Monday, May 27, 2013
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