Saturday, May 19, 2007

Illustrious Graftonian

The latest issue of the newsletter of the Clarence River Historical Society [click here to see their website] presents a drawing of a member of the state parliament of New South Wales whom I knew and admired: William Weiley [1901-1989].

Bill Weiley [father of my friend John, the celebrated Australian cineast] was a friend of my parents and grandparents. Around 1960, John took me along to Sydney's Parliament House for a luncheon with his father, and this encounter made a great impact upon me. It was neither the food nor the parliamentary splendor that impressed me, but rather Bill Weiley's enthusiasm for a theme he had just discovered: the Dead Sea Scrolls. I've never forgotten his words:

"Take a Sydney phone directory. Tear it in half. Reduce it to confetti, and mix it up. Now throw away two-thirds of your confetti. What you've got left is akin to the state of the Dead Sea Scrolls."

I was terribly impressed by this didactic demonstration, no doubt exaggerated, of the precariousness of our Biblical past.

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