Friday, May 17, 2013
I’ve read a number of biblical criticisms by clergy, biblical scholars, and laymen. One can glean bits and pieces of important and enlightening facts about the agendas and objectives of the biblical writers. But, I just finished reading Inventing Jesus: The New Testament Narrative as Fiction by Paul Gabel and in this camel’s humble opinion, it is the final word in the genre.
Over six-hundred pages of footnoted and well documented detail; a bibliography that would take months to read; with a level of research that is the mark of a dedicated history academic (Mr. Gabel’s profession) - makes this a remarkable and important work. The author takes great pains to provide clarifications of terms, and examples to ensure the reader isn’t left in the dust even if he/she does not have a strong bible familiarity. In a word: You don’t have to be fluent in bible to understand and appreciate this remarkable exposé.
The premise is summarized in the title. First, the author provides arguments for virtually every competing theory on the personage of Jesus from modern day and earlier biblical experts: total fabrication, historical person deified post mortem, amalgamation of pre-Christian pagan man-gods, a character born of the compilation of Old Testament Hebraic prophecies and prophets…you name it, and it’s discussed, in detail with supporting and convincing documentation.
Gabel then takes us though some of the most recognized as well as obscure books and verses of the bible, comparing and contrasting the accounts of events that churn up contradiction after convoluted contradiction about Jesus' background and who he supposedly was and did (much to the consternation of Christian apologists ancient and modern); identifying interpolations; introducing non-Christian critiques by contemporaries of the biblical writers and early church founders; pointing out blatant attempts of the New Testament writers to “one up” early Hebrew personages and prophets to elevate Jesus above King David, Elijah and Moses.
I’m barely scratching the surface trying to describe the scope of subject matter, the myriad facts, arguments and competing theories that leads one to a greater understanding of the hows and whys of the genesis, infancy, and evolution of the Jesus myth and Christian doctrine. More than an informative and engaging read, this is a veritable encyclopedia of New Testament / Jesus analysis and criticism, a reference book that belongs in the library of every freethinker who engages in biblical debate or discourse.
Bottom line is this: no one will ever be able to fully prove or disprove the existence of a historical Jesus, with or without the supernatural bells and whistles. But if only one book were entered into evidence to counter the biblical account, the overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence for the bible as fiction contained in Inventing Jesus would be grounds for conviction of the Christian writers as charlatans, or a hung jury at worst.
It’s often said that reading the bible is one of the strongest causes of loss of faith and acceptance of reason. I’ll proffer that Inventing Jesus will prove to be just as if not more of a driver if only Christians have the curiosity and courage to read it.
Buy this book. You won’t be disappointed.
Friday, May 10, 2013
“God helped me accept my gay son.” : The application of, and necessity for, religious hypocrisy in a modern age
A twice married Christian woman, and grandmother, credits God with her accepting her son’s homosexuality. Evidently God gave her insights as to how to read / manipulate / ignore or otherwise re-interpret scripture so she doesn’t have to despise her son and can continue to love him like she did before he came out to her. Here’s the story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shirley-rorvik/finding-strength-from-god-to-accept-my-gay-kids_b_3240692.html?utm_hp_ref=scripture-commentary
Now…follow the logic here: this woman needed a god to help her accept her son's homosexuality, yet she likely didn’t need a god’s help to love him before she knew of his biologically driven proclivity. I wonder if she would have needed god’s guidance to accept and love her son if he was born left handed, with a third nipple, or was missing a testicle.
But never mind, happily she reinterpreted scriptural prohibition, with Gawd's assistance, and came to reason even if she needed to disguise it in some convoluted side stepping, escape clause justification of a few millennia’s religious prohibition mandated by Gawd Himself.
It probably wasn’t all that hard for her since evidently she used a similar technique to justify her divorce in spite of Jesus' admonishment in Mark 10, and Luke 16:18 "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." Given that the penalty for adultery is death by stoning, it isn’t hard to understand how finding that loophole is very important. Screw Jesus!!
Thank Dog for Christians cherry picking dogma and finding loopholes to evade the misogyny and Bronze Age obscenities it demands of them. It’s a veritable full time hobby for moderate/liberal religionists to try and come to terms with modernity and 21st century reason while holding onto bits and pieces of their supernaturalist delusions and their god's hideous edicts.
Yes, for sure they are hypocrites, phonies, back sliders, self-deceivers and “not True Xtians” … but I’m glad they are. It’s much more preferable than the gay bashing bible banging Xtian homophobes, or the devout Xtian women who resign themselves and their children to marital battering and abuse because of the idiocy of their scripture.
The more religious backsliders, the better for civilization.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Distrust of Muslims is akin to persecution of the Jews? Only in the minds of the unthinking accomodationalists
A college student blogger from the UK, Nicola Moors, bemoaned the spread of the distrust of Islam, what she deems “islamophobia,” and correlates it to what the Jews of Europe went through in the 1930’s and 40’s. You can read her whole article here…if you have the stomach for it.
What a patently stupid and off the mark comparison.
The Jews were persecuted for centuries through no fault of their own. The Church promoted anti-Semitism / anti-Jewish sentiment as part of its doctrine. Paul was probably the first self hating Jew and promoter of the “Jews as Christ killers” dogma. And why not, since attempts at converting Jews was failing miserably, and his efforts to proselytize to the gentiles, especially Romans, wouldn’t go over well if their hands had the blood of their man god on them. The killing of Jews in Europe by the Crusaders on their way East was considered good practice for the battles to come.
From there it was picked up and cultivated by Protestants after the Reformation, Martin Luther being the most notable Jew hater. All of which lead to pogroms all over Europe, and ultimately the Holocaust.
Contrast this with modern day Islam. Muslims have been terrorizing the civilized world for decades. The 3,000 dead from the 911 attack, the underwear bomber, shoe bomber, Time Square bomber, and Boston marathon bombers are just the tip of the international iceberg of Islamic terror which spans Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Far East.
40% of Muslims world wide and 25% of Muslims under 30 yrs old in the US approve of suicide bombing (Pew survey 2010). At least 28%* of Muslim Americans still deny the 911 deaths were caused by Muslims, preferring to blame the Israeli Mosad, or the US government (Pew Survey 2010).
Given this reality, is it any wonder that non-Muslims are suspicious of, cautious about, indeed feel threatened by Muslims? If Laplanders, Sioux Indians, Eskimos, Hindus, Buddhists, or Jews were spreading terror worldwide; if their friends acted to cover up their misdeeds, and help them evade authorities; if they declared “jihad” on the West and targeted civilians for death to achieve whatever their objectives were- then they too will be subject to condemnation by the West. They'd deserve to be treated with the same suspicion and disdain that the Muslim community had brought upon itself.
The UK has already kowtowed to Islamic demands and threats. They have become the poster child for accomodationism in many subtle ways, most recently relaxing sanitary protocols by permitting Muslim nurses to cover their arms with sleeves out of modesty*. The UK is trading its culture and its birthright to placate Muslims in an attempt to achieve some sense of comfort and safety. You'd think the accomodationalist example of Neville Chamberlain would be fresh in their memories. Evidently not.
Now this accomodationalist blogger, who has all the understanding of history of a nine year old child, has the nerve to suggest Islam is undergoing unjustifiable, unprovoked, and undeserved scrutiny and “persecution like the Jews did” (and in some places still do) simply for being Muslims? A pox on her, and those whose heads are buried that far in the sand, or up their arses.
* Correction 5/7/13
Saturday, April 27, 2013
On the heels of the worst Muslim fanatic attack on America since 911, I read last week that some Christian clergy are calling upon their sheep to pray for the Boston mass murderer. And as good sheep always do the “prayers are pouring in.” They even have a poll asking readers if they would pray for the perpetrator. 59% said they would / are. Here’s the whole story:
From the story is this quote:
“Our God is a God of mercy AND just. As brothers & sisters of Christ, we must pray for the captured suspect, for he still is a child of God!”
Out of curiosity I posted a comment asking exactly for what they were praying. A week has gone by, not a single reply. Out of over 1100 comments, no one seems to really know the answer or they prefer to ignore the question.
I’ve wracked my brain and for the life of me I cannot figure out what the hell they are praying for. Could they be praying for his recovery? He's getting the best medical care available to humanity. Are they praying for his conversion to Jebus? Praying for his "soul"? Praying for his repentance; to what end? Praying he doesn’t get the death penalty? Praying he isn’t even convicted? Nothing in the story gives a clue as to what request or favor they are soliciting from their imaginary god on the murderer’s behalf.
Here's a thought for those baaing fleece baring drones of delusion: pray to your god for the sixteen people who lost limbs to the bomber’s indifference and inhumanity to re-grow those limbs. Or maybe just eight of those victims’ legs. Or just focus all your prayers to re-grow the legs of just one double amputee. Heck, play it safe and just pray to have that young dance instructor’s foot miraculously regenerate. No … not one of them would dare to offer that prayer, the potential for it’s quantifiable failure is so obvious that it would expose the uselessness of prayer and diminish the validity of their platitudinous and meaningless gesture.
When their devout mumblings are finished; when they feel as though they have done their duty as good Christians to help the bomber achieve whatever the hell it is they want to achieve through the intervention of this supposed supernatural power, I wonder how many of them will do something meaningful- like making a $20.00 contribution to www.onefundboston.org
Not many, I’d venture. It’s just so much easier to not lift a finger and mouth meaningless religious platitudinous tripe than to do something genuine, real and useful.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Every now and then I am heartened by the actions of the American public. When they elected the first Black president, I was astonished and proud; even more so when they re-elected him. When new poll figures reported 52% of Americans support gay marriage, I found hope for reason and modernity. When Pew reported that the religiously non-affiliated, the “Nones” have become 20%+ of the populace I saw the clear evidence that evolution toward the demise of religion was not just a pipe dream.
But then something comes along to stir up my disgust and rekindle my cynicism toward my fellow Americans. On April 6 the Huffington Post reported the results of their polling of 1000 Americans. They asked if they would support establishing Christianity as the national religion of the United States. Thirty-two percent (32%) said they would support a Constitutional amendment making Christianity the official religion of the United States. Forty-two percent (42%) of them said they thought it was constitutional or “weren’t sure”.
It won’t surprise you to find out that 55% of those favoring Christianity as the national religion are Republicans. You know, those people who wave American flags at the drop of a hat; claim the Constitution to be carved in stone and not open to interpretation; who will die to defend the 2nd amendment right to bear arms; and who call themselves the “true” Americans (as oppose to everyone else who is a commie, socialist, fascist , Femi-nazi, or surrender monkey.) Here’s the whole story:
While the much larger majority were opposed to such an amendment, and knew that it was unconstitutional, the fact that 1/3rd of our fellow Americans would happily establish a national religion horrifies me. While some of the supporters probably answer out of ignorance and think it’s just a nice “Xtian thing to do” (which doesn’t make them any the less dangerous), I’ll proffer that a majority of them know damn well its implications and have an agenda in mind.
My guess is that those favoring a Christian Nation amendment know it is the first necessary step toward establishing a theocracy where religious doctrine and Jesus are recognized as the supreme basis for civil law.
It would lead to biblical justification for the elimination of all gay rights; possibly even making homosexuality a crime. It would result in Roe V. Wade being overturned as abhorrent to Christ. It would open the door to persecution of non-Christians, and open the flood gates of unstoppable government sponsored or endorsed proselytizing. It would permit crosses and icons of Christian religious figures to be posted in every court room, every school room, and every government office in the nation. It would put prayer back in public schools; legitimize religious preference for promotion in the military; establish a religious test to hold public office; permit tax dollars to directly support Christian churches; permit hiring decisions based on religious preference; the possibilities are endless, and frightening. It’s the ultimate nightmare to those who respect the Constitution and a free nation.
I’m not suggesting that the Constitution and the vision of our nation’s Founders are on the brink of being desecrated. But when you see a Christian flag hanging along side or under the American flag in a town park or memorial, or if you see people equating religiosity to Americanism, or when you hear people decrying secularism in our government and our schools’ curriculum, or politicians who invoke the Lord’s Prayer at governmental meetings … just keep in mind, this isn’t some miniscule lunatic fringe these are 1/3rd of your friends and neighbors and relatives.
I’m no chicken little. But I’m going to sleep a little better this evening after I send in a contribution to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American’s United for the Separation of Church and State, and the ACLU.
You will too.