Daily Archives: 26 Sep 2011

Genuinely Christian?

If a man is not oppressed by his environment, if he has nothing serious to fear or to suffer at its hands, he has reason carefully to ask at least whether and how far he is genuinely a Christian at all and not fundamentally self-deceived in this respect.  –  Karl Barth

Sick Of Your Sons Wearing their Pants like Thugs?

This will cure them…

On Karl Barth: An Observation

No matter how mad I get at Barth, whenever I read him, he constantly delights, edifies, encourages, and exhorts; as well as challenges, confounds, and enrages.  He truly is an inescapable and unconquerable Everest.

It’s Too Bad Utah’s Undie-Runner’s Aren’t Very Bright

Otherwise they would have members who know how to spell ‘lest’.

Oh and by the way, do you know what the first words out of the mouth of the guilty conscience are?  ‘Don’t judge me’.

New in the Scottish Journal of Theology

On history, theology and scholarly method  — Christopher A. Beeley

Scottish Journal of Theology, Volume 64, Issue 04, November 2011, pp 474 – 480
doi: 10.1017/S0036930611000263 (About doi) Published Online on 26th September 2011
[ abstract ]

It’s More Important to Demolish than You Think

Primarily because you can’t build up until you’ve torn down-

“I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.  Know for certain that I hereby give you the authority to announce to nations and kingdoms that they will be uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted.”  Jer 1:10

Uprooting and tearing down, destroying and demolishing- all that has to take place before anything can be rebuilt or established.  Let the one who has ears, hear.

Pakistan Does Make US Look like Chumps

It’s true and as I’ve said for a good while, we need to dump the beggars.

Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen called out Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency “as the most adroit double-dealing profiteer from terrorism in the entire region,” Christopher Hitchens writes for Slate. Mullen accused Pakistan of orchestrating the attack on the US embassy in Kabul, and Hitchens believes him; after all, there’s no reason Mullen would lie about such a thing. “It makes us look like fools and suckers, which is what we have become.”

Exactly right.  Pakistan should be dumped.  We should side with India and let them pulverize the backwater as much as they like.  The Pakistanis have proven themselves the worst allies in the history of allies.  We’d be better off having Iran as an ally.   And I for one am sick of my tax dollars supporting these back-stabbers.

Calvin: On Dressing Up the Gospel to Make it ‘Pleasing’ to Men

At 2 Cor 4:2 Calvin astutely observes of those who ‘dress up’ the Gospel to make it acceptable to the ignorant-

For as chaste and virtuous women, satisfied with the gracefulness of natural beauty, do not resort to artificial adornings, while harlots never think themselves sufficiently adorned, unless they have corrupted nature, so Paul glories in having set forth the pure gospel, while others set forth one that was disguised, and covered over with unseemly additions. For as they were ashamed of the simplicity of Christ, or at least could not have distinction from true excellencies of Apostles, they framed a new gospel, not unlike a profane philosophy, swelled up with empty bombast, while altogether devoid of the efficacy of the Spirit. Spurious ornaments of this nature, by which the gospel is disfigured, he calls the concealments of disgrace, because the nakedness of those, who have recourse to concealments and disguises, must of necessity be dishonorable and disgraceful.

Nicely said, J. Calvin.  Nicely said.

‘Bribe Them In From The Fields of Sin…’

Sung to the tune of ‘Bring them In’

Bribe them in,
Bribe them in,
Bribe then in from the fields of sin.

Bribe them in,
Bribe them in,
Bribe the wandering ones to Je-sus…

That’s the theme song of the New Jersey church which thinks so little of the Gospel that it has sold it for the paltry sum of $30,000.  Using manipulative and anthropocentric methodologies, the church passed out cash so that folk would 1) feel good about the Church and 2) fill their greedy fists with money.  Thus, the ‘church’ taught its community a ‘valuable lesson’- Christianity isn’t about you serving God, it’s about God serving you- satisfying you and making you happy.

Christianity becomes, in that view, nothing more than a means to a selfish end.  Such ‘churches’ have despised the truth and sold the gullible and theologically ignorant public a lie.  They should read their Bible- especially

ἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας ⸀συνιστάνοντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. (2Co 4:2).

But I’m not going to hold my breath.  Such people would rather ‘bribe them in’ than offer them the Gospel untainted by the stench of greed.

Apocalypticism and American Politics

This is a good essay, with thanks to Chris Rollston for pointing it out.

THE end is near — or so it seems to a segment of Christians aligned with the religious right. The global economic meltdown, numerous natural disasters and the threat of radical Islam have fueled a conviction among some evangelicals that these are the last days. While such beliefs might be dismissed as the rantings of a small but vocal minority, apocalyptic fears helped drive the antigovernment movements of the 1930s and ’40s and could help define the 2012 presidential campaign as well.

Christian apocalypticism has a long and varied history. Its most prevalent modern incarnation took shape a century ago, among the vast network of preachers, evangelists, Bible-college professors and publishers who established the fundamentalist movement. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and independents, they shared a commitment to returning the Christian faith to its “fundamentals.”

And that’s just for starters.

You Can’t Win a War When Greed is at its Heart

There was a great piece on Fresh Air today which featured an interview with the author of a new book about the Iraq War.

For years federal auditors have reported that millions of American dollars have been wasted or are unaccounted for in the effort to rebuild and stabilize Iraq.  State Department employee Peter Van Buren gives a ground-level account of that waste and corruption in his book, We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds off the Iraqi People.

The interview is loads of informative.

Israel Returns Ancient Artifacts to Jordan

The Jordan News Agency reports the news (and you’ll have to go to the link to read it- they’ve disabled copying).

Angry Atheism is a ‘Boys Club’, and a Religion


In November 2006, Wired magazine identified Richard Dawkins, Daniel C Dennett and Sam Harris as a “band of intellectual brothers”, whose bestselling books on atheism, published between 2004 and 2006, heralded an era of 21st-century nonbelief. The media quickly dubbed this “the New Atheism”. What differentiates this movement from more old-school atheism (besides the mainstream media’s ever-present need to anoint, brand and categorise thought leaders) is that New Atheists take a vehemently zero-tolerance approach to faith, mysticism and even agnosticism. Though the basics are the same – non-belief in a god or gods – the new system also calls for pushing non-belief on others, almost to the point of abject proselytisation.

Anyone who evangelizes and proselytizes is a member of a ‘religious organization as far as I’m concerned.  Hence, these angry atheist are hypocritical in that they too are religious.  It’s just that their religion is their own intellect (and what a sorry, weak, pale, empty, silly god they serve!).  If these angry sad-sacks weren’t religious, why would they care so much what others believed and why are all the loudest angry atheists (like Hitchens and Dawkins and Avalos and Ehrman and the rest of the merry band of god-haters) men?

Tom Flynn, editor of the secular humanist journal Free Inquiry and executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, agrees that there’s a strong gender skew in the atheist movement. Though organisations like his have worked to recruit and retain female members – with mixed results – he’s aware that more men are recognised as atheist leaders. That said, he won’t necessarily concede that there’s sexist intent behind that recognition, saying:

“The numbers [of atheist authors] are so small, it’s largely coincidence that these authors who are all men emerge as superstars.”

Felicity, however, doesn’t fully explain female atheists’ under-sung presence. 

Read the remainder of the essay.  It’s quite interesting, and it makes the point quite well that the problem with angry atheism is its practitioners sense of impotence and hence their need to express themselves more rambunctiously than normal folk.  Or in other words, if these insipid droolers would just buy a sportscar, they wouldn’t feel so impotent and they would abandon their silly ‘let’s rid culture of God’ ignorance.

That’s Surprising, Mr Obama, Given Your Recent Conversion to Christian Zionism

In a speech over the weekend Obama blundered-

If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew, uh, as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that.

The president has been muffing lines all over the place recently. Last week, also peddling his jobs plan at a bridge that won’t qualify, he hailed America’s building of “the Intercontinental Railroad.” You don’t seem to hear much about these gaffes in the media for some reason.

Maybe in Saturday night’s speech Obama was thinking about all those talks on Israel in New York.

It’s hard to believe he’d make such a gaffe considering his recent oath of allegiance to all things Israeli government policy…

Erdogan Isn’t Really Wrong, You Know

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been generating international attention recently with sharp criticism of three countries that have had close relations with his country: Israel, Syria and the United States.

In an interview with Morning Edition’s David Greene, Erdogan said the Syrians have a right to determine their future. Instead of bringing about reforms, President Bashar Assad has been “turning guns toward his own people.”

The Turkish leader has also been a repeated critic of Israel. Relations between the two states have been spiraling downward since last year, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish aid flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turkish citizens. Earlier this month, Turkey downgraded relations, and Erdogan says ties will not improve until Israel apologizes and meets other demands.

In addition, Erdogan has been a strong supporter of the Palestinians. He is currently so popular in the Palestinian territories that his photo is prominently displayed in many public places.

He sees the U.S. as standing in the way of the Palestinian people and their attempt to achieve statehood at the U.N. He says he has “no doubt” that the U.S. image in the region has been harmed by the Obama administration’s opposition to the Palestinian’s U.N. bid.

Honestly, on which of those points is he off the mark?  And most importantly, he was right recently to remind Obama of his own speech to the UN last year in which he stated his hope that the UN would back Palestinian statehood: a sentiment he essentially renounced last week in his speech to the UN (which was, in polite terms, utterly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinians).

If American politicians had the same sense of moral center and character as the Turkish PM, maybe something could be accomplished.

God’s ‘To-Do’ List

The good folk at Reformiert Info are commencing a new weekly feature- God’s To-Do List.  Here’s the info-

Neu: Jeden Montag präsentieren wir «Gottes to do-Liste». Mit Ernsthaftem und Humorvollem, Kleinem und Grossem, Ewigem und Aktuellem. Kommentieren erwünscht!

Gottes to do-Liste für den 26. September:

– Selbstversuch: Probieren, wie schwierig es ist, an mich zu glauben
– Einkaufen: Rotwein, Traubensaft, Brot, Katzenstreu
– Heute Abend die Diskussion in Bern mit dem atheistischen Pfarrer Klaas Hendrikse besuchen
– Versuchen, das Schweizer Fernsehen zu begreifen

It’s a great idea!

Oh That God Would Grant This Prayer

Psalm 12

1   Help, O LORD, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
2   They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3   May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4   those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own — who is our master?”

5   “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,” says the LORD;
“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
6   The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7   You, O LORD, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8   On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.

Or better, in the Zurich Bible’s rendition:

 1 Für den Chormeister. Auf der Achten. Ein Psalm Davids.
 2 Hilf, HERR, denn dahin ist der Getreue, verschwunden sind die Getreuen unter den Menschen.
 3 Nichtiges reden sie untereinander, mit glatter Zunge, mit zwiespältigem Herzen reden sie.
 4 Der HERR vertilge alle falschen Lippen, die Zunge, die vermessen redet,
 5 die da sagen: Mit unserer Zunge sind wir mächtig, unser Mund spricht für uns, wer kann Herr sein über uns.
 6 Die Elenden werden unterdrückt, die Armen seufzen, darum stehe ich auf, spricht der HERR, und bringe Rettung dem, den man hart bedrängt.
 7 Die Worte des HERRN sind lautere Worte, Silber, im Schmelztiegel geläutert, von Erde gereinigt siebenfach.
 8 Du, HERR, wirst sie halten, wirst ihn für immer bewahren vor dieser Generation,
 9 auch wenn ringsum Frevler sind und Niedertracht sich erhebt unter den Menschen.

Oh that God would grant this prayer- today.

Another Reason to Hate Halloween

It reveals the lowest form of insanity among Americans:

A skin and bones costume titled “Anna Rexia” found its way onto the online inventory of popular beauty and costume store Ricky’s before being pulled from the company website, according to the Village Voice.

The reaction to the item was swift.

“I’m just appalled because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness,” said Trish Jones-Bendel, a board member National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders. “Depending on the rates, and how long people have had the disorder, mortality [for the illness] can be from 10 to 15 percent. There are also high suicide rates with people that have anorexia. There’s not a system of the body that it does not impact.”

Halloween is to Holidays what politicians are to useful human beings.

More ‘Lawyers are Creepy People’ News

A lawyer for the New York state attorney general’s office has been suspended after the New York Post inquired about word that she was leading a double life as an S&M dominatrix.  Alisha Smith, 36, had been working as a prosecutor by day and as a paid performer for fetish events in her free time, the Post reports it learned from a source active in New York’s fetish world. The office suspended Smith after the Post inquired about her extracurricular activities.Smith has been suspended without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investigation, the Post quoted an unnamed spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as saying.

Two words, Ms Smith, cree-py.  This is the sort of behavior one expects from Pentebabbleist preachers, mega-church pastors, Ted Haggards, and Catholic Priests, not lawyers.   [Filed under the ‘people are messed up’ category of breaking news].

Google Brings the Dead Sea Scrolls Online

Today marks the launch of the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls project by Google and the Israel Museum.  Check it out.

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”

The five Dead Sea Scrolls that have been digitized thus far include the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll, with search queries on Google.com sending users directly to the online scrolls. All five scrolls can be magnified so that users may examine texts in exacting detail. Details invisible to the naked eye are made visible through ultra-high resolution digital photography by photographer Ardon Bar-Hama– at 1,200 mega pixels each, these images are almost two hundred times higher in resolution than those produced by a standard camera. Each picture utilized UV-protected flash tubes with an exposure of 1/4000th of a second to minimize damage to the fragile manuscripts. In addition, the Great Isaiah Scroll may be searched by column, chapter, and verse, and is accompanied by an English translation tool and by an option for users to submit translations of verses in their own languages.