Daily Archives: 23 May 2012

Pegging the Seeker-Sensitive Heresy

California Really is a Red State: The Cost of Gas Across the Country

Via the good folk at GasBuddy.com on the facebook.

Israel: The Arizona of the Middle East

The parallels are really striking.  They both have lunatics in charge of armed troops (in Arizona it’s that megalomaniac Joe Arpaio and in Israel the equally megalomaniacal Benjamin Netanyahu) and both are occupied with racists wanting ‘aliens’ driven out.

Hundreds demonstrate in south Tel Aviv against illegal migrants. Right-wing MKs call for expulsion of migrants from Israel; Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein expresses support for returning migrant workers from South Sudan back to their home country.

Kick ’em to the curb- they’re aliens and we don’t want them here… That little motto fits both Arizona and Israel.

The protesters, which amassed in the Hatikva neighborhood, shouted slogans against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some held signs in support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai (link). Others held signs that read “infiltrators go home” and “south Tel Aviv is a refugee camp.” MKs such as Miri Regev (Likud), Danny Danon (Likud), Yariv Levin (Likud) and Ronit Tirosh also attended the protest, which included a stage draped in a banner of Netanyahu with an Eritrean flag. In a speech to the demonstrators, Regev said called the illegal migrants a “cancer in our body,” and promised to do everything “in order to bring them back to where they belong.”

Wow, who knew that Israel’s racists are as reprehensible and despicable as Arizona’s?

I Hadn’t Realized It Has been a Year Since Harold Camping’s ‘Prophecy’ Failed and His Maniacal Lunacy Exposed For All to See

But Scott has.  And he quotes from an essay recently published on the subject which includes this gem-

What happened after May 21 matches up fairly closely with what scholars of apocalyptic groups would expect. The so-called disconfirmation was not enough to undermine the faith of many believers. From what I can tell, those who had less invested in the prophecy were more likely to simply give up and return to normal life. Meanwhile, those who had risked almost everything seemed determined to reframe the prophecy, to search the scriptures, to hang on to the hope that the end might be nigh.

I was struck by how some believers edited the past in order to avoid acknowledging that they had been mistaken. The engineer in his mid-twenties, the one who told me this was a prophecy rather than a prediction, maintained that he had never claimed to be certain about May 21. When I read him the transcript of our previous interview, he seemed genuinely surprised that those words had come out of his mouth. It was as if we were discussing a dream he couldn’t quite remember.

Other believers had no trouble recalling what they now viewed as an enormous embarrassment. Once October came and went without incident, the father of three was finished. “After October 22, I said ‘You know what? I think I was part of a cult,’” he told me. His main concern was how his sons, who were old enough to understand what was going on, would deal with everything: “My wife and I joke that when my kids get older they’re going to say that we’re the crazy parents who believed the world was going to end.”

In the beginning, I was curious how believers would react, as if they were mice in a maze. But as time went on I grew to like and sympathize with many of them. This failed prophecy caused real harm, financially and emotionally. What was a curiosity for the rest of us was, for them, traumatic. And it’s important to remember that mainstream Christians also believe that God’s son will play a return engagement, beam up his bona fide followers, and leave the wretched remainder to suffer unspeakable torment. They’re just not sure when.

Among those I came to know and like was a gifted young musician. Because he was convinced the world was ending, he had abandoned music, quit his job, and essentially put his life on hold for four years. It had cost him friends and created a rift between some members of his family. He couldn’t have been more committed.

In a recent email, he wrote that he had “definitely lost an incredible amount of faith” and hadn’t touched his Bible in months. These days he’s not sure what or whether to believe. “It makes me wonder just how malleable our minds can be. It all seemed so real, like it made so much sense, but it wasn’t right,” he wrote. “It leaves a lot to think about.”

Radical Islam’s Fanatical and Unbalanced, Hate Filled Misogyny

Some 125 girls and three teachers were admitted to an Afghanistan hospital on Wednesday after being poisoned in their classes with a type of spray, a Takhar provincial official said.  The incident occurred in the provincial capital of Talokhan, in the Bibi Hajera girls school, said Dr. Hafizullah Safi, the province’s director of public health.  Forty of the girls were still hospitalized, he said, with symptoms including dizziness, vomiting, headaches and loss of consciousness.

It stinks of the deeds of the Taliban.

“The Afghan people know that the terrorists and the Taliban are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them going to school,” said Khalilullah Aseer, spokesman for Takhar police. “That’s something we and the people believe. Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated, but the government’s enemies don’t want this.”  There have been several instances of girls being poisoned in schools in recent years. In April, also in Takhar province, more than 170 women and girls were hospitalized with suspected poisoning after drinking apparently poisoned well water at a school. Local health officials blamed the acts on extremists opposed to women’s education.

They’re really afraid of girls aren’t they, those wretched hate-monger cowards.  The Taliban- lovers of ignorance and murderers of the innocent.

Thank You, Jona Lendering

That knower of all things Classical-World was recently in Istanbul and he did me the kindness of picking up a very nice coffee mug.  The photos are via instagram, so the lighting is unusual (because I like fiddling with instagram settings).

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Thanks, Jona, much appreciated!

Depravity Begets Depravity

A report in the Telegraph suggests that lapdancing clubs encourage rape and sexual assault.   Gee, really?  Ya think?

Inspector Ian Drummond-Smith made the claim in his official letter of objection to an application to open a new strip club in the town’s Bank Street.  Cornwall Council’s licensing committee is due to decide on an application for a Sexual Entertainment Venue permit for Kiss Gentlemen’s Club, formerly known as Halos.  Police figures quoted by Insp Drummond-Smith show there were 69 reported sex crimes within a mile radius of the club between January 2010 and February this year, which also included 15 cases of indecent exposure and six “other” sexual offences.

Shut them down and see if the stats don’t back you up.  Surely it is self evident that depravity begets depravity.  Remove the stimulant and the result will be less sexually oriented crime.  Common sense.

It’s Hermann Gunkel Day Once More

The earth has circled the sun again one entire time and we’re back to May 23rd- the day we observe the anniversary of the birth of Hermann Gunkel!  Here are a few previous posts. which mention the great man.  And here are some photos-

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Happy Gunkel Day!

Evangelicals, Don’t Be Ashamed… A New Commentary Series Called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary

Logos launched, last year, a new commentary series aimed at bringing the best of Evangelical scholarship to bear on the interpretation of the biblical text.  It’s called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.

I’ve received the commentaries on Philemon and Ezra/Nehemiah (take note, Thomas Bolin) and feel like saying a few things about them.  But first, a word about the series itself.

These days a lot of Evangelicals are being ‘shamed’ into retreat of a sort into the back room of biblical studies.  ‘Oh Evangelicals can’t be objective so their work is illegitimate’ or ‘Evangelical = Fundamentalist, ergo, what they write doesn’t matter’ are phrases sometimes heard in the hallways of academic conferences.  Take heart, Evangelicals, you have no cause to be ashamed of who you are or where you stand.

Let’s be really, really objective for a moment, shall we?  These days the bible is read through a variety of lenses.  We have ‘queer’ commentaries, ‘feminist’ commentaries, ‘minority’ commentaries, ‘third world’ commentaries, ‘Catholic’ commentaries, ‘secularist’ commentaries, ‘Pentecostal’ commentaries and of course the usual ‘historical-critical’ commentaries.  And the one common truth they all share is that they come from a point of view- they all operate with presuppositions.  I guarantee you that if you pick up a ‘queer’ commentary its reading of Romans 1-2 will be quite idiosyncratic, pressing, as it must, a reading which accords to its viewpoint.

Historical-critical commentaries too come from a point of view which has problems inherent in the system.  The entire ‘documentary hypothesis’ of the Pentateuch is a case in point.  It’s nothing more than the fruit of academic imagination, pure and simple, and yet it remains the reigning theory of pentateuchal composition.

As my dear teacher reminded us all in an essay he wrote many, many years ago- ‘there is no such thing as presuppositionless exegesis!’

Hence, fellow Evangelicals, don’t be ashamed of who you are nor of your supposition that Scripture is just that, Scripture.  ‘Queer’ theorists aren’t ashamed of who they are nor of their point of view and neither are feminists.  Why should Evangelicals be?

Frankly I’m proud of Logos for publishing a commentary series that actually admits its presuppositions beforehand.  I’m not ashamed of the title ‘Evangelical’ and I look forward to digging in more to exegetical commentaries which bear the name I also proudly wear.

So, in the next week or so, expect a few words about both the Philemon volume and the Ezra/Nehemiah volume.

More anon…

Proof that Bethlehem Existed in the First Temple Period

As usual the discovery is made to prove David.  Note the inevitable connection to the Bible in the closing lines.  Again, a bulla is made into a suit…

UPDATE:  George Athas has shown quite convincingly that Shukron is wrong.

Via Joe Lauer-

Earliest Archaeological Evidence of the Existence of the City of
Bethlehem already in the First Temple Period

While sifting soil from archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the City of David, in the “Walls around Jerusalem National Park”, a bulla was discovered bearing the name of the city, written in ancient Hebrew script.

The first ancient artifact constituting tangible evidence of the existence of the city of Bethlehem, which is mentioned in the Bible, was recently discovered in Jerusalem.

A bulla measuring c. 1.5 cm was found during the sifting of soil removed from archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David. The sifting is underwritten by the ‘Ir David Foundation’ in a project being conducted in the Emek Tzurim National Park.

A bulla is a piece of clay that was used for sealing a document or object. The bulla was impressed with the seal of the person who sent the document or object, and its integrity was evidence the document or object was not opened by anyone unauthorized to do so.

Three lines of ancient Hebrew script appear on the bulla:

בשבעת Bishv’at

בת לים  Bat Lechem

[למל]ך   [Lemel]ekh

According to Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (it is unclear if the king referred to here is Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem. The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE. The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”. Shukron emphasizes,” this is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods”.

In the Bible Bethlehem is first mentioned in the verse “in Ephrath, which is Bethlehem”, and it was on the way there that Rachel died and it is where she was buried (Genesis 35:19; 48:7). The descendants of Judah settled there, among them the family of Boaz (Book of Ruth).

Bethlehem’s greatness begins with the anointing of David, son of Jesse, as king (1 Samuel 16).

Click here to download a high resolution photograph of the bulla. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.