Daily Archives: 16 May 2011

Stephen Hawking is a Dilettante

He knows nothing of the subject of heaven nor of the topic of theology.   And just as I don’t blather on about physics, he shouldn’t babble about topics theological.  When he does, he just proves himself a fool, thinking himself to be wise.  A dilettante in the truest sense of the word.

Mom’s Mad for the Wrong Reason

Instead of being mad that her daughter got in trouble because she didn’t report inappropriate behavior, she should be mad that there are kids having sex on the school bus!

A Dayton, Ohio, mother says a charter school is punishing her daughter for not immediately reporting that she saw two classmates having sex on a school bus and for changing her seat during the bus trip, reports the AP. Saundra Roundtree’s 14-year-old daughter changed seats with a boy who wanted to sit beside a girl on a school trip, but was afraid to say anything when she later saw them having sex.

Mom should be furious that teens think it appropriate to behave that way, that her daughter DIDN’T report what was going on to the driver, and that the little fornicators weren’t immediately expelled from school for the next year.  Instead, she’s just mad because her little precious can’t go on a picnic and to prom.

Good grief what absurdity.

The Supreme Court Has Just Quietly Gutted Your Civil Rights

And the police have just been given permission to enter your home without a warrant if they think they have a reason to.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a Kentucky man who was arrested after police burst into his apartment without a search warrant because they smelled marijuana and feared he was trying to get rid of incriminating evidence.  Voting 8-1, the justices reversed a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that threw out the evidence gathered when officers entered Hollis King’s apartment.

Forget for a moment the pot angle- the fact is, warrantless entry is a huge problem and was used regularly by British forces during the American Revolution.  Congress adopted – within the Constitution itself – prohibitions against such entries because it knew how easily the line is crossed between real reason and fabricated reason.  ‘I smelled pot, so I entered your home and there’s nothing you can do about it’ may now be regular police procedure.

The court said there was no violation of King’s constitutional rights because the police acted reasonably. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

The Court has abandoned a very serious Constitutional issue and quietly gutted one of your most important rights.  And you should be mad as fire about it.

Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court that people have no obligation to respond to the knock or, if they do open the door, allow the police to come in. In those cases, officers who wanted to gain entry would have to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant.  But Alito said, “Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame.”

Right.  And the police will tell you that when they knock on your door.  Sure they will.

In her dissent, Ginsburg said her colleagues were giving police an easy way to routinely avoid getting warrants in drug cases.

One out of nine with sense.  What a shame.

Christians and Muslims: What We Must Do No Matter What They Do

In the words of one Middle Easterner-

“God’s heart is that all should be saved. We’re talking about 1.5 billion people that Jesus loves. … When you look at the news, it’s very easy to think that Muslims are all evil. But I’m telling you that even some of those who die as suicide bombers are sincerely searching for God. They want to reach the unknowable God. They desire so much to know God that they think that if they die in jihad, at least then they will be with Him. In Islam, there’s no assurance of salvation aside from giving your life.”

“I’ve been in that place. It is like bondage. How would you feel if you saw people being bound as slaves in chains? How would you feel if you saw the slave master beating people who wanted to step out of that chain, but knew if they did, they would be killed? Many Muslims want to escape Islam, but they fear death. … It is by fear and by lies that our enemy, which is Satan, has billions of these precious souls in bondage. He is beating them, controlling them, and sending them to die.”

“This is what most people don’t know. There are millions of Muslims crying out to God like slaves in Egypt. They’re crying, “We want to know You, but we are in bondage. …We were born into this religion and there’s no way we can get rid of it without losing our life.”

“Jesus came to set the captives free. We have to see Muslims as captives, have compassion for them, and believe they are precious in His eyes. What I pray is that Christians will not fear or hate, but have compassion. The greatest power against Islam is our love. That’s why our broadcasts are powerful. The love that they share breaks through the lies of the enemy and the power of fear.”

Though many would denounce such a disposition as imperialistic or even incorrect, imagining that all religions are the same, for Christians who are familiar with Jesus’ claim, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me’, it is simply true that salvation comes through none other.  Christians are duty bound to love even those who hate them and persecute them and spitefully use them.   It is what we must do no matter what they do.

Despicable, Marathon, Utterly Despicable

But I’m sure Marathon Oil in Kentucky aren’t the only despicable crooks stealing from the public.

The Kentucky Attorney General is accusing Marathon Oil of price gouging.  On Friday, Jack Conway filed a motion for a temporary injunction in Franklin Circuit Court alleging that Marathon illegally raised the wholesale price of gasoline and other motor fuels in markets across Kentucky during a time of emergency.  “I want to thank Kentuckians who called or emailed our office to report the drastic changes in gas prices that reached more than $4 a gallon at the pump in many communities,” General Conway said. “Gas prices jumped about 30 cents overnight. The tips provided by consumers and retailers helped us bring this action that will hopefully provide some relief for Kentuckians who are struggling to put gas in the car and clean up from flooding.”  The motion alleges that Marathon violated Kentucky’s price-gouging statute that was triggered when Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency on April 26 in the wake of massive flooding.

Figures.  I wish they’d investigate BP and Exxon.  Down here they are instantaneous in price rises and slower than molasses in dropping them.  Thanks to Joel for the tip on the twitter.

Glenn Beck’s Jerusalem Syndrome

I pity Jerusalem.  The feckless Mormon is on his way to deliver his message of lunacy and apocalyptic dilettantism.

Glenn Beck went to Washington last summer to restore honor; now, he’s planning to bring courage back to Jerusalem. Beck made his promised “big announcement” today on his radio show: Sometime in August, Beck will head to the city for another rally. “I invite you to join me in Israel this summer to stand together and show the world what living a life of faith and honor really means. I invite you to join me in my quest to restore courage,” he said.

What. A. Nutbag.  I bet by the time Beck leaves Jerusalemites will wish for more Palestinians.

Today in Theological History

First, on the 16th of May in 1522 Huldrych Zwingli published his terribly significant Eine göttliche Vermahnung an die Eidgenossen zu Schwyz.  Think of it as an ‘open letter’ to the citizens of the Swiss Confederation pleading for adoption of the newly born Reformation and an abandonment of the practice of mercenary service.  Too many young men had died in pointless battles on foreign fields.

Second, Heinrich Bullinger preached his very first sermon at Bremgarten in 1529.

Third, Emil Brunner was granted his terminal degree, a Doctorate of Theology, on May 16 in 1925.

And fourth, W. Peter Stephens, the foremost English speaking scholar of Zwingli was born on 16 May in 1934.  All in all, May 16 has been a very good day for Reformed theology!

So True, So Very, Very True

Well pointed out Mr Spinti

“…we want something that will make people say—What a wonderful man of prayer he is! What a pious, devoted woman she is! If anyone says that of you, you have not been loyal to God.”—Oswald Chambers

If I may decipher Chambers a bit- he isn’t suggesting that piety is wrong- he’s saying that our desire to appear pious is nothing but self serving disloyalty to God.  But he’s also saying that when ‘all men speak well of you’, something is genuinely amiss and you have missed the purpose of your calling- which isn’t to be popular, but to be Godly- along with all that godliness implies concerning opposition to corruption and evil.  When you stand up to evil, evil doesn’t like it much.

Christopher Rollston on the Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon

Chris has uploaded a paper on the ostracon and you can access it here.  Enjoy.

Total Depravity: The Middle School Drug Dealer

This sort of thing is just so unhappiness-making.

The superintendent says an investigation at Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge found a student was distributing drugs to six others. The school resource officer helped Principal Bruce Lay investigate rumors on May 4.  By the next day, Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey says officials had narrowed their focus to the seven students.  No one has been arrested. Dr. Bailey says he’s not certain what grade or grades the students are in.  Bailey says the Oak Ridge Police Department is handling the matter, and he’s not sure if any arrests will be made or any charges will be filed.

Makes no sense does it?  They know 7 kids are involved in drugs but none have been arrested.  They know there are 7 but they don’t know who they are.  And even if they know at some point they may not arrest them or file charges.

Well then what’s the point????  This is exactly why kids grow up doing as they please.  Even the worst offenses have no consequences.  What absurdity.

Trump’s Out

Bummer.  Now the absurdity factor in Republican presidential politics will have to be dug out instead of just appearing on the surface plain for all to see.  The Trump(et) has sounded and the towel has been tossed in.  Now who can we mock?  Oh that’s right- all the rest of the announced and as yet unannounced and of course there’s always the hypocritical adulterer Newt.  All’s not lost with Trump’s exit.

The Pastoral Pesher: A Newly Discovered Dead Sea Scroll

The ‘Pastoral Pesher’ (1Q PP) was discovered this month by Jacob Simcavichi in a small shop in Tel Aviv and published in the Journal of Archaeological Reviewings, #2, 2011.  According to Simca (what he likes to go by) the Pesher contains ‘sayings of the congregation’ and ‘their interpretation’.

For example, 1Q PP 3-4 reads

‘…. [and when a member of the con]gregation approaches its pastor and says ‘lo, beloved teacher of righteous doings, I shan’t be at worship this week for I have […]’ its interpretation is ‘I won’t be there, teacher of doings, because I’d rather stay in bed after being out all night [….]ing.’

And 1Q PP 12-13 reads

[….] [at the appointed time for the offering to be received] … you hear a clinking in the plate it may suggest poverty, however, its interpretation is ‘beloved teacher of righteous deeds, I’m a cheapskate and I’d rather spend my money on booze and video games than anything you call ministry’.

There are another dozen or so of these fascinating snippets, all evidently showing neophyte community leaders that though they are required to ‘love the community’ they most certainly are not required to believe congregants when they claim to be ill, offer reasons for absences from the community, or otherwise say anything even remotely excuse oriented.  It’s quite an eye opener, this newly discovered scroll (a photo of which is below).  Be sure to read the entire article- I’m sure your library carries it if you aren’t a subscriber.

1 in 5 Americans is an Idiot (Although That’s Probably on the Low Side)

20% of  Americans believe bin Laden is still alive.  1 in 5 Americans are walking the streets and driving cars and working on power lines and programming computers and making your lunch and serving your dinner and they believe that bin Laden is still walking the planet…  That’s more than believe Elvis is still alive!

It’s been only two weeks since President Obama reported on national television that an American commando team in four military helicopters had killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan bedroom. Within literally minutes, word of the terrorist’s death by gunshot prompted seemingly spontaneous street celebrations outside the White House and elsewhere.  Now comes word from noted pollster John Zogby that while an overwhelming majority buys the administration’s account, a surprising almost one-in-five likely American voters believes the Al Qaeda founder is not dead at all, nor buried at sea, as Obama officials have stated.  How could this possibly be?  That’s more than twice the accepted estimate of silly folks who think Elvis is 76 now, watching his old movies and collecting Social Security in a secret somewhere.

No wonder Bush won.  He was the President of the 1/5th and the 4/5ths have just given up on government or society to accomplish anything meaningful.  The lunatics really, really are in charge of the asylum.

A Forthcoming Volume of Great Interest: A Selection from Calvin’s Letters

This is very exciting, even though it won’t be out till November: Oecumenica: Eine Auswahl aus Calvins Briefen.

Der 8. und letzte Band der Calvin-Studienausgabe enthält eine gezielte Auswahl der Briefe Calvins. Sie sind geeignet, manches Vorurteil und Klischee, namentlich das durch Polemik entstellte düstere Bild des “Despoten von Genf”, wirksam zu korrigieren. In der umfangreichen Korrespondenz mit bedrängten protestantischen Gemeinden, vollends in den Briefen an gefangene, wegen ihres Glaubens verurteilte Anhänger der “neuen” Lehre, die er bis zu ihrem Märtyrertod begleitete, begegnet man einem einfühlsamen Seelsorger und Freund, der Not und Hoffnung mit ihnen teilt.

You can check it out here.  And you can see all the other volumes in the series (and it’s fantastic) here.

Persecution of Christians in China Escalates

For the 6th consecutive Sunday, the police have arrested members of the Church of Shouwang who gather to pray outside in a square in the commercial area of Zhongguancun in Beijing. The persecution is increasing and affects the private lives of the faithful, but the repression has begun to attract international attention.  Yesterday the police, deployed in force, arrested 13 followers of Shouwang as soon as they tried to start praying in the square. The first Sunday the police had arrested 169 faithful, the second about 50. Now tens of followers are under house arrest each weekend, and 6 Church leaders have been for over a month.

I continue to be astonished at the real faith on display in China and I’m in equal parts dismayed by any similar sort of devotion among most American Christians.  Truth told, if Churches were locked up any particular Sunday less than 20% of the membership would even know it since church attendance averages around 20% of church membership on any given Sunday.

China’s economy is outdoing us and China’s Christians are too.  Soon the Chinese will be sending missionaries to America.  We could, frankly, use them.

Being a Christian

Zwingli remarks

The Christian is like a man with a broken leg. He does not continue to break it just because he has found a doctor who can heal it. Instead, he remembers the pain of the break. So those [silly people], who when they hear that Christ has made atonement for the sins of all exclaims, ‘we will sin, for all things are freely pardoned through Christ’ have never felt the pain of sin.

And elsewhere

To be a Christian is not to blather about Christ, but to walk as he walked.

True words on all counts.

That’s SO WRONG!!!!!!!!!!

Color me appalled and aghast…

via XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

(Man I wish I could photoshop….)

Dilettantism (and Insanity) of Biblical Proportions

Antonio informs us of the couple who think themselves to be Mary Magdalene and Jesus…   Yes, you read that right.  They think they’re Mary and Jesus…

And, unsurprisingly these days, there are moronic souls gullible and idiotic enough to follow them.  In Australia…

A COUPLE who claim they are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene have set up base in Queensland’s Bible Belt and are drawing in disciples from across the country.

Figures.  Probably the same people who like Rick Warren.  At any rate, I proudly (read scornfully and mockingly) give them the Dilly the Dilettante of the Week Award.  I know it’s early in the week, but seriously, can anything dumber come down the pike?  I can’t imagine so.

Get the Lead (Codices) Out

There’s an essay up on Bible and Interpretation describing the ‘lead codices’ thing for all of you who want to know more about it.  It’s by Tom Verenna.

Rape Victims Have Nothing for Which to Apologize

And if some ‘church’ forced a teen to apologize for being raped and becoming pregnant, that church is completely in the wrong.  And a tad wicked.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the case of a 15-year-old girl who prosecutors say was raped by a fellow church member and forced to stand before the congregation to apologize for getting pregnant.

Churches are obliged by the Gospel to side with the oppressed and abused and mistreated.  That’s always the victim.  To coerce this child into apologizing for being the victim of a violent crime is absurd and subchristian.   It’s totally depraved.  Indeed, churches too can be depraved just as much as individual people can be, and are.

Ernest Willis is charged with forcibly raping Christina Anderson twice during the summer of 1997, when she was his children’s baby sitter and he was 39. Lawyers for Willis, now 52, say in court documents that he will admit having sex with the girl once but maintains it was consensual.  Prosecutor Wayne Coull said he expects Anderson to be among the first witnesses called when the trial begins May 23 in Merrimack Superior Court. The trial is expected to last four days.  The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes, but Anderson, now 29, asked that her name be made public.  Former Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Charles Phelps is on the prosecution’s list of witnesses. Anderson told police that Phelps arranged for her to move to Colorado and forced her to write a letter of apology she had to read to the fundamentalist congregation.

Phelps must be related to that other wicked Phelps- Fred.

(Via Tom V. on FB).