Daily Archives: 19 Sep 2011

And This Week’s Dilly Goes To…

The guy on Twitter who claims to be one of the ‘two witnesses of the book of Revelations’ (sic!), who warns me that the mark of the beast is here…

‘Thanks’ for the ‘warning’, one of the two ‘witnesses’ of the book of ‘Revelations’ (sic!!!).  Now here’s something for you:

Trust me, you deserve it…

Quote of the Day

‘… Christians are always in danger of reducing their full commitment to God through Christ and of allowing themselves to be seized by things of lesser value.’ — J.M. Nützel.

I Only Make $400,000…

You should feel sorry for me and not talk about raising my taxes.  That, at least, seems to be the sentiment of one of our beloved Congressmen…  John Fleming by name-

“By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over,” Fleming said.  Jansing pointed out that to a person making $40,000 or $50,000 per year, making $400,000 annually is “not exactly a sympathetic position,” but Fleming responded by calling his success a “virtue” and noting that “class warfare has never created a job.”  “This is all about creating jobs,” Fleming said. “This is not about attacking people who make certain incomes.”

Poor thing, let’s set up a prayer vigil for him and ask for donations.

Say No Mr Abbas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Monday for direct peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to be started in New York and continued in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“Unilateral measures are not the way to advance peace between us,” Netanyahu said, referring to an Abbas plan to submit a member application for a state of Palestine to the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

It is not clear whether the Palestinian leader has responded to Netanyahu’s call for talks.

Just say no.  Bibi wanted it all unilateral all the time till now- for his country.  Now that Palestinians are on the verge of proving to the entire world that the entire world thinks they should be the recognized government of a Palestinian State (except of course for the spineless US Congress and Whitehouse and their Israeli masters), then carry through.

The US might veto the petition in the security council, but it will only thereby prove itself out of touch with the rest of humanity.

A New Milik Biography

From ane-2

I would like to inform members of a newly published book on the legendary Jozef Milik, entitled ‘Doyen of the Dead Sea Scrolls – An in depth biography of Jozef Tadeusz Milik (1922-2006)‘, co-authored by Zdzislaw J. Kapera and Robert Feather. Hardback, 240 pp, with illustrations.  Copies can be obtained from mail@copper-scroll.com or Enigma Press.

Robert Feather, Institute of Materials, London.

Welsh Bafflement

The head of the Evangelical Alliance Wales has hit out at a call by leading academics to ban the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in state funded schools.

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough and atheist Prof Richard Dawkins are among the academics arguing that evolution should be taught from the time children start school, as opposed to waiting until they start their GCSEs, as happens at present.

The academics say on their new website that creationism and intelligent design “are not scientific theories” but rather only portrayed as scientific theories “by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly-funded schools”.


In reponse, Elfed Godding, national director of the Evangelical Alliance of Wales, said he was “baffled” by the group’s position.  He called for a “balanced” curriculum.

“Education at all levels involves the careful analysis of a variety of ideas and viewpoints. To insist on the validity of one theory alone to the detriment of all others exemplifies intolerance and doesn’t belong in the classrooms of Wales and the rest of the UK,” he said.

“Christians hold different views when it comes to the origins of the universe. Although believing passionately in the creative activity of a loving God, Christians hold a range of scientific opinions in relation to how the universe has taken shape.  “Children and young people are entitled to be exposed to these opinions within the context of a balanced curriculum.”

I’m with Godding- anything that annoys Dawkins is worth doing in spades!  The more annoyed he gets the better.  And if PZ and his ilk are annoyed along the way, well that’s just even better.

The Emergent ‘Church’ Finds a New Way to Entice Newcomers…

Because, seriously, what says emergent religion quite as well as sticking one’s head in a toilet

Most people would only put their head down a toilet basin if they were overcome with the need to vomit. But now those searching for a way to take ‘planking’ to a new level of daring are getting an up close view of the U-bend too. Christened ‘plumbking’, the practice of using a toilet to capture even crazier poses is catching on with pictures emerging on the internet.

Word on the street is, if you want to join an emergent community, this is how they practice their rite of ‘baptism’  (with thanks to M. Acidri on the FB for the tip).

The Devil…

Perseus Classics Collection from Logos

Logos is making available the massive Perseus Classics Collection (of 1,114 volumes), for free.  And it will be available on the 30th of September.  They’ve been nice enough to make the collection available for me to take a look at a bit ahead of time and I have a few things to show you.

But first, let me point out that the entire collection is a 1.07 GB download, so you’ll need both sufficient memory on your computer and a bit better than dial-up.  You’ll also need the latest version of Logos Bible Software.

Second, once you download it (which is easy enough to do- once you ‘pre-order’ it when it’s available for you to download you’ll just open your Logos program and it will begin to download.  And if for some reason it doesn’t, you can just type ‘update now’ in the ‘command bar’ of your Logos software and the download will commence) you’ll be overwhelmed at the amount of material at your fingertips.

Once you get it installed you can search volumes by author or title:

And the entire collection takes 22 pages to list on the home page of the Logos software:

There’s a lifetime of reading here.  A lifetime and more.  My particular interest in these volumes, though, is the inclusion of the Duke Papyri.  What a useful collection this is.

So now rather than getting online and searching for resources, or traveling to Leipzig or Berlin or London to examine materials that were formerly accessible only by very few, you can simply open Logos and utilize some of the most important books ever produced.

You can easily search the Duky Papyri by simply selecting the materials from the search function:

Among the texts you can examine are such things as the ostraka in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum:

And of course the best thing is the ease with which you can search phrases or words.  For instance:

Highlight (it’s in blue) the word and right click to search the entire library.  The hits open on the right.  Then you need only expand the list by volume and there you have it.  Here’s another example:

So, supposing you want to see how some Greek word is used outside the New Testament and you don’t trust the feckless dilettante down the road who tells you that the word you want is never used outside Paul, just pick the word that piques your interest, highlight it, go to the search function and select the Duke papyri collection, and paste the word in question:


So, very, useful.  Good research requires, doesn’t it, source materials.  Too much scholarship is based on references to works that are references to works that are references to works.  Length of bibliography doesn’t guarantee accuracy, however, as sometimes mistakes are simply canonized by constant repetition.  With these tools at hand, authentic research can be done.

This collection is just simply an invaluable tool.  And it’s all free!  What’s not to like?  Thanks, Logos, for making all this available is such a useful, and searchable, format.

Atheist? Agnostic? You Just Might be Autistic

Frankly, that would explain rather a lot.

Historically the study of religious belief was as far from the purview of cognitive science as any topic in human behavior could be. This has changed over the last decade as cognitive science has come to be the field where it is legitimate to combine in a single research program disparate disciplines, even when they are outside the traditional cognitive science area of computer modeling of information processing tasks. Recently, the “cognitive science of religion” has emerged as a research program in which religion is understood as a product of cognitive aspects of the mind, such as an exaggeration of the normal human ability to infer agency, impose patterns on noise, and infer others mental states (Guthrie, 1993; Barrett, 2004). We suggest that individual differences in cognitive styles is an important predictor of human belief systems, including religious belief. An extreme type of cognitive style is high functioning autism. The 2 studies reported here found that individuals with HFA have a higher rate than neurotypicals of endorsing atheism and agnosticism. HFA individuals thus resemble another group of high-systemizers (scientists), who also reject religious belief at a relatively high rate.

So Stuart opines

Let me clarify: this research does not indicate that most atheists are high functioning autistics; but that a large proportion of high functioning autistics are atheists.

Calvin: On Condeming Sin in General and Sinning in Particular

John Calvin

J. Calvin

John Calvin brilliantly observes

That homicide, putting the case in the abstract, is an evil, no man will deny; and yet one who is conspiring the death of his enemy deliberates on it as if the thing was good. The adulterer will condemn adultery in the abstract, and yet flatter himself while privately committing it. The ignorance lies here: that man, when he comes to the particular, forgets the rule which he had laid down in the general case.

In sum, people are happy to admit that things are wrong.  They just aren’t as quick to admit their own deeds are evil.  The adulterer admits adultery is a sin.  But doesn’t admit that he is sinning when he’s cheating on his wife.  The murderer admits that murder is sin, except when he himself is murdering someone that he finds offensive.


Avoiding Adultery

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk


Martin Luther, always worth reading for his simplicity and clarity of thought, writes, concerning temptation to marital infidelity,

The strongest defense [against adultery] is prayer and the word of God. When evil lust begins to stir, a man must flee to prayer, call upon God’s grace and help, read the gospel and meditate on it, and thereby behold the sufferings of Christ. Psalm 137[:9] says, “Blessed is he who seizes the young of Babylon and dashes them on the rock.” This means when the heart runs to the Lord Christ with its evil thoughts while they are still young and in their infancy. For Christ is a rock on which these thoughts are dashed to pieces and come to naught.  — Martin Luther.

That’s good advice for every married man.  If it’s not taken, don’t be surprised if you jump right into the thick of depravity.

Theodore Beza: Why it’s Right to Punish Heretics

Here’s a fun fact from the history of the Church:

Theodore Beza, the faithful aid of Calvin, took up his pen against the anonymous sceptics of Basel [who had written a book on religious tolerance], and defended the right and duty of the Christian magistrate to punish heresy. His work appeared in September, 1554; that is, five months after the book of Martinus Bellius. It was Beza’s first published theological treatise (he was then thirty-five years of age).

The book has a polemic and an apologetic part. In the former, Beza tries to refute the principle of toleration; in the latter, to defend the conduct of Geneva [in the roasting of Servetus]. He contends that the toleration of error is indifference to truth, and that it destroys all order and discipline in the Church. Even the enforced unity of the papacy is much better than anarchy. Heresy is much worse than murder, because it destroys the soul. The spiritual power has nothing to do with temporal punishments; but it is the right and duty of the civil government, which is God’s servant, to see to it that he receives his full honor in the community.

Beza appeals to the laws of Moses and the acts of kings Asa and Josiah against blasphemers and false prophets. All Christian rulers have punished obstinate heretics. The oecumenical synods (from 325 to 787) were called and confirmed by emperors who punished the offenders. Whoever denies to the civil authority the right to restrain and punish pernicious errors against public worship undermines the authority of the Bible.

He cites in confirmation passages from Luther, Melanchthon, Urbanus Rhegius, Brenz, Bucer, Capito, Bullinger, Musculus, and the Church of Geneva.

He closes the argument as follows: “The duty of the civil authority in this matter is hedged about by these three regulations: (1) It must strictly confine itself to its own sphere, and not presume to define heresy; that belongs to the Church alone. (2) It must not pass judgment with regard to persons, advantages, and circumstances, but with pure regard to the honor of God. (3) It must proceed after quiet, regular examination of the heresy and mature consideration of all the circumstances, and inflict such punishment as will best secure the honor due to the divine Majesty and the peace and unity of the Church.”*

Theologians don’t think like Beza anymore, do they…

[* Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church].

People Are More Likely to Believe ‘The DaVinci Code’ than the Bible When they Are Worried about Dying…

Because, if I might be uncharacteristically blunt, such people are stupid beyond words.  Antonio remarks

Sarà… Io ho paura della morte – come tutti, credo – ma sono agli antipodi delle cospirazioni alla Baigent, Leigh e Lincoln (più che alla Dan Brown). Comunque, se volete approfondire, questo è il link.

The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground

A forthcoming (January 2012) volume by IVP Academic is thusly described by the Publisher:

The Bible has the astounding power to transform lives. The stories of people like Francis of Assisi, Antony of Egypt, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. vividly demonstrate this. Why aren’t more of us transformed by Scripture today?

Too often we study biblical texts without believing that God truly inhabits this book. Scripture seeks to capture our minds, not merely educate them. In these pages Chris Webb explains that we can transform our Christian life by reading as lovers rather than as theorists. This is possible by coming to the text prayerfully, expectantly, in humility and empty-handed. When we open the Bible, it does not say to us, “Listen: God is there!” Instead, the voice of the Spirit whispers through each line, “Look: I am here.”

Reading the Bible this way can reconfigure the habits of your heart, refresh your imagination and memory, reshape and redeem your emotions, realign your reality individually and communally for kingdom life, and take us beyond the Bible into a renewed way of life.

Here is the work of today–which is also the work of the whole of life–to open your heart afresh to the living Word of God.

They’ve sent me an advance reader copy and I’ve gone through it with a fine tooth comb.  You can read my take here.

Where Will NASA’s Defunct Satellite Hit?

Oh that’s an easy one really- it’s going to break apart and a lot of it will burn up and the remainder of large chunks will fall into the sea… except for one big piece that’s going to land right in West Virginia…

If only we knew someone in West Virginia so they could be warned…

But, alas, there really isn’t anyone left in West Virginia.  They’ve all moved to Ohio, the state West Virginians most admire….

Still, if you’re left in West Virginia, take cover on Friday.

The Florida Gunman Who Shot Two in Church

A man shot and injured the pastor and associate pastor of a central Florida church on Sunday after killing another person at a home nearby, police said. Witnesses said 57-year-old Jeremiah Fogel ran through the front door of the Greater Faith Christian Church in Lakeland, Florida and shot the two clergymen, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He then was tackled and held by parishioners until authorities arrived, the sheriff’s office said. The pastor and associate pastor were being treated for their injuries at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. No other church members were injured.

This is just simply unbelievable.  The story broke yesterday but with few details.  So senseless.

If You’re Attending SBL This Announcement is for You

Via Konrad Schmid on Facebook-

The Faculties of Theology and Religious Study of the Universities of Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich, warmly welcome you to swissnex San Francisco for an evening of thriving ambiance with excellent food and refreshments. Friends, colleagues, alumni/ae, as well as prospective graduate and doctoral students, are invited to learn about academic programs, network, and meet with university staff.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2011
8:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Where: swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 33137
Phone: (415) 912-5901
8:30 p.m. Doors open, buffet reception
9:00 p.m. Welcome address by Christoph Ebell, Counselor, Office of Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Embassy of Switzerland, Washington D.C.
9:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Optional tour of the historic swissnex building
11:00 p.m. Doors close
For additional information, please contact Gabriella.Gelardini@unibas.ch.

How to be a Heretic: Step One- Abandon the Canon and Choose Your Own

Markion of Sinope

Marcion, or You

Many of you are already well on your way to being full blown heretics but some of you are struggling with a methodology.  So I’m here to help [hasten you on your way to complete disfellowship with authentic Christianity].

Naturally, then, just like that vile filth known to history as Marcion, the very first thing you’ll want to do is toss out the canon and pick and choose, and yes, even vote, on your favorite biblical texts.  Then, like Jefferson, you can just cut out what you disapprove of or like the idiotic angry atheists and John Spong, you can just pretend that the rest doesn’t exist.

Be sure to discard anything that makes you think, makes you uncomfortable, or makes you question your own viewpoint.  What you want with your newly selected canon is something that will make you feel better about yourself and your half baked nonsensical self induced stupidity.  Your having pondered eternity for 10 minutes must most certainly trump the collective wisdom of generations of devoted believers.

You know you really want to walk the path of unbelief and heresy, so, go now, and make your own canon.  It’s the first essential step to eternal damnation.