Saturday, March 6, 2010

182: To Judge, or Not To Judge

Psalm 90-95
For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. - Psalm 95:3


Psalm 90 (Moses): Moses?! What is Moses doing writing psalms? Unfortunately Moses doesn't have anything new to say. Moses is in the same boat with everyone else, consumed by God's wrath. I'm curious at what point Moses wrote this, because he always seemed to be on board with the whole, God killing people, thing. Now he doesn't seem to be into it so much, "Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants". If any of the biblical scholars out there know, be sure to comment.

Psalm 91 (No Author Mentioned): This writer claims that if you"dwell in the shelter of the Most High" that he will protect you from your enemies, and make sure that nothing bad happens to you. I wonder why all of these servants of God say that God is "hiding his face" and not helping them.

Psalm 92 (No Author Mentioned): We should all praise God because he will protect us. The end. P.S. God is a rock.

Psalm 93 (No Author Mentioned): God is going to be around forever. His "statutes will stand firm" for forever and ever.

Psalm 94 (No Author Mentioned): This person says that God should judge everyone, and take vengeance. More mixed messages from Psalms. Maybe this is why God seems bipolar, he's trying to answer everyone's prayers at once. "Judge everyone!" "No wait! Don't judge me!" "No! Be merciful to everyone!" It all must be very confusing. P.S. God is a rock (this just amuses me too much to not mention every time).

Psalm 95 (No Author Mentioned): We have yet another person that claims God is not the only God "For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods". I'm not sure what else this could mean. This author says there are other gods, but God god is the best one. So why are all the Christians I talk to violently monotheistic? Nobody I talk to will even consider that other gods might exist.

What is God really like? That's a question Larry Jensen set out to answer. And I just have a few issues with his conclusion.

He starts out by saying that some people get a bad rap from hearsay and lies, and attempts to equate this with God's reputation. Here is one example:
Years ago my wife and I were meeting with an insurance salesman. I asked him if certain things were covered in the insurance policy and he told me no, because those things were considered an, "act of God". I proceeded to tell him that catastrophes or disasters were not from God; my God doesn't act like that. Through years of ministry I have heard so many people give God a bad rap, saying that he brings tragedy into people's lives. The way some folks talk you would think that God was against them and not for them.
Wait, what? I thought everything was God's plan. That's the favorite evasion tactic for the problem of evil (or at least the one I've heard most often). If God doesn't let it (or in fact want it) to happen, then how did it happen? If you have an all powerful, all knowing being, then something can't happen without his/her/it's express consent.

He then quickly diverts the topic to Jesus. Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about just God. [I know, Jesus is God, that's a whole different topic/debate.] This is his evidence that God just doesn't do those type of nasty things (even though it says tens if not hundreds of times that he does):
John 10:10 paints us a very clear picture of what Jesus is all about and what His character is. "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." God is not the one stealing, killing or destroying.
But God does destroy, he does kill. I don't think anyone can reasonably deny (if you believe the bible) that he does do those things. Finally, he gives us his litmus test for whether something is from God or not:
People constantly ask the question, "Is this Gods will for me?" If you want to know for certain if something is God's will, put it to the test of God's word and John 10:10. If it is stealing from you, killing or, destroying you it's not God, but if it will bring life to you then it is God. In the Message, John 10:10 reads like this, "
I thought everything was God's will. The more Christians I talk to and read articles from, the more the story line becomes incoherent. What does God do for us? What does he not do? Is everything God's plan or just some of the things that happen? Arguing for or against God becomes far more difficult when the concept of God is a moving target.

(via Daily News)

Friday, March 5, 2010

181: Cookie Monsters (Catholics)

Psalm 86-89
From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. - Psalm 88:15-18

Psalm 86 (David): What? I thought we were done with David. By bible lied to me. Unless, of course, there's some other David that I was never told about. This really sounds like the David we've come to know and love (read: find annoying). God is wonderful, kill my enemies, don't kill me for equal crimes. Yup, that's our David. Also, we again get a hint that this God is not the only god that the Israelites know about. "Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord" - David Psalm 86:8.

Psalm 87 (The Sons of Korah): God loves Israel. The end (it was a really short psalm).

Psalm 88 (The Sons of Korah): The sons of Korah are back to their crying to God (as opposed to calling him wonderful). They say that God's wrath is heavy on them, and it is as if they are dead. They go on and on about how God's wrath has been on them since the day they were born. So much for those happy sons of Korah from yesterday. They're back to their constant mourning over God's wrath.

Psalm 89 (Ethan): We have a new Psalm writer. He decides to go on for about a page and a half about how wonderful God is. I thought he was just going to say God is wonderful, but like all the others there's an "oh by the way" section. He too asks if God will hide himself forever, and continue to allow David to be destroyed. Wait a minute, this sounds suspiciously like David. Why do I think that David told Ethan to write this, just in case God didn't get it when David prayed 8372 times?

We all know everybody loves Chick tracts (the website says so, so it must be true), but what happens when chick tracts piss off Catholics?

Click the image for the full tract or click the link below.

*Superhero music* Fox News! To the rescue! They wrote a very unflattering story about the Chick tracts, calling them "inflammatory leaflets". The favorite part for me was hearing what the Catholic Priest had to say about the Chick tracts (keeping in mind that he would probably be for a lot of what they usually say):
'It’s a very dangerous world we live in,' the priest said. 'But you can’t argue with ignorance, it’s not worth it.'

'I don’t understand the [pamphlet’s] reasoning — it has nothing to do with scripture. It’s anti-Catholic; it’s just hate material. It has nothing to do with theological discussion. 'You better get out and get saved' is basically what it says.'
Now replace anti-Catholic with anything else the Chick tracts talk about. Maybe Chick tracts are a good thing, they bring together atheists and Catholics (and everyone else) to hate them. I personally find Chick tracts very entertaining if you treat them like actual comic strips (not to be taken seriously).

For the full Chick tract, "The Death Cookie" go here.

(via Fox News)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

180: I'll Open my Mouth, You Fill it Up

Psalm 80-85
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. - Psalm 84:2

Psalm 80 (Asaph): Asaph complains that God still isn't helping him. He says that God makes the Israelites drink bowls of tears. Cruel and unusual punishment? For a God that answers prayers he sure takes his sweet time.

Psalm 81 (Asaph): Asaph tells us to praise God for the first half of the chapter. For the second half he quotes God. God tells Asaph all the wonderful things he's done for Israel. Of course, this makes it ok that he's not helping Israel now. Here's our strange quote for the day:
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

"But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
Is it just me or is "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it" thrown into the middle of that quote? Not only is it thrown in the middle, but it makes no sense. What is God filling our mouths with? For an all perfect book it's pretty ambiguous, and up for interpretation. For the sake of argument, I've decided to interpret this line in the dirtiest way possible (I'll let your imagination fill in the gaps). God obviously decided to add sexual innuendo to the bible just for my entertainment. God closes by saying that if only the Israelites would follow him, he would help them. Until then, screw 'em, I guess.

Psalm 82 (Asaph): I'm not sure if it's God or Asaph speaking in this chapter. Most of it is in quotes so I'll assume that's Asaph channeling God. The first sentence is interesting. It again implies that God is only one of many gods: "God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the 'gods' ". Asaph closes by telling God to judge the earth. Hasn't Asaph been praying for a cessation of God's judgment? I guess that only applies to Israel.

Psalm 83 (Asaph): Asaph prays to God to kill all of Israel's enemies. This is just like every other chapter where the speaker asks God to kill his enemies.

Psalm 84 (The Sons of Korah): The sons of Korah must be having a good day. They praise God and tell him how wonderful he is. They praise him for all the great things he does in the world. Are these the same people that plead to God to stop killing them?

Psalm 85 (The Sons of Korah): The sons of Korah decided to combine concepts in this chapter. They tell God to stop killing them/letting them be killed, AND say how wonderful he is. That makes perfect sense, "I know you're letting people kill me, but you're still awesome!"

There's a new bible out, and it's just for black people.

Here's how the article starts:
African-American children and teens yearning for a full text bible designed specifically for them to understand and celebrate their rich heritage, as well as identify and interact with Scripture now have six inspiring choices available through Zondervan.
Now, I'm not black, but this seems more than a little ridiculous. I would have Al Sharpton knocking on my door in 24 hours if I released a "white bible" (for white folk to celebrate their rich heritage). I was promised that having a black president would nullify all of our races. The Daily Show lied to me!

As I side note, the whole bible being pro-slavery thing seems like it would be particularly hard to come to terms with for an "African-American bible". Maybe they just cut those parts out (as opposed to just pretending they don't exist in the white bible).

(via The Urban Network)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

179: Start Reading in the Middle, and Work Your Way Out

Psalm 78-79
How long, O LORD ? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? - Psalm 79:5

Both the Psalms today are written by Asaph.

Psalm 78: At a whopping 3 pages, this Psalm looks to be the longest so far. Unfortunately, it's another biblical recap. At least it isn't an entire book this time. It is just Asaph retelling the story of Moses, and talking about how naughty the Israelites were for rebelling.

Psalm 79: Asaph prays that God will return and destroy Israel's enemies. Asaph complains that God has left them to die and refuses to avenge them.

Am I better than Christians that don't read their bibles every day? I don't know. I'm just asking questions.

A concerned Christian wrote a letter to Billy Graham that I thought was interesting:
DEAR REV. GRAHAM: One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to read some of the Bible every day. But like most of my resolutions, I've failed to keep it. I found some of it interesting, but I didn't really understand most of it, so I stopped. Was I doing something wrong?
I generally think that the "I don't understand what's going on" problem stems from reading the KJV. In reading the NIV, I've had no problems understanding. Hating what I was reading? Being bored out of my mind? Yes. But I understood what was going on.

Billy brings up some interesting points in his response that I've been wanting to address. First of all, he brings up one of my original motivations for reading the bible, "nothing will help you become the person God wants you to be more than the Bible." I know, I haven't gotten to the "good part" yet, but I think this experience has so far made me like religion less instead of making me "the person God wants me to be".

Here's what I really want to talk about:
You aren't alone in finding the Bible difficult; many people have the same problem. But it doesn't need to be like this if you approach it in the right way. For example, many people do what you did: They start at the beginning and try reading the Bible straight through. After all (they say), isn't that the way you read any other book?

Yes, perhaps so — but when we come to the Bible, it's better to begin at the center — that is, with Jesus Christ. All Scripture points to Him, and He is the center of God's plans for this world. Begin, therefore, with one of the Gospels in the New Testament (I often suggest John), for they tell us about Jesus — His life, death and resurrection for us.

[tl;dr Start in the middle so you don't read the nasty/boring stuff.]
This isn't just Billy Graham's idea, I hear this from many Christians that I talk to. "You've started in the wrong place". The biggest problem with this assertion is that it directly undermines the hypothesis that the bible is the "all perfect" word of God. The book is perfect, but oh by the way, if you start in the wrong spot (aka the beginning) you're going to absolutely hate it.

Another point, this comes off to me as intellectually dishonest. The concerned Christian knows that the beginning of the bible contains terrible atrocities committed by God, but the middle is all flowers and sunshine. So why not start there? Because once you know Jesus loves you, you won't care that God indiscriminately kills people and sends bears to eat children (supposedly you won't care, I mean). Or even better, maybe that rabid atheist you're trying to make read the bible will only read the middle to the end, and just not bother reading that nasty bit at the beginning.

Billy's closing advice is this:
Read a small portion every day — perhaps only a few paragraphs at first. Ask God to help you understand what you're about to read, and then read it carefully and thoughtfully. What does it tell us about God, or Jesus, or God's will for our lives? Then ask yourself what God is teaching you through it, and what difference it should make in your life.
Good questions, what does sending bears to eat children tell us about God? What does it tell us about God's will for our lives when he swiftly dispatches two cities filled with people? What lesson is God teaching us when he punishes certain people differently than others (all people should be killed for adultery, except David!)? Ok, maybe those questions aren't so good after all.

(via The Wichita Eagle)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

178: Fearsome Horns

Psalm 74-77
I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up. - Psalm 75:10

All the Psalms today are written by Asaph.

Psalm 74: Asaph totally tears God up today. He asks God why he's abandoned us forever, and why he lets his enemies run free. He bemoans the fact that he gets no more miraculous signs from God. He closes by reminding God that his enemies are nasty and should be dealt with. I wonder why even the loyal followers of God say that they have no signs of his existence.

Psalm 75: Asaph decides that he's kind of fond of God in this chapter. I'm not sure why all of these biblical characters change their mind about God every 5 minutes. The last sentence is the best though, "I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up." Yeah! Cut off those horns! Wait, what? People have horns now? And I thought only atheists had horns.

Psalm 76: This whole chapter is about nobody being able to stand up to God when he is pissed. All the valiant men who have tried to rise up against God now lay dead. I guess God has loved a few more people to death.

Psalm 77: Asaph complains that when he cries out for God, God never comes to help him. He asks if God will reject him forever, and if he will never show his love again. All Asaph does to feel better is "remember [God's] miracles of long ago". Those miracles may or may not have happened, but whatever makes you feel better.

Well, you've probably already heard about this, but I can't have a story hit my news filter this many times and not post it.

It's that time of year again, Atheist Agenda is holding their annual "Smut for Smut" event at the University of Texas. If you don't know what this is, it's a pretty simple concept. You give them your bible, they give you porn.

I'm all for silly, possibly offensive, campus events, but there's no need for overt douchebaggery. News outlets love to jump on atheists being ass holes, and then don't talk about atheists donating to charity, or just being average human beings. No need to give people an excuse to call atheists jerks.

(via The Christian Post [and everywhere else])

Monday, March 1, 2010

177: Damn Those Atheists

Psalm 70-73
Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me. - Psalm 70:1

Psalm 70 (David): David asks God to save him from his enemies. This marks the 8,473 time David has asked for God to save him (possible hyperbole).

Psalm 71 (No Author Mentioned): Mystery author calls God a rock. This author seems very concerned that God will abandon him when he gets old. He repeatedly asks God to not forsake him as he gets older. He insists that he will keep praying even when he is old. God must only keep old people alive so they will pray to him.

Psalm 72 (Solomon): Solomon doesn't have anything terribly interesting to say. He just talks about how wonderful the king will be (I'm pretty sure he's talking about himself) after God endows him with power.

The bible says that this is the end of the Psalms of David.


Psalm 73 (Asaph): Asaph says how wonderful God is and how he is going to Destroy everyone who doesn't believe in him. Doesn't anyone have something original to say?


Nathan De La Garza was sent to the principles office for carrying around his bible and starting religious "debates".

He was supposedly causing a disruption but I'm not sure if I buy it. This was a time when students were allowed to freely talk. I won't speculate too much on this because I obviously don't have all of the information. If this was free discussion time, he should certainly be allowed to have a religious discussion.

What really caught my eye in this article was some of the reactions he talked about from people in his school upon seeing he had a bible in hand. First of all, let me mention that in my high school we had someone carry around their bible daily and nobody even mentioned it. Maybe that's just because I live in the middle of Indiana.

Here are the reactions that are mentioned in the article:
Jehovahs Witness: Offered to trade bibles.
Muslim: Talked to him about her faith.

This was all perfectly ok, until he talked to a dreaded atheist (which we all know have horns and fearsome claws).

Atheists: "The atheist people, they try ganging up on you all the time. They make the rudest comments."

I can't imagine what his definition of "rude comment" is. Also, way to stereotype a group of people. I make a concerted effort not to go around saying all Christians hate vast groups of people based on arbitrary things layed out in a 2000 year old book. I won't stereotype if you don't.

(via The Journal Times)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

176: Kill My Enemies, God?

Psalm 66-69
But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. - Psalm 69:13

None of the Psalms today have any author specified, except for 69 which is written by David.

Psalm 66: God is great, and we should all sing his praises.

Psalm 67: The unknown author prays that God will bless him. He also prays that humanity will say how wonderful God is.

Psalm 68: This author prays that God will scatter his enemies and kill them all. Also, God is great and wonderful. He/she ends with "Praise be to God".

Psalm 69: David prays for God to save him from his enemies. David claims that his enemies hate him for no reason. Maybe they hate him because he prays for God to kill them all the time? David again prays that God will kill his enemies and graciously suggests a few ways God could go about doing that (blind them, blot them out of the book of life, etc).

I hate to not have news yet again today, but I have another interesting video.

Hmm, I feel a little silly for taking a whole year now. I'm too far in to stop now though.

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