July 23, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, March 22, 2014

RNS-HOLI-COLORS033113-1-427x284Happy Saturday, imonkers.  Those of us in the states are in the midst of March Madness, that time of year when athletic teenagers make obscene amounts of money for tv networks.  And Monday was St. Patrick’s Day, of course.  Did you wear green? Drink green beer? You know, if you were Hindu, the day would have been more colorful, for March 17 is the Holi festival (you know, where the participants throw colored powder on each other). Which U.S. state held the biggest Holi festival?  Utah, of course.  Where else?

You might have missed this story. None one of the major news outlets reported on it (shockingly) but the Vatican, working with Anglican and Muslims,  has launched The Global Freedom Network to battle  modern-day slavery. “Objectives include getting the G20 to condemn modern-day slavery, persuading 50 major corporations to commit to slavery-proofing their supply chains and convincing 160 governments to endorse a seven-year, $100 million fundraising effort to implement anti-slavery programs globally.”

The always informative Christian Post had an exclusive on the “ten fittest Christian leaders“.

A Florida woman is facing felony charges and up to five years in the big house for performing a C-section on a Rottweiler without using anesthesia.

From the freedom of speech is only for us department comes the story of a philosophy professor who argues that anyone funding and promoting a denial of climate change should be jailed.  Of course, he breezily notes, “My argument probably raises an understandable, if misguided, concern regarding free speech. We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organized campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions.”  In other words, your freedom of speech stops when your wallet comes out. If you feel you have the right to promote your opinion then you are “misguided”.  It’s a good thing we can totally trust people like this professor to determine things like what is  a “strategically organized campaign”,  what constitutes “undermining”, and when such activity threatens the  “public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions”.  The comments on the site are interesting, at least those not “removed by moderator”.

Speaking of intolerance, did you see this quote? ““Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”  Who was this person equating right-to-life with “extreme” conservatism, and wishing to banish these extremists from the state?  Some left-wing blogger trying to scare up comments?  A radical talk-show host attempting to juice ratings? No, this statement was uttered by none other than Andrew Cuomo, who serves as Governor of the state in question.

By the way, I noticed Gallup’s latest poll on abortion has more people in the U.S. describing themselves as pro-life (48%) than pro-choice (45%).  That’s a lot of extremists.3v-w8idaiewwzqsgkkjpfq

Bill Gates gave a long interview to Rolling Stone, and mentioned at the end that he and his family are practicing Catholics. He also noted that he is sympathetic to some atheist arguments, “But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there’s no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.”

First Things asked the question: “As a post-biblical vision of sex, gender, and marriage gains the upper hand in our society, should our religious institutions get out of marriage? Should priests, pastors, and rabbis renounce their roles as deputies of state authority in marriage?” Eight religious scholars (Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Baptist and Jewish) give their opinion. You’re probably not a religious scholar, but we’d love to hear your take on the question anyway.

Did you know that Pope Francis’ reforms are making the mob “very nervous”?  Nervous enough that one anti-mob prosecutor has warned the Vatican of possible mob hits against the pope?  Undeterred, Francis will preside over a prayer vigil dedicated to victims of mob violence in Italy and their families.

Their nickname means, “Western education is forbidden.” And now the Islamic extremist Boko Haram terrorist network has forced Nigeria’s Borno state government to close all high schools indefinitely amid fears of terror  attacks. 85 schools will be closed, affecting nearly 120,000 students in an area that has the country’s worst literacy rates.

Russell Crowe got to meet the Pope. Kind of.  He failed, however, to talk Francis into endorsing Crowe’s upcoming Noah movie.  President Obama is set to meet with Francis next week, while today the Pope meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan — who supports Nigeria’s criminalization of homosexuality. Goodluck Jonathon will be accompanied by his wife, Patience Jonathon.  Really.

Perhaps Francis and Obama can discuss last week’s list in Fortune Magazine of the 50 greatest leaders in the world.  Francis tops the list.  Obama isn’t on it. By the way, Bono comes in at 8 and Angelina Jolie at 21. And Chaplain Mike?  Like POTUS, completely snubbed!

The Florida Lutheran Pastor was only joking. But now he has to pay for a dozen tattoos (of the church logo) on his parishioners.

Well, this surprised me.  The NIV has been the best-selling bible translation for decades.  But when surveyed about which Bible they actually read, the King James Version not only came out on top, it wasn’t even close.  55% said they read the KJV, versus only 19% for the NIV. Other translations scored in the single digits.

A church in Russia was closed by the government for not registering its Sunday School Class.

A new law in the works in Iraq (it was passed by the cabinet and sent to the parliament) would allow the marriage of eight year old  girls. It would also give husbands the right to have sex with their wives without consent, give custody of children over age two to the father, and forbid women from leaving the home without her husband’s permission.

The always classy Urban Outfitters sold a “drunk Jesus” t-shirt for St. Patrick’s Day. Forbes notes, “Now aside from the Irish, Urban has also managed to offend Jews (thanks to a T-shirt with what looked like a Nazi emblem); Blacks (with Ghettopoloy, a boardgame replacing Boardwalk with Cheap Trick Avenue); and Native Americans (by infringing on patents for the word “Navajo”). Just earlier this year, it irked millions more with its slim, gray v-necked women’s shirt with “Eat Less” emblazoned on it.”  Wow.

Finally, did you know Italy has a version of The Voice (the musical competition show)? The judges had a bit of a surprise when they turned around their chairs.  We’ll end with that video.

Comments

  1. Freedom of speech is something we should be concerned about? I thought I was the only one remaining with a “view from Ruby Ridge.”

    • Robert F says:

      There are intolerant extremists on the right and the left. They tend to resemble each other at their most extreme extremism.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Yep.

        But I will at least agree with the extremist that when Free Speech meets The Wallet real problems do arise. Funded promotion of view points, at least on publicly owned right-of-way [broadcast TV, radio, street signs, etc...] should be required to disclose clearly and plainly who paid for it. Otherwise the “freedom” works as well to squelch dissenting views as it does to permit them – the wealthy view can afford the thunderous voice. I should be entitled to the information as to who is ‘speaking’ to me – and by entitled I do not mean requires-hours-of-research-to-discover.

    • Ruby Ridge and Waco…never to forget, never to forgive.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Nigerian Yellow Cake enriched uranium… never to forget. I don’t know if forgiveness is relevant.

  2. The tattoo link is broken

  3. Love that Italian version of “The Voice”…and the singing nun.

    Mohammed married Aisha when she was 6 years old. So…there is much precedent for this practice. If it’s good enough for “the prophet of God”, then…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Actually, I’ve heard of Islamic scholars claiming (and arguing) that the “when Aisha was six years old” (nine in the version I heard) was actually when the marriage was Arranged and the actual wedding took place when she came of age (whatever age that would be, but in that culture it would definitely be younger than our 18).

      • You might be right.

        I have read in several places that she was 6 when they were married…but that the marriage was not consummated until she was nine.

      • There were a lot more citations, but I thought these would do:

        “Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: When we came to Medina, the women came to me when I was playing on the swing, and my hair were up to my ears. They brought me, prepared me, and decorated me. Then they brought me to the Apostle of Allah . . . and he took up cohabitation with me, when I was nine” (Bukhari Book 41, Number 4917).

        “Narrated ‘Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for ‘Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)” (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151).

        “‘A’isha . . . reported that Allah’s Apostle . . . married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he [Mohammed] died she was eighteen years old” (Muslim Book 8, Number 3311).

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    It’s a good thing we can totally trust people like this professor to determine things like what is a “strategically organized campaign”, what constitutes “undermining”, and when such activity threatens the ”public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions”.

    Superior Intellect(TM), remember.

    And possibly a Big Snit about the end of the Soviet Union.

  5. I’m glad Bill Gates believes in God, and I do think there’s should be some room for conscience, dissent, and questioning in any church. But the guy and his wife pour millions each year into programs organized around the idea of “population control” and the concept that certain humans should be given incentives to stop having children. He doesn’t just personally dissent from the teachings about abortion and procreation, he is a prominent citizen speaking out on a public platform and spending a fortune on programs that directly oppose the teachings of the church where he is a “practicing” member. That is going out on a bit of a limb to say the least, without some kind of exceedingly well-thought-out explanation.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      This is exceedingly common in Catholicism. And one of the reasons I love it. I have next to no doubt that this has come up, and Mr. Gates has had conversations about it, and that those conversations were civil.

    • Hmmm… I might just shell out a few shekels and upgrade my laptop to Windows 8, even if I hate the OS.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Actually it was the clients themselves who asked for better family planning services and materials. Gates himself is not a Malthusian nor is his wife. It is the people themselves (especially the women) who want to better space their children. One of the things about the Gates Foundation that really impressed me is they asked the people they were going to serve what their needs were.

      The Gates Foundation is also very big into malaria research and prevention.

      Catholic rules against artificial contraception is a teaching more often honored in the breach than in observance. The Gates aren’t unusual in that regard.

  6. Robert F says:

    “A church in Russia was closed by the government for not registering its Sunday School Class.”

    I can guarantee, without looking at the linked article, that the closed church was definitely not a Russian Orthodox church. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whistle-blowers were parishoners, or even a priest, from the RO church down the street. The hand-in-iron-fist relationship between the ROC and the Russian government is shameful, as is this action by the government.

    • The next time some Orthodox posts here, remind them how little integrity they and their church have.

      • Robert F says:

        Just because someone is Orthodox doesn’t mean that they support the policies of either the ROC in Russia or the Russian government. Why would I want to paint criticism with such a broad brush? Guilt by association? You free thinkers are supposed to know better than that, aren’t you?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1.

          “You free thinkers are supposed to know better than that, aren’t you?”

          Have you been to many Free Thought meetings or debates? The answer to your query is a resounding NO, sadly.

        • The relationship between the ROC and the Russian government is troublesome to me and it was a point of objection for me before I became a catechumen. I don’t understand why there isn’t a speaking out against then alliance. As for orthodoxy as a whole. Please look at the Greek gerondas. There is much integrity there along with the witness of then saints.

          • iPhone typos. Please forgive!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > why there isn’t a speaking out against then alliance

            There seems to be. There is even some of that here on this site.

            But it is important to recognize that just because *you* do not hear something does not mean it is not being said. There are filters upon filters upon filters. And that is a long-standing not-terribly-interesting story – it will never get `covered` anywhere. Try to get a message to take flight into the meme-o-sphere concerning a justly important, but ***boring***, topic. It does not matter a whit if your boring topic truly directly impacts the lives of many more people than the existing novel topic – it will not `fly`.

            Also demanding people to “speak out” against evils in which they play no part, because they are related to the participants by some umbrella category, is both unjust and unreasonable. There are innumerable evils in the world to be spoken against – and most everyone living in this world has a job, a family, and a life.

            No doubt I as a US citizen of Finnish ancestry employed by a for-profit corporation and member of a political party accrue myriad “sins” by all those associations. So?

        • Are there “good” mafia people? Or “good” Nazis? Orthodox atrocities are not limited to Russia–they’re standard Orthodox behavior.

          • Robert F says:

            When you equate the entire Orthodox communion and everybody in it with Nazis and the Mafia you make yourself sound like a crank. Atrocities are standard Orthodox behavior? I could have sworn I saw photos of Orthodox priests trying to calm down the trigger happy police when the problems in Ukraine started breaking out some weeks ago. Do you condemn these too, Wexel?

          • Rick Ro. says:

            It’s another Wexel grenade. “Here’s something I don’t believe or agree with, so I’ll just blow it up.”

            I will continue to challenge you, Wexel, to present something YOU believe in, rather than continuing to blow up some of the things WE believe in.

      • And the next time an American, or a Brit, or an Australian, or a German, or a Lutheran, or an atheist, or a conservative, or a liberal, or a Catholic, or a man, or a woman post here . . . Where can you find a group that has always acted with integrity? Or an individual, for that matter? Any given person, however, might have something legitimate to say. Refusing to consider that they might because of the sins of others in the same group is a fallacy.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Preach it! These [often historical] grudge matches are an old and boring game.

          • I have never always acted with integrity–and my last name is CHRISTIAN.

          • Dan Crawford says:

            The Moscow Patriarchate is problematic. It believes that Moscow should receive primacy of honor (and authority) in Orthodoxy, and its own policies have not received the endorsement of many of its clergy who are vividly aware that their Patriarch and Vlad the new Stalin were both employees of the former KGB in the former Soviet Union.

          • Robert F says:

            No doubt, there are some, perhaps a sizable minority (or even a majority? do you know the stats?) who oppose those policies, but there are also many who are more than willing stay in bed with the state.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Robert F, I have no data/stats on Orthodoxy [maybe others here do? Mule, maybe]. I don’t even know if such data exists [which makes me sad, I love data].

            Majority or minority there is also likely there is a fat middle who have only a dim awareness of these machinations. Uncharitably the fat middle gets labeled as “sheep” or “apathetic”. However those fat middles we see in data are often not truly “apathetic” but more aptly they are “swamped” – underemployed, possibly supporting a family, with poor transportation and minimum support services – they provide the unvolunteering bulwark for the “legitimacy” of many a hegemonic power. The use of “data” to *blame* them is as unethical as the vampirism practiced the hegemony who persists their low-grade desperation.

          • From what I gather (I am just as much in the dark as anyone else), the Russian religious position is to attempt to restore the status quo ante. If your group was present in Russia prior to 1917, you have a right to exist. If you’re a recent import, you’re SOL. Unfortunately, that includes Pentecostals, who tend to be the biggest complainers against this policy. It was put in place by Yeltsin, but Vladimir Vladimirovich catches the blame for it.

            A lot of Russians have been baptized since 1990, but monthly church attendance is only about 6-8%. The Moscow Patriarchate itself did a survey, and found that about 46% of Russians identified as Orthodox, but in a city containing sixty thousand baptized Orthodox, you’d find maybe two thousand on church on any given Sunday. Of that two thousand, maybe four hundred you could classify as devout ‘seeking to save their souls’ the survey put it.

            I don’t know why everybody thinks that Russia is going to go the John Locke/Enlightenment/liberal democrat route, and have everybody eventually evolve into a Wexel like a good little Pokemon. I don’t evcen know why you all think that would be a good idea, honestly. They already tried that, kinda, the whole “progressive” thing. Its not them. Putin is obviously a transitional figure. A lot of Orthodox are hoping for a revival of the Romanov monarchy. The Slavofil/Zapadskii controversy is still a living concern over there.

          • Mule,

            Your blitheness about this issue is troubling. The fact is, religious liberty is an essential facet of human rights, and if you want a humane society to develop in Russia or anywhere else, it most emphatically will not happen without the recognition of religious liberty. Perhaps you are not interested in promoting human rights, or a humane society….?

          • I’ve studied Russian history, Mule. It really disturbs that you would look back nostalgically on the Tsarist days. It was less awful than communism, but still really bad for a large part of the population.

          • Joel – same here re the study of Russian and Soviet history. I actually think the tsarist regimes were every bit as bad as those of the Soviets, whose secret police tactics came straight from the tsarist playbook, and who continued the long, ugly history of Rusdian anti-semitism.

          • I wouldn’t go that far – the Soviets really were terrible. Repressive rulers had precedence in Russian history, but they concentrated it together and made it much worse. The Holodomor and Stalin in general (just to pick some low-hanging fruit) are pretty uniquely evil, for example.

          • Joel – serfdom is in my mind as i type. Most people were disposable long before Stalin, though i agree that he and his regime were the height of evil. But the tsars were hardly “little fathers.”

      • For someone who thinks that moral statements are meaningless, you’re pretty fond of making them.

      • Wexel, most people here do not go out of their way to be hurtful, hateful, or nasty to other human beings. The fact that this is your natural inclination and fallback position speaks volumes about you and your world…..and it looks like a sad and lonely place

        • Well, most people here do not belong to groups which wink at genocide and gang-rape. Oh, and sexual slavery in New York. Funny how these things keep on happening all over the world. But I guess they think their dandy “liturgy” is worth it. Can’t make an omelet, etc.

          • I dont see most of us “winking” at that, or at the RO church’s other problems. You do get trollish when this comes up, though.

    • I would love to hear from Fr. Ernesto on this issue.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The hand-in-iron-fist relationship between the ROC and the Russian government is shameful, as is this action by the government.

      In which case, they’re just following a long, long tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church — Building the Third Rome, hand-in-hand with the Tsar. The Tsar is the only True Autocrat, the ROC is the only True Church. ANd both crush their enemies together.

      “Two Romes have fallen;
      A third — Moscow — stands;
      Never shall there be a Fourth!”

      • Dana Ames says:

        HUG,

        pick up any of Dostoyevsky’s later novels. His eyes don’t turn away from anything, good and bad, in Russia. Read what Father Zossima says in “Brothers Karamazov” – that’s the heart of Russian Orthodoxy, no matter what the Tsar, Putin or the men who wear the funny white hats say and do in those, or these, times. (And even then, D. demolishes any sickly-sweet superstition by having Zossima’s body decompose like everyone else’s when he dies…)

        The situation in Russia is very complicated. As a thought experiment, what would the Catholic Church in Italy look like if during WW II Mussolini had killed the Pope and more than 90% of the priests, and leveled more than half the church buildings, and closed the theological schools and nearly all the monasteries? And then somehow the situation stayed that way until last year or so? No excuses from me for any of the wrongs – simply trying to offer what little perspective of history I understand.

        Things Jesus would in no way approve of are most assuredly being done by official church folk in Russia. Official church folk are also providing the majority of the charitable care in that country, trying to just keep their heads down and stay out of the way of the autocrats, so that they can actually tend to people and their sometimes overwhelming needs. Those things don’t make it into the press.

        Yes, it’s messy in Russia. Please pray for us Orthodox.

        Dana

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          Thanks Dana

        • Robert F says:

          Dana,

          I love Dostoevsky’s fiction, and I do appreciate the historical context that you outline. The situation is surely complicated and nuanced. But even Dostoevsky sounds a note of triumphalism for the Russian Orthodox Church, seeing it as the hope not only of Russia but all humankind. His faith is very nationalistic. In addition, he unfortunately exhibited a considerable degree of anti-Semitism in his novels, which does have a long tradition in the Christian east. There certainly are strengths in the history of Orthodoxy, but there are historical weaknesses and sins that predate D as well, some of which he was guilty.

          • Uh, Robert. It’s kind of hard to be Orthodox without believing that it’s, uh, like, you know, true and stuff, and that it has a message that the rest of mankind would do well to consider.

            I’m considered anti-semitic in my old church for championing a single secular state in Palestine.

          • Mule,
            My criticism is, uh, that Dostoevsky’s faith was, uh, extremely nationalistic, focusing specifically on the, you know, central salvific role of the RUSSIAN Orthodox Church rather than the truth of Orthodoxy as a whole, a faith that sometimes, in his fiction, edged over into xenophobia. Dostoevsky’s anti-Semitism can be seen in the way he routinely accepts stereotypical demonizations of Jews in his fiction, including blood libel, and routinely puts the word “Jew” as an insult into the mouths of his characters.

            It should be remembered that the word “pogrom” is a Russian word, and described the experience of Jews persecuted by Orthodox Christians in the Russian Empire before it took on more widespread usage.

          • Robert F – very much agreed on Dostoevsky. As for anti-semitism in Russia, i despai of its ever going away. It has so many deep roots.

            The combination of “third Rome” triumphalism with intense Slavophile sentiment was literally deadly for many Jews during the waning decades of the tsarist era.

          • Robert – did you see photos or video of the Cossack who went after the women from Pussy Riot in Sochi? It was not only horrifying in its own right, but looked like it could have been lifted from any Cossack-led pogrom.

            : ( to say the least.

          • Meant to say that the Cossack attacked them with a horsewhip.

          • One thing I appreciate about Orthodoxy is its ability to be both nationalistic and universal simultaneously. I think Catholicism can do this as well, but my direct experience is limited. Nationalism is hard for Americans because we don’t have an enthe as such. Still, I remember that it is the nations we are supposed to disciple, rather than individuals or market focus groups.

            As for our friends the Jews, I think the ended up in Russia because they were expelled from Germany and Spain, although to be fair I believe it was Poland/Lithuania that received them, later to be absorbed by Imperial Russia. Everybody’s got Jewish blood on their hands, except maybe the Malays, the Xhosa, the Maya, and the Dutch.

            One of these days I have to spend some time thinking about how to avoid marginalizing Jews into a strongly nationalistic, ethnically cohesive, society. It would be an academic question, since I’m a mongrel myself and my kids even more so. But mongrelization has its own difficulties.

          • Dana Ames says:

            RobertF,

            I’m aware that Dostoyevsky had issues and participated in the sins of his tribe. I do too. Again, Father Zossima… who was a reflection of real holy people, men and women who loved Christ, who were at the center of a significant revival going on D’s day, right alongside the growing atheism, Tsarist atrocities, etc. I hope you believe that I could not have sought admission into Orthodoxy if it were truly a Church that is at the depth of its soul anti-Semitic, misogynist, or xenophobic. Russians who think the Church truly supports those things aren’t listening to what is said in hymns and prayers and scripture readings of the services. All I can ask is that, as well as not overlooking the worst examples, the best be considered as well. Right now, the best is a truly heroic amount of social service work being done by Orthodox Church folk.

            Dana

          • Dana – i understand, and yet, at the same time, there are highly religious people in Russia (very much including clergy) who are militantly anti-semitic and xenophobic. I remember a lead NYT magazxine story on this w/in less than a decade after the fall of the USSR. So much that was suppressed has come roaring back to life, especially given the collapse of the social and economic system in Gorbachev’s wake. Unfortunately, too many people grab onto the wrong kinds of ideas/actions in an attempt to make sense of profound dislocation. I strongly believe this to be the case in post-1991 Russia and many former SSRs, like Belarus. Demonizing the Other has all too long a history, both there and in the rest of the world.

          • Robert F says:

            Mule,

            I find it difficult to view your opinion of these issues as anything but a whitewash. The kind of nationalism that amounts to ethnocentrism is certainly not typical of the Roman Catholic Church parish I grew up in, and was strongly discouraged by church leadership in the places where it did exist. The Christian faith calls us out of lives that make nation, tribe, race the center of our identity, and into an identity where citizenship in the Kingdom of God is central, everything else becoming secondary. We are saved as members of the corporate church, not the nations we were born into.
            And your cavalier attitude about the particularity of Russian Orthodox anti-Semitism, which seems to amount to “well, it’s not good, but since everybody has done it, you shouldn’t make a bid deal about it,” is appalling to what I’m sure you consider my overly sensitive Enlightenment ears. Let him who has ears to hear…..

            Dana,
            I certainly do not believe you would have joined a church you thought had those sinful qualities you enumerate at its core. I do not believe that those qualities are central to Orthodoxy, and I do not condemn Orthodoxy for them. But they nevertheless have persisted in unique ways in the Russian Orthodox Church, and they have not been publicly acknowledged and repented by the leadership. They inevitably mar the holiness of the church universal, as well as the local province, no matter how many exceptional holy individuals may have existed against the grain of those sins, because Mule has the principle right, though he’s looking at it through the wrong end, when he talks about us being judged as “nations,” not individuals: we are damned alone, but we are saved together.

            numo,

            I did not see the video of the Cossack attack against Pussy Riot. Very disturbing. Until the ROC takes ownership of its faults and sins, rather than denying their existence and relevance to the heart of Russian Orthodoxy, there can be no change. And I continue to insist that the recognition of human rights, and religious liberty, are absolutely central not only to the establishment not only of a humane society, but also to the true practice of Christianity, however ostensibly determined by Enlightenment attitudes that position may be. The truth is the truth, wherever and whenever it was first discovered.

          • Robert – again, very much agreed.

            The RO church was/still is intertwined with the machinery of the state in a way that just didnt happen in the West, but it sure was the pattern in the Byzantine Empire. Tsar is, after all, a Rusdianization of the title “Caesar.”

            You guys have perhaps unwittingly taken on the historical/cultural baggage of Russia itself by joining the RO church – in contrast to the overall Orthodox stream. Russian history is fascinating, not leadt for the sometimes violent clashes between various elements of Russian and Western European culture plus the many other cultures and cultural splits within Russia itself. You might want to grab a copy of Orlando Figes’ book Natasha’s Dance for some insight into Russian social and cultural history (both somewhat dense and, at the same time, very readable). There’s plenty else, but i’m admittedly not as up on recent books as imight be. (Its been a good while since my undergrad courses in Russian/Soviet history…)

            I do think that Catholicism is more central to much European history re chuch/state and culture than Robert F does, but still, Russia is unique in the way in which religion and state have been all of a piece. (The Soviet era notwithstanding.) while i can understand the appeal of many aspects of the RO church, the cultural/historical fabric sets off internal alarms for me.

            None of the above is intended to diminish the kindness and work of the many RO of goodwill. I have nodoubt they outnumber the extremists, but the instability of Russian society means that extremists have far more traction – and power – than they would in a more “liberal” (i.e., democratic) society, and imo, that is cause for great concern. I will be amazed ifRussia doesnt invade Ukraine and re-annex it – if that does happen, you can be assured that the extremists will be thrilled (and are likely pushing for it now).

            Believe me, i wish these things werent so, but they are, and nobody is served well by either naivete or casual triumphalism.

          • Robert – i grew up with some Jewis folks whose parents/grandparents fled Russia prior to 1917, so you can imagine what flashed through my mind when i saw the attack on Pussy Riot. The women were literally just walking down the street, not bothering anyone, when set on by the guy with the horsewhip. Some of the photos were taken in very close proximity and capture the violence and brutality so clearly that they make me feel like i was right next to them when it happened. I have no doubt things could have gone a LOT worse than they did, and really admire those womens’ courage.

          • Btw, John Chrysostom began the “tradition” of extreme anti-semitism withing the Greek andthen Russian churches. I have never been able to read all the way through his ranting sermons that vilify Judaism and Jewish people, because they’re REALLY bad.

          • Robert F says:

            Dana,

            Yes, I shall pray for the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as Russia itself. The problems of one expression of the Body of Christ are the problems of the all its members. We are saved together.

            Peace

          • Dana Ames says:

            RobertF,

            We agree on a lot. We all carry certain burdens. Thank you, for your understanding and your prayers.

            D.

        • Dana – i will gladly join you in prayer.

  7. Robert F says:

    Of course, the religious beliefs of Bill Gates have no more bearing on the truth of those beliefs than do the beliefs of the convenience store owner down the street. His money and intellect do not provide him with a privileged perch from which he can see religious truth better than the rest of us. And we should not weigh his beliefs more heavily than those of others merely because he is the Great and Powerful Bill Gates. Same goes for wealthy and influential non-believers.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      The look-a-celebrity-agrees-with-me thing is pervasive in all schools. As nearly everyone is able to find one it seems a fair game thing to me; it used to irk me [like, so, why do I care what some college-ages football quarterback thinks about anything?]. But we have so many celebrities now, so it seems everyone can have one. :)

    • Brianthedad says:

      +1. And the ever popular musician or movie stars’ opinions are always front and center in the media. Really, because they can sing or emote, their opinions are somehow more erudite?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “If you go to vote for somebody just because we tell you to, you’re dumber than we are up onstage.”
        – Alice Cooper

  8. Sometime this past week when I was driving in to my job for the day I heard NPR do a segment on The Global Freedom Network. It was in the 8-9 am segment.

  9. Robert F says:

    I hope the Pope says a few critical words to President Goodluck Jonathan regarding the new Nigerian anti-homosexuality laws. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t.

    • With names like “Goodluck” and “Patience,” it’s going to be like “Who’s on first.”

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Such “quality” names are common in some parts of west Africa. We work with some west Africans at my job. One of our clients has the given name “Wisdom.”

      • cermak_rd says:

        These types of virtue names are common in Amish and Mennonite communities. My sister was a student teacher at a school with a lot of Amish students. I remember Sobriety and Charity.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I remember hearing that it’s common in some Christian families to have three daughters named Faith, Hope, and Charity. (Source was a comment/anecdote by a real estate agent is some blog.)

          Though Massachusetts Puritans also had some interesting naming customs; virtue names for girls, and Patriarchal or Prophetic names chosen at random from the Bible (bibliomancy/Bible-dipping) for the boys; hence you got combinations like “Zerubabbel Shealtiel Coffin and his goodwife Patience Prudence.”

          But Martha of Ireland once cited the wildest Puritan boy’s name I’ve ever heard: a high-ranking Roundhead (Parliament party) from the English Civil War whose name was “If-Jesus-Christ-Hath-Not-Died-For-Thy-Sins-Thou-Art-Damned Barebones.” (He was known as “Doctor Damned” behind his back.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I have no doubt that he will – the Catholic church is very persistent on anything in relation to the death penalty. But it is also very likely those words will be in private.

      • Robert F says:

        Yes, you are probably right. I have no right to be audience to those words, and quiet diplomacy exerts more influence, both good and bad, than we will ever know, but I do hope they are spoken.

      • Robert F says:

        Although, I’m not sure the death penalty is involved in those horrible laws.

  10. I just don’t get what the hoopla is about relative to doing a C-section on a Rottweiler without anesthesia…Hell, Rotts don’t feel pain, everyone knows that!!

    I’d say the impromptu veterinarian earned braggin’ rights–and kudos from this retired pig farmer. I ain’t describin’ none of my cut-and-stitch experiences with large animals done without pain killer….

    • I had a lot of questions about that story. It is possible the owner saved the dog’s life. I remember a cow getting bloat when I was growing up, and the grizzled old farmer driving an awl into the cow’s stomach. Deflated like a balloon. I’m sure it wasn’t fun for the cow, but dying of bloat is surely worse.

      • Brianthedad says:

        It gets play because of our culture’s tendency to animal worship. Specifically dogs, sometimes cats, usually anything cute and furry. I’m not condoning any sort of cruelty, but cutting open the dog to try to save the dog or pups puts her in danger of 5 yrs in prison? In Alabama, killing a pedestrian with a vehicle while DUI is a felony (vehicular homicide) with a similar 5 yr max penalty. I don’t see the moral equivalence.

      • It seems to me that dogs are the new cut outs for children…stupid culture.

        • Brianthedad says:

          Yep. Special diets. Special clothes. Pet resorts. And then to hear the dog owner say stuff like: Look at my new baby! Oh he’s such a good daddy to Mrs. Tinkerbell! Blech! More extension of a narcissistic culture.

      • When in the 8th grade or so I got to go with a vet to deal with a cow having trouble birthing a calf.

        Cute. Delicate. Gentle were not a part of the afternoon.

        First off the cow wanted to sit down. So rope tied to head with several people pulling and vet planting boot firmly on flank several times.

        Once cow was up it was time to deal with the birth that was taking way too long. Vet gets out some chains (think tire chains) with curled non sharp hooks on the end. Reaches in, finds rear legs, attaches chains to hooves. Now with people again holding the head vet starts to pull. At one point puts foot on rear of cow for leverage.

        Calf comes out. Mother lays down in a rapid motion. All survived fine. But neither would have without the “cruel” treatment that was applied.

        Working with a dog is easier but then again a dog weighing 40 pounds or more is way stronger than most people and doesn’t really understand the issues of calm down, relax, or “let’s go to the hospital”. And at some point will start using their teeth to “guide” you away from them if they don’t understand what you are doing.

    • Ugh, while I believe that the arguments of AGW deniers need to be opposed by sound science, this is most emphatically not the way to do it. It only adds ammunition to the deniers, who can now turn around and say, “See! See! The AGW zealots are trying to silence us!”. Unfortunately, this sort of sentiment can also be found from time to time from actual climate scientists, who really should know better!

      • Wow, I don’t know how this comment ended up as a reply to yours. Sorry about that!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s when AGW makes the jump from Science to Fundamentalist Religion, One True Way vs “DIE, HERETICS!”

      • Robert F says:

        Dan D.,

        Why do you think scientists of any kind should “know better”? Being a scientist in a specific narrow discipline does not mean that one is a logical and rigorous thinker in any other discipline, such as philosophy, or any of its branches, such as ethics or esthetics. That’s why human beings as a global community cannot leave the discussion and the decision about what course to take in the face of evidential data regarding AGW to the scientists and other experts alone.

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          I completely agree, Robert.

        • Robert F., as a scientist myself, I agree entirely with you here. What I meant by “they should know better” is that they know about the uncertainties inherent in the scientific process and about the dangers of speaking beyond the data (which is already firm enough!), but yet some of them do so anyway.

          • To clarify a bit more my position: the data regarding AGW is pretty darn solid. It’s happening. What to do about it is indeed something that should not be left up to (only) the scientists. Certainly calls for suppression of free speech are to be opposed.

  11. For an example of biblical marriage values in action, Kenyan lawmakers cited biblical examples when removing restrictions on polygamy (which formerly gave the first wife a veto over subsequent wives):

    http://news.yahoo.com/kenya-legalises-polygamy-without-wifes-consent-135856380.html;_ylt=AwrTWf27ZSxTkkEAhk3QtDMD

    • Robert F says:

      It is frightening how the fast-moving and huge spread of Christianity throughout Africa, which is often touted as one of the new centers for global Christianity, has become linked with the implementation of regressive laws in some countries.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Not in relation to Christianity – but many more of those African nations now have functioning governments, however regressive, that have to pass, even regressive laws. However regressive the laws – that is progress. That the state and culture has to formally declare its policies opens those policies to scrutiny and there is a political and legal process to resist and challenge those policies.

        A law stating you can beat someone to death in an alley is better than just being able to beat someone to death in an alley and have everyone shrug it off. That law may be Regressive – yes, Ugly – yes, Evil – yes, but vulnerable to challenge and opposition, also yes.

      • Unfortunately, Americans have had *way* too much to do with that, and not just in Uganda.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      For an example of biblical marriage values in action, Kenyan lawmakers cited biblical examples when removing restrictions on polygamy (which formerly gave the first wife a veto over subsequent wives):

      Let me guess, citing Biblical Patriarchs as examples?

      Several Spiritual Abuse watchblogs have commented on harem polygyny being the logical next step for the Christian Patriarchy/Complementarian/Quiverfull movement, probably using Biblical Patriarchs as examples of Godly Plural Marriage. The more wives, the more a Godly Patriarch can spread his seed without having to wait nine months for the next arrow in his quiver for his 200-year plan.

      Others have speculated that since their movement can’t get traction in America’s Culture War, God’s Anointed are trying to win the Culture War in Third World countries first. Like the anti-Homosexual laws in Uganda (which evidence has been presented of bankrolling by Christianese Culture War activists from this country), and now possibly the pro-Polygyny laws in Nigeria.

      • Not that is an interesting, and possibly reasonable, extrapolation. Makes sense in the situation where certain presuppositions are accepted as “true” such as Complementarianism, patriarchy as God given, reproductive success indicative of God’s blessings. The irony that I see from my narrow perch in the corner of the room is that all the people I know of in the “Quiver full” and “Complementarian” tribes are almost to the person Premillennial Dispensational in their eschatology, which leaves me with the question, “what the hell does it all matter if it’s gonna be blown to smithereens in the Great Tribulation (TM)?”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I understand that Quiverfull and Christian Reconstructionism (i.e. Outbreed the Heathen, overwhelm them with our numbers, and establish Gilead of the Handmaid’s Tale) began among post-Mils and later made the jump to pre-Trib pre-Mils. Reconstructionist talk of “200-year-plans” for “your Christian legacy” (as in descendants) sounds a lot more like the Dark Side of post-Mil (Create a Perfect Christian World, then Christ can return to take it over) than pre-Mil (It’s All Gonna Burn).

          My guess is, it made the jump because Darbyite Dispy is THE One True Way for American Fundagelicals. Even if “Ye Ende is Nigh!” doesn’t really mesh with 200-year-plans for Christianese takeover and Beam Me Up, Jesus (to Fluffy Cloud Heaven) equally doesn’t mesh with Take Back America and Establish a Perfect Christian Utopia here and now.

          I had my head messed up by the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay (“We might not have a 1978!!! Or even a 1977!!!!!) and I know or have heard of those whom it messed up a lot worse. Because when The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest) and It’s All Gonna Burn, don’t expect any planning for the future or daring great things. Expect instead passively hiding in your Christianese bubble, clutching your fire insurance policy and Rapture boarding pass, keeping your nose squeeky-clean so you won’t get Left Behind. And while you hide and wait without a future, the future happens regardless and you WILL find yourself Left Behind — just not in the way you expected.

  12. There may be more pro-lifers percentage wise than pro-choice, but I bet many of those pro-lifers are not rhe extreme fringes who believe that all birth control is wrong. I am running across more and more of those. The people who believe that since children are a gift from God, preventing them from being conceived, in almost any way, is an abomination. A woman who miscarries needs to be scrutinized as to what SHE did to cause it. I heard the leader of some state’s personhood initiative interviewed a few years ago. He as much as said that a pregnant woman who, for example, went for a run on a hot day and later miscarried would be guilty of having taken a life. Perhaps this is more what New York’s governor is addressing.

    What I can’t understand is that many,many of these same people that I have spoken to have no problem with increasing gun ownership and decreasing any social safety net. It’s not a myth; I know many. Don’t people with guns kill people too? Are we to assume that it’s ok, though, because they probably deserve it? Does our responsibility to life end once the child is born? Even the crisis pregnancy center only helps for the first year or so.

    And as an aside, the local crisi pregnancy center director told me that they are seeing more & more Amish clients, which. Really has nothing to do with anything, but I found quite interesting.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      One of the fascinating ongoing developments in Evangelicalism is the mainstreaming of anti-contraception position. Until very recently, Evangelicals routinely and openly used contraception, and the idea that a health plan paying for it was somehow a religious infringement would have seemed absurd. Being anti-contraception was strictly a Catholic thing. But those who know their history will recall that the same was true of the abortion issue. Evangelicals routinely supported the right to an abortion. Opposition to it was strictly a Catholic thing. This changed very quickly, about 1980, and since then opposition to abortion has become quite literally a defining characteristic of Evangelicalism, and they have collectively forgotten–or pretend to have forgotten–that it was ever different. They even changed the text of the Bible to accommodate this new doctrine. Predictions are hard–especially about the future–but it will not surprise me in the least if five years from now Evangelicals aren’t uniformly against contraception (which isn’t to say they won’t use it in private) and furthermore they will have always been against contraception.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > There may be more pro-lifers percentage wise than pro-choice,
      > but I bet many of those pro-lifers are not rhe extreme fringes

      Agree. These “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels are decades old now, and like most aging labels they become fuzzier and fuzzier and thus decline in substantive meaning.

      Of course more people are “pro-life”… who is “anti-life”? I would describe myself as pro-life; but I will also refuse to define Abortion as Murder. Abortion is morally disturbing, but is it the destruction of a human consciousness? Simply, no, it is not. The fewer abortions the better, but there are many many ugly circumstances where people face very unhappy choices – I want them free to make that choice as they must live with that choice and its consequences, whatever they decide. At least in most of my mid-west environs this very much seems to be the dominant perspective. And it is one that would describe itself as “pro-life”, while infuriating many who also describe themselves as “pro-life”. But it also, in its moderation, does not stir people to political action for or against either of the extremes.

      > A woman who miscarries needs to be scrutinized as to what SHE did to cause it. I heard the leader of
      > some state’s personhood initiative interviewed a few years ago. He as much as said that a pregnant
      > woman who, for example, went for a run on a hot day and later miscarried would be guilty of having
      > taken a life.

      I find that to be very positive and refreshing to hear. As this is the only rational conclusion to the fetus-is-a-person perspective. If the fetus is a person, or even a *citizen* (by some angles of that perspective), than any act which can damage the fetus is legally prosecutable negligence. If that is the position of the state then the state should prosecute that position vigorously.

      • It is even worse than that. And many of these absolute pro life stance folks just don’t understand the facts. 20 years ago it was known that 50% of all fertilized eggs never made it. Most of those failed in the first week or two. Which means that without interventionist abortion 1/2 of all babies died if you take their definitions. And most without any knowledge of the couple.

        To claim the mother killed those fertilized eggs is getting so far past the edge that it the concept is absurd.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > 50% of all fertilized eggs never made it

          I have read reports that put the number as high as 80% [fertilized eggs that naturally self-aborted] without the mother knowing fertilization had occurred.

          > To claim the mother killed those fertilized eggs is getting so far past the
          > edge that it the concept is absurd.

          Frequently the most effective way to prove the absurdity of an idea is to try to implement it. So make this the law of the land, enforce it vigorously. The reaction to that enforcement will solve the problem and move the idea to the political-untouchable list; where [IMNSHO] it belongs. It takes awhile, is loud and messy, but human society has buried many an absurd idea by using this process.

          • The latest thing seems to be a push to encourage people to adopt frozen embryos, not necessarily to implant them in anyone, but to keep them from being destroyed (aka murdered). Soooooo, if you believe that frozen embryo has a soul, it’s better to have it live forever in a state of suspended limbo to keep it from being moved on to the afterlife??

            I think some of this has come about because religious beliefs have not kept pace with medical science.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            My view of that kind of thing is much darker.

            I do not believe it has much of anything to do with religious beliefs – it just *uses* those “beliefs” – or keeping pace with technology – people are willing if not eager to use many of same technologies to help themselves.

            I believe this is nothing more than a lazy cowardly self-involved way to claim moral high-ground. Moral superiority by sending $5/month to run a cryo-freezer, then you are SAVING BABIES. No need to meet your neighbor, engage with your community, or inconvenience yourself in any way. For the price of a grande latte you are one of the good-people in a world of baby killers.

            For me this typifies the sickness that is Evangelicalism.

          • I have read reports that put the number as high as 80%

            My 50% number was what was know 20 years ago. When I last looked at such numbers. I’m sure it is higher now. Better blood analysis and all of that to detect the hormones released when the egg is fertilized.

            Riffing on the other replies in this thread, yes, if you make doing something which causes a fertilized egg to abort to be murder you’d have to put all women of child bearing age in a bubble where they do nothing but light house work or abstain from sex. And abstain from sex while nursing the previous baby.

            I can see a really absurd SNL skit of a trial of someone accused of such a murder. Except some would treat it as what should be.

    • There is a difference–I hope everyone can see this–between an natural abortion (aka, miscarriage) and a deliberate abortion). Even in both cases latitude must be afforded before rushing to judgment.

      In the case of a miscarriage, the fact that most fertilized eggs never make it past the conceptus stage is not the woman’s doing unless she is taking drugs which prevent implantation, be they specifically taken for this purpose or because she is taking recreational drugs which have this effect. On that latter point I know someone closely acquainted with me who had a miscarriage when she was taking recreational drugs known to have this effect; she has recognized this and repented of it. If the woman is taking prescribed medications known to cause miscarriages then I would not place any further burden on her. Same for not being in good shape, not taking the right vitamins, not eating right, not exercising, not… Best to not go there.

      In the case of a deliberate abortion, one has to first ask the question of what the fetus is. If the fetus is mere tissue then an abortion for any reason is legitimate. If a woman indeed has a right to do what she wishes with her body then the state has no business interfering with her choice. If, on the other hand, the fetus is a human being, albeit dependent on the mother for life (as it is, of course) then the question we have to settle is that of state protection of it’s right life same as anyone else postpartum. Even then an additional question has to be considered, and that would be who has the greater right, the woman over her own body or the fetus to live? If the woman has the greater right, the the state is obliged to grant her the freedom to kill the fetus by way of removing it from her body, surgically or with the use of abortifacents. If on the other hand the fetus has the greater right then the mother should be legally obliged to carry it to full term. If the mother is in serious danger of dying and causing the death of the fetus in the process then I would argue that it makes no sense for both to die and a therapeutic abortion would be justifiable.

      A physician friend once told me that in medical school they were taught that the fetus is, for all biological intents and purposes, a separate, living human being, not mere tissue. Regardless, the professor said, the AMA has decided to support abortion for any reason because the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus.

      So, if in fact the fetus is a human being (I will refer to it as “child” from this point on), then the next question we have to ask ourselves as Christians is what is in God’s heart? If the fetus is indeed a human being, would God be in favor of allowing the death of the innocent child for sake of the temporary convenience of the mother? I think not. And for this reason I would argue that the state should grant the unborn child equal protection under the law.

      For those who would argue that this is not a Christian nation and that we should not force our morals and ethics on everyone else, I would argue that there are limitations to this. There are some things which the Church should not push on anyone else (e.g., regular church attendance, abstaining from certain practices). But in other matters I would argue that we have an obligation to ensure that the state protects the rights of the weak. The unborn are weak, as are victims of the sex slave trade, the poor, the sick, and so on.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > There is a difference–I hope everyone can see this–between an natural abortion

        No, functionally, there is not. There is no bright clear line between a “natural” and an “unnatural” abortion. Terms like “natural” and “unnatural” are a legal briar patch which will, without doubt, be interpreted more generously for the privileged and more suspiciously for the under-class. Such a law can never be equitably implemented, it will execute as a tool for disenfranchisement.

        > the fact that most fertilized eggs never make it past the conceptus
        > stage is not the woman’s doing

        Really? Because it can be make much more likely by alcohol, high-stress, extreme temperatures [take a sauna?], even possibly high doses of caffeine. If the woman had a reasonable expectation that she could be pregnant shouldn’t she have made appropriate choices? Were those choices “intentional” – ahhh, “intent”, every lawyer with a jury’s favorite word – especially if the jury is [as is most likely it is] of a different racial or economic demographic than the defendant.

        >Same for not being in good shape, not taking the right vitamins, not
        > eating right, not exercising, not… Best to not go there.

        “best to not go there”. … but it will.

        >A physician friend once told me that in medical school they were taught
        > that the fetus is, for all biological intents and purposes, a separate,
        > living human being, not mere tissue.

        (a) Note the qualifier ” for all ***biological**** intents and purposes”
        (b) Please refrain from the clause “mere”. Nobody here referred to a fetus as “***mere*** tissue”. This is attempting to assert a claim upon the disagreeing party. This is, at best, disingenuous. I would not refer to my dog, or even a canine fetus, as “mere tissue”.

        > So, if in fact the fetus is a human being

        Your argument did not get me there – to the “fact” that the fetus is a human being.

        Aside: Partly this is because if parties cannot begin with some qualitative definition of “human being” arguing about what is or is not one…

        • Adam, I never used the word “unnatural” as the opposite of “natural”; I used the word “deliberate” to indicate the woman’s choice in the matter. Likewise your disagreement with me–and apparent offense over your dog, of all things–over the use of the phrase “mere tissue” is not exactly in the context of in which I am using it, not to mention, somewhat incoherent.

          I would argue your other points with you but that would be useless. Your arguments are exactly what I expected, picking apart my supporting points and missing the main point in order to prove your point. So let’s get back to the main issue here: If the fetus is human life then the Church should petition the state to provide it with equal protection under the law just as we do in other matters I mentioned. Please argue this.

          • In the case of a miscarriage, the fact that most fertilized eggs never make it past the conceptus stage is not the woman’s doing unless she is taking drugs which prevent implantation, be they specifically taken for this purpose or because she is taking recreational drugs which have this effect.

            This is just not true.

            Going for a daily jog can cause such a “miscarriage”. Having too low of a body fat ratio. Eating the wrong foods. You have way over simplified this topic to be any way accurate.

            And most of this early “abortions” are due to genetic defects (as best research can tell) or as I heard once, failure of gastrulation to happen. And they don’t know much about why this doesn’t work out.

            Saying that these are all not under a woman’s control is stretching the truth way past our current knowledge.

          • My point is again missed; I will assume responsibility for lack of clarity. Permit me a moment to clarify what I am saying.

            The state can only go so far in protecting the unborn. If taken to its logical conclusion we might just have to incarcerate all “suspect” pregnant women (e.g., wrong fat ratio, jogging) in a medical facility to ensure the fetus is OK.

            On the other hand, a deliberate abortion is, well, deliberate.

          • So what about a woman deliberately keeping her body fat low by strenuous exercise and diet yet engaging in sex?

            Or drinking lots of caffeine while engaging in sex? (If caffeine turns out to make it hard for a fertilized egg to implant?

            Or choosing to work at a stressful job ….

            Or having a husband/partner who refuses to help raise the kids and leads to stress …

            Your bright easily definable line is very very fuzzy to many of us. And writing laws or church rules using fuzzy lines is a bad way to make laws or rules.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > picking apart my supporting points and missing the main point
            > in order to prove your point.

            If the supporting points do not stand – then they do not support the main point.

            > So let’s get back to the main issue here: If the fetus is human life then the
            > Church should petition the state to provide it with equal protection under
            > the law just as we do in other matters I mentioned. Please argue this.

            No, I will not argue that. You are demanding I assent to the A in your “if A then B”. Engaging in an argument over B is a tacit endorsement of A; that is a rhetorical trap.

            The only thing I will say in relation to B is that “equal protection under the law” is functionally impossible concerning two beings which cannot be dealt with discretely.

          • David, I am not in favor of incarcerating pregnant women who don’t take good care of their health. Rather, I was taking your argument to it’s logical conclusion. And there is nothing fuzzy about saying that life begins at conception and should therefore be afforded equal protection under the law. Viability is fuzzy, conception is not.

            Adam, I fear that you miss the forest for the trees.

            Throughout history the Church–some groups, at any rate–has championed many human right and in many cases changed the laws for the good of humanity. And yes, the Church–again, some groups–has also promoted evil from time to time. But the fact that the Church has committed evil in the past is not a valid argument against doing good in the present. Regardless of our past, we have a right to influence public opinion and change the law–just as everyone else does.

            Everyone has a bias, something which they believe to be true and then use that premise to form their argument. I have a bias; it is based on the premise that life begins at conception and is therefore to be protected by the governing authorities. At the moment there is good reason to believe that the pro life camp is gaining ground. You saw the chart. In addition, the number of abortions in the US is dropping, as is the number of abortion clinics. This may change in the future, but the truth will not. And long after I’m gone there will be others continuing the fight for life.

          • David, I am not in favor of incarcerating pregnant women who don’t take good care of their health. Rather, I was taking your argument to it’s logical conclusion. And there is nothing fuzzy about saying that life begins at conception and should therefore be afforded equal protection under the law. Viability is fuzzy, conception is not.

            Equal protection under the law.

            Manslaughter. Murder. All the homicide laws.

            And it gets real absurd when you start talking about “at conception”. It just doesn’t work. So either you come up with an entire new set of laws or you will be incarcerating pregnant women who don’t take good care of their health.

            And now let us define “good health”. So is jogging not allowed. How about that hour or two of tennis 3 times a week? Morning laps in the pool? Or just a stressful day dealing with the existing kids and the home for those stay at home moms. Sorry if you want to give a fertilized egg all the legal protections of a breathing human being you’re now into incredibly dangerous territory.

            Say this guy who believes abortion is wrong.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            As David so simply put is: “It just doesn’t work.”

            This idea is a legal briar patch which stretches from horizon to horizon.

            The merits of the argument almost simply do not matter – the idea does not *work*. There is no non-convoluted entirely subjective way to write or execute such laws; and convoluted laws end up persecuting the disadvantaged and fringe populations while excusing the powerful [who have better lawyers and the sympathy of the jury of their peers].

            This is a terribly bad idea.

            All the money that will be eagerly guzzled up by the lobbyists and lawyers concerning such a doomed fight is also a terrible utility cost; they are resources that could have been doing things that benefit people.

          • David, that human life begins at conception is a medical fact. I already addressed why the AMA supports a woman’s right to choose abortion in spite of this. With regards to your argument that defining life from the moment of conception would inevitably lead to the incarceration of pregnant women who might be at risk of miscarrying because they are not taking good care of themselves, this is another one of those “either/or” arguments which lacks discernment to see that laws can be written with latitude, both in the text and for the judges to decide.

            Adam, you state that “This idea is a legal briar patch which stretches from horizon to horizon.” You also add that “There is no non-convoluted entirely subjective way to write or execute such laws.” I disagree with you. Where there’s a will–a will of the people–there is a way. We already have laws on the books for all sorts of crimes. And yes, the wealthy and the powerful will always receive lighter sentences–if at all–than the poor and destitute. But this is not a valid argument from not passing laws against crime. Rather, it is an impetus for promoting social justice.

            To both of you, you state that “it just doesn’t work.” It will work if the nation’s moral compass turns more decisively in the direction of protecting the rights of the unborn. It appears to be headed in that direction, but I dare not say what will happen in my lifetime for I have no idea what God will do. I hope He blesses us by bringing an end to this scourge on society.

            Life begins at conception. This is the most logical conclusion based on every perspective I’ve considered. And if life does indeed begin at conception then the Church must speak up loudly and defend the rights of the unborn as innocent human beings who are created imago Dei, just like the rest of us. Unless someone can prove me wrong by reason or Scripture I will continue to champion this cause. So far all I’ve heard from abortion proponents is that I’m just wrong.

            On April 27, 2014, my church will celebrate the grand opening of a Care Net Center on our property, built with the contributions from our own congregation and that of several other churches of various traditions and various Christian construction companies who donated labor and materials to this effect. I take great joy in knowing that women will be counseled to let their babies live and that they will be comforted, protected, and provided the means necessary to “choose” to either keep or place their babies up for adoption.

            This is the culture of life which I want to see the Church promote. I take courage and instruction from Scripture, which I find summarized in the Didache,

            “The Lord’s Teaching to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles: There are two ways, one of life and one of death; and between the two ways there is a great difference. Now, this is the way of life: The second commandment of the Teaching: “Do not murder; do not commit adultery”; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; “do not steal”; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.”

            Note that this is God’s teaching to the Heathen; it appears that the 1st century church understood these things to be axiomatic.

            If the Church does not speak up for the rights of the unborn it should not speak up at all.

          • To both of you, you state that “it just doesn’t work.” It will work if the nation’s moral compass turns more decisively in the direction of protecting the rights of the unborn. It appears to be headed in that direction, but I dare not say what will happen in my lifetime for I have no idea what God will do. I hope He blesses us by bringing an end to this scourge on society.

            Life begins at conception. This is the most logical conclusion based on every perspective I’ve considered. And if life does indeed begin at conception then the Church must speak up loudly and defend the rights of the unborn as innocent human beings who are created imago Dei, just like the rest of us. Unless someone can prove me wrong by reason or Scripture I will continue to champion this cause. So far all I’ve heard from abortion proponents is that I’m just wrong.

            You’re missing our point. Whether or not we agree on when a person begins, (life is a term open to various interpretations), you are asking for our society and laws to be based on something that we can’t yet, (and may not be able to do so for decades if ever), tell has happened. Fertilization of a human egg by a sperm. And since 50% or maybe 80% of these fertilized eggs “die” before the woman even knows that this fertilization has happened you can make laws about this.

            No matter how much you or I or anyone else wants to do so it would be very very bad law. Open to interpretation and thus abuse by imperfect humans. And it will be abused. By both atheists and Christians all with what they consider best intentions.

            Basically it comes down to making rules about things we can’t reliably determine is a loosing game.

          • “…life is a term open to various interpretations…it comes down to making rules about things we can’t reliably determine is a loosing game.”

            David, do you really believe this? Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Scripture is very clear on what LIFE IS. For centuries the Church has known what LIFE IS, and whereas it did not always do what is right with regards to LIFE, it at least knew what LIFE IS.

            If you want to continue espousing such things, that is your right. Be aware, however, that we Christians are the salt of the earth (preserving, flavoring) and the light of the world (exposing lies, teaching truth). Every time the Church has abdicated these principles it and society as a whole has taken a nose dive. I cannot/will not stand idly by while others debate the merits of the obvious.

          • In my opinion you are intermixing terms of science with those of your faith/theology. And then wanting us to write laws based on this confabulated mix.

            If you want to write laws about something you need to be able to reliably detect that something. And the people who will be punished if they break the law need to be able to know they are breaking the law.

            That can’t be done today. At all. No matter how much you wish it were possible.

          • It’s a pro-choice myth that science is on their side. Biologically speaking, an unborn child is a living human. This isn’t really open for debate – check a few embryology textbooks.

            Pro-choicers at the academic level generally acknowledge this and argue that while it may be a “human”, it isn’t a “person.” Or maybe that it is a person, but it’s justifiable to kill it as self-defense.

          • But I will acknowledge that pro-lifers do sometimes play loose with the science facts, such as the issue of when the child can feel pain (not central to the issue, IMO).

          • Biologically speaking, an unborn child is a living human.

            I didn’t say it wasn’t. What I said was making laws about extending legal protection to the moment of conception IS NOT WORKABLE. For reasons I and others have mentioned here.

            It is a bad law that refers to how people should act towards something which may or may not exist.

        • David, we already have laws in the books which mix science and faith. Why is incest among consenting adults illegal? Why is it illegal for a 19 year old to have sex with a sixteen year old if both consent? Why is it illegal to torture animals (see Proverbs 12.10). And by the way, I agree with all these laws, and I could provide more.

          What’s not detectable about the unborn? We have all sorts of devices which provide everything from images to heartbeat, even brain waves. S/he is there, in the womb, very much alive, and should therefore be protected by the state.

          So, here’s the bottom line: You do not want to recognize the person-hood of the unborn or perhaps at some fuzzy stage . I believe person-hood begins at conception. And I suppose that history will one day vindicate one of us and that God will judge between us at some point. I must follow Scripture and my conscience wherever it leads me.

          • I really don’t think you’re reading what I say. My last comment on this then you have have the last word.

            This all started with talk about “life beginning at conception” and extending all legal protections to the people that you mean by that use of the word “life”.

            No we can’t detect conception without a lot of effort. A LOT. And I’m not an expert here but I suspect that it’s only detectable after the fact. Maybe a day or two. And maybe the results take a day or few. And cost a lot.

            So you’re talking about extending legal protection to a “life” that no one knows exists. Which is why doing so leads us down the path of how a woman acts before she knows she is pregnant or not could lead to a murder charge. Again you can’t write rational laws that are based on someone acting on something that the can’t know about.

            That is ALL I’m saying.

            All of your examples of detection have to do with weeks or months after conception.

      • cermak_rd says:

        But as you stated, the fetus is dependent on the woman’s body. This does set up a conflict of rights. I think the answer lies in a continuum approach.

        I’d start with uterus thinning drugs. If a woman can take those the day before she conceives but not in the week or so afterward, then that seems to be stating that the microscopic being has more rights than her and at that point, I’d disagree.

        Go on to menstrual extraction. This is a practice where a woman can have her menses extracted all at once for convenience. Of course if an implantation has occurred (and some women used to seek these out after missing a period) then the embryo will go out right along with the menses. Since the woman can’t actually know whether she’s pregnant or not, I’d say this should also be legal.

        Then we get to first trimester abortions the most common kind. Here you still have a very dependent being who cannot live outside the womb. Literally no child has ever survived outside the womb before the 12 week point. I would still go with the woman here in all cases. But this is the point at which pro-life opposition I can understand and not reflexively think anti-woman.

        2nd trimester. Now we’re getting to the borders of viability and survival outside the womb. There are still good reasons I can accept for abortion (serious fetal abnormality, health reasons of mother, …). Certainly here I see no reason to demonize pro-life or pro-choice opponents, though in specific cases, we may make different decisions.

        3rd trimester. I’m opposed to all abortions at this point. But I’m in favor of any woman who wants one having a C-Section at any point in here as viability has been reached. In most cases, women who have persevered this long have very good reasons for wanting an early Csection (inability to keep bedrest which is sometimes still prescribed, because of reasons of earning a livelihood for instance. Complications due to gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes might be others). But even here, where I’m on the pro-life side, I’m not going to demonize a pro-choice person who comes to a different judgement in specific cases. Instead, I’m going to listen to their reasoning and see if I’ve misunderstood or overlooked something.

        • Although your arguments are more cogent and civil than Adam’s, I would argue that we get back to the foundation. Is the fetus a human being? Does humanness begin at conception or at some other point to be determined by the state? If so, should the state provide it with equal protection under the law? Even if the fetus is a human being, should the rights of the mother trump the rights of the child? What should the Church say about this?

          • cermak_rd says:

            As I’m not a Christian, I don’t know what the Church should say about this.

            As far as the state, I would say that viability should play a role in when the child’s rights start to overwhelm the mother’s rights. But that is because it can then be removed from her body and allowed to function (if it can) on its own. As long as it is dependent on its mother, then it is dependent on her generosity in allowing it to continue to depend on her.

            Is the fetus a human being? I would say so, but so are aggressive home invaders and it is legal to shoot and kill an aggressive home invader. Is it a human being at the moment of conception? It has unique human DNA but many do not implant anyway. Is it a human being at implantation? That’s when pregnancy starts (at this point in time it has a better chance of surviving). Does its right trump its mother’s at this point in time? Because of the now you can take uterine thinning drugs now you can’t or now the IUD is legal now it isn’t; I’d argue that no its rights do not trump the mother’s.

            Equal rights can’t come into the question as long as the child is non-transferrably dependent on its mother’s own body for survival. They can’t compel me, for example, to provide a bone marrow transplant for my sister (though it would be generous of me to do so) to keep her alive. A child past the point of viability, on the other hand, can be delivered via C-Section and then someone (anyone) else can provide the care needed to keep the child alive.

          • The term of viability moves backward with each medical advance. My youngest was born by way of emergency C section in 1996, eight weeks premature and weighed only 3 lbs 4 oz (my wife had pre-eclampsia, and had the baby not been removed both would have died due to a sudden and uncontrollable rise in blood pressure). She (the baby, not the wife) spent a month in the neonatal ICU. Today she is 17, healthy, bright, and a typical teenage girl.

            Even back then there was a little gut in the NICU whose birth weight was just over a pound. Yes, you read that right. He was delivered at a stage when many states determine that he would not be viable. But he was.

            My point is that basing a child’s right to live on the viability argument is shaky ground–medically, ethically, philosophically, and theologically. Life begins at conception, not when it can survive outside the mother’s womb.

            And yes, I understand that this is my opinion. But that’s what everyone’s comments on this site are all about, too.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      There may be more pro-lifers percentage wise than pro-choice, but I bet many of those pro-lifers are not rhe extreme fringes who believe that all birth control is wrong. I am running across more and more of those. The people who believe that since children are a gift from God, preventing them from being conceived, in almost any way, is an abomination.

      Quiverfull, i.e. Outbreed those Heathens! Our Wombs shall be our Weapons!

      This is being covered on several Spiritual Abuse and Homeschooling watchblogs.

      What I can’t understand is that many,many of these same people that I have spoken to have no problem with increasing gun ownership and decreasing any social safety net. It’s not a myth; I know many. Don’t people with guns kill people too? Are we to assume that it’s ok, though, because they probably deserve it?

      Remember: Guns are a MANLY MAN’s way to Kill! Kill! Kill! And anything that’s MANLY is Good!

      Quiverfull is also usually enmeshed with Complementarianism (i.e. Taliban-level Male Supremacist dogma) as well as Culture War Without End, Amen.

      This is also being followed on several Spiritual Abuse watchblogs.

  13. First Things asked the question: “As a post-biblical vision of sex, gender, and marriage gains the upper hand in our society, should our religious institutions get out of marriage? Should priests, pastors, and rabbis renounce their roles as deputies of state authority in marriage?” Eight religious scholars (Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Baptist and Jewish) give their opinion. You’re probably not a religious scholar, but we’d love to hear your take on the question anyway.

    YES. And that’s what I’ve advocating for years. Totally disconnect as “deputies of the state”.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Agree. This connection should be severed.

      • I’d go with a cautious “not yet” on this issue. The way I see it, it’s not so much that we’re ‘deputies of the state’ as it is that the state recognizes what we’re doing as counting for their legal requirements. At this point we pretty much have autonomy other than signing the paper that the County gives to the couple. But once the state starts dictating what we can and cannot due and starts treating us as its deputies, it’s time to sever that relationship completely.

        Maybe I’m a bit naive about this, though. I’m a newbie priest and Texas is pretty hands-off when it comes to these sorts of things. Perhaps in other places it’s different.

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          I agree with you Father Isaac.

          I have served as a pastor in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. My experience mirrors yours in Texas.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          In Cali and the Northeast, the State is synonymous with Kyle’s Moms trying to shove their Superior Morality down the throats of those Stupid Sheeple.

          For Their Own Good, of course.

          “YOU WILL RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!”

        • Fr. Isaac, “signing the paper” is the point. The State does not recognize a marriage (generally speaking) unless the paper is signed and witnessed. Church “officials” are doing the work of the State by witnessing a marriage as the State defines marriage.

          Here’s the determining difference in my thinking; clergy as representatives of the Church are responsible for “signing the paper” if they choose to conduct the wedding, however, clergy have absolutely no power in determining if the marriage can or cannot be dissolved by divorce. The same holds true for faux “clergy”–those authorized by the state to sign wedding licenses. A wedding does not constitute a marriage in the eyes of the State.

          In our national culture “marriage” is in reality a matter of civil law in the category of contracts. Religion/Faith is not really an issue–rather it’s superfluous and more like deciding what the wedding attire is to be. RC’s make a point of distinguishing between “civil” and married “in the Church”, but it is essentially subsidiary to the civil codes.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Actually I’d like to see the marriage business opened up to any adult residing in the state being able to officiate at a wedding. Right now, this clerical privilege is papered over via internet ordinations in states the recognize them (most).

      Most of the weddings I’ve been to in the past couple of years have involved a friend or relative of the couple who has been internet ordained doing the honors. Now, I probably hang with less of a churched crowd then many folks on this board, but many of them seem not to want a stranger involved with their wedding. Though my sister was married by an Elvis impersonator, and that marriage seems to be doing fine.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Actually I’d like to see the marriage business opened up to any adult
        > residing in the state being able to officiate at a wedding

        Agree; essentially this makes the role nothing more that a witness [although perhaps some minimal notary authority should be required]. This is sufficient for most recognized contracts.

        > Right now, this clerical privilege is papered over via internet ordinations

        Agree. This process is operationally obsolete [trivially circumvented], discarding it would be good.

  14. Urban Outfitters must be on to something…increased sales via insults to customers. Love it.

  15. “…they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

    “…but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men” (Matthew 5:13).

  16. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made that statement about conservatives on January 17, 2014 — two months ago. Why did iMonk take so long in getting around to mentioning it in Saturday Ramblings? I thought we were au courant around here.

  17. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Very well said. The growth of the extreme/absolutist views is worrisome.

    Only a Sith speaks in absolutes.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      This should go under Adam Tauno Williams’ and David L.’s abortion comments above….

      • Regardless of where this comment was placed/misplaced… Are you saying that there are no absolute statements that can be made? If so, you just made an absolute statement and contradicted yourself.

      • Robert F says:

        I have to agree with CalvinCuban here, though he and I may draw different lines in the sand regarding when a human fetus becomes a human being. “Only a Sith speaks in absolutes” is so obviously an absolute assertion that I’m inclined to think you’re just having a little tongue-in-cheek fun, unless you really mean that only your own absolute assertions are truly absolute, in which case you could have just said that.

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          Yeah, I laughed out loud in the theatre at that line. My son just looked at me.

          • Robert F says:

            It’s a self-refuting assertion, but you hear a lot of this kind of thing from all quarters these days. And the thing is, people tend to get defensive and angry when you point out that they logically can’t rule out absolute assertions they don’t like by making an absolute assertion that they do like, even if they’re a Jedi knight. Then you have to watch out that they don’t draw their lightsabers!

          • Robert F says:

            I need to correct myself: they can’t rule out the meaningfulness of all absolute assertions by making an absolute assertion…And I’ll leave it at that.

        • Did George Lucas ever elaborate on that statement, i.e. why do Siths speak in absolutes? Otherwise, it comes across as ad-hominem as well as contradictory.

          Both conservatives and liberals seem to be pulling the Hitler/Nazi/fascist/communist card lately to promote an argument by demonizing the opposition.

  18. “10 fittest christian leaders” – *groan* – I predict that some entrepreneurial sort will make a swimsuit calendar of fit christians. (I’m afraid to search to see if it exists…)

    So does Florida have some sort of lock on people-doing-weird-stuff stories? (A statistically significant advantage?)

    • Alas, fitness has become an idol.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Just look at Vlad Putin’s bare-chested official pictures. The Tsar flashes his pecs.

      • Physical exercise profiteth little….

        And surprised Paula White didn’t make the cut, or did just looking hot not count?

        • Rick Ro. says:

          “Looking hot” falleth too close to adultery, and must be condemneth. “Looking good”, howevereth, is okay-eth.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Were all these “10 Fittest Christian Leaders” Male?

          (I have this mental image of “Just like Vlad Putin flashing his pecs, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”)

        • (doesn’t recognize name. does google image search. feels really wrong for some reason.)

      • I’m not sure if I see it as fitness itself becoming an idol (although it very well can be). I see this as the natural outcome of assuming the Bible speaks to every single facet of our lives. Therefore, fitness becomes a holiness issue.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          Hmm…so if I look good on the outside, I must be holy inside? Or if I’m holy inside, I’ll look good on the outside?

          Not sure if either of those is Biblical, and some of Jesus’ words in the gospels would tend to counter that thinking.

          • Oh I agree that it isn’t Biblical. It is just furthering the mindset: there is a God-approved set of music, God’s way of doing finances and God’s way of dieting and now, probably, somewhere, God’s way of getting fit. (SoulCycle?)

            Let’s combine the trends: coming soon to a megachurch near you: getting fit via a 30-day sex challenge for married couples. singles can (by implication) stay…. less fit. (And if you thought one of the words in the previous bit was a double entendre, you might need to pray about it. As I do…)

          • Robert F says:

            Looking good becomes like some definitions of the sacraments: an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Hmm…so if I look good on the outside, I must be holy inside? Or if I’m holy inside, I’ll look good on the outside?

            I understand plastic surgery is as common in the Dallas Megachurch whirl as in Hollywood.

  19. Robert F says:

    The King James is the most beautifully translated version of the Bible in the English language. It’s poetry. People need poetry in their lives, whether they’re cognizant of it or not. Neither the flat businesslike prose of the NIT, nor the scholarly tone of the NRSV or its conservative offspring the ESV, can meet the need for beauty and poetry that the KJV provides. People will continue to read and prefer it above other translations for this reason.

    • I vote for the Geneva Bible, 1599 version.

      • I vote for The Message. It’s street-wise, dude.

      • I vote for the New Apollos edition…or the Revised Paul edition…maybe the Living Cephas edition?

        I like the 1966 Jerusalem bible, not because it is the best or even the most accurately translation. I like the way it reads. That’s merely my personal opinion and bias. I would love to get my hands on one of the original Jerusalem Bibles with illustrations by Salvador Dali.

        I gave up on finding the golden bible translation years ago. I can’t recall a single translation when compared to an interlinear bible text didn’t reveal missing words or the combination of words into one English word or paraphrase, where part of the meaning of the text was completely lost. Then again, the “interlinear” bible one can buy off the shelf is itself a compilation and not a word-for-word copy of any particular ancient manuscript and definitely not a representation of an original manuscript.

        I would choose the original Geneva bible over the KJV. Because the KJV was commissioned by British royalty, any translating which offended or threatened their rule had to be cleansed. The Geneva bible wasn’t subject to that same scrutiny. Then again, the Geneva bible, written by Reformation-era Calvinists, probably has an anti-papist bias. Be careful, little eyes, what you read.

        • Oh, man, does it ever have an anti-papist bias! This was the original study Bible with commentaries on virtually every verse. If you read the commentary on Revelation 13.12 it says this,

          “So the beast is by birth, and finally substance, one: only the Pope hath altered the form and manner thereof being himself the head of both that tyrannical Empire, and also the false Prophets…”

          That leaves little to the imagination. But you can’t blame these guys for teaching this at that time. The beast of Revelation was (or will be, whatever) a persecutor of true Church whose residence is Rome, and during the 16th century the pope fit the profile quite nicely. The folks responsible for this translation had escaped the Protestant massacre in England during the reign of Bloody Mary (she burned alive about 300 Protestants in her attempt to eradicate the Reformation from England and restore Romanism) and came to Geneva as refugees.

          • I recall reading that the Geneva bible was a favorite among the Puritans. Also, 80% of the Geneva bible text came from the Tyndale translation. It had the first translation of the old testament to be based entirely upon Hebrew manuscripts ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Bible ).

            I found an electronic copy of the footnotes from the Geneva bible a while ago. I was surprised to see a scriptural allusion section which included references to the Apocrypha for new testament passages. Those references were dropped in later editions.

            Overall, it is a good translation, better than the KJV.

          • Thank for the info. Tyndale was a brilliant scholar.

            Although the Reformers concluded that the Apocrypha was not inspired text, I believe they recommended that it should be read.

    • People will continue to read and prefer it above other translations for this reason.

      Because everyone on the planet or in the US brings the same upbringing, education, and metal makeup to the table?

      • Robert F says:

        Now I didn’t say all people would read and prefer it, did I? But certainly, according to the statistics cited in the article above, many still do, despite whatever differences in background they may or may not have.

  20. When I read the paragraph about the 10 fittest Christian leaders, it immediately made me think of the title of Os Guiness’ great little book: ‘Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It’. Enough said?