Daily Archives: 14 Jan 2012

The Tyranny of the Whiny Minority: The Whinority

In America, it isn’t Democracy that matters or the wishes of the majority- it’s the whiny minority and the tyrannical power which they enjoy which sets policy.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday (Jan. 11) in favor of a teenage atheist who sought the removal of a prayer banner from her Rhode Island high school.  Attorneys for Jessica Ahlquist, 16, argued that a banner on display in Cranston High School West’s auditorium titled “School Prayer” and addressing “Our Heavenly Father” is a violation of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision banning state-mandated prayer in school.  Lawyers for the school district argued that the banner had hung in the school since the 1960s and was more secular than sacred.

It’s a banner, not an altar.  But naturally Mr Feckless Judge, bereft of sense, sided with the whiny atheist teenybopper.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux disagreed and ruled that the banner should be removed immediately. He also upbraided school officials for holding community meetings about the mural that “at times resembled a religious revival.” At one meeting, several school officials read from the Bible or declared their faith. Ahlquist needed a police escort to leave one meeting.  “I am hopeful that this case can be looked back on in the future and encourage others to stand up for their rights as well,” Ahlquist said from the Providence office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented her.

I’m sure Miss Atheist would never misrepresent what happened at the school so as to ‘make her case’ either.  Revivals don’t happen at schools.  If they did, kids like this one would be learning rather than spending her time whining.

Ahlquist had to leave Cranston High School West due to threats, but said she is considering a return.

Ok no one should have threatened her.  That’s inappropriate.  And counterproductive.  Instead of threatening her they should instead have held a prayer meeting outside her house, on the sidewalk, every morning before school and every day after.

Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State hailed the ruling as “a 40-page slam dunk.”

Rob Boston… also known as Boston Rob?  Yet another of the angry atheist mob who wield power through idiot judges who don’t know the difference between the First Amendment and a mop handle.

Christians across the country ought to vote out these activist judges who have taken it upon themselves to write law rather than enforce it.  And if they can’t be voted out, the politicians who appoint them certainly can be.  It’s sickening to see the whiny minority dictate policy time after time.  Sickening.

[NB- The neologism ‘Whinority’ is the sole property of Thomas Bolin (and myself) and may only be used with express verbal permission.  Violators will be scorned].

Who Were Those Demon-Filled Swine, Anyway?

Maurice Casey makes some interesting observations on the story of the Gadarene Demoniac- which I quote in full-

The first aspect of the story that is untypical of Jesus, but widespread in stories of exorcism, is that, even after making an effort to order the unclean spirit out of the man (Mk 5.8), Jesus has to ask it its name (Mk 5.9). This is narratively convenient so that the storyteller can tell us its name is ‘Legion, for we are many’, the first indication that the storyteller was disenchanted with Roman legions.

The second feature untypical of Jesus, but widespread in stories of exorcism, is that Jesus sends the demons out in such a way that they visibly enter something else, so they can be seen to have gone out. What they are sent into is a ‘large herd of pigs’; indeed somewhat belatedly the storyteller entertains us with the information that there were about 2,000 of them! (Mk 5.11-13). Pigs were notoriously unclean animals, because Gentiles kept them and ate pork, as Jews did not. From a Jewish perspective, therefore, pigs were especially suitable animals for unclean spirits to be sent into. The existence of a herd of 2,000 pigs, though not strictly miraculous, is not something that would ever happen in real life; it is part of a story told to entertain people, and enable them to marvel at Jesus’ ability to defeat the powers of evil with the power of God.

English: Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.

At this point, we can be more precise about the ‘Legion’. The author had in mind the tenth legion, Legio Decem Fretensis, which had a boar as one of its symbols. It was stationed in the province of Syria, firstly at Cyrrhus, so it was the northernmost of the Syrian legions, and then from 18 CE onwards in the client kingdom of Commagene, which was annexed to Syria. The otherwise powerless storyteller has made great fun of a legion. The effect of Jesus sending the demons into 2,000 pigs is equally entertaining: ‘the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea . . . and drowned in the sea’ (Mk 5.13). This effectively gets the demons back into the underworld where they belong, for the story assumes they go down to the Abyss. It also dumps a legion where many Jews would have loved to see the Roman legions go.

But the storyteller, a Jewish Christian entertaining Christians miles away, where he knew about Decem Fretensis, was regrettably unconcerned about the geography of the Decapolis. Whether this took place in the country of the Gerasenes (the original text of Mark) or the Gadarenes (some manuscripts which were influenced by Matthew) is the difference between whether the pigs had to run 33 miles, or just 6 miles, to get to the lake of Galilee! The storyteller was not concerned either to think about pigs which can swim.

Fun, huh.  Nothing quite like the Romans being made fun of and oppressed persons wishing them driven into the sea where they belong.

What is a Modalist?

The classic orthodox doctrine of the trinity- as explained in the Eerdman’s Dictionary

In the early third century Tertullian introduced the expression “three persons, one essence,” meaning by “persons” (Lat. personae) “faces” or “masks.”

But this was soon distorted-

Later in that century Sabellius developed from Tertullian’s rather imprecise terminology the alternative doctrine of modalism (also called Patripassianism [lit. “the Father suffers”] or Theopascism [“God suffers”]). According to Sabellius, Father, Son, and Spirit are three transitory modes in which God manifests himself (cf. the popular analogy of the three persons to water, ice, and steam), not three distinct entities in the Godhead.

(This means, by the way, that the Lutheran and Catholic explanation of the Eucharist is modalistic.)

In the fourth century the three Cappadocian Fathers Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Basil of Caesarea experimented with Tertullian’s schema, substituting the Greek term hypóstasis: “three substances, one essence,” implying three individual existences sharing one essence.

This is the normal view of Orthodox Christianity. God is three existents of one essence. There really are three (and they don’t just seem to be three or appear from time to time in different manifestations as suits the moment) who really are one.  It’s a mystery that can’t be grasped by finite minds but the ability to grasp truth isn’t the final arbiter of reality.

In the eleventh century the nominalist Roscellinus took a tritheist position, arguing that to speak in this way of a divine essence shared by three distinct individuals was in fact to speak of three (incarnate) Gods, just as Peter, James, and John as three individual existences who share one human nature are three different persons (cf. the popular analogy of Father, Son, and Spirit as three bulbs emitting the same light).

But of course tri-theism isn’t monotheism, so Roscellinus was rejected and his view declared heresy.

Again in the fourth century Augustine of Hippo sought to explain the trinity in terms of relations within a person or between persons. He pictured the trinity as analogous to memory, intellect, and will within a single mind, and to the triad of the lover, the beloved, and their love.

Augustine was closer – in this instance – to the truth than his descendants. Oddly, modalism is still widely held by Christians even though they don’t know what it’s called or why it’s inaccurate.

So if you believe God the Father died on the Cross, or that the Holy Spirit is Jesus or that Jesus is the Father, you’re a modalist- a heretic.

On ‘Viral’: An Observation

The stuff that goes ‘viral’ on the internet is precisely as described:  nothing more than a temporary virus.  After a few days it runs it’s course and no one remembers it after a week.

If what you do goes viral it only and ever means that it’s insubstantial, without abiding significance.  As, for example, the ‘Why I hate religion but love Jesus’ video.

Monks and their Pedophilia: Their Unending Quest for ‘Florentine Brides’

Seven Roman Catholic monks with links to a top public school have faced police investigation over child sex and pornography offences, the school admitted today.  In a letter to the parents of the 1,500 pupils at Downside School in Somerset, Dom Aidan Bellenger, the Benedictine Abbot of Downside, apologised to parents and named some of the monks who were picked out by a criminal investigation looking at 50 years of confidential school records.  Of the seven monks from Downside, he said four had faced police action and two, against whom allegations “were founded” , had restrictions imposed on their ministry. The seventh was cleared and allowed to return to his monastic life.

They had strong evidence of crime and their punishment, to this point, is to have their ‘ministry’ restricted?  Wow.  Evidently they went to the Jerry Sandusky school of ‘Florentine Bride’-ing.

Daniel Clarifies and Specifies

Concerning his views of Jesus in his recently published volume (which I reviewed earlier).  I appreciate Daniel’s response.  You’ll want to take a look (though I still think he’s a Barthian).  And if you haven’t yet read his book, or checked in on the blog tour discussing it, you definitely should.

Guess Who Has Given Mitt Romney the Most Money?

That’s right, Bain Capital.  Which just goes to show, he’s just another big money politician in the pocket of donors for whom he will happily legislate.

When Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital, his leadership made billions of dollars for the investment firm. And Bain Capital’s associates have supported Romney’s political ambitions in turn, giving nearly $3 million to his state and national campaigns—a sum that easily makes them Romney’s largest group of donors, reports Politico. Bain Capital executives and family members have given $2.7 million over the years to Romney campaigns or supporting PACs, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation.  Other big donors to Romney include the Marriott family and their employees at $1.27 million; Steven J. Lund Jr. and Nu Skin Enterprises, $1.17 million; hedge fund Paulson & Co., more than $1 million; and Goldman Sachs employees, $899,000.

Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital. We can all see how a Romney Administration will work.

8 Sermons on the Necessity of Repentance…

James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh (4 January ...

From 1640.  By James Ussher.  Posted on the twitter by the good folk at the Post Reformation Digital Library.  By the way, if you follow anyone on twitter it should be PRDL.  Exceptionally useful and never a mention of what they had for breakfast or what they’re watching on tv or which celebrity has entered rehab.

Big Questions… Stacked Decks… Predetermined Answers

On BBC1 tomorrow at 10 am (British time)

In this special edition from Warrington The Big Question asks:  Is there any evidence for God?   Taking part are the priest and particle physicist, Dr Andrew Pinsent; The Times columnist, David Aaronovitch; the Muslim thinker, Adam Deen; leading atheist scientist, Professor Peter Atkins; bible scholar, Francesca Stavrakopoulou; author, Charles Foster; Patsy McKie, founder of Mothers Against Violence; and the former Triad gangster turned Methodist Minister, Kim Goh.

Gangster turned Methodist… but of course.  He’ll know all about God and be able to prove his existence…  Talk about your stacked deck BBC, I mean seriously.  And I love Francesca but could the BBC not manage to find a biblical scholar who isn’t an atheist?  There are some you know…

Nonetheless, if you can watch it you ought to.  If only to see Francesca at work.  As to the ‘debate’… I’d say the outcome is already pretty clear.

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

He’s gone to Wisconsin.  Probably to say hi to Doug Iverson.  But Chris being Chris, he just can’t keep himself out of trouble.

Demonstrators calling for the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker learned there really is such a thing as too much cowbell.  Oshkosh police arrested a 26– 76 year-old Appleton British man on Thursday after he kept playing a cowbell and shaking it in an officer’s face when he and other protesters were told to be quiet.  The Oshkosh Northwestern reports (http://oshko.sh/zKwPVV ) that when the officer tried to take the cowbell, the man pushed the officer. A 25-year-old Appleton woman then hit the officer in the back with her picket sign while the man was being handcuffed.  Both were taken to the Winnebago County Jail.

Oh Chris, please control your violent temper.  You’ll never be able to stay out of jail if you don’t!