Saturday, June 26, 2010

294: Jesus, Followed by Naked Boys?

Mark 14
"A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind." - Mark 14:51-52

This section is fairly similar to Matthew's account. With a few exceptions.

The first story is about Jesus having expensive perfume poured on his head. We are further told that this perfume was worth more than a year's wages. Like in Matthew, Jesus rebukes his disciples for suggesting that the woman could have donated that perfume to the poor. If she were truly a follower of Jesus would she have had the perfume in the first place? Aren't loyal followers of Jesus supposed to sell everything they have? I guess Jesus disagrees with his own principles.

Next is the Lord's supper. The part about Jesus confronting Judas in front of the other disciples is strangely absent. It didn't really make any sense in the first place. Again Jesus predicts Peter's denial, and again Jesus goes to pray at Gethsemane. These are both extremely similar to Matthew's accounts.

When Jesus is arrested, the story gets a little different. Again Jesus is seized, and again one of Jesus's followers chops off the ear of one of the high priest's servants. This time, though, Jesus never tells his followers to stop fighting (remember "all those who draw the sword will die by the sword"?). The only line that is included is Jesus asking his capturers why they have come with clubs and swords to capture him. For some reason Jesus's followers decide to stop chopping people's ears off and Jesus is taken away.

This is where the story really gets strange. After Jesus is taken, Mark says, one of his followers (a "young man") strips off his linen garment and runs away naked. What? His follower was so sad that he felt the need to go streaking? As a side note, were all his followers wearing only linen garments, or only the little boys?

The chapter ends the same as Matthew's account, with Jesus being convicted by the high priest, and denied by Peter (as predicted).

*News*
Is biblical prophecy coming true? My tiny American reference frame tells me yes!
"Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light" (Matthew 24:29). Just over two months ago (April 14, 2010) a massive volcano erupted in Iceland; darkening the sun and moon and shutting down all air traffic throughout Northern Europe. Thousands of people were stranded, millions of dollars were lost by the airlines and many thousand lives were disrupted. When I read the newspaper that day, I thought I was reading the Bible.
Well, case closed. The end of the world is at hand. Except as of May 21 Eyjafjallajökull has gone back into it's dormant phase and isn't blocking the sun or the moon any more. Does that mean we're safe again? Can I come out of my bomb shelter?
"The second angel sounded his trumpet ... and a third of the living creatures in the sea died" (Revelation 8:8, 9). Was Jesus talking about the Gulf oil spill or some other event? How much of the Gulf has been polluted so far? How many of the sea creatures have died? The toll isn't completed yet, but I am sure many of us are sickened by the birds and sea creatures dying from the toxic poison.
I haven't read Revelations yet, but it sounds like the sea life died as a result of the angel. The bible doesn't say that the angel sounded it's trumpet, oil erupted into the gulf of mexico, then the sea life started dying. I think I can safely say that Jesus was not talking about the gulf oil spill, considering he didn't know that the Americas existed. This is not to mention that this is not the first gulf oil spill. What other events that happen all the time are currently happening?:
Many other prophecies are also coming true: "But mark this: These will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers God -- having a form of godliness but denying its powers" (II Timothy 3:1-5). Is this not an accurate description of our day? I think most people would agree that it is.
Lovers of money? Disobedient to their parents? Loving pleasure? I am forced to agree that these are accurate descriptions of our day. But they're also accurate descriptions of every other day, past, present, and (I daresay) future.
He will come again, in the future, in great glory and majesty according to the scripture. "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30).
This is the bible being taken out of context at it's best. Jesus clearly says (at least in Matthew and Mark) that this will happen before his generation is dead. I suspect this guy has read Matthew (he's a pastor), so I'm forced to conclude that he's being willfully dishonest about this "prophecy".

Can we stop turning every day events into pre-apocalyptic nonsense?

Friday, June 25, 2010

293: All These Things Have Happened

Mark 12-13
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." - Mark 13:30

There's not too much to talk about today. Mark's account (at least today) is pretty much the same as Matthew's.

The first parable is about the tenants who kill their landlord's servants and child. Next is the story about people asking if Jesus if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus says (like in Matthew) that they should give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. Isn't this a bit of a shallow answer? Money is still money, even if it belongs to the state (or has the king's face on it). Does this mean that we should only give gold bars to the poor, since government money belongs to the state?

Next is Jesus being asked what the "greatest commandment" is. Jesus just can't pick one, and lists loving God and loving your neighbor (this is the same as in Matthew). Again, there is a disparity between the commandments that he tells the rich young man he needs to follow, and those he lists as the greatest. Why are these commandments the greatest if you don't have to follow them to get to heaven? Maybe Jesus just thinks those sound the best.

The next story is about a poor widow who gives money to the temple treasury. She only puts in a small amount, but Jesus says that she's put in the most because she gave all she had. Isn't that a bad thing? Shouldn't Jesus mention that poor people shouldn't give away all their money? Especially to a corrupt temple.

The entirety of chapter 13 is about the end of days. This is all very similar to Matthew's story. There will be many false Jesuses (Jesusi?), there will be many earthquakes, brothers will kill brothers, etc. Mark's story also includes Jesus clearly stating that all these things will happen before their generation passes away. Is Jesus talking about some other end of the world that I don't know about?

*News*
Continuing on today's theme of unoriginality, I have another fundie letter to the editor:
Churches deal with the same difficulties and struggles as everyone else. While not perfect, churches have made great strides in supporting people with same-sex attraction who seek to live a life of holiness and separation from sin.
I've still yet to witness these terrible difficulties American churches have to go through. What to do with all the money they have? What to do with the thousands of square footage that some churches have? Maybe they struggle with the horrible taxes American churches have to pay. Oh wait, they don't have to pay taxes.

I agree, some churches have made strides in supporting homosexuals. Unfortunately, a lot of this seems to be done by jumping through mental hoops to try to make the bible somehow say that being gay is ok. Even if this were true, do you really need a book to tell you to stop being a prejudicial ass hole?

Anyway, back on topic. I agree some churches have made great strides, lets see what the writer thinks are "strides":
Many people choose to explore singleness or their heterosexual potential for various reasons. Churches can and do provide loving support for those struggling with same-sex attraction. I have witnessed personal friends who have overcome their struggles.
"Explore singleness"? "Heterosexual potential"? I suppose that's a stride if you compare it to lynching them. "Hmm, I see you're gay, how about we explore you being single for the rest of your life, and dying alone. How does that sound?"

I know I've said this before, but I like this mental exercise. Pretend the rolls were reversed. Being gay is the norm, and it's a terrible sin to like people of the opposite sex. Would you be happy with someone of the same sex? How about being single for the rest of your life? I think I can safely say that you'd stay whatever sexuality you are, regardless of what society or God thinks of you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

292: It's Not the Season for Figs

Mark 10-11
"Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.' And his disciples heard him say it." - Mark 11:13-14

The first part of chapter 10 is about divorce. Instead of the Pharisees bringing up that Moses talked about divorce (as they did in Matthew), Jesus is the one that asks the Pharisees what Moses said. This gives a completely different connotation. Namely, that Jesus is changing a law of Moses, otherwise why would he bring up the contradiction? As usual, I'll point you to Matthew 5:17-19 where Jesus explicitly says that he is not here to abolish a single law of the prophets.

Next is the paragraph about Jesus touching little children. This time, Mark says that Jesus is indignant when he hears that the disciples have told people to stop bringing him children. Jesus's explanation for this is that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children. That means you have to touch them why?

Next is the story about the mother asking for her sons to be at the right and the left of Jesus. Except this time it's the two sons (two of the disciples) who are asking, instead of their mother. Jesus says that they don't know what they're asking, then he asks them if they are willing to be "baptized with the baptism I am baptized with". Repetitive Jesus is repetitively repetitive. Jesus says that even if they can drink from the cup he drinks from, and be baptized with the baptism he is baptized with, it's still up to God to grant positions at Jesus's side.

Jesus, on the way to Jerusalem. Comes across yet another blind man (this was two blind men in Matthew). Jesus asks what the man wants from him. The man says "Rabbi, I want to see you". Jesus simply says "Go, your faith has healed you." What? You didn't have to plug his ears, or spit in his eyes, or lay your hands on him, or spin three and a quarter turns counterclockwise and clap twice? (Only the last one is not in the bible, for the record) I guess Jesus has regained his normal healing ability.

Before Jesus enters Jerusalem, he (just as in Matthew) sends his disciples ahead to steal a colt (no donkey this time). This time, some people (not the owners) ask the disciples what they are doing. They respond that Jesus told them to bring the colt (note: they are not saying "because God needs it" like Jesus told them to). The people, seemingly convinced, let the disciples go. Again, this meets any reasonable definition of stealing (i.e. taking without asking) that I can think of.

Finally, we again hear the story of the withering fig tree. This time we are let in on an important fact: it wasn't even the season for figs. Why would Jesus kill a fig tree for not having figs, especially if it wasn't the season for them? Shouldn't he know it's not the season for figs?

In Mark's account, it takes an entire night for the fig tree to whither. Unlike Matthew's claim that the tree died instantly. Just in case you thought that the tree just coincidentally died, Peter tells Jesus that the tree he "cursed" has died. Not only does Jesus kill randomly, but he is apparently capable of "cursing" living things. I guess it's a curse of love.

*News*
I've heard of praying for a lot of things. But praying for what kind of sex toys you should sell people is a new one.

Joy and Kevin Wilson have created a Christian sex toy website that caters exclusively to married couples (though they admit that it's unenforced). They were so offended by the nude images on the boxes of some of the sex toys they were (presumably) buying that they just had to start their own sex toy business. And as I alluded to, God has his hand in the toy's selection:
We have prayed every step of the way for guidance on what products to offer on this site.
Of course, you can only use your vibrator while thinking about your spouse. Otherwise you're committing adultery (according to Jesus).

Just let me get this straight. Looking at an image of a naked woman is gross and wrong (even adulterous). But putting your penis in a vagina shaped rubber sleeve is totally fine. Religion is great.

(via Gawker)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

291: Why Was That?

Mark 8-9
"Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' He replied, 'Because you have so little faith...' " - Matthew 17:19-20

"After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' He replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer.' " - Mark 9:28-29

Mark 8 starts out with the feeding of the four thousand. Again, like the other 3 times we've heard about this kind of miracle, the description of how Jesus actually accomplishes this is completely lacking. If his other miracles are any indication of how he performs this miracle, then he probably had to spit in the food and shout random words to the heavens.

Next we hear about Jesus telling his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. This time, instead of Jesus eventually explaining this parable like he did in Matthew, he decides to leave his disciples in the dark. Don't get me wrong, he still calls them faithless idiots. But he just chooses to leave them that way instead of trying to educate him.

Then we get to hear the details about Jesus healing a blind man. This time he spits in the man's eyes. When Jesus asks the man if he sees anything he says that he sees people, and they look like trees walking around. What? First of all, they're alone, so he shouldn't be seeing anyone walking around. Second, you're probably still blind if you think people look like trees. Jesus has to put his hands on the man one more time for his sight to be completely restored. Did Jesus just fail? I thought Jesus had to just think about healing someone and they were immediately healed. Now he has to spit on people, and shout incantations, and he still fails the first time? Maybe he's losing his touch.

The chapter ends with Jesus predicting his death.

Chapter 9 is a mix of extreme (almost to the word) accuracy (the transfiguration) and shocking inaccuracy (healing of a boy).

First of all, we hear a lot more about how Jesus gets the demon out of the boy. Jesus again has to shout at the demon (as opposed to his usual nonchalant healing abilities). At the end of this exorcism the boy's father thinks he's dead. That part is not necessarily the contradictory part, but when Jesus's disciples ask him why they couldn't heal the boy, he gives them a completely different answer. If you'll recall, in Matthew Jesus said that it was because the disciples had so little faith. In Mark, however, he replies, "This kind can come out only by prayer." Not only is this a completely different answer (I see no way in which those two answers have the same meaning) but Jesus never actually prayed! Jesus shouted for the demon to come out. At no time during that exorcism did he pray.

What happened to the bible having no contradictions? We have two very clear contradictions in this one sentence.

There is one paragraph toward the end of Mark 9 that I don't recall from Matthew. Jesus's disciples come to him and say that they stopped a man from casting out a demon in Jesus's name. Jesus says that they should not stop people from doing things in his name. Because, Jesus says, if anyone does anything in his name they will not lose their reward (I presume this means going to heaven). Why wouldn't Matthew have included this? Oh, that's right, because he says the exact opposite:
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' [Matthew 7:21-23]
Either Jesus's disciples are wildly misquoting him, or Jesus is a walking contradiction. Either way, biblical inerrancy is not looking good.

*News*
According to a recent AP poll, 41% of Americans expect Jesus's return within the next 50 years.
The 41 percent who believe in Jesus’s imminent return are the adherents to a fundamentalist kind of Christianity – a literal interpretation of the Bible. Everyone else is either a moderate or liberal Christian who doesn’t believe the Bible should be read literally, or are otherwise folks in other religions who have no reason to believe Jesus is God’s Son sent down to Earth as a sacrifice for our sins.
Whoa, slow down. First of all, nowhere in the bible does it say that Jesus will return between 2010 and 2050. Second, a literal interpretation of some verses (namely Matthew 24:34) would lead me to believe that Jesus (and the end of the world) was supposed to have already come. But at the same time, the observation holds that it's mostly fundamentalists who expect the imminent return of Jesus (this was actually a part of the poll). Why?

I'm sure there is some verse that I haven't read yet that says Jesus will return sometime in the future. But isn't that turning a blind eye to the verses that say he should have already come? Not to mention that there is no reason to expect Jesus's imminent return. If he hasn't come in 2000 years, why would he come now? There have been much more precarious times for Christianity than the present, and Jesus hasn't returned. Maybe it's just "wishful thinking"?

The survey also mentions that if you don't have a college education, you're three times as likely to believe that Jesus's return is imminent. Maybe I've confused "wishful thinking" with "not thinking".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

290: Incantations

Mark 6-7
"After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephphatha!' (which means, 'Be opened!' ). At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly." - Mark 7:33-35

Mark 6 largely just repeats the stories from the book of Matthew. This includes Jesus sending out the disciples, John the Baptist being beheaded, Jesus feeding 5000, and Jesus walking on water. We are still only given a vague description of how Jesus actually feeds the 5000 people with a few loaves of bread. You'd think witnesses to this miraculous event could give a more vivid description of how Jesus accomplished this multiplication of bread.

Mark 7 also repeats stories from Matthew (with some new strangeness added). This includes, Jesus's disciples not washing their hands, calling a woman a dog, and healing a deaf man. The new strangeness comes in when Mark describes exactly how Jesus heals the deaf man.

First, Jesus pulls the man away from the crowd. Then he plugs his ears with his fingers. Ok, getting a little creepy. The bible then says Jesus "spit and touched the man's tongue". He spit where? Did he spit on the ground? Did he spit in his hands (this is what some Christian websites claim, for some reason)? Did he spit in the guy's mouth? In any case, Jesus's creep factor just multiplied. Then Jesus touches the man's tongue (with his spit covered hands, if you believe the Christians). Not only is this creepy/unsanitary by itself, but Jesus has already told us that he doesn't wash his hands. No toilet paper, hands in mouth... Yeah, don't think that one over much.

Finally, Jesus shouts "Ephphatha" to the sky, and the man is healed. What happened to just touching the edge of Jesus's cloak and being healed? Now he has to plug your ears, spit in your mouth, and shout incantations for his power to work? This seems like bullshit more and more every day.

*News*
Many of you have probably heard about "touchdown Jesus" being struck by lightning, and being subsequently burnt down. There are some interesting new developments in this story.

Before

After

Before I talk about the new developments, I want to just say a few things about the original story. This event seems to have revealed the Christian hypocrisy with respect to divine involvement. Most Christians I know tend to attribute almost everything to God. Accidental deaths ("God was calling them to heaven"), loss of property ("God is testing my faith", "God wouldn't give me more than I can handle"), even everyday things like winning sports events, or the answering of arbitrary small prayers. However, when a Jesus statue gets struck by lightning, it's all a big coincidence (which I would, of course, agree with). Why does coincidence suddenly exist?

From a biblical perspective (more specifically, an Old Testament biblical perspective) God striking down an "idol" isn't that ridiculous. These people have erected a giant image of the thing they worship. Why wouldn't the Old Testament God strike it down with a lightning bolt?

Surely these people will accept this divine message and not seek to rebuild this gaudy Jesus statue. Such naivety. Of course they're going to rebuild it. Here's the part you probably haven't heard: PETA will be funding the rebuilding. The new inscription will reportedly read "Blessed are the Merciful... Go Vegan". I guess a few more verses from Genesis are going on the "metaphor" list. Namely Genesis 9:2-3:
The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
This seems like a decidedly non-vegan message. But I guess the church listens to whoever's paying the bills.

(via USA Today)

Monday, June 21, 2010

289: We Wouldn't Want That

Mark 4-5
"The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " - Mark 4:11-12

Jesus repeats his parable about the man sowing seeds in different places. He again concludes by saying that only the disciples have been given the secret to understanding his parables (even though they really don't understand his parables). This time, however, he is a little more clear about why the common person is not supposed to understand:
so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'
Right, if people understood Jesus's parables, they might be righteous and be forgiven. And Jesus would be useless if everyone in the world was good. We can't have that. Also, Jesus wouldn't be able to participate in his favorite past time; casting people into eternal hellfire. If you believe that not being forgiven results in eternal torture, then I'm not sure how you can claim Jesus is a "good" person.

The rest of the chapter repeats several parables/stories. One parable about the Kingdom of Heaven starting out like a mustard seed (I still don't know what this implies). And the story about Jesus calming the storm while the disciples cross the lake. The wording of the storm story is different. While the wording in this particular case doesn't change the meaning, shouldn't it be a perfect retelling of the story? Even the smallest contradiction undermines the idea that the bible is perfect.

At the beginning of chapter 5 we have a retelling of the story about Jesus casting demons into a herd of pigs. Up until now I haven't found too many blatant contradictions, but this story is just wrong. First of all, this story is completely asynchronous. This was all supposed to have happened (according to Matthew) before Jesus denied his mother and brothers, before the parable of the sower (previous paragraph), and before Jesus was accused of being in alliance with Satan. Second, in Matthew there were two demon possessed men, in Mark there is only one. Finally, the dialog is only similar enough to tell that it's the same story.

In this story the (one) demon possessed man runs up to Jesus as soon as he sees him, and tells him to swear to God not to torture him. I guess this demon has never heard of running away. For some reason Jesus decides to strike up a conversation and asks the demon what it's name is. The demon replies, "My name is Legion, for we are many". The demon(s) then beg to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission, and they kill the pigs (by drowning them). Gives them permission? So Jesus didn't even do any exorcism, he just gave them permission to leave. And he wonders why the Pharisees think he's allied with Satan.

The second (and final) story of chapter 5 is another story that we've already heard, but it is again very different. It's the story of the "dead" girl, that Jesus claims is asleep, and the chronically bleeding woman. The first difference is when the man comes up to Jesus, he does not say his daughter is dead, but dying. Big difference. Like Matthew's story, on his way to the man's house, a chronically bleeding woman touches his cloak. Instead of Jesus noticing the touch (as in Matthew), he notices his power drain from him. What, is this a video game now? Did Jesus notice his "magic" bar drop to zero?

Jesus then runs around asking who touched him. Does Jesus have absolutely no control over his power? You only have to touch him and he involuntarily ejaculates (word of the day) his power? Eventually the woman confesses to touching Jesus's cloak. Instead of punishing her, Jesus claims that the woman's faith has healed her, and she should go in peace.

Only upon Jesus's arrival at the man's house are people mourning the death of his daughter. Like the story in Matthew, Jesus goes into the room and claims the girl is just sleeping. He tells her to get up and she walks away. Again, Jesus is either lying (Christians claim this is impossible), or the girl's family can't tell the difference between someone sleeping and someone being dead.

*News*
This is a response to a letter (that I unfortunately can't find) that says the bible isn't completely factual.
I am sorry to hear your anger/frustration with God's teaching, the Bible. Your logic is flawed in saying the Bible is "only opinion" and not factual. Do some research. The Bible is a compilation of recorded and substantiated historical facts (see "The New Complete Works of Josephus"), and of accounts of God's people and their successes and failures in following His blueprint for their lives.
I'm not sure that the bible would be considered "opinion". Maybe "delusion" in some cases. While I don't deny all the historical claims in the bible, most of the substantiations I've seen for the supernatural parts (i.e. Josephus) have been worded like "some Christians/Jews claim that Jesus is the messiah". This only confirms that someone was saying it, it's not like it's a corroborating witness. I certainly wouldn't say that's a substantiation.
His "rules" are not meant to be confining but to free us within His parameters.
This is definitely what I'm going to say if I ever kidnap someone. "I'm not 'kidnapping' you, I'm just freeing you within my parameters". Does this semantic bullshit actually work on anyone?
Living only by "logic," as you suggest, is purely subjective - yours against everyone else's. How chaotic that would be!
Right, because everyone in the world ascribes to the one and true religion (Christianity). Nobody has ever, will ever, or is currently debating the claim that Jesus is the messiah. Oh wait, that's not true. Religion is as subjective as you claim logic is, it's your religion against everyone else's. And the world is, as the writer claims, completely chaotic as a result of this subjectivity.
Have you ever read the Bible, Justin?...
Well I've read most of the bible. And it all seems (so far) like a great big pile of...
I mean really read it to know the wisdom and love and life it holds for you? I urge you to do so soon. Meanwhile, I pray for you - that you will find the way, the truth, and the life that is Jesus.
Oh, have I really read it? Are you talking about the kind of really reading it where you pretend that Jesus isn't an ass hole most of the time, and you skip over the nasty parts where God is killing everyone, and you skip over the dietary/sabbath laws that most Christians claim somehow don't apply anymore? No, I guess I haven't really read it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

288: Looks Familiar

Mark 1-3
"And this was his message: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.' " - Mark 1:7-8

This could be a short day. Mark seems to be an almost word for word retelling of Matthew.

The first large omission is the entire Christmas story. We are not told where Jesus comes from or where he was born.

In the first chapter Mark describes John the Baptist, and gives a one sentence description of Jesus's baptism. Next is a succinct description of Jesus's temptation by Satan. Then Jesus calls his first disciples and drives out an evil spirit (I can't find this particular "evil spirit" in Matthew). The evil spirit says that he knows who Jesus is. Jesus tells the spirit to be quiet and come out of the man.

Jesus then goes to Simon's (aka Peter's) house and heals his mother. Only then does Jesus move to another town and heal a man with leprosy. This is in the wrong order. Matthew says that Jesus healed a man with leprosy then healed Peter's mother.

Mark then talks about Jesus healing the paralytic. This time we hear that the people carrying the paralytic had to dig through Jesus's roof in order to get past the crowd. I'm not sure how they were able to get through the crowd to get to Jesus's roof. Jesus seems unfazed by a group of four men destroying his house by breaking in through the ceiling.

Another glaring omission from Matthew is Jesus's assertion that he's not here to change the law of the prophets. Isn't that pretty important?

I know I'm omitting a lot of things (Jesus talking about fasting, Jesus talking about the sabbath, Jesus denying his mother and brothers, Jesus being accused of teaming up with Satan, etc.), but they are all pretty much carbon copies of Matthew.

*News*
A high school president was denied leading a prayer at his graduation. For once, nobody seems to be suing.
The student had wanted to read "A Graduate's Prayer" by Helen Steiner Rice, said Don Pullen, pastor at Valley View Alliance Church in Hellam Township. Mackley did as asked, Pullen said, but mentioned during the speech that he was asked not to read the poem.
For those of you who have never heard "A Graduate's Prayer", here it is:
Father I have knowledge,
So will you show me now
How to use it wisely
And find a way somehow
To make the world I live in
A little better place,
And make life with its problems
A bit easier to face…

Grant me faith and courage
And put purpose in my days
And show me how to serve Thee
In the most effective ways
So all my education
My knowledge and my skill
May find their true fulfillment
As I learn to do Thy will…

And may I ever be aware
In everything I do
That knowledge comes from learning
And wisdom comes from you.
How is this appropriate, or in any way relevant, to a school graduation? Other than, of course, attempting to blatantly proselytize to your graduating class. This is a perfect example of why prayer at graduations, and other school events, should be (and is) banned.

Unfortunately, in the bible belt, most students don't ask their administration whether it's ok to throw God into their graduation speeches (nor does the administration care about God in graduation speeches). I had to go to my high school's graduation all four years I was in high school, and every year someone would mention how wonderful God was and how God helped them so much with their studies. First of all, no, you studied, worked hard, and accomplished your academic goals, I don't see God in that equation. Second, while I'm not personally offended, it would be nice if someone would follow this particular law on occasion.

 

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