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The Two (Thousand) Faced God

July 17, 2012 Leave a comment

HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR

I came across this image the other day while I was browsing r/atheism, and I thought to myself “… Huh.” I immediately launched into a write up, which was fraught with error, improperly formatted, and frankly just totally scatterbrained. Naturally, it got 120 points and a bunch of posts from people commending me, so that was cool. It made me feel better about myself. So here I am, lazy, and instead of writing entirely new material, I’m going to clean up what I wrote on r/atheism and call it its own thing.

So the argument in the image is that John and 1 John say nobody’s seen God’s face, and Jacob sees God face to face in Genesis? Seems straightforward enough, but let’s have a look at The Many Faces of God.

Unfff... Ungh... Errrrggh...

Okay, there’s a fairly complex bit of theology and narrative tradition here, but before we even get to the verses in question I think we’ll just jump right in at Genesis 16.7-13.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her,

‘Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;
you shall call him Ishmael,
for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
He shall be a wild ass of a man,
with his hand against everyone,
and everyone’s hand against him;
and he shall live at odds with all his kin.’

So she named the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi’; for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’ (Genesis 16.7-13) 

In the story, an angel of the LORD appears to Sarai’s slave-girl, Hagar. The angel convinces Hagar to return home, and informs her that she will bear a son. Despite the benevolent character having been referred to as an angel, it is clearly identified as the LORD in 16.13, where she declares that she will call Him ‘El-roi,’ meaning “The God Who Sees,” or “The God of Seeing.” It is not just an angel, but the LORD Himself, and He’s making Himself visible in the form of an angel. This introduces the notion that God can make Himself known without appearing in his “true form,” as we’ll call it. A good reference point for this is Dragonball Z. Many people see Frieza, but you’ve gotta be a real bad-arse to witness his true form and survive. God works kind of the same way or something.

With that out of the way, I think we’re ready to take on Jacob seeing God face to face.

The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 

Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ 

The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle. (Genesis 33.22-32)

The first thing you might notice about this passage is that it’s really fucking weird. I think we’ll go a little deeper.

What might not be immediately obvious to someone reading the text in English is the complex wordplay at work in the story. For instance, Jacob’s name in Hebrew is Ya’aqob (יַעֲקֹב), the name of the river Jabbok is Yabboq (יַבֹּק), and the Hebrew word for “wrestled” is Wayye’abeq ( וַיֵּאָבֵק). While this looks like nothing to most of us, these words have highly similar pronunciations, and form an important—and intricate—pattern within the story. Through this combination of words, both the setting and the event are drawn around Jacob’s name, and so we can determine that the structure has been carefully chosen to fit with the theme of the story. Jacob’s wrestling match with the LORD leads to a conclusion wherein the LORD renames him Israel, or “The One Who Strives with God.” “God Strives” is another acceptable translation. This replaces the name Jacob, which is a play on words from his birth narrative, meaning “He Supplants,” something Jacob had a bad habit of doing (see Genesis 27).

The Hebrew people, as descendants of Jacob, are portrayed as strong and worthy, because Jacob was the man who wrestled with God. As they saw it, they were still wrestling, and so the narrative only helps to show that this struggle was ingrained directly within their lineage. It was something they had always done, and would always do.

Jacob names the place where he wrestled with the LORD Peniel, meaning “The Face of God,” standing as a reminder that he, who had previously been afraid to so much as face his brother Esau (v. 20) had now wrestled with a deity and survived, something that is tubular by its very nature. As is a common theme in the Bible, the LORD helps Jacob to uncover and utilize his inner strength. This is portrayed best by Jacob’s hip being put out of socket by the LORD, something which does not stop him, alluding to the fact that Jacob’s strength comes from within. Of course, he needs the LORD to unleash that inner potential, but potential it most assuredly is.

All of this meshes with 16.13 quite nicely. Jacob did not wrestle with God in His true form, but with a representation of the deity. The story is a representation of man’s every day struggles with God, and how God helps us to find our inner strengths. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the story is entirely metaphorical either. There’s no doubt it was meant to be taken as at least somewhat literal history. Take, for instance, the etiological conclusion that Jacob’s battle is the reason for the prohibition against eating the thigh muscle.  However, the legitimacy of the story is entirely secondary to the theological conclusion, which must involve only a representation of a deity. The veracity of the account lends to the authority of the theology, but the theology is the most important aspect of the narrative.

We can then use Exodus 33.11a as further indication that “face to face” does not literally mean seeing God, but rather talking with Him personally, rather than within dreams or visions.

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. (Exodus 33.11a)

Moses is said to talk with God face to face despite the fact that in 33.20-23 God tells Moses that he cannot see the actual face of God. Thus, the LORD shows Moses his backside.

But’, he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’ (Exodus 33.20-23)

The common assumption of the period was that the LORD spoke to people through dreams and visions, and anyone who was on a physical speaking basis with the LORD was seriously blessed, and probably awesome. To even hear the voice of the LORD would be to speak with Him face to face.

So let’s finally get into the New Testament, where our Johannine friend makes claims about who has seen God.

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. (John 1.18)

"Guess I'd better crank this shit out."

Oh, it’s fucking nobody. Nobody has seen God.

The writer here claims that “No one has ever seen God,” not actually mentioning His face. This claim is repeated in 1 John 4.12, which states that No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”  On a physical level, the Johannine philosophy is that God resides within, and that the many manifestations of God that we see (the poor, the sick, the needy, Jesus Christ) are forms of God, but again, not His truest physical state. They are merely aspects of His being. However, I’d be doing a total disservice to both of these passages if I just left it at that.

The word we translate here as seen is actually ἑώρακεν, which is literally rendered as “seen,” but  more accurately means “to understand.” Seeing is understanding. In that case, we can do a very quick switch up, which leaves us with the closer translation: “No one has ever understood God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” That makes more sense. Okay, good. Phew. It’s all explained.

Oh wait, no it’s not. Just to fart out a few more, 1 Timothy 6.16 states that It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.” Again, the word here for seen is ἰδεῖν, which totally means “know” as well as “see.” John 6.46 states “Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.”  The word is ἰδεῖν once more, just as it was seen in 1 Timothy. There are multiple occasions in the Tanakh where the LORD appears to people as well, and I won’t go through every one of them, but suffice to say, one should not jump to the conclusion that “the LORD appearing” literally means He appeared and was just chilling with Abraham and Isaac, especially given that the LORD often appeared as a booming voice, and not as a physical presence. Similarly, we should be careful not to assume that the metaphors of the Psalms, or the visions of Isaiah, are referencing the actual physical appearance of the LORD. I suppose those verses could very well be the subject of another essay entirely, but I’ll leave it there for now, cause I am tired.

By looking at the texts critically, we come to a better understanding of what they’re actually trying to tell us. Genesis and John were written by very, very different authors (or sets of authors) who had different vocabularies, different theologies, and different languages. The conventions they used to name concepts were different, and so when two words converge in the English language, they don’t necessarily carry the same meaning. We end here with the two texts agreeing that no one has ever literally seen the face of God, but on a deeper level, they could hardly be talking about two more different subjects.

To cap off, I think that people often forget that we don’t really know what God wants, even if we think we do. We can grapple with it and come to personal conclusions, or we can take all our answers out of a book (bad idea) but there’s no way for us to, in actuality, know what’s up. Too often I see people—myself included—speaking for God. God hates fags, God wants needs my money, and God demands marriage. God loves some people, God loves all people, and God hates black people. The Johannine school was onto something really cool with what they wrote in 1 John. If we love one another, God’s love is perfected within us. Fuck obscure passages, fuck trying to figure out what each and every prohibition means. What is the God in front of you saying? He’s saying love me, feed me, clothe me, help me. He’s saying “Do what’s right,” and He’s not telling us every detail of what that entails. For all the complex theology, the wordplay, the moral lessons and the do’s and do not’s, what’s most important is not to be a selfish dick.

Prayer Palass

And that’s why I still hate the Prayer Palace. The end.

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Mark’s Gospel and the Really, Really, Really Barren Fig Tree

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Ain't got a clue, these guys

I don’t know what it is, but this has come up a couple of times for me in the past week, so I thought I’d address it briefly. I don’t like seeing people take the Bible out of context, and I especially don’t like when people assume they understand the text just by reading one or two lines and inferring whatever they feel like from it. In fact, I’ve decided to write a series of essays, for my own personal benefit, on scriptural questions or assumptions I find around the internet (and most prominently on r/atheism). I figure this will be a good way for me to brush up on what I already know. After all, if you don’t use it, you lose it, and so it’s not a way for me to school others, but myself.

On that note, it seems that the people in this image are confused by… The Barren Fig Tree:

"What the—?"

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
   But you have made it a den of robbers.” 

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’ Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea’, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”(Mark 11.12-24)

The Barren Fig Tree, at a glance, makes Jesus look nuts. Or stupid. Or both. To the casual observer, you’ve got Christ shouting at a tree because it’s not producing fruit, and apparently it’s out of season in the first place, so yeah, that sucks and what the hell’s He thinking? His actions come across as audacious and self-important—less so the characteristics of the most humble messiah. While not framed as a parable, this story is one of the most powerful metaphoric fables within the Evangelion, and contrary to its inexplicable appearance, it’s some harsh shit.

It’s also repeated in a slightly different order, and with a slightly different message, in Matthew 21.18-19, which I recommend people read as well.

The story of the Barren Fig Tree in Mark is a prime example of the Markan Sandwich. A common literary technique in Mark is to embed a story within two fragments of another story (Mark 3.19b-35; 4.1–20; 5.21–43; 6.7–30; 11.12-24; 14.1–11; 14.17–31; 14.53–72; 15.40–16.8). While seemingly unrelated, in each instance the two stories are carefully intertwined and work together to deliver a cohesive theological message. In this case, our very fruity sandwich looks like this:

  • [Barren Fig Tree Bun]I can't explain the cheese
  • [Temple Meat]
  • [Barren Fig Tree Bun]

(Matthew does not make use of this  technique, explaining the discrepancy in the order of events).

We can’t really understand what’s going on in the temple without knowing what’s going on with the fig tree, and we can’t really know what’s going on with the fig tree unless we know what’s going on with the temple, so it takes a little bit of hopping back and forth between the two narratives to really get a clear picture of what we’re looking at.

First, let’s dive into the Tanakh to try and get a look at the importance of the fig tree. The best verse, in my mind, is Hosea 9.10, which states that “… Like the first fruit on the fig tree, in its first season, I saw your ancestors.” Here, first fruit is a reference to Israel as the LORD’s chosen—‘divinely elected’ in the wilderness. Similarly, check out Jeremiah 2.3, where Israel is referred to as “… the first fruits of [YHVH’s] harvest.” Deuteronomy 32.10, part of a song tracing Israel’s history up and to the wilderness period, also makes mention of Israel as the LORD’s chosen fruit; the “apple of his eye.” This is likely the source of the notion of Israel as the LORD’s fruit.

Of course, as usual, the Israelite’s totally squandered their shit. In Isaiah 34.4b, an oracle from the works of Proto-Isaiah, the author delivers a prophetic smack down, stating that “… All their host shall wither like a leaf withering on a vine, or fruit withering on a fig tree.” Christ’s condemnation of the fig tree is meant as a reference to this prophecy in Isaiah. Just to throw fuel on the fire, in Jeremiah 5.17, it’s written that “… they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees…” The threat of enemies gobbling up the harvest was pretty common in Israel at the time, and is often used as a curse (Leviticus 26.16; Deuteronomy 28.25-37).

All of this helps to explain the metaphor that Christ is using here. Israel is the fig tree, the LORD’s first chosen, and its figs are its spiritual gains. Thus, the tree full of leaves, despite being out of season, is a reference to Israel’s status as the first chosen of the LORD. By all means, this tree should have a bumper crop of figs. Figs everywhere. Instead… no figs.

This entire story works well in the context of what Christ had to say about grapes in John as well:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15.1-2)

So to get an idea of what Jesus is talking about by fruits, I’m also gonna throw in a really cool quote from Paul in Galatians:

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5.22-23)

This list of virtues was clearly lacking in Jerusalem, where Christ saw that people had become bogged down with a xenophobic obsession with the law, and with pride for their culture at the expense of others, including their own people. Christ saw people calling in God’s name while simultaneously worshiping money, using faith to gain status, and making a mockery of goodness on a grandiose scale. These elements are present throughout the entirety of the four gospels, and this story works to sum up the end result of their actions.

With the first part of the fig tree story acting as the bottom bun of the sandwich, the meat of the story is placed when Jesus enters into the temple only to find it crowded with money changers and commercial vendors. Obviously, He was not pleased. As a historical reference, in 20 BCE, Herod the Great rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, only to fill it with ornate columns, fountains, and shops. It had been taken from a place of solemn worship and transformed into a commercial enterprise. No longer was its focus to honour God through sincere sacrifice, but instead it had been turned into a “Wonder of the Roman Imperial World.” A bustling micro-economy was at work, with people changing money and selling sacrifices without really thinking at all about the implications. No longer were people offering up to God, and honouring the codified rituals that make up the moral system of the Law. Instead, the temple ran itself like a theme park, with sacrifice being just one of the many tourist attractions. Worship became spectacle, and spectacle profit. It was Jerusalem’s answer to Disney World.

As Christ’s anger flares, and He overturns the tables and drives out the money changers and the counter girls, we see a very famous passage. I’ll quote it again:

 “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
   But you have made it a den of robbers. 
(Mark 11.17b)

Here, Jesus quotes Isaiah 56.7, saying “for my house shall be called a house of prayer,” only to immediately follow it up with Jeremiah 7.11, which states “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight?” This set of prophecies comes together as a scathing criticism of the temple.

One might translate “den of robbers” as “bandits’ stronghold,” (σπήλαιον  λῃστῶν in Mark; הַמְעָרַת פָּרִצִים in Jeremiah) further further implying that the upper class stole from the poor and then went and sought refuge in the temple, something we’re familiar with even today.

To sum it up, the temple is leaves without fruit. We are told to watch for fruits:

 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Matthew 24.32-33)

Orthodorky

The top bun of the sandwich is plopped on when Jesus and his disciples pass by the fig tree again the next day only to find it withered. Christ informs his followers that they must trust in prophecy, and in Him, something which is most clearly stated in verse 14 where it’s written that “… his disciples heard it.” The disciples watched as Jesus condemned Israel and cursed it to wither. The disciples watched again as Christ scorned the temple dicks with His disparaging prophecies, teaching how they had come to light. Christ is rejecting Israel. His cursing the fig tree is proof through prophecy for the disciples, as they hear Him, that they are doing the right thing in establishing His church.

Christ is bringing His kingdom to those who will bear fruits—the Gentiles. The Jews have had their chance and have borne nothing, instead turning against God to serve, as usual, money and power. Christ then proceeds to take this notion of who’s a “have” and who’s a “have not” and turns it on its head:

“Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea’, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11.24)

Christ isn’t literally saying that faith will make actual mountains jump into the sea, but that much is obvious. He’s saying that the disciples, if they put their faith into Christ and His mission, will be able to change the shape of the whole world. They did. With this quote, Christ closes the narrative, and for all his harsh words, ends on a promise.

It’s not a story about what Christ deserves, like people might be inclined to think, but what people deserve. This story showcases Christ’s prophetic condemnations both literally and through striking and complex metaphor. The anger and reproach behind Christ’s actions show the gravity of Israel’s offenses. Despite this, He’s not cutting Israel off, but offering them a promise. Through kindness, selflessness, and faith, they can have everything.

To close off on a slightly different topic, I feel like this essay is coming at a really good time for me. I’m moving to a new area in a few weeks, and I’ll be living right near a church calling itself the Prayer Palace. With almost no outreach ministry to speak of, and a pantheon of pastors who have more money than God Himself, I can’t help but be reminded of the Barren Fig Tree, and what it means for mega churches in the modern world. In a 3000 member strong congregation, you can be sure there are good people doing great things. I just can’t help but feel like, with all the allegations against their staff, the trees are probably a little more withered at the Prayer Palace than elsewhere just up the road.

Future Proof Your Ads

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Advertisers should factor nostalgia into their advertisements. Watching advertisements for current events, products, and deals is exhausting, and even sometimes infuriating. It’s also boring. There are a few ads that people “love,” but in general nobody wants to see that goddamn fucking Chuck Norris argh.

However, no matter how fucking asinine, people love to veg out and watch old ass commercials. People literally go online and seek out that fucking Sears air conditioner commercial like they’re looking for water in the desert. 

Advertisers should really take hold of this, and future-proof their commercials. By simultaneously branding your commercial with tons and tons of current trends, you are essentially ensuring that nobody in the future will understand for even 10 fucking seconds why people are dressed that way, which means that a decade or two from now they’re going to want to watch the commercial. It gets sneaky when you find ways to advertise to this future audience, by making corporate brands seem enticing, even if the product line has totally changed by the time people are getting nostalgic over your ad. 

“Three pizza meal deal on now at Pizza Hut for only $29.99. Deal available now through May 31st, and then again all through the month of May in 2028. Featured product and deal subject to change and inflation.”

Categories: Uncategorized

The Bible and Homosexuality: Facts subject to be wrong??

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I wanted to do a quick write up on the Bible and its take on homosexuality, so I’m going to cover a few key points very quickly with both historical and Biblical references as my sources. None of this is new, but instead only meant to reiterate a few key points for a few key people.

First, the Old Testament:

Commonly, Sodom and Gomorrah are cited as having been judged for their sexual depravity and immorality.  It’s clear, though, reading from a historical perspective, that their sin was a lack of hospitality, not any sort of sexual sin. Their depravity was a result of said lack of hospitality, which led them to rape. The implication here is great. When Genesis was written (and indeed, up until about 10th century AD) the general consensus was that homosexual acts could only be committed for violent purposes. That is, rape and domination. So, the angels came in disguise and the men of the city came to dominate them and prove their superiority; an insubordination unto God, and a violent, depraved act.

Many cultures, including but not limited to the Greeks and Romans would rape conquered foreign men as an act of dominance and shaming. We see a variant of this in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah- the visitors of Lot (who turn out to be angels) are saved from attempted rape of this kind by Lot. It is very interesting, therefore that when Sodom and Gomorrah are referenced later, their sexual sin is only mentioned as an expression of deeper sins.

He did not spare the neighbours of Lot,

   whom he loathed on account of their arrogance. (Ecclesiastes 16:8)

 

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

 

In Luke 10, and several places in Jewish Wisdom literature, the sin of Sodom is referred to as inhospitality to outsiders.

 

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:8-12) 

 

The depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah was not their sin, although it was a result of their sin. Their sin was their inhospitable nature. They raped outsiders, lauded themselves above all visitors, including the messengers of God. Their sin, above all else, was their disrespect. 

 

The only evidence against this interpretation comes from Jude, seen here:

Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)

However, not only is this passage vague, and an undermining of Christ’s own teachings, it’s typical Jude miscalculation. Take, for instance, the following passage in Jude:

It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See, the Lord is coming with tens of thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage. (Jude 1:14-16)

Jude is seen here quoting Enoch, which, at best is considered lesser scripture by the church’s which accept it. Our church doesn’t even acknowledge it as having been inspired by God, and for good reason. The book is rife with inconsistencies, and speaks of God in absolutes for where else in the Bible he is not known. It shows him as a war God who will strike down the impudent and a God who sides with the powerful, not the meek, blatantly opposite to YHWH’s teachings elsewhere.

Next is Leviticus. The passages in question come from chapters 18 and 20:

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)

The first, and most obvious thing to note is that we don’t kill people any more. That’s blatantly against the fabric of a moral culture, but it fits right in with 4th century BCE interpretations of killing. The Old Testament, after all, never actually cites “Thou shalt not kill,” but “Thou shalt not murder.” Since then, we have come to define nearly all kinds of killing as murder with very few exceptions, something that can be attributed not only to societal development, but to Jesus Christ’s condemnation of Levitical practices and the Law in general, calling it a curse for which no man can succeed. The New Testament, much more than the Old Testament, is against killing, and we are NT followers first and foremost.

However, these passages need to be looked at in greater context. Take careful note of the fact that the passages do not condemn lesbian practices. For a book that is so utterly specific so as to note nearly every relation one must not have (done to uncle’s wives married in) it’s strange it wouldn’t condemn lesbian practices. The chapter, its entirety, also doesn’t mention father/daughter relationships. Why? When Leviticus was written, a woman was the property of her father, and later her husband. Naturally, a father could then see fit to treat his daughter as he saw fit, even if that meant removing her sexual purity. However, any act against that girl by an outsider, whether consensual or not, was considered rape. Why? Because she belonged to her father, and so her consent was not her own. It required the consent of the father, and so it was seen as rape. All extra-marital sex in the Bible is seen in the same way—as rape, because the woman’s body does not belong to her. It is theft to sleep with her. She is her father’s property, or her husband’s.

So then why condemn male/male sexual practices at all if the passage is about property rights? Because it’s actually about maintaining the patriarchal order. For a man to sleep with another man is for one man to dominate another, and so to undermine a male’s social status. It makes at least one of the two men a woman and thus denigrates his social status. The passage is not concerned with homosexuality in itself, but rather men losing their social status, and thus their grip on their property (women). Jesus reformed all this. In fact, the passage points to Jesus in an unexpected way.

The word abomination, in its original context, does not refer to something that is inherently bad. It refers to something which is seen as terrible to a certain group at a certain time. There are no concrete abominations in life. They are subject to change over time and place. It’s an abomination in our culture not to wash our hands, but in India they don’t see it the same way. Are we right then, and they’re wrong? No. They just do things differently. They eat with their clean hand only, an abomination to us but perfectly normal to them. In our society, as women are not property, homosexuality cannot be seen as an abomination in this context.

Other mentions of Old Testament homosexuality refer to the term “kadesh,” a Hebrew word which is often mistranslated as the male form of “kadeshah,” which is a female prostitute. Kadesh, on the other hand, relates to an indentured male prostitute who is a sex slave to his master. Whoops.

In at least one place, however, there is evidence for a possible homosexual relationship in the Bible, that between David and Jonathan. Take for instance, this passage from 2 Samuel.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
   your love to me was wonderful,
   passing the love of women.
(2 Samuel 1:26)

David is all but explicitly stating here that he’s in love with Jonathan, saying he prefers Jonathan’s love to the love of a woman. Jonathan’s love for David has surpassed the love of women.

Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved. (1 Samuel 18:3-5)

Jonathan loves David as he loves himself, an example of the body’s grace, defined by the church as loving another as yourself and hoping for the reciprocation of feeling after your feelings are made known. While this is in itself traditionally used by the church something that can only occur between a male and a female, it seems to be happening here, and falls completely in line with Jesus’ command that we love our neighbour as we love our self. He didn’t say how to love them.

He said to him, ‘Perish the thought! You shall not die. My father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me; and why should my father hide this from me? Never!’ But David also swore, ‘Your father knows well that you like me; and he thinks, “Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.” (1 Samuel 20:2-3)

Whoa. It looks to me like David is saying that Jonathan’s father knows about Jon’s feelings for Davd. However, he has kept his knowledge from Jon in order to protect his son from the grievance of such knowledge that his feelings are known.

In fact, their relationship is written out entirely through both Samuel’s as being described as ‘ahava,’ which is the same relationship word used for a heterosexual marriage. Their love is like that of a heterosexual marriage. Although David is married, he has many wives, and one of them is even Jonathan’s sister, but he never proclaims to love her. He only proclaims to love Jonathan.

Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.’ (1 Samuel 20:30-31)

Here, Saul proclaims that Jonathan is a perverse son because he has chosen the son of Jesse (David). He calls him a shame to his mother’s nakedness, which means genitals, which means womb. He is a shame to his mother, essentially. He notes that David must die for the kingdom to be established, but obviously God favoured David, and you know how the story ends.

There are many more verses pointing to the love of Jonathan and David, including that David and Jonathan enter into a covenant honoured by God. If their relationship was indeed homosexual, it shows that God cares far more about why you love than who you love. I won’t get into it, but the story of Ruth and Naomi can also be interpreted this way.

Now, onto the New Testament:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them. (Romans 1:24-32)

Well, this seems pretty cut and dry, but really it isn’t. I’ll cut it down to size quickly, rather than dwelling on it:

  • First, their sin is giving up God for a lie. They have abandoned God, and so God has abandoned them to their lusts. It has nothing to do with what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it.
  • Second, the use of the word “unnatural” here is pretty clear. If David and Jonathan had a natural homosexual relationship, these people are having an unnatural homosexual relationship, defined by lust rather than by a legitimate attraction. Thus, they are doing it out of subservience to the flesh, and not out of any sort of kindness towards one another. There is no love mentioned here. In fact, the passage follows up with an enormous list of horrible, evil things, none of which are referred to as “unnatural.” They’re just bad. Homosexuality is specifically singled out as being bad because it is unnatural, and it is unnatural because it is not really homosexuality. It lust.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)

You’ll notice here that law is not put into capitals, which would indicate the Law and the Prophets, the name at the time for the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Instead, he refers to the law, which, as Jesus put forward, is to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbour as yourself. To uphold the law, all one requires is love. It does not state how this love is attained, but rather that it must be real. One can love in a variety of ways. Paul himself remained celibate in order to devote his full attention to God, but he still loved his fellow man.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

Well, these two verses seem pretty cut and dry as well, but they aren’t either. Looking at Corinthians first, we see two words that stand out against homosexuality: Male prostitutes and sodomites. Translated, they read as malokoi and arsenokoitai. Okay, that’s cool, but what does it mean? Malokoi, meaning soft men, were boys and sometimes men who were sodomized by other males. The term soft man means young man for the most part, as young boys are soft like their female counterparts. Arsenokoitai, on the other hand, means “men who bed males,” which still sounds fairly straightforward. The only problem here is that it specifically refers to men who exercised the dominant role in a relationship with a malokoi. This was rape. Essentially, they were older men who had sex with younger boys. This passage is specifically calling out child rape, which is something I think we can get behind.

It’s a lot of skubula to take in. Skubula, by the way, being the Greek word for “shit,” which Paul used in Philippians 3:8. Translated today as rubbish, it still means shit. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Moving onto 1 Timothy, the passage in question is preceded by multiple verses about false teachers, who were thought to be sexually depraved, or just depraved in general, leading their students into lives of depravity, including murder, incest, and the rape of babies. For more on this, check out 1 Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-10; and Galatians 5:19-21. I looked that up in my Bible! But even still, the list specifically cites the arsenokoites in this passage when it says sodomites. That is, the gay child rapist prostitute buyers whom nobody likes. It also calls out fornicators, which, in its original context refers to someone who sleeps around without love. Not like a prostitute, who is often forced into it, but someone who is just generally a slut and has sex without love.

Moving on to Jesus himself:

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ (Matthew 19:12)

Okay, so this is talking about eunuchs, not gays, but what is a eunuch? In the modern sense, or the Chinese sensibility, a eunuch is someone who has had their genitalia removed. 2,000 years ago, though? It meant anyone with either strange genitals or people with strange uses of their genitals. In general, back then, a person who had been stripped of their genitals was only being referred to if they were referred to as a eunuch of the court. Thus, what Jesus is saying here is that hermaphrodites and homosexuals can operate for the Lord just as anyone else. Let anyone accept this who can. Jesus knew this was a hard thing for people to grasp, but still He put it forward.

Let’s note the Ethiopian eunuch for a moment here, who received Christ’s salvation. It is widely recognized that the point of the Ethiopian eunuch’s story was that Jesus was saying that His salvation is offered “even to blacks,” who at the time (and even today) were thought of as lesser people, or not people at all. Clearly, Jesus disagreed. Why is this important? Because Paul was not always as smart as he thought he was. While he agreed that slaves were freed in Christ, he did not preach for their literal freedom. At the time when Paul was alive, the majority of slaves would have either been from Ethiopia or South Sudan, which, by the way, would make them black as the night.

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to answer back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Saviour. (Titus 2:9-11)

Looks like, while Christ viewed all men as equals, and all slaves as one day free, Paul basically said “Just shut up and be a good slave, knowing your reward is coming after you’re dead. In this way you can look like a good Christian!” It’s not a very good interpretation of Jesus. Paul said some very, very smart things, but he was still bound to the world around him. He understood the law, love God and love your neighbour, stating even that “all is lawful,” but not all is beneficial, but he saw that as an excuse for slavery, and even the subjugation of women. He saw slavery and the subjugation of women as beneficial, clearly, because he was living in a time where that’s all anybody knew. He can’t be blamed for it, but it is worth noting that Paul was not the be-all-and-end-all of Christian wisdom.

Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

While Christ saw women as equal to men, Paul still saw them through the lens of his time—as property. They could be saved, just like men, but they were still subservient to men. Obviously this is a notion we disagree with nowadays, so why are we still listening to Paul on the subject of homosexuality? Although there is much evidence he was not referring to homosexuality, even if he was, he was still limited to the framework of his time period, one in which slavery and the concept of women as property was still very much alive.

If we take the words of men as gospel, we get all screwed up. It’s only through the Word—in Greek, logos, which also means logic—and the word made flesh that we can get an understanding of what God really wants. The Bible is not the word. Jesus is the physical manifestation of the word. Jesus is the physical manifestation of logic. If all logic points to homosexuals being able to engage in loving relationships with one another, then Jesus must have been okay with it. Take note that no such excuses can be made for paedophilia or bestiality in the Bible. These are not loving relationships, and Christ knows that. To follow logic is to follow God. Logic dictates that homosexuals are hurting no one and are trying only to love one another. Logic dictates that the Christian temperament towards gays drives them away from the church in the long run.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Zombies are Fake – Definitive Proof!

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

When a zombie bites you, a psychic connection is formed between you and the dead creature. If you squint, and only if you squint, you can see it. If your friends squint, they can see it, too. It pulsates, writhes around, like a tongue and an intestine patch-worked together. It is stitched onto your wound, attached at the other end down the creature’s throat somewhere inside of it. Maybe it’s bit other people; dozens of entrails pouring out from its mouth in every direction.

It is dead, transmitting thoughts and feelings to you and all its victims. Until you die, you will feel your own thoughts and emotions slowly replaced by frazzled nonsense from a broken mind. Nonsensical images formed by snapped synapses will flood your own vision, logic will be replaced by need, and your family will be replaced by cemetery emotions.

“Dear God, place me beneath the earth. Please, just bury me!”

If the creature is killed, the tether linking the two of you will cease to grow. You will have to drag the creature, sharing it with however many other people are still living, still attached. Psychic pus will continue to leak, along with fecal matter, scabs, and blood, until finally you are dead from poison and born as death.

Naturally, this can’t happen, so it’s all a load of total bullshit. Zombies are garbage.

Categories: Fiction, Horror

I just realized why modern medicine will always fail

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

It will fail because it is newer than us. Humans have been around forever. Medicine hasn’t. It’s like trying to install updates for a new computer on an old one. The updates were only made for new computers, so they just don’t work. If anything, it just makes problems worse by confusing two separate time periods and intermingling them. It’s like if you tried to find a place for cavemen in our society. It would just bungle things.

If you tried to sedate a dinosaur, it would not work because the sedative would be newer than the dino by far. If you could replace dinosaurs and medicine’s places in the scheme of existence, maybe by time travel or just by shifting the conceptual usages of their forms, you couldn’t inject the sedative with a dinosaur either.

And what of animals we can sedate? Animals like horses and cats? They know this Earth better than us. They’re just showing us that by becoming sedated because they already know about future technology so it works on them.

It’s all futile.

Rain Water

October 5, 2011 Leave a comment

“Help me.” A voice called out softly in the rain, weaving through the broken trees. “Help me. I need your help.” It spoke like a whisper, but more excited, echoing just past the entrance to the woods on the far side of White Ross field.

Even as the rain beat against the plastic hood of his raincoat, Darren heard the voice. He had been sloshing through the grass—his rain boots slipping from his feet—hoping to find some crawlers. His feet made loud noises beneath him as he walked. Darren had purposefully given himself a soaker, and the way the water splashed around sounded a lot like a toilet. Darren had thought that was pretty funny stuff, although now he was focused on the voice in the woods.

“I need your help if you’re out there,” the voice called again. “I’ll die if you don’t help me. I’m in the well just past the entrance to the woods.”

Darren moved quickly towards the sound of the voice. Overcast skies had willed the trees and the grasses grey, clouds and wood and leaves merging effortlessly at the skyline. Shadows cast themselves beneath dim ashy trees, pine needles hidden in the dark and by the weeds. Darren was uneasy.

“Help me, please.” Darren could hear the voice becoming louder. No, not louder—closer. Even at the entrance to the woods, noises felt like they were coming from all around him, especially in the rain, quiet as it was.

Like the voice had told him, Darren found White Ross well no more than a few steps into the woods. The old cobblestone had begun to turn the rubble, it wasn’t very deep, and so it had a tendency to flood and spill in any sort of rain. If anyone was in there, they couldn’t be very far down.

The voice echoed again from inside the well. “I can hear you out there. I can hear you walking. Help me, please.” The voice had stayed calm, not fraying or becoming urgent in the slightest.

Darren leaned over the edge of the well and into the rippling, grey, reflection-less water. Within reaching distance was a younger looking man staring up at him, not at all taken by shadow. The walls and the water were grey, but still visible. Whoever he was, he was hidden beneath the murk, from just beneath his chin to up and around his hairline. He looked calm, and then he spoke.

“Will you help me?”

“I can try,” Darren replied. “But why can’t you get out yourself?”

“How would I do that?” he whispered. Darren watched rain drops collect in the back of the man’s throat.
“Just climb up the stones. The rocks are big and easy to hold onto.” He grabbed onto one himself to showcase how sturdy they were.

“I can’t,” the man said. “The walls are too slimy. I’ll slip right off. Will you lend me your hand?”

“You’re down too far,” Darren said.

The man pursed his lips and continued looking directly upwards. Above him, clouds passed in the sky, identical and grey, casting a dim light into the well and onto the clearing where the well had been built.
Darren asked the man how he had gotten down there in the first place.

“I fell in,” the man replied.

“But how?” Darren was starting to feel worse about the situation; frightened, even.

“Can I grab onto your raincoat?” the man asked.

“If I tie it to something, maybe,” Darren said.

“There’s nothing to tie it to. You’ll have to hold on and pull me out.”

The man had never answered Darren’s question, so he asked him again. How did he fall in?

“I have a secret,” the man whispered, looking past Darren and upwards into the sky. “There are other people down here with me—one for my right leg and one for my left. I can’t swim, so I’m standing on them. Otherwise I’d drown.”

Darren felt all the cold from the clouds and the rain travel up his back.

“I-I-I’d better get… I’d better get my parents,” Darren sputtered, stumbling backwards from the well and back towards White Ross field, the sound of water still splashing in his boots.

“Don’t bother!” The man’s voice echoed up and out the well, scraping against the trees. “I already did!”

Categories: Fiction, Horror