Daily Archives: 30 May 2011

How Can a Christian Be, at the same time, A Loyal Citizen of a National State and a Loyal Member of the Universal Church?

In 1942 Karl Barth was asked that question in a letter from an American Pastor.  In October Barth replied in a lengthy note (which also answered other questions the unknown Pastor asked.  Barth simply addressed the letter to a ‘dear friend’.)

It is an interesting question and Barth’s answer runs to 3 big pages.

This letter, and many other brilliant and timely pieces are included in a volume titled Eine Schweizer Stimme.  The book contains little occasional pieces by Barth during the war years, 1938-1945.

Barth may have been wrong about some things and he may have been too dismissive of his theological superior, Brunner.  And he was certainly wrong to disdain Zwingli.  But one thing you have to give the guy- he was engaged with what was going on in the world and he applied theology to life.  Unlike so many of our contemporaries in the fields of theology and biblical studies.

Dueling Hate Groups: When Hate Meets Hate

What do you get when you cross the KKK with Westboro (not) Baptist (not) Church?  Hate in a mirror.

Protesting members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were met with an unlikely group of counter-protesters Monday at Arlington Cemetery.  Hours before President Barack Obama led the nation’s Memorial Day observances at the Tomb of the Unknowns, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church were challenged by others who disagreed with them — including members claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.  …  Among those counter-protesting at the cemetery’s main entrance: About 10 members of a group that claims to be a branch of the Ku Klux Klan from Virginia called the Knights of the Southern Cross. They were cordoned off separately in a nearby area, but drew little attention as they gave out small American flags behind a banner that read “POW-MIA.”

Toss in the ‘burn the Quran’ lunatic from Florida and you’d have the perfect confluence of ignorance, bigotry, and stupidity.  Then, put them all in a cage (like a UFC match) and let them go at each other until there’s only one person standing.  And then arrest that one for assault and toss him in prison for the rest of his unnatural life.  Fight fire with fire, in other words, and let the flames of hate extinguish themselves in a flurry.

Want to Venerate the Bloody t-Shirt of John Paul II?

Well you can… Because it’s a holy relic

Oh Catholics…

Good For Spain

Alfonso Manuel Portales, Spanish Consul General in east Jerusalem, announced on Monday that his country will recognize the Palestinian state before September.  Consul General Portales statement came during a meeting with Dr. Nabeel Sha’ath, member of Fatah executive committee and director of international affairs in Ramallah today. He also assured his country’s support for Palestine to join the United Nations expressing that Madrid is actively working encourage more EU countries to recognize the Palestinian state.

Good.  Now the rest of the countries of the world need to do what the UN as an organization and the United States have been afraid to do.  Via.

The Real Ted Haggard Makes an Appearance

One correction, it’s ‘Colorado Springs’ not ‘Spring’. And Ted Haggard really has become nothing more than a money grubbing joke, hasn’t he. But was he ever anything other than that?

From the Christian Post: Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard will appear in a Christian sex comedy that is being developed in Colorado Spring. Haggard, who resigned from New Life Church in Colorado Spring following a drug and sex scandal in 2006, makes a cameo as himself in a film called “The Waiting Game” that promotes abstinence before marriage. The movie is about a guy who saves himself for marriage but later becomes determined to lose his vi … Read More

via Scotteriology

A Tale of Two Worlds in One Place

Here’s a little Palestinian boy in the Gaza strip selling vegetables so that he can help support his family.

And here are some Israeli girls writing messages on artillery shells…

And here’s the story which commences

What is it about Jewish and Arab children that privileges the first and spurns the second in the speeches of President Barack Obama, let alone in the Western media more generally? Are Jewish children smarter, prettier, whiter? Are they deserving of sympathy and solidarity, denied to Arab children, because they are innocent and unsullied by the guilt of their parents, themselves often referred to as “the children of Israel”? Or, is it that Arab children are dangerous, threatening, guilty, even dark and ugly, a situation that can only lead to Arabopaedophobia – the Western fear of Arab children?

Read it all.  And think.

Pimping Archaeology at Beth Shean: The Jerusalem Post Edition

A new essay in the Post which appears to be nothing more than an advert for archaeology (and archaeologists who will find things to support the biblical text) opines

Egypt dominated the land of Canaan just prior to the Exodus (1446 B.C.), and Beit Shean served as the primary city of the region. In ancient Israel, Joshua allotted the city to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11). But Manasseh failed to drive out the Canaanites who lived there, and half of Manasseh settled across the Jordan Valley in what is modern Jordan (Judges 1:27).   During the reign of King Saul, the Philistines controlled Beit Shean. In fact, after Saul’s tragic death on nearby Mount Gilboa, the Philistines fastened the decapitated bodies of Saul and his sons to the wall of Beit Shean in the open square (1 Samuel 31:10-12; 2 Samuel 21:12). The city remained a thorn in the side of Israel until the time of David and Solomon (Judges 2:3; 1 Kings 4:12).

Why bother doing archaeology, or history for that matter.  Just chuck all that effort and pick up a copy of the Bible.  Or, as Antonio puts it more charitably…

Un po’ di propaganda. Gli eventi non andarono proprio così per questa città. Ma oggi non ho voglia di essere polemico.

‘If the ‘James Ossuary’ Came from The Jesus Family Tomb…’

If.  The biggest word in the English language and the harbinger of speculative sentences to follow.  So, for instance, a new essay in Bible and Interpretation strives to uses stats (a perilous enterprise under any circumstances because stats only at the most indicate possibility, not absoluteness) to prove that

Assuming there truly is a Jesus family tomb in the Jerusalem area, the Talpiot Tomb, with its combination of Jesus, son of Joseph, Yoseh as a rare name, James, and Mary, is a near certainty of being the tomb. A second tomb with such an association of names is not likely.

That is, ‘if’ there’s a family tomb at Talpiot (a claim unverified and unverifiable), then because the combination of names is as it is, it is a ‘near’ certainty’ that it’s the real deal.


What seems to be overlooked, however, is that the inscription on the ossuary has been shown to be unreliable.  That means where it was found and all that other stuff is irrelevant.

[What’s so very fascinating is that this ossuary thing is still being discussed.  Just amazing].

So, You Think You’re ‘All That’ Do You?

There’s a healthy reminder in Deuteronomy that none of us are anything without God. To wit-

Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gained me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord is destroying before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. – Dt 8:11ff

Yes- a useful reminder indeed.

A Book on the ‘Turin Shroud’ That Antonio Approves!

It’s a red letter day!

Underground Jerusalem

Sort of like Underground Atlanta, but older, with less stuff to see and fewer shops.

A new underground link is opening within two months, and when it does, there will be more than a mile (two kilometers) of pathways beneath the city. Officials say at least one other major project is in the works. Soon, anyone so inclined will be able to spend much of their time in Jerusalem without seeing the sky.

Read the whole essay.  It’s pretty interesting.

Bibi Tells the Truth! For Once, Kind Of

Ha’aretz reports the surprising news that Bibi said

Israel cannot prevent UN recognition of Palestinian state.

No it can’t. And it shouldn’t. But the Security Council will. Because it’s occupied by Nations who pander to the ‘Israel is always right’ lunacy that’s presently stalled any hope for peace.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that no one can prevent the recognition of a Palestinian state in the United Nations in September. “No one has the power to stop the decision to recognize a Palestinian state in the UN General Assembly in September,” Netanyahu said. “It can also be possible to make the decision there that the world is flat.”

But here’s the hypocritical part-

Earlier this month, Netanyahu said Israel could support a Palestinian state before September under the right conditions, but warned against a Palestinian state which includes Hamas that would try to perpetuate conflict with Israel.

Israel wants, in other words, to dictate what a Palestinian State looks like- fearing it might perpetuate conflict with Israel. But how legitimate is an Israeli state that perpetuates conflict with the Palestinians? Shouldn’t such a state be sanctioned until it conforms to the numerous United Nations declarations which it signed but which it daily ignores?

How is Israeli aggression against Palestinians one atom different than Palestinian aggression against Israel?

Perhaps, along with considering a Palestinian State sans Israeli influence, the United Nations should consider revoking Israel’s membership, since it doesn’t seem to take it seriously anyway.

Malta’s Population Votes to Legalize Divorce

Yes, there are places in the world where divorce is illegal.  Even today.  And now with Malta’s population adopting a law legalizing divorce, there’s soon to be one fewer.

Malta is one of the only countries in the world where divorce is still illegal – alongside the Philippines and Vatican City.   In the predominately Catholic Mediterranean state – of just 400,000 people – it has been a burning issue for many years.  But with the votes counted from Saturday’s referendum, it has emerged that the Maltese people have opted to legalise divorce.   Lawrence Gonzi, Malta’s prime minister, who was against the introduction of divorce, has announced that he accepts the will of the majority and that it is now up to parliament to pass a law which will complete the process.  Are we witnessing a fundamental shift in Maltese society?

Watch the report if you’re so inclined.  I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea to make divorce very difficult (though illegal seems unbiblical given the fact that Scripture allows divorce in specific circumstances).  Marriage is too lightly esteemed and divorce is as common as obesity.  Neither of which are good for society (or people).

Catholics and the Saints: Part Three

Michael has posted the third part of his series explaining to we non-Catholics why they view the saints as they do.  I asked, among other things

What biblical or theological justification is there for believing that the dead pray for us?

And Michael answers

This is a hugely important question. But, actually, in a certain sense, this question really contains a number of other questions rolled up into one:

  1. Isn’t Christ the “one mediator between God and man” (1 Tim 2:5)? If so, isn’t affirming the ability of the dead to pray for us a violation of that biblical teaching? In light of that, it would seem that there can be no biblical justification for the Catholic belief that saints in heaven can pray for those on earth.
  2. Are the dead even conscious? Aren’t the dead “asleep” until the resurrection?
  3. If the those who have died are conscious, how do we know they are aware of the needs of Christians on earth?
  4. Assuming one could answer the questions above, isn’t it just speculation that the saints pray for those on earth? Is there any clear indication in Scripture that those in heaven actually pray for those on earth?
  5. Isn’t it a violation of the biblical prohibition against necromancy to ask the saints in heaven to pray for us?

These are all important questions. Let me try to take them one by one.

Go see how he does.

Have a Pleasant Memorial Day

And pray that one day we will really ‘beat our spears into plowshares and our swords into pruning hooks, and learn war no more.’  That way we won’t need to memorialize the war dead- because there won’t be any.