October 17, 2017

Circus Notes from C.P.

3-ring circus 4x6 [triptych]

One of my favorite places on the web to find (unintentional) humor is The Christian Post. It is the quintessential source for “news” emerging from the evangelical circus. Here are a few of the headlines and stories they have run recently that have made me laugh, scratch my head, and/or say “What?!”:

My favorite headline:

“Sex Shouldn’t Be Better Than Church, Says Professor”

My “I can’t believe someone still believes this” moment:

Rev. Mark H. Creech on, “Drinking and Jesus Turning Water into Wine”

So whether one believes that Jesus made an intoxicating wine or a non-intoxicating wine at the wedding in Cana is purely a matter of personal interpretation. For the Bible never definitively says that Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine.

There are, however, a number of reasons why this writer believes the preponderance of the evidence is against Jesus having made an intoxicating beverage.

… Moreover, if one was to assume Jesus drank such wine in participation with the wedding guests, as some have argued, then that act in itself would have violated Proverbs 31:4-5, which reads, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.” Is not Christ the King of kings? Is it reasonable to think the very Son of God would take into his body a recreational intoxicant, risk falling into sin, and endanger the great mission of the redemption of mankind? Banish the thought!

Worst alliterated headline (ever?):

“Bloodthirsty Bomber Brothers Betrayed Bostonians Beyond Belief”

Worst example of something considered newsworthy:

“Creflo Dollar’s ‘Sermon Songs’ Album Stays on Billboard Charts for 8 Weeks”

From the “At least rock bands are practicing church discipline” file:

“Pa. Lieutenant Governor Candidate Kicked Out of Christian Band for Supporting Gay Marriage”

 In fact, not only did they kick Mark Smith out of the band, but: “A single that the band recently recorded featuring Smith that was released on iTunes is being redubbed to exclude him.”

As for his part, the music will live on for Smith: “The commissioner insisted that he is also not backing down from his music career despite losing his place in the band, and said: ‘As I campaign across Pennsylvania, I’ll look for opportunities to play. Last week, I was able to play at Moondog’s in Pittsburgh.'”

Worst review of a book teaching “Biblical principles”:

“Are You Getting ‘The Best Out of Your Man’? Michelle McKinney Hammond Explains How”

In her latest book, “How to Get the Best Out of Your Man,” Hammond offers the story of Queen Esther to help women have a better relationship with their men.

CP: What did you see in Queen Esther that you didn’t in other Biblical women?

Hammond: I think I saw more principles at work in how she handled her situation. When I read the story, I don’t think I would have handled myself so graciously. I thought, “Let me take a look at her and see her methodology.” She got above and beyond what she went in for … the fruit of her work demanded that I take another look at her. Esther took some very interesting steps to achieve her goals.

Finally

For those of you who did not get to attend the grand opening of The Ark at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, here’s a shot of the interior that I found at CP, complete with animatronic animals. My only question: if all those lights represent the original candles, wouldn’t that have been a fire hazard, what with the waves and all?

the-ark-at-cornerstone

Comments

  1. So… was there non-alcoholic wine in biblical times? I’m genuinely curious.

    Also, that book review almost made me see Esther as some sort of management consultant, not a desperate person in the midst of a crisis. Of course, maybe that crisis could have been prevented long before it came to pass if Vashti had just followed the principals in that review. (Maybe I’m just too cynical)

    • As far as I understand it until Joseph Welch came along if you drank unfermented grape juice it would kill you. So yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say that it all had alcohol in it, though I think considerably less than our modern day wine contains.

      • Alcohol in wine is proportional to its sugar content. As grapes today are bred to have a higher sugar content, wine today will have a higher alcohol content. But the wine of Jesus’ day would at least been as strong as beer is today, and however strong it was, people still got drunk on it!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Long ago, my mother used to mention “women’s wine” her family brewed during Prohibition. It was only 1 or 2% alcohol — just enough to keep it from spoiling. More of a way to preserve grape juice before refrigeration.

        As for Joseph Welch, make that REVEREND Joseph Welch, leader of the Temperance Movement (i.e. Prohibition). Since Beverage Alcohol(TM) such as wine was taboo, you had to use Unfermented Grape Juice for Communion, just like Jesus did. And since REVEREND Welch also had a monopoly on Pasteurization for Unfermented Grape Juice…

        Nice Racket. Beats Specially Blessed Prayer Cloths from the Holy Land — or Indulgences.

      • I had a New Testament professor who informed us that the wine in Jesus’ day was “NON-DISTILLED wine.” He said (accurately) that “Archaeologists have NOT FOUND ANY STILLS from ancient Israel!”

        Well, yeah, but wine today is non-distilled too. It’s the hard stuff that goes through the distillation process.

        Doctor Mac said that his grandmother had got him to take the pledge not to drink, and he had kept the promise throughout his life. I really respect him for that, but he should have brushed up on winemaking for that class.

    • black cat says:

      I believe some people think that Jesus made a type of grape juice – non-alcoholic. However, why then would Jesus teach a parable involving putting wine into new wineskins? I think that had to involve alcoholic wine. Perhaps he was just using an analogy that most people would understand, but I wonder. I’m tired of the arguing about this and other subjects, not to mention the bitter condemnation or smug self-righteousness that accompanies too much of it.

    • Considering that the steward at the wedding says most people bring out the good stuff first, and then when the guests are too tipsy to notice they fill ’em up with the cheap stuff, I rather think that the wine at Cana was not just pure refreshing plain grape juice 🙂

    • Haven’t any of these people ever wondered what Judaism teaches about wine? (Hint: Google “kiddush.) Under certain circumstances–a wedding would probably qualify–getting drunk might even be considered a mitzva.

      • I’ve been told that getting drunk is a mitzva during the festival of Purim. They read the book of Esther, make noise at the mention of the bad guy Haman, and it’s supposed to be OK to get drunk enough so that you can’t tell the difference between “Blessed be Mordecai” and “Cursed be Haman.”

    • Thanks for the wine info everyone.

      Michael Bell, how is your family doing? (if it is ok to ask)

      (Don’t read unless you want to cringe: maybe that professor’s statement is just how things are for his wife…)

  2. petrushka1611 says:

    So much of what I had learned about Christianity was cleared up when someone finally told me that Proverbs were proverbs, not promises or commands.

    Genre? We don’t need no stinkin’ genre!

  3. I see no difference between higher literary criticism and evangelical pragmatism which reduces Esther to a model in how to get what you want. Evangelicals talk about scripture as “inspired” or “inerrent” but rarely anymore in terms of “sacred”. How demeaning.

    • …and if I hear it called the “guidebook to life” or the “manufacture’s handbook” or “basic instructions before leaving earth” ONE MORE TIME I’m going to snap. Where do these poisonous notions come from, and how did it happen that Evangelical culture has not shown an ounce of discernment on this one? Lord have mercy.

    • Replace all references to Jesus in the Bible with the Blessed Spaghetti Monster. That would make no difference if the Bible is just a self-help book.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Or, to put it more bluntly, when an Evangelical tells me that he doesn’t “interpret” scripture, but rather reads it “literally,” only the very good upbringing provided by my mother prevents me from pointing and laughing.

  4. Random thoughts:
    * That professor’s wife must cringe when he comes to bed.
    * If there’s no alcohol in it, it’s not wine – QED. Besides, considering grape harvest in the Northern Hemisphere is in autumn, and Passover is in spring, and there was no refrigeration, and Joseph Welch hadn’t invented juice concentration yet, how would they have kept the grape juice from fermenting for 6-7 months?
    * Wow – eight whole weeks of staying in the top 200 of a chart that represents the ever-shrinking sales of the record industry! Don’t pull a rotator cuff slapping yourself on the back …
    * Bet Mark Smith gets a boost in the polls from this.
    * The principles Esther practiced included being on the 6th century BC version of “The Bachelor” and sleeping with a man she wasn’t married to. Oh, and breaking federal law. Works for me!
    * Finally, I knew John Hagee played fast and loose with Scripture, but aren’t there supposed to be two of every animal, seven of the ritually clean ones? I’m only seeing one of each, except the giraffes …

    • Even the Bible has to answer to the “animatronics” line item in the church budget.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Never mind the conventional appearance of the Ark as a boat hull with a bow & stern. The Ark Experience ark even uses a ram bow and aftercastle based on Greek- and Roman-era ships from the Med.

        Many years ago, I heard of a Noah’s Ark diorama at an actual maritime museum (done as a hypothetical). They reconstructed the Ark as a simple raft or scow hull with a full-width superstructure, hypothesizing that Noah wasn’t a boatbuilder and would have gone with a simple raft as a basis — after all, the Ark only had to float, not maneuver. The final reconstruction looked like nothing more than a gigantic wooden box or brick, with the lower third being caulked to form the hull.

        • I eagerly await their reconstruction of Santa’s sleigh. We wouldn’t want to get the aerodynamics wrong.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And this means what?

            I said their Noah’s Ark diorama was a HYPOTHETICAL.

            Like a paleo-artist I knew many-many years ago. She’d do these detailed paleo-anatomical skeleton-in-silhouette drawings of mythical creatures — gryphons, dragons, chimerae, etc — done as serious scientific diagrams of extinct critters, and show them to her contacts at the big paleo-museum at La Brea Tar Pits. They’d start arguing about how a gryphon’s flight muscles would connect, and next thing you know there’d be a potato-chip fight starting between all these paleontologists…

          • That’s not “hypothetical,” that’s *fantastical.” But if paleontologists are involved in it, I’m sure it’ll be great.

        • Funny how the literalists have yet to make a truly accurate depiction of Noah’s Ark. They keep having to make the ark look hydrodynamic, despite the obviously rectangular dimensions in Genesis.

          Years ago I had to remind somebody: “Ark doesn’t mean boat. It means box. Otherwise there’d be no need for the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant over the Jordan River; you could just float it across.”

          Just goes to show how much our culture influences our interpretations. Even unconsciously.

      • I would like to see them place NON-animatronic animals of the species depicted above in the same pen.

  5. Church is like sex: it’s impolite to fall asleep during either.

  6. In fact, not only did they kick Mark Smith out of the band, but: “A single that the band recently recorded featuring Smith that was released on iTunes is being redubbed to exclude him.”

    After Lenin’s death, Stalin had Trotsky removed from group photos of the faithful, and his own image inserted. The shadow was sometimes on the wrong side of Stalin’s face, but nobody objected.

    About the Ark:

    My only question: if all those lights represent the original candles, wouldn’t that have been a fire hazard, what with the waves and all?

    Martha? Damaris? Pattie? Was Noah Roman Catholic???

    • Danielle says:

      Holy candles are not affected by the laws of physics.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      After Lenin’s death, Stalin had Trotsky removed from group photos of the faithful, and his own image inserted. The shadow was sometimes on the wrong side of Stalin’s face, but nobody objected.

      doubleplusungood ref doubleplusunperson.

    • Ted – I refuse to answer that question on the grounds of self-incrimination 😉

    • That Other Jean says:

      Were candles in common use in the Middle East that long ago (for whatever the value of “that long ago” might be)? I thought that oil lamps would be more likely–candles are pretty complicated to make, melt in the heat, and make a fair amount of smoke. I wouldn’t have expected nomadic herders to use them much.

  7. Danielle says:

    So, if I am understanding the Noah’s arc recreation correctly:

    The arc contained: rhinos, giraffes, sheep, lions, ostriches, and elephants. They seem to take up most of the space. So apparently these species, and some smaller critters stuck up in the gallery, got out of Noah’s arc a few millennia ago and became all the species we have today. So not only is evolution true, but it is going super fast!

    At this rate, we’ll have super-humans in no time. Or space-ship building songbirds.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The arc contained: rhinos, giraffes, sheep, lions, ostriches, and elephants.

      No dinosaurs?

      And shouldn’t land insects (especially beetles) take up most of the space and biomass?

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In fact, not only did they kick Mark Smith out of the band, but: “A single that the band recently recorded featuring Smith that was released on iTunes is being redubbed to exclude him.”

    Just like Comrade Stalin used to do.
    After all, He Never Existed. doupleplusunperson.

  9. An amusment park dedicated to recreating Yan Martel’s “Life of Pi”…? Hooray, I’m there.