Daily Archives: 12 May 2011

‘To the pure, all things are pure. But to the corrupt who do not believe, nothing is pure’

So says Titus 1:15a.  I remind you of it because a cab driver in Britain was ordered to remove this cross from her cab-

Why?  Because a dirty minded teenager got in, saw it, and said that it was ‘phallic’.  Hardly.  But the astonishing this is that the cabbie has to set aside a religious symbol because some feckless kid has a corrupt mind.

Clair Cook, who runs AnD taxis, was asked by her local council to ensure that the object was removed after being told that the 15-year-old boy had been offended by it.  She described the complaint as “ridiculous” and said the driver of the car was a devout Roman Catholic.  Miss Cook claimed that if the symbol had been of any faith other than Christianity, the council would have treated the case with far greater sensitivity.  The row follows a series of previous cases in which employees have been censured for displaying Christian symbols.

Britain, bad news.  You’re doomed.

No One Believes You When You Say You Only Use Your iPhone in Church to Read the Bible

Here’s a hilarious go at the notion that people only use their iPhone in Church to read the Bible.   I especially liked this part-

This is 2011, I can’t be carrying all kinds of bound and printed words on paper. What do you call them again? Oh that’s right, books? Yes that’s it, books, specifically the Bible. I’ve got the entire thing right here on my iPhone. Not only that, I have access to every translation ever written. Can your printed piece of paper magically transport you to the Douay Rheims 1899 Edition of the Bible?  I think not and you know how often I’ve got to cross reference a verse during the middle of the sermon and the Douay Rheims is the only one that will “Dou.” See that, a pun? Thank you iPhone!

Fantastic fun!  Read it all for a nice chuckle.  With thanks to Marc (Mark) Cortez for the tip.

Grilled False Prophet

Perhaps the Taiwanese are pointing the way as to how America should handle the dilettantism of Harold Camping.  To wit-

Taiwan police grill apocalypse ‘prophet’.

Boy that sounds promising! Grilled ‘prophet’. I’m not a winebibber so I’m not sure but wouldn’t red wine go with grilled prophet? Such questions call for the deep inner reflection of pastoral musings carried out in silence and solitude (where all pastoral musing belong really, since musings are grossly unformed and pretty much mental vomit).  Those of you who are finished musing and have graduated to actual thinking shoot along a response- what wine goes with red meat?

Anyway- here’s what the Taiwanese have done

Taiwanese police questioned a self-styled “prophet” Thursday, one day after his prediction that the island would be hit by a monster earthquake flopped. After talking to Wang Chao-hung, better known as “Teacher Wang”, officers decided to pass the case to prosecutors to investigate a possible offence of spreading socially disruptive rumours. “We summoned and questioned him today,” said Yang Teng-yao, the deputy chief of the police precinct in the central Taiwan town of Puli. “The case will be taken over by local prosecutors and Wang will come under further questioning.”

Oh shoot. The headline was so promising. They didn’t grill him at all, they just questioned him (though his name rocks, doesn’t it- Mr Wang! Teacher Wang!

Oh Mr Camping…. the police have some questions.

Jon Stewart Skewers Sean Hannity and the Fox News Hypocrites

Brilliantly, as always.  If you didn’t watch it last night, watch it now.

Been There, Had That (Several Times, Many Times)

So, Mr Christian, I empathize.  If you think the ‘patriots’ are creepy wait till you annoy the homeschoolers.  That lot, they’ll slit your throat (or show up at your house or call you all hours of the day and night or do their best to destroy your reputation or all of the above).  Or the fundamentalists.  Or the Mennonites.  Or the gun-nutters.  Or the radical homosexuals.  Or the far right neo-Nazis who call themselves tea-people.  Or the angry atheists. Oh, or the Christian Zionists… forgot about them for a minute!

Fact is, Mr Christian, the sorry fact is, most people can’t disagree without being murderous or manipulative.  But don’t worry, 9 times out of 10 they love to cower behind their much loved anonymity and pseudonymity.

Still, it’s good to keep a file of all those sorts of threats.  That way if the loons are ever successful, the police have leads.

[I can well imagine one day the cops showing up and asking my family if my brutal murder came about because I had enemies- anyone out to get me.  ‘Oh yes, here’s the list.  Start with the Mennonites if you want the most likely but then if you’d rather just go alphabetically.]

You Know, I’ve Seen a Lot of Craziness in My Life…

But this is, hands down, the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

A founder of a religious cult glorifying Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that the powerful premier is the reincarnation of Saint Paul, the Russian tabloid Sobesednik reported on Wednesday.  The sect, founded by one Mother Fotinya, is based in the Bolshaya Elnya village in the central Russian Nizhny Novgorod region.  Fotinya was quoted by the paper as saying that there were certain parallels between the life of former president Putin and St. Paul.  “According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle used to be a warlord and the fierce persecutor of Christians, and then he began preaching the Gospel. Putin also was not a saint during his service in the KGB. But when he became president, the Holy Ghost descended on him,” Fotinya was quoted as saying.

See, if you ever pined for evidence that women [and this particular woman is so insane she calls Paul a ‘warlord’…] shouldn’t be leaders in the Church, here’s the only bit you need.  Via Antonio the Fearless.

Texas Has Stupid Government Officials

Christian has the sorry details-

Despite Rick Perry‘s claims, the budget deficit problem in Texas is huge and was only temporarily solved by using the same stimulus funds that he decried as reckless spending. In fact, in Texas they’ve had to layoff nearly 97,000 teachers and gut essential state services to avoid going bankrupt. So, you’d think that when some cockamamie idea that would cost Texas taxpayers $250 million dollars over the next 10 years, it’d be dead on arrival, right? Well, no. Common sense ain’t so common, especially in Texas. B.J. “Red” McCombs, with a net worth of nearly $1.5 billion, has gotten state Comptroller Susan Combs to agree to build a racing track in Austin at taxpayer expense. Austin’s city government may also invest an additional $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the plan. -h/t ThinkProgress The cost? $25 million a year for the next 10 years.

Hey there Texas, thems some right good priorities ya got there….

Michelle Beadle Mocks LeBron

The Beadle rocks!

The Adventures of Garfinkel and Finkelstein – Edited…

I’m not the sort to use potty language like various of our blogging brethren- so I’ve modified this comic strippish rendition for my ‘G’ audience.  The original source material is here.

The 2011 Sherman Lectures at Manchester University

THE SHERMAN LECTURES 2011
‘Toleration within Judaism’

Martin Goodman, Professor of Jewish Studies and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford
Mon 16 – Thurs 19 May 2011, 5.15pm daily
Venue: Room A101 in the Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester (Building 67 on Campus Map)

All events are free of charge and open to the public.

Series Abstract

Varied forms of Judaism have coexisted throughout most of Jewish history. Religious differences have sometimes led to conflict, but at other times Jews have tolerated different practices and beliefs within their communities. The lectures seek to trace and explain some cases of toleration within Judaism from the period of the Second Temple to the present.

1. Monday 16 May: ‘The Study of Toleration within Judaism’
The Sherman Community Lecture, in conjunction with the Jewish Representative Council and ZCC. Followed by kosher reception.

The lecture will investigate when and why Jews have tolerated within their communities religious practices and beliefs to which they object, examining what we mean by ‘toleration’ and how Jews have expressed notions of toleration in different periods. The lecture will propose procedures for discovering cases of toleration in practice despite the concentration of so much of the surviving evidence on conflict and division within Judaism.

2. Tuesday 17 May: ‘Toleration in late Second Temple Judaism: Sadducees, Pharisees and others’

Jews in the first century CE interpreted the Torah in varied fashions, resulting in disparate lifestyles and theologies, but almost all of them shared allegiance to a single Temple which was administered by a hierarchy appointed from within a hereditary caste of priests. The lecture will examine how these Jews accommodated themselves to the inevitability that the Temple was run by the priests in a way that must always have seemed to one group of Jews or another to be an infringement of the requirements of the Torah as they interpreted it.

3. Wednesday 18 May: ‘The Houses of Hillel and Shammai in rabbinic tradition’
The Mishnah refers to a series of halakhic disputes between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. The lecture will investigate why these disputes were recorded and how the attitude of the editor of the Mishnah to these disagreements differed from that attested in other rabbinic traditions.

4. Thursday 19 May: ‘Reasons for toleration within Judaism (from antiquity to now)’

The lecture will investigate why differences in theology and practice sometimes lead to conflict and sometimes seem unimportant, examining different explanations for toleration in specific case studies in the history of Judaism from the Second Temple period to now.

There will be a Masterclass for Postgraduate Students on Research Methods with Prof. Goodman on Thursday 19 May at 10:00 a.m. in Room A116 of the Samuel Alexander Building. The Masterclass will be chaired by Prof. Philip Alexander. Any postgraduate students who wish to attend are welcome to email cjs@manchester.ac.uk, in order to allow us to know how many plan on joining the session.

There will also be a Feedback Seminar on Thursday 19 May at 2:00 p.m. in Room A7 of the Samuel Alexander Building. All are welcome and tea will be available afterwards.

Martin Goodman is Professor of Jewish Studies and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His research interests are primarily in the political, social and religious history of the Jews in the Roman empire. He has focused in particular on the relationship of the Jews to the wider Roman world in which they lived.

Eerdmans Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls: Wisdom Literature

This volume may well interest many of you.

This second published volume in the groundbreaking Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls series is the first comprehensive commentary on the wisdom texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. John Kampen provides original translations of these works, most of which are found in the extensive collection of fragments that became widely accessible for study only in 1991. Augmenting his translations with scholarly notes, discussions of key terms, and detailed commentary, Kampen shows how this corpus fits into — and enhances our understanding of — biblical wisdom, Christian origins, and the complex social and intellectual history of Second Temple Judaism.

The materials covered are

Instruction (1Q26, 4Q415-418, 423)
Mysteries (1Q27, 4Q299-300, 301?)
The Evil Seductress (4Q184)
Wisdom Composition (4Q185)
CryptA Words of the Maskil to All Sons of Dawn (4Q298)
Sapiential-Didactic Work A (4Q412)
Ways of Righteousness (4Q420-421)
Instruction-Like Composition B (4Q424)
Beatitudes (4Q525)
The Wisdom of Ben Sira (Sirach)

Glenn Beck Hasn’t Been Relegated to Insane Land Yet with Pat Robertson? Who Knew…

He sure needs to be.  What kind of despicable character attacks a woman doing a cancer awareness public service announcement?  is Glenn Beck mentally ill?  He has to be.  In my estimation his family should immediately escort him to the nearest mental health facility and have him committed.  And I’m not joking, joshing, or being facetious.  The guy has serious issues.  If his family cares anything at all about him, they will take him away today.  Now.

Cindy McCain lashed out at Glenn Beck after he mimed vomiting over her daughter Meghan’s recent skin cancer PSA.  McCain was only one of the women featured in the ad, which compared not wearing sunscreen to being naked, and which showed McCain seemingly naked.  On Beck’s Wednesday show, he and his co-hosts spent over eight minutes mocking McCain. Beck pretended to vomit repeatedly (with detailed sound effects) while looking at McCain’s ad or even hearing her name. “Put some extra clothes on,” he said. “Like, lots of extra clothes…has she thought about a burqa, just to be extra safe?”

That’s the behavior of a wretched little troll of a mentally ill man.

Students Want Lectures

British universities are failing to provide students with enough lecture and tutorial time, according to David Willetts.

Maybe the Profs are busy… doing other stuff… Or maybe they’re just too worried about keeping their jobs and publishing ‘entrails of the gnat’ books… to lecture students (the putative primary purpose of professoring).

Speaking at a Higher Education Policy Institute conference in central London, Mr Willetts highlighted research that showed British students had fewer contact hours per week than their counterparts in France or Germany. The 2009 figures show that undergraduates at British universities have an average of 30 lecture or tutorial hours every week, compared with 42 hours in France and 36 hours in Germany. Mr Willetts said: “You put together contact hours and times of private study, and you do appear to find that hours of study for students in the UK appear to be below the average in other European countries.”

I’m just glad they didn’t compare them to US Professors. Then they’d really have something to complain about (not that US students would complain- they’re, by and large, satisfied with the least amount of work possible and if the Prof skips class or cuts it short they’re overjoyed).

Aww, Poor Big Oil… How Do You Survive?

Motorists are paying nearly $4 for a gallon of gasoline as the oil industry reaps pre-tax profits that could hit $200 billion this year.  This makes another big number hard to take: $4.4 billion. That’s how much the industry saves every year through special tax breaks intended to promote domestic drilling.

How do they survive with huge profits and taxpayer underwriting?

Oil industry advocates, a group that includes most Republicans in Congress, argue just the opposite. They say oil companies reinvest tax breaks into exploration and production, which ultimately generates more tax dollars and increases the supply of oil. They say eliminating tax breaks will raise the cost of doing business and lead to higher gas prices.

Liars.  Politicians and oil execs share that characteristic.  If their lips are moving, they’re lying.

“When you see profits that include the word billions, people automatically think someone is getting screwed,” says Christine Tezak, Senior Energy and Environmental Policy Analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “The fact that the (oil industry) is getting any breaks at all has become a sore spot.”  The price of oil is so high that removing these tax breaks would likely have little to no effect on domestic oil production. There are other factors that make the U.S. a highly attractive place to drill: it’s politically stable, it has good roads and pipelines, and it’s the world’s biggest energy consumer. And the industry would remain hugely profitable even though eliminating the tax breaks would increase its U.S. tax bill by nearly 70 percent.

Makes you feel like throwing something doesn’t it.

They’re in the News, But Who are the Copts?

The Guardian has a nice piece answering that question.

Attacks on churches, communal divisions – Cairo has recently seen conflicts between some Muslims and Coptic Christians. But who exactly are the Copts and how did they come to be in Egypt? Part of the answer lies in Coptic art.

It’s fairly long but worth the time.

True Words

Where are the Female Dig Directors in Israel?

It’s a very interesting question.  And Jennifer does a good and fair job addressing it in a new essay at Bible and Interpretation.

Many who seek an archaeological field experience in Israel look to the Biblical Archaeology Review’ (BAR) annual dig issue, where excavation directors looking for volunteers publicize their projects. While perusing the summer projects for this year, I was disappointed to note that less than one-third of the excavations planned in Israel in summer 2011 list female directors and co-directors, six out of 22 total projects (27%). Since I knew that this was not a comprehensive list, I consulted the Archaeological Institute of America’s (AIA) online Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin (http://www.archaeological.org/fieldwork/afob) and the American Schools of Oriental Research’s (ASOR) list of 2011 ASOR-affiliated excavations in search of additional dig opportunities (http://www.asor.org/excavations/asor-cap-
projects.html
). These sources yielded eight more total projects, three of them directed or co-directed by women, bringing the number of field projects listed in these three sources for summer 2011 to 29 with eight directed or co-directed by women (28%).

And that’s just for starters.

Die Zürcher Bibel von 1531: Entstehung, Verbreitung und Wirkung

Die Zürcher Bibel von 1531: Entstehung, Verbreitung und Wirkung, hg. von Christoph Sigrist, 2011, 171 Seiten, Paperback mit farbigen Illustr.  ISBN 978-3-290-17579-5.  CHF 28.00 – EUR 20.00 – EUA 20.60

It’s new at the Theologischer Verlag Zurich.  Eisenbrauns is the North American distributor of TVZ books so contact them and order yourself a copy!

Wie Martin Luther und Philipp Melanchthon übersetzte auch Huldrych Zwingli zusammen mit anderen Gelehrten der Hohen Schule die Bibel aus dem hebräischen und griechischen Urtext ins Deutsche. Im Unterschied zu den Wittenbergern war das Zürcher Übersetzungswerk fünf Jahre vorher (1529) abgeschlossen. Von den zahlreichen Bibeln und Bibelteilen, die seit 1524 bei Christoph Froschauer erschienen sind, gehört die reich illustrierte Foliobibel von 1531 zu den schönsten und wichtigsten Druckwerken der Zeit. Von dieser Ausgabe gibt es weltweit nur noch drei kolorierte Exemplare, eines davon gehört zum Kirchenschatz des Grossmünsters und wurde 2010/2011 aufwendig restauriert. Der vorliegende Band beleuchtet die Entstehung der sogenannten Froschauer-Bibel sowie ihre Verbreitung in Europa und Nordamerika und fragt nach der Bedeutung dieser Reformationsbibel im 21. Jahrhundert.  Mit Beiträgen von Christoph Sigrist , Urs B. Leu, Hans Rudolf Lavater und Markus Keller.

Brilliant!

Free Dorothy!

Journalists of Color is calling on the government of Syria to release Al Jazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz and allow her to continue her important work in the country. Parvaz, a former reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a 2009 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, was apparently detained shortly after arriving in Damascus on Friday to cover anti-government protests in the country. Al Jazeera has been told by Syrian officials that they’re holding Parvaz. She is a citizen of the United States, Canada and Iran. She joined Al Jazeera in 2010.

I Know it isn’t Politically Correct, But It Certainly is True

Some people are just simply too large to fit into airplane seats.  Even when they purchase two of them.  There’s no use pretending it isn’t true or making up some silly reason as to why it’s evil to point out the obvious.  No one gets angry when someone says ‘crying babies on a plane are annoying’ (because they are).  So why get angry at Southwest?

During a layover in Dallas on Easter Sunday, Kenlie Tiggeman was told by a Southwest employee that she and her mother were “too fat to fly” when they asked what the weight restrictions were on the flight, according to MSNBC.  Tiggeman, who has lost a whopping 120 pounds in the last two years, told the news organization: “It doesn’t matter how far I have come. I have a long way to go, but no one sees that. All they see is my exterior – someone who is fat.”   Southwest’s “Customers of Size” policy clearly states that passengers who cannot fit between the 17-inch armrests must purchase a second seat.

I’m glad she’s lost a lot (hoorah!) and I’m glad she’s continuing (for her own health’s sake) to do so but that has absolutely nothing to do with her ability to fit in a seat.  Furthermore, simply fitting in a seat (and flowing over the armrests into another) is little to ask and generous from the airlines point of view considering how unpleasant the entire flight will be for the persons seated next to her.

Let’s admit it- being egocentric and having no concern for those around you is at the heart of this and all disputes like it.  ‘I want to fly even if I can’t fit and I don’t care who I make miserable to do it.  I’m all that matters’.  Curved in on self- it’s the hallmark of human behavior for those lacking grace.

When, naturally, Tiggeman took to her blog to describe the ordeal in a post entitled “The Day Southwest Airlines Took My Old Fears Into a New Nightmare”, a Southwest executive contacted her again to apologize and offered her additional free flights.  But Tiggeman stands firm in her position that she’s not looking for free flights, just that their “sensitivity level needs to be different.”

Indeed- she wants everyone else to be sensitive to her whilst she can be as insensitive to everyone around her as she wishes.  Incurvatus in se personified.