Pat, Get a Life

Pat Robertson is being the buffoon again, calling the Twilight films ‘demonic’ and ‘evil’.  No, Pat, they aren’t that- they aren’t good enough to be that.  They’re much worse: they’re badly acted!

But that doesn’t mean the devil is in them Pat- and you know why?  Because they’re FICTIONAL.  They’re made up.  They aren’t real beings.  They’re pretend!

Pat, shouldn’t you be more concerned with what’s real than what’s made up?  Why don’t you ever opine about things that matter like the oppression and murder of the people in Syria or the mistreatment of the Palestinians?  Why don’t you talk about American poverty?

In other words, Pat, why are you a buffoon?

Oh wait, I remember now- you don’t care about people.  You only care about showmanship and the media spotlight.  Got ya.

The Enoch Seminar Has a Slick New Website

Worth bookmarking.

The Enoch Seminar is an academic group of international specialists in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins, who share the results of their research in the field and biennially meet to discuss topics of common interest.

If You Buy It, And Your Kid Trashes You On It, You Should Shoot It!

The disgruntled teenage daughter of a tech-savvy, gun-toting father just got a very public lesson in respecting one’s elders. “That right there is your laptop,” the father, named Tommy Jordan, says in a YouTube video while pointing a video camera at a computer laying in a patch of dirt and grass. “This right here is my .45,” he says, moving a pistol into the frame. He cocks the weapon and shoots nine exploding hollow-point rounds into the laptop. Okay, rewind.

Jordan’s 15-year-old daughter apparently wrote a Facebook post complaining about the chores she has to do at home and the overall hassle that her parents make her life. The father took exception to the public airing of grievances, and so decided to exact his own bit of public revenge, according to the video description, as well as Facebook and Reddit posts he appears to have made.

I’m with you, dad!  [Warning-the kid has a foul mouth!]

Gur: The Strangest Ultra-Ultra Orthodox Jewish Sect

For members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Gur sect, sex is a sin.

Sounds like they’ve read too much of that reprobate Augustine.

Y., a Gur Hasid, fainted during his pre-wedding counseling session. R. left the sect because she could not stand its alienation of women. A. was sexually harassed as a youth by a religious supervisor. On breaking taboos – and silence.

It’s a fascinating piece!

When R. was a girl, she came into the possession of the books in the “Anne of Green Gables” series, which her parents did not allow her to read. One Yom Kippur, when her family was at synagogue, she slipped away from the women’s section. In her parents’ room she shed a tear when the protagonists, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, kissed for the first time. When she became engaged a year later, she expected that some of her innocent, romantic fantasies would come true in her own marriage.

On her wedding night, her brand-new husband called her into the living room, where a large picture of the Admor of Gur – the rabbinic leader of that Hasidic sect – hung on the wall. He told her she had to imagine the rebbe’s face when she observed the mitzvah of ishut (conjugal relations ), so that she would have “righteous” children.

What weirdness. And there’s more to come. So enjoy (if such a word fits).

Mark Driscoll is a False Teacher and a Cult Leader- One Should Only Expect Impropriety

Until last fall, a 25-year-old Seattle man named Andrew was happily committed to Mars Hill Church, one of America’s fastest-growing megachurches with more than 5,000 members. He volunteered weekly for security duty at his branch of the church, joined a Bible study group, and had recently become engaged to the daughter of a church elder. Then he made a mistake that found him cast out: He cheated on his fiancee with a community college classmate. The fury over Andrew’s experience—and his decision to publicize the church’s internal disciplinary procedures—has led to accusations by other Christians that one of the most powerful evangelical voices in the country, Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, employs a cultlike leadership style. Now, for the first time, Mars Hill is speaking out in response to its former member’s charges.

His is a cult and he is a cult leader.  There’s simply no question about it.  And serious student of the Bible and Theology can see through him and his tactics as if looking through a clean window.  When cult leaders do inappropriate things only those unfamiliar with cults and how they operate are surprised.

Driscoll could only and ever be the ‘pastor’ of a ‘church’ where a sufficient number of members are completely illiterate biblically and theologically.

John Hick has Died

John was Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and H. G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham. He delivered Gifford Lectures in 1986-7 and he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Religion in 1991. He was best known for his work on the problem of evil, religious pluralism, eschatology and Christology. He published numerous books including Faith and KnowledgeEvil and the God of LoveDeath and the Eternal LifeAn Interpretation of ReligionThe Metaphor of God Incarnate and Between Faith and Doubt. John was also highly respected in Birmingham for his community service in the areas of civil rights and inter-faith/inter-race relations.

Last year the University of Birmingham awarded him an honorary doctorate and launched theJohn Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion in honour of him. His last public speech can be watched here.

Via.  I was personally never a fan of Hick’s theology, but he was fairly influential and his passing is a sadness.

What Can Stamped Jar Handles Teach us about Israel’s History?

Ido Koch and Oded Lipschits have something to say in answer to that question in an essay in Tel Aviv from last year- Judahite Stamped and Incised Jar Handles: A Tool for Studying the History of Late Monarchic Judah. It’s certainly a worthwhile read and very informative too.

You can learn a lot from a little if you’re attentive.

The Petition Continues- Add Your Support…

Even if you agree with the notion that lawsuits are a legitimate means to settle disputes, I hope you’ll consider the effects on scholarship if film-makers like Mr Jacobovici sue persons who disagree with their conclusions. First they came for Joe Zias because he criticized Simcha’s work and next they’ll come for you when you write a review of a book that doesn’t please its author or its publisher.

You can sign the petition urging Simcha to drop his suit here (where you can also see the list of signatories).

Proper Compromise: The White House Blinks on Enforced Contraception

Under increasing pressure, the White House has offered what it’s calling an “accommodation” to religious groups on a requirement to cover birth control free of charge.  Even some Democrats, who generally support the policy of requiring most employers to offer no-cost contraception, were unhappy with rule’s reach. But the change unveiled by the White House isn’t expected to completely quell the uproar raised by Catholics and others who say the policy violates their freedom of religion. The change would allow employers that have religious objections to offering contraception as part of their health plans to turn the responsibility over to insurance companies instead.

The government has NO BUSINESS in demanding that religious organizations provide ANYTHING.  The separation of Church and State is specifically intended to keep government OUT of religious institutions (not religious institutions, by the way, out of government).  So it’s good to see the White House get a bit of sense and change their policy in the right direction.

It’s Past Time To Help The Syrian People

Their lives matter as much as the lives of the Libyans- and we intervened there.  We must intervene in Syria or history will curse us and, worse, God will judge us for our gross indifference.

It’s time for the United Nations to stop its blathering and send troops to Homs via air-drop if necessary.  It’s time to shield the people of Syria from the vile cruelty of their own government.

It’s past time to help the Syrian people.  We must act today.  And if it means we must act alone, we must act.

From inside the Syrian city of Homs, where activists say several hundred people have been killed by government forces in the past week and troops are preparing for what could be a “ground offensive” in coming days, residents say the “situation could not be more dire,” NPR’s Kelly McEvers reports.

The Archaeological Survey at Tel Azekah

Over on the Expedition site you can read

During the years 2009-2010 an intensive archaeological survey was conducted at Tel Azekah. This was the first time since the 19th century that the Tel was studied with such scrutiny. The survey at Tel Azekah was conducted as a method of studying the site prior to excavation.

The main goals of this survey are:

  • To identify which periods are represented at the site.
  • To estimate the size and nature of the site in each period.
  • To locate possible excavation areas for the coming season.

and much more. Including

It seems that there were two settlement peaks at the site:

During the Late Bronze Age, when Canaan was under the yoke of the Egyptian New-Kingdom and the settlement was at its largest. At this point the site occupied the entire tell.

During the Iron Age II, when Azekah was an important regional center for the Kingdom of Judah (see Jeremiah 34:7).

During this period, the settlement encompassed the entire mound, but as fewer sherds dating to the Iron Age were found, the site was probably less inhabited then it was during the Late Bronze.

Go read it all- quite useful.

The Case of the 11 Year Old ‘Transsexual’

The child, identified as “Alex,” has male genitalia but considers herself a girl. She lives with her mother, who supports her wishes. But her father strongly disputes this gender identity and has lobbied the Berlin youth welfare office to have the child taken from its mother’s care and put into a psychiatric institution. The two parents separated and divorced over the issue.

Daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported last month that a local district court upheld the youth office’s request, but that the mother is appealing to the higher regional court. A spokesman for the higher court told The Local that because of the private nature of the case, this could not be discussed.  …

Alex’s body will soon develop more masculine traits in puberty, but she told Die Tageszeitung that she has always felt she was a girl and wants to undergo oestrogen treatment. She officially changed her sex and her name, from Alexander to Alexandra, before entering primary school, where she was accepted as a girl.

Do children that young possess ‘sexual identity’?  Before entering primary school (around age 6)?  Or does he belong in an institution as the father asserts?  He is in fact a male and there clearly is something tragically amiss in this situation- at so many levels.

It’s so sad for such a young person to be so disoriented and ‘lost’.  Doubtless in great part due to his parents’ behavior.  They’ve done the worst thing any parent can do- they’ve made their child their battleground.  They should both be ashamed.

What Are Israelis Most Afraid Of?

If you listen to the media in this country you’d be led to believe that what they fear most is Iran.  Or the Palestinians.  But You’d be wrong. What they fear most is each other!

Forget fear of extinction – Israelis fear themselves.

60% of Israelis fear one another and only 40% are fearful of Iran or Palestinian terrorism.

… poll results show… that the threat from external enemies is not the fear dominating Israeli society today. The opposite is true: the major threat to Israel, according to most Israeli Jews, is themselves. When the responses are combined, 60% said their greatest fear for Israel’s future was an internal threat – just 40% in total said they most feared destruction by an enemy.

Read the report. With thanks to Matthew Kalman for mentioning it.

Jodi Magness: The Interview

Via Joseph Lauer

The Book and the Spade recently posted two 13-minute audio interviews of Dr. Jodi Magness by Gordon Govier. The first is about her recently published book Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (which, as explained in the interview, is a title chosen by the publisher). The second is about the excavation being directed by her at Huqoq, including a partial excavation of a synagogue at the site. …

The first interview may be accessed at http://www.radioscribe.com/1315tbts.mp3.

The second interview may be accessed at http://www.radioscribe.com/1316tbts.mp3.