Kid/Brushy Bill talkfest. My father-inlaw,rnhowever, insists that Pat Garret sentrnThe Kid to a Wild West version of Valhallarnway back when. Personally, I favorrnthe Brushy Bill story, having learnedrnfrom John Ford that it’s better to print thernlegend. Ann says her father witnessedrnBrushy Bill’s passing (he apparently diedrnof a heart attack on a Hico street). It’s arnstory she grew up with, and she tells itrnwith a certain flair.rnAnn turns out to have learned as muchrnin her 21 years as I’ve managed to pick uprnin 42. Hearing that we are planning a rehimrnto the I^one Star state after a ten-yearrnexile in occupied (Northern) Virginia,rnshe tells us about her (brief) sojourn inrnthe wilds of Manhattan, where she wentrnto plan her wedding to a young man ofrnNorthern extraction. Her grandmotherrnwas scandalized (‘Tou’re gonna marry arnYankee?!”), but Ann, perhaps swayed byrnvisions of the Great White Way, wentrnahead with the plans anyway. Dubbedrn”The Yankee” by Ann’s relations, the obhisernManhattanite, according to his formerrnfiancee, wasn’t the least bit perturbedrnby the obvious insult, whichrnshould have told her something about hisrnupbringing. So Ann went to New YorkrnCity and was promptly labeled “honky”rnand “cracker” by various “people of color”rnshe encountered in the asphalt jungle.rnBeing a girl of good character andrnknowing what she was about, Ann returnedrnthe engagement ring to His Yankeenessrn(who apparently saw nothingrnwrong with these obvious insults, either)rnand caught the next plane for Texas.rnBeen there, done thafrnI’m feeling good. The conversation isrnlively, the food tasty, the Shiner Bock (thernreal “National Beer of Texas”) ice cold,rnand a young Texan has returned home.rnBeen there, done that. It’s almost enoughrnto instill a little hope about our country’srnfutiire in my jaded mind. The countrysidernis prettier than I ever remember seeingrnit. The drought is over. Generousrnrains and a cool spring have filled therntanks (Texan for livestock watering holes);rnthe creeks are flowing; and the wildflowersrn—the Indian Paintbrushes, Bluebonnets,rnand cacti—are in full bloom. Thernland is as green as it was in all of my visionsrnof an ideal Texas landscape—evenrngreener. I’m coming home.rnIt’s not something that’s easy to explainrnto my colleagues, much less to my supervisorsrnat work. Some think I want to telecommuternfrom Texas merely becausernreal estate is cheaper here. Others thinkrnI’m looking for another job. From theirrnpoint of view, it simply doesn’t makernsense to forego promotion, possibly loserncontact with my “consumers,” and ruinrnmy “career” simply because I want to gornhome. The looks I’m getting are somethingrnlike that deer-in-the-headlightsrnstare you always hear about. They mustrnbe wondering, “What’s he really up to?”rnI wonder that myself sometimes. Inrnthe end, all you can really leave your childrenrnis an example of how to live. Everythingrnwe have is in Texas: family, friends,rnan old house or two, and that feeling normalrnpeople have when they know theyrnare home. It’s not the place it was when Irnwas boy—much less when my father wasrna boy—but it is still home. People likernAnn have helped keep it that way.rnWayne Allensworth, a native Texan,rnswears that Brushy Bill Roberts was Billyrnthe Kid.rnLetter FromrnInner Israelrnby Jacob NeusnerrnWho’s Afraid of History?rnLA’s Conservative Rabbi David J. Wolpernchose Passover to surrender the claimrnthat “positive-historical Judaism” (a.k.a..rnConservative Judaism) builds the Judaicrnreligion on established facts of history.rnHistory proves the Exodus never happened,rnhe proclaimed on Passover, withrnperfect unfaith and to the hurrahs of otherrntheologians of the “eat-kosher-butthink-rntraif camp of Judaism.rnHis faith in historical knowledge exceedsrnimagining, for historians and archaeologistsrncannot really tell us muchrnabout the remote past or even yesterday.rnThe material culture they reconstiuct attestsrnto broad patterns of conduct, not tornparticular tiansactions or events. Withoutrnthe guidance of textual evidence,rnmuch that archaeologists find remainsrnmute. And textiial evidence rarely suppliesrnthe hard facts that indicate who reallyrnsaid what or performed a particularrndeed, the facts that critical historians requirernto establish certainty: It happened,rnor it didn’t happen. Still, it is much easierrnto say what did happen than what didrnnot happen, as Rabbi Wolpe seems tornwant to do.rn”Critical history”—whether based onrnhow historians read texts or how archaeologistsrndig in the dirt—is hardly so securernas to challenge the factual basis ofrnmatters to which critical history has nornaccess. Most of the important points ofrnthe Torah concern things that do notrnyield the kind of sticks-and-stones evidencernthat critical history requires.rnTherefore, statements of what did or didrnnot happen represent an act of arrogancernjoined to an excess of credulity in thernclaims of “science.”rnArguments from silence rarely enjoyrnthe enthusiasm that Rabbi Wolpe bringsrnto them; after all, you cannot prove a negative.rnRabbi Wolpe was careful not tornspecify the evidence that would prove thernprincipal propositions of the Exodus—rnfor example, proof that God insfructedrnMoses to do such and so, archeologicalrnevidence that the Red Sea parted beforernfleeing Israel, and the like.rnThe Torah camp, challenged by historicalrnand archaeological pronouncementsrncontiary to the narrative of the sacredrntext, reasonably responds: “Theyrndon’t believe; we do believe.” And thernTorah camp builds on a solid basis:rnThere is no more compelling evidencernagainst the veracity of the Torah thanrnthere is for it. But the Torah’s reliabilityrnrests on its origin in God’s self-manifestation.rnThat simple statement captures whatrnis at stake. Archeology thinks it can provernor disprove that to which its methods andrninquiries do not pertain. And that is mostrnof what Scripture is about. No Exodus?rnWho declares what will count as evidence?rnNext they will tell us Adam neverrnlived, as though they could show thatrnhe did. How do they know they are right,rnand what evidence would serve to provernthem wrong? These are standard questionsrnof criticism. Those of us who workrnin the past answer them every day.rnWhat material evidence would servernto disprove the Torah’s account of Moses’srnencounter with Pharaoh, or Israel at thernsea? Where are the records of Pharaoh’srnconversations, the stenographic reports,rnthe tape recordings, the videotapes fromrnhis entire reign from which Moses isrnmissing? Was CNN’s camera on thernshores of the sea on the 15th and 16th ofrnNisan so long ago? If so, we might bernable to pronounce the Torah’s recordrnfalse.rnDECEMBER 2001/41rnrnrn