Batman espouses Radical Open-Mindedness

Radical Open-Mindedness in a Post, Post-Modern World

Disclaimer: This post, in its entirety, is a digression.

I’ve struggled recently to conjure ideas for a new post that people will find entertaining. Being skilled enough to follow Infinite Mass (which I thought was solid) with something of equal weight seems to be my primary hang-up.

In that struggle, it never crossed my mind that this is my column for posting whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s a lot like MySpace in that way—and just like my extinct MySpace profile, it gets about as much traffic.

So, to hell with it. I’ll write about what’s on my mind and call it a Digressionary Piece (like that’s a thing; if it’s not, I’m coining it).

Today’s topical headline swirling around my brain, daring me to convey my thoughts and feelings about it with an ounce of clarity:

What does it look like to adopt a lifestyle of radical open-mindedness in a world of divergent truths?

While I cannot credit him with the notion, I’m taking the idea of radical open-mindedness from Ray Dalio’s book, Principles. You can read a summary of it here.

I’m sad to say I haven’t read Dalio’s book cover to cover. Still, I think I have an intermediate understanding of the concept. My question attempts to apply the concept more broadly, however.

This may be a mistake, but let’s get on with it.

Digression 1 – Me, misappropriating the principle.

To my mind, adopting a lifestyle of radical open-mindedness means embracing an ancient affirmation:

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5, KJV).

And for those who still scratch their head whenever someone uses the word meek, here’s Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

“…it may be worth while to recall Aristotle’s account of [meekness] (Eth. Nicom. v. 5) as the character of one who has the passion of resentment under control…”.1

So, let’s see how I’m doing:

  1. I aim to possess an open mind. 
  2. But the passion of resentment stands opposed to my aim.
  3. Resentment is a shadowy, darker form of pride, which we know is the opposite of meekness.
  4. I have pride in my established knowledge and framework for interpreting reality. 
  5. I resent attempts to undermine that framework. 
  6. Expanded: I resent attempts to undermine the framework wherein I’ve established the fundamental premise—to be radically open-minded is to be meek (i.e., having resentment under control).

If that ain’t a Rubik’s Cube, I don’t know what is.

Alas, I now begin to digress.

Digression 2 – A famous woman

In A.D. 28, a certain woman was born into an aristocratic family with somewhat close political ties to the ruling Julio-Claudian dynasty during the reign of Tiberius.

Her name was Berenice, and if not for her love affair with the Flavian emperor Titus in A.D. 67, we probably wouldn’t know much about her.

Luke gives her a feature in Acts 25-26, where Paul finds himself on trial in Caesaria before Berenice’s brother (and lover?), Herod Agrippa II.

Luke’s choice to include Berenice suggests one of two possible scenarios to my mind:

  1. Luke is writing late in the first century after the siege of Jerusalem because, by this point, Berenice is a celebrity on par with our present British royalty. In turn, this would likely suggest the end-times prophecies in Luke’s Gospel are backward-looking (because Jerusalem is already in ruins).
  2. Luke is writing early in the first century and has no idea that Berenice will one day achieve even greater fame by falling in love with a Roman emperor-to-be. But, early or late, she’s already a well-known figure as a member of the Herod family. And for some reason, Luke mentions her.

But I guess the real question at this stage of our digression is: what’s my point?

Indeed, what does this woman, famous for being famous, have to do with adopting a lifestyle of radical open-mindedness?

I warned you this would be a digression.

Digression 3 – Under control

A recent conspiracy theory concerning the authorship of the four Gospels has had an unfortunate resurgence on YouTube. According to this theory, the Flavian Emperors commissioned Josephus to write four Gospels (but not the Apocrypha) to quell and control the unruly Jews by giving them a pacifist messiah.

A pacifist messiah crucified under the former Roman dynasty, who rises again on the third day, ascends to his Heavenly Father and pours out his spirit on his apostles at Pentecost. One of the results of this outpouring? A persecutor-turned-saint named Paul of Tarsus travels to well-known Gentile cities and overtly undermines the worship of revered Roman deities.

I hope I don’t need to spell out the absurdity here.

To be clear: the theory claims that Josephus wrote all four Gospels but is unclear as to his involvement in writing Acts. It also doesn’t account for why Josephus wrote three Synoptic Gospels and one weirdly poetic, red-headed step-gospel claiming that Jesus is the eternal Logos (an idea the Arians didn’t care for2).

But, here again, I digress. Also, apologies to my red-headed friends. Jesus loves you (but the Arians do not).

Digression 4 – Back to Berenice

So, what’s my point in bringing up Berenice of the infamous Herods? I have no point other than to highlight a seemingly random character that Luke, whether writing early or late in the first century, chose to include in his narrative and whose existence the historians Josephus, Suetonius, and Tacitus corroborate.3

Perhaps it’s also worth noting that Josephus and Tacitus corroborate the existence of one Jesus of Nazareth, a first-century Palestinian Jew who may or may not have performed miracles.

Or, perhaps, I digress.

Digression 5 – What if orthodoxy is a thing?

In my view, adopting a lifestyle of radical open-mindedness begins not by challenging the beatitude’s orthodoxy or historical veracity, suggesting instead that the Flavians commissioned Josephus to write four pacifist manifestos to subjugate Jewish factions under Rome (never mind that Luke wrote his Gospel to Gentiles, by all accounts, and never mind the Pauline epistles, written almost exclusively to Gentiles).

Rather, because I’m a layman and have only so much time in a day, it begins with me applying a watered-down version of Occam’s Razor to the text. 

  1. There was a first-century Palestinian Jew named Jesus of Nazareth.
  2. He said something about the meek inheriting the earth. 
  3. Some years later, someone wrote it down.

In 2023, I think treating a canonical gospel this way takes a radically open mind. It takes a mind open to the possibility that the stories are true or, at the very least, truth—and I concede the two are not identical. Still, it takes a mind unhampered by resentment toward religious structures to accept such a possibility. I see this as an economical approach and a good starting point.

Perhaps if Joe Rogan were to invite Tom Wright on his show, the swarm of self-made internet pseudo-intellectuals (like yours truly) might also see meekness as a more commonplace, rational approach to gaining wisdom and, by extension, inheriting the earth.

Still, I digress.

Digression 6 – Jesus was really X, and the Bible is really a big, fat Y.

Shedding my resentment toward authoritarian structures like “the Church,” I can now entertain new evidence to suggest Jesus wasn’t there, never said anything of the sort, or decided to get high at the Last Supper (even though the Law he claimed to fulfill forbade the practice of pharmakeia to gain divine knowledge).

After all, everyone knows the only way to see a burning bush is to do shrooms. The same goes for lonely, crazed islanders who write something called apocalyptic literature. Thanks to Peter’s rooftop vision in Joppa4, we must inevitably conclude that drug-induced sorcery was back on the mystic menu, where it belonged.

Primary source textual evidence, you ask? Speak not of such things.

I can also consider whether Jesus was “just another Gnostic” until the Church allied itself with the state under Constantine in the great conspiracy to exile heretics (albeit one that ended infanticide unfairly targeting girls, which feels like a win) and relegate all but the four supreme Gospels to the restricted section at Hogwarts.

I can entertain all these ideas and more. Indeed, everything in that prosaic whirlwind above may be true (infanticide certainly was). Meekness—radical open-mindedness—demands I quietly and calmly entertain them all like chaff waiting to be sifted.

Or turds waiting to be flushed.

But, dare we hope, it may be true that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under a Roman procurator named Pontus Pilate.

It may be true that the women who followed Jesus were the first to discover an empty tomb on the third day after his death.

And it may be true that if you were manufacturing a fake religion in the first, second, or even third century, you wouldn’t be so out of touch as to portray women as the first evangelists—because who would buy that?

Question: Can one be both meek and sarcastic?

For the last time, I digress.

Scrambled Outro

I’ll leave you with a fun, ironic fact.

Our oldest New Testament script dates to the second century A.D. (not the first, when the texts were supposedly written). We call it P52 or Papyrus 52. It contains a snippet from John 18, verses 31-33, and verses 37-38.

I’ll give you the scene that transpires in 37-38:

"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all" (KJV).

In case you missed it, the oldest known fragment from the Gospels that we have (predating the “conspiratorial” First Council of Nicaea, I might add) ends with the question: “What is truth?”

It takes an open mind to consider such a question.

I think it takes a radically open mind to accept Jesus’ answer.


Ellicott, Charles J. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers. Accessed Mar. 19, 2023.


  1. See Ellicott’s Commentary. ↩︎
  2. See Wolfson, Harry A., “Philosophical Implications of Arianism and Apollinarianism.” ↩︎
  3. See Braund, D.C., “Berenice in Rome.” ↩︎
  4. See Acts 10:9-16. ↩︎

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Adam Burdeshaw


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