Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thank You, Emma

If you haven't heard or read already, a few days ago Emma Watson gave an inspirational speech on feminism at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The text of the speech can be found here, and here's the video care of the HeForShe channel on Youtube:


I am so proud of her for her courage to deliver that speech at such an enormous venue.  Bravo, young lady!  Bravo!

In case you're wondering, she has accepted the role of the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador and has just started her HeForShe Campaign.  This campaign focuses on educating men that gender equality is not just a struggle to be led and fought by women.  Equality is everyone's right, not just the ones who just happen to have an X and a Y chromosome.

Also, one of the many goals of the HeForShe Campaign is to rid the world of the stigma of men considering themselves to be feminist.  I love that someone is finally addressing this issue.  Because if you haven't heard, YES, I am a staunch feminist!  For years I have wondered why some men refuse to stand behind their wives, daughters, mothers, or sisters and fight for their equality.  It's only in their best interests to do so!

Now repeat after me - feminism does not, nor has it ever been, anti-men.  On the contrary, feminism requires men.  For without men speaking out for the equality of the women in their lives, then those that do discriminate will someday find something about you that will give them the excuse to strip away your freedoms as well.

So thank you, Emma.  It's long past time that men stand together with all of the women in our lives, and move our world beyond this primitive, paternalistic madness left over from our sectarian and superstitious ancestors.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

RYBS: Which Two Tablets?

Read Your Bible Series - Week 16

Which Two Tablets?


Since there seems to be a perpetual pursuit of displaying the, "Ten Commandments" in many of the Southern states, I thought it prudent to review what it is these political and religious zealots are pushing.

First, let's look at the original set outlined in Exodus 20, given to Moses after he spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai (because there's no way a man could carve two stone tablets in 40 days):
And God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
* You shall have no other gods before me.
* You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
* You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
* Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
* Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
* You shall not murder.
* You shall not commit adultery.
* You shall not steal.
* You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
* You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
You'll note that I placed an asterisk beside the verses that contain the commandments.

So we have two of these "laws" that make perfect sense - don't steal and don't kill.  We have three that should be done out of respect for your loved ones - don't lie, don't cheat on your spouse, and treat your parents respectfully - but none of these three are enforceable, much less reliably determined.  Plus, what about all these parents lying to their kids about Santa or the Tooth Fairy?  Or what if a person has horrible and abusive parents, or likewise a person with an abusive spouse?  In my opinion, people are perfectly justified at times to break any one of these three commandments if they have a legitimate reason to do so.

The other five?  Nothing.  Zilch.  The rest of the "laws of god" are nothing but victimless crimes invented with the sole purpose of unnecessarily burdening people with artificial guilt.  Nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, nothing about torture, and nothing about discrimination.  Nope, these human atrocities are simply not important enough to a loving, omnipotent god to be included in his top ten.

And as horrible as this list is, isn't everyone already aware that these ten were destroyed by Moses?  Hasn't everyone seen the white-bearded Charlton Heston chuck those two tablets at the golden calf in, "The Ten Commandments"?  (If you're interested, all this happens in Exodus 32.)  Those two tablets were lost when Moses threw a temper tantrum like a 3 year-old.

So what does god do?  Moses tells us that he ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights AGAIN so god could create a second set of tablets for him.  What a patient and forgiving god... am I right?!?!?

Now you might think that the second set would match the first set, but you'd be wrong.  Oh, would you be wrong.  Exodus 34: 1-3:
The Lord said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain."
One quick comment on these verses.  Isn't it hilarious that religious men that receive "messages" from the almighty creator of the Universe never seem to have or even want any witnesses?  For some reason, these guys always need to be alone to receive the word of their god.  Isn't that right, Joseph?

Moving on to the second set of ten...  Exodus 34: 14-26:
* Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.  Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
* Do not make any idols.
* Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
* The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
* Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
* Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.
* Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and
* do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
* Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.
* Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Yeah.  You guessed it.  Nobody likes to talk about this set of ten because they're all completely worthless and even more stupid and empty than the first ten.  He even left out the only two from the original that had any worth at all!

Nice.

Plus, if Moses was the guy that wrote both of these, you'd think he would have the wherewithal to make sure that the second list actually matched the first one.  I mean, he was the only one that ever set eyes on the first set of tablets before he destroyed them.  Even if he forgot the first ten, just write down that both lists matched and nobody would've ever been the wiser!  I admit that I'm no holy man, but it seems to me that the most important thing to religious folks is consistency.  But who am I to argue with perfection.

All sarcasm aside, if these idiots are going to argue that the, "Ten Commandments" is a historical document and can be displayed, "...along with other historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta," then why is it then, that they are ignoring the second set of ten?  Aren't these two tablets the ones that really matter, since Moses destroyed the first two tablets and god took the time to carve it into stone AGAIN?

The answer is simple - they don't bring up the second set of commandments because the new commandments are unconditionally stupid and they make reference to events we no longer observe.  Plus, the first set of ten are much easier for laypeople to grasp because there are at least two or three points that still bear any consequence in our society.  But if you're really honest with yourself, eight of those original ten really don't matter that much.  As a matter of fact, I think my ten are much better than either of these sets, and I've never even created a universe.

Let's face it, your local pastors and religious politicians don't like the second set of ten.  They never have.  It makes no sense for them to muddy the political waters with the real story behind the commandments.  So they continue to do what they do best - they cherry-pick the parts that win them votes, they gloss over the uncomfortable topics that might isolate a voting block, and they conveniently obfuscate any discussion that might educate their constituency about what's really written in that book.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

RYBS: Bridle Them With Guilt

Read Your Bible Series - Week 15

Bridle Them With Guilt


This week we'll review a strange passage that is found in Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament.  Here we have a supposed prophet, Malachi, issuing warnings to the people of Israel if they break various covenants with god.  I think you'll find that one of these warnings still finds a prominent place even in our modern version of this religion.

Starting with verse 6:
"I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty.
Wait a second...  The Lord does not change?  Liar.  By my count, the "Lord" has changed more times than the Green Lantern!  Well, okay, maybe not THAT much.  But still, we do need to recognize that no matter what the Bible claims, or your local Pastor for that matter, the definition of what god is to our species seems to change as we evolve.

Funny how that works.

Malachi continues:
"But you ask, 'How are we to return?'
"Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?'"
How indeed!  Now there's a good question!  How does a mere mortal rob from something that created everything?
"In tithes and offerings."
Oh, of course!  Tithes and offerings - something that you are commanded to give to someone that owns, or could create, anything and everything.  Got it.

And technically, I don't think this is robbing at all.  To me, this sounds more like an example of, "failure to make timely payments."  But then again, how could the author of Malachi guilt everybody into doing something they likely can't afford if he didn't make them feel as if they had committed a crime against god?  I mean, the "Lord" had to eat, right?
"You are under a curse - your whole nation - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe," says the Lord Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the Lord Almighty.
Let's understand this correctly.  The "Lord Almighty" needs a proper tithe of food in his house in order for him to provide even more, "blessings" of bountiful food, crops and fruit.  I will grant the apologists out there that there isn't a direct threat of repercussions against those that didn't tithe properly.  But this directive from Malachi does suggest that if the people of Israel continue to rob the almighty, they would be missing out on a much larger prize, what with the opening of the floodgates of heaven and whatnot.

I find this absurd.

Why does this god always need people to do something before it is willing to do the right thing for people?  As a supreme being, I would see no point whatsoever in this exercise.  If you have the means to help people, or provide enough food and water for everyone, or protect their crops from being decimated by insects, then you should do it, no questions asked.  Why require those people to give you something first?  Something that you already have or could create!

Furthermore, this is direct proof that even the men that lived that long ago knew precisely how to manipulate people in such a way as to make them willing to do something against their own best interests.  It's the greatest con ever invented.  And over the past two thousand years, the techniques of that deception have done nothing but get more devious and more manipulative.

Don't believe me?  Just take a Sunday - any Sunday - at any of the various local churches and sit in on one of their services (if you're not there already.)  Then make sure you pay attention to how hard they go about selling that whole ten percent thing.

There's almost a magnificence in its cruelty.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

RYBS: Jacob and the Holy Smackdown

Read Your Bible Series - Week 14

Jacob and the Holy Smackdown


Inside the pages of the Bible exist some of the most exaggerated stories presumed to be authentic.  One of the most exaggerated stories that is perfectly suited for this series is the story of Jacob - the only man on the planet who, according to the holy word of god, had the unique distinction of battling the god of the universe in a bout of vigorous, heterosexual hand to hand combat.

Never heard of it?  That shouldn't be a surprise.  At week fourteen, you should be realizing that by now there are a multitude of topics in the Bible that most Pastors consider too bizarre and too outlandish to cover on Sunday.

Let's begin this week with Jacob, preparing to meet with his brother Esau.  Jacob had selected hundreds of goats, sheep, camels, cows and donkeys to give to his brother.  Jacob then ordered his servants to look after the animals and then decided to setup camp for the night:
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
Okay, hold on a second.  TWO WIVES?!?!  Religious leaders on cable news networks told me that god intended marriage to be between one man and one woman, not one man and TWO women.  What is this Bible telling our children???

Also, is it me, or did the Bible just profess that god of the Universe cheated?  Jacob made sure that he was alone by ordering his two wives and two female servants on their way.  I'm thinking he just needed a night to himself.  Then, apparently, he did what most men did in this time frame... he "wrestled" with another man until daybreak.  Now, there's nothing homoerotic about that at all because dudes love to wrestle other dudes.

And obviously Jacob was the better man that night, since the Bible says that  he had the other "man" overpowered.  However, since god is god, and god doesn't lose, it recognized that the best course of action was to use its infinite power to cheat its way to victory by touching poor Jacob's hip and inflicting pain.

Come on god!!!  What kind of message is this sending to our children?  Is this the best the maker of all energy and matter could muster?  A severe muscle cramp?

Okay... now that god can finally win his totally heterosexual wrestling match, with Jacob's sweaty skin glistening in the moonlight while his masculinity slips comfortably through god's holy fingers, his muscles throbbing with each beat of Jacob's heart...  Jacob grudgingly relents to the power of god:
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
At this point, the reader is free to assign whatever meaning he or she deems appropriate for Jacob's response of, "bless me".  I'm not here to judge.
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Hold on a sec...  God didn't know who it was wrestling?  That seems... odd.

Moving on:
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome."
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
 So in wrestling with the creator of the Universe, Jacob gets... what?  An unsophisticated allegory and a limp?  Plus, Jacob claims to have seen the "face of God" and lived!  You'd think god would be generous enough to give the guy the courtesy of being able to walk normally the rest of his life.

Furthermore, what is it with Jacob and his incessant begging to be blessed?  Has the definition of "blessed" changed since the age of goat herding?

Fine.  Let's just focus on the moral of the story - if you're a man of god that has found yourself in a totally heterosexual wrestling match with the omnipotent and omnibenevolent god of Christianity, make sure you get blessed before you release it from your half-nelson.

Oh, and keep your hips clear of that magical finger.  (Nothing homosexual at all in that statement.... Not in the least.  Nothing to see here...  Move along.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Predicting Pascal's Wager

On our way to drop off my son at Camp Quest Texas, we drove by a peculiar billboard that caught the attention of everyone in the car.  In bright yellow text, with an amateurish speech balloon around the date "8/2/2027", and what looked like a stock picture of a total solar eclipse as the backdrop, the billboard read, "Christ Stands on Mt. Olivet Amos 8:9 - At NOON."  Of course, they also provided a link to their website.  As much as I hate even giving these guys the network traffic, if you're interested in their claims you are more than welcome to follow the link.

(I'll update this post with a picture of the billboard if I can get one.)

Before anyone starts snickering and scoffing, let's see what the Bible actually says in Amos 8.  I'll skip the first few verses of the chapter where the "Sovereign Lord" showed Amos a basket of fruit and then threatened to fling bodies everywhere, and just give the relevant verses for this prediction:
The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done.
Will not the land tremble for this,
    and all who live in it mourn?
The whole land will rise like the Nile;
    it will be stirred up and then sink
    like the river of Egypt."
"In that day," declares the Sovereign Lord,
"I will make the sun go down at noon
    and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
    and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
    and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
    and the end of it like a bitter day."
"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord,
    "when I will send a famine through the land -
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
    but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
People will stagger from sea to sea
    and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
    but they will not find it.
In that day the lovely young women and strong young men
    will faint because of thirst.
Those who swear by the sin of Samaria -
    who say, 'As surely as your god lives, Dan,'
    or, 'As surely as the god of Beersheba lives' -
    they will fall, never to rise again."
So excluding the intimidating first portion of Amos 8, and excluding everything else I've provided from that chapter, these people focus their prognostication on verse 9 only.  The one with, "I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight."  Since this is the word of god, I'm guessing that we are to believe that the Sun will actually "go down"; not be hidden by the Moon mind you, but actually go back down.  Oh, and then  it really gets nasty with worldwide famine, dehydration, fainting, and of course the sheer brutality of being forced to shave your heads and wear sackcloth.

The horror!  EEK!

Ah, but rather than cower in the corner waiting for August 2, 2027, to do whatever it's going to do, let's do some science instead!

First of all, I'm sure we're all well aware that the Earth is a spheroid spinning about an axis to give us day and night depending upon where you happen to be standing on the planet.  So, even if the Earth were to miraculously spin faster for a few minutes to make the Sun dive back down below the horizon, we'd all be dead anyway!  After the massive earthquakes, tremendous volcanic eruptions, extensive seawater flooding about the equator and subsequent rebound, etc, etc, just about everything on the planet over the size of an amoeba would be killed.

Second, eclipses are nothing more than the Moon casting it's shadow as it passes in front of the Sun. From anywhere other than behind the track of the Moon's shadow, the Sun will appear perfectly normal.  Nothing magical about it.

Also, total eclipses  in Jerusalem are not all that uncommon - just as total eclipses are not uncommon ANYWHERE on our planet.  Here is a total eclipse from August 30, 1905 with a very similar track to the one coming in 2027.  And another total eclipse (annular) from March 28th, 1922.  And another from August 21, 1933...

You get the idea.

The point is that our species understands basic celestial mechanics whereas the authors of the Bible did not.  We can reliably predict when and where these events will occur on the Earth and can let everyone know precisely what time to go outside to enjoy it.  Thus, using celestial events like this as a forecast to some localized Biblical phenomenon does nothing more than announce your profound stupidity to the rest of the world.

Next, if you look at the track of the eclipse on August 2, 2027, the totality doesn't actually pass over Israel - much less the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  This means that all of Israel will get a partial eclipse, not a total eclipse that this billboard suggests.  The maximum total eclipse occurring at noon in that region's standard time zone will be seen from El-Ghanayem, Egypt.

And this point may be a bit petty, but keep in mind that Israel observes daylight savings time.  So there's an issue here with the "Sovereign Lord" not realizing that his chosen people might be late to the party because they all have their watches set an hour ahead.

Finally, why concentrate on just that single chapter and verse in Amos?  Did they not bother to read on to chapter 9?  The almighty really goes on a mass murdering spree in that chapter - with a sword no less.

Granted, the producers of this website make sure to include concessions such as:
  • This is NOT the exact day of the rapture
  • This is NOT the exact day of the second coming
  • This is NOT the exact day of the return of Christ (same as above?)
  • This is NOT the end of the world
Okay, fine.  But what it IS doing, is trumping up fear in anyone gullible enough to believe it.  So they make sure to admit that some of this may happen, and the Bible suggests that an eclipse might be a sign... So what?  They're still preying upon those that are simply not educated enough to realize that the verse they quote has happened countless times and will continue to happen countless more so long as Earth still has the Moon we all know and love.

Now mark my words - as the date of that solar eclipse approaches, more and more Christians will steadily convert from mellow skepticism to cautious acceptance for no other reason than a dependence upon a bare bones, celestial version of Pascal's Wager.

Just wait and see.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Abortion Curse

Read Your Bible Series - Week 13

The Abortion Curse

Numbers 5

I'm moving back into the Old Testament this week to examine another chapter in the Bible that you will likely never hear during your average, run-of-the-mill Sunday morning thumping.  Oh you'll most assuredly hear the other side of abortion - the side where the church firmly opposes any and all types abortion.  However, what religious leaders always seem to hide from the eager masses is that the Bible actually outlines a precise method of aborting fetuses.  Especially fetuses currently gestating in the womb of a suspected "unfaithful" wife.

It's a childish, barbaric, and shamelessly misogynistic method, but we are talking about the god of the Old Testament here.

We begin with the god of the Universe, speaking with Moses:
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure - or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure - then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.
I know what you're thinking...  How can a man even know if his wife is unfaithful and, "goes astray" if this woman's whole sexual escapade is hidden from the poor sap?  It says it right there!  "There is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act"!  Thus far, this whole thing sounds to me like a pathetically insecure momma’s boy with a severe case of little man's syndrome.

Oh, and did you also catch that god made a point to command Moses to tell Mr. Jealousy-pants to make sure and bring an offering of flour?  Just FYI - this is not an amount to shake a stick at.  We're talking roughly a half of a gallon dry weight.  So yes, even the ever providing god of the Universe knew never to skip a chance to guilt people into giving the priest - oops, I mean the Church - free food.  Because, you know, the lord provides, right?

OIY.

Moving omnipotently forward:
"'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband" - here the priest is to put the woman under this curse - "may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries."

"'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it."
So... holy water, clay jar, dust from the floor, stand before the Lord, let the woman's hair down and... guilt trip her.  Oh wait, then command god to curse her AFTER the guilt trip.  Yeah, sounds totally plausible, right?

As a matter of fact, this is all very similar to modern infomercials where the company throws so much utter nonsense at you that after a while your mind simply forgets to be analytical and begins to believe that with all those ingredients, it must be legitimate.  I mean, all those sciency words, coupled with people that swear that this concoction worked...  What's not to believe, right?  RIGHT?

Okay, at this point we all know that this pathetic process is no more effective than a really bad mystery movie where they isolate the poor woman in a very dark room and shine a really bright light in her face in hopes of a confession.  This guy just throws in a priest, some celestial wizardry, and a nasty drink with "dust" from the floor.

Oh, and one quick point before we continue.  Being a man, I certainly would never presume to speak for women, but I’m quite sure that no mentally stable woman would accept any of that crap, and she certainly wouldn’t be so submissive as to say, “So be it.”

But that's not all!  Remember the infomercial?  That's right - even in the Bible, they knew that something like this needed to be as complicated as possible and repeated enough times so that people would begin to believe it:
"'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

"'This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.'"
You got all that?  Is it complicated enough for you yet?!?!?

Just make sure you memorize these crucial steps if you want to help some poor sap that's fallen victim to a wily, unfaithful woman who has managed to keep her torrid liaisons hidden from everyone (even god itself.)  Sure, you could just keep looking this up every time you needed the curse.  But if you make sure to memorize it, you'll look far more priestly while you're busy divinely and miraculously aborting a fetus in the name of god...

In all seriousness, consider that during the this time frame, it is certainly plausible that our species was already well aware of very effective naturally occurring poisons that would most assuredly induce an abortion.  And in general, priests were the most educated people in the area.  So my bet is that those magic curse scrolls mentioned in the second set of verses could certainly be marinated premeditatively with just such a poison.

Either that or just let one of these poor girls off the hook if the priest was fond of the girl's family.  And we all know how convincing it had to be to the uneducated masses, not to mention how convenient it had to be for the priest when the fetus of a known harlot was magically aborted based solely on the whim of a man and what he happened to know about the carnal habits of the girl.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Divine Blunder

Read Your Bible Series - Week Twelve

A Divine Blunder


This week I would like to discuss a fairly serious Biblical issue about which, I would wager, most Christians are completely unaware.  As a matter of fact, it's fairly easy to recognize whether a person of the faith has ever been introduced to the subject.  All you have to do is listen to what they say to each other about Jesus or read what they write about him.  More than likely, you will find statements similar to the following:
Jesus had to be perfect, so he could die for our sins!
We should all strive to be as perfect as Jesus!
And my personal favorite:
There's only been one perfect person, and he died on a cross for all of us!
It's the most popular message of Christians.  Jesus was transcendentally aware, without sin, without fault... the consummate example of perfection in human form.  And yet, omniscience appears to have goofed on the history of his own religion.  Mark 2: 23-28:
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
The Pharisees apparently had caught Jesus and his disciples committing a crime by "working" on the Sabbath.  While I don't agree with these clowns that picking a few seeds of grain qualifies as "work", these Pharisee guys sure seemed to think it was.

But you know Jesus... he was able to wiggle his way out of their mistake by going all, "Son of God" and, "Lord of the Sabbath".

However, that wasn't even the error that the Pharisees should have ultimately been able to catch Jesus making.  That tiny, simple little paragraph before Jesus went full diva should have set off alarms in the Pharisees' heads!  The story of David and his companions was not in the days of Abiathar the high priest, it was in the days of his father, Ahimelek the high priest!  Check it for yourself in 1 Samuel 21: 1-9:
David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, "Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?"
David answered Ahimelek the priest, "The king sent me on a mission and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find."
But the priest answered David, "I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women."
David replied, "Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men's bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!" So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.
Now one of Saul's servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul's chief shepherd.
David asked Ahimelek, "Don't you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent."
The priest replied, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one."
David said, "There is none like it; give it to me."
Not only is the name, "Ahimelek the priest" mentioned in this passage, it's mentioned no less than three different times that David was talking to Ahimelek, not his son, Abiathar.  And the true, "Son of God" and, "Lord of the Sabbath" should have known this.  Sure, Abiathar did eventually take over the family biz from his father and he became high priest, and sure Abiathar was most likely alive when his father provided David and his companions with the "consecrated" bread...  But the story that Jesus references is not the story of Abiathar!  And I don't care hard Christian apologists try to dance around it, Jesus was flat wrong.

So let this point soak in for a few minutes: by getting the story of David wrong, Jesus can no longer be considered perfect.  You cannot be sinless and you cannot be sacrificed for all of mankind if you are not perfect.  Repeat it if you have to, just so you understand how important these points are.  And do not underestimate the importance of Jesus' historical gaffe.  To anyone that really and truly studies the Bible, this issue remains one of the most important in the entire book, so much so that there have been many former religious leaders who openly discuss this issue as the first step in their disbelief.

So yes, it's that important; and if you're still reading your Bible, then Mark 2: 23-28 should be committed to memory.