Saturday, April 17, 2010

224: What Do Israel and Donkey Sex Have In Common?

Jeremiah 1-3
"How can you say, 'I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals'? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving - in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her." - Jeremiah 2:23-24

Jeremiah starts with a verse that is commonly quoted in support of the "pro-life" movement:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
This apparently means God has a plan for all people before they are born (not what the verse says), therefore it's bad to abort all fetuses. Even if we accept that as true, we then have to assume that God's plan was for those fetuses to not be aborted. This seems inconsistent after I'm told that it's God's plan when a child dies, or a loved one is killed. So it's God's plan to kill kids, but it's not his plan to have fetuses aborted? Sorry, you can't have it both ways. Either everything is God's plan or nothing is God's plan.

The rest of the first chapter lays out God's plan for Jeremiah. Jeremiah is to go out and tell all of Israel what God tells him to. God tells Jeremiah not to be scared when he tells people God's word, otherwise God will make him scared. No, I didn't type that sentence wrong, here's the quote, "Stand up and say whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them." Right, don't be terrified, or God is going to terrify you. That'll show him, to not be terrified (???).

Chapter two begins the boring, God ranting, part of the book. Why do I get the feeling that this is going to be another book where God blathers on about things he's already said? God repeats how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and brought them to the promised land. He then says how the Israelites need punishment for worshiping those terrible false idols.

God continues to repeat how the Israelites have given in to false idols, but the way God describes how they gave into worshiping Baal is hilarious. God says that Israel is like a wild donkey in heat, and the false Gods are like the male donkeys having sex with them. Presumably the Israelites should be like a donkey that's not in heat and run away from those nasty male donkeys.

God then goes on to taunt the Israelites. He asks them why they ask for his help in times of need when they have their idols. Really God? They ask for your help and you mock them for worshiping false idols? Maybe they wouldn't have worshiped those idols if you'd shown your face once or twice. Does an all perfect/all powerful God really need to resort to mockery?

Almost all of the last chapter for today is God complaining about how the Israelites have sex everywhere. God asks the Israelites to look around and asks them if there is any place that they have not been ravished. Where do I sign up to be an Israelite? I mean... how terrible. God says if the Israelites would stop being such adulterers (to each other, and to God) he would come back to them. I guess God's not into the whole unconditional love thing.

A city counsel member from Wellington, FL is spreading around a picture of herself being sworn in using an iPhone bible.

She actually did it as a joke, but the interesting part to me is that the city counsel uses no bibles to swear themselves in. Why are Christian organizations not picketing? How dare they not use the bible.

In fact, the counsel woman says that if she did have to use the bible to swear herself in, she would use the iPhone version. I really don't get the purpose of swearing yourself in on a bible anyway. It seems to me that the iPhone version is just as valid as swearing yourself in on a book. And they're probably both as binding as swearing yourself in on a roll of toilet paper.

(via The Evangelical Covenant Church)

Friday, April 16, 2010

223: Jerusalem's Boobs & Isaiah: In Review

Isaiah 64-66
"Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance." - Isaiah 66:10-11

Isaiah starts today's section by trying to convince God to come down and destroy Israel's enemies (way to be original Isaiah). At the same time he prays that God will not destroy the Israelites. Don't worry Isaiah, I'm sure God will keep up his double standard.

For the remainder of the chapter, God describes how he's going to create a new earth, and a new heaven. Are we to take this literally? Is God really going to create another globe? God then describes this new world. In this world, no babies will die young, and everyone will live to be over 100 years old, in fact they will live as long as trees. Also in this new world, wolves and lambs will feed together, lions will eat straw, and snakes will eat dust. I presume that God will magically give them the nutrition they need in their diet, considering lions can't eat straw and snakes certainly can't eat dust. But if he's giving them nutrition, then what's the point of eating at all?

God goes a bit off his rocker in the next chapter. He describes how he came to the Israelites without being asked. That's fine. But then he spends the few paragraphs saying that he hates people that offer him sacrifices. You hate sacrifices? Why did I have to read 3 full books of descriptions about how you want sacrifices if you really hate them? He then describes how he's going to kill anyone that doesn't follow him.

God then personifies Jerusalem as a woman again. He describes how Jerusalem will give birth to all of the Israelites painlessly. They will then nurse on her breasts. Whoa, God. Taking the metaphor a bit too far there. Will they also smack Jerusalem's ass in congratulations when she does something good?

Isaiah: In Review
For a book that's supposed to contain unequivocal prophecy about Jesus, I'm unimpressed. The comments about the messiah didn't really fit very well, and even if they had, they had 700 years to "come true". That's not even mentioning the possibility that someone could have read these "prophecies" and tried live their lives as prophesied, or that someone could have forged a character that seemed like this messiah. Surely there is something more unequivocal than this.

Other than these apparent prophecies, nothing of much interest happened. Mostly God going on and on about how he's the one we should worship, and his worshipers going on and on about how they worship him. I'm hoping for some more interesting stories out of the Old Testament (I know I at least have Jonah and the whale left).

Today's news story is about a University of California's Hastings College of Law campus group. Students in this group are required to sign a form that says they are Christians, and abide by Christian values.

This would not be a problem but for the fact that the club (The Christian Legal Society) is sponsored by the school, and therefore sponsored by the entire student body. In my opinion (and in the opinion of federal courts for the most part) this means that everyone should be able to be involved in every club on campus if they so desire. The person writing the Washington Post article seems to find this non-discrimination terrible:
But administrators told the CLS it would have to broaden membership requirements to allow for voting members and even officers who don't hold Christian principles. That is, leadership and voting privileges must be extended to agnostics and avowed atheists.
Is there really a danger of an avowed atheist being elected president of a Christian club? I think they should be able to run. But are they going to win? Hell no.

The case is scheduled to be heard on Monday by the Supreme Court.

(via The Washington Post)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

222: An Odd Description

Isaiah 59-63
"Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy" - Isaiah 60:5

Isaiah (the book not the guy so much) is really starting to get on my nerves. Thankfully we only have one more day left. Too much repetitive nonsense about God, not enough story, or even interesting commandments.

Chapter 59 sums up a bunch of things that you should already know at this point, if you've been paying attention to what the bible has been saying at all. If you sin, God is going to hide his face from you. If you ask for forgiveness, God will probably forgive you. Always remember to ask for forgiveness before he kills you in some gruesome manner.

Chapter 60 describes the glory of God's return to Israel. Israelite daughters will be carried around on people's shoulders and men's hearts will "throb and swell with joy". Is that the best wording they could have used? I don't think the general terms for describing a heart are "throbbing" and "swelling". Also (I'm assuming this is a metaphor), Israel will be "nursed at royal breasts". If this isn't a metaphor, it's going to be one freaky party when God returns.

In the next chapter, we again see God unfairly blessing the Israelites. Isaiah says that the aliens will work the fields of the Israelites, yet the Israelites will get a double portion of food. I'd rather not be an Israelite though. Because you know eventually God is going to get mad and destroy the Israelites again. He seems to be more forgiving of other nations' idolatry (i.e. you never hear about God destroying other nations for being heathens, not recently anyway).

Chapter 62 is a little interesting. God claims that he has promised the Israelites to never again destroy them, or give them over to their enemies. I'm anxious to see if this actually happens. God seems to find loopholes in his "I'm not going to destroy you" promises. Considering he promised not to destroy mankind again. But that leaves him perfectly open to destroying one civilization at a time. Maybe he'll just kill one Israelite at a time, instead of killing them all at once.

Most of the last chapter for today is Isaiah praying for God to send someone to lead the people of Israel. That's a little strange considering I thought Isaiah was supposed to be the person leading the Israelites. He is the prophet after all. Isaiah also complains that God is withholding his tenderness and compassion for mankind. So basically, he's praying for God to stop being a jerk.

Sorry, I've been slacking on news recently. End of the semester projects are getting the better of me. I should be back to normal news in the next couple of days. Until then, have some George Carlin.

If you hadn't seen that before, you're now a better person. Congratulations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

221: God is a Communist

Isaiah 54-58
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." - Isaiah 55:1

God has obviously lost his mind today. The very first verse is weird:
Sing, O barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,"
says the LORD.
Barren women have more babies than non-barren woman? Is this supposed to be a metaphor for something? If it is, I'm obviously completely missing the meaning. If it's not supposed to be a metaphor, I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean considering the definition of "barren" says that you can't have children. Therefore, presumably, you have less children (i.e. zero children) than a woman that can have kids.

For the rest of the chapter, God talks to this barren woman. I'm sure that "barren woman" is a metaphor for Israel or something. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell because God never says. If this isn't a metaphor, it's pretty weird, God says that he is going to be the barren woman's husband and that he will never be angry with her ever again. Actually, that's kind of weird even if it is a metaphor.

The next chapter starts with an invitation to all of the people who are thirsty. He tells them that even though they don't have money, they can come and buy wine, milk, and food. Wait, is God implying that we should redistribute wealth to help the needy?! This is Communism! God is trying to turn America into Soviet Russia! Sorry, I think I was channeling Glenn Beck.

I've done what we do with all Communists in America, and made a completely unrealistic image of the Communist in question looking like a Nazi.

God then goes on to say that the wicked people who question his ways will not be pardoned. Shouldn't the bible thumping right-wingers be boycotting Glenn Beck? After all, he is the one that's questioning God's infinite wisdom.

In the next chapter, we find God again ranting about how people need to keep the sabbath day holy. I say this every day, but God, we get it. We heard all your commandments the first time. Making the bible obnoxious to read isn't going to make me follow the commandments any more.

In the beginning of chapter 57, God says that righteous people die and nobody thinks twice about it. God explains that when righteous people die, it's actually for the best (this is why people don't think twice about it?). This is because in death, people find rest. First of all, this seems a lot like some earthly being (namely Isaiah) trying to explain away why the righteous die the same as the wicked. Second, what happened to heaven? I don't think there has been any time in the bible yet where it says clearly that heaven exists, and good people go there when they die. Were the ancient Israelites not privy to the information about heaven and hell? (or maybe heaven and hell were made up later?)

The rest of chapter 57 is God saying that wicked people are bad, and he doesn't care about their offerings. I thought that was the point of offerings. You're wicked and you're making up for your sin. I guess if you're too bad, you're beyond the forgiveness of arbitrarily slain animals.

The final chapter of the day is about how to fast "properly". God says that he doesn't want you to sit around and worship him all day when you're fasting (lies). You are supposed to go out and set the oppressed free. Unless, of course, you're a woman, a liar, an adulterer, a non-Israelite, or you break the sabbath. Then you're wicked and you're going to feel God's wrath.

This is too good not to share. I never knew David Cross was so awesome.

Do a quick search on youtube for "David Cross". He's got a bunch of great stuff.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

220: God and Sarah Palin, They Forget Sometimes

Isaiah 49-53
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." - Isaiah 49:16

Isaiah 49 is all about God restoring Israel. I've lost track of how many times Israel has been restored/destroyed by God. Anyway, about half way through God describing how he's going to restore Israel, he says, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." As some of you may remember, Sarah Palin used this very verse to justify her little hand scribbling snafu.

Now, for the sake of argument, we'll use Sarah Palin's interpretation of this passage. Sarah Palin apparently interprets these verses as meaning God is going to forget about the Israelites, so he has to write them down on his hand. And since God can do it, of course Sarah Palin can too. Just like Sarah Palin would be morally justified in raining down fire on helpless cites. Actually, this kind of makes sense, God does seem to forget every once and awhile that the Israelites are the chosen people and he probably shouldn't destroy them. I wonder if God thinks Africa is a country too.

The next chapter is about why Israel was given over to her enemies. This is nothing new or exciting. The Israelites are a bunch of naughty, naughty sinners. The chapter also describes how Isaiah is the most wonderful loyal servant of God.

Chapter 51 is quite contradictory. The first half of the chapter is about Israel having everlasting salvation, and the second half is about how Israel is surely going to be destroyed for drinking out of God's cup of wrath. The first half is, again, God telling all about how he freed the Israelites from Egypt. Is that all God can talk about? Perform some new miracles or something.

The second half is, as I said, about how Israel is afflicted with God's wrath. Did he not just say he was giving Israel everlasting salvation? They're getting salvation by being killed? I find a passage in here amusing, "Your sons have fainted; they lie at the head of every street." Has God departed from his normal killing? The sons of Israel just faint now? This is way too much like Pokemon.

An Israelite, feeling God's wrath.

Just take them to the pokemon hospital, they know how to heal the Israelites there. On a side note, I wonder if you could catch God with a master ball.

All of the next chapter is God telling us how he's going to return to Israel. He also complains that the Israelites blaspheme his name all the time. Some parts of Isaiah really make me sleepy.

Chapter 53 is yet another chapter in Isaiah that biblical scholars try to say is prophecy of Jesus. I'll quote a few:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. [Supposedly a reference to Jesus "standing silent before his accusers"]

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. ["Pierced" is supposedly a reference to crucifixion. They conveniently leave out that Jesus was never "crushed"]

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth. [This is the best one. This one is supposedly a prediction that Jesus will be crucified between two criminals, and buried in a rich man's tomb.]
I took these interpretations from my teen study bible. Needless to say, I don't see how these "prophecies" are anything but coincidences. Actually, I think they would have to fit a little better to even be considered "coincidences".

In 2006, school officials in Everett, Washington barred students from playing "Ave Maria" at their graduation ceremony due to it's religious connotations ("Ave Maria" means "Hail Mary").

Fast forward to present day. The supreme court has denied appeal to a member of the 2006 class, thus upholding the circuit court's decision, siding with the right of the school to bar the students from playing Ave Maria. Opponents are outraged, saying that the student's free speech rights have been violated. Yes, they have been violated. But who said schools were free speech zones? If I want to wear a t-shirt that says "Fuck the Police," I think a public high school would (and should be allowed to) tell me to change my shirt.

My personal opinion is that graduation ceremonies should be for... *shocker here*... graduating! What is the need to have a huge ceremony/prayer session/playing of religious hymns? Was high school so hard that you needed to invoke God for assistance? Are you thanking him for the help? I don't get it.

(via Delaware Online)

Monday, April 12, 2010

219: The Widowmaker (God)

Isaiah 45-48
"Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood." - Isaiah 47:9

It'd be nice if the entire bible was stories. At least I can talk about those. Isaiah has regressed back into God ranting about how he is the only God. Really God, we get it. You're the only one, will you stop saying it now?

God also says that he is going to bless Cyrus. This is presumably for letting the Israelites back into Jerusalem/Israel. That doesn't really make sense though, considering that God is the one that originally kicked the Israelites out of Israel. Not to mention that God should have no problem shepherding the Israelites back to Israel whenever he pleases, considering he's all mighty.

Surprise, surprise, chapter 46 is yet another chapter explaining how all the other Gods are false idols, and God is the only real god. God tells the Israelites yet again to not mold gold into false idols and worship it. It's a good thing people don't mold gold into Jesus and hang it around their neck. Oh wait...

Chapter 47 is a message to Babylon. God tells Babylon that he was angry with Israel, so he let the Babylonians take them over. However, he explains that he doesn't like Babylon either. God calls Babylon a "queen" (again personifying something inanimate as a woman) and says that "she" will become childless and widowed. God chastises Babylon for trusting in their spells and incantations. Too bad God encouraged them to keep using their spells and incantations by helping them take over Israel. Of course they're going to think their spells are working if God is assisting them while they're performing the spells.

For almost all of the final chapter, God explains how he knew that the Israelites were stubborn people from the very beginning. Why are they the chosen people then? Why wouldn't God choose a group of people that were more easily molded to his will? If God wants obedience, he sure doesn't act like it.

God finishes out today's section by telling Israel that he's going to deliver them from Babylon.

The article today is short and sweet, but don't worry, it's full of crazy.

You can tell it's going to be good from the very first sentence:
The Tea Party Movement and their desperate citizens with the help of military leaders, will try to assume control of Washington DC.
Wait, the Tea Partiers are actually revolutionaries? They're going to take over Washington D.C. with military force? So who are the valiant Tea Partiers up against?:
There is currently a struggle between the right and left. Atheists are destroying the Bill of Rights and Evolutionists are supplanting God in classrooms.

Atheists are busy introducing the foreign concept of separation of religion from the state, which contradicts the very words of the Bill of Rights and the examples that were set by out Christian Forefathers. Atheism by its very nature is a dictatorship that is at war against the Bill of Rights and democratic government.
Atheists! Always running around and trying to be dictators. We can clearly see this by the overwhelming majority of politicians that are atheists. Atheists are also clearly at war with the Bill of Rights by exercising their free speech, and freedom of (from) religion rights. The best part is when Edward McKinney, a "bible prophet expert" steps in:
“Tea Party Movement, past and current world leaders are in Bible prophecy.

According to McKinney, “It's all here, the Persian Gulf Wars, President Bush, President Clinton. The election of President Obama and more”.

McKinney is unique among biblical researchers and has an accurate understanding of end-time prophecy. McKinney was the first to predict that a black man would be elected President of the United States in 2008 and that a Clinton would be in the White House.
How exactly are all those things in the bible? I almost want to read this book to find out, but I can't let the crazy win. The last paragraph is hilarious, McKinney is apparently the biblical scholar that is uniquely right in his interpretation of biblical prophecy. I wonder how many other bible scholars claim to be "uniquely correct".


Sunday, April 11, 2010

218: A Big Misunderstanding

Isaiah 42-44
"So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart." - Isaiah 42:25

God continues today explaining how he is going to destroy Israel. He calls the Israelites blind and deaf for not paying attention to his commands. Isaiah explains that, because of this, God has allowed the Israelites to be plundered by their enemies. Isaiah then says that even though God poured out violence, and enveloped Israel in flames, they did not understand why they were being punished. What good is punishment if the people being punished have no idea why they are receiving God's wrath, or even what it's God that's destroying them?

In the very next paragraph God has a change of heart. He says that he is going to redeem Israel (again). The people of Israel will be able to walk through fire and not get burned (of course, this is a "metaphor" because it doesn't make sense). God then goes on to say that he is the one and only God, and that he is the only savior (Jesus must have slipped his mind).

The rest of today's section is a terribly long winded "don't make false idols" passage. I'm not sure what would possess people to make something out of wood and worship it, but apparently it was a big problem in ancient Israel. Though I guess that's no more ridiculous than worshiping something you can't even see (or worshiping anything at all for that matter).

You know an article is going to be great when it starts out with "Indeed, the 'stuff' that actually makes our physical body – alive – will probably forever evade the grasp of the materialistic scientist, and may finally be … metaphysical." Right, the field of biology is a useless endeavor that understands nothing about life.

He/she continues (I can't actually figure out who the writer is, maybe a metaphysical being?) on with this strange metaphysical theory about the universe: is now recognized that some degree of preprogramming exists in each person. Environment then serves to enhance – or injure – one's predispositions. I think of this preprogrammed "package" as one's "metaphysical imprint." It is a package of potentials that unfold as life unfolds. Environmental opportunities are granted (or denied) for development of said traits.
So birds that are born knowing how to build nests have a "metaphysical imprint"? It seems that people are fine with the evolutionary explanation (birds are born with instinct), until it's applied to humans, then it must be something magical and/or metaphysical.

The writer goes on to say that special attributes are given to people who are "born again":
When one is born again, spiritual gifts are disbursed. These are additional grants beyond that first imprint. The Spirit distributes "to each one individually as He wills" (1Cor 12:11). These are either used positively – or are neglected.
Special gifts are given to people who are born again. It's just that some people ignore them, so it seems like they haven't gotten special gifts at all. That's very convenient and unscientific.

I'm in a bit of a rush today, so I'm not going to go paragraph by paragraph on this article. I encourage you to read it if you need your daily dose of fundie illogic.

(via Los Angeles News Today)

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