Showing posts with label The Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Bible. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Good Words

From a question on Quora...

Have you read the bible? There's some great inspiration and thought provoking ideas, but if you've read it in it's entirety, you can't really deny it's full of some things that are really terrible ideas, including a man marrying his daughter to her rapist and justification of slavery. We hear talk in this country of living my Biblical principles, but that is dangerously vague. Which ones? Which sects interpretation?

In fact, many aspects of the bible are in direct opposition to the Constitution. I think if the founders of this country wanted or intended us to follow biblical law, they'd have clearly stated so by quoting and referring chapters and verse. Since they clearly did not, then I think it's safe to say that they did not intend for the U.S. to be a Christian theocracy .


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Conservatives love to heap adulation on the founding fathers and bloviate about how they were all Christians founding a Christian least their version of Christianity. Certainly, Thomas Jefferson, our nation's 3rd president, is one of those heroes who is held up as a champion of the Right and a defender of more local government power.

I have to wonder, though, what those same conservatives think about the fact that Jefferson created his own version of the New Testament.

Thomas Jefferson, together with several of his fellow founding fathers, was influenced by the principles of deism, a construct that envisioned a supreme being as a sort of watchmaker who had created the world but no longer intervened directly in daily life. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, Jefferson was keenly interested in science and the perplexing theological questions it raised. Although the author of the Declaration of Independence was one of the great champions of religious freedom, his belief system was sufficiently out of the mainstream that opponents in the 1800 presidential election labeled him a “howling Atheist.” 

In fact, Jefferson was devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But he didn’t always agree with how they were interpreted by biblical sources, including the writers of the four Gospels, whom he considered to be untrustworthy correspondents. So Jefferson created his own gospel by taking a sharp instrument, perhaps a penknife, to existing copies of the New Testament and pasting up his own account of Christ’s philosophy, distinguishing it from what he called “the corruption of schismatizing followers.” 

In some ways, Jefferson had a point but I wouldn't go as far to cut and past my own version of the Bible nor accuse Christ's followers as corrupt. They were simply trying to understand something that was way beyond them which we can understand in greater clarity today. That's why I'm hoping that in a decade or two, we can leave behind the anti-science of the Right and start a new Age of Enlightenment in which we truly do "His works and greater than these." We can't allow angry, hateful, insecure, irrational people filled with fear to bully their way into being the "official" spokesmodels for God. He is much bigger than their petty obsessions with gay sex and lady parts which, honestly, is an extension of their own sexual hangups.

I wonder what would happen if Barack Obama did what Jefferson did with the Bible...:)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Homosexuality Is Not A Sin According To These Christian Denominations

Here is a list of Christian denominations that do not consider homosexuality or transgenderism to be sins. Take a close look at the list and you may find some surprises. There are some very mainstream faiths that think that the Hebrew text and history that the word sodomy literally means "male temple prostitute", and not a translation for homosexual.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Interesting Thread

Check out this thread over at the Catholic answers forum. Look familiar?

And this was 9 years ago!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Picking And Choosing

Evangelical Christians continually rip liberal Christians by saying that they pick and choose what verses of the Bible to follow and which ones not to follow. This is ridiculous when one considers, for example what God told Moses in Leviticus.

“‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head. (Leviticus 20:9)

‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)

“‘If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. (Leviticus 21:09)

Considering I don't see any conservative Christians putting their kids to death for mouthing off to them, they pick and choose as well just like every other Christian. So, their protestations are completely ridiculous. In fact, nearly all of the 600+ commands of the Old Testament are no longer applicable today. Most Christians do not follow them unless they are Messianic Jews. What remains applicable today are the Ten Commandments + Jesus's New Commandment.

It would seem, then, that the issue of homosexuality should also be swept away with archaic OT laws and commands as it is mentioned with all the rest of them. The problem is that homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament in both 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:28. Paul, not God, is talking here so that should be the first clue as to how much weight it should hold. Further, something has clearly been lost in the translation from Greek to English as noted in this excellent piece from St. John's Metropolitan Community Church.

If Paul had wanted to condemn homosexual behavior in general, the word for it at the time was paiderasste. What he did, rather than simply use one of the many existing, quite precise Greek terms for aspects of homosexuality (or for homosexuality in general) – words that he would have been quite aware of – is to coin a new word from the Greek translation of Leviticus 20:13. 

In the Septuagint, Leviticus 20:13 is something like hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos (And not lie-down with mankind [in] beds [of] a woman/wife). Notice the words arsenos koiten together there? It would have surprised no one for the scholar Paul to have compounded the noun arseno with the following Greek verb koiten into a new word, thereby repeating the prohibition of the abuse of temple prostitution in Leviticus – and it would be no surprise that his learned audience had no need of a translation or an explanation of the new word for an old idea; they, too, would have been familiar with the passage in Leviticus. (This would not be Paul’s only reference to earlier Scriptural phrasings; for example, when he wanted a phrase for ‘female’ and ‘male’ other than more common pairs, he used thelusi and arsen, words that had appeared together in the narrative of creation in Genesis.) 

Once Paul’s warnings helped temple prostitution disappear from the landscape, the force of his words very likely caused later Christians to extend the meaning of arsenokoites to cover other behaviors that Christians found regrettable. Early Christians and Jews also applied the word to incest and orgiastic conduct. For a time it designated masturbation (arseno is singular, as masturbation generally is…). The only certain statement that can be made about the word is that it has changed in its perceived meaning and translation over time.

St. John's Metropolitan Community Church also offers this link and this link for more background on the two words that Paul uses.  Given this evidence, it's quite clear that society, not God, decided that homosexuality was a sin and put that bias into later English translations of the Bible. This means that our changing culture is not violating anything in accepting gay Christians as how God made them as opposed to evil sinners who need to be deprogrammed.

When Jesus said "Keep My Commandments," He meant it quite literally. The rest of it can either be viewed as kind advice (Psalms and Proverbs) or a code of laws that no longer applies to today's society.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Good Words

It is not fair to expect secular journalists to be biblical scholars, nor should it be anticipated that they would spend the necessary time to research the issue. It is for that reason that they tend to accept uncritically the oft-repeated Evangelical Protestant and Conservative Roman Catholic definitions that the Bible is anti-gay. If these people were honest, they would have to admit that the Bible is also pro-slavery and anti-women. 

There is also a widely accepted mentality that if the Bible is opposed, the idea must be wrong. That is little more than nonsensical fundamentalism. The rise of democracy was contrary to the "clear teaching of the Bible," as the debate over the forced signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in 1215 revealed. The Bible was quoted to prove that Galileo was wrong; that Darwin was wrong; that Freud was wrong; that allowing women to be educated, to vote, to enter the professions and to be ordained was wrong. So the fact that the Bible is quoted to prove that homosexuality is evil and to be condemned is hardly a strong argument, given the history of how many times the Bible has been wrong. I believe that most bishops know this but the Episcopal Church has some fundamentalist bishops and a few who are "fellow travelers" with fundamentalists. 

The Bible was written between the years 1000 B.C.E. and 135 C.E. Our knowledge of almost everything has increased exponentially since that time. It is the height of ignorance to continue using the Bible as an encyclopedia of knowledge to keep dying prejudices intact. The media seems to cooperate in perpetuating that long ago abandoned biblical attitude. 

That is not surprising since the religious people keep quoting it to justify their continued state of unenlightenment. That attitude is hardly worthy of the time it takes to engage it. I do not debate with members of the flat earth society either. Prejudices all die. The first sign that death is imminent comes when the prejudice is debated publicly.  ---Bishop John Shelby Spong

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Bible and Homosexuality

I found this site on religious tolerance a while back and recently rediscovered it when I had to go to a backup of my bookmarks (beware of the "search conduit" malware---grrrr). Check out what they have to say about the Bible and homosexuality.

Seven or eight main biblical passages that may deal with same-gender sexual behavior are described below. They are often referred to as "clobber" passages, because they are often used to attack persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. They have been interpreted very differently by various religious denominations, para-church groups, and traditions. All groups recognize that these biblical passages condemn some types of sexual behavior but there is no consensus within a given religion whether they refer to consensual sexual behavior by persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, and whether it refers to all people or only to persons with a heterosexual orientation.

Clobber it...

Here's an interesting comparison...

Among the full spectrum of faith groups, from the most conservative to the most liberal:

  • Most conservative faith groups tend to interpret all of the clobber passages as condemning all forms of same-gender sexual behavior, whether by men or women. They do this, even though only one of the seven or eight passages actually refers to women, and that sole passage refers only to women with a heterosexual orientation. 
  • Most liberal and progressive faith groups tend to interpret the same passages -- in their original languages of Hebrew and Greek -- as referring to: temple prostitution, how it is unacceptable for two men to have sex if they do it on a woman's bed, kidnapping slaves, adults sexually abusing children, engaging in sexual behavior that is against one's sexual orientation and basic nature, and/or engaging in bestiality -- sexual activity with a non-human species. 
  • Most mainline denominations and faith groups are split on these passages' interpretation with part of the membership taking the conservative position, and another part taking the liberal/progressive interpretation. 
  • We have never found a faith group that accepts same-gender sexual behavior by lesbians while condemning such behavior by males, even though that could be a logical interpretation of Romans 1.
That pretty much sums it up. Check out all the sub links as well, especially this one:)

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Whither the Old Testament

Are we, as Christians, bound by Old Testament law? Conservative Christians sure like to think we are. This is largely because they enjoy the whole "sinners in the hands of an angry god" meme as it frightens them into abstaining from doing "naughty" things. But most Christians say that we aren't completely bound by them anymore and I am one of them. Of course, the Bible says two different things so it's up to each one of us to take the time to study the material and context of what is being said. This article breaks it down quite nicely.

Many traditional Christians have the view that only parts are applicable, many Protestants have the view that none is applicable, dual-covenant theologians have the view that only Noahide Laws apply to Gentiles, and a minority have the view that all are still applicable to believers in Jesus and the New Covenant.

The entire link identifies and describes the various views and has sublinks with well sourced material on the study of the meaning of the passages listed above. Take some time to read through all of it. It becomes clear rather quickly that the people who believe that all of the OT is still applicable are very much in the minority.

I fall into the category of only parts of the Old Covenant are applicable although it's interesting to note that there are many who believe none are. So, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, and the Davidic Covenant are out. An eye for an eye is now gone, as Christ directs in Matthew 5. All of the ceremonial laws are no longer applicable either.

But what about sin? The Old Testament clearly states that God punishes sinners. But with the New Covenant of Jesus, that is longer true. Take note of the verses used in this link. Look familiar?:)

Indeed, the father of Protestantism understood this very well. Martin Luther explained this as Justification by Faith. He wrote “Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the word of God.” He then looked to Romans Chapter 10, verse 9 as being absolutely fundamental for believers in Christianity. The passage states, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This was his justification of faith. One did not need to pay a penance for sins, whether through confession or indulgences, to get into heaven (recall that indulgences, or the paying of money or service to the church, was one of his major gripes with Catholicism). One simply needed to believe that Christ was God and that he was resurrected and then they would be saved. Luther explained justification this way in his Smalcald Articles:

The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 3:24-25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works and merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23-25). This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us...Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mark 13:31).

I bolded the parts that Christian conservatives seem to have trouble understanding in terms of sin, faith and confession. In framing the argument regarding indulgences in this way, Luther was able to remove the people that had inserted themselves between the common man and the Lord: the papacy. Interestingly, Christian conservatives have assumed the role of Pope these days, saying that they and only they are interpreting the Bible correctly. Luther had something to say about them as well.

…Every baptized Christian is a priest already, not by appointment or ordination from the Pope or any other man, but because Christ Himself has begotten him as a priest…in baptism.

What this means is that every man who is baptized and accepts Christ is no less a valid interpreter of the Bible than anyone else. All that is needed are the Five Solas. This launched a larger critique on the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. In On Papal Power, Luther wrote “when the attempt is made to reprove them with the Scriptures, they raise the objection that only the pope may interpret the scriptures”  In the early 16th century, the pope had the final say on exactly what was meant by the scriptures, not Luther and certainly not the common man. Luther saw this, along with the authority to issue decrees and convening councils as theft, writing, “they have cunningly stolen our three rods from us, that they may go unpunished”

Further, Luther abhorred the decadence of the church, stating that they were hiding behind self created authority “so that they can practice all the knavery and wickedness which we see today” Luther’s teachings were a direct threat to Rome. If people simply looked to the Bible and got their faith “free” from God, with no intermediaries, how long would it take for the power of the papacy to erode? The flow of financial rewards to the church would ebb as well. Luther also challenged church authorities by asserting that there was no hierarchy leading up to God. All men were priests and equal in the eyes of God.

Thus, members of the clergy should not have special accommodations or privileges. Luther again...

Every baptized Christian is a priest already, not by appointment or ordination from the Pope or any other man, but because Christ Himself has begotten him as a priest…in baptism. (But) the preaching office is no more than a public service which happens to be conferred on someone by the entire congregation all the members of which are priests. 

The office of the priest is one that is democratically elected by all of the people, not by papal order. He is no more closer to God than anyone else. This is how Luther’s argument became a much broader threat to church leaders and led to deep erosion with them as well as the clergy. He laid the foundation for Protestantism which, at its core, rejects intermediaries or interpreters of what the Bible "really means."

If, at this point, Luther sounds very New Testament heavy, it's because he is. Recall the New Covenant

The Christian view of the New Covenant is a new relationship between God and humans mediated by Jesus which necessarily includes all people,both Jews and Gentiles, upon sincere declaration that one believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and God. The New Covenant also breaks the generational curse of the original sin on all children of Adam if they believe in Jesus Christ, after people are judged for their own sins, which is expected to happen with the second arrival of Jesus Christ. Thus as the Apostle Paul advises that the Mosaic Covenant of Sinai does not in itself prevent Jews from sinning and dying and is not given to Gentiles at all (only the Noahic covenant is unique in applying to all humanity), Christians believe the New Covenant ends the original sin and death for everyone who becomes a Christian and cannot simply be a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant since it seemingly accomplishes new things. 

New things indeed. This would be where the grace part comes into play. There was no grace in the OT but now there is with the sacrifice of Jesus.

So, we aren't really bound by parts of the Old Testament any longer. There are no sinners in the hands of an angry god. Since this is the case, it puts into question many OT ideas (see: homosexuality, noun, not mentioned in the Ten Commandments or by Jesus at all) and, thus, it follows logically that some of it is just wrong. As a people, we evolved culturally over the time period between the OT and the NT and grew spiritually.

Recall that Jesus said, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This last one is His New Commandment, detailed in John 13: 33-35.

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Need To Confess

Paul Ellis has a great essay on why there is no need to confess your sins in order to be saved. He lists 12 main reasons and each one is well sourced with Biblical verse. Make sure you read the sub links to each one as well.

Nikto had a comment recently that I wanted to bring out front in its entirety as it relates to this post. He was replying to a comment that Not My Name made regarding a verse from the Bible.

Your description of that passage is exactly why it makes little sense to dwell on every little nuance in the bible. It doesn't appear to have been written down until centuries after the events occurred. There were numerous copies that disagree with each other. Councils like that in Nicaea picked and chose which books to include in or exclude from the bible, which passages in those books to include or exclude. They made those decisions for political and social reasons as much as theological ones. 

In this day and age most every passage is interpreted differently by one Christian sect or the other, again to suit their particular political or social agenda. The end result is that there is no way for any human alive today to claim to have any knowledge whatsoever what the true word of the lord can possibly be. 

That means that the hundreds of Christian sects claiming to be the sole purveyors of the word of god are misled at best or lying at worst. All of them are guilty of the greatest hubris, thinking that they alone can possibly speak for god. If one sect happens to get everything right, how can we meager humans possibly decide which one that is? 

If it's impossible for us to pick the one true sect of Christianity, what does that say about a god who condemns us to eternal damnation for failing to adhere to a set of rules that he has completely failed to lay out clearly and concisely? The federal government manages to publish a new set of tax forms every year; why can't the creator of the universe be bothered to send down a new set of stone tablets every century or so? 

Any rational person must therefore come to one of two conclusions: either all religion is hogwash, or the exact details and rules are irrelevant. In either case, the only thing we can do is make a good-faith effort to be moral and ethical, and exercise humility. 

Condemning others for failing to abide by your particular set of religious dictates is the height of arrogance. You can pick the bible apart all you want to justify your dogmas, but you have no authority to impose your beliefs on others. If someone tries to do that -- be they Osama bin Laden, Ayatollah Khamenei, Patriarch Kirill 1, David Koresh, Joe Smith, Pat Robertson, or Charles Taze Russell -- you know they're either trying to steal your money or gain political power. 

Interestingly, Pope Francis has in recent days spoken with much less hubris than previous popes. Whether that will result in major changes in the Catholic Church remains to be seen, but it is a hopeful sign.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Meaning of the Bible

A reader sent me this link to use as "ammunition" against my regular commenters. I also found this page within the site that illustrates many of the contradictions, by category, contained in the Bible.  My own research has already led me to address many of these concerns for my own journey of faith so there isn't much new here but I wanted to have a thread up on the importance of looking at everything written in the Bible and not just one or two passages.

I'm sure I'll disappoint the reader who sent me this link because I think he was under the impression that I would reject the Bible as a result of all these contradictions. Not gonna happen. But what this site does show is that it's impossible to believe and live by every single word in the Bible without being in dichotomy. It was written by men who were not as advanced as we are on a number of different cultural levels.

So, a thinking person has to recognize what was right for their times and what is right for today...what has been lost in translation from Aramaic to Greek to English and what has not...what was metaphor and hyperbole what is fundamental and basic. Coming to grips with these contradictions is very hard for some Christians. In the final analysis, though, it doesn't matter if you accept Jesus as your savior and do your best to live by His teachings. That's how I can cast many of these contradictions aside. Once you figure out what is backwards thinking and what is forward thinking, it's quite easy to accomplish.

Celebrating his birth tomorrow means being filled with the light of love, peace, and hope and rejecting anger, hate, fear, and guilt.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Sunday Reflection

Dear Conservative Christian,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

 a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

 b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

 c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

 d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

 e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

 f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

 g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

 h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

 i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

 j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grounded Duck

I knew it wouldn't be long before one of the stars of A&E's Duck Dynasty spouted off some redneck bullshit about the gays. One of the show's stars, Phil Robertson, apparently didn't get the memo that we live in a tolerant society now and recognize that the Bible is wrong about some things, including homosexuality.

In an interview with GQ, Robertson said. "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical." Asked what, in his mind, is sinful, Robertson replied: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

Right, because having sex with an animal is the same as two consenting adults...sheesh. A&E has suspended Robertson indefinitely as a result of these comments.

As expected, the right wing media industrial complex has rushed to his defense, citing "freedom of speech." The conundrum for them, however, is that corporations (see: Worship Immediately, no assembly required) are private entities and are free to hire and fire people based on their views. Now, if they suspended Robertson because he was white or heterosexual, then they might have cause for complaint. Or if they refused to provide him with service because he was a man, then we'd definitely have a civil rights violation on our hands. As it stands now, thought, the cries of freedom being taken away are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I wonder if Robertson believes that women should be subservient to men as this directive is mentioned far more often than homsexuality...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

'Tis The Season

It's the holidays and that means it's time to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves. With this spirit in mind, I thought I would answer all of the questions that a commenter (Not My Name) has been asking this year and give not only him a Christmas present but the four people that read his comments a gift as well. I've already answered many of them in posts or comments previously but he seems like he needs the attention and is lacking something pretty significant in his social life to spend as much time as he has writing in my comments section. So I thought one post with all my answers would be a great way to lift him out of his depression.

Question: Is the Constitution law? 

The context of this question was the 2nd amendment and I have already answered it pretty thoroughly. Yet there is a more concise way to answer...

Answer: Yes, the perfectly legal to amend and continually open to interpretation, as evidenced by 200+ years of tort, United States Constitution is law.

Question: Why would an uninsured person going to the ER cause insurance rates to go up?

Answer: Because they often can't pay and due to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a law signed by Ronald Reagan and a bipartisan Congress, every person must be cared for regardless of their financial situation. The story of Sharon Ford was a primary driver behind this law. Note the pro life tone to what transpired and consider this recent post of mine. As the link notes, taxpayers pick up the cost via public dollars or raised rates that stem from cash strapped hospitals picking up the tab.

Here NMN assumes that he has led me down a path that will show me that the government is the problem. Yet this same government stepped in to pass this law so we could save lives. Would NMN get rid of this law and let unborn babies like Sharon Ford's child die? I suppose only he can answer that but a reversal of this law would save taxpayers money so I guess he has a real puzzler on his hands. Maybe he should consult the Bible. On second thought, maybe not, as we can see from the next two questions.

Question: Faith in what? 

Answer: Your faith in Jesus and God. It's very, very weak. That's why you need others to believe exactly as you do lest you be tempted to stray from Republican Jesus. You claim to be a "rugged individualist" yet positively can't stand the fact that someone might think differently than you not just with your religious faith but your political faith as well. Like the communists and socialists you decry, you want everyone to believe exactly as you do otherwise you condemn them. You also make the mistake of having faith in conservative political leaders and ideologies. Faith is reserved for spiritual matters not for issues like the economy or health care. Even here your faith is weak as well. I'm not responsible for your insecurities. You are. And Jesus is very clear about people that judge and cast the first stone.

One other note on this question. NMN has refused, despite repeated queries, to outright reject the various sects of Christianity that don't conform exactly to his warped version of it. He's certainly rejected my Christian beliefs. I wonder why he hasn't rejected the Unitarian Church, for example. Or the peace churches.

Primary Question: Authors of words have a meaning they intend to communicate, and that meaning is the only valid "interpretation" of any writing. Do you agree or disagree? 

Related Questions: What makes you think God is UNABLE to do what mere humans can do—get someone to write what they want written? So you're claiming that the Jeremiah 31:33-34 prophecy has already come to pass? That every single person in the world sees and accepts Yahweh as his/her God, even Juris Imprudent? That there is no disagreement about God because we all know Him directly?   

Answer: As a writer myself, I say no to the primary question because maybe someone else can dream up something even more wonderful than I intended. Being a reflective person, I welcome it, of course:) Perhaps I could inspire someone to a higher meaning, right?  The other day in class I was offering a critique of John Maynard Keynes and a student raised his hand and said, "It seems that you are saying that Keynes' theories are too psychologically based." I hadn't actually said that but he took what I was saying and brought it to a higher level. It was magnificent. But really, it depends on the author. Bob Dylan would say yes. John Lennon would say no. NMN also seems to be lacking here in his understanding of the use of metaphor. Perhaps he doesn't understand symbolism either.

Anyway, the context of this question and the related ones is the Bible and the author's intent. As with all of his Bible, legal, constitutional, and morality related questions, NMN assumes he is the authority on the author's intent and proceeds (as always) with great hubris. He recently intimated that he is a more valid interpreter of the Bible than the pope. Wow, he's smart!

So, the question he lacks the courage to ask is "Am I the authority on Biblical interpretation, constitutional interpretation, and morality in terms of spiritual and civic law?" Or, more briefly, "Do I know what God is thinking?" The answer is no (and it's no for me as well) because he continually makes false assumptions based on emotions and a completely instransigent ideology. The failure is not with the authors but with NMN himself because he misinterprets, either purposefully, through ignorance or both, the author's intent. And, as I have mentioned far too many times, he also purposefully misinterprets what I say and turns my writings into gotcha questions (so, how long have you been beating your wife?) in order to go for the win and show off for the TSM people that read his comments. Does he know any other way? Thus far, the answer is no.

Primary Question: Do you think it's okay to punish a child for the parent's crime?

Answer: No, but I wish it were OK to punish parents for children's crimes. There would be a lot less gun deaths and spree shootings if that were the case. Perhaps parents would think twice about having guns in the house with their mentally ill child if their asses were on the line.

The background to this question is abortion and NMN falsely assumes (more on false assumptions aka lying below) that the moment of inception equals a child. It does not. Science (remember facts, evidence and logic?) shows us that there is not a fetus until the 10th week of development. The link above has detailed images of development and people can judge for themselves as to what constitutes a "child." For me that's towards the end of the first trimester which is why I have no problem with a federal ban on abortion extended to include the 2nd trimester. I'd even consider going back earlier with a ban when brain, heart and lung functions are more fully developed. A question that NMN or other pro life folks need to something human if it has no heart?

Of course, there is no such thing as compromise in NMN's world. Even I have to consider that my views may be wrong. Can the child survive outside of the womb? When? What of the mother's rights? Is her body now a ward of the state? This is a gray area because it's not as cut and dried as human-not human. And the Right doesn't do well at all with gray areas. It's not a person at every stage of neonatal development and even when it is in my view, should the fetus really be granted 14th amendment rights? Consider as well that the same argument against banning guns (only criminals will have guns) applies here. Only criminals will provide abortions and there will have to be funds for enforcement and personnel assigned to police it. Who is going to pay for it? Imagine what happened during Prohibition with liquor happening with abortion in terms of crime. Witness what is happening now with drugs. It would be a nightmare. NMN, like many on the Right, don't really think before they bloviate about nearly all of the issues facing our country today. Recall this as well. 

If we left behind the rock solid stubbornness of both sides in the abortion debate, we might actually be able to solve this problem. Abortion is not birth control and it should be harder to obtain. Single woman in their 20s are the group that need to be targeted as they have the most abortions. At a certain stage (earlier than what is legal now), they should not be allowed to have an abortion unless their life is threatened. If they are raped or a victim of incest, they should use the day after pill or terminate in the first couple of weeks. Family planning and sex education need to be improved. People have to behave more responsibly when it comes to sex. Overall, there needs to be societal shift so demand for abortion is reduced it not all together eliminated. As with most issues, the Right can't help but focus on supply when they should be focusing on demand. Get rid of the demand and you get rid of abortion.

Primary Question: Is "false" equal to "truth"?

Related Questions: Even Joe Biden admits that the administration's gun control actions won't stop the shootings. So why do those things? Since the leaders of the Democrat's effort to implement universal background checks say that "any bill without a records provision would be as toothless as an honor system", do you still assert that "[n]o one is talking about universal registration" and/or that it can be implemented without registration?

Answer: No, false does not equal truth and NMN does an excellent job of illustrating this given the content of the primary question and the related questions. Honestly, all of his questions are, in one way or another, based on false assumptions about the issues of the day or, in this case, me and what I am asserting. With me, that's part and parcel to his childish games.

The context of this specific line of query (along with all of the other gun questions he asks) is based on the false assumption and an inconsolable paranoia that the federal government is out to get our guns. For NMN, any changes to gun laws will result in tyranny. Our system of checks and balances make this highly unlikely. Consider how difficult it is to pass something as simple as a budget let alone a new law on the regulation of guns. A tyranny assumes swift and decisive action not government by sedimentation which is what we have now. He pulls half truths, spins, or simply lies with this category of questions.

Joe Biden's comment is quite different than what NMN has described and essentially (and hilariously) asks, "Why even have laws?" In fact, this very question is at the root of conservative whining. Like the adolescent that simply can't take the rules of the house, conservatives grouse about having to follow rules they don't like. New rules are the worst, man! They suck, and like, the Right doesn't want to do them and stuff. Of course, the rest of the adults in our country recognize that as our society evolves, problems arise and sometimes need to be addressed with (gasp!) new laws. Pretending that a problem doesn't exist or will magically go away (the conservative go to thinking these days) doesn't work.

The background check question is a half truth at best and based on opinions and heresay, not the actual law or an evidence based argument. The Manchin-Toomey bill is available here for review and a Google search (unaided by someone as biased as me:)) will show the full story on his related questions. And why can't we figure out a way to improve gun safety while honoring the 2nd amendment? We are the greatest nation on the planet, aren't we? I find it amusing that someone such as NMN decries those who "hate America" yet appears to be doing just that. Clearly the thinks very little of the leaders of this country and the people in it but that's the adolescent problem with authority again. Equally as amusing is the fact that NMN spends a lot of time and energy debunking things that Democrats say, accusing them of being incompetent liars, but on the issue of universal background checks, they are now suddenly "telling the truth."'s a Christmas miracle!!

Will NMN accept this gift in the spirit of the season and be gracious? Will his obsession with me continue? Or something else? Or will he reject my gift, take it back, psychotically keep asking the questions over and over again, circle jerk for juris, GD, 6Kings and Larry, and pretend that I never answered the questions? Honestly, it doesn't really matter.

Because in the final analysis we will never, ever see the kind of our nation he claims he wants. The trajectory of our country is evolving to fit the age of globalization and leaving behind backwards, hateful, and ignorant thinking. NMN's comments and questions are great examples of the fear that only comes with the realization that old ideologies are quickly becoming irrelevant.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Only One Verse

The Bible only has one verse that directly comments on the value of a fetus. Here it is.

And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no [further] injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any [further] injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:22-25)

So, a fetus is essentially worth a fine determined by a judge. Note that if the woman dies, then it is "life for a life" so there is a definite distinction the life of an adult and the life of child, or in this case, a fetus. The historical context of this makes perfect sense as children were generally thought of as "less than" during this time period. It really wasn't until the Industrial Revolution that cultural attitudes shifted to the concept of the "Precious Child."

This would be an excellent example of how a teaching in the Bible no longer applies to today. Many believe that a fetus is life and I would agree once the child reaches a certain stage of development (the heart is formed and the brain divides into five vesicles). I have no issue with abortion up until this point but after that, I do. The federal ban on third term abortions should extended to the second term. This is where the pro choice crowd should compromise.

Where the pro life crowd should compromise is on freeing up money for sex education and pummeling women in their 20s (the ones most likely to get an abortion) with information and incentives to not have an unwanted pregnancy. The goal should be to reduce the demand for abortion, not attack the supply except in the case of 2nd term abortions. An outright ban on all abortions would create numerous problems such as a criminal enterprise, higher costs for social programs and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of unwanted children...which we have far too many of already.

Getting around the conundrum of people behaving irresponsibly is tough. This is the bane of the gun community as every day they look like assholes because far too many Americans can't be trusted with guns. Clearly, they can't be trusted with sex either. So, how do we change that?

Obviously, I don't have all the answers.

Right For That Generation

Last Thursday I met an old friend round the pub to catch up. I hadn't seen him in far too many years and have known him since I was six years old. It was fun to spend an evening with someone who lived nearly all of your life in a parallel fashion. The common experiences of living in the same neighborhood and going to the same schools for K-12 really warmed my heart and made me feel very connected to my wonderful memories of my childhood.

We talked about a great many subjects, politics, sex and religion among them. When he was younger, he was pretty hardcore Democrat but has since become more Republican and conservative. I guess that's what a few years at Bethel College will do for you! But he's still got a ton of common sense as he spent much of the night laying into the far right, the Tea Party, and, yes, even Christian conservatives. He would likely be labeled a RINO by today's incarnation of the Right and banished for lack of purity.

The statement that really drove this point home and one that completely blew me away came from our discussion about the Bible. I gave him my usual line about the Bible being wrong about some things to which he replied, "Mark, the Bible isn't wrong. It's just that some of it was right for that generation."


And no shit.

He cited the rules on pork, for example, as being simple common sense because they didn't have a way to keep it fresh. Those rules applied for that time. The same was true, he felt, for homosexuality and I've talked about this previously. Back at the time the Bible was written, sex was much different than it is now. People were far cruder and roman orgies were rampant. Young boys were abused and people had much less control over themselves sexually than we do today. In short, there were no Neils and Steves who have been life partners for 20 years and have adopted children from Central America.

There are many universal truths in the Bible that span generation to generation. Loving thy neighbor, the Ten Commandments, serving the poor, helping the sick, not judging others, and being as peaceful and loving a person as you can be. Then there are the beliefs that were only true for that time...the ceremonial laws about food, appearance, and dress...the subjugation of women...sexual mores...attitudes about slavery...anyone with a brain realizes that those things applied to that time but not ours.

Of course, these days I think that those without a brain should just go right on thinking that those laws still apply to today. I used to think they should just let go of those beliefs but I realize now that I am older and wiser that people like that need those the threat of hellfire to keep them from raping a young boy on crystal meth in a hotel room. Their loss of control translates into a clear and present danger to our culture and are quite clearly beyond all help.

After all, we are a culture that helps the disabled, right?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Oh Really?