Sunday, April 30, 2006

Temple Mount Signs 1

Present day...

Oxymoronic, isn't it?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Scribal Errors

When scribes copied scriptural texts, they made these types of unintentional errors:

Homophony - Replacing a word with another similar sounding word
Dittography - Repetition of words or letters
Homoioteleuton - Omission caused by similar word endings
Mistaken Letters - Misreading one letter as another
Fusion - Not separating words correctly
Metathesis – Changing word order

I make similar mistakes in my work, but the most common to me is Homophony (although misspelling ranks the greatest). I depend on technology to take care of my slippery strokes and a critical mind to question my errant ears. Thank Yahweh I was never put in charge of duplicating scriptural texts. I'd probably make scholars scratch their head harder than those looking at Codex Cantabrigiensis.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Modern Historical Myth

Although The Enlightenment has long been turned into a Dis-Enlightenment in the Post-Modern world, there is still a Positivistic mentality in modern historical analysis which even to this day is making scholastic progress in the Old and New Testament stagnant and impotent. This mentality believes in objective reporting and bare facts. When it sees something like the Bible, which was clearly written by people with theological and even political motivations, it raises its big red flags and says Stop! This is not history! We even see this in Christianity where a believer will confidently dismiss a work or idea critical of their own perspective because it is “biased”.

This is a false dichotomy. There is no such thing as bare facts. There is no one unbiased. There is no such thing as objective perspective. We, being subjects, can only see subjectively. Everything we see and think and hear is filtered through the lens of our world-view, our knowledge, our reason, our philosophy, our motivation, our emotion, our experiences, our agendas, our frailties, our ignorance, etc. The modern idea of history as an unbiased, motivation-free, objective record of the facts is non-existent. Those are the very questions of history! History is about perspective, story, and motivation—whether political, religious, or otherwise. History does not just ask what happened where on what date. It asks why something happened where it happened on that date. It asks what the people believed about themselves and their world which influenced those things which happened or didn't happen and what factors, motivations, and beliefs may have lead to different circumstances.

It is just as historical a question to ask what Socrates believed his death would mean as it is to ask what Yeshua believed his death to mean. Only a fool thinks the records about either Socrates or Yeshua were not written from a certain point-of-view, a certain motivation, or a certain bias and agenda. To deny that the Bible is history because it was written by people who were trying to convince you of certain perspectives about what happened and why is to render all history untouchable.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Natural Theology

As mentioned in my profile, my faith is informed through natural theology. The difference between natural and non-natural theology is that the former requires that knowledge of the divine acting in and through the world comes from evidence in the world itself, while the later does not.

The first is open and public, the second private and personal. The first can be viewed, experienced, explored, and judged by others outside oneself. The second only exists inside the mind of the individual. The first caters to history, reason, and communal faith. The second caters to feeling and personal faith. The first neither forgets and denies what is beyond nature nor thinks that nature and deity are the same. The second frequently forgets and denies what is in nature, becoming either anti-intellectual or fideistic.

A key difference between my faith and the other's is easily explained by a look at my Stage of Truth where both general and special revelation co-exist to inform one another and reason stands at the front. The typical conservative Protestant or Evangelical will be quick to place scripture (special revelation) at the head of the stage and general revelation behind it.

Check out a wonderful post on the concept of prayer and its significance to science, which echoes the concerns of natural theology: “Science and the Supernatural".

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Abominable Patriarchs

Non-faith based critical scholarship believes the Patriarchal stories are entirely fictional. If they have a basis in historical reality, that nugget of true story is beyond our reach in terms of the narratives themselves. But there are a number of evidences which stunt the growth of this perspective while enabling faith-based scholarship, which can better answer the questions, to flourish. One of these is the behavioral activity that characterize the Patriarchs which would make them the subject of cursing, not blessing; of being cut off from Israel, not set up as her fathers.

-Abraham marries his half-sister (Gen 20:12)
Forbidden by Mosaic Law (Lev 18:9, 11; 20:17, Deut 27:22)

-Abraham plants a sacred tree (Gen 21:33)
Forbidden by Mosaic Law (Deut 16:21)

-Jacob is married to two sisters (Rachel and Leah) at the same time (Gen 29)
Forbidden by Mosaic Law (Lev 18:18)

- Jacob sets up cultic pillars or standing stones (Gen 28:18, 22; 31:13)
Forbidden by Mosaic Law (Lev 26:1)

-Judah has an incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law (Gen 38), out of which David, the King of Israel himself, will come (Ruth 4:17-22)
Forbidden by Mosaic Law (Lev 18:15, 20:12)

What Israelite whose life is characterized by the socio-political-religious framework of Mosaic Law would purposely create or entertain a false history of origins which is anathema to this very identity? What kind of nation would magnify their King, David, and his dynasty to such a degree that it is the glory of Israelite history and the image after which the Messiah and his reign is likened, then embrace a false history linking this King to an abominable relationship which would defile his kingship? Someone wishing to create a mythic or fictional history to support and substantiate the current regime and culture would not dare dream up something like this. The least it would do is be immediately rejected and forgotten. The most it would do is get him killed.

We are obviously in touch here with real historical information. King David is the offspring of sin. The patriarchs committed abominable practices. This could be written, accepted, and officially promulgated only because it was true.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Modern Critical Patriarchal Scholarship

Most critical scholarship of the Patriarchs in the last century and a half has taken the stance that they are mythical/fictional characters created in the early to middle first millennium BC. The funny thing is that the difference between a faith-based critical scholar and a non-faith-based critical scholar is not that one thinks the Patriarchs were real people and the other doesn't, but that one believes there is a historical reality behind the fictional stories and the other doesn't. It is then the task of faith-based critical scholarship to uncover the real underlying history through various methods. Those who believe the Patriarchs as they appear in the OT are adequate representations of real people are referred to as “non-critical” and are summarily dismissed by the vast majority. As I continue my studies of the Patriarchal Age, I will present various arguments and evidences related to the respective sides as well as my own conclusions and opinions.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Currently Reading...

"The Patriarchs in Scripture and History" by John Goldingay

as taken from Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives edited by A.R. Millard & D.J. Wiseman

CD Review: Raison d'etre - The Empty Hollow Unfolds

Glorious, minimalistic, disturbing, mysterious, and meditative all describe the dark ambient experience of Raison d'etre's The Empty Hollow Unfolds. The five songs represented here (the longest clocking in at just over 20 minutes) are a further fine-tuning of Peter Andersson's experiment with music that delves into the subconscious mind.

A solemn Latin chant and the strike of a tower bell begins “The Slow Ascent”. Wind-brushed chimes and echoes of industrial landscape flow over us as we climb from a deep, cavernous humming to transitory choirs in the celestial heights.

Warbling elements usher us into “The Hidden Hallows”. Metallic hinges creek as a chilling wind blows through. Then ghostly sirens begin mourning and slowly scratch unseen nails across the walls. We are transfixed by their song until dawn rises, releasing us from the enchantment. The sirens bang upon the abandoned shell in submission as the heavens open to bathe us in light from above.

“End of a Cycle” is the most oppressive piece--cold, impersonal, industrial noises, deep drones, and foreboding homilies in a forgotten tongue swirl around us and then, like waves, rise up and subside, rise up and subside, until diminished by time.

The second to last track is, in my opinion, the highlight of the album. If there were an experimental sound piece which through subliminal exposure could induce dementia, this is it. Unsettling, restless, foreboding, and powerful, “The Wasteland” is a realm where spirits of the slain harmonize over shifting, screeching mechanisms of the industrial age. The music is like a finger probing inside the darkest recesses of the human psyche to uncover our most primal fears.

“The Eternal Return and the Infinity Horizon” is a conclusion that leaves you begging for more. There is a sound like a man trapped inside a machine, then silence. Brief rushes of an airy or watery nature flow over and disappear; then again, but faster; and again, even faster. It is like awakening from a coma. A sound like a foghorn drifts through the mist. There is an impression of dangling chains. The way seems treacherous. Are we prisoner on a ship sailing the river Styx? When we near land, a tribal horn beckons us ashore. We step off the boat and our previous senses shatter. Something holy and righteous is here...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Da Vinci Delirium

There comes a point when so much attention is paid to a thing in order to verify its irrelevance that the opposite end is achieved. After all, a minority view is not the talk of the majority. And usually, when something of little value or worth is proffered, it is not usually treated like gold. That which is ridiculous is more often ignored and dismissed than turned into the focus of a giant symposium. When a clown points his finger at you, rarely do you respond by gathering together a small militia and pointing loaded submachine guns back at him.

Yet everywhere I turn, I cannot escape the constant obsession among Christians with opposing Brown's book. One would think from the importance and stir wrought, that if Brown had walked into a gathering of historical scholars and seminary professors and expounded his ideas, he would leave them shaking in their boots instead of being laughed out of the building with The DVC between his legs and every ounce of dignity destroyed. What's next...a movie in response to the movie?

So why has the opposite occurred? Why has a peddler of arcane imaginations who wouldn't be given the time of day been treated as if he knew what he was talking about and has something that really could cause an upset? If a man can pick up The DVC and think it has something relevant to say about Christ or Christianity, what needs to be addressed is not the book.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Obadiah-Jeremiah Parallels 3

(Continued from Obadiah-Jeremiah Parallels 1 and 2)

What do these parallels mean in terms of the texts themselves?

Did the author of Obadiah plagiarize Jeremiah? Why did they use similar themes, images, and in some instances identical words and phrases to express YHWHs decrees? Did they live and prophecy at the same time in the same places? Did the author of Obadiah hope that by tailoring his judgments after Jeremiah's, his words would be more readily received? Can we explain it as evidence of the same Person inspiring and guiding their prophetic utterances? Was the author of Obadiah a prophet under Jeremiah like Elisha under Elijah?

The question becomes more complex when we realize that the author of the prophecies of Obadiah does not anywhere identify himself. Not only is the “name” Obadiah part of an editorial gloss added as an introduction to the anonymous prophecies, but “Obadiah” may not even be a name. The word means “servant of YHWH” as much as it means the name of a specific person. While there are many people named Obadiah in scripture, there is no mention of any prophet by that name.

What if the author of Obadiah is Jeremiah? What if this letter is another prophecy of Jeremiah's? It appears that even into the first and second centuries AD, the book of Jeremiah was not yet fixed. The Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls preserve a different form of Jeremiah than the Masoretic texts. Some have added verses, in others, whole chapters are missing. Anyone who studies it will recognize the lack of chronological consistency. Narratives are dispersed and broken up among prophecies without apparent form and function like we find in something like Daniel or Revelation. We are dealing with a conglomeration of texts fused into one--which looks different depending on your sources. And don't forget, Jeremiah apparently lost a great deal of his original prophecies and had Baruch re-write them:
Then Jeremiah got another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah. As Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on this scroll everything that had been on the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned in the fire. They also added on this scroll several other messages of the same kind.
--Jeremiah 36:32, NET
What if the text of “Obadiah” is one of those messages added by Jeremiah to the re-write of his own prophecies? To follow this line of thought... because the text itself did not name its author, it was appended to Jeremiah's known body of work and later given an identification ambiguous enough to allow for it to be identified as Jeremiah's (if it was) or point to another prophet (if it wasn't).

Obadiah-Jeremiah Parallels 2

Continued from Obadiah-Jeremiah Parallels 1

Obadiah 1:5a

If thieves came to you, destroyers by night
would they not have stolen until they had enough?
If the grape-gatherers came to you,
would they not leave gleanings?
Jeremiah 49:9
If the grape-gatherers come to you,
would they not leave gleanings?
If thieves come by night,
will they destroy more than enough for them?

Obadiah 1:6
How Esau is searched out!
His hidden things are sought out!
Jeremiah 49:10a
But I have stripped Esau; I have uncovered his secret places,
and he shall not be able to hide himself

Obadiah 1:8
Will I not in that day, says YHWH,
destroy the wise from Edom,
and understanding from the mount of Esau?
Jeremiah 49:7
So says YHWH of hosts concerning Edom,
Is wisdom no more in Teman?
Has council perished from the prudent?
Has their wisdom vanished?

Obadiah 1:9b
Everyone will be destroyed from the mountains of Esau.
Jeremiah 49:10b
Their children, relatives, and neighbors will all be destroyed.

Obadiah 1:16a
For as you drank on my holy mountain,
so shall all the nations drink continually;
yes, they shall drink, and swallow
Jeremiah 49:12
For so says YHWH, Behold, they whose judgment
was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drank.
And are you to be entirely unpunished?
You shall not go unpunished, but you will surely drink

Monday, April 17, 2006

Obadiah-Jeremiah Parallels 1

One of the bizarre mysteries of the prophecies in Obadiah are their almost identical relationship to the words of the prophet Jeremiah. Approximately a third of the prophecy in Obadiah is almost indistinguishable from portions of the forty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah. The next few posts will feature these Obadiah-Jeremiah parallels.

Obadiah 1:1c
We have heard a message from YHWH,
and a messenger has been sent among the nations;
Arise and let us rise up against her for battle.
Jeremiah 49:14
I have heard a message from YHWH,
and a messenger has been sent to the nations;
Gather together and come against her
and rise up to battle.

Obadiah 1:2
Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
you shall be greatly despised.
Jeremiah 49:15
For indeed, I will make you small among the nations;
despised among men.

Obadiah 1:3
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
whose habitation is high;
you who say in your heart,
Who will bring me down to the ground?
Jeremiah 49:16a
Your fierceness has deceived you,
the pride of your heart,
O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
who hold the height of the hill;

Obadiah 1:4
Though you ascend as high as the eagle,
and though you set your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down, says YHWH.
Jeremiah 49:16b
though you make your nest as high as the eagle,
I will bring you down from there, says YHWH.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Friday, April 14, 2006

Garden Tomb

Ash Scrolls of Herculaneum

National Geographic has a new streaming video about scrolls that were preserved by an ancient eruption of Mount Vesuvius which (thanks to modern technology) are being read again after 2,000 years. Watch it here.

Flood Myth Comments

On Metacrocks's blogsite, there is an interesting post called "The Bible Between The Lines."

Metacrock brings up some fabulous points:

1. That biblical literature should primarily be understood according to underlying and controlling narrative, not by a kind of strict, surface-level literalism (see my posts on the Nature of Scripture 1, 2, 3, and 4)

2. Modern skeptics are unable to accept or believe scripture not because biblical texts are irrational, superstitious, flawed, fictional, or outdated, but because modern skeptics are prisoners of their own culture and time-ethnocentric is a polite way of saying it.

But there are some things I take issue with.

First, he says that modern skeptics are anachronistic because they are applying their current viewpoints onto something from a different time period which was meant to be understood differently. But then he turns around and does the same thing. He said the flood narrative in Genesis is myth because "it's just like other texts" (the Babylonian and Sumerian myths) and that those other texts are "much older". So he was applying a viewpoint from a different time onto the flood story in Genesis just like he accused Modernists of doing. Except this time it is not a modern ethnocentricity, it is a "popular universal" ethnocentricity of the ancient Sumerian/Babylonian world. Instead of looking at the Genesis flood story as a Modernist thousands of years after the Genesis story may have been written, Metacrock is looking at it as a Babylonian or Sumerian thousands of years before the Genesis story may have been written. He has become the enthnocentric skeptic he is denouncing--only from a different time frame.

Also, literarily speaking, what makes the Genesis flood story "the same myth" or "just like" the others in the ancient world such as Gilgamesh? Just because it says there was a flood like the others do? That hardly makes Genesis's flood story "the same" or "just like" the other flood stories. There are a vast number of differences between the Genesis flood story and any other ancient flood narrative, which disproves the old "common ancestry" argument. I will probably give a short list of them at some point on my blog.

As to the nature of Genesis' flood story, whether mythic or not, I cannot be certain at this point.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poem To The Crucified King

by slaveofone

Once upon a hill of pain
There hung a sacrificial lamb
Without blemish or defect
That held no worth to mortal man.

Their spit ran down across His face
His clothes were torn and cast aside
The sting of word and whip his gain
To bring about a holy bride.

The certificate of debt
That hung above my cell
Convicted me of all my sin
And banished me to hell

This legal scroll of sentenced time
That was a witness to my crime
Wouldn't fall until I'd paid
For the sins the Judge had bade.

My only hope a single word
Inscribed upon its judgement deep
That pardoned me from a law
I wasn't meant to keep.

Yet from the tree I heard a shout
A victorious battle cry,
Resounding from a hollow skin
He said, Tetelestai!

Paid in full! I heard Him say.
My heart was turned to mud
For my certificate of debt
Was covered by His blood.

And so it happened in that day
On the hilltop of the skull
Yeshua gave his life away
My debt was paid in full.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Last Supper Significance

"Jesus' last meal with his followers was a deliberate double drama. As a Passover meal (of sorts), it told the story of Jewish history in terms of divine deliverance from tyranny, looking back to the exodus from Egypt and on to the great exodus that was still eagerly awaited. But Jesus' meal fused this great story together with another one: the story of Jesus' own life and of his coming death. It somehow involved him in the god-given drama, not as a spectator, or as one participant among many, but as the central character....

Jesus intended this meal to symbolize the new exodus, the arrival of the kingdom through his own fate. The meal, focused on Jesus' actions with the bread and cup, told the Passover story, and Jesus' own story, and wove these two into one....

....that those who shared the meal, not only then but subsequently, were the people of the renewed covenant, the people who received 'the forgiveness of sins', that is, the end of exile. Grouped as they were around him, they constituted the true eschatological Israel."
--Tom Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, p.554, 559, 563

The Penultimate Supper

Good evening, your Holiness.
Evening, Michelangelo. I want to have a word with you about this painting of yours, "The Last Supper."
Oh, yeah?
I'm not happy about it.
Oh, dear. It took me hours.
Not happy at all.
Is it the jello you don't like?
Ah, no, I know, they do have a bit of colour, don't they? Oh, I know, you don't like the kangaroo?
What kangaroo?
No problem, I'll paint him out.
I never saw a kangaroo!
Uuh...he's right in the back. I'll paint him out! No sweat, I'll make him into a disciple.
All right?
That's the problem.
What is?
The disciples.
Are they too Jewish? I made Judas the most Jewish.
No, it's just that there are twenty-eight of them.

From Monty Python, Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
(read the entire "Michelangelo" skit here)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ABC's Ten Commandments

Proof that Christians aren't the only ones who make bad Bible films. Official site.

Q1: Why is Pharaoh a juvenile white man?
Q2: Why is this film in no way Israelite, Canaanite, or Egyptian?
Q3: Why was I watching this?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Lost Passover Scripture?

Justin Martyr, a Greek Christian from the 2nd Century and one of the first Christian apologists, wrote a "dialogue" with a Jew named Trypho sometime around 150 AD. In this massive book, Justin claims that the Jews have purposely changed the scriptures because of Christianity and quotes from a number of verses that were either changed or taken out of the Jewish texts. One of these is a speech by Ezra (or Esdras) concerning Passover.
“They have deleted the following passage in which Ezra expounded the law of the Passover: 'And Ezra said to the people: This Passover is our Savior and refuge. And if you have understood, and it has entered into your hearts, that we are about to humiliate Him on a cross, and afterwards hope in Him, then this place will never be forsaken, saith the Lord of hosts. But if you will not believe Him, nor listen to His teaching, you will be the laughing-stock of the Gentiles”
--Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 72:1
This same passage is quoted by Lactantius in the beginning of the third century.
“In Esdras it is thus written: "And Ezra said to the people, This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. Consider and let it come into your heart, that we have to abase Him in a figure; and after these things we will hope in Him, lest this place be deserted for ever, saith the Lord God of hosts. If you will not believe Him, nor hear His announcement, ye shall be a derision among the nations."
--Lactantius, Divine Institutions, 4.18
(and again in Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 48)
It seems ludicrous to suggest that Justin, a learned scholar and philosopher, who is composing an argument from an intellectual and scholastic Greek background, and speaking toward Jews who would know the history of their texts better than your average Pagan or Gentile, would invent verses and then argue that they were taken out of scripture. What is even more strange is that no one seems to have called Justin's bluff if he did make it up as Christians were fond of doing with heretical or bogus texts, verses, and theologies from the get-go.

But if such verses did exist, where do they come from? From the Biblical Ezra? From one of the many Apocryphal or Apocalyptic Ezra books? Lactantius may have simply relied on the passage from Justin for his quotes, but if so, this still doesn't answer where Justin got his from. And if it really existed in a manuscript, why do we have no evidence of it? Surely the Jews could not have so completely erased it that nothing is left today. They evidently left sufficient evidence for Justin to make his claims.

Does anyone have insight on the origins of this anomaly?

Scientists/Students Applaud Human Annihilation

Scientist gives lecture at University about destroying 90% of all humankind by airborne Ebola. Receives standing ovation by scientific community and approval from students and faculty. Here.
“We're no better than bacteria!”
--Dr. Eric Pianka, from "Meeting Doctor Doom" by Forrest Mims III

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fishing on the Sea of Galilee

"And he said, 'The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.'"
--Gospel of Thomas, Saying 8

"'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.'"
--Gospel of Matthew, 13:47-48 ESV

Friday, April 07, 2006

Gospel of Judas Published

Download portions of the translation here. (I know one of the translators. He taught my previous best male friend and previous girlfriend NT Greek.)

To learn more, see the “official” site on National Geographic here.

Historically speaking, the newly discovered Gospel of Judas will tell us nothing about Yeshua, Judas, or the first few centuries of Christianity. It is, however, a valuable historical find and a hokey curiosity. Until this manuscript of the "gospel", we only knew of it from ancient church father Irenaeus who says this about it:
“Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.”
--Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 31:1

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Last Words of Muhammad

In Islam, the Hadith, which are records of Muhammad's words and life, are considered just as holy and sacred as the Qur'an. These are the last words of Muhammad as passed down from eye-witnessess.
"May Allah fight the jews and the christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration . Two deens [religions] shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs."
--Muhammad, Hadith, Malik's Muwatta, 45.5.17
And so there are not. Jews and Christians since the beginning were slaughtered by the sword, subjected to violence and terrorism, and driven from any land Muslims set foot in in obedience to the words of their Prophet. And so it will continue to be. Islam cannot co-exist with any other religion or belief system in the world unless either it ceases to be Islamic or it destroys and slays that which is not.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Darwin's Creator

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one...”
--last sentence of Darwin's “On The Origin of Species...”, 1st edition
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one....”
--last sentence of Darwin's “On The Origin of Species...”, later editions
Apparently, Darwin made several corrections to his book after reading On the Genesis of Species by Mivart, a devastating critique of his theory of Natural Selection. Perhaps the addition of the words “by the Creator” are in response to that. Or perhaps Darwin felt pressure from the scientific community. The information is, however, implicit without the added phrase. Breathing is not an aspect of dead matter. It can only mean a Creator unless it is being used mystically—i.e., to use personal language to describe non-personality.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Beyond Iraq

39 years ago on this day, Martin Luther King gave a speech called "Beyond Vietnam", which the people of the U.S.-especially its Christians-would be wise to remember.

I should preface by saying the situation today is not at all the same as it was with Vietnam. There are many things Martin Luther says we must do that we have done, which did not happen in Vietnam. But there are still parallels that should not be overlooked.
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

"War is not the answer. Communism [or terrorism] will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons [or invasions and foreign military occupations]."

"This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative [for Muslim and terrorist]? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao [or to Saddam, his regime, and terrorists] as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?"
--Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967

Monday, April 03, 2006

New Eisenbrauns Catalog

Just arrived today. I feel like a kid in a candy store--a kid in a candy store with little money and feeling very, very small.

Books that immediately caught my eye:

The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra

The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra

by Marguerite Yon
Eisenbrauns,Forthcoming May 2006
viii + 188 pages,English
ISBN: 1575060299
Your Price: $34.50

The End of Wisdom

The End of Wisdom
A Reappraisal of the Historical and Canonical Function of Ecclesiastes
EIS - Eisenbrauns
by Martin A. Shields
xiii + 250 pages,English
ISBN: 1575061023
Your Price: $37.50

The Standard Babylonian Creation Myth

The Standard Babylonian Creation Myth
Enuma Elish
State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts - SAACT 4
Edited by Philippe Talon
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP,2005
xx + 138 pages,English and French
Paper,175 x 250 mm
ISBN: 9521013281
Your Price: $34.00

The Use of Zechariah in Revelation

The Use of Zechariah in Revelation
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2 Reihe - WUNT 199
by Marko Jauhiainen
Mohr Siebeck,2005
x + 200 pages,English
ISBN: 3161486633
Your Price: $55.00

Ah, to dream. Maybe I'll purchase one for my birthday...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Proof of the Silliness

Monty Python's Meaning of Life

The Monty Python troupe... You either love them or hate them. In my youth, I adored them. I formed and was President of the Monty Python Club (officially the Dead Parrot Society) senior year of high school. I never laughed harder in my life than the first time I saw that bovine get launched in Holy Grail. And who among us will ever forget the penalty for saying “Jehovah” from Life of Brian? But I never liked Meaning of Life.

The Meaning of Life is not horrible... The soundtrack is hilarious and the film has its moments. But overall, I've always thought of this as their big flop. Considering that its artists speak multiple languages, are educated at some of the most prestigious institutions, and have an exceptional knowledge of everything from philosophy to history to art, I hoped for their erudite sophistications to come through in a film which purposes to answer “the big question”. Except for a brief mention of Schopenhauer, my hopes were frustrated. In the end, the answer to the question of the meaning of life is this:
“Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”
I, of all people, know the Pythons better than that. The real meaning of life that the Python's preached--the meaning that is presupposed in the songs, skits, and actual structure of the film itself—is that life is ultimately absurd. The Pythons used comedy as an expression for their view of reality. Since the vast, empty, impersonal cosmos is ultimately greater than man and there is nothing beyond or greater than that, the film focuses on all the different so-called “stages of life” in humanity (from birth to death and the big Christmas party at the end) that are the only things that make man who and what he is. Therefore the meaning is simply to be as you are. A man lives, breathes, shits, and hopefully has some fun along the way, therefore go and do so, amen.

It is ultimately an anti-philosophy or an anti-meaning. The Pythons have failed to find an answer because they never believed there was one. The film is a mockery of life, not an attempt to find its meaning. Along the way, it turns this anti-philosophy on the most special moments of life in order to show them up as fraudulent. Before the credits roll, even the voice of the Pythons is silenced in the great meaningless nothing of space.

To quote an earlier film, "you come from nothing, you're going back to nothing, what have you lost? Nothing."