Daily Archives: 3 Sep 2011

What Should One Do With Frauds?

Martin Luther once told the story of a monk who went about defrauding old folk.

There was a certain monk who demanded of a dying nobleman, “Sir, are you willing to give this and that to the monastery?” Since the dying man was unable to speak and could only give a sign by nodding, the monk said to the nobleman’s son, “See, you notice that your father consents to giving these things.” Then the son asked his dying father, “Father, isn’t it your will that I hurl this monk down the stairs?” When the father gave the same sign the monk got what he deserved and was thrown down the stairs.

And that, Luther suggested, was what should happen to the perpetrators of fraud.

The Continuing Paganization of the Land Down Under

As Joel ‘the vacationing’ Watts informs us (quoting some Aussie paper or other)

Australia is to remove the birth of Jesus as a reference point for dates in school history books.  Under the new politically correct curriculum, the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).  The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, yesterday condemned the move as an ‘intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history’.

Personally I think BCE and CE make perfect sense and so do BC and AD and I switch back and forth between them like a thirsty sailor goes from pub to pub.  Getting so worked up about such designations is a bit childish.  Anyway, Joel ‘the hideous swim suit wearing’ Watts cruelly observes

First, Australia was founded as a penal colony, hence Mark Stevens. Second, if you track the history of it, BC and AD were created in the 6th century and made it into English in 1708. So, hardly the stuff of foundations.

Mark isn’t an Aussie, he’s from New Zealand (I think)(or maybe Canada)(it’s all the same, isn’t it?).

If Joel’s not nicer he’s going to be eaten by a shark….

Another High School Footballer Dead

It’s a football record nobody wanted to set: For the sixth time this summer, a high school football player has collapsed and died after practicing in scorching heat.  Al Smith Jr., a 15-year-old sophomore, fell ill and then fainted Tuesday during his second day of practice with the junior varsity team at Eisenhower High School in Houston. He was rushed to the hospital and died two days later.  While Smith’s cause of death has not yet been determined, his case bears striking similarities to the deaths of several other high school players this summer.

God, help his family.

Once More: On the Stunning German Essay on the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Previously noted here, the controversy stirred by a powerful essay calling on Christians to stop playing favorites with Israel because of some false and un-scriptural assumption about ‘God’s people’ is continuing with full vigor.

Die “teils heftigen Kontroversen” um den israel-feindlichen Artikel “Vom Nationalgott Jahwe zum Herrn der Welt und aller Völker” von Jochen Vollmer im Deutschen Pfarrerblatt 8/2011 waren “Grund” für den Vorstand des Verbandes evangelischer Pfarrerinnen und Pfarrer, eine Sondersitzung einzuberufen und nach der ersten Stellungnahme vom 24. August 2011,reformiert-info berichtete, am 1. September eine zweite zu verabschieden.

As I said before,

The fear of being accused of antisemitism merely for criticizing Israeli political policy is SO STRONG that even theologians are afraid to speak the truth.  I applaud Jochen Vollmer for his truthfulness and courage.

But do go read the various responses to Vollmer’s essay- as the storm rages.

God Willing, This Will be the Last Time Anyone, Anywhere, Mentions These Feckless Codices

Tom has the latest barrage and a video is viewable here that Tom produced and which was examined by various and sundry for accuracy and content.

The Elkingtons need to throw in the towel and return to doing their space alien invader research and never again approach a biblical studies topic. Not only are they really dilettantish at it, but they just don’t have any clue at all concerning actual honest scholarship.

Anyway, the Good Lord willing, this will be the last anyone anywhere hears of these feckless lead codices (unless an actual scholar discovers something meaningful- but given the clearly bogus and fraudulent nature of the ‘find’ I just don’t see that happening).

Changing Perspectives 1-4

Changing Perspectives I: Studies in the History, Literature and Religion of Biblical Israel, by John Van Seters with an Introduction by Thomas L. Thompson

This is a freshly published volume (just now out!) from the Copenhagen International Seminar Series which

… contains a collection of articles written over a 40 year period, from 1964 onwards. They are revisionist in character and address major issues in the understanding of Israelite and Judean history, the literary-critical analysis of the Pentateuch and historical books, and the nature of biblical religion. The historical studies were among the first to raise serious questions with the prevailing understanding of the “patriarchal age”, the accounts of the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, and the temple of Solomon. The literary studies of the Pentateuch challenged both the classical Documentary Hypothesis, especially the early dating of J, and the more recent modifications that support the notion of an extensive Deuteronomistic redaction of the Pentateuch. Articles on biblical historiography focus on a late dating of the Court History of David, the nature of the Deuteronomistic history, and the role of creative imitation in the composition of biblical narrative. The final section on Israelite religion and culture views biblical notions about patriarchal religion, myths of human origin, and the legendary origins of Passover, within a broad comparative context. These articles have had a significant impact in the field of biblical studies.

Go to the link above for the complete table of contents.  And since I have the honor of being a series editor, let me commend it to you most heartily!

And, there are other volumes in the series ‘Changing Perspectives’ too.  Here’s IV, by Philip Davies.  And though not yet listed, Thomas Thompson also has a contribution in the series titled Changing Perspectives II (and I’m very familiar with it as I’m presently working on editing it) and Niels Peter Lemche’s III should appear sometime after II.

Crazy Catholics: They Practice ‘In-Utero’ Baptism…

This one, well it’s just beyond belief.  It takes the absurdity called ‘infant baptism’ to a new level of insanity. What bafflement.  It’s not as if the baby isn’t already fully submerged.  What’s the priest do???  Drag it out, sprinkle it (what a distortion of Baptism that is) and then push it back in?    And anyway the baby- most importantly – can’t assent to baptism or confess belief so the whole process is a mockery of authentic faith.

(HT Stuart on the Twitter).

Did You Know That If You’re Jewish You Can Date Someone of the Same Sex While Married to Someone of the Opposite, And It’s Not Adultery?

I didn’t either. But that’s what a ‘matchmaking Rabbi‘ says…

It might well be the most unusual matchmaking service in the world: An Israeli rabbi specializes in setting up Orthodox Jewish gay men with Orthodox lesbians for marriage, reports the AP. The idea is that they can raise a family together while still adhering to religious laws. The spouses could “date” members of the same sex during the marriage, which doesn’t qualify as adultery because it’s out in the open, argues rabbi Arele Harel.

“The main aspiration here is parenthood,” he says. “It allows them to become parents in a way that is permitted by religious Jewish law and prevents a conflict between their religious world and their sexual world.” Arele has wed 12 couples so far, and inquiries are coming in quickly now that he has partnered with a religious gay group called Kamoha that publicized the venture on its website. “It is a risky experiment but there is no other choice,” says one man using the service.

People will believe ANYTHING if it helps them sustain their preconceptions, wishes, desires, and behaviors. ANYTHING, even if it is on its face totally absurd. Need proof? Ok, go on a date with someone of the same sex and see what your normal spouse has to say. Go ahead, falsify my denunciation of this absurd rabbinic nonsense. I dare ya. I double dog dare ya.

People really, really do prefer to trade the truth for any old lie.

Διὸ παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῶν καρδιῶν αὐτῶν εἰς ἀκαθαρσίαν τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς· οἵτινες μετήλλαξαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τῷ ψεύδει καὶ ἐσεβάσθησαν καὶ ἐλάτρευσαν τῇ κτίσει παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα, ὅς ἐστιν εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.  – Paul the Apostle, to the Romans

Maurice Casey’s ‘Jesus’ At the British New Testament Conference

They’ve had a panel discussion of Maurice Casey’s massive ‘Jesus’ at BNTC and, according to the tweeter from T&T Clark (though I’ve edited the tweets into complete sentences and corrected the grammar)-

[There has been a] panel review of Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazarethhere at #BNTC. Some took issue with [the] degree of Casey’s reconstruction of Aramaic backgrounds [and the] early date [he asserts] for Mark [as well as his] over reliance on Mark as [a] historical source. But all acknowledged [the] book as [a] huge achievement. [It] ‘easily takes its place alongside the most important historical Jesus books of [the] last 30 years’, [said] Eddie Adams.

We had a colloquium with Maurice on his book on the Biblical Studies list and there are other items related to Casey’s work here.

To Brighten your Day: Mozart (k. 32)

Biblical Passage for the Times

Das Wort, das vom HERRN an Jeremia erging:  Mach dich auf und geh hinab in das Haus des Töpfers, und dort werde ich dich meine Worte hören lassen.   Und ich ging hinab in das Haus des Töpfers, und sieh, er war gerade mit Arbeit an der Töpferscheibe beschäftigt.   Und wenn das Gefäss, das er aus dem Ton machte, in den Händen des Töpfers missriet, machte er daraus ein anderes Gefäss; der Töpfer machte es so, wie er es für richtig hielt.

Und das Wort des HERRN erging an mich:   Kann ich mit euch nicht verfahren wie dieser Töpfer, Haus Israel? Spruch des HERRN. Seht, wie der Ton in der Hand des Töpfers, so seid ihr in meiner Hand, Haus Israel.  Einmal rede ich über ein Volk und über ein Königreich, dass ich es ausreissen und niederreissen und vernichten will.

Kehrt aber jenes Volk, über das ich geredet habe, zurück von seiner Bosheit, so bereue ich das Unheil, das ich ihnen anzutun geplant habe.  Und ein anderes Mal rede ich über ein Volk und über ein Königreich, dass ich es aufbauen und pflanzen will.  Tut es dann aber, was böse ist in meinen Augen, und hört es nicht auf meine Stimme, so bereue ich das Gute, das ich ihm zu erweisen zugesagt habe.   Und nun rede doch zum Mann aus Juda und zu den Bewohnern Jerusalems: So spricht der HERR: Seht, ich bilde Unheil gegen euch und schmiede gegen euch einen Plan. Kehrt doch zurück, ein jeder von seinem bösen Weg, und macht eure Wege besser und eure Taten!

Sie aber werden sagen: Verflucht! Nein, wir werden unseren Plänen folgen! Und ein jeder wird nach dem Starrsinn seines bösen Herzens handeln!  —  (Jer 18:1-12)

Gas Price Gougers

Gas prices don’t usually spike over the Labor Day weekend, but this year could become the exception. The average price for a tank of gasoline is already 80 cents higher than it was a year ago. At $3.62 for a gallon of regular, that’s close to the all-time record for this time of year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.  And prices could continue to rise. The average price for a barrel of crude oil has spiked in recent weeks, from $82.26 in the middle of August to around $89 at the beginning of September.

As if the gas gougers need any excuses, they have one ready made-

The increase appears related to lingering effects from Hurricane Irene. Most refineries along the East Coast closed down last week in anticipation of the storm. That led to a temporary dip in production that, combined with pressure from speculators betting the price would continue to rise, appears to be at least partly responsible.

And of course the rain in the Gulf Coast will cause prices to shoot up too.  Because that’s how the greedy oil companies work.  If a fly farts in the Middle East the price of gas goes up and if a seagull poops in the Gulf of Mexico it goes up too.

We like to deceive ourselves into thinking that if we were independent of foreign oil we would all be better off.  But the fact is, oil companies will find ways to keep prices high no matter the source of crude.  And when oil does run out and we’re using other forms of energy for cars and transport, you need not falsely hope that the same scenario won’t apply.

At the end of the day the providers of energy will shaft the public every time.  We need it, they have it, they will get what they want for it.  Because that’s how greed works.

A Fantastic Photographic Exhibition

Seit 40 Jahren gehört der Helvetas-Kalender nicht nur zu den beliebtesten, sondern mit über 160’000 Exemplaren auch zu den meistverkauften der Welt. Jetzt ist die Ausstellung «Alltag fern des Alltäglichen» – 40 Jahre Helvetas Panoramakalender in Basel zu sehen und danach in Zürich, Genf und Lausanne.

Here’s one example of the brilliant photos on display-

There are several others here and the schedule of the exhibit too.

On a related note, I think Christian Brady should do an exhibition of his photos.  They’re remarkable.

Quote of the Day

Jim West’s blog deservedly outranks everyone else because he writes like a real person, puts on few airs and graces (except for an insufferable tendency to link to foreign language sources without warning), suffers from no false modesty, and his writing style has an “edginess” to it that slaps you around sufficiently to grab your attention. — Gavin Rumney