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)
 

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