Saturday, January 16, 2010

133: King Solomon, Again

2 Chronicles 9-12
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents - 2 Chronicles 9:13

The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon and tells him how awesome he is (this is described in the same detail as it was the first time *yawn*). We then get back to the part where Solomon makes 666 talents per year. I wonder if he's upset if he doesn't get precisely 666 talents. Solomon dies and Rehoboam takes over. The king of Egypt tries to invade but Rehoboam repels the invasion. I would go into more detail but I've already talked about all of this in 1/2 Kings.

Another fundie today! I can't tell if this is a writer for the newspaper or just a letter to the editor (I certainly hope it's the latter).

From the very first paragraph we can tell that this is going to be a piece of fair and balanced reporting:
The leader of the House of Representatives and the majority leader of the Senate have each cobbled together a Health Care Reform bill.

What a joke.
People are dying or otherwise suffering because their insurance company won't pay for care. Hilarious! Anyway, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's hear out his argument:
Neither of these deals brokered in secret merely among Democrats reform anything, much less health care. Each of these proposals are more than two thousand pages long. Yet each fails to do what they are supposed to do. Compare this legal beagle gobbledygook to the following most important documents ever written.

The King James version of the Holy Bible, which contains more than 500 statutes and laws, is less than 1,500 pages long, at least my copy is. Had the Lord God attempted to hide the laws from mankind, as the Congress is doing, then he would have used all the trees on the planet for all the paperwork. The difference is the Holy Bible reveals the truth. It also sets us free in Christ.
Let me get this straight, the basis of his argument is that the document is too long? I'm not sure what he's even trying to say in the second paragraph, who cares what God would have done had he wanted to hide laws? Also, I'm fairly certain that the King James bible isn't an American legal document. Laws, and legal documents in general, tend to be very verbose to close loopholes.

I may as well just give you the rest of the article:
The second most important document is the Constitution of the United States.

This document, which sets out the laws which determine the governance of the nation, is less than 50 pages long. Once again this document does not hide the laws and amendments, rather it reveals them.

A group of high school students could produce a law regarding true health care reform that would likely cover less than 500 pages.

This reform bill would include pre-existing conditions, health insurance for those below the poverty line, allowance for insurance companies to sell across state lines, tort reform and portability of plans.

The costs would probably be less than one-tenth the debacle proposed by Congress.
First of all, the constitution is really a framework for laws. For example, the constitution says we have the right to free speech. But what does that mean? Does that mean we can yell "fire!" in a crowded room? No. There is, I'm sure, incredibly verbose case histories/law that defines what "free speech" actually means. So you can say the constitution is succinct (therefore better) but the constitution itself certainly doesn't close all the loopholes of American law.

The second part is just stupid. High school students could not write a short law, or any law at all, that would be better than what is being proposed to congress. I'm sure they could write a law, but it would be full of loopholes and they would certainly have no idea how to cut costs. Not to mention that high school students are statistically more liberal, which means they probably wouldn't write the kind of law this guy would like anyway.

Now, I don't claim to know everything in the health-care bill. But I'm almost positive that it covers pre-existing conditions, and health insurance for those below the poverty line.

(via Current-Argus)

Friday, January 15, 2010

132: Breaking News: Death in Movies, Not Real Death

2 Chronicles 6-8
I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. - 2 Chronicles 7:16

We have yet another day of repeating stories that weren't particularly interesting in the first place. Is it time for Job yet?

I'm sure you want to hear what actually did happen in the bible today. Solomon dedicates the temple and builds a bunch of random buildings. Another example of how the bible talking about buildings is mind numbingly boring.

The only thing that's mildly interesting is the quote of the day. God promises that he's going to keep his eyes and heart in the temple forever. I wonder if God knew that the temple wasn't going to last forever. We can only assume that God's eyes and heart are somewhere in the ground in Israel.

My Bible on: Death
It's Friday! And I actually remembered that I'm doing this little segment every week now. If you don't know what I'm talking about click here and scroll down a bit.

Again, this is not for reading purposes, my camera phone is terrible.

[Anything in brackets is mine. Anything else is from my Bible.]


You see death all the time. On TV, on a video, at the movies. But that's not real death [That's not real death?! Such revelation]. It's just "pretend" [But the blood looks so real]. Real death is far from "pretend." [My dog wasn't just pretending? Does that mean he's not at a nice farm up north?] Real death is painful and can be frightening. [Keep in mind, this is for teenagers. Could they be any more patronizing?]

Death (deth) n.
the act of dying; the termination of life; the state of being dead.

Alternate Definition
they're gone, and it seems like the end [if it looks like a duck...]

Death always brings sorrow. But a Christian's sorrow is eased by hope: "We do not want you to...grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him [fallen asleep in him?]." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 [Christians seem to grieve like everyone else.]

In this world nothing is certain but death... [and taxes! Way to change the meaning of that quote from satirical to depressing and morbid.] - Benjamin Franklin

Most teenagers first experience death when a grandparent dies. Some lose one or both parents. Others lose a close friend. The death of someone you love leaves and aching, empty hole in your life. [What's the bad news?]

If you're honest with yourself, would you be willing to admit that death frightens you? [not really] At least a little? [Maybe at the most basic instinct level of "oh shit I don't want to die". But not the actual being dead part.] Well, you're not alone. [Anticipated answer fail] Death, your own or that of someone you love [I'd say I'm more frightened at the death of others than my own death], gives everyone a shiver at one time or another.

Death is an enemy. But when Jesus returns, God has promised to "wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:4 [because death is the only cause of sadness.]

Well, it's Friday, and I didn't feel like spending hours sifting through news to find an interesting bible story. So I've decided to let Jon Stewart take over the news section today. He even uses the bible.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Haiti Earthquake Reactions
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

(via Comedy Central)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

131: 1 Kings, Disguised as 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 2-5
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah - 2 Chronicles 3:1

Nothing new happens in this section. Solomon builds the temple, furnishes it, and sends the ark to it. I would give you a link to my old post about this section, but I essentially say the same thing there. The bible describing buildings is immensely boring.

We have our daily dose of stupid. This isn't very religious, but the story ended up on a Christian website so it found it's way into my news feed. People are becoming depressed, and reportedly suicidal, after watching the movie Avatar, because they become dissatisfied with reality.

Yes, people loved Pandora (the planet in the movie) so much, that Earth just doesn't do it for them any more. Are you kidding me? These peoples lives must be pretty miserable already if a movie about blue people flying around pushes them over the suicidal edge.

Now, the Christian Posts largely agrees with me, but of course they have a bit of a different take on why these people are sad. Here's what they have to say:
I do think this touches on something deeper, our unique makeup as humans that causes us to long for more than we have here on this earth. It really is a longing for heaven.
Uh, Pandora = Heaven? It seemed like a hippie/Native American wonderland to me, not necessarily my idea of heaven. Now, as usual, the article has to get off subject in an attempt to piss me off (I see no other reason for going off on random tangents):
There is no indication the animal world has similar longings. I seriously don’t think dogs (and especially cats!) think about the meaning of their lives and decry the emptiness of their lives, but humans do.
What? First of all, who's talking about the animal world? There's no reason to bring it up. Second, and more perplexingly, what do they have against cats? Obvious moral here: if you are anti-social (like some cats) then you are less intelligent/don't think about the meaning of life. Because we all know cats are totally stupid and can't be trained.

(via The Christian Post)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

130: Biblical Division Fail & 1 Chronicles: In Review

1 Chronicles 28-29
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. - 1 Chronicles 28:9

I wasn't really sure how to do today's blog. The way E Word Today (the website I used to divide the bible into 365 sections) divided it up makes the section span over two books in one day. So I was either going to have to do the "In Review" out of order, or make this post seem like two short days in one blog. As you can see I've gone with the latter, as far as I can see (by skimming the rest of the schedule) this is the only place that the books are divided this way.

David plans for building the temple and gives all of his treasures to his son (Solomon) to build it. He tells Solomon to seek God and he will find him. If he forsakes God, however, he will reject Solomon forever. How is this God merciful? You can forsake him and you will never be forgiven, that's the opposite of mercy.

Solomon is acknowledged as king, and David dies.

1 Chronicles: In Review
Well, we're done with 1 and 2 Samuel. I mean, 1 Chronicles. Not only does nothing exciting happen in this book (i.e. listing names) the unexciting stories are things we've already heard about. Ok, I'm making it official, this was the most boring book in the bible. I certainly hope there will be no more contenders for the top-boredom spot.

2 Chronicles 1
Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours? - 2 Chronicles 1:9-10

This is a really short section, I'm not sure why it wasn't just added on to the section before or after this. I would just make the change but that would only result in confusion/me forgetting sections.

Solomon asks for wisdom and knowledge (same thing?). God gives this to him and because he didn't ask for wealth, he gives him wealth. What if he didn't want wealth God? Again, I've talked about all of this already.

There's a mildly amusing economic blunder in the bible that I didn't notice before (maybe it wasn't in Kings). Here's the quote:
The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. - 2 Chronicles 1:15
Wait a minute, if silver and gold are as common as stones then they aren't worth any more than stone. This also seems very much like hyperbole, which shouldn't exist if this is the 100% truthful word of God.

Holly McClellan doesn't like Christian stereotypes, but she won't go so far as to say they aren't true.

Here's what she has to say in Mercury News:
What first comes to mind when you think of Christians? They're basically good people, but maybe a little confused, right?

That's one of the kinder descriptions I've heard. The mental image is often unflattering, and public opinion rarely seems sympathetic. They're killjoys, zealots, narrow-minded bigots. Whether presented as laughable stock characters or intolerant "fundies," Christians today carry some unappealing stigmas.

But I am proud to say I am a Christian.
I don't know anyone that calls people fundies. Oh wait, never mind. She lists a bunch of bad things, and then says "But I am proud to say I am a Christian". How about "Those things aren't true, and I am proud to say I am a Christian"? Unless she's happy being labeled a killjoy, zealot, narrow-minded bigot.

Of course she goes on to say that she wasn't indoctrinated and she would have found Jesus whether her grandfather was a pastor or not (he is). She now goes to a Christian high school, which is also totally not indoctrinating her:
If Christian schools are, as some assume, designed to indoctrinate a generation of blind followers. I can attest that this couldn't be farther from the truth. I wrestle with issues that some think Christians would rather ignore... [but] Such investigation certainly does not negate the active role of faith.
Right, you're not being indoctrinated, but you still need faith to believe what these people are telling you about the world. Holly ends with a plea for us to remain open-minded:
I ask others to remain open-minded, to see my faith for what it is and not just the manner in which it is lived out by flawed people like myself. I'm certainly not the perfect witness for my faith, but that does not diminish my desire to share it with all who will listen.
How are we supposed to find out what Christianity is? The bible? The bible says to stone gay people. I actually feel that I need to do quite the opposite of what she just said. I will remain open-minded to how the "flawed people" live out their Christianity (I have seen Christians that are fully accepting and non-bigoted) and less open-minded to a never-changing book that says to kill people for petty crimes or no crimes at all.

(via Mercury News)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

129: Debate on ELCA Allowing Gay Pastors: Still Flaming (and Some 1 Chronicles)

1 Chronicles 25-27
The first lot, which was for Asaph, fell to Joseph,
his sons and relatives,
the second to Gedaliah,
he and his relatives and sons,
the third to Zaccur,
his sons and relatives,
the fourth to Izri,
his sons and relatives,
the fifth to Nethaniah,
his sons and relatives,
... [and on and on and on] - 1 Chronicles 25:9-12

We're regressing here. Chronicles is back to the monotonous slog of listing names. Things listed today: singers, gatekeepers, officials, army divisions, and officers. That's it, just lists. I'm very much looking forward to the end of 2 Chronicles (still a week and a half away unfortunately). It looks like we're back to moderately interesting stories after this horrible business is over.

I think I've talked about this in a news article before, but I'm revisiting it. The ELCA (aka the Lutheran church) has allowed openly gay clergy to serve. The vote was in August 2009, but the debate (and the stupid) still rages.

The article is relatively informative and unbiased until it reaches the halfway mark, then the stupid shines through. Here's how it starts:
But it is wrong, [Rev. Ken] Sauer said, to accuse ELCA members who do not support allowing homosexual pastors in committed relationships to serve their congregation of being anti-gay.
Right, "I want a pastor, just not a gay one". What's anti-gay about that? The article continues:
"All of us share our lives with family, friends and church members who live in that lifestyle," Sauer said.

But the behavior is separated from the person, he said.
AHHH! This is my argument, he's just using it on the wrong side of the debate. Of course sexual behavior is separated from the person, nobody meets someone and immediately asks themselves "who does this person have sex with?" (at least I hope not). So if you aren't anti-gay, and you are fully capable of separating someone's sexual behavior from their everyday life, then why the hell do you care if your pastor is gay? Unfortunately, the article continues digging it's hole:
The church has faced ethical matters before, he said. The difference is, when it struggled with divorce, it did suggest the norm of a marriage between a man and a woman should be changed.

When it struggled with premarital sex, it never suggested the norm of waiting for a sexual relationship until after marriage should be changed, Sauer said.
You might need some background information to understand why these paragraphs infuriate me. The ELCA only allows monogamous, life-long (married if it were legal) partnerships for it's gay pastors. Which means no premarital sex.

Now lets go over this again; when the church struggled before with divorce, "it did suggest the norm of a marriage between a man and a woman should be changed". Which is so different from right now, when it's suggesting the norm of a marriage between a man and a woman should be changed. Let's go over the second part; when the church struggled with premarital sex, "it never suggested the norm of waiting for a sexual relationship until after marriage should be changed". Which is also very different from right now, where it's not suggesting the norm of waiting for a sexual relationship until after marriage should be changed. (end sarcasm) What the hell people? Are you trying to be blatantly bigoted or are you just stupid? This is the exact same situation on a slightly different issue, why should the standard be different for gay people?

We're still not done with this article:
"A pastor who is not sexually trustworthy destroys the ministry," [Rev. James Nestingen] said.
Not sexually trustworthy?! What is that suggesting? What does that even mean? What are we trusting our minister for that has anything to do with sex? Does this guy think gay people go around raping people? So many questions.

I'm going to end this before I have a hemorrhage.

(via Argus Leader)

Monday, January 11, 2010

128: Second Death in Hell?

1 Chronicles 22-24
So David gave orders to assemble the aliens living in Israel, and from among them he appointed stonecutters to prepare dressed stone for building the house of God. - 1 Chronicles 22:2

The only thing that happens today is David enslaves (the bible says "appoints") the aliens in Israel to prepare stones for a temple to God. He tells his son (Solomon) to actually build the temple because God told David not to.

The rest of the section is more listing of names. The Levites are listed and the divisions of the priests are spelled out. Another exciting 1 Chronicles section.

This article is called "Hell: The Lake That Burns" and the first sentence is "Is there anything more fearful than the thought of going to hell forever?" I don't think it needs any more introduction.

Mostly the article is trying to sell a book, but it does have a few interesting (read: weird) things to say about Christianity. The writer first has to establish the validity of the bible, so he uses the standard Christian method (using unfounded statements that can't be refuted or verified):
Several fulfilled Biblical prophecies prove that the Bible is not simply literature but there is a God who can actually predict future events, therefore what it says concerning hell is legitimate.
Right, proven. On to what he has to say about hell:
Many Christians claim that anyone who is not saved by Christ is going to suffer in hell forever, however that certainly contradicts the merciful God in the Bible, who is full of mercy and grace.
Merciful God is full of mercy? Repetitive writer is repetitive. Now, I know I haven't read the whole bible yet, but God is going to have to have a massive change of character before I would call him anything close to "merciful". By whose definition is killing everyone that doesn't follow the rules considered mercy? But, of course, hell has to exist because the bible says so (God isn't that merciful). So how can we match up a merciful God with hell? This is his theory:
Satan, false prophets and the beast all deliberately misled people away from the truth which leads to eternal life and their punishment reflects their horrendous crimes. The rest who God condemns are given a relatively merciful second death as stated in Revelation 20:14-15 and Revelation 21:8
Here are those passages:
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:14-15

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. - Revelation 21:8
How do you get to be a "false prophet"? It seems like these passages mean that being sent to hell is the second death, not that you're going to be permanently dead after you're sent there. But I don't really know because they are taken completely out of context (I'm reluctant to read them in context until I get there). This also poses a new problem, what if you don't want to have eternal life? Should you strive to be sent to hell?

(via The SOP)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

127: Satan did what?

1 Chronicles 18-21
Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." - 2 Samuel 24:1

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. - 1 Chronicles 21:1

The first few chapters list David's victories, his officials, and a few more battles. The bible also recounts one of my favorite stories. David sends his men to the Ammonites to express his sympathy for their king's death. The Ammonites think the men are spies and send them back with half their beards chopped off and their pants converted into assless chaps. This so disgusts David that he goes to war with the Ammonites.

On a more serious note, we have a horribly obvious inconsistency. So far, the bible has been doing fairly well in recounting the stories from 1/2 Samuel. Further research shows that there are minor inconsistencies, mostly in genealogies, but nothing so obvious that I've noticed it. Until now. First quote (also at the top of the page):
Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." - 2 Samuel 24:1
I remember being quite confused as to why God would be angry at Israel for taking a census that he himself commanded. It's very clear from 2 Samuel 24:1 that God did, in fact, command Israel to take a census. I'm not sure how you can twist that verse to mean anything else. However, 1 Chronicles has a different take on the same census:
Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. - 1 Chronicles 21:1
Satan did it?! What's going on here? I think the inerrancy of the bible is in peril. If Satan did it, the story would make far more sense (God wouldn't be mad because of something he commanded) but that's not what the bible says (the first time). If someone can explain to me how this makes sense I'd love to hear it.

Evangelicals want to be buried, not cremated. Because they want to be zombies?

Apparently cremation had been banned by the catholic church until 1963. I never attached a particularly religious significance to how one's body is disposed of, but I guess there is a stigma attached to being burned. Why? Because when Jesus comes back he's going to make us all into zombies that rise out of the grave (I think?), so the body is necessary. Is a being that created the universe going to have a hard time reconstructing your body?

The article is about cremation losing it's stigma. It seems strange to me that the stigma ever existed.

(via The Tennessean)

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