Saturday, January 30, 2010

147: Ezra is Back

Nehemiah 8-9
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. - Nehemiah 9:17

This section begins with Ezra reading the book of law. Where did Ezra come from? This is the first time he's mentioned in the book of Nehemiah. The cycle of Israel being stupid begins again. Ezra reads the law and they grieve about their sins and ask God for forgiveness. Doubtless, by the time this generation is old, the Israelites will have gone against God's word again.

Almost all of chapter 9 is a prayer to God. They, again, tell God all of the things he did for the Israelites (just in case he forgot), going all the way back to the exodus.

About half way through this prayer is the quote for the day. It's worth repeating, "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." I can only assume this is sarcasm. Slow to anger?! Was he slow to anger when Nadab and Abihu were burned alive for offering incense in the wrong way? Was he abounding in love when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? In fact, has their been any love shown by God? Occasionally God says he loves the Israelites, but actions speak louder than words. And I haven't seen any loving actions.

They continue stroking God's ego with all their might for the rest of the section.

The Tennessee senate has approved the teaching of the bible in public school. A lot of fuss is being made over this but it's really not that big of a deal, let me explain.

Teaching the bible in public school was always legal, and practiced in Tennessee. This legislation merely standardizes it for the entire state. That being said, there is a fine line between teaching the bible in a secular manner, and having a religious high school teacher turn the class into a sermon. If we can teach the bible as a historical document, why don't we use the Koran?

(via The Christian Post)

Friday, January 29, 2010

146: Who Needs God, Without Stress

Nehemiah 7
Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. - Nehemiah 7:4-5

Ok, what the hell bible dividing website? I have to read a one page section today. Some days in Chronicles I had to read like seven pages. I'm probably going to be reading the entire New Testament on day 365. Maybe I shouldn't have just randomly picked the first Google result.

To add insult to injury, over half of this page (aka section) is listing the Israelites that returned to Jerusalem (this sounds suspiciously like the same story from Ezra). And the other half of the page just leads up to them going back to Jerusalem. Bible fail.

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

Stress (stres) n.
a mentally or emotionally disruptive or disquieting influence.

Alternate Definition
that tightness in your stomach when it's test time-and you didn't study!

Mom and Dad fighting. Trying to squeeze in both school and a job. Having to stay home with your little brother when you want to be out with your friends. Getting up on time for school. Make a list of what stresses you out [Making lists stresses me out].

Check each source of stress. How can you avoid it? By planning ahead? By making a change in your priorities? Your lifestyle? Your relationship with a family member?

Or is the stress in your life caused by something out of control? [Sounds stressful]

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty... I can do everything through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:11-13

What would life be like if you had no stress? [great] Sounds pretty good sometimes, doesn't it? [Yes!] No challenges to meet. [Even better!] No tough choices. [Awesome!] No hassles. [Tell me how!] No need for God? [Wait. What? Moral: If you don't have stress you don't need God?]

Scott Roeder was found guilty yesterday, for the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was one of the only doctors in the country that provided late term abortions.

On the morning of May 31, 2009 Tiller was attending a church service. Even at the church, Tiller was wearing body armor, after being advised by the FBI that he was under threat from radical anti-abortionists. Roeder came to the church and shot Tiller at point blank range in the head.

His defense tried to get the charges taken down to voluntary manslaughter:
Mr. Roeder's lawyers had argued that their client's actions might better be described as "voluntary manslaughter," which Kansas law defines as using deadly force in the honest, even if unreasonable, belief that doing so is necessary to protect others from an imminent threat of unlawful violence.
Right, except for Tiller wasn't doing anything illegal, and "others" aren't defined as unborn babies in Kansas. The defense layer apparently went on to compare Roeder to Martin Luther King Jr. and call him a "hero". Is it heroic to kill people now?

The jury only took 40 minutes to make the right decision. Guilty.

(via The Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

145: What's Worse Than Eating Jesus? Smoking Him

Nehemiah 4-6
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other - Nehemiah 4:16-17

Nehemiah starts rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem (is this the same rebuilding of the wall that happened in Ezra?). All the countries around him oppose the rebuilding and threaten to kill the Jews working on the wall (the bible is calling them Jews for the first time). In response to this, Nehemiah orders half of the people working on the wall to stop working and act as guards. Did the terrorists just win?

Some time later the people are being taxed heavily by the king and being charged too much interest on loans by noblemen and officials. Nehemiah goes to the noblemen and officials and tells them to stop exacting usury (too much interest). The officials and noblemen immediately agree that they are being naughty and tell Nehemiah they will stop charging usury.

Sure they did. This is one of those first person accounts that seems a bit iffy. All Nehemiah had to do was tell them to stop and they immediately listened to him? Maybe he's being a little self serving in his recounting of this story?

The enemies of Israel again try to stop the Jews from rebuilding the wall. They tell Nehemiah that people are plotting to kill him and he should lock himself in the temple and never come out (presumably so they can take advantage of the leaderless Israelites and stop the building). Nehemiah doesn't buy it, and the building continues.

At the end of the section the Israelites finish the rebuilding of the wall. This causes all of the enemies of Israel to lose their self confidence. Don't they know there's a pill for that?

Sorry atheists, but I may have found a religion that I can get behind. The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry. I shit you not, there is a pot smoking religion in Hawaii.

I heard about this story because a man was recently arrested for possession of marijuana and he's using the "it's my religion" defense. No news on how that worked out yet (link at the bottom if you want to follow the story). I'm thinking not so well.

Now, back to my new religion (I actually haven't tried pot, I'd rather not be fired for failing a drug test). The Hawaiian Cannabis Ministry believes that pot, not that silly bread or wine, is the sacrament. So, instead of eating Jesus, they smoke him? Seems reasonable. I'll take the rest of their description straight off their wiki page, it's priceless:
THC Ministry believes that "cultivation and enjoyment of cannabis sacrament is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the Constitution." It states cannabis is the original sacrament of Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Rasta and more, and fulfills the prophesies to 'feed all our hungers'. It believes cannabis to be one of the main ingredients in the original Anointing Oil, as described in the Bible. Some members also believe it is the substance used in the Burnt Offerings at the altar and special occasions through out the bible numerous times.
How does cannabis feed your hunger? Doesn't it make you hungry? I think the only thing weirder than believing that would be believing that a virgin gave birth to someone that would eventually become a zombie and save everyone from their sins. Now believing that would be crazy. Oh wait...

(via The Denver Post, Wikipedia)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

144: The Book of What? (Part II)

Nehemiah 1-3
By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. - Nehemiah 2:13

Nayheemeeah? How do you pronounce this book? I'll just call it Nana-nana for right now. By the way, is it nerdy if I noticed that this is blog number 12 squared?

We have yet another book written as a first person narrative. I actually really like that style of writing, too bad it's third person for the rest of the bible (as far as I can tell).

Nothing terribly exciting happens in this section. Nehemiah asks Artaxerxes (the king of Persia) if he can go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. The king says yes and Nehemiah heads to Jerusalem. He goes around the city and inspects all the gates. One of the gates is called the "Dung gate". Is the gate made of poo?

He decides all the gates need to be replaced. All of chapter 3 (and the rest of today's section) just lists all the people that rebuilt the gates. I wonder how you rebuild a gate made of poo. They didn't have Chipotle back then.


Tim Tebow is back in the news. This time it's not for his ridiculous bible flaunting antics. He's decided to make a Superbowl anti-abortion ad.

I thought the advertisements at the Superbowl were supposed to be good. And of course, this has nothing to do with Tim Tebow being psycho-religious:
When Tim's mom was pregnant, she contracted amoebic dysentery. This caused pregnancy complications, and the quarterback was expected to die in-utero. Therefore, doctors advised her to have an abortion.

Well, his mom didn't listen and she gave birth to him. He was a little small and malnourished, but was treated and grew up to be the star athlete that we know and love.
Right, it's a good thing Hitler's mom didn't get an abortion. Oh wait, no it's not. I love the fallacy they're trying to sell, that every nearly aborted baby grows up to be a wonderful person. You know, when doctors tell you you should get an abortion, that usually means you should. If you want to risk your life to have a baby then fine. But don't force other people to risk death.

Also, don't spend 3 million dollars on a 30 second Superbowl ad. I thought Christians were supposed to give money to the poor. Leave advertising spending to corporations.

(via Associated Content)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

143: Don't Marry Non-Israelites... I Mean, Non-Christians! & Ezra: In Review?

Ezra 8-10
I assembled them at the canal that flows toward Ahava, and we camped there three days. When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. - Ezra 8:15

For the first time I can remember, the bible is written in first person. I think this gives the bible more validity to some degree. If only the new testament were written by Jesus. That doesn't rule out the possibility that Ezra is completely making all this stuff up, but at least we can rest assured that this narrative isn't an old wives tale. And indeed, nothing crazy or supernatural happens in this entire section.

Ezra (I'm assuming that's the speaker here) just tells us about the Israeli's journey back to Jerusalem. For the entirety of chapter 9 Ezra rambles on about how the people of Israel shouldn't intermarry with people from other nations. He also talks about how wonderful God is for letting them come back to Jerusalem.

Ezra is so upset with intermarriage that he exiles anyone who has intermarried from Israel. You also seem to have the option to divorce your foreign wife and not be exiled. Great husbands these guys are.

Ezra: In Review
I'm not sure if this is necessary, but I'm doing it anyway.

I can't tell if Ezra was actually interesting or if I was just so excited to be done with Chronicles that it seemed awesome. I'd like to say I don't have any objection to this book, but the bible always seems to throw at least a little bigotry into every book. Ezra was doing so well up until the "don't intermarry". What exactly is wrong with marrying outside your religions if both people are ok with it?

Overall though, Ezra was probably one of the easiest reads so far (again, I could be influenced by the horror that was Chronicles).

Fundie letter to the editors always seem to find their way onto my news feed. This one is about the validity of the bible:
Scripture is not accepted merely on “blind faith.” Despite aspersions by modern naysayers, the Bible has been subjected to frequent testing over the years. Attempts at discrediting it often fail to consider the original context or, as in this case, make the flawed argument that the Bible cannot be true simply because it claims to be.
Oh, so you have shocking new revelations that prove the bible's validity?:
The writer asked how prophets were accepted as true and not merely “hallucinating.” A simple examination of Old Testament text will answer this question: If a prophet made a prediction that did not come true, he was to be put to death.

Problem solved.
And how do we know these prophets weren't stoned? Or if they even made the predictions they did? Oh that's right, because the bible says so! Not to mention that the only prophecies I've read so far have been underwhelming. Most of the "prophets" just told the people what God wanted the Israelites to do. You can't prove those kind of prophecies false. This is far from "problem solved". The writer continues:
Finally, the writer asked how we know that Jesus was crucified rather than stoned.

First of all, stoning was not a Roman practice as the writer claimed. Secondly, the writings of first-century historian Josephus, who was not a Christian, verify that Jesus was crucified.

On these points, I believe there are ample grounds to accept the truthfulness of scripture.
Ok, maybe a guy was crucified? Josephus is widely disputed, but I won't get into that right now. After the 2 or 3 points you made your ready to accept the entirety of the bible? Any good science fiction book has a few real facts in it, does that make the whole book real? I think we're back to the bible's true because the bible says so.


Monday, January 25, 2010

142: Nasty Letters

Ezra 4-7
In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. - Ezra 4:15

When the enemies of Israel hear about the temple being rebuilt, they decide to undermine Israel's plans. These unnamed enemies hire "counselors" to run around discouraging the builders. This, I guess, fails. The bible doesn't really say, but the Israelites keep on building.

The next attempt by Israel's enemies (still unnamed) to undermine them happens at the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes. They write a letter to the king (signed "From your servants, the men of the Trans-Euphrates") that says nasty things about Israel. They claim that if Artaxerxes allows the Israelites to rebuild the temple that he will get no taxes and Israel will rebel. The king agrees and stops the Israelites from working.

Work is stopped till the reign of Darius. The Israelites send Darius a letter, telling him the Persian king (King Cyrus) that allowed them to begin the rebuilding. Cyrus, in fact, said that if anyone stops the Israelites from building their temple, they should be impaled. Darius decides that he doesn't want to be impaled and lets the Israelites finish their temple. Darius also decrees that Persia will pay the expenses of building the temple (as per King Cyrus' orders).

Ezra finally comes into the story. Ezra is a well known prophet in Israel. The king of Persia gives Ezra complete control over Israel (but Israel is still under the command of Persia of course). The king of Persia writes Ezra a big letter, saying how wonderful Ezra is, and the section ends.


To be honest I don't really have time to do this today, but I will give you an interesting link.

It's the Westboro Baptist Church's new website (one of many). And it's all about Obama. I wonder what they're going to do when Obama's 8 years are up and the world hasn't ended.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

141: The Book of What?

Ezra 1-3
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. - Ezra 3:11

First of all, I'll review where we are. It's been so long since I actually talked about any of the story. Israel (throughout Kings and Samuel) were very naughty. So naughty that God allows them to be taken over by Babylon (who is then taken over by Persia). God then afflicts the Babylonians with plagues because they aren't worshiping him (he is "the god of the land" after all). Eventually the Babylonians/Persians start to worship the God of Israel.

This is where Ezra picks up. God tells Cyrus, the king of Persia, to allow some of the Israelites to return to Israel. The bible then lists everyone that is allowed to return to Israel (More lists?! NOOO!). Cyrus even allows them to begin rebuilding their temple to God.

No Ezra yet today. I'm beginning to question how my bible division website divided the bible. This was a really short section.

I couldn't find anything terribly exciting for news today. But I did find a fundie complaining about the filth on TV these days.

First of all, God apparently really cares about muscular organs used to pump blood:
The heart is important and often mentioned in the Bible, but so is the mind. It is safe to say that God cares as much about your mind as He does your heart and in some senses your mind is more important to Him than your heart. Whatever comes into the heart has first entered through the mind. If you would keep a heart that pleases the Lord you must first guard what enters your mind.
I didn't realize memories were stored in the heart. He/She then goes on to imply that God watches prime time TV:
They watch TV shows and movies that are far from pleasing to the Lord. Just about everything on primetime network television is filthy and unfit for the believer
Which ones are we allowed to watch? Did God tell you? Of course, the only thing should really be doing to fill your spare time is reading the bible:
Turn off that boob tube and get out your Bible. Read a good, clean book. There are excellent Christian books available; non-fiction and fiction. Take a walk and pray. Spend some quality time with your spouse (now there is a novel idea!). Sit under the moonlight, look up at the stars
Right, a clean book, full of violence, incest, rape, murder, child abuse, and adultery. I'm not sure how you can get any more clean than that.

(via The Sanford Herald)

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