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He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

19/04/2014

He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the itty bitty babies
In His hands
He’s got the frisky little children
In His hands
He’s got the horny teenagers
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the self-centered adults
In His hands
He’s got the indifferent retirees
In His hands
He’s got the cranky old curmudgeons
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the backstabbing gossips
In His hands
He’s got the snooty old snobs
In His hands
He’s got the lazy ass bums
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the pigged out gluttons
In His hands
He’s got the dope smoking druggies
In His hands
He’s got the beer guzzling juicers
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the porn watching perverts
In His hands
He’s got the back door daddies
In His hands
He’s got the cheating mommies
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the crooked bankers
In His hands
He’s got the swindling stock brokers
In His hands
He’s got the thieving politicians
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the head cracking cops
In His hands
He’s got the bribe taking judges
In His hands
He’s got the gun toting gangbangers
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the liars and the fakers
In His Hands
He’s got the bigots and the haters
In His Hands
He’s got the motherfucking assholes
In His Hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

That’s you and me, brother
In His Hands
That’s your and me, sister
In His Hands
That’s every fucking one of us
In His Hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world
In His hands
He’s got the whole wide world
In His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands

PassionOTChrist_251Pyxurz

 

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“Dirty Job” by Alex Toth & Bob Haney

17/04/2014

a classic

A Dirty Job by Alex Toth 1

A Dirty Job by Alex Toth 2

A Dirty Job by Alex Toth 3

A Dirty Job by Alex Toth 4(c) DC Comics

 

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Troublemaker

17/04/2014

Jesus_wanted_poster


sung by Della Reese
written by Bruce G. Belland & David Troy Somerville

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Easter Links 2014

16/04/2014

Consummatum-est-Jerusalem-Golgotha-large ilms 10 08 21

art by Jean-Leon Jerome

Some of my older posts on the topic of Easter:

Means, Motive, And Opportunity Part 1

Means, Motive, And Opportunity Part 2

Means, Motive, And Opportunity Part 3

Something Happened

Judas Iscariot

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Was Jesus Married?

13/04/2014

Short Answer:
Probably not.

Longer Answer:
Probably not, despite the recent verification by Harvard of the authenticity of a papyrus fragment referred to as “The Gospel Of Jesus’ Wife”.

090512_AncientPapyrus_1714_605

First off, what they were authenticating was not the validity of the text, but the piece of paper papyrus it was written on.

The fragment has a dubious history.  Its chain of possession can’t be accurately tracked back past 1999.  The scholar who first studied it thought it may have dated back to the 4th century AD; others scholars who investigated it felt the 7th or 8th centuries AD were more likely periods for its origin, though one dissenting scholar still thinks it is a modern forgery.

This authenticity has kicked off a bit of a kerfluffle[1] in both the Christian and skeptic camps because of how the translated text reads:

jesus-said-to-them-my-wife

It’s important to note what the authentication of the document means.

It does not mean the information contained on it is accurate or even bona fide.

It means the fragment of papyrus did physically originate sometime between 699 and 899 AD, and was written on during that period with an ink common to that era, and in a language that was used at the time.

The text could be:

  1. An authentic teaching of some Christian offshoot (possibly Gnostic)
  2. An inauthentic teaching written for some unknown motive (possibly profit)

If “1”, the fragment either:

  • Accurately reflects what it appears to reflect (i.e., that there was a debate among Jesus’ disciples and followers as to whether women could be disciples, and Jesus said, “Well, duh, look at my wife…” [paraphrased])
  • Or that there was a debate and Jesus was using a rhetorical device (as in “the church is the bride of Christ”, etc.)
  • Or that it was an entirely different topic of discussion and Jesus was not referring to an actual real woman he was married to but was making some other reference that is now impossible to follow due to the missing portion of the manuscript.

No matter:  Some folks have appeared eager to glom onto interpretation “1a” and insist this is proof that Jesus was married despite lack of reference to a wife in the four gospels, the book of Acts, or the various epistles (including those written by his brothers; more on them in a moment).  They correctly cite that in first century Judea all men were expected to marry and at least try to produce children, and only after producing at least one male heir were they allowed to slack off.[2]

Their argument is that if Jesus was indeed a first century Judean, then logically he should have been married.[3]

Well, that ain’t necessarily so…

Jesus was not an only child, at least not for Mary.  The Bible indicates a minimum of six siblings:  Four brothers (James, Joseph a.k.a. Joses, Judas a.k.a. Jude, and Simon) plus a minimum of two sisters (as they are referred to in the plural).[4]

We know very little about Jesus’ life prior to his ministry’s start, but we do know at age twelve he accompanied both Mary and Joseph on a yearly pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover.

We know they traveled in what must have been a fairly large group of extended family and friends.  While no siblings of Jesus are mentioned, one can assume if any had been born by that time they would have been in the group as well.

The charming story in the Gospel of Luke has the party getting a full day’s journey out of Jerusalem before realizing Jesus is not with them but back at the temple chatting it up with the rabbis.

Anyone who’s seen Home Alone 
can appreciate how easy it is to
misplace a kid in the bustle 

of holiday travel.

The next time we get a glimpse into Jesus’ home life, he and Mary are attending a wedding in Cana where mom twists his arm to perform his first public miracle and turn water into wine.

Joseph is not mentioned in that story, nor anywhere else in the gospels, so it is presumed he has died by this point.

Somewhere between his twelfth year and the start of his ministry at about age 30, Jesus became the head of his household by being the oldest male son after his father died.

The oldest male son with not one, not two, not three but six younger siblings to care for.

The boys, once they reached thirteen, would be out of his hair: 
At that age the would be leaving home to enter apprenticeships, or if at home would be earning money to support Mary and their siblings while simultaneously socking something away for the day when they would marry.

The girls, however, presented a different challenge: 
They would require dowries in order to find suitable husbands, and that would mean setting aside some nest egg from the family budget.

Jesus, in this position of responsibility, would have a good reason not to seek marriage himself until the last sister was married off.  While his brothers could be expected to contribute something to the extended family coffers, they would also have families of their own to look after.

No one would have looked askance at Jesus for not marrying under those circumstances; rather they’d have pity and respect for the young man trying to do right by his widowed mother and younger sisters.

But they would have also assumed that after the youngest girl was married off, Jesus would start looking for a wife of his own.

Remember that wedding in Cana?

Whose wedding was it?

Luke doesn’t specifically say it was the wedding of Jesus’ youngest sister, but the time line fits.  Men were expected to establish themselves in the world before seeking a wife, but girls tended to get married off ASAP.  If Joseph had died when Jesus was 16 or 17, nobody would have thought it unusual that his eldest son hadn’t married yet.[5]  An infant sister at that age would mean Jesus would have reached his 30s by the time he was ready to hand her off to her husband.

The story of the wedding at Cana (a.k.a. Jesus turns water into wine) occurs within three days of Jesus being baptized by John.[6]  Jesus had clearly been talking to and recruiting his band of followers in the days preceding that; while more were to join afterwards he already had a core group who were willing to follow him as their teacher.

Further, while Mary seems to have been a key participant in the wedding feast, Jesus and his disciples are considered less important guests.

Consider:
Jesus’ youngest sister no longer needs him to look after her or build up a dowry.  Once freed of family responsibility, Jesus begins spending more time with the men who will become his first disciples; maybe he lets one or more of his younger brothers take over the carpentry shop (and no one begrudges him this; hey, he’s been bearing a man’s burden since his teen years).

But he is starting to get a tad flakey, and his own family is beginning to wonder if his interest in religion isn’t making him go a little funny in the head just like it drove his goofy cousin John out into the wilderness to preach like a wild man.

So Jesus and his best buds get invited,
but nobody wants them to be too
deeply involved in the affair.

Towards the end of the feast the bridegroom hits a major faux pas:  The party has run out of booze.[7]  For some reason this is A Big Deal to Mary, who promptly tells Jesus he needs to do something about it.

Why?

Why would Jesus have any obligation to save the bridegroom from embarrassment for his own failure to adequately plan ahead?[8]

Why would Mary get her kethōneth in a twist?

Who was this bridegroom to them that saving his face was so important?

Well, who was the bride?

Jesus’ kid sister?

The Gospel Of John doesn’t say, but it’s easy to imagine that apostle being eager to tell this story of Jesus’ first public miracle but at the same time not wanting to hurt the feelings of the holy brother-in-law or kid sister so he opts to refer to them anonymously.

This first miracle done, Jesus realizes there’s no point putting off the inevitable any longer, and heads out into the wilderness for his 40 days of fasting before launching his full time ministry.[9]

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.

.

[1]  Though perhaps “kerfluffle” is too strong a word.  “Ado” might be a better substitute, possibly “blather” though it certainly doesn’t reach the proportions of a full-fledged “brouhaha”.

[2]  Judaism having a couple of lines of rabbinical thought that same sex relations between men was excusable provided the men were doing their religious / cultural duty by marrying women and producing children.

[3]  Outlaw theologian Matthew Fox has speculated Jesus was a widower who had no offspring, which helps explains his enlightened view of women and children in his teachings.  There’s nothing in scripture to specifically refute that, but neither is there anything that indicates it, either.

[4]  Roman Catholic and some Orthodox Christian churches hold these were not biological children of Mary but either Joseph’s children from a previous marriage left orphaned, or cousins who for some reason were counted among Jesus’ household.  There is nothing in the Bible to support either of those two ideas; they spring from the argument that Mary remained a virgin her entire life.

[5]  And we’re presuming a sudden death, not a lingering malady that may have rendered him incapable of supporting his family and having to rely on Jesus to run the carpentry shop on his own.

[6]  While Matthew and Luke report that subsequent to this Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and be tempted, only Mark indicates it happened “at once” after Jesus emerged from the Jordan river.  “At once” is one of those terms that seems to mean one thing, but in reality is highly subjective and can be legitimately interpreted in a variety of ways; ask any mother / toddler combo what “pick up these toys at once” means and see what you get.

[7]  From the frequent mention of wine and drunkards in the gospels, we can only assume that first century Judeans — Jesus’ followers in particular — were one hard drinkin’ crew.

[8]  Indeed, Jesus later tells the parable of the Ten Foolish Virgins who get shut out of a wedding feast because of their lack of preparation.

[9]  John jumps abruptly from the immediate aftermath of the wedding feast to a point two or three years later when Jesus’ ministry is in full bloom and he enters Jerusalem for his final week of confrontation with the Pharisees.  Did John write a longer account and the middle was lost in transcription?  Or did he just assume the three synoptic Gospels covered that part of the story well enough and chose to focus more on the death and resurrection?  Good question, and one I have no answer for…(yet)

 

 

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Did PLANET OF THE APES Revive Creationism?

10/04/2014

Serious question:
Did the original Planet Of The Apes movie revive the fading creationist movement by unintentionally preying on the racial fears of rural and suburban white Christians?

SPLOWW indeed SNSPLOWW!! indeed

Planet Of The Apes was one of four major ground-breaking / trend-setting sci-fi media concepts that landed within an 18-month period of one another in 1967-68.[1]  It was the biggest popular hit of the quartet, launched a successful series of features, a not-so-successful live-action TV series, a somewhat more successful animated series, numerous novel spinoffs, comic books, and a host of imitators and rip offs.

Then as now the film was viewed (at least on one level) as a parable of American racial politics, with the apes implicitly understood to represent the downtrodden finally getting the upper hand over the previously dominant white culture.[2]

Michael Wilson and Rod Serling’s script followed the lead of Pierre Boulle’s original novel to show a satirical (albeit not particularly humorous) view of “normalcy” turned upside down.  In many cases it was done by showing humans used the way we use animals:  For taxidermy, research, and sport.  In others, it was an implicit criticism of dominant white culture with the promise / warning:  “You’ll get what’s coming to you.”

While the apes were presented as antagonists in the first two films of the series[3], African-American audiences tended to sympathize with them more than they did with stalwart Chuck Heston (even before his NRA days).

By the times Escape From… and Conquest Of… rolled around, the identification of African-Americans with the apes was clearly overt (albeit it in a sympathetic and not denigrating manner).  Conquest in particular hammers the apes / slavery issue home with a 12-lb sledge, and it’s pretty hard to whip up any sympathy with (predominantly white) humanity in either of those two films.

Recognizing this, and desiring the success of the series to continue, 20th Century Fox watered down the message in the fifth and final film of the original series, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, which ends in a bright future where apes, humans, and mutants co-exist peacefully and happily.

That vision of the ape-ocalyptic future flopped miserably at the box office and the films series ended, tho it continued thriving on the small screen and in comics with the original potent message.

It’s hard for modern audiences to understand the impact of these films when first unleashed from 1968-73.  First off, nothing quite like this had ever been seen before.  The closest anyone might have come to it is The Wizard Of Oz with its myriad of bizarre cultures in an even more bizarre world, but that was a fairy tale and not meant to be taken seriously.  With the exception of a few post-apocalypse movies that featured mutants in cheesy make-up, nobody had ever tried to create not one but three entire species of realistic non-human characters for a film, complete with costumes, props, and buildings designed with apes in mind.[4]

And despite the nervousness of the studio, producer Arthur P. Jacobs & co. pulled it off with remarkable aplomb.  There had been serious sci-fi films before Planet Of The Apes, to be sure, but Apes was one of the first that easily crossed over into main stream audiences instead of relying primarily on the (admittedly growing) sci-fi fan base.[5]

But the cinematic / literary / pop culture impact was only a small fragment of what the world of 1968 – especially the United States of America – was going through at that time.

Consider: 
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was only four years old at the time Apes was released.

Had the nation not been in a period of shock and mourning in the aftermath of President Kenney’s assassination, conservative southern politicians would have probably blocked the act until the 1970s.

The nation was only four years away from segregated bathrooms, segregated diners, segregated water fountains.  Loving v Virginia was only one year old!

African-Americans were still pretty much invisible in their native land.  They were starting to make a few token appearances in TV shows and movies[6] but they were far from ubiquitous.

Planet Of The Apes, without directly referring to the apes as analogs for African-Americans, pretty much forced audiences to draw that unavoidable parallel.

And, yeah, there were some who sneered and hooted and derided contemporary blacks by likening them to the monkeys on the silver screen…

…but the inescapable conclusion was that
those damned monkeys were in charge!

…and things were not going to be
so rosy for Mr. Whitey in the future.

This was the first time a lot of white people were forced to realize that the times, they were a’changin’ and what they were changing into was not going to resemble the world they grew up in where everyone knew (and kept) their place.

Planet Of The Apes did not present its topsy-turvy world as one laid down by divine fiat, a wrathful God punishing sinners by letting apes rule over them.

Planet Of the Apes said pretty plainly that humans – white humans in particular – were not fit to survive, and that a more vigorous, more capable breed was going to take over.

That was classic evolution,
and there wasn’t a damned thing
white humanity could do about it.

Creationism was not unheard of or even unargued in the late 1960s, but it was pretty much losing its steam.  Evolution existed; there was no denying genetic changes in various species with common ancestors, and even prehistoric humanity had been guiding evolution along for their domestic plants and animals (“survival of the fittest” in this case meaning those most fit to serve humans).  Creationists were pretty much giving up on the new earth / six literal twenty-four hour days version of creation and instead arguing what is now referred to as Intelligent Design (only with God explicitly in control).

Their basic point was that God had a plan, and that everyone in the world was assigned a place in that plan, and if God ordained one race to be the masters leaders and another to be the slaves servants workers helpers then who are we to argue with God?

Planet Of The Apes pretty much says God is no respecter of species, much less persons, and in fact famously ends with Heston ranting and screaming that God has rightfully damned humanity for being a buncha murderous self-centered pricks.[7]  It was a pretty shocking ending for mainstream audiences at the time[8] and has been lampooned so often and so successfully that contemporary audiences have no idea just how chilling it was to Joe Six-Pack and Mrs. & Mrs. Suburbia.

…especially in light of the ongoing societal change / upheaval and
the rapid advancements in civil rights by African-Americans.

Mind you, the majority of white audiences seeing the film for the first time were not racists in the classic sense of the term:  They burned no crosses, lynched no victims.

But they kinda liked the fact that they got to live over here while those people had to live over there, and while many of them knew and genuinely liked black folks they encountered daily, few of them realized they held a protected and privileged position that was paid for by the sufferings of others.

Apes kinda sunk home the message that there might not be a soft landing for their genteel lifestyle, that rude awakenings and abrupt changes may be the order of the day.

And yeah, Planet Of The Apes is at heart a big budget goofy Hollywood movie, with a whole bunch spectacle & action and a smattering of smarts, not really the sorta thing that can withstand close logical scrutiny for long…

…but that didn’t matter.

The message is what mattered.

And the message was:  Time’s up.  Things are changing.

A lot of people did not like that change.

They rendered lip service to it, but were willing to do so only so long as things didn’t change for them.

Now, when faced with major changes in one’s life, there are two basic approaches one can take:

You acknowledge the change even if you don’t willingly embrace it; life may get rough but at least you’ll be prepared for it and it won’t catch you by surprise.

The other is to double down on the old system, to bet the heart transplant money that the way things are is The Way Things Are Meant To Be, and that if you just hold fast this faddish craze of modernity will pass and things will once again be good and wholesome and sweet with you in the driver’s seat, just like when you were a child and your father was a child and your great-great-great grandfather was a child.

It’s no accident that the big push towards homeschooling – which originally began among hippy-dippy parents looking to raise their children outside the conforming standards of the dominant class public schools – took off among rural and/or white and/or conservative religious fundamentalists in the south and midwest during this period.[9]

And it’s no accident that creationism takes – nay, demands – a centerpiece of that movement.

Because creationism allows the believer in it to deny the humanity of others, to deny their rights, to deny their equality.

Creationism allows the believer to dismiss all claims for justice with a derisive “God doesn’t want that” and never examine the basics of the question.

Creationism, as has been pointed out, is the handmaiden of Mammon, the self-righteous belief that one’s personal enrichment is God’s master plan for the universe, that every sub-atomic particle in every atom in every molecule of every speck of dust and wisp of gas up to and including the hugest of stars exists solely for the purpose of making your life materially easier and more comfortable…

…and maybe the lives of your immediate family as well…

…and perhaps even a few of your closest friends…

…but certainly not the lives of them – and especially if making their lives any easier requires you to give up an hour of TV or some outrageous demand like that.

Planet Of The Apes is downright terrifying
to people with that mind set.[10]

Small wonder so many conservative whites willingly and eagerly embrace a disproven anti-intellectualism that denies the reality of the world around them, because embracing that fantasy makes it possible to deny the change going on around them.[11]

Like little children threatened by a big mean dog, they sincerely believe if they squinch their eyes closed reeeeeeeeal tight that it will go away.

No, one single silly movie does not a religious heresy make, and in a different time it’s doubtful that the film would have had much more impact than as a popcorn muncher (much like the recent remakes and sequels have landed with resounding thuds).

But one thing Planet Of The Apes sure did was to give millions of scared white people a very very frightening glimpse of a future where they would no longer be in charge, when the first would indeed be last, and the low would be risen high.

And rather than embrace that spiritual truth, they flock to a self-serving myth that not only will fail to protect them, but will make the eventual change that much more painful for them.

As for me,
like Mark Twain wrote: 
When it’s steam boat time,
you steam boat.

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[1]  It isn’t an exaggeration to say the shadows from these projects – both in film, TV, comics, and other media as well as literary and other pop culture influences – is still being cast today.  The other three were the original Star Trek TV series, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Barbarella.  Of the four, Barbarella received the worst response from the public, a critical drubbing, and a commercial flop…and yet each year a loyal cult grew and grew around this film.  Today it’s a fondly remembered classic of the era and has aged better than the other four.  Go figure…

[2]  I may be wrong, but I can’t remember any African-American actors among the primitive humans in the original film, not unless one counts the ill-fated astronaut who ended up lobotomized.

[3]  Tho who wasn’t an antagonist in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes?  It’s the only major studio Hollywood production ever to end with the hero thinking that blowing up the entire planet was A Real Good Idea.

[4]  The world of the final film was much different that the original concept and script.  Jacobs originally wanted a world like the one in Boulle’s novel with full size cities, cars, and helicopters designed for apes.  By scaling the size back to a few isolated middle-sized towns with low grade industrial age technology, the film actually became more convincing than a modern version.  An exact ape parallel to our own world would have only invited laughter, but changing it significantly enough while still leaving it basically recognizable helped sell the idea to audiences.

[5]  And basically, because of all the projects of that era, Planet Of The Apes offered the one concept that every body in the audience, including the dullest witted, got right away:  The five-fingered shoe is now on the other foot.

[6]  And more importantly, cast in commercials as users of the product being sold, not servants making white folks’ lives easier, thus tacitly acknowledging them as part of the American fabric and not just an accessory after the fact.

[7]  …or words to that effect…

[8]  No matter than we fan boys saw it marching down the avenue from the moment the film started talking about archeological digs involving humans.

[9]  No, I am not saying Planet Of The Apes was responsible for that; it was the general societal upheaval of the late 60s and early 70s that scared much of the mostly white religious right into fleeing society with the hopes of one day leading a counter-rebellion against it.

[10]  And mind you, screenwriters Michael Wilson and Rod Serling managed to have their Darwinian cake and theologically eat it as well:  A strong argument could be made for the film as the mene mene tekel uparsin of mainstream American values, a judgment handed down from on high and executed with our own hands around our own throats – but holding to that argument requires denying human supremacy in general and American exceptionalism in particular and recognizing both our personal and national sins and shortcomings and, hey, who wants to believe that becuz America!  Right?  Right?!?!?

[11]  And embracing it not in a little way but going all out:  None of this namby-pamby “God created the universe billions of years ago and guides the natural processes in it” but “Bang! Done!  Full and complete in six twenty-four hour days and you can’t change it – ever!”

 

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I Luvz Me Some NOAH

28/03/2014

Noah_poster946While not a great movie, Noah is certainly a good one, and it is certainly the hands down front runner for the title of weirdest Biblical picture ever made.[1]  You can’t drag the Nephilim into your story and hope to stay within the bounds of normalcy.

Kudos to director Darren Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel for moral complexity, unexpected plot twists, good restrained acting, and top notch production values.  It follows the Biblical story closer than either the 1928 version or the 1966 version but it does add stuff that is not specifically excluded in the Bible story (such as how they kept all the animals quiet on the ark) and ends with a positive statement that we are most like God when we show mercy and love.

The middle portion is much stronger than the beginning and end, Anthony Hopkins steals the show as Methuselah, and the fallen angels vs. human army slugfest has gotta be the wildest scene ever filmed for a Biblical movie.

So why do so many people hate it, sight unseen?

A great many people objecting to it are doing so mostly because it says rapacious greed and treating humans like commodities are evil (there are hints of cannibalism in the film as Tubal-Cain’s army prepares to assault the ark).  As servants of Mammon and not God, these critics are appalled at the mirror-like reflection Noah shows of contemporary culture, and as such they feel duty bound to condemn it.

Noah gets more into the why & wherefore of the flood than previous versions of the story, and in doing so casts it in a light that doesn’t make God seem to be a petty spoiled child who kicks over the sand castle when things don’t go His way but rather a just and loving creator who realizes that humanity is far from perfect but if there is to be any hope of saving us from ourselves it is to save those who desire to serve Him and His creation (including other humans) rather than those willing to consume the planet with their own greed, gluttony, and lust for power.  That is what is driving the prejudice against this film.

God (referred to thru out as The Creator) is depicted as just and righteous, yet loving and merciful.  The destruction of the world is a human process, the flood is a cleansing one from God.

Noah is willing to serve God, but in the process makes an erroneous but not wholly illogical assumption; he does not act on that assumption but shows love and mercy instead.  This leads to his famous post-flood drinking binge because he feels he has failed God.  In the end of the film Noah and his family realize the flood was not to punish the wicked but to save the just from the unjust, and that we are closest to the image of God when we show mercy and love.

So far all the objections I’ve seen have either been from false-flag extremists or nit-pickers who regard any deviation from what they believe to be true and factual as blasphemy.

Does Noah take liberties with details in the Genesis story?
Yes, but without undermining the moral & theological core of that story.

Does the film state there is a Creator God who has the moral right to judge humanity?
Sure does.

Does the film state mercy and love are the most God-like traits humans can hope to aspire to?
Once again, affirmative.

Does the film have the Nephilim in it (referred to as The Watchers in the movie)?
Yes, and I think a lot of people are bugged that somebody dared to depict them other than the way they had personally imagined them.[2]

Has any movie ever followed the true Biblical account?
Movies are works of fiction using actors performing off scripts that are written and edited to form a dramatic whole; that’s why even with historical films we see events and characters dropped or melded together so that the underlying truth of the story can come through even if the actual facts can’t be emulated.

There have been hundreds of films based on various stories in the Bible.  This is one of three big budget Hollywood productions based in whole or in part on the story of Noah.[3]

What this movie does state clearly again and again is:

  • There is a Creator responsible for everything
  • This Creator has the moral right to judge His creation
  • Even those who believe the Creator has abandoned them believe He exists
  • A just God is more interested in saving the just (i.e., those willing to serve Him and His creation including the humans He has created) than in punishing the wicked
  • We are never more God-like than when we shown mercy and love

Sounds like Biblical truth to me…

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[1a]  Some would argue Godspell deserves that title and I would not oppose anyone who chose to argue that point.  But ultimately Godspell is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the Gospel of Matthew set in Manhattan with a troupe of circus performers adding song and dance to the otherwise intact text; it’s odd in appearance, not content.  Noah is like the James Tissot of Biblical movies.

[1b]  The question also arises as to just what is a Biblical movie?  Godspell, despite its odd style, is clearly meant to be the actual story found in Matthew; Jesus Of Montreal, despite being one of the finest religious allegories ever made, is not the gospel story per se but a story about the gospel story; a fine distinction but a real one.  And The Sign Of The Cross, the only religious based movie to give Noah a serious run for the title IMO, is technically not a Biblical movie even though it occurs during Paul’s time in Rome.

[2]  That’s one of the things that makes this movie so weird for a Biblical film: It actually shows stuff that no other Biblical movie has shown before.  I think the style of the presentation is what is bothering some folks, not the actual content.

[3]  It’s certainly closer to the text than the 1925 version (which was forgiven its egregious departures because it was presented in a pious manner)or 1966 version (which was just an all around bad movie, no matter how sincere the film makers were).  We shall not speak of the Disney adaptation with Donald Duck as Noah (admittedly a more even keeled Hollywood personality than Russell Crowe).

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On The Nye Vs. Ham Creationist Debate…

5/02/2014

BuzzFeed (no relation) asked 22 creationists what they would like to ask people who believed in evolution.

I intended to do a reply, but these ladies were all over the creationists like ugly on an ape.

22 creatuionists

If you come from your parents,
why do you still have parents?
If that sounds like a dumb question,
consider that it’s exactly the same question.

There’s more — much, much more — and the snarkometer goes all the way to eleven.  My hat’s off to Amanda Marcotte and Beth Spencer for administering the much need industrial strength arooga lift; I only wish I had moved faster to get in on the fun.

Ya snooze,
ya lose…

yoda to punch beaten are you

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…And Now, A Theological Debate Between Richard Land And A Siberian Husky

4/02/2014

husky debates dr land

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The Historicity Of Jesus Viewed As A Time Paradox Story

24/01/2014

Lou Cameron time machineLou Cameron cover art for
Classics Illustrated:  The Time Machine

It’s amusing that one group of skeptics deride creationists for demanding science produce an unbroken fossil record for every single transitional form of every single species in order to accept evolution, while another group demands a greater degree of historical evidence to prove the existence of Jesus than is required for any other historical figure.[1]

The skeptic argument goes along the lines that if Christ didn’t really exist, then his whole ministry as presented in the Gospels is a hoax, and as such the whole Christian message is false.[2]

Well, okay, but that still leaves one little problem: 
Even if Christ didn’t exist, even if the Gospel accounts are bogus, somebody still created one of the most morally brilliant documents ever written.

And it’s brilliant because it works.  A sincere follower of Christ finds their life drastically improved on a personal level, and typically by extension on a relational and societal level as well.

We’re not talking pie-in-the-sky-bye-and-bye here but real benefits that start as soon as Christian principles are put into application.  The genuine, mature Christian leads a life with a lot less anxiety for status  and possessions, a calmer life with less envy and strife with one’s neighbors, a life where compassion and empathy replace a desire to retaliate.  It is by its very nature a more stable, charitable, and just life, and because of this it evokes a different sort of response from one’s family, friends, and acquaintances as well has having a positive effect on society as a whole.

It only takes a handful of sincere, dedicated Christians actually following the Gospel teachings to make a glorious positive impact on their community.

So if Jesus didn’t exist…if he never taught what it was reported he taught…

…those lessons still had to come from somebody…

…and whoever that person was,
they were clearly as moral a thinker
as the Christ of the Gospels was.

Robert A. Heinlein is one of the all time masters of sci-fi, and arguably the master of the time paradox story.[3]

The time paradox story is a familiar but fun trope in sci-fi.  The most basic form goes something like this:

A man finds a piece of paper with secret instructions / formulas / plans on it that he’s never seen / heard of / conceived before.  He applies those instructions / formulas / plans and makes a fortune and / or creates a huge benefit to society.  At some point in the future the original paper becomes torn and faded so the man copies the instructions / formulas / plans onto a new but otherwise identical sheet of paper, and then either that piece of paper gets sent back in time or his much younger self travels forward in time to get it and take it back.

Paradox:
Who created the original instructions / formulas / plans?  Clearly not the man who found them, for they were already fully formed when he saw them for the first time.  Where When then did they originate?

Substitute “Gospel” for “instructions / formulas / plans” and you see the problem as it relates to Christianity.

All right, for the sake of argument Christ did not exist: 
Where then did his teachings originate?

Some hoaxster trying to manipulate the masses?  For what end?  The very nature of the Gospel precludes a quest for fame, power, and wealth.  None of the earliest church figures enjoyed much in the way of status.  Who would create a bogus religion to sucker the masses that would only benefit some as yet unborn generation of leaders who might not even be related to the hoaxster, and then only if the hoax took root and flourished long after the originator died?[4]

The argument is made that Christianity was a psychological weapon created by the Romans to help subjugate the Jewish population by getting them to believe a false story about a non-existent messiah who taught a lesson radically at odds with both their tradition and history in order to make them more submissive to Roman rule.

To which one can only respond:  Really?
A culture notorious for its heavy handedness, its lack of original philosophical and psychological insight, its elaborate and intricate pagan tradition would somehow figure out what made the Jewish people tick and successfully promote to that alien culture an idea equally alien to both the empire and its subjects?  That’s like saying the communists championed the idea of supply side economics in order to dupe capitalism into destroying itself.[5]

Another argument skeptics put forth is that the Gospel teachings evolved[6] from previous Jewish theological thought without leaving a race in the extensive rabbinical writings of the time, that despite dozens-going-on-hundreds of well documented Jewish scholars and rabbis writing & arguing & debating fine points of religion no one tracked this train of thought as it sharply veered off the tracks of mainstream Jewish theology and into a wholly new religious expression.

I mean, we can see the gradual build up to the Protestant reformation in the history of the Western church, and long before Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the doors there had been others who argued (and were persecuted, and suffered, and died) for the same or similar points.

There’s no similar line of footprints leading up to Christianity.  It’s suddenly…there…and while one can find links to the past, they are trivial in comparison to the radical break with that same past.[7]

Hard proof of Christ’s existence we do not have, but we do have Occam’s Razor: 
Either some unknown individual or committee created the Gospel teachings out of whole cloth and in a vacuum[8], or else there was a first century rabbi whom we know today as Jesus Christ of Nazareth who was pretty much sui generis[9] and who taught basically the same things as recorded in the four Gospels.

There are no other reasonable explanations…

.

.

.

[1]  Seriously, Jesus is better documented than Hannibal, and nobody doubts Hannibal was real or that he led an army of elephants across the Alps.

[2]  This still leaves the Old Testament intact, but that’s a debate for another day…

[3]  Read “All You Zombies” or “By His Bootstraps” or The Door Into Summer to see what I mean.

[4]  That in and of itself would require almost God-like omniscience.

[5]  Not to mention the fact that it didn’t work, and that the very people it was supposed to subjugate instead exploded into open rebellion requiring direct military action and a forceful political solution.  That would make Christianity not only a psy-war plan that didn’t work, but one that loses its entire raison d’etre in the process, and yet somehow manages to blindly continue on to influence literally millions of people into believing it’s true!

[6]  Oh, the irony of that phrase…

[7]  And, yes, let it be stipulated that Christ — be he real or fictitious — did not overtly come to start a new religion but to cleanse and reform the Jewish faith already in existence.  Nonetheless, the difference between what he reportedly taught as compared to what had been taught by others before and contemporary to his reported time is so vast a gap that those teachings could only form the basis of a new religion, not reform a hidebound one set in its ways.

[8]  And it’s easy to understand the comfort many find in that thought:  If it is a hoax or just some nice ideas cobbled together by a bunch of anonymous editors then one need feel no compelling reason to regard it seriously enough to bother changing one’s life in order to follow it.  If it’s all just a pretty fiction then one can go on behaving pretty much as one damn well feels like instead of making inconvenient personal changes in order to would produce a better quality of life not only for oneself but for those in the community at large.  And believing the Gospel teachings to be true and valid in no way requires one to believe in the carrot-or-stick of Heaven or hell; one can follow the teachings of Christ for no other reason than to live justly and abundantly and peacefully with one’s neighbors.

[9]  At least to the same degree as the Buddha or Mohammed or Gandhi were sui generis in their cultures and eras.

 

 

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