September 30, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, April 5, 2014

Happy April, imonkers.  Tuesday was April Fool’s Day.  Did you pull any pranks?  Have any pulled on you?  Do share in the comments. Make them up if you have to.

I have a friend who calls April 1 the Atheist Holiday (referencing Psalm 14:1) but I find this extremely uncharitable.  But did you know how the holiday did originate? Most scholars believe you can trace it back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII told the world that it was going to adopt a new calendar (man, those guys had power back then). Humbly enough, he named it after himself, and the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day from the end of March to January 1.  Some apparently didn’t get the message (or maybe just didn’t like it) and continued to celebrate on April 1.  Ginger Smoak, a professor of medieval history, says these folks, “were ridiculed and, because they were seen as foolish, called April Fools.” Now we know.

And you probably don’t need to know about the workers in Florida who mistook a corpse for an April Fool’s prank, but here’s the story if you want it.

If you have the time (hey, you’re reading the Ramblings—of course you have time) you can check out the best April Fool’s jokes online companies played this year.  My favorite, though, was the NPR joke that tweaked those who made comments on a post without actually reading the post.

The Final Four begins today.  I am rooting for Wisconsin to take the title but predicting Florida.  How about you?  Oh, and apparently something called baseball started recently.

“What is about Jewish people that make (sic) them prosper financially?” This was the puzzler puzzled over by Pat Robertson.  Fortunately he gave us the answer, so we no longer have to be kerpuzzled: Jews don’t fix their cars or mow their lawns, which leaves them more time for their primary occupation: Polishing diamonds. Hmmm: Does it make it better or worse that he was talking to a Rabbi and apparently meant it as a compliment?

Headline of the week: Medieval poop barrels that still smell discovered in Denmark.  And, good news, the human excrement is still in “excellent condition”. I am relieved.

We all know that “Only the Sith deal in absolutes” (wait, wasn’t that an absolute?  Was Lucas being ironic? Does George Lucas even know how to be ironic?) but this one is worth sharing: “no Pope has ever been seen as penitent.” Until now.  Let’s make that the 3,412,987th reason to love this guy.

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From the same article: “Asked by Italy’s most-prominent daily earlier this month for an assessment of his first year as Pope, Francis demurred, saying ‘I only do that every fifteen days, with my confessor.’” 3,412,988th.

Pictured: 80 year old Jew

Pictured: 80 year old Jew

Noah opened at the box office with a big showing, taking in 44 million.  This was not a surprise.  What was a surprise was that God’s Not Dead had another strong weekend, raking in 9 million.   I haven’t seen Noah yet.  I’ve heard it may not, how shall we say…strictly accord with the biblical narrative.  But if you’ve seen it, please let us know what you think. Next up in Hollywood’s year of the Bible is Heaven is for Real, followed in the fall with everyone’s favorite Nic Cage in Left Behind, and then Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus.  Deadline spins the numbers to talk about whether studios will be producing more movies geared towards religious themes. TLDR: “What this shows is that there is an appetite for these type of movies and that there is a particular segment of the population that is being terribly under-served and if you give them the product they want to see, they will come.”

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all. We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public.”  Rather an odd way for a company to announce it was firing someone because he once gave $1,000 in support of his religious views, isn’t it? Perhaps George Lucas writes their press releases.

I suppose they thought a pastor would be on their side.  I can’t imagine why else they sent it to me.  It certainly wasn’t based on my previous imonk articles on Ken Ham’s exegesis or the meaning of Genesis One. But a new creationist organization sent me a “Call to Action” this week.  Let me quote the rationale for this call:

Today in America we are in a battle for the heart and soul of our nation. The battle is being fought on four fronts against four powerful movements.
1.Modernism: The ideology that science alone has all the answers. The foundational principle of this ideology is Materialism which assumes all that exist is mass and energy (no God or supernatural forces). Championing this movement is evolution.
 2.Postmodernism: Since science has not been able to solve all our problems (wars and diseases still exist), New Age and Eastern Mysticism have gained popularity in America. This is an ideology of moral relativism (there are no absolutes; what’s true for you is not true for someone else)
 3.Gay Rights: A direct attack on and intolerance of the biblical precept of marriage (one man and one woman) as well as the traditional family structure.
 4.Apostasy in the church: The attack by Christian theologians on biblical doctrine. Leading this movement are the theistic evolutionists who claim that God used evolution and billions of years in His creation. Recently, seeker friendly and emergent churches are watering down the clear teaching of Scripture and promoting a different Gospel, one that offers a “cheap grace”.
 

You may be shocked to learn that the man heading this group and teaching its seminars has no degrees of any kind in science, history, theology, Bible, or philosophy.

_h658_w1170_m6_otrue_lfalseDid you know the Holy Grail has been found?  Apparently it’s actually been on display in for 1,000 years in Spain, but no-one realized it was the cup of Christ till now. There is one small caveat: “The historians admit that they cannot prove the chalice touched Christ’s lips, nor can they pinpoint the first 400 years of its history.”  Actually, that does seem like a rather large caveat, doesn’t it? You could drive a truck through that caveat. That caveat is big enough to have its own zip code.  Nonetheless, people are flocking to see it.

A German judge told a couple that they could not, in fact, name their child wiki-leaks .  And an Italian Judge awarded a couple $28,000 because of their bad sex life. Now, before you Presbyterians begin counting your own potential windfall here, realize that the woman in question was struck by a car while crossing the street. I do love the line of defense offered by the driver’s insurance company: that as a middle-aged couple, they wouldn’t be having an active sex life anyway. Ouch.

Some scientists say they now know the answer to the age-old question of why zebras have stripes (and, no, it’s not because they hate plaids).  Biting flies apparently don’t like black and white mixes (racist flies!) and this is claimed to give stripes an evolutionary advantage.

Before I forget, I had a couple people last week ask for a dog picture (like Jeff included with his ramblings).  No promises for this being an every week thing, but I’ll throw you a bone: th6FBA4IF0

Pretend you are dreaming. In this dream you find yourself at a flea market in the Midwest.  You see someone selling an egg which they claim is made of pure gold.  Instead of laughing it off like you usually do when you find golden eggs at the flea market (“And how much for the goose who laid it?  You didn’t kill her did you”?) you decide it’s legit and shell out $14,000 for it.  Sounds likely so far, right? I mean, that happens a lot. But the next part is weird: It turns out that the egg is actually an incredibly rare Faberge egg.  And not just any ol’ Faberge egg (like the one that recently sold for 18 million) but one of the eight missing imperial Faberge eggs. Actually, the Imperial Faberge egg that Czar Alexander III gave to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1887.  The one worth 33 million. That would be a good dream, wouldn’t it? The egg goes on display this month for the first time in 122 years.lost-300x316

So, Liberty University transferred its Liberty Home Bible Institute some years ago to some guy named Dan Reber (I think this means he wrote them a fat check, but I’m not sure).  They allowed him to keep their name on the material, a decision they are now regretting. LHBI, you see, has begun partnering with Benny Hinn.

And yes,  I put that last item in mainly so I have an excuse to end with this video:

 

 

Comments

  1. Wait a minute. “…something called baseball”?

    This is the real reason I am a post-evangelical.

  2. Well, I guess Mozilla can resume being tolerant and inclusive now that the intolerant, homophobic and probably right wing Christian fundamentalist has departed their midst.

    Rule of thumb: Those that shout the loudest about tolerance seem to be the first to call those that disagree as IN-tolerant.

    That was a very weak non-apology.

    • Oh, and by the way, it may seem reactionary but I’m migrating to Chrome.

      • Brianthedad says:

        Chrome is a much better browser. However, I don’t know that Google’s LGBT stance will line up with yours either. Although I don’t think Google has been known for publicly jettisoning employees for actions similar to those that Mozilla booted this gentleman for.

        • Robert F says:

          I’m in favor of the full inclusion of LGBT people in all facets of societal and church life, and I support same-sex civil unions and marriage, but I find Mozilla’s action in this case appalling.

          I guess that means I don’t equate the LGBT issue with racism, because if this man had been jettisoned for supporting legislation against marriage between the races I would have supported Mozilla. Which is an uncomfortable moral position to be in, since I’m not sure how I can justify it, though I do feel the two issues are different. I guess it’s just something that I’m working through right now, along with the rest of society and the Church(es).

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            I feel much the same way, and I do not feel any need to justify the difference. I do not accept the premise that sexual activity is the same as race; the two are so completely two different things. I supported the gay marriage idea until they adopted the racial equation, that is a bridge to a shore that isn’t there. The racial equation turns a Civil Liberties issue [which I support: the state should be as open and inclusive as possible with a tendency to non-interference] into a Civil Rights issue [which it is not; in a Civil Rights issue the state needs to redress gross historical error and mass persecution using coercive and compulsive means].

          • Robert F says:

            I do think there are distinctions, though I’m not clear on what they are; therein lay my moral discomfort. I was hoping some might feel similarly to me about supporting inclusion on this issue while not accepting the comparison with racism, and have some thoughts that would help me through my moral thicket. So thanks for your distinction between Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. I will think about it.

          • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

            I used to be in favor of gay civil marriage until things like this happened. Now, I am firmly against it.

          • Radagast says:

            It is actually identity being equated with race… the problem is that identity is now multiplying faster than denominations are splitting… it was once M/F, then MFLGBT and now there is a whole slew of new ones. Wondering if some of these change as people go through stages in their lives… especially when we are basing some of this on sexual activity ie Bisexual, Asexual, etc).

            To get rid of someone who had an opinion several years ago against gay marriage when even the President hadn’t evolved yet (that’s a whole other issue) is just absolutely ludicrous. Kind of a witch hunt for those who weren’t politically correct somewhere in their past.

            The things we focus on these days…..

          • Robert, you say “full inclusion of LGBT people in all facets of societal and church life”. By that do you also mean by church life that they should also be deacons, elders, pastors, etc.? How would that impact churches that teach that same sex practices are not approved in scripture? I can understand ALL types of people being in a congregation without prejudice, but I just can’t go with positions of authority.

          • Robert F says:

            Oscar, I’m an Episcopalian, and though I consider myself traditional when it comes to the central affirmations of creedal Christianity, and so in disagreement with some of things going on in my own church, I do support its shift toward full inclusion of LGBT people in all ministries of the church, including all positions of authority. I’m a progressive on this issue and in my own denomination.

            At the same time, I understand that many sincere and well-meaning conservative Christians disagree with me on this subject, and I fully support their right to associate in churches that affirm a different view than mine. In all honesty, though, I would hope that all churches would eventually have a change of heart in this matter, and move toward greater and greater inclusiveness of LGBT people.

            The arguments from Scripture are not determinative for me, because I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant.

      • I migrated to Chrome about the same time I became a Calvinist. Mere association, you say? I think not!

    • cermak_rd says:

      They knew about his donation and had no problem with him being CTO. It’s when it became a public issue and he was CEO that it was a problem. CEO is a public position, it’s almost political, especially amongst tech companies if they rely on OSS to provide say, addons to their browsers.

      Really, the main problem is that the gentleman refused to handle the problem appropriately once the ruckus broke out. He didn’t come out and say whether he would do the same action today and if so why. He tried to just ignore the problem out of existence which isn’t a very good stab at problem control.

      • I’ve dealt with “social justice warriors” plenty and you’re correct that he did not “handle the problem appropriately.” Only problem is, there’s NO appropriate way to handle the problem and anything you do, say, do not do, or do not say will only make it worse. And that’s not a bug of how social justice warriors function–it’s a feature. So they can appear fair-minded while remaining, at core, completely ruthless and lacking in any sense of proportion or mercy.

        If he had apologized, it would have likely been spun as a “fauxpology.” If he stood his ground–which, in a quiet way, he did–he would have been condemned as a hopeless, recalcitrant bigot. Silence infuriates them and leads to escalating antics to try to get you to speak so they can take every word from your mouth and mold it into a grenade to toss back at you. Once that target sign is on your back, you’re in this for the long haul.

        In Portland, the grocers who were targeted for this kind of a campaign were able to buy off the mob by sending a “sizeable” donation to a LGBT group. I’m kind of surprised that even worked. Usually, it wouldn’t.

        • “In Portland, the grocers who were targeted for this kind of a campaign were able to buy off the mob by sending a “sizeable” donation to a LGBT group.” It worked for Jesse Jackson and helped make him a millionaire. Its called a “shake down”.

          What’s next? Firing people for voting the “wrong” way? Checking voting records and donation records to make sure the person “thinks” correctly?

          In California individuals and groups were threatened with boycotts and protests if it were discovered that they supported Proposition 8 which declared marriage is one man and one woman. This is getting scarrier.

          • It is coming from both sides of the aisle, but on different issues. Don’t forget the owners who threatened to fire anyone who voted for Obama. Personally I find it abhorrent whether I agree with the politics or not. No one is defined by their vote or stance on one issue. This is just the wrong way to do both politics and business.

      • Cermak – very much agreed. I think he might have averted much if he’d spoken up, instead of trying to avoid the questions. Being CEO does take things to a different level, especially in a company that is so reliant on volunteers for its existence and development of its products.

    • This is interesting. From realclearpolitics.com,

      “In the online-only ‘Overtime’ portion of his HBO show Real Time, host Bill Maher weighed in on the Mozilla controversy, and did not react in a way that you would think. Maher seemed to disagree with gay rights activists for targeting Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich because of a 2008 donation to support a ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in California.

      ‘Well, and he gave it when President Obama was still against gay marriage. So, I don’t think it’s very fair,’ Carrie Sheffield of Forbes said.

      ‘Good point,’ Maher responded. ‘I think there is a gay mafia,’ Maher said. ‘I think if you cross them, you do get whacked.'”

      Makes me wonder, who will get “whacked” next?

      • Its not just “who” but also “what”! Schools, businesses and churches are ALL on the radar

    • I’m not sure what gives with Mozilla, but it won’t open the comments section at Richard Beck’s blog. They can hire all the queers it takes to solve that problem–if anyone is axing me.

  3. Christiane says:

    ah, baseball season is here . . .
    we are ‘retired’ and when baseball season starts, my husband will disappear into his ‘man-cave’ several hours a day . . .
    I get more work done during this time than the rest of the whole day . . . (BIG smiley face)

  4. Dobson wrote that very same call to action about 35 years ago.

  5. Vega Magnus says:

    I’ve seen The Last Crusade. That is one of the false grails. As far as the Christian movies go, I just hope we get Crazy Cage in Left Behind instead of Phoning it In Cage. That might make Left Behind the most amazing experience of the year.

    • That Other Jean says:

      I do wonder, though–is the Grail supposed to be the stone(?) vessel obscured inside the gold and jeweled trappings, or the whole thing? If it’s the whole thing, where would an itinerant rabbi and his disciples come up with a thing like that? I’m more inclined to agree with you–The Last Crusade made more sense.

  6. I was hopeful that the Benny Hinn at the end would be set to the music from Benny Hill. Surely someone must have done that!

    I can’t be the only one here who loathes April Fools Day, right? It would be one thing if it were all rick-rolling and innocent fun like that. But people feel the need to escalate and get more “epic” these days and thus…well thus some poor idiots in Florida believing an actual corpse was part of a prank. I would have thought the Christian blogosphere would be relatively innocuous with their pranks, but I loaded up Patheos on the 1st only to be confronted with a fake headline that Simcha Fisher (Catholic mommy blogger) had died. I really think “pranks” involving faked death, pregnancy, etc, should be considered socially unacceptable, but I guess I am just cramping everyone’s style. It seems cruel to scare people like that.

    • Radagast says:

      Miss that Benny Hill theme song….

      Yes… I got pranked. I have a large family. My oldest who is in his last year of college called me up on April 1st (and because I am so crazy busy with work I didn’t take notice) made some small talk about job prospects, and then stated he had something sensitive he wanted to talk to me and his mother about. He then went on to ask me if I was ready to be a grandfather which shocked me because as far as I knew he hadn’t been dating anyone. He then went on to weave the story, who it was, how it happened, when it happened… and I bought it hook, line and sinker. After exchanging a couple more phone calls throughout the evening, my wife finally came home and we called him back together, in a quiet, secluded part of the house, and she put him on speakerphone so we could both talk, and then he screamed ‘April Fools’ while my other kids burst into the room laughing (my wife was laughing too). Seems everyone was in on it, my oldest daughter filmed my reactions from the beginning, and after my initial shock (and relief) I had a good laugh (I appreciate a good prank – and they really got me).

      I will agree with you though that pregnancy pranks are cruel …

  7. RonaldRX says:

    Benny Hill was an expert at making fun of human foibles. Hinn doesn’t come close.
    Richard – does that cover Chicago Cubs fans?

  8. I enjoyed Noah. I think it did a good job portraying wickedness as sheer madness. I’m going to try to read the books of Enoch (which is where I think they got the Watchers idea) because of this movie.

    No, it is not a strict biblical portrayal. People who get upset about movies not being great evangelism tools still need to apologize for “Left Behind”.

    I really liked the article in the sidebar re: the Noah movie.

    • I’ve been pondering how Christians think that the Jews believe everything exactly like we do stopping before Matthew. The Noah movie is a rude awakening that evangelicalism isn’t learning from.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      How can the story possibly a be a strict retelling, as a feature length film? The story is itself is very spartan.

  9. Damaris says:

    Excruciatingly beautiful puppy — thank you, Daniel! :-)

    • dumb ox says:

      Agreed. Perhaps too cute for the wilds of the post-evangelical wilderness.

    • There are actually psychological studies that petting (or viewing pictures of) puppies relieves stress. Maybe the puppy pic should become more regular…

  10. Damaris says:

    This sentence doesn’t make grammatical, scientific, philosophical, or logical sense to me. It’s from the first point on Daniel’s creationist mailing: “Championing this movement is evolution.” So is Evolution the being that is championing this movement? Is being a modernist the force behind mutation and natural selection? Is the championing of the movement itself mutating over time? I just don’t know . . .

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Yeah, the whole thing was a mess.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I thought the exact same thing when I read it. Not only is the guy not credentialed, he needs a proof-reader/editor.

  11. dumb ox says:

    “…I am relieved.”

    Glad everything came out alright.

  12. Daniel Jepsen says:

    For the record, I spent the past two days trying to come up with a good joke on the name, Ginger Smoaks. Never did think of one that didn’t seem clumsy. Some help here?

  13. My son, who is dual enrolled in high school and college, was LIVID when his Bible Study leader announced they were going to see God is Not Deat because of its “excellent reviews and how they would face stuff like this in college.” Sigh. He is looking for another group.

    • I’ve a couple of people from my church waxed eloquently about God Is Not Dead. One mentioned how bad the acting was, and how bad the special effects were, and how, ultimately, the non-believers had bad things happen to them while the “good” people didn’t, but wasn’t it a great movie!!! No, I have no desire to see it. I went to a public university, my husband did, as did both my children. None of us ever had anyone try to make us into unbelievers or try to make us sign a pledge that God was dead. Honestly, I think too many Christians feel irrelevant and want to manufacture so-called persecution to make themselves feel important or something.

      If I’m going to see a Bible movie, I’d rather see Noah (although I’d have to get past Javert the Gladiator & Hermione Granger in the boat) because it would challenge my understanding of the Biblical narrative, not just rubber stamp it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’ve a couple of people from my church waxed eloquently about God Is Not Dead. One mentioned how bad the acting was, and how bad the special effects were, and how, ultimately, the non-believers had bad things happen to them while the “good” people didn’t, but wasn’t it a great movie!!!

        That’s either a Jack Chick Tract on-screen or blatant Wish Fulfillment Fanservice. Or both.

        If I’m going to see a Bible movie, I’d rather see Noah (although I’d have to get past Javert the Gladiator & Hermione Granger in the boat) because it would challenge my understanding of the Biblical narrative, not just rubber stamp it.

        But that’s the essence of Fanservice — tickle those itchy ears, reassure the audience that YOU, Dear Viewer, are Absolutely Right and THEY are all Absolutely Wrong. That’s the secret of Jerry Jenkins’s success, the one he never mentions in his $1200-a-pop Christian Writing Course.

        As for me and my house, I’m waiting for the final installment of The Hobbit. And the movie version of My Little Pony: Past Sins that’s been looping in my head for three years since I first read the fic.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I think I should be happy I have never even heard of this movie. But NPR is all over Noah.

      • Robert F says:

        From what I’ve read about it, Noah is the kind of religious art that intellectuals like the ones at NPR, along with the rest of the secular culture, approve of: it plays fast and loose with the Biblical narrative by introducing strongly gnostic revisions, such as the idea that Adam and Eve were given physical bodies only after and as a result of the fall, or that the Watchers may be fallen angels, but they are on the side of good.

        Our culture, both low and high brow, is strongly gnostic, and is very accepting of gnostic revisions of the Biblical texts, and naturally also art that includes such revisions. It feeds our societal religious appetite with a vision of the world that seems to have some moral coherence, while avoiding bringing anyone into contact with the foreboding idea of the living God of Israel, which is how gnosticism is so successful and pervasive as a religious perspective.

        • On the other hand, I heard it reflects ancient Jewish traditions and is more like midrash.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Is “Gnosticism” the new buzzword for “Say-Tann-Ic!”?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            No. Gnosticism has a specific meaning. Satanic is anything from Goth to Wall Street; the Devil is an expansive fellow.

          • Robert F says:

            Gnosticism first sees the created world as evil, and the soul as a bit of the divine spark trapped in an evil creation; the purpose of true religion, in that case, is to free the good spirit from the evil creation

            Secondarily, gnosticism attributes the existence of this, our, world to an evil demi-urge that has intentionally trapped us in the world. Some forms of gnosticism went on to interpret the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a liberator who came to offer true knowledge (gnosis) to Adam and Eve so that they might know the difference between good and evil, and so be liberated from this evil world of death. In this narrative, the god who placed Adam and Eve in the Garden is actually and evil dem-iurge, little more than a demon who wants to keep Adam and Eve ignorant and trapped.

            This is the narrative that appeals so strongly to many in our world, and many very popular films have followed it: The Matrix, The Fisher King, The Truman Show, etc., etc., etc. It in effect reverses good and evil, all the while satisfying the religious instinct of humankind.

            If you want to call that Satanic, go ahead…

          • Yeah, but that’s why I’m not buying your assessment, Robert. I just didn’t see anything in the movie like your description of gnosticism. In fact, it seemed almost the opposite, because Noah was physically saved instead of being delivered out of the evil flesh. So, while the fantasy elements don’t play well with our modern sensibilities, I just can’t be honest with myself and call it gnostic at the same time.

          • Robert F says:

            Well, I haven’t seen the movie, and I’m going on hearsay, but the things about the good fallen angels/Watchers, and Adam and Eve incarnating only after the fall, is pure gnosticism…

            It’s also typical of popular films to get their messages mixed.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          There is some truth to that; but mostly I find that the media caters to the desire to have a Morality, but the Morality should be abstractly BIG – Good vs. Evil, missional without demanding missionaries beyond the occasional hero, the chosen ones. Probably mass-media has to be this way to appeal to “the masses” [the only way it remains *mass* media :)]. Make the morality play to specific and you get into fights, or [oddly to me] people just get bored with it. Specific morality is so tedious [whereas, that is where it gets interesting to me].

          It is always tempting [for me at least] to see more to it than this; to think that the wealthy media barons and arbiters of culture are careful not to make media that would actually confront people and `stir the pot`. But sometimes that type of media does get made – and almost always nobody buys it. So the simple need to be Generic explains a lot. And if Generic can reference some ancient texts or what not to get a veneer of “Legitimate Theater” – so the talking heads have something to prattle about – all the better.

          Meh, I will probably not see Noah.

          • Robert F says:

            The morality play writ large is not antithetical to gnosticism. In fact, it fits very well into gnosticism. And who said anything about a conspiracy? Not me. It’s just that gnosticism is a very resilient religious attitude that many people naturally and easily have.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Agree; my point is that I don’t believe there is anything deliberate or missionary about ether the vague-morality or the Gnostic position of a lot of media; it just serves the market well. I doubt much thought goes into the Moral angle of most pieces.

            As for “conspiracy”, that was just me. Hence the “[for me at least]“. There are a great many who fall into that temptation, we see cries about that on The Right, especially the Evangelicals, all the time. It is a temptation I understand – as the message *seems* so consistent. But I doubt it is, it is just convenient.

            Mule wrong a post about Manicheanism being the ‘natural religion’. Manicheanism vagued-up a bit accurately described The Worldview seen in most mass-media.

            Gnosticism is indeed a consistent thread in our culture – right down to Hallmark: “it’s the thought that counts”. I always have avoid being the annoying guy, because I want to retort “No, it is what you do that counts” every time I hear that.

          • The film’s director, Darren Aronowsky, is Jewish, and has used themes/elements from Jewish mystical traditions in previous films, most notably his first, “Pi.”

            Jewish mysticism is complex and there are different schools of thought – though most Conservative and Reform folks have distanced themselves from the mysticism of some Orthodox. I can understand why Aaronofsky would draw on some of this material, since it bulks up the story considerably.

            Based on the trailer, I have no interest in seeing the movie, because it just doesn’t appeal (great big Special Effects, lots of CGI work, etc.). Might try watching it once it’s available for streaming, but it seems like the kind of big action movie/comic book-style productions that I tend to avoid, so… (Cecil B. DeMille probably would have approved, though.)

          • I don’t think Aaronofsky (the director) intendedf for the movie to be some kind of religious tract. It’s his first big action movie, and I get the impression that he wanted as much flash and spectacle as possible – much like a superhero movie.

            Robert, I think you might be over thinking this…

          • The only “missionary” aspect to the move that struck me was the “green/environmental” spin. I appreciated the “complicated-ness” of the Noah character.

            Esta bien. No big deal. It was good entertainment.

        • Dr. Brian Mattson has written an interesting review of Noah that attempts to spell out some of the Gnostic elements in the movie.

          http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil

          • Robert F says:

            Confirms what I suspected from the few things I’d heard. Thanks Janet.

          • The link Donski provided a bit upthread spells out the Midrashic connections, along with clearly delineating some major differences between Jewish interpretation of text vs. xtian. Lots of info., but written in a very readable style.

    • My wife and I went to see Noah this past Sunday. It’s quite the spectacle but only about 10% Biblical, more like “the Creator is angry that we polluted the planet” coupled with a vegan Noah in dire need of counseling to deal with his own guilt for not being drowned along with everyone else and other assorted anger issues. Yes, there’s a fellow named Noah, a big boat, lots of animals paired up boy-girl, and lots and lots of water—and that’s about the extent of its congruency with Genesis 6-9.

      But what does it matter? I got in for $6.25 on my senior discount and left “entertained.” I did not expect to top see a Biblical narrative on film and was therefore not disappointed. I agree with Cal Thomas that Christians ought to see it in spite of the weirdness. At the very least the Bible is getting some attention and we should encourage such things.

      • The Genesis story is very brief and not exactly the stuff of a big picture, though – gotta get lots of other things into a screenplay in order to make it viable.

        Me, I’d prefer a Bergmanesque Noah, with gloom, angst and much intellectual discussion. And maybe someone in a black outfit, carrying the ancient equivalent of a chessboard, a la The Seventh Seal. ;)

        • Man, now that would be something! I would imagine it would need to be shot in black & white with lots of shadows symbolic of something or other.

          • Yep, lots of “something or other” for sure. I’m not a big Bergman fan, but really, I just can’t see the story of Noah as an action flick.

  14. I would like to say something positive about Benny Hinn:

    He isn’t Todd Bentley.

  15. A corgi puppy! They are the cutest little things.

    That Benny Hinn video was a stroke of creative genius.

  16. I had to turn off Benny as I was afraid of falling off my chair as I watched.

  17. Robert F says:

    The highly dubious claim to the authenticity of this purported chalice as the Grail is not unusual in the world of holy relics. And it’s exactly why I refuse to accept that any relic can have any real spiritual significance for Christian believers. If they ever seem to, it’s really just a religious version of the placebo effect, because there’s nothing there but a religious sugar pill.

    • Christiane says:

      11 “And God did miracles through Paul’s hands that were beyond all wont; 12 so much so, that when handkerchiefs or aprons which had touched his body were taken to the sick, they got rid of their diseases, and evil spirits were driven out.”
      (Acts 19)

      I wonder if ‘relics’ are comprehended by any of us – there is witness of some relics in use in the Book of Acts but
      a ‘placebo effect’ is a possibility even there – faith can be a powerful force for people who have great hope – there are things we cannot explain or understand

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So what is left for spiritual significance?
      Recite the Bible, Bible, Bible just like it was the Koran?

      The idea of relics and artifacts, sacraments and sacramentals, ties the spiritual in with the physical. Gives you a tangible historic trace instead of a mythological “holy history”. An anchor to prevent your floating off into the Fluffy Cloud Heaven of GNOSTICISM.

      And when you have relics and artifacts, part of the baggage is folk beliefs and local legends accreting around them.

      • Robert F says:

        And neither of you, my Catholic brethren and sister, have anything to say about the frauds perpetuated down through the ages, right up until the present, in the name of relics?….

        The incarnation of Christ is enough for me in the battle against creeping gnosticism.

        • Robert F says:

          More exactly, through Baptism and Holy Communion, the Holy Spirit has joined me to a body where God resides in the very spirits and bodies of his people, and where God feeds me on the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. What need have I for relics, when the living reality is with me at all times in my very body and the bodies of my brothers and sisters, including my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters? What greater safeguard could there be against gnosticism than the sacraments, and life in the church, the body of Christ?

          For me, relics are redundant, when they aren’t of dubious origin.

          • Perhaps unsurprisingly, I agree with this. In fact, it’s when the traditionalist Catholics start bringing out the trinkets and folk incantations that they really lose me. I have to constantly remind myself that no matter what they say, those things are NOT central to the Catholic faith, and you are free to disregard them. Every day, every hour, all around the world, there is a Mass where you can go and taste, touch, and embrace the Body and Blood of our Lord, and hear his Word. Why should I care about a piece of cloth from some human’s garment when this is freely available to me?

      • HUG, I understand that you must have been hurt by some group wielding a Bible. OK. But Robert is not a fundamentalist. I’ve been around here less time than you have, and I know that without a doubt. He’s a very moderate, calm kind of liberal Protestant. Why are you attacking him as though he was a “bible worshiper”?

        It’s really off-putting, imho, to encounter this level of bile constantly on these threads.

        • I think you’re mistaken re. HUG’s post, but his commenting style is unique. He and Radagast have been commenting here since forever; they were fixtures when I started reading back in 2006.

          Agree or disagree; I doubt he intended any slight toward Robert F, though.

          • I’ve become “acclimated” to HUG’s and Radagast’s–and even find them insightful (also inciting) and amusing. YOU DA MANS!!

            I didn’t read HUG as being bilious toward RobertF. HUG is just damn bilious in general… ;o)

    • David L says:

      Let me ask this. At some point in the not too distant future Billy Graham will be dead.

      How many years must pass before it’s not ghoulish to have various of his body parts enclosed in glass cases in evangelical church lobbies?

  18. dumb ox says:

    Really? The worse apostasies threatening the church are evolution and cheap grace? Not secularism- reduction of the church to big box religious marketing campaigns? Not idolatry, with churches as temples to their best-sellers list, megalomaniac leaders? Not covetousness of power? Not the double standards of grace, where the moral failures of religious leaders are ignored while assuring everyone goes home from church feeling guilty of offending some man-made rule? Not the post-modernism which strips the church intellectual reason and replaces it with irrational superstition? Not the syncretism of Christianity with anti-Christian political philosophies like that of Ayn Rand? How can anyone take a “call to action like that seriously? Does this fear-mongering and demagogy still hold a spell on anyone?

  19. Robert F says:

    That Benny Hinn video is just scary.

    The closest I ever came to seeing something like this in person was when, at my wife’s coaxing when she was still somewhat under the influence of this stuff, we attended a conference of Fishnet, a healing ministry run by Francis MacNutt and his wife. The crazy things we saw there turned her off completely to the whole healing ministry enterprise, and what we saw was nowhere near as VIOLENT and CRAZY as the stuff in that Hinn video.

    Is this really Christianity?

  20. Robert F says:

    People can’t fall the way they do in that Benny Hinn video without hurting themselves. It’s worse than moshing and crowd surfing. It’s horrible.

    • The human pile-on seems like an exaggerated human wave…
      There must be some OSHA rule against that.
      I love the way he swings that Guggi coat at them like he’s batting flies.
      It struck me how much he resembles a matadore with cape and sword, delivering the
      toque de la muerte… Ole!

  21. Robert F says:

    Lord, receive into your care Peter Matthiessen.

    Let light perpetual shine upon him.

  22. For each time I attend one of the many Bible-themed films out this year, am I allowed to skip church that week?

  23. Wow, the new creationist organization really doesn’t know much about modernism or postmodernism if they brush them both off as being all bad. Postmodernism isn’t all bad, nor is it all good. Same goes with the modern. Discernment, and yes perhaps some degrees in philosophy and Bible study, would help them to better understand the two philosophies.

  24. “Something called baseball…” Michael Spencer would have blogged nothing else for a week.

    Pope Francis went to confession last week. I like the humility, I like the example; but isn’t papal infallibility not one of the tenants of the RCC? If the pope can do no wrong, what is he confessing?

  25. *ins’t papal infallibility one of the tenants – double negative issue above.