Saturday, July 31, 2010

Refudenounce the Roots V: Romans, Chapters 8 - 9

Part V of my "Refudenounce the Roots" Series.

Chapter 8
  • Verse 28: " all things God works for the good of those who love" it. Bullshit. NIV footnote #1 offers this rendition found in some manuscripts: "...all things work together for good to those who love God." Still bullshit. NIV footnote #2 offers this alternate translation: " all things God works together with those who love [it] to bring about what is good." Pure bullshit in all three renditions.
  • Verse 29: "...those God foreknew [it] also predestined to be [saved]..." Paul doesn't actually say "saved" here; he says, "conformed to the likeness of [its] son". But I have to assume that he means "saved". In other words, we're all predestined. It makes no sense for Paul to do all this writing and exhortation and scolding if we're all predestined. Fortunately, I get it now: he's just stoned. He doesn't have to make sense.
  • Verse 33: "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?" Oh, I will, trust me. When those whom God has chosen try to impose Jesusian Sharia Law on the rest of us with their homophobic laws, their efforts to teach bullshit in science classes and now history classes (I'm talking about the new Texas history books here), the abuse they inflict on innocent children by teaching them that they might burn in agony for all eternity, believe me, you're damn right, I will bring charges. I don't give a shit which monstrous bully has chosen you.
Chapter 9
  • Verse 1: "...I am not lying--my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit..." This is interesting. Jesusianismists lie, dissemble, and mislead all the time, as anyone will know who has watched YouTubers NephilimFree, VenomFangX, ShockOfGod, ThickShades, etc. I have to wonder whether this verse is their permission to lie. If their "conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit", then they could tell themselves that they never lie. This is a lot like Islam, you know, where the faithful are expressly instructed to lie to infidels if it furthers the cause of Muslim world domination. The more closely I look at Christianity, the more it looks like a thinly veiled evil twin of Islam.
  • Verse 5: "...blah, blah, Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!" Whoa, I almost thought that it was time for me to issue a retraction and admit that Paul really does come right out and say that Jesus is God. But check out the other possible translations according to the NIV footnotes: (1) "...blah, blah, Christ, who is over all. God be forever praised!" (2) "...blah, blah, Christ. God, who is over all, be forever praised." Jesusianismists, this doesn't cut it. Sure, you might say that this is a hint, but if God really loved you, and really deemed it vitally important for you to believe that Jesus is God, then wouldn't it have made Jesus' nature a bit more obvious? You might claim that it's obvious to those who love God, meaning yourselves, but it certainly wasn't obvious to the Ebionites, who loved God no less than you do.
  • Verse 14: "Is God unjust? Not at all! For [it] says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,...compassion on whom I have compassion.'" Disgusting. Ok, so God is just, given that it won't have cruelty on whom it has mercy, indifference on whom it has compassion, right? Is that what it means for God to be just? Hey kids, say no to drugs.
  • Verse 21: "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" Here he is echoing the barbaric vomitosis of Jesus from Matthew 20:15, "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?" It's clear that Paul never read any of the gospels that have come down to us today, given that his Christianity differs radically from evangelical Jesusianism. So perhaps this was just a common attitude among first-century Jewish chauvinists: that humans have the same rights as clay, the same rights as money, the same rights as inanimate matter that has no capacity for subjective experience, for joy, for suffering. Good thing we've grown away from such stupidity in the last two millennia, right?
  • Verses 22 - 23: "What if God, choosing to show [its] wrath and make [its] power known, bore with great patience the objects of [its] wrath...What if [it] did this to make the riches of [its] glory known to the objects of [its] mercy..." I have two words for this god and anyone who approves of it: fuck you.

Refudenounce the Roots IV: Romans, Chapters 4 - 7

Part IV of my "Refudenounce the Roots" Series.

I'm inside Paul's head now. I discovered while working on my previous post that Paul was rather stoned while writing this letter to the Romans. Now I don't have to slave over each verse trying to tease the meaning out of it. The meaning was all in Paul's altered imagination. I wonder if they had chips and guacamole in those days. Funny, reading all of this stuff for the first time in many years. The last time I read it, I was convinced that there was a message in there somewhere, and I pulled my hair out trying to understand. Now I get it: drugs.
  • Chapter 4: Meditating on these concepts
    • The calculus of righteousness (19)
    • Abraham as biological father of the Jews and spiritual father of Jesusianismists (17)
    • Faith and belief (15)
    • Circumcision (9)
    • Law (5), Promise (5)
  • Chapter 5: More meditation
    • Sin (12)
    • Death (7)
    • Grace (6)
    • Gift [of reconciliation to God] (5)
    • Justification (4)
    • Verses 12 and 18: I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that these verses, and perhaps others like them, are where Jesusianismists get the idea that everyone is sinful from birth, regardless whether he/she actually gets around to committing a sin: "...sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men..." "...the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men..." This is one of those sickening foundation blocks of Jesusianism: everyone is bad, dirty, sinful, deserving punishment. Bullshit. Jesusianismists often say that if we ditch Yahweh, the world will be all pandemonium because no one will have any motivation to be good. Ignoring for now that in saying that, they admit that their only reason for being good is fear of Yahweh's punishment, I claim that people would tend to behave a lot better if they didn't think so badly of themselves. I think that a lot of the justification for less-than-desirable behavior is the idea that we don't expect enough from ourselves because we think of ourselves as shit.
    • Verse 13: "...sin is not taken into account when there is no law." Paul, lay off the weed. You're forgetting Noah's flood, Lot's escape, Onan's...spill.
  • Chapter 6: He keeps playing the word games, but I'm tired of counting words. I'll mention only verses that jump out at me.
    • Verse 9: "...since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again..." So Lazarus is still lurking somewhere in Jerusalem, is that it? Not to mention the "many holy people" who came out of their graves in Matthew 27:52.
    • Verse 23: "...the wages of sin is death..." I heard a comedienne years ago saying that because taxes are so high, the wage you end up with is just a tired feeling.
  • Chapter 7
    • Verse 7: Paul counts it as a good thing that the law taught him what sin was. I count the whole concept of sin as a blight on the human race and a huge impediment to our health as a species.
    • Verse 13: Dude's out of his skull by this time: " order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful." Sleep it off, brother. Put the pen down and go to bed.
    • Verses 15 - 24: The bane of all Christian adolescents when they discover masturbation: "...what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do...nothing good lives in me...what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing...I see another law at work in the members (ha!) of my body, waging war against the law of my mind..." What a wretched teenager I am! If only he could have left out the part about members of the body, we could have interpreted his ramblings differently.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Refudenounce the Roots III: Romans, Chapters 2 - 3

Part III of my "Refudenounce the Roots" Series.

Chapter 2
  • Verses 1 - 2: Whenever you judge, you condemn yourself, because you do the very things you're judging. There is a parallel here between Freud and Paul. Freud had a lot of great babies and a lot of really bad bathwater. It took us a while to separate them, but the ratio of bathwater to babies has decreased enormously since Freud's time. We have this wonderful thing called progress. Paul has a fantastic baby here, but it's trapped in an ocean of filth. Of course we tend to criticize and despise in others that which we hate or fear in ourselves. Of course we do! That's an excellent point. But Paul brings in this crap about having no excuse for this behavior, and God's judgment against those who judge. Pardon me, but being human is a perfectly good excuse (if you must call it that) for behaving like a human. It only took us about 20 centuries to ditch Paul's filth; now we go to counseling and try to understand our fears and self-loathing, and learn how to have compassion for ourselves and then compassion for others, especially those who share our "failings". Well, I say we, but Yahwehismists are still mostly mired in the excuse / judgment paradigm. Folks, it's time to outgrow Paul, and Jesus, and Moses, and Yahweh. Time to put away childish things.
  • Verse 4: God's kindness leads us toward repentance? No, God's kindness, in the form of threats concerning hideous, wildly disproportionate punishments, leads us toward obedience (whether it's morally right or not) derived from terror.
  • Verse 6: God "will give to each person according to what he has done." Who will give to Yahweh according to what it has done?
  • Verses 8 - 9: "...for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger...trouble and distress". Remember this verse the next time some so-called liberal or progressive Jesusianismist tells you that hell is just "separation from god, the absence of his loving presence" Fuck that. Their bible says "wrath and anger".
  • Verse 11: "God does not show favoritism." Outrage. What is most of the Old Testament about if not Yahweh's favoritism toward the Jews?
  • Verses 12 - 16: I want to say something about these verses, but I can't even get them to resolve into a coherent message. Paul must have been on drugs when he wrote this epistle.
  • Verse 24: "Gods name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." I couldn't have said it better myself. Jesusianismists, have you guys read this verse?
Chapter 3
  • Verse 2: The Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. No, that's not arrogance.
  • Verses 3 - 24 or so: I hate to skip over so much deep theology without comment, but it seems like he keeps getting lost on tangents. Here it's something about how stupid it is to say that we should be evil in order to throw God's righteousness into sharp relief. Dude's on drugs, I'm telling you.
  • Verse 25: In its forbearance, Yahweh had left unpunished the sins committed before Jesus. So drowning all but a handful of humans in a flood, and setting an army of rabid Israelis the task of slaughtering every living thing in one's town is somehow not a punishment? Wow, don't piss off this god.
  • Verse 26: Oh, I'm starting to understand Paul's weird, nonsensical outpourings. Remember when the band Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young discovered alliteration? We ended up with dreck like their song "Helplessly Hoping": Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders... Someone please shoot me. But I see what's going on with Paul: he's stoned, for sure, and whenever a word pops into his head he plays with it for a while to see what kind of stoner-profundities he can come up with. In Chapter 1 he toys with "gospel" and "righteous" a bit. Then in his antithesis of I Corinthians 13 he discovers that there are a bajillion ways to say that people suck. In Chapter 2, he starts with "judgment", fiddles with "law" for a bit, then wraps up Chapter 2 with "circumcision". At the beginning of Chapter 3 he goes a bit abstract, toying with the concept of juxtaposition of God's truth and righteousness against our lies and unrighteousness. Suddenly his train of thought is derailed by a barrage of Psalms, and a smattering of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah. Then he regains some focus and fiddles with "justify" for a bit. I've cracked the Pauline code! He finishes up Chapter 3 with some tail-chasing concerning whether the law is to be observed or nullified. Wow, I'm so glad I finally started to figure this out.

Refudenounce the Roots II: Romans, Chapter 1, Verses 18 - 32

Part II of my "Refudenounce the Roots" Series.

I have to shift into very low gear to talk about Romans, Chapter 1, Verses 18 - 32. Here Paul pontificates on the justified wrath of God against all people. This is one of the most hideous passages in the entire bible. I find myself floored and quite confused by his savage opinion of human nature: we're godless and wicked, we suppress the truth, we fail to glorify and thank God although we know God and its eternal power and divine nature. Our thinking is futile and our foolish hearts are darkened. We are fools who claim to be wise. We are idolaters, worshiping and serving created things rather than the creator (which seems to have been quite the insult in Paul's mind; to me it's a giant who-gives-a-shit). The desires of our hearts lean to sexual impurity and the degrading of our bodies with one another. We exchange truth for a lie. We are given over to shameful lusts, exchanging natural relations for unnatural ones; even our cattle--I mean women--do this. We men commit indecent acts with other men and receive the due penalty for our perversion (I think he must be referring to STDs here). We have depraved minds, doing what ought not to be done. We are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. We are gossips, slanderers, God-haters; we are insolent, arrogant, boastful, senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. We invent ways of doing evil. We disobey our parents. We know that we deserve death, yet not only do we continue to do all these things but also approve of those who practice them.

Jay-zuss, that's quite a rap sheet. Paul is right. Human beings are just trash and deserve eternal torture. Right? Thing is, I don't know anyone even remotely like these people whom Paul describes. I've never even heard of anyone even remotely like this, except in comic books and B-movies. Sure, there are a few Hitlers, a few Boston Stranglers, and the like, but I tend to think that most, if not all, of these people are mentally ill. Psychopaths whose brains are malfunctioning and who need treatment, not condemnation, and who of course need to be detected and restrained before they can become new Hitlers and Boston Stranglers.

I know, or know of, a few people--maybe even a few hundred thousand people, but that's a tiny fraction of humanity--who suppress the truth, who are fools who claim to be wise, who have foolish or darkened hearts. Many could be considered idolaters of a sort, worshiping money, or mirrors, or monster trucks, but most of these are just regular people with some form of addiction or a broken coping mechanism, not reprehensible baby-killers.

I quite happily say that I know, or know of, many people whose hearts' desires lean to sexual so-called impurity and the so-called degrading of their bodies with one another. I like to count myself as among this group. We give ourselves over to lusts that Paul and other 40-year-old virgins like him might find shameful, but we don't. However, I can't think of a single person in the world, other than people who are clearly mentally ill, who do anything sexually that could be considered remotely unnatural. Paul is obviously implying same-sex fun when he mentions "unnatural relations", but I've seen animals, which I hope could be considered a litmus test for the concept of "natural", engage in same-sex play of all kinds, and who hasn't had their leg humped by at least one dog in their lifetimes? How can sexual stimulation, whether it involves an inanimate object, an animal of another species, or another (or many other) consenting adult human(s) ever be thought of as unnatural? Seems to me that cutting off the foreskin of one's infant son, or--unspeakably worse--the clitoris of one's preadolescent daughter, is pretty fucking unnatural. I've never heard of any animal species that engages in these barbaric practices, which are almost without exception done as a duty toward this God that thinks so ill of us.

Even incest and sex with the young occur in the wild, although I'm not endorsing those here. I find that I am better than Paul's God, because I respect the uniquely human need for sex never to occur between close relatives, or between people whose emotional maturity or socio-political power is vastly different, or between people who are just too young. The Holy Spirit didn't seem to have minded the power differential between itself and poor Mary, the mother of its rape child Jesus.

I know, or know of, very few people who are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, envy, murder, strive, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, senslessness, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness. If there are people in the world like this, they are not to be condemned, but medicated, counseled, and prevented from harming anyone.

I know a few people who are sexually depraved, and I think of them as my heroes. They're intelligent and decent people who understand the phrase "consenting adults" and how to apply it.

I know a few people who are arrogant. In fact, I know of entire cultures that are arrogant. One of them is the culture of Jesusianism. Jesusianismists have the arrogance to think that they would recognize a supernatural event or being if they saw it. They have the arrogance to think that they can distinguish between the natural and the supernatural. They have the arrogance to think that they can distinguish between the acts of a good supernatural being and the acts of an evil supernatural being. They think that they can determine whether the universe as we see it is improbable. They think that they, and a very small subset of humanity, know and understand the truth while billions upon billions of other humans for thousands of years have gotten it all wrong. They think that there is a Supreme Being, a thought that is not in itself arrogant, but they have the arrogance to think that this Supreme Being not only notices humans, which seems extremely unlikely, but actually talks to them. They think that they can distinguish between the voice of a supernatural being and the voice of a creature that simply has better technology than we do. These are huge indicators of arrogance, greater than I've ever seen among God-haters, a group to which I also proudly belong, as I hate evil (although my ideas about what constitutes evil differ radically from Paul's ideas), and Paul's god is evil incarnate.

I have so much to say about the disgusting filth contained in these few verses that I could probably write several more posts without even moving forward through this horrifying epistle. I'll leave those possible posts for another day, or I'll never finish Romans.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Refudenounce the Roots I: Romans, Chapter 1, Verses 1 - 17

Part I of my "Refudenounce the Roots" Series, in which I intend to refute and denounce Paul's hideous framework of human existence, the root of which can be found in Romans Chapter 3, Verse 23, "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". The human race would be a lot better off without concepts such as "sin," "evil," "deserve," "punish," "justice," "righteousness," and related ideas that form the foundation of Paul's benighted and pernicious world-view. Let's demolish this rotting, unsafe structure before someone gets hurt. Let's see Paul's epistle to the Romans for the filth that it is, and discard it with the rest of the garbage.

Romans is quite the systematic elucidation of Pauline Jesusianism. I'll attempt in this series to organize my comments along the same lines as Paul seems to have organized his.

Chapter 1, Verses 1 - 15: Not much more than a long-winded "Hello", but there is one verse that stands out, Verse 4: Jesus, "through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead". My NIV footnote says that this instead might be translated that Jesus was appointed rather than declared.

I am absolutely shocked. From the very beginning of the Old Testament, we have polytheism, in spite of rabid claims of monotheism among Yahwists going all the way back to Mount Sinai; from all four gospels we have statements all over the place showing that neither Jesus nor any of his initial followers thought of him as Yahweh, in spite of rabid, almost unanimous claims of Trinitarianism from modern Jesusianismists; now, in the very first apostolic epistle, we have Paul very clearly saying that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, said declaration having been indicated by the fact that God resurrected him from the dead. A group of Jesusianismists known as the Ebionites explicitly held the belief that Jesus was simply a human whom God adopted. Although they were vilified by the group that eventually set the tone for Jesusianism as we know it today, the Ebionites were not evil corrupters and certainly did not think of themselves so. They genuinely loved Jesus and sincerely prayed to God just as much as any other of his followers.

Verses 16 - 17: A theme central to Jesusianism: righteousness comes only from God, through the choice of having faith in God, rather than by any righteous act we might perform, or by strictly observing God's weird, arbitrary laws. Paul expresses the idea in the words of the Prophet Habakkuk (2:4): "The righteous will live by faith."

Jesusianismists accuse atheismists of taking verses out of context and twisting their meaning. I have to say that Paul seems pretty good at this too. Going back to the prophet, we find that he is lamenting the power that the wicked have over the righteous, asking Yahweh why it tolerates treacherous people. Yahweh's response is that greedy extorters will get their comeuppance, and as a nearly inaudible aside, it mentions that "the righteous will live by his faith", or, depending on how you translate, "the righteous will live by his faithfulness". Yahweh is talking about something completely different from what Paul is saying. Yahweh is talking about justice for ruthless oppressors, while Paul is emphasizing the fact that even people trying their best to follow Yahweh's law are bound to fail.

It seems very clear to me that Paul has put a lot of thought into this new religion he has invented, and has had plenty of time (some 30-odd years) to cherry-pick. If he had been so inclined, he could have skipped ahead to Habakkuk 2:8 and concluded that the Jews are screwed, because this deity seems to have changed its mind about how it wants them to interact with other nations, and now intends to punish them for not knowing in advance that the change was to occur: "Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them" (emphasis mine). Isn't this exactly what Joshua and pals did over and over by Yahweh's explicit orders? The passage from Habakkuk is so full of moral holes on its own that Paul would have done better not to attempt to use it at all, much less to use this tiny parenthesis to shoehorn the Gentiles into Jesusianism.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review of "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young -- Warning! Spoiler alert!

My friend C lent this book to me yesterday. She is able to think of God as a benevolent force in the universe, and she believes that Jesus was a good man whose words and actions were misconstrued by those who wrote about him. She told me that this book was a very close approximation of her views on God and Jesus, so I wanted to read it. The deity in this book is wonderful, nothing like the Yahweh or Jesus of the bible. Now I'll have to think of some new name for Jesus when I want to talk to her about the Jesus that I know, the cranky, chauvinistic, short-tempered, short-sighted, ignorant bigot of the gospels. Her Jesus is not even from the same planet. I hardly ever use the word "God" when I mean Yahweh, which is fortunate, as C finds Yahweh rather repugnant as well.

Here are my thoughts on the book. Warning, if you haven't read the book yet, you may wish to refrain from reading this, as I spoil the story below.

Overall, this book gets a giant "thumbs up" on the heresy meter. Throughout the book, this god makes it very plain that it is not in microscopic control of every detail of the universe. It even suggests that it is not omnipotent, but rather that it could not prevent humans from breaking everything when humans turned away from it. This god also very clearly wants nothing more than to be in a relationship with each one of us, not to be worshiped and prayed to and adored with groveling and scraping. It is quirky and playful; it likes to tease. Mysterious, but not in some geeky, technical way that can be understood only by the educated. Rather, mysterious but approachable, something you could fear, but something you don't feel compelled to fear. In order to reach Mack, the protagonist of the story, God appears to him as a woman, although it explains that it is neither male nor female. Later in the story, after Mack reconciles himself to his earthly father, God appears to him as a man, saying that Mack is now able to think of it as a father figure.

I might consider thinking well of this god, because although it allows evil, it seems to have a plan that will ultimately justify the evil, but more importantly, it does not actively participate in the evil, as Yahweh does with abandon. Near the end of the story, Mack realizes that he trusts God, and he tells God so. God's response is to beam at him and say, "I know, son, I know." A far cry from Jesus of the bible, insisting that we work our butts off for God and in the end say, "We're unworthy servants." See Luke 17:7 - 10

In the end, God leads Mack to take the final step of forgiving the man who murdered his daughter. Why?  So Mack can "release him to God and allow God to redeem him." Not so that Mack will be forgiven for his own sins and avoid damnation. See Matthew 18:21 - 35

Mack obviously does not want to forgive, and he feels a bit ashamed of himself that he is resisting God's desire. God responds, "Son, this is not about shaming you. I don't do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation. They don't produce one speck of wholeness...and that is why they were nailed into Jesus on the cross."

Some particulars that I like about the god described in this book:
  • Mack meets God, all three persons of the Trinity. The Father turns out to be a large black woman who likes to be called Elouisa but also answers to Papa, the Son actually is Hebrew and male and actually goes by Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman, strangely hard to see when looked at directly, who goes by the name Sarayu.
  • Mack has brought a gun with him to the place where he meets God, as he had not allowed himself to believe that it was actually God calling him here. Elouisa offers to take the gun for him, and then holds it with clear signs of repugnance. This is not the bloodthirsty baby-killer of the Pentateuch.
  • This Jesus is very likable and easy-going, not the short-tempered bastard of the Christian bible.
  • Elouisa says to Mack, "I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my normal state of existence." The reader can tell that this is a true statement before she says it: she's a very comfortable, very kind, transcendent sort of person. This is not Yahweh.
  • Elouisa indulges in a long, rich belly laugh. This is something that neither Yahweh nor the biblical Jesus ever did. They were both frequently rageful and irritable, and sometimes they wept, but they never engaged in joyful laughter.
  • Elouisa and Jesus gang up on Mack and tease him about his failure to understand the Trinity.
  • Elousia explains to Mack that "I'm not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation or coercion".
  • Jesus takes Mack on a walk across a lake, on the surface of the water. At first Mack is afraid to step onto the water. There is not a hint of the Jesus of Matthew 14:22 - 31, who demands, "Why did you doubt?" No, this Jesus playfully mocks Mack, waiting until Mack steps into the water and gets his shoes and socks sopping wet (although he doesn't sink) before pointing out that God removes footwear before walking on the water.
  • Jesus laments the general environmental irresponsibility of the human race, something that the biblical Jesus never even mentions.
  • Jesus explains that the submission that God wants from us is not about authority or obedience, but rather love and respect. He even points out that God is submitted to us in the same way as it wants us to submit to it, not as slaves to its will, but as brothers and sisters who will share life with it.
  • When Mack finally breaks down and has a good cry over his dead daughter, Jesus is there with him and just holds him while he cries. There is not a single mention of Jesus ever doing anything like this in the bible.
  • Jesus says that he doesn't even want people to be Christians.
  • Elouisa tells Mack that she forgave him his sins (although she's already very soft on the whole concept of sin) way back when Jesus came, in marked contrast to how the biblical Jesus talks about forgiveness.
  • Perhaps the most profound statement in the entire book is here: "Love that is forced is no love at all." So much for the idea of eternal torment. This god's salvation isn't a salvation from its own manufactured punishment, as is that of the God known by most Christians. This god's salvation is a way of restoring humanity to a loving relationship with a worthy deity.
  • Elouisa says, "I've never placed an expectation on you or anyone else. The idea behind expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome and is trying to control behavior to get the desired result...because I have no expectations, you never disappoint me." This is so neither the biblical Yahweh nor the biblical Jesus, both of whom are hair-triggered bazookas of disappointment.
I was somewhat less impressed with these characteristics of God, but I could allow for the possibility that the author would agree with my objections if he had thought about them, and that his reason for not thinking about them is simply that the bees in his bonnet are not the same as those I have in mine.
  • The author develops the idea of why we should not presume to judge God or its methods. Before I can decide whether to follow this god, I must, absolutely must, decide whether it is worthy of being followed, whether it is good or evil. Otherwise I could just blindly follow any despicable deity and claim that I was just following orders. Judging is absolutely necessary. I will not worship a baby-killer. 
  • Elouisa comes down a couple of huge notches in my esteem when she says that she is fully reconciled to the whole world, but that reconciliation is a two-way street. This sounds way too much like Christians telling me that if I burn in agony for all eternity, it's not because God wanted it that way, but because I stubbornly chose it. I will not worship a baby-killer.
  • Elouisa agrees with the Apostle Paul in explaining that the whole reason for the Mosaic Law was to show us that we can't be in a relationship with God by following rules. "...we wanted you to give up trying to be righteous on your own. It was a mirror to reveal just how filthy your face gets when you live independently." This idea is not irredeemably bad; it just pushes the edges a bit with this idea that the purpose of the Mosaic Law was to show us that we are not good, that we are sinful. If the author had made it more clearly say that the purpose was to make us give up trying on our own and trust God to take care of things, then I'd be perfectly happy. Unfortunately, he clouds it with biblical, Pauline Christianity: God wanted us to "give up trying to be righteous on [our] own."
Thanks, C. I love you. I see you.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part IX: Acts, Chapters 17 - 27

    Part IX, the conclusion of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

    Chapter 17
    • Verses 3 and 11: Paul goes around proving that Jesus is the Christ;  the noble Bereans examine the Scriptures every day to verify Paul's radical claims. Why is it that it's noble to allow someone to convince you of a metaphysical claim, which can't be tested or checked in any way whatsoever? And how is it noble that these people worship a bloodthirsty, misogynistic baby killer, which can be verified in their scripture?
    • Verse 5: "The Jews were jealous". At least when Jesusianismists use silly rhetorical tricks in their arguements, they can claim biblical precedent. Are we really to believe that the Jews opposed Jesusianism simply due to jealousy? Will you marriage bigots allow us to charge that your only reason for opposing homosexuality is fear of your own latent gay tendencies? On what can you possibly base a claim that the ancient Jews were more likely to be one-dimensional idiots than you are?
    • Verse 21: "All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas." Well, at least now we know from where Jesusianismists get their anti-education sentiments. Talking about and listening to the latest ideas is what brought us democracy, modern medicine, computers, social justice, and many other excellent aspects of modern life that benefit even anti-education, anti-knowledge Jesusianismists.
    • Verse 23: Paul has noticed in Athens an altar to "an unknown god". He preaches to the Athenians that Yahweh is this god that they have been worshiping without actually knowing who or what it is. Is that really ok with Yahweh, for us to invent a deity in our minds, based on no actual knowledge whatsoever, then to give it a name? That doesn't sound like the personal relationship that Jesusianismists go on about. I can't imagine being happy with my daughter personifying a teddy bear and then declaring that it is her dad, and that she loves it and has a personal relationship with it. This is a very strange god.
    • Verse 25: "[God] is not served by human hands". Really? What's all that animal sacrifice about if not service by human hands?
    • Verse 31: God has given proof that Jesus is the Messiah, by raising him from the dead. Really? Then what was proven about Lazarus? The little girl in Matthew 9:25? All those holy people who came out of their graves in Matthew 27:52?
    Chapter 18, Verse 6: "When the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads!'" So he did this not because they opposed him, but because they opposed him and became abusive. What happened to "turn the other cheek"? What happened to "forgive them for they know not what they do"? Jesusianismists are wimps. They give up as soon as the name-calling starts. If I believed that someone would be tortured if they didn't heed my message, I'd tear my hair out looking for ways to warn them, not get all pissy because they got sick of me. Jesusianismists prove, by their own propensity to give up on the rest of us, that they don't really believe the message of Jesusianism.

    Chapter 23
    • Verse 3: The high priest orders that Paul be struck on the mouth. Paul turns the other cheek in this fashion: "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!" Interpretation is a wonderful tool. You can use it to make anything mean anything.
    • Verse 6: Paul says, "I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." Interesting. I thought that it was because he was proclaiming that the blasphemer Jesus had been the Messiah. This complicates things: what was Paul actually preaching that was so offensive to the Jews? The metaphysical (i.e., unprovable) claim that the dead will eventually be resurrected? It's all so complex. I'm inclined to agree with Gallio, proconsul of Achaia, in Acts 18:14 - 15: since this all involves questions about words and names and Jewish law, it's not reasonable to listen to the argument, and they should just settle the matter themselves. It has nothing to do with me, that's for sure.
    Chapter 26, Verse 23: Paul refers to Jesus as "the first to rise from the dead". Wrong. Paul forgot to read his bible that day. Besides all the people Jesus resurrected, there were resurrections in the Old Testament too, which Paul should have remembered.

    Chapter 27, Verse 21: Paul tells the men on the ship, " should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete". I guess he didn't know about Jesus' comments about sparrows and how nothing happens apart from the will of God.

      Sunday, July 25, 2010

      Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part VIII: Acts, Chapters 15 - 16

      Part VIII of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

      Chapter 15
      • Verse 12: The assembly of believers seem impressed by the stories of Barnabas and Paul, the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them. So if someone is able to perform MSWs, it's an indicator that he really is sent by God? Why can't any modern religious leaders perform MSWs?
      • Verses 24 - 29: The assembly of believers send a letter to the Gentile believers. Note that this letter is approved by Peter, to whom Jesus said, "on this rock I will build my church...whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And that's only if you take Matthew's word for it in 16:18 - 19 of his gospel. If, instead, you subscribe to the suspicious partial repetition of this proclamation in Matthew 18:18, it seems that Jesus extended this binding and loosing authority to everyone who observes the proper protocol in challenging and ultimately disowning his unrepentant brother. But just sticking with the first one, it's clear that what Peter says goes. What does the letter, under Peter's authority, have to say to the Gentiles about how they should live? "...abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality." Seems like the brothers have come back to the fold, as now they sound like Jesus again, focusing on eating and sex habits, while saying absolutely nothing about slavery, child molestation, rape, environmental irresponsibility, etc. God obviously doesn't care about the same things that humans care about.
      • Verse 39: Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. See, even Jesus' prayers don't always get answered in the way one might hope. I'm thinking specifically of Jesus' drug-induced prayer back in John 17:20 - 21, where he prays that everyone who believes in him may be one, just as Yahweh is in Jesus and Jesus is in Yahweh. I guess if even Jesus has to accept "no" as an answer to his prayers, the rest of us have to suck it up when our loved ones die of cancer in spite of our prayers.
      Chapter 16
      • Verse 3: In direct violation of Peter's decree from not even 20 verses back, Paul circumcises Timothy, who is obviously a Gentile because his father is Greek. Luke tries to gloss this a bit by mentioning that Timothy's mother is Jewish, but I'm not having any of it. Since when does the mother's ancestry have anything to do with anything among these backward sexists? Luke makes it worse by admitting Paul's shallow reason for circumcising Timothy: "because of the Jews who lived in that area."Seems like Paul is really blowing it here, at least in the opinion of John, given the criticism that John levels against the believers in 12:42 - 43 of his gospel: they loved praise from men more than priase from God. If Paul is just as bad as they are, not to mention directly violating a directive straight from Peter, then why should we listen to Paul's crazed bastardization of Jesus' message?
      • Verse 14: "The Lord opened [Lydia's] heart to respond to Paul's message." That's disgusting.
      • Verse 37: Paul, upon his release from prison, says, "They beat us publicly without a trial. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out." So much for turning the other cheek. At least he was consistent, making up his own flavor of Jesusianism rather than obeying either Peter or Jesus. Maybe he didn't have the Gospel of Matthew handy? But surely the Holy Spirit would have shown him the right way to behave?

        Saturday, July 24, 2010

        Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part VII: Acts, Chapters 11 - 14

        Part VII of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.
        • Chapter 11, Verses 1 - 18: Peter, under the influence of Satan, who has been masquerading as an angel of light, hoodwinks "the circumcised believers" in Jerusalem. Jesusianism is corrupted from the very beginning, by the very rock upon which Jesus founded his church. Seems far worse than anything Judas ever did. Such a sad story.
        • Chapter 12
          • Verses 7 - 10: An angel of the Lord springs Peter from jail. Odd that all the angel can do is to shine some light and make the chains fall off of Peter's wrists. Peter has to dress himself, and then he has to take a fairly long walk into the city. The angel finally abandons him, apparently without warning. Why fool around with all this human activity? Philip was teleported to Azotus; why couldn't Peter have been teleported? Why couldn't the same power that caused the light in the cell and caused the chains to fall from Peter's wrists also have caused him to be dressed immediately? Probably because this was not an angel of the Lord, but rather a demon. Turns out that Jesus had abandoned Peter as soon as Peter started listening to voices in his head that disagreed with the racism that Jesus had so carefully taught him. 
          • Verses 22 - 23: Herod is called a god by his former enemies, and because he "did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." I wonder why God didn't strike Herod down when he had all those infants in Bethlehem killed. Since God knew that Herod was going to fail to praise it, then why did it allow Herod to be born at all? At the same time, I wonder why Herod was singled out so. I wonder why God didn't send his angels to strike down child molesters and rapists. This god is pretty fucking vain.
        • Chapter 13, Verse 48: "...all who were appointed for eternal life believed." Disgusting.
        • Chapter 14
          • Verse 2: The Jews who refused to believe poisoned the minds of the Gentiles. Now why would infinitely loving God allow this to happen? I suppose that those Gentiles whose minds had been poisoned had not been appointed for eternal life.
          • Verse 3: The Lord confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. I've addressed this before, but it bears repeating at least once: if you were sick or paralyzed, and someone said to you, "Be healed in the name of Odin," and you were healed, would you convert to Odinism? Perhaps not, because you're so steeped in Jesusianism that you'd assume that this was some Satanic power. If someone instead said, "Be healed in the name of Jesus," and you were healed, would you assume that this person's words carried more weight than those of the average schmoe?
          • Verse 4: "The people of the city were divided" over whether Paul and Barnabas were really from God. Why? If they saw these miraculous signs and wonders, why did they still doubt? Perhaps it's because there were no miraculous signs and wonders. Perhaps there were MSWs but many reasonable people were not convinced by displays of miraculous power, given that they also believe in the supernatural power of demons and were not so arrogant as to believe that they could distinguish between demonic power and godly power.
          • Verse 17: "...[God] has not left himself without testimony. He has shown you kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food..." Now which god are we talking about here? Isn't this the same god that sends plagues, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis, war, death? And when it isn't actively sending them, it simply allows them to happen. If we are to infer the testimony of this god by how well we're treated by nature, then we have to assume that this god hates the vast majority of us. Seems like the only humans it has ever loved, out of all the billions that have ever existed, are a few hundred million Westerners born in the 20th and 21st centuries.

          Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part VI: Acts, Chapters 9 - 10

          Part VI of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

          Chapter 9
          • Verse 1: "Meanwhile, Saul [of Tarsus] was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." Luke is an expert spin doctor. Jewish law made blasphemy punishable by death. Jesus was an executed blasphemer. His followers were adhering to the blasphemous idea that Yahweh had raped a teenager who gave birth to some kind of demigod, and threatened to drag Jewish society into this dangerous heresy. Luke should have said that Saul was breathing out perfectly legal threats that were supported by the clergy and most of society. This Saul was not a Joe McCarthy, but a Thomas Dewey.
          • Verses 3 - 6: A voice from heaven speaks to Saul, claiming to be Jesus. How did Saul decide that the voice was telling the truth? How did Saul determine that a disembodied voice accompanied by a flash of light counts as the credentials of not only a supernatural being, but the first mate of the Supreme Being itself? This is the strange hubris that humans seem never to have been able to shake: if it's something beyond my pathetic, limited understanding, then it must be the greatest intelligence, the greatest power, in all the universe. This is one of the craziest assumptions I've ever heard, yet billions of religious people all over the world assume so without even realizing it.
          • Verse 16: A disembodied voice, purportedly that of Jesus, says to Ananias, "I will show [Saul] how much he must suffer for my name." If Ananias had read his bible, he would have known that this could not have been the voice of Jesus, because he would have remembered Matthew 11:30, where Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Too bad Ananias made this careless mistake and allowed Saul of Tarsus--misled as he was by this demon masquerading as an angel of light--to corrupt Jesus' message, dooming billions to eternal torment. I've heard many, many spiritual leaders instructing Jesusianismists on how to determine whether an urge to take some action is from God or from Satan. No one ever leaves out the criterion, "Is this urge in line with Scripture?" Ananias really blew it, not just for himself, but for humanity as well.
          • Verse 22: Saul "baffled the proving that Jesus is the Christ." This is an excellent summary of the problem that the Jews had with the idea of Jesus being the promised Messiah. They were eagerly awaiting the Messiah, praying for him to come, even longing for him to come, all the while doing their best to keep the confusing and arbitrary commands of the bloodthirsty goatherd Yahweh. Then along comes this guy claiming to be the Messiah, in an environment where claimants were a dime a dozen, and disqualifies himself by being a blasphemer. How could the Jews be blamed for rejecting a known blasphemer who claims to be the Messiah? That would be like a child molester claiming to be a representative...of...God...oh, never mind.
          Chapter 10
          • Verse 3: One afternoon, Cornelius "distinctly [sees] an angel of God." How could he tell that it wasn't Satan masquerading as an angel of God?
          • Verse 34: Peter says, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism". If Peter had read his bible, or even bothered to remember half of what his lord and master had said, he would have remembered Jesus exclaiming, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel", in Matthew 15:24, and he would have known that his vision and Cornelius' angel were part of a Satanic plot to corrupt Jesus' true, racist message.
          • Verse 38: Peter talks about how "God anointed Jesus...with the Holy Spirit and [Jesus] went around doing good...because God was with him." God anointed himself with himself, and went around doing good because he was with himself? And why would go have to anoint himself with power? Wouldn't he already have power?
          • Verse 42: Jesus is "the one whom God appointed as a judge of the living and the dead." Not a very good choice, I have to say, considering John 8:15, where Jesus says, "I pass judgment on no one." Sorry God, try someone else. Peter seems pretty judgmental; he'd be better for the job. Not to mention that Jesus is nuts, saying in John 8:16, "But if I do judge..." Make up your mind!
          • Verse 43: "...everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins..." Peter's mind has obviously been twisted by the demonic visions he has suffered; he has already forgotten all of the exceptions: Korazin, Capernaum, Bethsaida, those who don't forgive their brother from their heart, etc., etc.

            Friday, July 23, 2010

            Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part V: Acts, Chapter 8

            Part V of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.
            • Verse 1: On the day of Stephen's stoning, "a great persecution broke out against the church at Jersalem". Jesusianismists seem to read this and interpret it as though most of the world is--and has been from the beginning--rabidly anti-Jesusianismist, a load of baby-killers who hate Yahweh because it wants us all to stop masturbating to gay porn. I have to challenge this nonsensical, childish view. The Jews who attacked the Jesusianismists, Saul of Tarsus included, did so for at least two very good reasons:
              • First, Jesus' teachings sounded heretical, spiritually dangerous for Israel. Sure, he probably did piss off a few corrupt officials, but it's stupid to believe that the entire generation was wicked and adulterous. Probably a large fraction of Jesus' enemies were devout people who concluded that his teaching was based on a bad interpretation of Scripture, just as most Catholics might conclude about Mormon doctrine. Many Mormons do act as though they're being persecuted, and they do seem to believe that Catholics have chosen, due to unrepentant enjoyment of gay porn, to ignore the obviously true message that came from God through Joseph Smith. So when you imagine first-century Jews "persecuting" the early Jesusianismists, don't think in terms of some crazed emperor who just likes to see people burn and finds that public opinion allows him to choose a certain religious sect. Think instead in terms of being really worried that the Mormons are dangerously in error, and that their doctrines could condemn millions of people who would otherwise go to heaven.
              • Second, the Jews had a tendency to cause trouble for their Roman overlords. Those with an interest in keeping their lives on an even keel (and an interest in simply keeping their lives) would have opposed any rabble-rousers, hoping to stay off of Rome's radar and avoid unpleasant episodes like the one that started in the year 66.
            • Verse 1 again: "...all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." Going back to Chapter 4, Verse 4, we see that there were some 5000 male Jesusianismists, and in 5:14 we see that "more and more men and women...were added to their number." Let's just take a conservative guess that half of these men are married, and on average each married couple has one child. That's probably very conservative. That's a total of at least 10000 people. How is it that an event that causes 10000 people to disperse in a single day gets nor more description than "a great persecution"?
            • Verse 2: "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him." This is simple, pure propaganda. There were plenty of "godly" people of all religions, just as there are now. Implying that only the followers of one's own religion are "godly" is a standard Yahwismist-Jesusianismist-Mohammadanismist tactic.
            • Verse 8: There was great joy in the city where Philip drove out evil spirits and healed sick people. I guess he somehow managed to contain his temper and refrain from capriciously causing any sudden deaths; otherwise there would have been great fear, as in Peter's territory.
            • Verse 15: Peter and John went to Samaria to pray for the new believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. I guess by this time they had forgotten Jesus' words from Matthew 6:8, "...your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Actually, it seems that the Father had forgotten these words too, given that he held off on granting the Holy Spirit until his special deputies could get there and fill out all that required paperwork.
            • Verses 18 - 22: Simon the Sorcerer offers to pay cash to Peter and John in exchange for the ability to administer the Holy Spirit to people. Sounds like a good arrangement to me: if they were too busy to wait tables, then they were probably too busy to be schlepping off to Samaria all the time to requisition the Holy Spirit. Peter seems not to like this idea, but he is so gentle that I want to convert to Jesusianism right now. He says, "Simon, Simon, you poor, confused man. You want love just like everyone else does, but you feel that you must earn it by being useful to people. God loves you and you are loved whether you're useful or not. Also, God doesn't care about money, he cares about mercy and love. Just seek his ways and let go of materialism, and you'll be fine." Not. "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent...and pray...perhaps he will forgive you." Peter has definitely learned Jesus' ways by now. No wonder Jesus decided to build his church upon this rock.
            • Verse 25: Poor Simon, now humiliated and terrified, asks Peter to pray for him. Luke records no response from kind-hearted Peter.
            • Verses 39 - 40: Philip is beamed away from his new convert, arriving in Azotus. Too bad Philip couldn't have written down, or at least dictated, some of the details of this amazing experience. How is it that these guys are blown away by a dude walking on water, but they don't seem to give a second thought to teleportation?

            Thursday, July 22, 2010

            Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part IV: Acts, Chapters 5 - 7

            Part IV of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

            The end of Chapter 5
            • Verse 13: "No one else dared join them..." They're being good Jesusianismists here and following their lord's lead of exclusionary elitism.
            • Verse 16: People brought "their sick and those tormented by evil spirits..." Damn, I was hoping that they'd gotten past this bullshit about evil spirits by now. I guess it will take quite a few more centuries before humans discover what Jesus could have told us: there is no such thing as evil spirits.
            • Verse 20: An angel of the Lord frees the apostles from jail; I suppose the Lord himself couldn't come; perhaps he was experiencing PRSD: post-resurrection stress disorder. The angel instructs them to "tell the people the full message of this new life, and forget not to tell them that if they hold back any of the proceeds from real estate sales, they will be summarily executed without a trial."Just kidding. The angel apparently thought it best that everyone continue to be "seized with fear", not knowing what infractions might lead to their deaths.
            • Verse 26: The captain and some officers of the temple guards bring the apostles before the Sanhedrin, but they refrain from using force. Why? Because they were afraid of this amazing power being displayed by the apostles? No, because they were afraid of being stoned. Hmm, there's something odd here.
            • Verse 32: God has given the Holy Spirit to those who obey him. Jesusianismists, today's blog is brought to you by the word divorce.
            • Verse 42: Creationists, this one's for you: "...they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news..." Meaning that they didn't eat, sleep, or shit. Right?
            Chapter 6
            • Verse 1: The Grecian Jews complained against the Hebraic Jews about unequal treatment of the Grecian widows. Carrying on the Jesusianismist tradition of racism very well; Jesus would be proud. Also, is this where Jesusian capitalists get permission to abrogate all of the earlier injunctions and examples to practice socialism / communism?
            • Verse 2: The Eleven apostles chosen by Jesus and the twelfth apostle chosen by a satanic ritual get together and abrogate the example set by Jesus in John 13:4 - 12, that of servitude. They decide that they shouldn't "wait on tables."
            • Verse 7: Among those chosen to "wait on tables," all of whom were "known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom," was "Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism." Not a convert to Jesusianism, or "The Way," as it seems to have been called. How is it that he can be full of the Spirit without being a Jesusianismist? Or perhaps Luke is here implying that one must first convert to Judaism before one can convert to Jesusianism?
            Chapter 7
            • Verse 2: I'm sure it's churlish of me, but why not: Stephen says, "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham". The god of glory. Not the god of everything. See, Jews were definitely still polytheists in those days.
            • Verses 2 - 50: Stephen makes a preposterously long speech, recounting the early history of the Jews from Abraham through Solomon. I have a really hard time believing that the chief priest and the Sanhedrin would let him go on so long concerning a subject with which they were intimately familiar. No wonder they ended up stoning him: he was really, really annoying. And in that culture, annoying people was the same as persecuting them, right?
            • Verse 56: Stephen sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He elaborates on his vision wonderfully, uttering this rich, beautiful, timeless prose: "I see Jesus standing at the right hand of God." Deep, deep stuff. Also, if Jesus is Yahweh, then how can Stephen see Jesus standing at God's right hand? Wouldn't he see just one person?

            Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part III: Acts, Chapter 5:1 - 11

            Part III of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

            Verses 1 - 11 tell an extremely disturbing story: a man, Ananias, and his wife Sapphira, sell some property and give part of the money to the apostles, putting it "at the apostles' feet," which seems to have been the custom for donating money to Jesusianism. Peter seems outrageously offended that Ananias has given only part of the money; apparently all of it was expected. He lectures Ananias cruelly, calling him a liar. Ananias drops dead on the spot. Three hours later, Sapphira, not yet knowing the terrible news of her husband's death, finds herself being grilled by Peter. Peter baits her by asking her whether she and Ananias had given them the entire proceeds of the sale. She remains loyal to her husband and lies to Peter, and next thing you know, she's dead too. I have so many problems with this passage that it's difficult to know where to start.
            1. It's quite clear that socialism / communism not only was practiced by the believers, but expected, even demanded of them by the apostles. Jesusianismists, TeaPartyismists, etc., what the hell are you guys thinking with all of your anti-socialism / anti-communism flap?
            2. Nowhere in this passage is it even implied that Ananias was under an obligation to donate the entire proceeds of the sale. In fact, Peter even says that the money was at Ananias' disposal. How is it that he has lied? The terrible punishment inflicted on him seems to suggest that it was demanded of him to give everything, not to keep even a penny for himself.
            3. Ananias dies upon hearing Peter's cruel words. Was this a punishment for his so-called lie? If so, then doesn't it seem a bit extreme? Death penalty for thinking of your own money as being at your own discretion? Or let's even give Peter the benefit of the doubt, and assume that Ananias had previously agreed to give the entire proceeds to the commune. Death penalty for embezzlement?
            4. Peter asks Sapphira about the amount of the sale. Her response should have been, "None of your fucking business." But she was more polite than I would have been, and uses a more diplomatic approach: she lies to him. A lot of Jesusianismists seem to think that lying is somehow wrong. That's bullshit. If someone asks a question that is none of his fucking business, then there is nothing wrong with lying to him. Even your own Ten Commandments don't instruct you not to lie. Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20 both say, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." In other words, don't make false accusations. Not don't lie.
            5. In Verses 5 and 11, "Great fear seized" everyone. Is this a good religion? One that causes people to be terrified of death for the slightest infraction?
            6. Did Ananias and Sapphira go to hell? So not just the death penalty, but eternal torment. Some Jesusianismists will want to say something like, "Well, those two were evil anyway, and would have gone to hell regardless." People who are bound for hell get a tiny little chance to spend up to a few decades not suffering on this miserable planet. Most of the people bound for hell suffer for their entire lives, never experiencing much, if any, pleasure. Isn't it astoundingly cruel to take away even the opportunity to have a finite sliver of existence in which one is not being tortured with fire?
            7. Did Ananias and Sapphira go to heaven? If so, then this wasn't a punishment at all, but rather a reward, at least according to modern Jesusianismists. But it's clear that these original Jesusianismists didn't think that the two were bound for heaven, otherwise there wouldn't have been any great fear. In fact, it seems that everyone would have asked Peter to kill them as well, so they could hurry up and be in heaven. And this leads me to a related point: the Jesusianismist opposition to abortion. Besides the hypocrisy involved, considering all the infants, toddlers, and pre-adolescents whom Yahweh killed in the Old Testament, there is also the point that most Jesusianismists seem to think that children go to heaven automatically. This of course is in stark contrast to Jesus' own words, in John 3:3, " one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." But the brothers have already shown, with their long prayers, that it is totally ok to ignore Jesus' actual words, so let's leave this point aside for now, and focus on the common, current belief. Isn't abortion doing a favor to that unborn child? Being killed in the womb is a guarantee that he/she will never have to worry about temptation or sin or suffering. He/she will just go directly to heaven and experience an eternity of bliss. Why is it that you guys are so opposed to abortion?

              Wednesday, July 21, 2010

              Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part II: Acts, Chapters 2 - 4

              Part II of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series

              Chapter 2
              • Verses 1 - 12: Upon being filled with the Holy Spirit, they -- whoever they were; presumably the 12 apostles -- began to speak in other languages. Specifically, they spoke such that visitors from all over the Mediterranean area were able to understand the speakers, each hearing them speaking in his own language. I've been to churches where people "speak in tongues". I've heard many people do it. To my lasting shame, I've done it myself. I've never heard anyone speaking in a language that was intelligible to any other human. I've never heard anyone speaking in a language that they didn't already know. If Christians were actually able to speak in tongues as did the apostles according to this passage, Christianity would be considerably more credible.
              • Verse 14: Peter "stood up with the Eleven"? Weren't they twelve by this time, after their occult ritual of casting lots and so choosing Matthias to replace Judas?
              • Verse 22: Peter says, "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you." A man. Not God. Peter also says that God did miracles among the Jews through Jesus. Not God.
              • Verse 33: Peter says, "Exalted to the right hand of God, [Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit." Let's simplify this a bit: Exalted to the right hand of himself, God has received from himself his promised self. Not God.
              • Verse 36: Peter says, "God has made this Jesus...both Lord and Christ." If Jesus were Yahweh itself, then Yahweh would not have made Jesus Lord and Christ. Jesus would already have been Lord and Christ; see also John's claim "the Word was God," which Christians interpret to mean that Jesus is Yahweh. How can Christians cling to the doctrine of the Trinity with this stuff staring them in the face?
              • Verse 44 - 45: All the believers "had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." Someone give me the address of Tea Party headquarters, and all the organizations that oppose the new health care laws in the U.S., and everyone who's whining about President Obama being a socialist, so I can send them a bible. It's obvious that none of them has ever read it.
              • Verse 47: All the believers enjoyed "the favor of all the people"? They must have been a damn sight more pleasant than the average modern Christian. I find most of you unbearable.
              Chapter 3
              • Verse 13: God "has glorified his servant Jesus." Not God.
              • Verse 15: "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead." Why not, "...he raised himself from the dead, being God and all"?
              Chapter 4
              • Verse 22: "For the man who was miraculously healed was over 40 years old." Is this what Jesus was talking about back in John 14:12, when he said that anyone who has faith in him will do even greater things than what Jesus had done? Cos Jesus healed a woman who had been sick for 12 years, and another guy who had been paralyzed for 38 years. So Peter outdid him by two full years. That's miraculous.
              • Verses 24 - 30: I forgot to mention this problem when I read Acts 1:24 - 25, but here's my chance now. A really long prayer by the brothers, not even close to the way Jesus had instructed everyone to pray back in Matthew 6:9 - 13. Looks like abrogation to me.
              • Verse 28: "They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." This is in line with Jesus' comments about sparrows falling out of trees. But if this is true, then how can Yahweh blame anyone for anything?
              • Verses 32 - 34: Teabaggers, you and others of your ilk should take note: "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had...There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." President Obama the Socialist / Communist is just trying to enact the will of your god.

                Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part I: Acts, Chapter 1

                • Verse 9: "...he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." This Jesus works only in a culture where the sky was completely unknown territory. A cloud hid him from their sight, and because they assumed that he was up in heaven, it never occurred to them to wonder where he went. If they'd known half as much as we do about the way the universe works, they would not have automatically assumed that being hidden behind a cloud meant that he was no longer in the same plane of existence as they were. My point being that this kind of story impresses only the ignorant. Further, if it really happened, then where's the detail? He was taken up? What does that mean? What did it look like? Was there a great wind? A Star-Trek-style tractor beam? Did he happen to be wearing a jet pack? I've heard plenty of Christians go on about how the descriptions of monsters by John of Patmos are uncannily similar to modern-day jet fighters. And that was just in a vision. Why couldn't actual eye witnesses of Jesus' disappearing trick give some details of what they saw? Because it didn't happen, and benighted, first-century Palestinians, hearing the story after myriad rounds of Chinese Whispers, were perfectly willing to accept that being hidden by a cloud meant that he was somewhere else.
                • Verse 12: "...a Sabbath day's walk from the city." Sounds like Luke had his own brand of Christianity. Jesus seems to have abrogated the Sabbath rules, and if he didn't, then Paul certainly did.
                • Verse 18: Judas bought a field, then did some sort of suicide-bomber trick there. I've already discussed here the fact that this is in complete disagreement with Matthew 27:5.
                • Verse 21 - 26: Peter decides that Judas must be replaced, as his disemboweled body probably wouldn't be much good as an evangelizing prop. Joseph and Matthias are nominated as candidates, and everyone prays to Yahweh-Jesus, asking it to indicate which of these two men shall be Judas' replacement. Now go back to Verse 3: "[Jesus] appeared to [the apostles] over a period of forty days..." Why couldn't this matter have been settled during that long period? Why wait until Jesus is gone, then pray to him about it? And why was it Peter's idea? Why didn't Jesus discuss it with them before his departure? Further, if it was ok for the brothers to ask Yahweh-Jesus for a clear sign in this manner, even going so far as to cast lots to determine its will, then why isn't this practice widespread among Christians today? Why didn't we see President Bush at a press conference casting lots to make sure that Yahweh-Jesus really wanted us to invade Iraq?

                Tuesday, July 20, 2010

                Lego Mommy: John, Chapters 14 - 20

                The 12th and final part of my "Lego Mommy" Series.

                Chapter 14
                • Verses 12 - 14: "...anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." How can Christians ignore such obvious bullshit? How can anyone say that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God?
                • Verse 21: "He who has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." One word, Jesusianismists: divorce.
                • Verse 28: "...the Father is greater than I." Not God.
                • Verse 30: "...the prince of this world is coming." I always hate seeing an author introduce a promising or intriguing idea into a story, only to fail to elaborate on the idea, showing that he/she still needs to grow a bit as a writer. Given that Jesus is so opposed to idle words, I'm surprised that he allowed this statement to slip into his inerrant writ. He mentions "the prince of this world" again, in Chapter 16, Verse 11, but goes nowhere with the idea.
                Chapter 15
                • Verse 13: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Bullshit. A mother's love for her child is infinitely greater than the so-called love that motivates a man to get himself executed for inciting rebellion.
                Chapter 16
                • Verse 5: "...none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'" But back in Chapter 14, Verse 4, you said that we know the way to the place where you're going. Why would we ask? I know where you're going: insane, that's where. No, you're already there.
                • Verse 7: "It is for your good that I am going away." That's for sure!
                • Verse 8: Strange that Christians get so worked up when we say "shit" and "damn" and "cocksucker". I find these words of Jesus far more offensive: "sin," "righteousness," "judgment." These are not words I would expect to hear from an infinitely intelligent, infinitely merciful being.
                • Verse 13: When the Spirit of the truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. Given the thousands of denominations of Christianity, I have to assume that this Spirit of truth hasn't arrived yet.
                • Verse 29: "Jesus' disciples said, 'Now you are speaking clearly'"! What? It seems to me that he has simply managed to overload their brain circuitry with sixteen chapters of nonsense.
                Chapter 17
                • Verses 20 - 23: "I pray...for those who will believe in me...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you...May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me..." Seems that Jesus' prayers don't work any better than anyone else's prayers. If there were unity in Christianity, the world might indeed take note. As it is, and as it has been since its invention, Christianity is laughable.
                Chapter 18
                • Verses 3, 6, and 7: Judas guides a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees to an olive grove where Jesus had often met with his disciples. "When Jesus said, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied." Now, were they still on the ground during this exchange, or did Jesus wait for them to get up before repeating his question? Maybe they just continued to lie on the ground, thinking that if he were to re-utter his frightful incantation, "I am he," they would be knocked off their feet again.
                • Verses 29 - 30: Pilate asks the Jews what charges they are bringing against Jesus. Their response is, "If he were not a criminal we would not have handed him over to you." Ok, I have to give Jesus a break on his tendency to evade even simple questions. It seem that it was just part of Jewish culture.
                Chapter 19
                • Verse 25: "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother," who persists in not having a name, all the way through the Gospel according to John.
                Chapter 20
                • Verse 31: "...these [miraculous signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is...the Son of God..." Not God.

                Monday, July 19, 2010

                Fewer bigots in the military? Sounds good to me.

                I guess I'm a little behind the times, as this article is from a few days ago, July 16, 2010, in the New York Times, but I still have to vent a little.

                The House of Representatives voted on May 27 to allow the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military, which will allow everyone, not just homophobes, to be open about their sexuality.

                It seems that this new advance toward a civilized society is feared by some. The G.I. Rights Hotline has received a new kind of call: a soldier who considers homosexuality an abomination and wishes to be granted conscientious objector status because he cannot serve in the military alongside gay soldiers. Of course, the hotline counselor, a Ms. McNeil, who has served the hotline for 11 years, had to point out this bigot's utter stupidity: he has already been serving alongside gays in the military, so this particular conscientious objector is a brain-dead hypocrite, but we already knew that too.

                Continuing his stupidity, this objector says that if homosexuality is actually allowed, he will be housed with somebody who's sexually attracted to him. Clearly he missed Ms. McNeil's point, as he is already possibly housed with someone who's into him, although given that he's such a narrow-minded, backward prick, only people with serious self-esteem issues would even give him a second thought.

                I can just imagine this bonehead, out on a weekend night, drunk off his ass and being a total dickhead to his fellow women soldiers. I imagine that those women soldiers would never be so stupid as to request conscientious objector status because they consider redneck-ism to be an abomination, and they cannot serve alongside a hillbilly fucktard.

                As of the date of publication in the NYT, some five of these assholes have contacted the G.I. Rights Hotline. My response? All of you, please call in. Please leave the military. I'll vote for a law that grants you conscientious objector status. You are such cowards that you can't even face your own latent homosexual tendencies. You can't even trust your own heterosexuality. Pussies, every last one of you. I can guess your response to me: "I'm gonna kick yer ass, you faggot-lover." But you're so stupid that you can't even see that a violent, threatening response just underscores the fact that you're a fucking coward. You can't even take a bit of name-calling. Please, do leave the military. Maybe then the military can calm down a bit and become an instrument of defense rather than an instrument of destruction dominated by ignorant bigots.

                Lego Mommy: John, Chapters 12 - 13

                Part 11 of my "Lego Mommy" Series.

                Chapter 12
                • Verses 4 - 6: Judas the betrayer of Jesus, complains when Mary wastes some expensive perfume on Jesus. Further, the author describes Judas as a thief, saying that although Judas claimed indignation on behalf of the poor, he didn't really care about the poor, and mentioning that Judas used to help himself to what was put into the money bag. This is quite a different story from the one told in Matthew 26:8 - 9: "The disciples" were indignant, not just Judas. My guess is that since John waited so long to write his gospel, he'd had plenty of time to forget and distort the details.
                • Verse 14: "Jesus found a young donkey..." Found? Both Mark and Luke claim that Jesus sent some of his disciples to retrieve a colt from a nearby village.
                • Verses 20 - 23: In response to some Greeks who requested to see Jesus, our hero of non-sequiturs replies, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." He says some other things, but it's all bullshit, in no way related to the Greeks' request.
                • Verse 24: "...unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." Biology fail. If a kernel of wheat dies, it does not produce any seeds. It's dead. In order to produce progeny, the kernel must germinate, not die.
                • Verses 34 - 36: Jesus, who came to save the world from damnation, blurts out more bullshit when his listeners ask him for clarification. He goes on about how they should walk in the light, but he sheds absolutely no light on his purpose, his role, or his plans. He'd rather leave them all in the dark, I suppose.
                • Verses 39 - 40: First, once again we see that Yahweh is pulling the puppet strings on all of this. We have no choice whether to believe, given that Yahweh "has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts, nor turn, and I would heal them." Pretty sick, right? It gets better. This blinding-and-deadening business turns out to be a reference to Isaiah 6:10, but I can't tell which bible John was reading. My NIV shows me that the original Hebrew said,
                • Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.
                • But the creators of the Septuagint seem to have lost their nerve, translating it into Greek thus:
                • This people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.
                • Seems that John, although misquoting Isaiah, at least kept his nerve up and admitted that our belief has nothing to do with our personal character, and everything to do with Yahweh's whim.
                • Verse 50: "...whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." Too bad the Father didn't tell you to say something that makes sense.
                Chapter 13
                • Verse 3: "...the Father had put all things under [Jesus'] power..." Even Judas' behavior? Then how can Judas be blamed?
                • Verse 8: "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." So if Peter had refused, he would have gone to hell?
                • Verse 18: "I know those I have chosen." Right, and he has chosen Judas to betray him. Ugly.
                • Verse 33: "Where I am going, you cannot come." Where exactly was he going that even his disciples can't go? Up on the cross? No, he would have said shall not rather than cannot. Into a tomb? No, his disciples go into the tomb in at least one of the accounts. Where did Jesus go?
                • Verse 36: "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." Aww, Jesus had a change of heart and decided to let his disciples follow him after all, but later, after Jesus had some chill time.

                Sunday, July 18, 2010

                Lego Mommy: John, Chapter 11

                Part 10 of my "Lego Mommy" Series.
                • Verse 4: Jesus decides to go and resurrect one man, out of all the people who die every day, causing no end of sadness, "so that God's Son may be glorified." Sick. He would have gotten a lot more glory if he'd taught people to wash their hands before they eat, and especially if he'd explained why.
                • Verses 25 - 26: "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Christians want to make a huge metaphorical allowance here: Jesus didn't mean that the body will never die. Rather, he meant that the soul would not experience the "second death".
                  • My first problem with this interpretation, the trump card, is that the concept of "second death" is mentioned in only one book of the bible: the preposterous "Revelation of Jesus Christ" to John of Patmos. This book barely made it into the New Testament canon, back there in Nicea when a group of superstitious ninnies voted on whether it was the inspired word of the Supreme Being. It would not have been voted into the canon but for one small error: most, or perhaps all, of the voters believed that the author was the same man who wrote the Gospel according to John. We now know that this is simply not true. It's a fluke that this book, with its semi-pornographic description of worldwide destruction, ever made it into the bible. I expect that I won't even blog about it beyond what I've said here. I have to rule out the possibility that Jesus was alluding to the "second death".
                  • My second problem with this interpretation begins to take shape in the verses leading up to this strange, self-contradictory declaration from Jesus. In Verse 11, Jesus tells his disciples, "Lazarus has fallen asleep". In Verse 13, the author says that Jesus is talking about Lazarus' death. In Verse 14, Jesus confirms the metaphorical nature of his first statement, saying explicitly, "Lazarus is dead". But then he paints himself into a corner. He should have stopped at the end of Verse 25, simply saying that those who believe in him will experience death only as a temporary state. But then he has to screw it up in Verse 26, saying that those who live and believe in him will never die. Christians may wish to say that Jesus has gone back into metaphor mode here, but why would the author not tell us so, here, where there is ample opportunity for confusion, while he told us so when there was no possibility of confusion, given that Jesus explicitly announces that Lazarus is literally dead? There is something seriously wrong with Jesus' discourse concerning Lazarus.
                • Verse 26 again: "Do you believe this?" Jesus is a cruel bastard. Why can't he just tell Martha, who obviously doesn't understand, that he is about to bring Lazarus back to life? Why leave her in suspense, believing that her brother is permanently dead? This looks like grandstanding to me. Or perhaps a lack of confidence, especially considering Verse 35. If he knew that he could do it, and he knew that everyone was hurting so much, why didn't he just come out with the amazing and joyful news that he was about to bring Lazarus back to life before their very eyes?
                • Verse 35: "Jesus wept." Why? Let me guess: because he was sad that even Mary, who believed that he was the Christ, did not believe that he could raise Lazarus from the dead? Or perhaps he was showing his human side, allowing himself to be moved by all these sad people? Given Jesus' short fuse with people who lack faith in him, I have to rule out both of these possibilities. If either were true, he would have nailed them with ye olde "Ye of little faith" hammer. I find the following far more likely: none of the miracle stories is true, but instead they all slipped in during decade after decade of people making copies without the benefit of critical thinking skills or training or education, without even our modern conventions of paragraphs, punctuation, and even spaces between words. The oldest somewhat recognizable copies of the Gospels and the Epistles date only back to around the year 200, a minimum of some 150 years after the originals were written. And even these copies are not preserved intact. The oldest complete manuscripts go only back to the fourth century, nearly 300 years after the documents were originally written. We have some 5400 Greek copies of all or part of the New Testament, most of which were created during the Middle Ages, many of them a thousand years after Paul and pals...uhh...died. No two of these 5400 copies, except the smallest fragments, agree with each other in their wording. In fact, there are more differences (we're talking six figures here) among the surviving manuscripts than there are words in the entire New Testament. Try this thought experiment: imagine a 700,000-word story written in the year 1710, and copied by hand over the centuries, by eager and good-hearted but also credulous and uneducated people, many of them like those with whom you attend church, but with far lower rates of literacy and basic education. Fill the story with  eye-witness accounts of dead people literally being called out of their graves. Add a good measure of contradictions and nonsense that you simply can't take literally, that you are forced to shoehorn into awkward metaphor after awkward metaphor. What would be your reaction to such a story? Worship? Spiritual ecstasy?
                • Verse 48: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation." So maybe the chief priests and the Pharisees weren't such hypocritical low-lifes after all. They were genuinely concerned that Jesus would start a rebellion that would result in punishment from their cruel overlords in Rome. Was it so bad for them to fear this?
                • Verse 54: "Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews". If Obi-wan Kenobi can make imperial stormtroopers ignore him with a wave of his hand, why does Jesus, infinitely more powerful than Old Ben, have to hide?

                Saturday, July 17, 2010

                Lego Mommy: John, Chapters 9 - 10

                Part 9 of my "Lego Mommy" Series.

                Chapter 9
                • Verse 3: "Neither this man--blind from birth--nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." This is horrifying. At least now I understand where Jesusianismists get their atrocious attitude toward suffering. What about all the billions of people who have suffered over the centuries, in whose lives "the work of God" was never displayed? Why did their suffering happen? How can a God of love and mercy allow so much suffering, then display its works in the lives of only a handful? And go ahead, say that the handful amounts to millions of people. Do some math: billions of people have suffered without any relief until their deaths. A billion is a thousand millions, so thousands of times as many people never got Yahweh up off its lazy ass.
                • Verse 16: "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" and Verse 31: "We know that God does not listen to sinners." I really wish I had their rulebook, so I'd know on what information they based their belief that a person with the power to perform miracles would be hindered if he happened to be a sinner. I won't claim to know where they got this idea, but I'd bet that it's not in any of Yahweh's holy writ.
                • Verses 35 - 37: Jesus says, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" The man replies, "Tell me [who he is], so that I may believe in him." Jesus says, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." If Jesus is so fond of saying "I am" to show that he's Yahweh, why does he give this guy such an evasive answer? A likely explanation is that he was using "I am" for political purposes and debating points with the Jews, but he didn't need to win any points with the man on whom he supposedly performed a miracle. Another strike against the idea that his incantation, "I am" was intended to convey that he is Yahweh.
                • Verse 39: "Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world." Ooh, double-abrogation on Verse 15. He must be serious this time.
                • Verse 39 again: " that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." So infinitely loving, infinitely merciful Yahweh infinitely punishes those who think too much of themselves?
                Chapter 10
                • Verse 1: "...the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber." I think he's talking about Moses here, because Moses taught the law rather than faith in Christ.
                • Verse 8: Wow, not just Moses, but "all who came before me were thieves and robbers." Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist?
                • Verse 16: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also." Mormons quote this verse to prove that Jesus had to make a side trip to North America in order to witness to the aboriginals living here at the time. Frankly, I couldn't care less who he was talking about. What I want to know is what spiritual, edifying message is contained in these words. Why would Jesus tell us this except because we needed to know it, because it contained some deep truth?
                • Verse 17: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life..." Wow, conditional love even for the Second Person of the Trinity? I guess we're all screwed.
                • Verse 33 - 35: ", a mere man, claim to be God." I was confused about this charge at first. It sounded like one of those assertions based on some hypothetical book of rules concerning the supernatural realm. But Jesus refers to Psalm 82:6, using it to make two points, one explicit, the other implicit. The explicit point is here in John 10:35 where he says that those "to whom the word of God came" are gods. The implicit point is back in the Psalm itself: "I said, 'You are gods'; you are all sons of the Most High". So now I understand why the Jews concluded that Jesus was claiming to be God: not because he said "I Am" until he was blue in the face, but because he claimed to be the Son of God.
                • Verse 36: "Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?" See, if Jesus were actually trying to convince people that he is Yahweh, then it seems that he would have said "God" rather than "God's Son".

                Friday, July 16, 2010

                Lego Mommy: John, Chapter 8

                Part 8 of my "Lego Mommy" Series, in which the alert reader may be disappointed upon beginning to understand the series' title. It turns out that I may have been all along mispronouncing the Greek rendition of Jesus' famous "I Am" pronouncements; I'm not entirely sure, but from poking around on the Internet I find that it does seem to rhyme with Lego Amy rather than Lego mommy. The secret is out. Jesusianismists, you were right all along: evolutionism is a lie; darwinumism is a fabrication; my only reason for writing these screeds is that I want to go on sinning. Shall I change the series' title and pretend that I was never mistaken? No! I'm not a Jesusianismist. I think what I'll do instead is just say that it's my patriotic duty as an American to mispronounce words in any foreign language. Yeah, dat's de ticket. Patriotism.
                • Verses 1 - 11: This might be my favorite snafu in all of the bible. The story so often held up by Jesusianismists as an example of Jesus' love, mercy, compassion, understanding, and gentle tolerance of human nature. A crowd of Muslims -- no, I guess they were Jews -- wish to stone a woman to death, claiming to have caught her in the act of adultery. Jesus utters the timeless, unspeakably beautiful phrase, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." All of the Muslims -- no, I guess they were Jews -- slink away with their tails between their legs. There's just one problem with this beautiful story, which my NIV bible expresses wonderfully: "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53 - 8:11." It's really too bad, as it would have been a great support for people who claim that Jesus had a good message. It's also a shame that this story would have represented the first meaningful thing Jesus had to say in the Gospel of John. After seven chapters, I've begun to notice that he simply hasn't said anything. I guess there's still hope, given that there are thirteen chapters left. Cross your fingers, unless you fear that Yahweh will strike you down for using magic.
                • Verse 14:  "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid..." A direct contradiction of Chapter 5, Verse 31, "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." In my mind, Jesus begins to appear more human, more like your run-of-the-mill religious figure: quarreling with his siblings and the people in his home town, running his ministry in places where people don't know his early-life reputation, manipulating crowds with his personality but never saying anything of substance, castigating his opponents for getting God's message completely backward. His modern representatives embody his nature perfectly.
                • Verse 15: "I pass judgment on no one." Except entire cities like Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, per Matthew 11:21 - 23. And "all who do evil," per Matthew 13:41 - 42. And the wicked, per Matthew 13:49. And "every plant not planted by [his] heavenly Father," per Matthew 15:13. And an entire generation that looks for a miraculous sign, per Matthew 16:4. The occasional fig tree, Matthew 21:19. Teachers of the law and Pharisees, Matthew 23:13 - 33. Unfaithful and/or unwise servants of God, Matthew 24:51. The spiritually unprepared, Matthew 25:1 - 12. Worthless servants of God, Matthew 25:30. Those who aren't kind enough to Jesus' brothers, Matthew 25:41 - 46. And that's just in the Gospel according to Matthew. I don't feel like going all the way through Mark and Luke again.
                • Verses 17 - 18: "...the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." But Yahweh is not a man.
                • Verse 26: "I have much to say in judgment of you..." I guess this annuls Verse 15. Jesus was a Muslim, I think. Doctrine of abrogation and all?
                • Verse 43: "Why is my language not clear to you?" He's kidding, right? He seems to have miraculously forgotten that he is deliberately confusing his listeners, as he explained in Matthew 13:10 - 12.
                • Verse 44: "[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning." Who murdered all those infants, toddlers, and preadolescent children back in Genesis 7:21, Numbers 31:17, Joshua 6:21, 1 Samuel 15:2 - 3? Not the devil, I'm pretty sure.
                • Verse 46: "If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" It's hard to determine the truth status of one's words when one spends one's time gushing nonsense.
                • Verse 58: Jesus claims to be Yahweh itself, announcing, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, ἐγώ εἰμι!" Really? This is his explicit claim to being Yahweh itself? Well, maybe. Besides the fact that it's perfectly reasonable to ignore someone who is raving, which he has been doing almost non-stop for eight chapters, announcing "I Am!" in Greek is simply not the same as claiming to be Yahweh. Jesus could have meant any number of things, or he might have meant nothing at all. Jesusianismists often accuse evolutionismists of taking scripture out of context. I want to put Jesus' pronouncement into the context of eight full chapters of absolute nonsense, and come to the obvious conclusion that he is simply continuing his incoherent stream of bullshit. Also note that he has been saying "ἐγώ εἰμι" throughout this chapter: Verse 12, "Eγώ εἰμι the light of the world." Verse 18: "Eγώ εἰμι one who testifies for myself". Verse 24: "If you do not believe that ἐγώ εἰμι, you will indeed die in your sins." Verse 28: "Then you will know that ἐγώ εἰμι". As I've said before, I'm no expert in these matters, but there's something fishy about this story. The phrase ἐγώ εἰμι seems to be rather common in Greek, not a big deal when it has a predicate, such as insane, which would have been apropos. It also seems to have been ok for him to say it without a predicate, as in Verses 24 and 28. It's only after Verse 58 that "the Jews" attempt to stone him. I conclude that saying ἐγώ εἰμι without predicate is not tantamount to claiming to be Yahweh, else the Jews would have attempted to stone Jesus much earlier in the conversation. Instead, it seems to me that the Jews' reason for wanting to stone Jesus was simply because he was blaspheming, by very clearly pronouncing Yahweh's name--even if it was a Greek rendition--underscoring the fact by preceding it with "...before Abraham was". I don't want to give the impression that I know anything about ancient Jewish culture, but I can read about the Talmud. In the Talmud there is a section called the Nezikin, which addresses civil and criminal proceedings relating to damages. Within the Nezikin there is a tractate known as Sanhedrin. Chapter 7 Mishnah 4 of this tractate says that blasphemers are to be stoned. This was Jewish law at the time. As I've asked before: if it were so vitally important for us to believe that Jesus is Yahweh, why would he have announced it in such an obscure, tortuous way that is so easily interpreted otherwise?
                • Verse 59: "...they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." Not God.