghead.

It seems unfair, given how poorly developed their characters are, to criticize the actresses who play the two women in Oppenheimer’s life, but ask the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki if life is fair?

Florence Pugh plays the first woman in Oppenheimer’s life, the one who will commit suicide. Her role consists of her sitting around naked in various rooms, annoyed that Oppenheimer brings her flowers she doesn’t want. Indeed, this Please Don’t Bring Me The Daisies scene is repeated so frequently, the viewer begins to believe he is in a movie not about the creation of the atomic bomb, but of a cosmic time loop.

The other unfortunate actress is Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer’s wife. Whereas Oppenheimer is as cold as the farthest reaches of the universe, Oppenheimer’s wife is as hot as the first moments of the Big Bang. Emily Blunt plays Oppenheimers wife in a perpetual seethe, she seethes at everyone and everything around her, including the laundry drying on a clothesline (one of the quiet little humanizing moments in this big important film involves Oppenheimer and his wife discussing the fate of the universe as they hang their sheets to dry, or something like that, I can’t be exact in this detail, because at that point in the time and space of the film, my attention had been wandering like a stray photon in desperate need of an observer).

The supporting roles of scientific eggheads is played by a cast cursed with forgettable characters who are only differentiated by indeterminable accents and hairstyles.

Matt Damon is the only actor who brings a little light into this black hole of a movie. He plays General Groves, the military leader of the A-bomb project. Damon infuses his cartoon-character general with enough bombast and occasional humor to snap the viewer out of his otherwise inert state.

The movie villain, Lewis Strauss, the man the film’s script paints as monomaniacally obsessed with ruining Oppenheimer’s security clearance, is played by Robert Downey Jr. as if he had been transported via a wormhole from the Marvel Cimematic Universe into this *important* film.

Gary Oldman has a showy minute or two as Harry Truman, who dismisses the post-Nagasaki Oppenheimer, skittish of the nuclear arms race, as a *crybaby.*

And that’s about it. I cannot imagine why the overwhelming majority of film critics lavished so much praise on this pretentious, tedious, thematically misguided mess. It’s a mystery as great as the atom itself.

13 June 2023

Infinity Pool

Struggling writer James Foster (played by Alexander Skarsgård) and his rich biracial wife Em (played by somebody) travel to a distant seaside land for an exotic vacation. Bored and restless with each other, they meet another holiday couple, Gabi (played by Mia Goth) and her ethnic husband Alban (played by somebody). Gabi is a fan of struggling writer James' only novel, and she and her ethnic husband Alban soon ingratiate themselves into the lives of struggling writer James and biracial wife Em. Struggling writer James and his reluctant biracial wife go on a forbidden excursion with Gabi and Alban, whereupon struggling writer James kills an ethnic local in a hit-and-run accident. After quickly being caught by the local police in this distant seaside land, struggling writer James learns his punishment is the death sentence. But. . .

They have a rather curious legal code in the distant seaside land in which the guilty party can void his own death by paying a fine and agreeing to allow himself to be cloned, with his double then taking his place at the execution.   This first third of Infinity Pool is fairly tense and creepy, with a heavy atmosphere of dread which seems to particularly hang over the head of the struggling writer James.  However. . .

The last two-thirds of the movie are not quite as successfully worked.  The film deteriorates into a trippy mishmash of grim fairytale/Funny Games/Dogville/etc. as the viewer and struggling writer James try to determine if he is the victim of a sadistic prank or being (painfully) cleansed in a rebirth ritual. Overall. . .

The movie is a more than watchable, moderately entertaining amusement because of its strange story, arresting visuals, and, chiefly, the charismatic screen presence of its two *stars,* Skarsgård and Goth. Unfortunately for this viewer. . .

Skarsgård spends more time nude on screen than Ms. Goth, though I am sure some viewers will find this preferable.  All-in-all, a welcome two hour film holiday in a strange new land.

28 May 2023

The Morning Star, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Knausgaard is most famous for his six book autofiction series My Struggle. Thousands and thousands of pages of barely novelized autobiography in which he painstakingly reveals his inner being, his confessional of thoughts, feelings, emotions, his psychological state at the various stages of his life.  It’s a massive literary attempt to make sense of his own existence. It’s probably the best chronicle of contemporary Western living or what Western people call living. The existential crisis Knausgaard is obsessively concerned with, and meticulously investigates, is the authenticity of what the Western world calls living. Are people really living if they are so discontent, so restless, depressed and unhappy?

The West is saturated with addicts. People seeking escape from their own lives through narcotics (legal and illegal), alcohol, pornography, food, gambling, video gaming, scores of therapies and religions. People don’t seek escape if they are content.

The characters in Knausgaard's six volume My Struggle and the novel The Morning Star all wonder how much of their lives is authentic and how much of their lives is just them being swept along the social tide, mimicking what society has conditioned them into believing life should be. A life exclusively material and temporal.

It’s not a question most Americans really consider. Most Americans live as they are told. They are distracted from examining their own individual existence by manufactured cultural concerns, issues which they believe are larger than their own lives. Safeguarding the border, safeguarding restrooms from transsexuals, safeguarding their faces from being masked, safeguarding their cherished brands from catering to people who seek escape from likewise miserable lives but through channels they deem evil.

It’s OK to believe that our lives have been made miserable by the spouses we have made vows to and believe that by escaping through divorce our lives will be made better if we find a new and improved spouse, or just freely fornicate. That’s OK, that’s OK as long as it’s not done in a homosexual manner. And if one of our cherished brands should seem to support homosexual fashion than that brand should be punished.

Americans live in perpetual fear their unfulfilling lives will be disrupted.

The American is constantly distracted from himself by these manufactured irrelevancies.

In The Morning Star nobody worries about the debt ceiling. No one is anxious if the government is plotting to take away their guns.

The Knausgaard character is aware his own discontent is internal in origin, he stops and examines his life and ask himself this question, which distills the multi-thousand page Knausgaard canon into two sentences:

Why wasn't this good enough?  Why isn't it sufficient in itself? (p. 380).

The Knausgaard character has never learned what the apostle Paul learned

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. . .

The main thematic difference between My Struggle and The Morning Star is t
hat in the My Struggle books Knausgaard is chiefly concerned with the discovery of the internal discontent and the recognition of the inauthenticity of life, whereas The Morning Star spends considerable time on its origin and its possible remedy.

In The Morning Star we read about the unsatisfying lives of nine narrators as they go about their day-to-day unrest when suddenly a huge new star blazes in the sky. Simultaneously in their individual lives strange phenomena begin to occur which may or may not be supernatural. This plot device allows Knausgaard to continue his examination of the authenticity of contemporary life but also enables him, through characters such as a priest, a journalist, a teacher, and a would-be philosopher to engage in much theological and philosophical speculation as to what has been lost in the scientific/technological secular age we live in.

The seeming supernatural events in the story-line are briefly and sketchily detailed, and while early in the novel it appears as if they will converge, they never do, nor is much consideration given to their reality.

The question is not whether these events are actually supernatural, it’s whether our lives are more than material, if there is something beyond that which we have been taught scientifically. Would our lives be be larger and more fulfilling if we looked past contemporary life’s scientific boundary?

The increasing interest in the old pagan religions, which Knausgaard touches upon in a subplot concerning a death metal band, perhaps reflects this. For even modern Christianity discounts the supernatural, there are no miracles in modern Christianity, healings occur outside of the church, sick Christians go for chemotherapy, liver transplants, they take the same prescription drugs as the infidels. I chuckle over the small self-proclaimed Christian who, rightly, rails at the pharmaceutically polluted gender fluid youth, but at the same time they flock to the pharmaceuticals at the first little ache in their bodies. Their medicine cabinets are just as full. Are they any more the person God made them to be than the gender bender?

In The Morning Star the reader must consider if the acceptance of the scientific boundary of life has limited it.  Is it a reason our lives are so small?

And, of course, the boundary of our science is death. Our science does not accept life after death. The consequence of this is the tiny temporal lives we live here on this earth, and that’s the main reason for our constant worrying and fretting which drives us to discontent and despair and the addictions of our escape. We must gain the impossible from this life before it ends. If there is no life after death, we must gain treasure and pleasure enough in this life to last the eternity of the void. In this life, if even paying rent seems arduous, is it any wonder most of the entire Western world is anxious, depressed, restless, discontent?

And this question of death is another large concern of The Morning Star. If we were able to look beyond this life, as Christ exhorted His followers, our worries would cease, our need for escape would disappear. But in this world where the boundary has been set by science, we are not allowed to believe Christ has defeated death.

The Morning Star ends rather in a rather unsatisfying fashion, it must be admitted, as Knausgaard attempts to imagine a life without the boundary at death. It’s a hodgepodge of pre-Christian beliefs and modern near death experiences that is vague in meaning, followed by an apocalyptic epilogue (the book, probably not coincidentally, ends on page 666) which, rather than tying the novel's supernatural loose threads together, just unravels one more.

But despite the weak ending, The Morning Star is nonetheless another admirable attempt by Knausgaard to sort out the difficulties of the post-Christian way of life.

22 April 2023

Terrifier 2

I don’t think any filmmaker has ever championed the joys of cruelty to the degree of Terrifier progenitor Damien Leone. In terms of gleeful sadism and torture portrayed in exuberant gore, Terrifier 2 matches its predecessors, All Hallows’ Eve and Terrifier.  Art the Clown is back to humiliate, eviscerate, mutilate and decapitate several unlucky citizens of Miles County on Halloween.  In one of the film's merriest moments of mischief, Art uses the hollowed out head of one of his victims as a candy bowl for trick-or-treaters.

In addition to Leone's trademark haute couture gore, Terrifier 2 also features his garish sets and grindhouse aura.  But to me, one of the most interesting aspects of Leone's Terrifier trilogy is Art the Clown's chief enemies are middle class families, and he depicts their homes as drab, artless, mean spaces where parents and children grate on each other nearly to the point of hatred.  Indeed, these working class Americans are almost as angry as Art, but completely lack his capacity for joy.  

Terrifier 2 brings a new and highly successful addition to the Terrifier cinematic universe.  This time around Art is aided in his bloody high jinx by *the little pale girl,* the ghost of a 10-year-old rape/murder victim (whether she was raped/murdered by Art the Clown is unclear). The pale clown-costumed tween is not so much an ingenue as an injure-you cheerleader who roots on Art in his Halloween murder spree.  

There's really only one bummer to Terrifier 2, but unfortunately it's big enough to make the film less enjoyable than its predecessors.  The acting by two of the main characters is godawful.  A person named Sarah Voigt plays the mother of the middle class family targeted by Art, and she's off-key in every scene she's in.  Her character is scripted with a couple moments of redeeming human emotion, but this Voigt person plays them like some rookie violinist practicing on a violin with only one string.  Voigt is such a horrible actor, as the movie progresses you cannot wait for Art the Clown to slowly tear her limb-from-limb. . .alas, her character is one of Art's quickest, most painless deaths.  

The other acting bummer is the lad who plays the kid brother in the middle class family.  He's inept, but at least he's not as gratingly annoying as Voigt.  You just wish there was a vintage Edward Furlong laying around somewhere that Damien Leone could have dusted off.

The *final girl* of the middle class family is played by Lauren LeVera, and she is merely OK.  Regrettably, none of the new cast members, save Amelie McLain as *the little pale girl,* have the charm of Terrifier's trio of female leads.

But I understand discussing the acting talent in a highly stylized exercise in gratified gore is nitpicking, at best, and should not be taken as a caution against its viewing.  Terrifier 2 is highly recommended.  

25 March 2023

Working Class Hero: Easter Bunny

It takes a special kind of person to be an Easter Bunny.  

It takes a hero.

Don’t laugh. Not unless you’ve worn that bunny head for an eight hour shift at the mall.  There have been many a man, woman and trans that have tried on that bunny head and couldn’t do it.

The bunny head is heavy.  It’s hot inside there.  Dark.  The eye holes are covered with mesh.  You are in a dark, hot place, weighed down.  Yes, a bit like Hell.  Wearing the bunny head is like looking out from Hell’s screen door at the world of the as-of-yet unjudged.  And you, from behind Hell’s screen door, are told to put a smile on the miserable faces of the as-of-yet unjudged (and sell a $39.99 commemorative photo package). 

And no, it’s not just the little kids at the mall.  It’s every single miserable person at the mall.  Miserable people who work in the mall stores, mall janitors and rent-a-cops, delivery people, geriatric mall walkers, shoppers of all ages and genders, tween and teen school truants, anybody in the mall who walks past the Easter Bunny on the Easter Bunny’s set is owed the Easter Bunny’s attention.

Anyway. . .

Most people, when they try on the bunny head, become anxious.  Panic sets in.  They feel cut-off, locked in, claustrophobic.  Buried alive.  They yank that bunny head off and gasp: I can’t breathe! I’m not cut out for this!  

Luckily, I’ve felt buried alive my whole life, so putting on the bunny head felt no different from any other moment.

Well, the rest of the Easter Bunny uniform is no joke, either.  The coat weighs a ton, the pants and paws are ill-fitting and hot as fuck.

Anyway. . .

Also, the Easter Bunny does not speak.  The Bunny must bring a smile to the miserable faces of the as-of-yet unjudged without saying a word.

Luckily, I have a lifetime of experience as a mime.  I was never formally trained.  I taught myself.  I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid talking to people, so I am an expert at non-verbal communication.

To put a smile on the miserable faces of as-of-yet unjudged white folk, usually a simple limp-wristed wave of the paw will do.  African-Americans require a little more effort, they are more miserable, I suppose, but my mack daddy strut usually does the trick.  Police officers who happen by get my Derek Chauvin knee drop mime.  It doesn’t make them smile, but the other mall bystanders chuckle in delight.  Teenagers who try to crack wise at the Easter Bunny’s expense are shamed with a mime of a penalty flag toss and unsportsmanlike conduct signal.  I won’t get into detailed specifics regarding certain ages and genders, fluid or not, but take my word, this Easter Bunny makes all who cross his path feel loved.

It’s a grueling eight hour shift that leaves you soaked in sweat with a sore neck and a head aching from breathing your own recycled oxygen.  But the reward, the Christian satisfaction of giving a momentary born-again experience to the miserable souls of the mall, makes the agony of carrying your bunny head daily more than worth it.

01 February 2023

John 14:1-9

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

Thomas and Philip are there with Jesus at the final hour.  

They have been with Jesus for upwards of three years.

And here, at the end of Jesus' mission, they (and doubtless the other disciples, as well), have no clue what He is talking about. . .

They have no idea who He is.  They have no idea where to go.  They have no idea what to do.  And this is made painfully clear by their (in)action after the crucifixion.

The only one who thought He knew what to do was Judas. . .

They have been with Jesus upwards of three years, and are utterly clueless.

As clueless as me, 2000 years later.

Here I am, 2000 years later stranded in the Satanic World Order, and I am supposed to know where to go and what to do?

I'll tell you where I won't go, and what I won't do:

I won't go and listen to a self-proclaimed Christian 'minister' who speaks with absolute confidence and certainty about how other people ought to live their lives.  For I am pretty certain they don't know a God damned thing more about it than Thomas or Philip or me.  As the Apostle Paul said:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. . .

Thomas and Philip (and the other disciples) didn't know what to do until Jesus came back from the dead, appeared to them, and told them what to do.

What am I supposed to do, 2000 years later?

I am as clueless as Thomas and Philip were.

What do I do?

Trust Jesus has a plan to drag my sorry ass out of this Satanic World Order and into His kingdom.  

I can judge my life to this point the same as I would judge the lives of Thomas and Philip and the other disciples in the period between the Last Supper and the Resurrection.  My behaviors have certainly been different.  But the judgment would be the same: unrighteous.  

Jesus got Thomas and Philip and the other disciples into the Kingdom, even though they had no idea how it would happen.

In the midst of the Satanic World Order, even though I have fallen, as Thomas and Philip and the other disciples fell, though from different temptation, I look to what Thomas and Philip and the other disciples saw, the resurrected Jesus.  Jesus has overcome the World, and even from the pit I am in, I see Him.  That's all I need.

22 January 2023

John 12:25 and Donald Trump

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal--
John 12:25.

I can't think of any recent public figure who loves his life more than Donald Trump.  His entire life has been about stealing enough money to *live deliciously,* as the Bible terms it (Revelation 18:7).

He would destroy anybody or anything to keep his soft clothes and King's houses.  In this regard, he inverts Caiaphas' prophecy:

It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Trump is willing that a whole nation should perish for one man: himself.  That is the measure of how much he loves his delicious life.

Now that his delicious life is in jeopardy, does he calculate the wages of sin his soft life has cost?  

Does he repent like Nebuchadnezzar?


The best thing for Trump would be if he were to be beaten with many stripes or lashed with a cane until he came to senses and begged God for mercy for the sake of Christ.  This won't happen.  He will run out the clock of his delicious life with legal ploys funded by his gullible followers.

And then he will die in his sin.

20 January 2023

The Baptist According to Luke and John

 Just asking:

Is there any more pitiable figure in human history than John the Baptist?

His life’s labor was to prepare the way for the Lord.  And by all the gospel accounts, he did it admirably.  And yet. . .

. . .He ended up sentenced to death, and plagued by doubt. That is. . .

. . .If one believes the account in the gospel of Luke.  In fact, if Luke is accurate, one could well ask, did the Baptist die, as American self-proclaimed Christians like to term it, *unsaved?*

Luke would have us believe the Baptist, plagued by doubt, sends 2 of his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One.  This is exceedingly odd, because. . .

Luke’s infancy narrative tells us Jesus and the Baptist had maternal figures who were related, and that both their births were miraculous, and that the maternal figures in their lives knew before their births of their exact relationship to each other, that of messenger in service of Savior.  

Shouldn’t the Baptist have grown up with absolute certainty about his *Cousin?*  Mary and Elizabeth, the maternal figures of Jesus and the Baptist, were relatives, and met before the births and discussed these matters, and Luke states the Baptist knew *in the womb* that Jesus was the One.  And yet. . .

. . .Luke would have us believe, at the end of his life the Baptist doubted, sent out disciples to question Jesus, which seemingly irked the Lord, for He replied “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”

Jesus later added that he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the Baptist.  It would not be unreasonable to infer then that the Baptist is outside the Kingdom of God.  At any rate. . .

. . .for this reason we say no one is more pitiable than the Baptist. . .he devoted his life's labor to preparing the way for Christ, and yet ended his life on death row, unsure if he had prepared the way for the right One. . .IF Luke’s account is true.

On the other hand. . .

. . .the gospel of John records no such doubt on the part of the Baptist.  In fact, in John’s gospel, unlike Luke’s, the Baptist has no idea who Jesus is until he sees the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus, a confirming sign given to the Baptist by God, at which time the Baptist proclaims with absolute certainty Jesus is the Lamb of God.  He never wavers or doubts, and consoles his own disciples who see the ministry of Jesus grow, and his ministry shrink, by stating He must increase, I must decrease.  Not a shred of doubt is ever hinted at in the gospel of John.  So. . .

. . .for the sake of the Baptist, let us hope John's account is the more accurate.