Saturday, January 23, 2010

140: Good Riddance & 2 Chronicles: In Review

2 Chronicles 35-36
[God] brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. - 2 Chronicles 36:17

Jerusalem falls (again) today. The kings listed before the fall: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Nothing terribly exciting happens today, and I'm really ready to be done with 2 Chronicles.

2 Chronicles: In Review
Woo!!! Party time! 1/2 Chronicles are over! Worst. Books. Ever.

I really don't know why these books were included by the Council of Nicea. I see no reason that everything that the bible had just talked about needed to be reiterated. These books would have been bearable if it weren't repeating everything in Samuel/Kings. Not that those books were particularly enjoyable, but at least I didn't feel like dying the entire time I was reading them.


It's hard to start a conversation about Jesus,
this video (I give up on trying to embed it, their embedding code fails) may help.

Now, what the hell did that have to do with Jesus? Nothing that I can see, but Calvin Edwards & Company is running a study to see the affects these videos (and others like it) have on proselytizing efforts. Here's how I see this conversation going:
*watches video*
Proselytizer: Wasn't that video awesome?
Proselytizee: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
*Awkward pause*
Proselytizer: You know, Jesus really wants to get in your box.
Proselytizee: What?! Get away from me.
I just don't see how that video easily segues into a Jesus conversation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

139: A Movie About Angels Killing People? Blasphemy!

2 Chronicles 32-34
And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. - 2 Chronicles 32:21

I thought there was going to be nothing to talk about again today but I did find something (that just so happens to tie into my news story for the day). First of all, let's get the kings listed out of the way: Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah.

Now, the interesting part. When Hezekiah was king, the king of Assyria (Sennacherib) tried to attack Jerusalem. Sennacherib said nasty things about God and about Hezekiah. As punishment, God sends an angel and destroys Sennacherib's army. This isn't the first time God has sent angels to do his destroying (I would find some links, but I don't remember exactly where they were and I don't feel like looking through 140 posts). It's interesting that we have this wonderful image of angels in America these days. Scroll down and read the news story if you want to see how this ties in.

My Bible on: Money
If you don't know what this is go here or here.

Mon-ey (mun-ee) n.
the official currency, as coins and paper notes issued by the government.


(ALTERNATE DEFINITION what you never have enough of when you go to the mall)

Do you always feel like you don't have enough money? [Yes, that's how the economy works] Is that because you need more money? [Yes, that's how the economy works] Or is it because the world you live in is always pressuring you to get more, more, more? [That too, that's how the economy works] How much are you affected by what your friends have? [I generally want something cool that my friends have, that's how the economy works] How much are you affected by what the media says you need? [I'd like to think that I'm not personally affected that much. But a lot of people are. That's how marketing (part of the economy) works.]

How much money do you spend each week? [Are you going to answer any questions or just ask them? None of your business by the way.] How much do you earn? [Definitely none of your business.] How much is your allowance? [$0] How much money do you think you need? [How much were you going to give me?] How much does your mom or dad think you need? [Why are you asking all these questions? Are you going to steal my identity?] Any chance of negotiating for more? [What? Should I try? Is that biblical?] If you get more, how would you spend it? [I don't know. Did you have a suggestion?]

Money is important. Sixteen of Jesus' forty parables mention money. [He was a Jew after all (sorry, that was too easy to pass up).] Jesus told one parable to illustrate the truth that "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." You can read the story in ... Luke 12:13-21

Picture this situation: You have to evacuate your home for some reason and you have, say, fifteen minutes to gather up the things you want to take with you (knowing that everything else you own will probably be destroyed). Beyond the necessities what do you pack? Pictures? Books? Tapes? [Tapes? I realize this book is dated, but who would have saved their tapes in the first place?] Money (if you have any)? [What? Stashed under the bed?] Jewelry? Now look at how much you're leaving behind. How important is it? Really?

[Picture this situation: Somebody is going to chop off three of your limbs. You have fifteen minutes to decide which one to save. After fifteen minutes you decide to save your right arm. The crazy person chops off your legs and your left arm. How important were those other three limbs really?]

What does that little scene tell you about the importance of all the things you own? You decide. [I've decided my things are pretty damn important to me. I'd be pretty pissed if all my stuff got destroyed except for my essentials. And, of course, my tapes.]

Today the movie "Legion" was released to theaters. The main premise of the story is that God has (again) lost faith in humanity, and has decided to destroy the human race. How does he plan to accomplish this? Angels.

Of course, the fundies are freaking out. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) had this to say:
The movie’s central and bizarre theme is that God has lost faith in man and thus decides to exterminate humanity. To do this work of destruction, He sends angels armed with machine guns commanded by the Archangel Saint Gabriel.
Yeah, that is bizarre. Too bad it has happened in your holy scripture in almost that exact fashion. God once lost faith in humanity and decided to exterminate us. God has, more than a few times, sent angels to do his work of destruction. The only difference is that this is the modern day, so the weapon of choice is a machine gun instead of a "flaming sword".

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights takes it one step further:
"Legion" puts a negative spin on Christianity, ... [it] promises to be an abortion of a movie.
What? Is that the Catholics' version of saying "that movie is going to be totally gay"? Are we adding this into the lexicon? Abortion = something generically bad. Let me use it in a sentence to see if I have it right:
Person 1: Did you have that new burger at McDonalds?
Person 2: No, was it good?
Person 1: Hell no, it was an abortion.
Yeah, I think I got it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

138: Muslims Started It, So It's Totally Ok

2 Chronicles 28-31
The other events of his reign and all his ways, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. - 2 Chronicles 28:26

Blah! I'm not sure if I can survive two more days of this. It's taking me about twice as long as usual to read these sections because I keep zoning out. In case you're just tuning in. All these stories are repeated, and they weren't interesting to start with. I literally had more fun watching grass grow than I did reading this section of the bible.

Kings listed today: Ahaz, and Hezekiah. I know I talked about them before, but for the sanity of my readers I'm not posting the links. If you are already crazy you can go find the old posts yourself.

I thought this story was dead, but not quite yet. Not to mention that my google alert inbox is flooded with "Jesus scope" stories.

Anyway, Faux news has jumped on this story. Apparently it's ok to have bible quotes on our scopes (and to wage a holy war for that matter) because the Muslims "started it".

What the hell Steve Douchey? I mean... Doocey. I think we've reached a new and exciting level of stupid. War is obviously the perfect time to use the "Nah nah nah nah you started it!" argument.

If you saw the edit to my original post, you've seen the happy ending to this story (not sarcastic happy this time!). Trijicon has decided to stop adding bible quotes to the end of their serial numbers. In fact, they are sending out kits free of charge that will assist in removing the scriptural references on the existing scopes.

*More News*
I've already talked about that story, so I have a new one for today. Is it ok to read the bible in a public school? The courts say no way.

Donna Kay Busch wanted to read the bible for her son's "All about me" presentation:
One part of the “All About Me” curriculum included inviting parents to “share a talent, short game, small craft, or story” with the class that would highlight something about their child.
Apparently Donna thinks the bible falls into the "story" category. The principle, not so much:
Busch told Wesley’s teacher in advance what she planned to read. The school principal objected, saying reading from the Bible would violate the First Amendment’s required separation of church and state. He said reading the Bible to kindergarten students in a public school class with required attendance would be promotion of a particular type of religion in violation of constitutional protections against the establishment of state-sponsored religion. He asked her to read from a different book.
She, of course, responded by suing the school (the American way). She has been appealing for the last four years.
Chief Judge Anthony Sirica of the third US circuit court of appeals said this in his majority opinion:
A reading from the Bible or other religious text is more than a message and unquestionably conveys a strong sense of spiritual and moral authority. In this case, the audience is involuntary and very young. Parents of public school kindergarten students may reasonably expect their children will not become captive audiences to an adult’s reading of religious texts.
The mother was recently denied her appeal to the supreme court. They dismissed the case without comment.

I'm actually thoroughly un-pissed off by the news stories today.

(via The Christian Science Monitor)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

137: Feed the Bible to the Starving

2 Chronicles 25-27
The other events in Jotham's reign, including all his wars and the other things he did, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. - 2 Chronicles 27:7

T minus three days left of Chronicles. Kings talked about today (of course already talked about in Kings): Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham. Again, unexciting to start with, extra unexciting when it's repeated. Sorry I don't have anything biblically interesting today. Blame the bible.

We've all heard about the earthquake in Haiti (I hope). Christians always seem to find the worst solution to a problem.

Lets lay out the problem. We have a country that has just suffered a huge disaster. People are starving, thirsty, they don't have shelter, there are thousands of injured, people can't find their loved ones, and people are dying because they can't get medical attention.

What could these people need? Food, water, shelter, medical supplies, people to help search for survivors, or doctors? No! Audio bibles! I obviously haven't quite pinned down what the Haitians really need, I'll let Jon Wilke explain:
Now they've lost everything. They are asking the big questions in life -- 'Why am I here?' Some are saying 'I'm so blessed to be alive' and they have a lot of questions, so the Bible helps answer those questions.
Right, I'm sure they're all sitting around pondering life's mysteries and not worried about starving to death.

I wonder what they're going to be thinking when the truck that is supposed to be carrying food and medical supplies is instead transporting audio bibles. I certainly hope the US government isn't letting them send these bibles yet, when the Haitians can't even get the medical supplies they need. At least the audio bibles look moderately flammable, maybe they can be burned for warmth (not that warmth is needed in Haiti).

(via KOAT 7)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

136: Jesus, Guiding Light of American Bullets

2 Chronicles 21-24
The account of his sons, the many prophecies about him, and the record of the restoration of the temple of God are written in the annotations on the book of the kings. - 2 Chronicles 24:27

Same old same old today. We're down to 4 more days of 2 Chronicles. I'm sure you're tired of hearing me bitch about 1/2 Chronicles, but here I go again. I've never been a fan of defacing books, no matter what they are. But I think I would be doing the world a favor if I ripped out 1/2 Chronicles, shredded the pages, and burned the shreds to make sure nobody could piece them back together.

What happens today? More of the same kings from the book of Kings. I know I complained about the genealogies, but at least they had a point (sort of). This is just more of the exact same stuff. It's even largely worded the same. If someone can find something useful in this section that wasn't mentioned in Kings I congratulate you.

The Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), which gained recognition (at least for me and the general public) in the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is embroiled in a controversy. A biblical controversy.

Trijicon, the company that manufactures these advanced gunsights, also stamps biblical passages under the serial number. The raised print reads "JN8:12" (referring to John 8:12).
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12
Why would you put a quote from Jesus on a device whose sole purpose is to assist in the destruction of human life?

Trijicon ACOG Scope

"Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." For those who don't follow Jesus, you're probably at the wrong end of that scope. Are we allowed to put verses from the Koran on our weapons too? Maybe they should put the "love your enemies" quote on their gunsight too, since they seem to be trying to be as hypocritical as possible.

I think Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation says it best:
This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country. It's literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we're fighting. We're emboldening an enemy.
(via ABC News)

[Edit: Trijicon is voluntarily (by voluntarily I mean, their #1 customer the government told them to) removing their references to the bible. They are also providing, free of charge, a kit to remove the bible references that are already there. I think for the first time on this blog a news story has a happy ending.

(via The Washington Post)]

Monday, January 18, 2010

135: God and the Lying Spirit

2 Chronicles 18-20
"Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'
" 'By what means?' the LORD asked.
" 'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said.
" 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' - 2 Chronicles 18:20-21

This whole section is just biographies of kings again. There is something I didn't talk about before. It wasn't very well explained in Kings and I think the post was running long that day anyway.

Ahab and Jehoshaphat, kings of Israel and Judah respectively, want to have a prophet tell them whether to go to war or not. Apparently the only prophet left is Micaiah, but he never prophecies anything good about Ahab. This time is not the exception, he says that if they go to war, Israel will end up scattered like sheep with no shepherd (implying their king will die I suppose).

Micah isn't done prophesying yet, he has an interesting story about God:
Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD : I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?'
"One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'
" 'By what means?' the LORD asked.
" 'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said.
" 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.'
First of all, God is conspiring to kill another person. But, of course, that doesn't fall under "thou shall not murder" because there is no such thing as murder because of original sin (Christian logic not mine). Thou shall not lie, though, is a little harder to get out of. God is obviously sending a spirit to go lie to Ahab. Maybe God can't break his own commandments, but he can obviously conspire to break them. That seems like a bit of a ridiculous loophole.

The article today is fraught with terrible grammar and wording. But after a little research I find that the article was written in Zambia. So I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that English is not the first language of the writer or of the editor. That being said, I have some major problems with what they're trying to say.

The article is about Haiti. At least the writer isn't saying that the Haitians deserved it like Pat Robertson. What he is trying to say, however, is that this is a sign of the end times. He lists four signs that the apocalypse is near.

1. WARS (all caps are his not mine). Has the world not been in some form of war since the time of Jesus? What about the world wars? Weren't those a little more serious then the wars we're in now?

2. FAMINES. But there is probably less famine now than at any other time in history.

4. EARTHQUAKES. First of all, yes, his numbering system went "1, 2, 4". He claims that scientific records show that there are more earthquakes now than any other time in history. Even if we accept this without question (the Christian way), then how do you account for there being less famine and less war? It seems like it would be the height of all of these things if it were truly the "end of days".

He goes on to say that we should embrace more disasters like the one in Haiti. This is where, in my opinion, Christianity and religion in general become destructive. What sane person wishes disaster on people in hopes of bringing about the end of the world?

(via Lusaka Times)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

134: Doctors Don't Cure You, God Does

2 Chronicles 13-17
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. - 2 Chronicles 16:12

We're now fully into the most boring part of 1/2 Kings. The bible is just listing all of the kings Israel and Judah had, and giving a biography of them. This is slightly less exciting than watching paint dry. The kings that are listed are Abijah, Asa, and Jehoshaphat.

I did find something mildly interesting today. Asa (one of the kings) had a foot disease. When he was ill, he trusted in his physicians and not God. He died. Moral of the story: doctors can't help you, only God can. Maybe a few thousand years ago praying was about as effective as trusting in your physicians. The problem is that this principle is still being applied to today's world. Now children are dying because their parents are idiots. I see no problem in praying to make yourself feel better, but not when that gets in the way of seeking proper medical attention, I don't care what the bible says.

The title of this article caught my attention "Celebrating MLK: He was Christian?" Do you mean Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.? Yeah, I'm pretty sure he was a Christian.

The "Martin Luther King" subject is really a ploy for the writer of the article to talk about how Christians should be more public with their faith. He cites instances where the "Reverend" in MLK's name was replaced with "Doctor". Interesting factoid: If you google "Reverend Martin Luther King Jr." you get 1,720,000 results, if you google "Doctor Martin Luther King Jr." you get 427,000,000. Google hath spoken.

The writer of the article is further offended that MLK is not remembered as a reverend:
He is not remembered as a preacher of Christian faith but as a “civil rights leader.” Often no link is made, or acknowledged, between his work and his Christian faith and convictions.
Of course he's not remembered as a preacher of the Christian faith. He's famous for being a civil rights leader, not a preacher. MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech (arguably his most famous) wasn't a sermon, it was a civil rights speech. That's like being offended that president Obama is going to be remembered for being president and not for being a professor or a lawyer (his original professions).

The article, like many articles I've seen, goes on to say that Christians should be outspoken with their Christianity:
There is an idea that religion should never come up in public discourse. The responsibility for vacating the public arena falls partly to Christians themselves who have accepted the argument that faith should be kept private.
Religion is a private matter. Not that I think religion should be removed completely from public discourse, but what do these people want the average Christian to do? Should they be out every weekend on the street corner preaching the gospel? Should they randomly blurt out "Jesus loves you!" in the middle of a conversation? If you're having a conversation about religion, then by all means, profess your love of Jesus. But it really is rude to randomly bring up your religion to everyone you meet, just as it would be rude of me to introduce myself by saying "Hi, I'm Bryan, there is no God."

(via Crosscut)

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