Saturday, January 2, 2010

119: God is Immature & 2 Kings: In Review

2 Kings 23-25
Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. - 2 Kings 23:26

Josiah decides, after hearing the book of law, to clean up Judah. He tears down all the Asherah poles, all of the altars to Baal, and all of the alters to a few other gods that aren't the "real God". Josiah even celebrates passover for the first time since judges. This is exactly what God wants right? The people are following all of his laws and celebrating as he wants them to.

This is not enough for God to forgive them. What the other kings did is too much for his anger to be abated. Why didn't he punish them then? Why is he punishing the people that are following all of his decrees for what people did in the past? Oh, that's right, because these people attribute being taken over by an enemy nation as an act of God when it is really chance. If you disagree then you have to reconcile yourself with an immature God that unfairly punishes the wrong people.

Josiah dies in a fight with the Pharaoh of Egypt. Some time later Judah is invaded and taken over by the Babylonians. The king of Judah is now a servant to the king of Babylon. God has succeeded in making sure that no one worships him.

That's the end of the rule of Israel, for now.

2 Kings: In Review
We've gone from bad to worse on the whole God existing front. These people attribute being taken over and bad things happening as God's wrath. The prophets that tell of God's word in the bible remind me of the psychics on TV these days. They can be convincing but eventually they are revealed to be frauds.

There are "horrible" kings that don't do what God wants them to do. Why doesn't God do anything? What happened to fire and brimstone? These people seem just as "bad" as the people from Sodom and Gomorrah, but they get no punishment.

You may argue that the nation does eventually get punishment. But that's like punishing a murderer with killing his great grandchildren. That's by no means justice.

If anything, the bible is building a case for Deism. God used to be here doing things. Now he's not.

*News*
How does your state rank in religion? Indiana is 16, which seems pretty bad (or good depending on who you ask) to me.

Number one in religiosity is Mississippi. And number 46 (yes, there are 46 states now) is a tie between New Hampshire and Vermont.

I really don't have anything to say I just thought it was interesting.

(via The Pew Forum)

Friday, January 1, 2010

118: Lost and Found

2 Kings 20-22
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. - 2 Kings 22:11

Hezekiah becomes ill and God tells him to put his house in order because he's going to die. Hezekiah tells God to remember how good he's been. God then decides that he's going to give Hezekiah 15 more years. Did God just change his mind again?

As a sign that God is going to heal Hezekiah, God moves a shadow. We've gone from parting seas and raining fire and brimstone, to moving shadows? I can move a shadow, give me a candle and a piece of paper. My powers are now equal to God's.

God tells Hezekiah that some day all of his treasures will be taken to Babylon. God also mentions that Hezekiah's descendants will be carried off to be eunuchs in the palace at Babylon. Hezekiah thinks this is great. What? Yes, Hezekiah thinks this is wonderful, because this means that there will be peace in his lifetime. Selfish jerk.

Judah has two more bad kings after Hezekiah dies. They bring back the Asherah poles and start worshiping Baal again. God says that he's going to wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes out a dish. But he doesn't actually do it (as of today's section).

Judah then gets another good king (Josiah) after the previous king's assassination. Josiah decides to clean up and repair the temples of God. As his workers are doing this they find the old book of law (Deuteronomy I presume?). Josiah tears his clothes when he sees that he hasn't been following the laws.

God says that he is going to enact all of the punishments that he spelled out in the book of law. However, God sees that Josiah tore his clothes. Josiah's reward for his being humble is that he will die in peace. His reward is death? Great reward.

*News*
It's new years day, which means it's time for all the Christians to resolve to read the bible in a year. I guess I started a little early.

The Google trends page for "read the bible in a year" is pretty amusing. Nobody seems to care about reading the bible in a year till new years time. So, to all you Christians out there who are about to try to read the bible for a year, don't let it worry you that an atheist is 118 days ahead of you.

If you want to follow a (boring) Christian reading the bible for a year (*yawn*) go here.

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)
 

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