Thursday, December 31, 2009

117: Questions Are Blasphemy

2 Kings 18-19
That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. - 2 Kings 19:35

Judah finally gets a good king (Hezekiah). We can only assume that God will now protect them from all invaders. It's been awhile since anyone has payed attention to him, so God's a little rusty on the whole "protect his followers" thing. God accidentally lets Assyria invade and take over Judah.

Hezekiah rebels against Assyria. The king of Assyria sends messengers to Jerusalem and they mock God in front of all of the people. By mock God, I mean they say things like this:
Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?
Which is a fair question, because God hasn't saved the promise land from the Assyrians. But it's still blasphemy because it's questioning God. Moral of the story: questions are blasphemy!

Hezekiah prays to God. God tells Hezekiah (through a prophet) that he is going to destroy the Assyrians. That night, an angel goes to the Assyrians' camp and kills a hundred and eighty-five thousand of them. Why is it that we have a wonderful image of angels? The only angels I've seen in the bible are killing people (or the people that are talking to them are afraid they're going to be killed).

*News*

We all heard the story of the two journalists who accidentally crossed into North Korea. When I saw this story I decided not to get anywhere near North Korea (as I think most of the rational people among us did). When Robert Park saw this story, he saw a chance to proselytize.

On Christmas day, Robert Park intentionally crossed into North Korea and started passing out letters calling for Kim Jong-il to step down. He also shouted "I brought God's love. God loves you, and God bless you".

Robert faces a maximum punishment of execution (which was apparently his goal) for speaking ill of the government. He must really want those 72 virgins. Oops, wrong religion, all the insane people are starting to blend together.

(via The New York Times)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

116: Our God is an Awesome [a Local and Relatively Powerless] God

2 Kings 15-17
It was reported to the king of Assyria: "The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires." - 2 Kings 17:26

Chapter 15 continues the endless listing of kings. They are all bad and none of them do anything particularly interesting (or really anything at all). They are all assassinated or otherwise debilitated because they are naughty in the eyes of God.

All of chapter 16 is about Ahaz, one of the kings of Judah. Ahaz gets attacked and besieged by Israel but they cannot overpower him. To end the siege, Ahaz sends messengers to the king of Assyria and offers him money to save him from Israel.

Assyria not only saves Judah from Israel, but invades Israel and takes over the promise land. The bible says that this is all taking place because Israel didn't follow God. How is God anywhere in this equation? The people of Judah didn't want to be slaughtered so they asked for help from the Assyrians. The Assyrians used the opportunity to invade Israel. God had nothing to do with it.

The king of Assyria takes people from all around and settles them in Israel. These people are not worshiping the "correct" God (because they've never heard of him). God is not pleased by this and sends lions to eat some of them. God doesn't even give them a chance to worship him, he just slaughters them for being disobedient of rules they've never heard.

The people living in Israel send a message to the king saying that they "do not know what the god of that country requires". The god of that country? Sorry American Christians, the god you worship is only the god of Israel.

The king of Assyria sends a priest from the Israelites to show the people how to worship in Israel. The people start worshiping the "correct" God, but also worship their own gods. God does nothing. No more fire and brimstone, these people are worshiping other gods and he is doing nothing.

Again, an all powerful God fails to make sense. Either God has changed his mind about killing people for not worshiping him, or he is incapable of killing them. Both of which spell doom for his all powerful/all knowing status.

*News*
Are you normal? Not if you aren't a perfectly mainstream Christian.

An article in Times-Herald spells out how you should be a "normal" Christian. According to this article, when you're a Christian you have four privileges: prayer, being led by the holy spirit, being punished (yes, this is a privilege), and your Christian family. If you don't have these you're not normal.

First, you must pray:
If you don't pray, you don't have a normal relationship with God.
You can't figure out how to relate to God in your own way if you're a Christian?

Second, you must be led by the holy spirit:
You might be spinning around in circles spiritually -- you jump from church to church -- calling it "church shopping," which is really laziness. The Spirit leads us in obeying God and guiding us as children of God.
That's right, if you can't figure out what church you want to go to, you're an abnormal lazy weirdo.

Third, you must be punished:
When a believer is going through sickness and trials, that person must ask, "Is this a result of my disobedience?"
What? So you're either miserable because you're being punished, or miserable because this guy is telling you that you're not normal if you're not being punished.

Finally, you must like your church "family":
If you're not connected to a church family, you're out of God's will and are missing this privilege.
If you don't have a divine connection with your peers in church, you're not normal. Great, now you're lonely and God hates you.

Being a Christian sounds miserable. If you have any stray feeling that doesn't line up with the beliefs of the church, you are branded a freak not worthy of being a Christian. There is no such thing as "normal". Stop trying to be normal and be your self.

(via Times-Herald)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

115: Sins of the Father

2 Kings 12-14
Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags. - 2 Kings 12:10

Joash tells his priest to start using the offering money they get to repair the temples. Around this time, Hazael, the current king of the Arameans, attacks Gath. Joash sends all of the gold and silver that he has received and sends it to Hazael. Hazael then retreats. Joash pays him off to leave.

Israel and Judah go through a few more kings before the section is done, and a few interesting things are sprinkled in the middle. First, Elisha dies. His last act is to have the king shoot a "victory arrow". Elisha tells the king to strike the ground. The king does this, but he only does it three times. This apparently means that he will only defeat his enemies three times. Thanks for the heads up Elisha, he would have hit the ground more if you'd told him to.

The last interesting thing is a reference to Deuteronomy. One of the kings is killing people for assisting in the assassination of his father. It specifically mentions that he doesn't kill sons if the father assisted in the assassination (a rule first set in Deuteronomy). Apparently this rule doesn't apply to God. God regularly punishes people to the third and fourth generation. Most recently, God killed Ahab's blood line for the sins of Ahab (but not Ahab himself). I guess we should do as God says, not as he does.

*News*
Weight Watchers, the Atkins diet, LA Weight Loss. These things may not help you lose weight, but the women of the Victory Assembly of God have found something that does. The bible.

“When I start craving bad foods, I know that's the devil coming around," says one of the members of the weight loss program. Yes, the devil is taking break from causing tsunamis and earth quakes and has decided to make you a fatty. Wait, I thought God did everything.

Another member says this:
Seek (God) first, and you'll fill up. You do not have to worry about what you eat. It's taken care of for you, if you would but listen to what your body's calling for.
Your stomach is really calling for a big serving of God when you get hungry? I've heard of eating Jesus (which totally isn't weird) but God? I guess if God is infinite, chopping off a little filet-o-god isn't too much to ask.

One more quote for the day:
[God] wants you to wait for your stomach to growl, and he wants you to stop when you're full. I was eating what I liked. Pizza, brownies, whatever. It was just a ton less.
God wants that? Did God tell you that? I guess it's possible that there was a lost commandment. Since she can make up what God wants, I may as well make up an 11th commandment. "Thou shall not stuff thy face with pizza, brownies, whatever, unless thine stomach doth grumble."

(via Chron)

Monday, December 28, 2009

114: Fake False Idols

2 Kings 9-11
Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. - 2 Kings 9:24

Elisha tells one of his men to take a flask of oil and go anoint Jehu king of Israel. Jehu doesn't seem to mind having a random dude pour oil on him, just another day in Israel. Just as a side note, there is no kissing in this anointing. For all of you who said it was standard procedure in the whole Samuel/Saul kissing incident. Jehu is given orders to destroy the house of Ahab.

Jehu goes to the current king, Joram (Ahab's son). Joram asks if Jehu comes in peace. Jehu says that he cannot come in peace while Joram's mother is around. Joram realizes that he is going to be killed and tries to escape. Jehu shoots him with an arrow before he can escape, killing him.

Jehu then proceeds to have the rest of the descendants of Ahab killed. He has Ahab's son's heads piled at the entrance to Samaria.

Jehu then pretends to worship false idols. He says that he is going to have a big festival to Baal and invites all of the priests of Baal to come celebrate. He makes sure that no servants of the "real" God are around and has his men slaughter all of the priests.

Chapter 11 is all about the seed of David being saved in Judah. Athaliah, a nasty queen destroys all of the royal family, but a boy (Joash) is saved. When Joash is seven years old the people of Judah rise up against Athaliah and appoint him king. Congratulations, you now have a first grader as king. First royal decree: lets play with crayons.

*News*

More bible in school, this time after hours.

Two Seattle elementary schools now offer after school bible clubs for kids. This is, of course, not offered directly from the school but through an evangelical organization. A few things here. First, why does this have to be at the school? This is what churches are for.

Second, why do churches find it so necessary to "catch em' young" while still claiming that they aren't indoctrinating children? If you have to indoctrinate people teach people while they're young for them to believe you, then you might want to rethink your beliefs.

(via The Seattle Times)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

113: You Eat My Kids, I'll Eat Yours

2 Kings 6-8
This woman said to me, "Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we'll eat my son." So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, "Give up your son so we may eat him," but she had hidden him. - 2 Kings 6:28-29

Elisha is with some men when they are cutting down trees. One man accidentally drops his axehead in the water. Elisha uses his godly powers to make the axehead float and the man retrieves the axe.

The Arameans decide to go to war with Israel. Whenever they try to secretly set up a camp they fail because Elisha reports where they are. He obviously has some sort of godly radar. The Arameans somehow know about Elisha and send men after him (apparently Elisha didn't see that coming). Elisha then uses his powers to strike all the men blind.

While they are blind he tells the men that he will lead them to who they are looking for. Elisha ends up leading them directly into an Israeli city. Instead of killing them they treat them to a feast and send them home. The Arameans then stop attacking Israel. A happy ending?

A happy ending until "some time later". The Arameans lay siege to Samaria (a city in Israel) and all the people are starving (so much for that treaty). One day the king is walking through the city and a woman cries out for help. He asks what he can do for her and she tells him that she made a deal that was not honored. She had made a deal to eat her son with another woman, and the next day they would eat the other woman's son. Unfortunately, the other woman's son was nowhere to be found at mealtime. She broke the golden rule of cannibalism: don't eat your relatives first (unless you don't like them).

The king is so upset when he hears this that he tells his servants to kill Elisha (the king is blaming Elisha for this cannibalism). Elisha locks the door to the chamber he's in and tells the king that the next day there will be food enough for everyone to eat.

Nobody believes him, but sure enough. The next day the Arameans think they are being attacked (God's doing of course) and flee. The Israelites go and plunder their camp and have all the food they could possibly desire. The king is standing by the gate when the people find out about the food and he is trampled by the rush of people, killing him.

Nothing very exciting happens in chapter 8. Zombie boy's mom gets her land back (I'm not sure why she lost it in the first place). Ben-Hadad, king of the Arameans is killed by his servant. And Judah goes through a couple more kings.

*News*
An evangelical church welcomes gay members. In other news: Hell freezes over.

Pastor Mark Tidd had this to say about the decision:
Our position is not one of lenience, but a matter of justice, it's not that we don't acknowledge the reality of sin. It's not a sin to be gay or act in accordance with your nature.
I definitely agree that being gay isn't bad, but to say it's not a sin is to say the bible doesn't say it's a sin. Which I'm not sure is accurate. It seems to me like if you only keep the rules in the bible you like and get rid of the rest then there's no reason for the bible to exist at all. Not that I think this is a bad thing, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

(via The Examiner)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

112: It's a Zombie! (No, Not Jesus)

2 Kings 4-5
When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy's body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. -2 Kings 4:32-35

Elisha continues his miracles. He goes to a poor widow, who is about to have her son sold into slavery. She tells him that she only has a little oil. He tells her to collect all the jugs she can find and pour the oil into them. The oil doesn't run out until all the the jugs she can find are full.

Elisha then predicts that a woman will have a son, and she does. Many years later the same child complains that his head hurts. His father has a servant carry him back home. The boy sits on his mother's lap for a few hours and dies. She immediately takes the dead boy to Elisha. Elisha lays face down on the dead boy (creepy?) and they pray. The child comes back to life. Run! Haven't you seen any zombie movies? This is how it happens!

The next section is weird, it's called "Death in the Pot". Elisha goes to Gilgal where they are having a famine. He tells his servant to cook a large pot of stew. When the stew is poured, the men complain that there is "death in the pot". That bad, eh? I've heard of some bad food, but I've never heard of anything described as death in a pot. Elisha puts some flour in the pot and then it's perfectly ok. If anyone knows what's going on here let me know.

Elisha then feeds a hundred people with twenty loaves of bread, and cures a man of leprosy. This reminds me of what I've heard of Jesus. Maybe Elisha would be the Messiah if he didn't kill little kids with bears.

*News*
Oh Examiner, the crazy shit I find in you.

Apparently atheists are really becoming Christians by "hating" Christians. Tom Papitto (the person who spewed this ignorance onto the examiner) has obviously never met an atheist. He goes on to call all atheists unhappy and hateful people.

In fact, go read his article right now. Take the exact opposite of everything he says, and you'll probably have a more accurate picture of what an atheist really is. I'm seeing a strange pattern here, everyone that is crazy enough to write a piece like this also seems to have no grasp of basic grammar. His last paragraph descends into an incoherent ramble.

I was really more amused than angered. I just hope that nobody actually believes this but him.

(via The Examiner)

Friday, December 25, 2009

111: Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, but Bears Will Eat You

2 Kings 1-3
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. - 2 Kings 2:24

Ahaziah, the new king of Israel, falls through the second story of his house and hurts himself. He tells his servants to go consult Baal-Zebub (a false god) to heal him. Elijah hears about this, stops the servants, and sends them back to Ahaziah, empty handed.

This so upsets Ahaziah that he sends a company of 50 men after Elijah. Elijah uses his godly powers to burn the men alive. Ahaziah then sends another 50 men. These men also burn. Ahaziah, still not learning his lesson (or just not caring about the lives of his men), sends another 50. The captain of this 50 man team catches the pattern (namely, death) and begs for his life. Elijah goes to this man and talks to him. Is he going to be spared? Maybe? Nope. Burned alive.

[Edit: The third captain actually takes Elijah back to the king. The king is the one that is killed (presumably by burning alive like everyone else), the third captain is never mentioned again.]

When Elijah is about to die he asks his assistant Elisha if he can do anything for him. Elisha requests a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit. I didn't know the holy spirit came in portions. Soon after this, Elijah is carried away "to heaven" by a chariot of fire and horses of fire. I thought hell was the fiery place, not heaven. Actually, I've still not heard of hell. This is one of the first times I'm hearing about heaven.

The first thing Elisha does with his new "double portion" of holy spirit is to make the water of a town good to drink. Ok, this seems like a nice guy. I might finally be getting the nice character I asked for.

This "nice character" theory of mine is put to the test in the very next paragraph. Elisha goes to Bethel. As he is walking up the road, some children call him "baldhead". Good one? Ok, whatever, they're just children. Elisha is obviously going to walk away, kids will be kids right? Wrong. My hope is so often shattered by the bible.

Elisha doesn't just scold the children, he doesn't even just beat the children, he sends rabid bears after them to eat them alive. So much for a nice character. What's even worse is that he does this in the name of God.

In chapter 3 the Israelites feel that they need to go destroy some more Moabites. They do, in fact, go slaughter some Moabites. Why is it that all of these civilizations get "completely destroyed" multiple times?

*News*
We have yet another practical use for the bible today: smuggling drugs.

A woman in Tennessee was arrested for trying to give prescription drugs to an inmate. She happened to be hiding these drugs in a bible. A jail official that was interviewed said that the bible is commonly used to try to smuggle drugs. So, next time you see a bible, make sure to look for the secret contraband inside.

This is my favorite quote from the article:
All it takes is finding one Bible that's packed full of tobacco, weed, pills, whatever, and you never look at a Bible the same.
That must make church awkward.

(via News Channel 5)

*Christmas Quote*
Just in case you thought I'd forgotten it's Christmas. I couldn't think of anything terribly exciting to do, so I thought I'd give you a super special Christmas quote.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. [Matthew 1:18-19]
Now you just have to wait 6 months to find out the rest. Oh wait, Jesus wasn't actually born on Christmas, never mind.

Have a merry Christmas. Or if you don't celebrate Christmas, have a great day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

110: Ahab, the Pouty King & 1 Kings: In Review

1 Kings 21-22
Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, "Naboth has cursed both God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. - 1 Kings 21:13

Ahab tells Naboth that he wants his vineyard. Naboth says no. Ahab then proceeds to go home and pout. He refuses to eat. His wife sees him and tells him to "cheer up" (bible's words not mine), and promises that she will get him that vineyard.

Ahab's wife sends a letter to the nobles in Naboth's city telling them to appoint Naboth to a prominent position. She then tells them to seat two scoundrels with him and have them say that Naboth cursed God. They do this, and Naboth is stoned to death for his "crime".

Ahab goes to seize the dead man's vineyard. Elijah meets him there and says he is going to bring ruin to his family. When Ahab hears this he tears his clothes and stops eating again. God notices how humble Ahab is and decides to give him a reprieve. I'm not sure how he's humble, he still seems like a pouty brat to me. But that was nice of God, this means that the rest of Ahab's family doesn't have to die too, right? Wrong. God merely puts off the family's punishment for a generation. This is, I suppose, to guarantee that only the innocent get punished (the way God likes it).

Micaiah, a prophet, tells Ahab not to go to war with Ramoth Gilead or he will die. Ahab doesn't believe him and does it anyway. This turns out to be a bad idea, Ahab is killed in battle and the rest of the Israelites return home.

1 Kings: In Review
1 Kings really reminds me of Judges without the whole God part. Nothing terribly exciting happens, and nearly all the kings are "bad". Meaning, generally, that they worship the wrong gods. The people that actually do nasty things (for example, have people killed like in today's post) get a reprieve as long as they're "humble".

Someone is surely going to say that God isn't destroying people because that would violate free will. But God had no problem completely obliterating people's free will (ie killing them) in previous books. What's with the change of heart? Throughout this book it's claimed that God was somehow causing kings to be killed on the battlefield. Someone's free will had to be tampered with if God caused that to happen. Sorry, free will and all-powerful judgment giver don't mix.

*News*
Can a real Christian have a Christmas tree? Reasonable person's answer: Duh, yes. [bonus: That's a true Scotsman fallacy.] Fundie's answer: Yes, unless someone writes an article that says the bible forbids Christmas trees.

A woman in Texas wrote this to a newspaper editorial Q&A:
My husband recently read an article on the Web that the Bible forbids Christians from having a Christmas tree in their house (Jeremiah 10:3.) was the Bible verse that the article listed. Our children are going to be crushed if we don’t have a tree this Christmas. What can I do?
(I'm going to leave out my complaints about the woman butchering the English language.)

The columnist responds with an explanation as to why the bible doesn't forbid Christmas trees, thus saving Christmas. That, for me, is not the point. The point is, does this woman value a sentence in the bible over the happiness of her children? Does it really concern you that much that you would stop doing something so obviously harmless that you and your family enjoy?

People can make the bible say whatever they want it to say (because it contradicts itself so many times). If you're going to concern yourself with every article that every person writes, you and your children are going to have a pretty terrible life.

(via The Tribune)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

109: Ahab and Elijah

1 Kings 18-20
By the word of the LORD one of the sons of the prophets said to his companion, "Strike me with your weapon," but the man refused. So the prophet said, "Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you." And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him. - 1 Kings 20:35-36

Eventually Elijah goes back to Ahab (after staying in hiding). He goes to the people of Israel, who are now worshiping Baal, and tells them to prepare an offering for their God. Elijah does the same. They both put their offerings on the altar but neither set fire to it. Elijah tells them to pray that Baal will light their offering on fire and he will do the same with the "real" God.

Of course, Elijah's offering sets fire and the other prophets' offering doesn't. Then, like the ending to any good Old Testament story, Elijah has all the other prophets (over 400) slaughtered. Right after this something weird happens. Here is the quote:
And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
Elijah put his head between whose knees? Why is he putting his head between anyone's knees?

Elijah then flees (again) and talks to God about uninteresting things.

The rest of this section is about Ben-Hadad attacking Israel. Ben-Hadad's first attack fails. He musters another army in the spring and attacks again. This time he fails even more miserably. Wait a second, why is Ahab winning? He's not obeying God's word. Oh well, nobody ever said the bible wasn't incredibly inconsistent (ok, maybe someone said that).

The last few paragraphs of this section are strange (we're having a strange day). Here's what I understand. A prophet tells his companion to strike him with a weapon. The companion says no, so the prophet tells him he's going to be eaten by a lion. The other man is, in fact, eaten by a lion. Moral of this story: stab your friends when they tell you to.

The prophet finally finds someone willing to hurt him. The prophet then goes to the king and says this:
Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, 'Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.' While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.
Ok. So this prophet is pretending that he lost someone he was supposed to be guarding. Got it.

The king responds by saying:
That is your sentence, you have pronounced it yourself.
That is what sentence? Now I'm a little confused, but the confusion has only begun. The prophet takes off his disguise, revealing himself as one of the prophets and says this:
This is what the Lord says: 'You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.'
What? I don't even know what the king did, much less why he's being punished for it. Did I miss something here (I guess I must have)? If someone figures this out write me a comment and let me know.

*News*
Video games? Those are fun. The bible? Not so much fun. Let's put them together!

James Rolfe (or as most of you know him The Angry Video Game Nerd) has set his sights on bible games made for the Nintendo and Super Nintendo. If you don't know who he is, he finds old games that he finds particularly hard/bad and reviews them. As a forewarning, his entire act (yes, it's an act) is that he's incredibly pissed off at these games. Therefore the entire video is pretty much him cussing out his TV screen.

He has two bible game reviews Bible Games: Part I and Bible Games: Part II. (Not safe for work, school... home?)

(via Cinemassacre)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

108: Nevermore

1 Kings 15-17
The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. - 1 Kings 17:6

Most of this section is just a list of kings that ruled Israel. I'll probably spare you and not go into much detail on most of these, this section isn't very exciting. All these paragraphs end with "As for the other events of [king]'s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?". I guess we'll never know.

Abijah becomes king for a short time. He was bad and worshiped false idols. He has a war with Jeroboam (who was still king of Judah at the time) and gets killed.

Asa then becomes king of Israel. He follows all of God's commands. The first thing he does is gets rid of the male shrine prostitutes. Not the female shrine prostitutes, of course, those are perfectly ok.

Then we have Nadab. Another bad one. He kills all of Jeroboam's family (maybe Jeroboam himself?).

I'll just list the rest, they're all bad and they don't do anything very exciting. Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab (the worst of them all).

Elijah goes to Ahab and says that there will be no rain in the land unless he says so. Elijah then runs away to hide. Ravens then start bringing him bread and meat. This seems like some strange Disney movie.

Later Elijah goes to stay with a poor woman. She only has a small container of flour and a small container of oil. Elijah tells her to use it, and no matter how much she uses it never runs out. The woman's son then becomes ill and dies.

Elijah carries the dead son upstairs and lays him on the bed. He prays for God to bring the boy back to life and the boy lives. It's a zombie! Run!

*News*
Yesterday we had a story about shoplifting bibles. Today we have a story about a priest telling his congregation that it's ok to shoplift. Coincidence? (Probably)

Father Tim Jones said this to his congregation:
My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.

I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks and weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.

We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime.
What?! First and most obvious, what happened to thou shall not steal? Second, is he actually giving advice on the best places to steal things from?

I really want a new car. I don't have the money. Obviously the only option is for me to steal it. And as long as I steal it from a large car dealership it will be perfectly ok with Father Tim Jones.

(via BBC News)

Monday, December 21, 2009

107: Prophet vs. Lion (Spoiler: Lion Wins)

1 Kings 12-14
As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. - 1 Kings 13:24

[***Holiday Message*** For the next week I will be on a family vacation and my access to the internet will be questionable at times. So I'll be writing my blog posts ahead of time. If everything goes as planned you'll have no idea this is even happening, but I've used blogger's "scheduled posting" feature only a few times and I don't know how reliable it is. So if it seems like I've missed a day, rest assured that the blog is already written and I will post it as soon as I possibly can. This also means that the news sections will probably have less relevant things in them (but hopefully still interesting). Keep reading and commenting and have a happy holidays!]

Rehoboam, Solomon's son is taken to Shechem to be appointed king. All the people of Israel come to Rehoboam and ask him to lighten their work load because Solomon worked them too hard. This is his response:
My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.
Oh boy, can Israel not find a nice king for once? This response causes Israel to rebel against Rehoboam. Only the people of Judah remain loyal to him. Rehoboam is pissed and goes back to Jerusalem to gather an army to retake his kingdom. This plan is thwarted by a prophet that says God doesn't want Rehoboam to fight the rest of the Israelites. Rehoboam apparently listens to everyone who says they talk to God and calls off the attack.

Rehoboam then breaks the first rule of not pissing off God; he makes golden calves. You'd think if this guy was willing to turn around his armies because a prophet said that God didn't want him to, that he'd be willing to not break the whole "false idols" rule. Another thing, why are these Israelites so gullible? All Rehoboam has to say is "here are your Gods, O Israel" and they come from miles around.

Chapter 13 is all about a prophet from Judah. This prophet tells Jeroboam that all of his altars are going to fall. As soon as the prophet says this, the altar splits in half. Jeroboam reaches out his hand and tells his guards to seize the prophet, but his hand shrivels up when he extends it. God gave him the dreaded shrively hand? Oh no! This is a step down from the death punishment that he usually inflicts.

Jeroboam tells the prophet to pray that his hand will become unshriveled. Praying seems to do the trick. Jeroboam is so pleased that his hand is no longer shriveled that he invites the prophet back to his place to eat. The prophet tells him that he can't eat because God told him not to.

An old prophet (not to be confused with the other unnamed prophet) in Bethel hears what the prophet said to Jeroboam and goes after him. The old prophet catches up to him and says that an angel of God told him to come eat with him (this is a lie). The young prophet thinks he is telling the truth and goes back to have dinner with him. In the middle of their dinner the old prophet blurts this out:
You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.
Uh, ok. I wonder what this old prophet's motive was in luring the young prophet back to his place.

On the young prophet's way back home he is killed by a lion. This is, of course, all God's doing. I'm not sure why the old prophet isn't punished if it is, in fact, God's doing. The young prophet obviously intended to obey God. Or you could go with the reasonable explanation: A guy got randomly attacked and killed by a lion, because lions randomly attack and kill people.

Chapter 14 explains how God is mad at Judah for their false idols (shocker there). Egypt attacks Jerusalem and carries off all of Solomon's gold. Did God momentarily side with the Egyptians and their false gods?

We end with another cryptic sentence:
As for the other events of Rehoboam's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
I don't know bible! Aren't you supposed to be telling me?

*News*
Shoplifting can be a big problem this time of year, but I would have never guessed that the bible is among the most shoplifted items.

Apparently the people shoplifting don't understand the irony of stealing a book that is supposed to be a moral code. Really, I didn't realize that stealing books was even a problem. Is it really that much trouble to get a library card?

I hope these people stealing realize that the bible isn't the only law they have to follow. Otherwise we're going to have a bunch of shoplifters out stoning people for adultery.

(via The New York Times)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

106: Solomon, and His 1000 Wives

1 Kings 10-11
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents - 1 Kings 10:14

When the queen of Sheba hears how awesome Solomon is she has to come visit. The queen asks Solomon a bunch of difficult questions (the bible doesn't say what these "hard questions" are) and there is nothing Solomon can't answer. She's so impressed that she gives Solomon a bunch of gold and spices. Solomon then gives the queen "all she desired and asked for". We're never told what she desired or asked for. I'm not sure if this chapter could be any more vague.

The last part of chapter 10 tells us all about Solomon's riches and splendor. This is pretty uninteresting until we learn how much gold Solomon receives every year. He gets 666 talents worth of gold every year. What? Is this some strange coincidence that the number most associated with the devil happens to be the amount of gold Solomon makes? If anyone knows anything about this I'd love to hear it.

Solomon, like many biblical characters, didn't stick with one wife. In fact, he didn't even stick with ten wives. Actually, after his tenth wife he hadn't even begun to get married. He married over a hundred women. Yes, he maintained over a hundred wives. Oops, I left off a zero, Solomon had one thousand wives. Solomon lived for about 60 years, that averages to about one marriage every two weeks for his entire adult life. If he wanted to have sex with each of them once a day he would have to have sex every one and a half minutes. No wonder Solomon died young.

All of these wives lead Solomon to worship other gods. Of course God isn't pleased and raises up adversaries for Solomon. It couldn't be that people were jealous of Solomon and wanted to revolt. No, it has to be God.

Apparently all the other events of Solomon's life are recorded in the annals of Solomon. I guess if you want to hear about the rest of Solomon's reign you're screwed. Chapter 11 ends with the death of Solomon.

*News*
Is the bible appropriate for children to read? One New Jersey teacher doesn't think so.

The teacher told her third grade student that the bible was not appropriate reading material for quiet hour. This was met with great rage from the girl's parents. I wonder if any other book with so much sex and violence would be considered "appropriate reading material".

The girl's mother has accepted the principals apology, but wants something in writing that says the bible is ok to read during quiet hours. She's reportedly speaking to a lawyer. Somehow I think the school would have stuck to their guns a bit more if the child was reading the Satanic bible.

(via My Fox New York)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

105: Overkill

1 Kings 8-9
Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD : twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD. - 1 Kings 8:63

Solomon decides that he needs to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The ark (like everything else) seems to have lost it's Godly power. The ark that once destroyed people for merely touching it has been reduced to making rooms foggy. When the priests brought the ark to the tent of meeting they sacrificed "so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted". I wonder when they decide to stop counting because it's too many.

Solomon then proceeds to give the most long winded prayer ever (or maybe it just seems like it). He says pretty much the same things that all the other prophets say in their prayers: God is wonderful, God is big and scary, punish the sinners, reward the obedient, etc.

Apparently the temple needs to be dedicated. They do this by sacrificing twenty-two thousand cattle, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep/goats. I certainly hope nobody is going to bed hungry in Israel because they just wasted hundreds of tons of meat. I think ten or twenty is sufficient, they're getting to be a little ridiculous with their sacrificing.

In chapter 9 God appears to Solomon to let him know that he heard his prayer and he approved. Why didn't he just come to Solomon right after giving the prayer? Was he busy? Oh, that's right, it's because this is another dream. I wonder if Solomon takes his wet dreams seriously too. Does he really think that beautiful women (or men, I don't judge) have sex with him at night? Or is the thinking dreams are real thing only reserved for God?

The last part of chapter 9 describes the forced labor Solomon used to build his temple and his palace. This sounds a lot like Pharaoh enslaving the Israelites. But this is good slavery, because the Israelites are doing it.

*News*
First we had the brick testament, then we had the LOLcat bible, and now we have the Zombible!

Apparently the only thing the bible was missing was zombies. The writers of the Zombible aim to remedy that. Unfortunately, they are only going to zombify the New Testament which, from what I understand, is the most interesting part. I think the Old Testament could use some zombies right about now. Then maybe people other than pastors and crazy bloggers would read it.

This looks like a rip off of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Oh well, it might be unoriginal, but it's still awesome.

While I was looking through the Zombible website I found an interesting link at the bottom of the page called "Philosophy" (click at your own risk). It's irrelevant but amusing.

(via Pharyngula)

Friday, December 18, 2009

104: Pi = 3

1 Kings 6-7
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. - 1 Kings 7:23

Let me summarize these two chapters, then we'll talk about pi. Solomon builds a temple. Solomon builds a palace. These are described in minute detail for 4 long pages. The end.

Ok, now that that's out of the way. As the quote says at the top of the page, the bible explicitly says that the ratio of the circumference of the bowl and the diameter is 30/10 = 3. Most of us that have gone through high school algebra/geometry/trigonometry know that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle (pi) is approximately 3.14 (3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679... to be a little more exact). A cubit is approximately one and a half feet, so you'd think the people measuring the bowl would at least notice that the bowl was thirty one cubits around.

I googled this just to see what people thought. The most common cop out is that the people making the bowl measured the circumference from the inner rim and the diameter from the outer rim (of course, the size of the rim is made to be whatever makes the value of pi 3.14). First the bible doesn't say that. Second, why would they give measurements from different positions? Actually, why are they giving us measurements at all, especially incorrect ones?

This whole argument is silly anyway. It's not like people think of this book as "absolute truth" or use it to counter scientific theories like evolution. It's pretty well understood that this book is just the best approximation of the real world that an ancient society with no scientific knowledge could come up with. Everyone knows that, right?

*News*
Rod Parsley needs money. The devil has taken all of his.

To understand how the devil got all of the Rod's money, we have to go back to 2006. Parents (who remain unnamed) pick up their then two year old son from Parsley's mega-church daycare center. The child seems upset but the teacher says that no incident occurred. Later that day the parents find fresh cuts and red marks on their son's bottom. They immediately took him to the childrens hospital. The doctors there found his injuries to be consistent with physical abuse.

Fast forward to 2009, Parsley's church settles with the family of the boy for 3 million dollars. Is this the "demonically inspired financial attack" Rod speaks of? A two year old boy? Maybe he shouldn't allow children to be abused at his facilities, just a thought.

(via Clevland Scene)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

103: Nothing but a Dream Within a Dream

1 Kings 3-5
Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other." - 1 Kings 3:24-25

Solomon makes a treaty with the Pharaoh and marries his daughter.

God comes to Solomon and gives him one wish. God is now a genie. Solomon asks to be wise. God says that since Solomon didn't ask for riches or to have his enemies destroyed, that God will grant his wish. Wait a minute, God doesn't want to destroy Solomon's enemies any more? Maybe God is going to stop killing people and start being the fair and just God I was promised! This is almost too good to be true, it's like a dream. Oh wait:
Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.
Shit.

Two prostitutes come to Solomon with a problem. I'm not sure why the bible mentions that they were prostitutes. They both have a baby within days of each other. One of the mothers rolls over on her baby, killing it. She wakes up and finds that her baby is dead and does the ol' switcheroo with the other woman's baby. The other woman isn't that stupid and realizes it's not her dead baby, but the other woman's dead baby.

They decide to take the argument to Solomon (the equivalent of taking it to court). Solomon tells his servants to chop the baby in half and give a half to each mother. One mother agrees that this is the good course of action and the other gives up and says to give the baby to the other woman. This somehow proves that the more loving mother is the parent. Because we know that no children have psycho mothers that would kill them.

The next chapter is about all of the things that Israel eats per day. I'll spare you the details. They eat a lot. The rest of the chapter goes on to say how smart Solomon is. I'll spare you the details. He's really smart.

I have another beef with the language in the bible. First we had, the Israelites are more numerous than the stars in the sky. Now we have the bible constantly saying the people of Judah and Israel are more numerous than all the grains of sand on the beaches. Now, if you figure that one grain of sand is about .1 cubic millimeters that turns out to be 10,000 per meter (grains back to back in a straight line). 10,000 X 10,000 per square meter = 100 million. A hundred million is already getting to be a ridiculous number for the ancient world and we only have a plane of sand grains a meter wide. If you make it a cubic meter of sand the number becomes 1000 billion grains. I'm going to venture to say that the population wasn't 167x larger in the ancient world than it is today (keep in mind, this is one cubic meter of sand). Dear bible, stop using ridiculous metaphors.

Chapter 5 just talks about Solomon building a huge temple and all of the materials/labor he wastes on it.

*News*
A man uses the bible to try to justify beating a child with a piece of pipe.


Alkathene Pipe

The unnamed man said he was seeking to discipline the child in "the manner described in the Bible". I believe the punishment described in the bible for thievery (what the man accused the child of) is to kill the offender. We'll hope that he's never actually read the bible and has no idea what he's saying.

(via Stuff)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

102: Solomon, a New Tyrant

1 Kings 1-2
"Adonijah shall be put to death today!" So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died. - 1 Kings 2:25

David get's old and cannot stay warm no matter how many blankets his servants put on him. The solution that his servants come up with is to find a young virgin to be his personal heater. It's good to be king.

Adonijah, the eldest son of David (besides Absalom, who is dead) decides that he should be king without the blessing of David. He gains a following, including Joab and Abiathar the priest. David had apparently promised Solomon the throne, so when David hears that Abiathar has taken the kingship for himself he immediately appoints Solomon the official king.

As David is dying, he tells Solomon to kill Joab and Shimei (the guy that was cursing David while he fled Jerusalem). I'm not sure why David didn't do these things himself. I guess he promised that he wouldn't kill them. He never said that he wouldn't tell the next king to kill them. Is he finding a loophole in his own promise?

Adonijah asks his mother (also king Solomon's mother) to ask Solomon if he can marry Abishag. Fun fact: Abishag just so happens to be the virgin that kept king David warm. Seems like a simple request to me. Solomon not only says no, but has Adonijah put to death for making the request. Why would Solomon kill his own brother for wanting a wife?

When Joab hears about Adonijah's death he hides in God's tent (yes, God has a tent). This doesn't deter Solomon, he has one of his servants go into the tent and kill Joab. I can only assume that Shimei is next to be killed. Solomon calls Shimei to him and says that he can build a house in Jerusalem and live, but if he ever leaves Jerusalem that he will be killed. I don't understand the reasoning. If he leaves the city he is somehow more guilty of his "crime"?

Three years later some of Shimei's slaves run off and he follows them into another city (oops). When Solomon hears about this, Shimei is put to death. Great, another crazy king. At least I won't run out of things to write about.

*News*
Jack Summers, a Newton South High School (near Boston) student refuses to read the bible for a school assignment. He actually didn't have to sue to have the reading requirement dropped.

I'm torn on this one. On one hand I don't think anyone should be forced to read religious texts. On the other hand it's apparent to me that the school was not proselytizing, but teaching the bible so that other literary references could be understood. Summers said this:
This is the word of God. People take this literally ... I don’t want to read about what they believe to be true
He goes on to say that if he were able to read a summary of the bible rather than the actual text, he would have no objection. Thus he would understand the references but not have to read the holy text. I think I remember seeing a blog that was reviewing the bible in 365 days. Maybe he should check that out.

(via Newton)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

101: David Sings... And Sings Some More & 2 Samuel: In Review

2 Samuel 22-24
Smoke rose from [God's] nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it. - 2 Samuel 22:9

Surprisingly little happens in these sections. Chapter 22 is a huge song that David sings to God. The song makes God seem a lot like what I imagine Satan would look like (if Satan were actually in the bible). He breaths fire out of his mouth and darkness surrounds him wherever he goes.

Chapter 23 lists the "mighty men" of David.

Finally, in chapter 24 something happens. God gets angry at Israel for some reason (he's back!). And David keeps apologizing for whatever they did. God gives David three options:
Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land?
David chooses the three days of plague and God kills seventy thousand people. David hurriedly builds an alter to sacrifice animals to God, thus stopping the mass killing. God apparently only returns to kill people.

2 Samuel: In Review
For a book named Samuel, there is very little (read: no) Samuel. I'm very curious as to why this book isn't named "David". Speaking of missing characters, God is pretty much absent. He only returns to randomly kill people for arbitrary reasons (or reasons we never even get to find out about).

Of course, David, who is probably the biggest "sinner" in these chapters, never has to feel God's wrath. Is it too much to ask for God to show some consistency?

*News*
I'm trying not to put any more Christmas stories in the news section, but that's all I can find for today. Is Christmas in the White House constitutional?

My opinion is that Christmas in the white house is absolutely constitutional. As far as I'm concerned the White House is the president's (and his family's) private abode for the extent of his term. Yes, the White House is funded by taxpayers, so what? Rest assured though, if the president were really a Muslim and he wanted to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr (the conclusion of the month of Ramadan), Christians would be up in arms to stop him.

(via The Examiner)

Monday, December 14, 2009

100: Who killed Goliath?

2 Samuel 19-21
In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod. - 2 Samuel 21:19

[We've reached 100 days into the bible. I can honestly say that 100 days ago I had no idea what I was getting into. I've seen the heights of stupidity and the depth of boredom. To celebrate 100 days I'll do some shameless self promotion. If you know anyone that may be interested in my journey through the bible, let them know. The more readers/commenters the merrier. I've officially committed way too much time to this project to give up now, so expect to see new posts for at least the next 265 days.]

Joab tells David to stop crying over his son because it makes the soldiers that fought and died to kill him feel bad. David listens to Joab and stops mourning.

Joab meets with David's nephew (Joab's cousin) Amasa. Without provocation (as far as I can tell) Joab cuts open Amasa's belly, killing him. Joab hides the body and nobody seems to notice.

A man named Sheba rebels against David. David isn't going to allow a revolt to happen again and sends Joab to kill him. Sheba hides with his men in a fortified city. Joab follows Sheba to the fortified city and begins tearing down the walls. A woman comes out from the city and tells Joab he shouldn't kill innocent people. Joab tells her to throw him the head of Sheba and they will stop attacking the city. Sure enough, some time later Sheba's head comes flying over the walls. That was easy.

There is a famine in the land, this is attributed to Saul killing the Gibeonites. David summons the Gibeonites and asks them what he can do to repay them for their loss. The Gibeonites tell David to kill seven of Saul's descendants. David, of course, spares Jonathan's son, but rounds up seven other descendants of Saul and has them executed to appease the Gibeonites, and in turn God. So much for no human sacrifice.

David decides again that he needs to go fight the Philistines. You'd think they'd be exterminated by now. As I started reading this I thought it was going to be boring. The Israelites have defeated the Philistines at least five times now. That's until I saw this:
In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod.
What? Goliath is long dead. They carried his head around for the better part of a chapter. I Googled this to try to figure out what was going on here. And as usual when I try to search for these things I found at least 5 different opinions on the matter. The two main ones were David didn't actually kill Goliath, and this is a copyist error. Neither of these explanations bode well for the "inerrant word of God".

p.s. God is still missing.

*News*
A study found that children really love bible school, but they don't think their fellow students do.

The person who gave the study suspects that the students answered the survey as they thought they were expected to. However, when asked if the other students liked bible study, almost two thirds said that they didn't.

I see hope for the future.

(via Haaretz.com)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

99: Man on the Run

2 Samuel 16-18
When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. - 2 Samuel 17:23

As David flees from Jerusalem, he meets a man names Shimei who curses him and throws rocks at him. He is from the house of Saul and tells David that he is being payed back by God for killing so many Israelites. David's men really want to chop off Shimei's head, but David won't let them. He says that if God is telling Shemei to curse him then he cannot kill him for it.

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Absalom has taken over as king. He seeks advice from one of his servants, Ahithophel. Ahithophel tells Absalom that he should sleep with all of David's concubines to assert his authority. Absalom doesn't have to be asked twice and screws the ten concubines that his father left behind to guard the castle.

Ahithophel's next piece of advice is for Absalom to take 12,000 men and go kill his father. Ahithophel would have him spare the men guarding David, and only try to kill David himself. This advice seems good to Absalom but he asks another man (Hushai) just in case. Hushai suggests that he gather men "as numerous as the sand" to go attack David's men and completely destroy them. As with most things in the bible, complete destruction is generally the chosen alternative. Hushai's advice is taken and Ahithophel's advice is ignored. It turns out that Hushai is really an informant for David but that doesn't seem to make much difference. Ahithophel is so upset when he finds out his advice is not being taken that he goes home and hangs himself.

I want you to read a sentence from the bible and tell me how anyone can think that this is the perfect word of God:
Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, "Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so."
Such and such? So and so? What kind of writing is this? Let's hope this doesn't sound like eighth grade writing in Hebrew. You'd think God could take a writing lesson or two.

Absalom goes out with his men to fight the armies of David. Absalom's armies are routed by David's. This turns out to be his last decision. As he is riding through the forest on a mule, he gets caught in a tree (watch for those low hanging branches). When David's men find him, they stab him through the heart with javelins. David mourns for his son.

*News*
Shocker of the week: most people who aren't religious are Democrats.

Gallup has released an interesting poll that outlines party affiliation and Obama approval rating based on religion.



It seems a little silly that the party of smaller government has turned into the religious party and the party of larger government has turned into the party of the non-religious. I'm curious where this got started. I guess the bigger question is when did conservative get paired with republican and liberal get paired with democrat.



Obama mentioning the non-religious must be like mentioning that there are other holidays this time of year. Terribly offensive.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

98: (More) Incest in the Bible

2 Samuel 13-15
"Don't, my brother!" she said to him. "Don't force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don't do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you." But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. - 2 Samuel 13:12-14

David has a son named Amnon. Amnon decides that he really, really wants to have sex with his sister. He fakes being sick so he can have his sister alone with him. When he is finally alone with her, he rapes her. Once he finally gets what he wants, the bible says that he hates her. There is no explanation for why he starts hating her right after they have sex. I guess there's no explanation for why he wants to have sex with his sister either, oh well.

One of David's other sons (Absalom) ends up killing Amnon for the rape of his sister. Absalom is exiled for this.

Eventually David gets over Absalom killing Amnon and lets him come back to Jerusalem. The bible says that Absalom was the most attractive man in Jerusalem. Absalom ends up getting a bigger following than David. This forces David to flee Jerusalem out of fear for his life.

*News*
More fundie today. This is in a letter to the editor so I can't blame the newspaper for this one.

Apparently all of the countries woes are as a result of the bible not being taught in schools. If we would only teach the bible in school then all of the STDs in the world would immediately go away. We know this is true, because we know that all people who study the bible are good people. For example, clergymen. These are the people that study the bible the most and we know they never, you know, rape little boys or anything. Oh wait...

(via Daily Record)

Friday, December 11, 2009

97: David: Lover or Tyrant?

2 Samuel 8-12
David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. - 2 Samuel 8:2

David defeats the Philistines, again. Why do I feel like I've said this about four times now? How defeated can they get? David also defeats the Moabites and decides to play a little game (Saw style). He makes the Moabites, that he captures, lay down in a line and measures them off. Every two lengths he kills, and the third length he spares. This is plain old sadistic. What motive could he possibly have for doing this? Of course, God remains silent on what is murder as far as I'm concerned (he's back to not saying much).

David then fights other random armies and defeats them. The part that stands out is that he captures some horses. You'd think he could use horses for his own army. Instead of using them he hamstrings them. Hamstringing is when you cut the tendons in a horses legs (for all of you that didn't read Deuteronomy). I'm not sure why he goes out of his way to be cruel. Even if he just wanted to kill them (which is pretty cruel in and of itself) he didn't have to torture them first.

Before Jonathan's death, he had a son (whose name was Mephibosheth, worst name ever?). His son became crippled in an accident. When David hears of Jonathan's son he has him brought to Jerusalem. David gives all of Saul's land to Jonathan's son and has his servants farm the land to provide for him. I find it strange that someone who can show such compassion can turn around and execute two thirds of his prisoners.

When the king of the Ammonites dies, David sends a delegation to express his condolences. The Ammonites think these are spies so they chop off half their beards and cut out the butt of their pants. Yes, this means that David's delegation is now wearing assless chaps. I'll give you the quote just so you know I'm not making this up (2 Samuel 10:4):
So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away.
The mental picture is priceless. The bible has actually entertained me.

David is so pissed when he hears about his delegation that he starts a war with the Ammonites. To be fair, David pretty much starts a war with everyone.

Oh wow, this next section is priceless. The chapter is 2 Samuel 11 if you want to read it for yourself. David at his palace one day when all of the other men are at war. He sees a woman bathing from the roof of the palace and has one of his servants go find out about her.

It turns out that this woman is a husband of a Hittite, Uriah. This doesn't stop David, he tells his servant to go get her and he sleeps with her. A few weeks later she tells him that she is pregnant. Oops. I seem to recall that if a man sleeps with another man's wife that he is supposed to be put to death. David knows this so he calls back Uriah from the battle lines. He tells Uriah to go home, in hopes that he will sleep with his wife. He doesn't go home because he feels bad that all the other men are still at war. Uriah is what I like to call a "nice guy", there aren't too many of those in the bible.

The next night David gets Uriah drunk but he still won't go home and sleep with his wife. David is running out of options. Finally, David sends Uriah back to the battle lines with a message for the commander. He tells the commander of the army, in the letter, to put Uriah on the front lines and make sure that he is struck down. Yes, David is conspiring to kill this person so that he can take his wife.

This terrible scheme works. Uriah dies and David steals his wife. At the end of this chapter there is a tiny little gem of a sentence:
But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
I've been waiting for a sentence like this for a long time. As far as I'm concerned, this ends any argument that says God disapproves with silence. If the writers of the bible can mention that God disapproves here why can't they mention it other places?

God is so upset with David that he tells him he is going to have a man sleep with his wives in broad daylight. God is also going to kill David's son. What? What did this child do to deserve death?

God does indeed kill David's child. David has another child with the same wife and they name him Solomon.

*News*
Occasionally I'll run across a story that blows my mind. This is one of those occasions.

A middle school teacher in Ohio is accused of branding a cross onto one of his student's arms. This was apparently during a science lesson. I wonder what lesson branding crosses is? I seem to have missed that one.

This same science teacher reportedly kept a bible on his desk at all times, and attempted to teach creationism. He also kept the ten commandments hanging in his classroom. I wonder what the ten commandments has to do with science?

My skepticism is kicking in. There has to be more to this branding story. Maybe it was an accident and it just happened to look like a cross? I only say this because the news stories seem to be making a bigger deal about the bible on his desk than they are about him branding a student.

(via The Columbus Dispatch)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

96: God's Back... And He's Killing Again

2 Samuel 4-7
So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. - 2 Samuel 4:12

Ish-Boseth, the current king of Israel, is assassinated by two leaders in his army. The killers, thinking David will be happy with him, take the head of Ish-Boseth and present it to David. Unfortunately for these messengers, David is not pleased. He has them killed, chops off their hands and feet, and has them hung from a tree. The moral of this story? Don't piss off David.

Finally, after the death of Ish-Boseth, David becomes king of Israel. What took so long? David then proceeds to conquer Jerusalem and defeat the Philistines (again).

David decides to bring the ark to Jerusalem. While the ark is in transit, the oxen carrying it stumble. Uzzah, one of the men attending the ark, grabs hold of it so that it will not fall. God sees this as an "irreverent act" and kills him on the spot. What? Finally God returns, and what does he do? Kills a random guy for trying to save his silly box.

David hears that Uzzah got killed for something stupid and he becomes afraid of the ark (good call David). Instead of bringing the ark directly to himself he sends it to another family to test it out and see if God is going to continue killing people. It turns out that the house the ark gets sent to becomes prosperous, so David decides that it is safe to bring the ark to himself.

While the ark is being brought to him, David dances and leaps with all his might. I guess this is to impress God? Right, I'm sure a man making a fool of himself impresses God. David's wife (one of his many wives now) sees him and hates him because he is making a fool of himself.

David says that he wants to build a house for the ark instead of the tabernacle (a tent). God comes to another prophet and tells David (through the other prophet) that God himself will build a house. Why can't God speak directly to David anymore?

To finish out the chapter David prays to God.

*News*
More (not) war on Christmas.

A non-binding resolution (aka, a useless piece of paper) has been introduced into congress that would "make it clear" that the founders of the United States had no intention of banning mention of Christmas. Why does this resolution not mention other holidays? Congress only wishes to express that "Christmas" should not be banned? It's perfectly ok if we don't allow people to say happy Hanukkah apparently.

Harry Brown (the congressman who introduced the resolution) had this to say:
I believe it is important to preserve the right for everyone to worship as they believe. As a Christian, I feel it is also important that I have the right to celebrate Christmas and observe its significance as a national holiday and I strongly believe that wishing someone "Merry Christmas" should never be met with disapproval.
Harry, I disapprove of you saying "Merry Christmas" to a Jewish person.

(via CBS News)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

95: Don't Kill the Messenger... or Do

2 Samuel 1-3
How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
2 Samuel 1:25:26

David returns from defeating the Amalekites and finds a messenger waiting for him. The messenger tells David that Saul and Jonathan are dead. David doesn't believe him and asks him how he knows of Saul's death. The messenger says that he himself killed Saul.

I'll give the bible the benefit of the doubt and assume that this man is lying (the bible says in the last chapter, 1 Samuel 31, that Saul kills himself), so that this isn't an inconsistency. The big question is why would this messenger say that he killed Saul? It's the messenger's last mistake, because David has him killed for "destroying the Lord's anointed one".

David then mourns and makes everyone learn the "Lament of the Bow" a poem (song?) he writes about Jonathan and Saul. In the last part of the lament, David says that Jonathan's love was more wonderful than that of a woman (see the top of this post for the actual quote). Now, that's certainly not proof of homosexuality, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

David is officially pronounced king over Judah. When does he get to be king over Israel? Is Israel not openly mocking God's command (namely that David become king)? I guess God doesn't stick up for himself anymore. God seems content in telling David where to go. From the terrifying God that kills everyone to a Lordly GPS that hardly does anything at all. I guess I'll take the latter.

Another king (a son of Saul) is appointed king over Israel. This begins a war between the house of David and the house of Saul. During this war, Abner, one of the leader's of Saul's army, decides to make a deal with David (David had been defeating their forces). David says that he will not negotiate unless Abner brings back his third wife, the one that Saul had given away. Abner agrees and drags David's wife away from her sobbing husband (she had remarried).

As soon as Abner leaves, Joel (one of the leaders of David's army), kills him to revenge the death of his brother. This killing is called "murder". But wait, I thought revenge killing was acceptable. What happened to "an eye for an eye"? David is so upset with this that he, Joab, and his subjects are told to tear their clothes and mourn for the dead Abner.

*News*
The Canadian human rights tribunal has received a complaint. A Canadian elementary school won't allow him to hold a bible study during lunch hour.

Oh no! He's going to have to wait two, maybe even three hours to indoctrinate his kids at home! What a travesty. Is it really necessary to have any sort of study during lunch hour? I thought lunch hour was for eating lunch (shocking, I know).

The Canadian tribunal has not yet decided whether this even warrants an investigation.

(via The Vancouver Sun)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

94: The Ghost of Samuel & 1 Samuel: In Review

1 Samuel 28-31
The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"
The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground."
"What does he look like?" he asked.
"An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel - 1 Samuel 28:13-14

The Philistines get their men ready to attack the Israelites. That's not too interesting by itself. What is interesting, though, is that David is still living with the Philistines, and he gets ready to fight with them. Let me get this straight, the rightful king of Israel is ready and more than happy to go kill his own subjects? In fact, Achish, the king of the Philistines, makes David his body guard for life. What happened to David slaughtering Philistines and chopping their foreskins off?

We shift focus back to Saul who is preparing his forces to fight the Philistines. He is terrified when he sees the Philistine army and tries to consult God. God decides not to answer him. Saul's last resort is to go to a witch in Endor. He asks her to summon Samuel for him. Well that's nonsense, the bible has told us that witches are false prophets, so there's no way she's going to be able to summon Samuel from the dead. Right?.... Right?!.... Wrong. Samuel springs fourth from the ground and proceeds to have a conversation with Saul.


Samuel, looking ghostly by William Blake ~ 1800

This witch has officially done more miraculous things in the book of 1 Samuel than God has. Samuel pretty much says that all of Saul's sons are going to die and that the Philistines are going to defeat him. I'm not sure what Saul thought he was going to say.

Ok, back to David.

The commanders of the Philistine army finally remember that David was the one slaughtering thousands of them. They say that they will not allow David to fight along side them. The king of the Philistines disagrees but tells him that he must go back home because it's the wish of his commanders.

David isn't going to miss out on killing people though. When he goes back to Ziklag (his Philistine home town) he finds it sacked by the Amalekites. All of the women and children have been stolen by the invaders. David chases them down, kills them off, and reclaims the women and children.

Back to the Philistines fighting in Israel (we seem to be jumping around a lot today).

The Israelites start fleeing almost as soon as the fighting begins. Saul's sons fight hard to keep the Philistines away from the king, but they all die in battle (this includes Jonathan, David's make out buddy). When Saul sees that all is lost he tells his armor bearer to kill him so the Philistines can't abuse him. The armor bearer refuses so Saul falls on his sword (intentionally). The armor bearer is so upset at seeing this that he too falls on his sword. The Philistines find Saul dead and send news to all of their cities. I get the feeling David isn't going to be too happy when he hears about the death of Jonathan.

And they all died happily ever after (except David).

1 Samuel: In Review

Well at least this book hasn't been boring. Reading stories is much better than reading a book of law.

God seems to have slowly gone away in the book of Judges. By the time we get to 1 Samuel, God is barely even an active character. He offers advice a couple of times, and pretends to be Eli to talk to Samuel. I don't remember anything terribly miraculous.

God is absent while there is a tyrant ruling his favorite people. He is silent while Saul chases after his chosen king David. He is silent while David goes to live with the Philistines, who worship false idols. He is silent while David is ready to go fight Israelis, the people he has been chosen to lead.

The big question I'm left with in 1 Samuel is, where is God?

*News*
Bible news was pretty slow today, luckily I have my own interesting story!

I was sitting in my data structures class (which is a class about computers, for you non Computer Science majors) which is usually a pretty boring hour and a half long lecture. My professor (who shall remain nameless) seems to think it's pretty boring too and ends up going on pointless rants a lot.

Here's a couple of examples of his rants so you know what I'm dealing with:

If you can't get your homework done, just sit down and "have a coke". This will apparently inspire you and you will immediately stop procrastinating and be productive.

Don't have a huge meal before an exam, because you will have to poop midway through the test.

Maybe good advice, but irrelevant for data structures.

Now we come to today, it's near the end of the hour and he runs out of things to talk about. He starts out by talking about the Prisoner's Dilemma, which is an interesting game theory problem that's at least somewhat relevant to Computer Science.

From this he got himself off on a tangent about teamwork, namely teamwork in the natural world (we're now officially not talk about data structures). He suddenly says, "I have a book I want to tell you about that's really influenced my life". At this point I'm thinking oh no, please not some religious book. The next thing he says is, "First, I want to tell you that I'm a religious man, you know, I believe in God". Oh no! I'm certain he's going to start preaching to us now. I start thinking of all sorts of things I'm going to say that will probably get me sent to the dean of students.

He finally gets ready to tell us what the book is. I get ready to retort with the sum of my biblical knowledge. And the book is... The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. What?! He then talked for at least 10 minutes about how he puts the theory of evolution in the same category as the theories of Newton and Einstein. Why did he mention that he was so religious? So he could tell us that he thinks evolution and religion don't conflict at all.

Maybe there is hope in Indiana.

I was strangely reminded of the (false) story of the atheist professor at USC.

Monday, December 7, 2009

93: David is a Polygamist Wife Stealer

1 Samuel 25-27
About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal..." - 1 Samuel 25:38-39

Samuel dies, and everyone is sad for a whole sentence. I wonder why the rest of this book and the entirety of the next book are called "Samuel" if he's dead.

David, still moving around because Saul is perpetually after him, sees a sheep herder shearing his sheep. He sends his servants to go greet the sheep herder (Nabal) and ask for food. Nabal asks David's servants why he should give some random person food. David's servants tell him what Nabal said and he immediately goes to kill him. What? You ask a random person for food, they say no, so you kill them?

Abigail, Nabal's wife, sees that they are all about to be killed and gathers a bunch of food. She takes this food to David, who is already well on his way to where Nabal lives, to kill him. She begs David not to kill everyone, and tells him that he should blame her for all the wrong her husband did. David agrees and takes the food.

Abigail goes back to Nabal and tells him what happened. The bible says that his heart failed him and he became like a stone. Why? Nothing bad happened. Ten days later, God kills Nabal. I'm not sure why God decided to finally return to kill some random person. I guess God works in mysterious (read: stupid) ways.

Now that Nabal is dead, David calls for Abigail and marries her. This is on top of the wife he already has. Ok, he has two wives now, that's one more than enough. But David is just not quite satisfied yet, and he takes yet another wife.

Saul gives David's wife (Saul's daughter) to some other person while David isn't there. So David's old wife is committing adultery?

Saul camps near David. David and one of his servants sneak into Saul's tent and steal his water jug and spear. This is pretty much the same situation from the last section. David tells Saul to stop chasing him and shows him that he could have killed him. Saul goes home again, and we start this whole mess over.

David finally decides that Saul isn't going to stop chasing him and flees to live among the Philistines. I'm not sure why the Philistines would allow David to live with them, considering he's been slaughtering them and chopping off their foreskins for this entire book.

*News*
Today we're going to take a trip into the mind of a fundie.

These are all excerpts from an article titled "Merry CHRISTmas or Holiday Season" (I think the term is "Happy Holidays" but we'll ignore that for now):

[Anything not in square brackets is copy-pasted from the article, all grammar, spelling, punctuation, and spacing is original]
I will tell a atheist, Muslim or whoever Merry Christmas and God Bless you whether they like it or not [on subject, that would be "an atheist" not "a atheist"]
this E.N.D.A they are trying to pass which will force the hiring of homosexuals [not on subject]
Christians have been forced to take bibles off of their desk, and religious based screen savers, because they might offend homosexual co - workers [not on subject, screen savers aren't on desks]
ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] makes the federal government a full partner in imposing immorality and attacking religious freedoms in the workplace [not on subject]
They want to repeal DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] and repeal the ban on the military ban on open homosexual behavior in the service, don't know about you but if I was another nation I would have no fear of a military of this nature [not on subject, sentence doesn't make sense]
Obama himself stated at a human rights campaign which is the largest group in favor of homosexual rights and I quote "My commitment to you is unwavering.... Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach" [not on subject, doesn't make sense]
The first thing that pops out at me is that whoever edited this (I certainly hope it was no one) should be immediately fired. From the first sentence "With the holidays season upon on us, the usual debate comes up on what to call it." (the "holidays season"?), to the last "if that offends so be it!" (capitalize? comma?) the English language is thoroughly butchered.

Now, on to the substance (if you can call it that) of the article. First of all, English 101 will tell you that you should have a subject (keeping the Christ in CHRISTmas) and stick to it (i.e. not going off on a tangent about gay people, Obama, and the ENDA). He starts out the article saying that he will tell you Merry Christmas "whether you like it or not". Right, that's the perfect way to get your point across (by the way, so is putting things in all caps, like CHRISTmas, works every time).

That's about all he has to say about Christmas before he goes off on a massive rant about gay people, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. What does this have to do with Christmas?!

This is my favorite quote "I heard a preacher state that all the Christian's have gone into the closet[ I wonder if it is the same one all the homosexuals came out of?]" (square brackets are his this time). Yes, sir, I believe you are in the closet. Otherwise why would you go on a massive gay rant in the middle of a Christmas article?!

Michael Bell, I implore you, for the sanctity of the English language, never ever write an article again (and take off that silly hat while you're at it).


Michael Bell, with a silly hat.

(via Times-Gazette [warning: contains stupid])
 

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