Daily Archives: 21 Apr 2011

Lady Gag(alot) Drops the ‘R’ Word…

For those who still think she’s precious…

Lady Gaga has lashed out at claims her hit Born This Way is a copy of Madonna’s Express Yourself, branding the accusations “retarded”.  The eccentric singer told NME she believes the only similarity between her song and Madonna’s 1989 track was “the chord progression. The same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years.”  Lady Gaga said: “I am not stupid enough to put a record out and be that moronic. Why would I try to put a song out and think I’m getting one over on everybody? That’s retarded.”  The 25-year-old singer’s comments have been criticised by mental health charity Mencap, which said her use of the word “retarded” was a “slur” against people with learning disabilities.

Next she’ll call gay people the ‘f’ word and black folk the ‘n’ word.

BBC One’s ‘Story of Jesus’

It’s that time of the year.  Still, this has got to be better than anything Discovery or NatGeo spew.  It is the BBC after all.

In a major two part series, nine of the world’s leading Biblical experts re-examine the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life. Using the very latest archaeological, historical and theological research, the programmes analyse the key influences on Jesus’s teaching, explore the land in which he lived and preached, and encounter the people who surrounded him.

Who are the experts?

Expert analysis is provided by Dr Simon Gathercole of Cambridge University, who visits Bethlehem to investigate the stories of Jesus’s birth; Professor James Strange of Florida University, who uses the archaeology of Galilee to explore Jesus’s childhood, the lost years of his life; Dr Joan Taylor of London University, who examines the key character of John the Baptist and his influence on Jesus; and Professor Greg Carey of Lancaster Seminary, who investigates some of Jesus’s key miracles, their meaning and significance.

So that’s a grand crew!  If you’re in the UK (or know the magical key to watching BBC things) tune in!

What, Another Greasy ‘Family Values’ Politician Is Under an Ethics Investigation and Resigns???

Well how unusual is that….

Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who is under an ethics investigation, says he will resign his seat on May 3. In June, the Republican admitted to an extramarital affair with his onetime campaign treasurer.

So says CNN.

The Elah Valley Coins

Via Joseph Lauer, who provides the translation

Maariv – Friday, April 15, 2011 14:17
News – Tens of ancient coins were discovered in the Elah Valley:  Archaeology Doctoral candidate from the Hebrew University uncovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa coins used in the Persian and Hellenistic periods

Dalia Mazori-

A wonderful discovery was made at the excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Elah Valley: at the site were discovered some of the earliest coins ever found in the Land. The discovery was reported by Yoav Farhi, a doctoral candidate from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, at the 37th Israel Archaeological Congress that was held on Thursday, [April 14, 2011,] at Bar-Ilan University.   The coins were from the Persian and Hellenistic periods, the fourth and fifth centuries BCE, about a hundred or more years after the return from exile and the building of the (original) Second Temple. The land was under Persian rule until 332-333 BCE, when the area was conquered by Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic period began.

At the site tens of rare coins were found from different periods. However, the most fascinating were the coins from the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Then coins were first minted in the Land at Jerusalem, Samaria, and Philistia (Gaza, Ashdod and  Ashkelon). At the same time coins brought from elsewhere in the Greek world were also used.    “Coins that were minted in the Land are very rare. All are made of silver and generally are very very small – with a diameter of about 7 mm. and a weight of less than half a gram. However, there are also coins that are slightly larger. But because they are so small they are hardly ever found in organized excavations”, explained Yoav Farhi.

The coin collection that was uncovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa is for now the largest in the Land, of some tens of coins of all types. “These are the first coins ever minted in the Land. Before then no coins were minted here. The world’s most ancient coins were minted in Lydia in Asia Minor in the 7th century BCE. The coins uncovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa are from the earliest in the Land”, said Farhi.

He explained the before this period there were no coins in the Land and that when Abraham bought the Machpela Cave [of the Patriarchs] for 400 silver shekels – he bought it in exchange for pieces of silver and the word “shekel” refers to a unit of weight of about 11.4 grams.  According to Farhi the coins – in the order of tens – were not all found in one place but over three years in all areas of the excavation at the site. Until now there was not found at any excavation site in the Land so many coins of all these types. Only about 10 archaic Greek coins were found in the Land in different places like Jerusalem, Shechem and Atlit – all imported.

A coin from the time of Alexander the Great is the rarest of the coins – one of a kind in the world – a silver covered bronze coin upon which is depicted the figure of a sphinx that was apparently brought from Cyprus. No similar coin of this specific type is known.    On another silver coin – a tetradrachma (four drachmas), that is a relatively large coin, there is displayed on one side the head of the goddess Athena and on the other side a raptor from the owl family and the name of the city of Athens in Greek. This coin served like the dollar – the currency par excellence – in the fourth and fifth centuries BCE throughout the ancient Near East.

Of the earliest and smallest coins struck in Jerusalem is a coin displaying on the obverse the head of the goddess Athena and on the reverse a raptor from the owl family, this time accompanied by the inscription “Yehud”, the name of the province of Judea under Persian rule.

Another coin that was found at the site is from the time of Alexander the Great – also a silver tetradrachma. On one side is seen a head, apparently Alexander’s head, and on the second side the god Zeus seated on a throne. These are relatively large coins, around 25 mm. in diameter and a weight of 17 grams and are most beautiful (compared with the tiny coins of the Persian period whose weight was only half a gram and their diameter about 7 mm.).

The variety of coins that were found in the excavation improves our understanding regarding the monetary situation in Judea and its neighbors during the transition phase between the Persian and Hellenistic periods.    In Khirbet Qeiyafa was revealed a settlement apparently dating back to the tenth century BCE. In the ancient Persian and Hellenistic periods the settlement was of an administrative-military nature.  The excavations at the site are conducted on behalf of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem under the direction of Prof. Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor.

[Pictures and captions (translated) from the Hebrew article.]


[“Alexander the Great” coin found in the Elah Valley.

Picture: Carla Amit]


[“Tetradrachma” coin from the 4th century BCE.

Picture: Carla Amit]


[The coin that was found in the Elah Valley.

Picture: Carla Amit]

UPDATE:  Niels Peter Lemche alerts us to a radio story, in English, on the find- http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Radio/News.aspx/2947

Valerie Strauss is Outraged and She’s Right to Be. All Thinking People Are

Ms Strauss writes

I’m outraged that President Obama has so let down public educators by enabling the continuing rhetoric against bad teachers and failing schools, all the while neglecting to undo the worst aspects of No Child Left Behind. What happened to those campaign promises for meaningful reform?

I’m outraged that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continues his laser-like focus on teacher evaluations and monetary rewards based on unreliable standardized test scores, without addressing ongoing problems of “teaching to the test” and the narrowing of curriculum—especially in low-performing schools. Where will Duncan position himself when the achievement gap widens even more?

I’m outraged that Michelle Rhee is still a media darling, appearing on CBS and Fox News to publicize her “Save Great Teachers” campaign and undo teacher seniority in layoffs, as though all or even most great teachers are among the recently hired. Why isn’t Rhee out there exposing the dire state of education financing and its impact on poor and minority children, campaigning for a return to budgetary sanity in public education?

There are 10 more reasons and she’s 100% on the mark on each and every one!  Why Obama and the media won’t consult intelligent people on subjects with which they have expertise is a ridiculous mark indicating their own paucity of insight.  Go read the rest of Valerie’s piece.  And pass it along to your Educator friends.

The Cops Are Right to Cuff Unruly Kids

And they’re especially right to do it when the kids are endangering others and themselves.

some random kid in cuffs

First-grader Joseph Anderson didn’t like the way his Easter egg turned out so he threw a tantrum at a Queens school. Teachers at Public School 153 told Anderson, who is a special education student, that if he didn’t calm down they would send him to the hospital. His mom told the New York Daily News that after the ultimatum, the 7-year-old jumped on his desk and started screaming, “I just want my mommy.”  Anderson was handcuffed and taken to the hospital by a New York Police Department officer. The Daily News reports that Anderson’s mother had told the school she was on her way and that NYPD say their officer acted appropriately:  The NYPD defended cuffing the kid, saying in a statement that he was “acting in a threatening manner.” A source also said he was waving scissors.  “He was a danger to himself and others in the classroom,” a spokesman said. “He started spitting and cursing at the officers. The handcuffs were used to restrain the child because of his behavior. He was a danger to himself.”  This is the third time the school has sent Joseph to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. The school suspended the boy for two weeks.

The kid clearly has issues that the mother isn’t apparently addressing. And, as always, where’s the father?  Where is he?   Kids need good stable home-lives with moms and dads if there’s to be hope for them to grow up well adjusted.  So where’s dad?

Zwingli Remembered By His Friend Leo Jud and His Theology Summarized and Systematized

4 years after Zwingli was killed at the Second Battle at Kappel-am-Albis, his friend and longtime colleague Leo Jud wrote his Opus articulorum sive conclusionum a sanctae memoriae clarissimo viro Huldrycho Zvinglio.

The volume is nothing other than a summary and systematization of Zwingli’s theology (in 67 Articles taking up over 700 pages!), by a contemporary who knew his mind and heart better than anyone else.  If you want to lay hold of Zwingli’s thought, then this is the volume to consult.

zwei Tage vor dem Fest des Passa…

Es war aber zwei Tage vor dem Fest des Passa und der ungesäuerten Brote. Und die Hohen Priester und Schriftgelehrten suchten Mittel und Wege, wie sie ihn mit List festnehmen und töten könnten. – Mk 14

This is What Happens When You Didn’t Deserve to Win!


Mary’s Not the Virgin Anymore… Even for Some Catholics

Mary has lost her perpetual virginity it seems (though of course anyone who reads the Bible knows that she wasn’t a virgin when she bore Jesus’ brothers and sisters, but never mind that).  Antonio directs our attention to a fascinating sea-change in Catholic thought:

The conference of bishops explained that it had concluded that the original Hebrew (“almah”) more accurately meant “maiden” or “young woman” and pointed out that several other modern translations agree, including the Revised Standard Version, the monumental 1950s translation that was the basis for many of the Protestant revisions in use today.

The Antonio brilliantly remarks

Wow, i cattolici che concordano con i protestanti sulla finta verginità di Maria: questo sì che è un miracolo.

Perhaps a miracle on par with the virginal conception of Jesus (please, people, that’s the proper term.  ‘Virgin birth’ is meaningless.  Virginal conception, that get’s at it what Luke at least is getting at far, far better).

Colin Humphries, The Date of the Last Supper

There’s an essay by Humphries in Bible and Interpretation today that has appeared in various form in other places lately across the web.

The weakness of his theory, in my estimation, is that he attempts to harmonize what need not be harmonized.  Basically, his idea is that

If you move the Last Supper to Wednesday, instead of Thursday, the Gospels are actually in remarkable agreement. In addition, the Bible nowhere states that the Last Supper was on the evening before the Crucifixion, contrary to the claims in many biblical commentaries that it does!

Why must they be in agreement?  The Gospels relate the events of Jesus’ life theologically, not historically.  To be sure, there’s no doubt at all that there was a real Jesus and that he really was killed by the Romans in Jerusalem, probably for insurrection.  Only the maddest of the mad suggest otherwise.  But what day it was?  That’s immaterial.

What’s so amazing to me is that critical scholars continue to pursue the ‘historical’ when the Gospels simply could not be less interested in historical questions per se.  So here we have Humphries arguing with all his might about a particular sequence of events and meanwhile the Gospel writers, in their heavenly colloquium, must be sighing and saying ‘he has completely missed the point!’

This Will Disappoint Many at the Creation Museum in Kentucky

A typical Senate desk

Image via Wikipedia

The [Tennessee] Senate sponsor of a bill to shield teachers from discipline for criticizing scientific theories has taken the proposal off notice for the year.  Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he will wait until next year to push the bill that opponents have characterized as an attack on teaching about areas like evolution or climate change.  Watson, who holds an undergraduate degree in biology, said he will continue discussions about his “Academic Freedom Act” with teachers and university faculty.

How long before the Creation Museum revokes his lifetime pass?

The Horror of the Crucifixion

Mark Goodacre writes

The second Passion Podcast this year is NT Pod 54: The Horror of Crucifixion  It looks at the archaeological and literary evidence and reflects on its relevance to the Passion Narratives in the Gospels.

Timely and informative.

Holy Week and Easter

The German Bible Society has loads of useful things for both.

Albrecht Dürer is to art what Mozart is to music

It’s Dangerous to be a Christian in Indonesia

Indonesia was in a state of high alert Thursday after the arrest of 19 terror suspects led police to a 150-kilogram (330-pound) bomb buried beneath a gas pipeline near a church.  Senior security minister Djoko Suyanto said he believed Islamic militants had been plotting an attack outside of the capital during Good Friday celebrations.  “The army and police are under high alert,” he told reporters after attending a meeting chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “We want to guarantee safety.”

In fact it seems that it’s dangerous to be a Christian in any predominantly Muslim country.  NPR reported just this morning on the growing hostility in Egypt to Christians.

Many who took part in Egypt’s popular uprising hoped it would lead to improved relations between the country’s Muslims and the Christian minority.  But in some Egyptian cities, residents say religious tensions are worse than ever. One of the hotspots is the southern Egyptian city of Qena, where there have been several attacks on Christians by Islamist extremists.

The fact is, wherever there are Muslim extremists, Christians aren’t safe.  And there are Muslim extremists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, and many other places around the world.

So every day, while Christians in Europe and North America rest on their laurels, leaving their faith more than they take it, in other parts of the world being a Christian and taking up the cross very well may lead not to a simple case of spiritual self denial, it may result in actual death.

Christians in many corners of the world are putting American Christians to utter shame with their advanced level of real commitment.

Tiananmen Square: 22 Years Ago Today

On this day in 1989, 100,000+ students marched on Tiananmen Square Beijing, China demanding political reform. Tanks and troops used live fire to clear the area on June 4, 1989, gunning down hundreds of protesters and inciting international outrage. Conclusion: You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution.  Via  Qwiki.com.

It’s hard to believe it has been that long.  And that ineffectual.  Because China is still an oppressive land where the State controls everything and Christians in particular are suffering persecution.

The Brutally Murdered Florida Teen

A 15-year-old boy was shot to death and stuffed into a sleeping bag before being burned in a bonfire and dumped into water, Marion County deputies said Wednesday. Investigators said he was lured into a house by his ex-girlfriend then beaten by a gang of older teens.  Six people are in jail, including the teen’s 15-year-old ex-girlfriend, Amber Wright. They’re accused of killing Seath Jackson in a Summerfield home on S.E. 53rd Avenue in Marion County on Sunday, and then trying to cover up the crime by burning his body.

So very disturbing and horrific.  I can’t imagine the pain his parents are experiencing.  God help them.  Here are the mugshots of 4 of the 6 vicious inhuman killers:

And here’s his ‘ex-girlfriend’, the person responsible for luring him to his death.  The most heartless of the wretched:

Like a pack of vicious dogs, these kids acted out what their depraved natures inclined them towards.

While ‘Mom’ Smokes Pot, Her Toddler is Run Over by a Car

I suppose the ‘420 celebrants‘ think that it wasn’t the pot that made the woman unconcerned about the safety and welfare of her child…

A three-year-old child was struck by a car on Monday while his mother was inside her bedroom smoking marijuana.  Authorities told Nashville’s News 2 the toddler was outside playing unsupervised when the incident happened on Rivera Drive in Murfreesboro.  Police learned during their investigation the child’s mother, Lacey Howington, 28, was inside her bedroom smoking marijuana when a vehicle backed over the child.  The child was transported to Middle Tennessee Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries.

When you’re a pot head nothing matters but getting high.  Your own children disappear in the haze of smoke.

2 1/2 Year Old Shoots and Kills His Mother (?)

It sounds fishy to me.

Police say a caller to 911 told them a woman had been shot by her young son.  Officers arriving at the Miramar apartment Wednesday evening found the woman dead. Late Wednesday, Miramar police were interviewing a man who may know what happened.  Neighbors say they heard a gunshot about 7 p.m. Police quickly arrived and a toddler was removed from the apartment.  Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues says the boy was not injured and does not appear to understand what happened.

I hope they check for gunshot residue, on the hands of the ‘man who may know what happened’ and who evidently made the 911 call.  Red flags everywhere on this one.  And yet more proof that leaving guns lying around is just about the dumbest thing anyone can do.

Alert: What Exactly is Mark Stevens Teaching his Children????

I was stunned and shocked today whilst looking over Facebook to note that Mark has posted a photo of a ‘married couple’ which his precious little daughter had wed.   That photo raises serious questions as to Mark’s teaching and his sanity- for, according to the little one, Jesus is marrying Batman.  Why?  Jesus has long hair and dresses in white…

Just exactly how hairy faced are Australian women and what is Mark teaching his children?!?!?!?!?!  Oh Mark.  I’m not sure if even prayer and fasting can cast out the devil you have…