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])

Sunday, December 6, 2009

92: Saul Kills Priests

1 Samuel 21-24
David, still running from Saul, goes to Ahimelech the priest of Nob. Ahimelech seems terrified that David is alone. I'm not sure why. David lies and says that Saul sent him on a mission. For this imaginary mission, David needs food and weapons. The priest gives David bread, and Goliath's sword (I have no idea why Ahimelech has it).

The last section in chapter 21 is weird. David goes to Gath and meets the king. The king asks him if he is the David everyone is talking about. David is immediately terrified and pretends to be insane by drooling everywhere and writing on everyone's doors. The king sends him away because he thinks David is nuts. My guess is that he doesn't want Saul to know where he is. Not that Saul isn't going to find out.

Saul hears that David is getting assistance from priests. In anger he goes to Ahimelech and asks him why he would help David. Keep in mind that Ahimelech thought he was helping Saul (he thought David was on a mission for Saul), and he makes sure to tell Saul this. Saul, not believing him, sends his men to not only kill Ahimelech, but all the people of Nob (men, women, and children of course). God sure knows how to pick his prophets. Speaking of God, where is he? The only time he shows up in these chapters is to give a little advice to David. Other than that he is completely absent.

David fights some more Philistines while Saul is after him. Overachiever. Jonathan finds his way back to David and assures David that he will prevail over Saul. They "make a covenant" again. I really want to know what that means. Maybe something like "make whoopee"? (that's a joke, by the way, you can stop freaking out now)

Saul comes after David again. This time David hides in a cave. Coincidentally, the cave David is hiding in is the same cave Saul goes into to go to the bathroom. While Saul is relieving himself, David cuts off a piece of his robe. As Saul is leaving the cave, David calls to him. David goes on a rant about how he doesn't know why Saul is after him, because he isn't trying to kill Saul. He shows the piece of robe as evidence that he could have killed Saul if he wanted to.

Saul weeps and says that he's sorry and that he won't kill David now. Sure he won't, this isn't the first time Saul has promised to not kill David.

It'd sure be nice if there was an omnipotent being that could take care of corrupt kings.

*News*
We have a Tim Tebow update. The Florida Gators have lost the Southeastern Conference title game to the "Crimson Tide" of Alabama. If you have no idea why I'm talking about Tim Tebow take a look here or here.

I've said it before, but I don't think I can say it enough. God doesn't care about your sports team!

To make matters worse (and terribly ironic) here is the quote that was under Tebow's eyes for the championship game:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
So (my naive interpretation), you're going to have trouble in your life, but don't be sad, because you can overcome your problems just like Jesus. I'm sure with this inspirational quote under his eyes, Tim Tebow will valiantly take his loss to Alabama, and take comfort in the fact that Jesus suffered much more than he did in his quaint little football game.

Unfortunately, Tebow openly wept on the sideline after losing. Oops. Quick, someone hand him a mirror so he can remember to be inspired by the bible.

Here's the video:


(via pretty much everywhere)
 

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