The (Republican) Evangelical Dilemma Nicely, Succinctly Summarized

Which will you choose?  The adulterer or the Mormon?  Which will you set aside, your morality or your theology?

For South Carolina conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, the 2012 campaign season is the year of magical rethinking. Look at the frontrunners:  If you want a president with a legacy of marital fidelity, you’re going to have to work around Newt Gingrich’s adultery.  If you believe that Mormons don’t really qualify as Christian, you may find yourself struggling with Mitt Romney.

So what will you surrender this election cycle?  Your morals or your beliefs?

[It’s times like these I’m glad I don’t vote for politicians, incumbents, or special interest candidates].

Andrew Adler is a Disgusting Human Being and He Should Be Arrested for Treason

And then HE should be locked up in a 3×5 cell for the rest of his life.  May it be long and misery filled.  What a contemptible beast:

The owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, has suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to consider ordering a Mossad hit team to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama so that his successor will defend Israel against Iran.

I don’t care what you think of ANY President’s policy- suggesting that they should be assassinated?  That’s Satanic.  Mr Adler is a tool.  Of Satan.  Who needs to be arrested for treason.

This is the damnable ignorance fomented by the vile heresy of Christian Zionism- which is the only reason that Zionism holds so much sway in the United States:

Adler, who has since apologized for his article, listed three options for Israel to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons in an article published in his newspaper last Friday. The first is to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second is to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”

This traitor can apologize all he wants.  You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s out and you can’t take back a call to kill the President just so that the US can bow down at the altar of Israel.

Again, then, Andrew Adler is a disgusting human being and he should be arrested for treason, carted off to Guantanamo, and left there to rot.


The American Jewish Committee in Atlanta last night issued a harsh condemnation of Adler’s article, saying that his proposals are “shocking beyond belief.”  “While we acknowledge Mr. Adler’s apology, we are flabbergasted that he could ever say such a thing in the first place. How could he even conceive of such a twisted idea?” said Dov Wilker, director of AJC Atlanta. “Mr. Adler surely owes immediate apologies to President Obama, as well as to the State of Israel and his readership, the Atlanta Jewish community.”

And he should be arrested for treason, taken to Cuba, and left there.  Till he expires.

Reason 54,098 That God Should Destroy the World


A star of the MTV reality show “Teen Mom 2” has been arrested for the second time in less than a week in southeastern North Carolina.  Jenelle Evans was charged Monday night with violating a domestic violence protection order. Evanswas still being held in the Brunswick County jail Tuesday morning, but officials at the jail didn’t have more details on the arrest.

First, because MTV has a show flaunting promiscuous children having children.  Second, that MTV is doubtless thrilled to death that this particular teen appears to be thoroughly messed up and seems incapable of making any sensible decisions-  all of which boosts MTV’s ratings.  And third, because this child is called a ‘star’.

What kind of sensible, decent, or just society allows any of the three?

Dear God, we – those who possess some fragment of the Imago Dei–  are on board with your decision should you decide today to say ‘I’ve had enough of these creatures’.  It’s completely understandable.  Really.  We get it.  Yours sincerely, Jim – et al.

Total Depravity: Selling Herself for McNuggets

Burbank police have arrested a woman accused of offering sexual favors in exchange for Chicken McNuggets.  Officers say Khadijah Baseer was seen opening customers’ car doors at a McDonald’s on Olive Ave. last Wednesday night.  One of those customers reportedly told police that the woman offered him sex for his Chicken McNuggets, but he declined.

McNasty.  But perhapst McDonald’s puts something in those Mcnugs since they seem to drive people insane.  Some time back

Angered that Chicken McNuggets were not available at an Ohio McDonald’s, the Toledo woman allegedly put her fist through the eatery’s drive-thru window. The January 1 McNuggets rage incident resulted in Dushane, 24, being arrested for felony vandalism and booked into the Lucas County jail, where the mug shot at left was snapped.

McNuggets: Satan’s instruments?  They sure aren’t chicken… so what’s really in them?

President Obama Rejects the First Amendment…

And intrudes the State into Church matters – thereby clearly violating the Constitution.  The government has absolutely NO business telling Church organizations (whether schools or hospitals) how to practice.

The Obama administration today said it would move forward with a new mandate requiring most U.S. employers – including religiously affiliated hospitals and schools – to provide health care plans that cover contraceptive services for female employees free of charge.  The guidelines, first proposed in August and set to take effect in August 2012, have been hailed by the abortion-rights community and many Obamare-election supporters.  But the Catholic Church and other religious groups, which consider some forms of contraception as the termination of life, had waged an intensive lobbying campaign for a clear exemption of affiliated institutions from the new rules.  The Department of Health and Human Services today said, despite their concerns, it will hold the line on the requirement, but extended the deadline for compliance until 2013.  “We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns,” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Sickening.  This means, if enacted, that Church organizations will – in effect – be forced by this feckless and pagan government to pay for the murder of children.  This is unconscionable.   It is a renunciation of the intention of the First Amendment, which is to keep the Government OUT of religion (and, by the way, NOT religion out of the government).

This is infuriating.  The White House is going to hear about it too.  I hope Church organizations across the country refuse, unapologetically, and so force the idiots in Washington to sue them.  This matter belongs before the Court, not the ham-fisted life hating ‘Executive’ branch.

Carol Newsom: Reading as a Spiritual Practice

Jacob Wright, on Facebook, writes

Carol Newsom gave a fascinating lecture on “Reading as a Spiritual Practice” at Candler School of Theology (Emory University) yesterday. It is truly excellent. Although this was delivered in a Christian service, it makes for a great pre-Shabbos shiur!  Shabbat shalom!

Newsom is, I don’t need to tell you, an excellent scholar.  This will surely interest many.

An Interview with Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at Exeter and her work is focused on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, and portrayals of the religious past in the Hebrew Bible. She’s particularly interested in cultural, social and religious responses to the dead. Other research interests include kingship in ancient West Asia/Near East; history and ideology in the Hebrew Bible; methods of historical reconstruction; constructs of ‘popular’ and ‘official’ religion; and ‘secular’ approaches to teaching and learning in biblical studies.

She’s probably the best known ‘face’ of Biblical studies in Britain given that she’s regularly on TV discussing and debating the subject.  I thought it might be a good idea to introduce her to folk outside of the United Kingdom and she was gracious and agreed to subject herself to an interview.  So, Francesca, thanks very much for agreeing to answer a few questions.

JW– First off, how did you come to be interested in biblical studies?

FS– Ever since I was a child I’ve been interested in ancient religion – mainly because of my Greek heritage. When I was little, I spent a lot of time learning about the gods and goddesses of Olympus, and this gradually extended to an interest in other ancient deities, and from there, the Bible. I first decided to study Theology at university because I wanted to understand why Jesus was held to be so different from the semi-divine heroes of ancient Greece.

JW– The dead seem a special concern (if I can use that word). Why the dead?

FS– You can learn so much from the dead! Looking at the ways the living deal with the material remains of the dead, and examining the ways the living reconfigure their relationships with the deceased individual, can tell you so much about the social dynamics, values and worldviews of communities. And that’s what really interests me.

JW– Your interests are wide ranging even within the field of biblical studies. Where did you study and what was the topic of your dissertation?

FS– I did all my studies at Oxford University: first was an undergraduate degree in Theology, which gave me the Hebrew Bible bug, so I stayed on at Oxford and did a Masters degree in ‘Old Testament’ (as it’s called at Oxford!), and then I did my doctorate there, too. My doctoral thesis looked at the biblical distortion of the religious past – so I focused on King Manasseh as the most ‘sinful’ individual in the Hebrew Bible, and child sacrifice as the most abhorrent religious practice, and argued that neither were as deviant as the biblical writers make out!

JW– How did you come to end up at Exeter?

FS– Having finished my doctorate, I had a fixed-term post-doctoral fellowship in Oxford, and a permanent post at Exeter came up. It was a bit of a gamble to apply, because I didn’t know the university or the area at all, but I decided to go for it, and was lucky enough to be appointed. It’s a great department and we just keep going from strength to strength.

JW– You’re an atheist, but not the angry sort. By that I mean that you don’t seem to be on a crusade to ‘destroy’ faith. Do you see value in faith?

FS– For those who have faith, yes, I can see there’s a value for them. But I don’t think those without faith are missing out on anything valuable.

JW– You’re always so very cordial and patient when describing your approach. To what do you attribute that patience?

FS– My mother! She’s brought me up to be decent to people, and to treat everyone with respect. And I try to keep in mind her advice: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! I think that’s key when it comes to debates about religion. There’s no point in my shouting at people who disagree with me, or accusing them of being stupid, just because I don’t agree with their views about God, or the Bible, or whatever. Some atheists in the public eye don’t do us any favours by behaving like that.

JW– You’ve recently been appointed to a Professorship at Exeter. Congratulations! What are your primary responsibilities?

FS– I’m continuing to do all the things I’ve been doing since I arrived in Exeter – teaching, supervising research students, publishing, sitting in endless meetings, etc. But I’m expected to take a more prominent role in shaping the direction of the Department within the context of the university and UK higher education. It should be fun … !

JW– Turning in a different direction: you are very, very well known in Britain for your several appearances on BBC television programs about the bible. How did they find you? By that I mean, how did it happen?

FS– The BBC were looking work with various sorts of scholars, and in particular wanted to develop some programme ideas on religious and biblical topics. I was recommended to them by various people. So the BBC got in touch, and after lots of discussions and meetings, we started working up ideas for a documentary series.

JW– Have you ever been asked to do a program you refused to do because the direction it wanted to go was inaccurate or inappropriate or misleading?

FS– Yes! I’ve turned down various projects because they didn’t suit my academic preferences or interests. And I’ve also turned down TV projects because they were more interested in my being a woman than being a scholar.

JW– Do you see value in twitter or facebook or other social media for the promulgation of biblical scholarship?

FS– Definitely. I think biblical scholarship has generally been pretty bad at communicating its ideas beyond the bounds of the academy. And there’s too much gate-keeping in academia as it is. So Twitter and Facebook can be great ways of sparking a broader interest in the sorts of stuff we do – and in fostering an interest in academic study. It’s students that keep Biblical Studies alive in universities, and we can attract more students by keeping up public interest in our field. Social media is a great way to do this.

JW– Have you ever considered blogging?

FS– Briefly. I’d want to blog about the underbelly of academia, though, and I think that would get me in too much trouble!

JW– Do you read any of the biblioblogs (besides mine of course, everyone reads it) 😉

FS– Sometimes – when I have time. I usually get sent links to particular posts, so I keep up with the most interesting stuff that way. I stay away from the conservative Christian blogs – especially if I’ve recently been on the telly!

JW– Are you currently working on any writing projects? Do you have a manuscript in the pipeline that we should keep our eyes open for?

FS– Yep, I’m working on two books at the moment. One’s about corpses (of course), and the other’s about the delightful Baal and Asherah.

JW– Thanks so much, again, and I hope to see you at SOTS again next Winter at Cambridge (or perhaps at SBL in Chicago). Speaking of SOTS and SBL, what do you like about conferences and which of the two do you prefer?

FS– For a quality academic experience, SOTS is the best. You get to hear papers on topics you’d never ordinarily have the time to be interested in. Things can be a bit hit and miss at SBL! But for me, the best thing about conferences is getting to spend time with friends and colleagues I don’t often get to see. The best academic conversations I’ve ever had have always taken place in a bar or a restaurant. For that reason, it’s hard to choose between SBL and SOTS.

JW–  I agree with you completely on that!  SOTS has quality papers and good friends and SBL has fantastic book exhibits and loads of people to see.  The paper’s generally, aren’t all that spectacular (though every now and then Bob Cargill or Christian Brady or James Crossley do one and they’re brilliant).

One final question: would you mind telling us something about yourself that may be surprising? For instance, do you work as a lumberjack on weekends or are you an opera singer in Munich or do you make cakes and take them to students or their birthdays?

FS– I’m older than I look.

JW–   What?  You’re 25?

Again, thank you, Professor, for your time and thoughtful answers. I look forward, as do we all, to seeing you at meetings and on the BBC.

When You Say ‘Distinguishing’ You Imply That No One Else is Doing It…

So, if you say, for example, ‘what distinguishes Tim Tebow from other athletes is his no hold’s barred willingness to put his own spirituality on display’, this sets him apart from others because, by implication, no one else is doing it (or so few are that it’s noticeable).

Consequently, to write that John Calvin’s preaching is ‘distinguished’ by ten ‘marks’ you suggest, perhaps unwittingly, that he’s the only one who preaches holding those particular features.  This is patently incorrect.  Many a preacher has, does, is, and will preach according to the ’10 marks’ attributed to Calvin:

1. John Calvin’s preaching was biblical in its substance.
2. John Calvin’s preaching was sequential in its pattern.
3. John Calvin’s preaching was direct in its message.
4. John Calvin’s preaching was extemporaneous in its delivery.
5. John Calvin’s preaching was exegetical in its approach.
6. John Calvin’s preaching was accessible in its simplicity.
7. John Calvin’s preaching was pastoral in its tone.
8. John Calvin’s preaching was polemic in its defense of the truth.
9. John Calvin’s preaching was passionate in its outreach.
10. John Calvin’s preaching was doxological in its conclusion.

All of those things could be said of Zwingli’s preaching and he pre-dated Calvin. Those things could also be said of a lot, a whole lot, of contemporary preachers who are more concerned with communicating the truth as revealed in Scripture than in being popular or famous.

I realize that mega church pastors DON’T preach that way- but most others, who are faithful to their calling, do. For that reason it’s fair to say that Calvin isn’t one of a kind or one of the few- he’s just one among many.

Great- A Stalker

You’ve got to admire a persistent soul who disagrees heartily and then when you break off the discussion because they lack the tools to carry it on, they become a stalker.

God Bless America, land of the free (and the delete button!).

[I guess I just bring out the stalker in some folk because I tend to be too nice.  I need to get tougher.  Or as Mark Stevens tells me all the time- ‘toughen up, Princess!’]

Diarmaid MacCulloch: On Forced Celibacy

Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy, suggests Prof. MacCulloch in an op-ed for the Guardian.

He begins

Christians outside the Roman Catholic church, and very many inside, can see what a nonsense compulsory clerical celibacy is. Its effect is often malign, producing loneliness, alcoholism and, at worst, efforts at emotional compensation through irresponsible exercise of clerical power and unprincipled sexual activity. Critics say there is nothing wrong with celibacy as such; it’s a fine vocation. But to mix up the vocation of celibacy with that of priesthood, tying them unavoidably together, is a category mistake, and it’s time for the Church of Rome to sort it out. The Church of England and the rest of the Protestant world did this half a millennium ago, and the effects on Protestant Christianity have been unmistakably good.

And then he migrates from this general truth to a specific application concerning gay clerical celibacy.

Let Anglicans now just pause before patting themselves on the back too heartily, for the rectory drawing room houses a pachyderm. The Anglican communion has itself imposed compulsory celibacy on a large section of its clergy: those who recognise they are predominantly gay in sexual orientation. And surprise, surprise, many of the malign effects detectable in the celibate Catholic priesthood are equally detectable in this clergy group, plus often an equally malign problem: many gay clergy have conformed to peer pressure and entered a heterosexual marriage, thus endangering the happiness of not just one but at least two people and living out all sorts of lies alongside a ministry which is supposed to be characterised by truthfulness and integrity.

Do read the whole.  Wherever you stand on the issue (and you probably know where I do), MacCulloch’s piece is provocative.

Newt is a Big Hypocrite

Rush Limbaugh Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden of mar...

He whined last night about being outraged that the ‘elite media’ would start a Presidential debate with a question about his marital skankiness.  Meanwhile, back in the 90’s, he spent all his time talking about Clinton’s marital doings.

What a hypocrite.  He’s Rush Limbaugh with more hair – pure hypocrite.

More ‘Drugs Make You an Idiot’ News

Or, potentially, another ‘Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?’ piece.  Whatever, this is beyond the pale of sanity:

An Athens [TN] man was arrested Tuesday on charges of wearing a wig and makeup to pick up his dead sister’s Xanax and hydrocodone prescriptions.  Athens police said charges against Douglas Gregory Nichols, 36, include prescription fraud.  Police said Nichols twice tried to disguise himself using a wig and eyeliner, among other things, to pick up prescriptions that belonged to his deceased sister, Tammy Nichols, who died in a car accident on September 20.  A day or two later, Nichols went to Walgreens to fill Tammy’s prescriptions. The first pharmacist thought he was just a “ugly woman,” according to police.

Dope.  Rightly named.

Israel’s Problem With Racism

In Ha’aretz

Our muted reaction to the treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis in Kiryat Malakhi is a silence that damns us all, by Anshel Pfeffer, is an essay that everyone needs to read.

The very idea that 120 homeowners in Kiryat Malakhi, ordinary mainstream Israelis, signed a secret undertaking not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families – as reported by Channel 2 last week – is so awful that I really want to believe the denials, as faint as they are. A few residents who were prepared to voice crude and vulgar opinions on screen can be explained away as ill-educated misfits, but 120 of them? But the fact remains, not one Israeli-Ethiopian lives in those four new apartment towers, though some have tried to rent there. And this in a town with a sizable Ethiopian community that suffers housing shortages.

What makes this story even more awful is that, since I can’t fathom every one of those 120 owners being racist, I start making excuses for them in my mind. They are not to be blamed for the housing market, after all. Is it their fault that when large numbers of Israeli-Ethiopian families move into a neighborhood, the apartment prices are driven down? After all, these apartments are their main asset: If the value goes down by ten or twenty percent, or even more, is it their responsibility to suffer a severe financial penalty for the cold real-estate realities?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  What awfulness and bigotry.  As if Israel’s treatment of Palestinians wasn’t already a black eye.  Here’s another.

If You Just Want a Handout, Head to the U.K.

They’ve got an astonishing 370,000 people who aren’t even citizens on the dole receiving tax money!

More than 370,000 migrants who were admitted to Britain to work, study or go on holiday are now claiming out-of-work benefits, according to official figures compiled for the first time.

Nice! Go to Britain on vacation and sign up for welfare- and you’ll get it (apparently)!!!!  Didn’t Greece have the same policy of throwing taxpayer cash away?  Anyway, I’m sure it worked out well for them and it will for Britain too…

The migrants, who can claim unemployment, housing and incapacity benefit, are costing taxpayers billions of pounds a year. In other countries, many would have had to return home after their visas expired or their employment ended.

Wow- get a house, income for not working (!) and disability pay!!!! All because you decided to visit! I sure wish I had known about this during my own past trips to Britain!!! Dog gone it.

The figures are likely to reopen the debate over the generosity of the welfare system amid growing concerns that the country has become a destination for “benefit tourists”.

Benefit tourist. That’s what I aspire to!  [And don’t fell badly for our UK friends.  They don’t mind it at all.  They love their hard earned money being thrown away].

Heidelberg Catechism Conference Announcement

From Refo500

The appearence of the Heidelberg Catechism in and the completion of the Council of Trent in 1563 gives rise to the 450-year anniversary of both events in 2013 and entails much preparation for full commemoration. A large number of partners from the international Refo 500 platform are working on various exhibitions, conferences, travels, and books.

Activities will start January 18 and 19, 2013 with conferences on the Heidelberg Catechism in Gouda and Hamilton (USA). Later in the year, academic conferences will be held at the Theological University Apeldoorn (Catechism) and the Catholic University Leuven (Council of Trent). There are no less than seven exhibitions being prepared namely: Trier, Klooster Ter Apel, Vesting Bourtange, Apeldoorn and Heidelberg. There is also preparation for a traveling exhibition featuring the Heidelberg Catechism for church congregations of the Netherlands.

The H.C. is one of the best ‘introductions’ to Theology one can read.  It covers all the essentials and even after all these centuries, it’s still relevant.