Sunday, July 29, 2007

On Vacation

Y'all have fun now, y'hear?!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Weapons For Peace?

I usually stay out of the political realm. I have my opinions, I vote them, and am more than willing to share them when asked, but in the blogosphere, I leave the politics to other bloggers.....because they care more than I do about converting others to whichever side they support. They usually have more time on their hands than moi.

What do you do in a politically unstable region with animosity between religious groups, Israel, and millions of Muslims that hate us? Why you sell them advanced weaponry, of course! Because really, what are the chances that in a few years, once things have gone to hell in a handbasket, that those weapons will be used against us or our allies? The Saudis wouldn't turn on us, would they? It's not like any of their citizens have tried to annihilate us or anything.

This has got to be the dumbest move ever. It will do nothing but raise tensions in Iran, rather than making them back down. Why would Iran be afraid of Saudi Arabia? If you're building nukes and are crazy enough to use them, what difference are jets and really advanced guns going to make to you?

When will the U.S. learn that we are not in control in this region of the world? They don't want us there and any move we make will always be interpreted as the wrong one. After all, it's hard to be invited to dinner parties when your nickname is "The Great Satan".

We are foolish to make any kind of weapons deal in this region. Before long, the same weapons we ship to Saudi Arabia will begin showing up in Iraq, wounding our own troops and the government that we are trying to support there.

We, as a whole, have done a poor job of predicting behavior in the Middle East. We really need to stop making bad decisions out of misguided desperation.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Grace For The Failings


No matter how many fun, carefree moments you have with your children, the time you lost your temper and screamed like a crazy person is the one that lingers like the scent of rotting meat. Gazing back at you, eyes full of sadness, the child you so desperately love can crush you with a single look. After the anger and frustration pass, you'll play checkers with them, read them a book, apologize and tell them you love them, but you won't forget the failure--the inadequacy and impatience that bested you.


Rushing in and out of the laundromat, thanks to a broken washing machine, my little boys chirped and cackled excitedly, going from washer to washer transfixed by the spinning clothes. Their curious queries about the mechanics, the timer, the compartments for soap had the earnest interest that only a child could have about a washing machine. We washed, dried and folded every towel, sheet, and blanket we owned, loading up the Corolla with the crisp mountain scent of freshly laundered linens.

Later in the day we headed to Wal-mart. The Rationalist was grumpy and argumentative, oozing sourness like so many lemonheads. I snapped at him several times while maneuvering the cart with the rhythmic wheel that pulled to the left. "Will you stop with the rudeness?!" I said. "I have had enough of your grumpiness!" I said. "That's it...No talking for five minutes from you!" I said. I was the official crazy-mom-in-Wal-Mart. There always has to be at least one and my time had come.

Arriving home in irritation, I unloaded the groceries and sent the boys to play while I threw together a hasty dinner. I gritted my teeth and made myself ignore the bickering between the them as they played checkers with a set that was missing a piece, leading to all sorts of recriminations about who really lost the essential item.

Dinner seemed to settle The Rationalist's spirits. He talked about his Jimmy Neutron computer game in between bites of roast beef and grapes. He pondered the list of school items we needed to get for his second grade class. He was pleasant. So was I.

After dinner, we combined a cake mix and licked the beaters, making plans for icing it later. The boys ran around the room, kicking the air like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The tension left me. They bathed themselves, a new accomplishment, and came out ready to ice and eat the finished cake. They set to work, feverishly and meticulously frosting the individual pieces I had set before them, gobbling up each morsel when they were done.

"Mom, I don't feel good," said The Rationalist. "I feel like I'm going to throw up!"

The Rationalist hates throwing up.

He began to tremble and whimper. We went into the bathroom, seated ourselves before the toilet, and waited for the inevitable to happen.

"I'm scared," he said.

"It's OK, honey. You'll feel better afterward. "

"Will you pray for me?" he asked.

Of course I would...and did. At least three times he asked me to pray for him, the last time specifically that he wouldn't throw up. I complied each time, hoping that God was listening to these bathroom prayers for not throwing up.

After fifteen minutes, we moved to the couch in the living room, trash basket handy just in case. Intuitive Monkey had been sent to bed earlier when it had become apparent that I might be up all night with The Rationalist. The Rationalist and I lay on the couch in the dim lighting of the TV. I rubbed his back and he rested. Another fifteen minutes passed.

"How are you feeling?" I asked.

"Better...I think I'm OK now. I guess I'll go to bed."

I tucked him in, telling him to get me if he needed me, and closed the door.

Thank you, God.....for listening to no-throwing-up prayers for a seven year old boy.

Thanks too....that you cover over my failings as a parent, allowing my child to trust me to pray for him, forgetting the frustration I aimed his way earlier.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This is just too freaky!

A civil servant in France surprised doctors when his CT scan showed that he had virtually no brain. No Brain.

The French government was quoted as saying, "We could use 100 more just like him."

Eternal Questions

Eternal questions that need to be answered:

1. Why does the first pancake never work out?

2. Why do men not have a translation phrase for "help me clean."?

3. How does spaghetti know you are wearing a white shirt?

Jury Duty Denied

After years of being pursued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court, imagine my surprise and deflated spirit at being rejected. I guess five years of spurning him did the trick.

So, after getting up early, rushing through commuter traffic, waiting twenty minutes to travel 200 feet to the entrance of the parking garage--causing me to be twenty minutes late--they decided they didn't want me. At least they were prompt in letting me know quickly. I only had to wait four hours.

Honestly, it was kind of a letdown. They didn't even pick me as part of a group to question. As I kicked some serious Sudoku butt in the puzzle book I brought, I pondered what it was about my demographic that turned them off. Being in my thirties? Being unemployed/self-employed? Too many letters in my name? Being so nerdy that I play Sudoku?

In truth, they probably take the hundreds of questionnaires, throw them in a giant BINGO contraption and pull them out all willy-nilly.

That must be it.


Off To Jury Duty

I am awake, dressed in grown-up clothes and desperately trying to scrape together a cup of coffee to fortify me this morning. It would be a lot easier if I had remembered to buy coffee filters. Instead I had to reverse engineer my own out of a couple layers of paper towels, hoping that maybe they would be equivalent. They're not.

This is my first time for showing up for Jury Duty. In some ways, it would be neat to be a part of the judicial system and see things from the inside. On the other hand, having to be a part of a jury that's dealing with something very serious such as a murder, child abuse, or rape is not something I especially want to do. But--as I constantly tell my kids when they whine about doing any sort of chore--sometimes we have to do things that we don't feel like doing or they would never get done.

I'll report back later with all the juicy details!...that might be illegal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tiny Theologians

Intuitive Monkey: "When did God make Adam?"

"Let's see...I think He made Adam on the sixth day in Genesis, after he made the land animals."

Intuitive Monkey: "No....God made animals on the fifth day. He made Adam on the sixth day...all by himself."

"I don't think so. We'll look it up when we get home."

The Rationalist: "Monkey, he did make animals on the sixth day, because humans are animals too!"

Intuitive Monkey: "No they're not! Humans are people!"

The Rationalist: "Yes, but they're animals too!"

Intuitive Monkey, crying: "NO....THEY'RE....NOT!!!!"

The Rationalist: "...are too..."

I am expecting a drawing of 98 stick figures to be tacked to the door at any moment...a la Martin Luther.

I Forgot

I keep seeing my cartoon and thinking....It's not quite right. Then I realized what was missing--my glasses. I only wear them while driving, at a movie theater or in church when I am watching people who are about 200 feet away from me.

I need my online persona to look smarter. I have to trick people into realizing what a genius I am. If cartoon schoolteacher glasses don't do it, then I will have to rely on writing something of substance. I got nothing lately. Glasses will have to work.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jury Duty

The Circuit Court of my county has a thing for me. They keep inviting me to Jury Duty. I think they have a complex. I have turned them down at least three times by now. This stalkerish behavior should really be reported. I was thinking of getting a restraining order against the Clerk of the Circuit Court, asking him to please stop hounding me. I do not want to sip coffee, in Styrofoam cups, with little red stirrers, in a dark paneled room, with fluorescent lighting, with you. I am married. Not Available. Not Interested. No matter how sexy your plastic nameplate is, I have no desire to see you. Please, stop calling me.

Ahhh....but then I was confounded by cleaning my house. I stacked together miscellaneous papers in a neat little pile on the counter--papers that needed to be filed away, papers that needed to be hung on the refrigerator, and most importantly--papers that needed to be returned with an X in a tiny, little box stating that I have a child under age six, for whom I am the primary caregiver, so please let me go so that I can supervise my child and make sure he doesn't light himself on fire or stab his eyes with scissors while making an art project. Yes, that important paper sunk to the bottom of the paper pile, hiding inconspicuously amongst the insurance paperwork, primitive drawings and pizza coupons....silent and still...until it shouted into my brain yesterday,"JURY DUTY!!! YOU FORGOT TO MAIL ME IN!....NANA...NANA...BOO BOO! IT'S TOO LATE FOR YOU YOU!"

And so, Mr. Clerk of the Circuit Court, you will finally be able to bring me to your lair and force me to be part of your dastardly schemes. I have been undone by hasty housecleaning.

You'd better have cream and sugar for my coffee!

Friday, July 20, 2007

New and Improved!

I don't like the pic for my profile.

I was going for something that looked like me, but wouldn't let someone on the street actually recognize me. You know...because I'm so popular and cool. I have to keep the stalkers and paparazzi away.

What I wound up with was something that makes me look depressed, sad, deathly. Not exactly what I was going for, but I am usually the one taking the pictures and can only rarely be spotted in them, like some sort of almost extinct animal that surprises scientists who thought it had vanished decades ago. If I am in them, I am usually blinking, bent over, or have my head cut off by the camera.

I am hereby replacing my way-too-serious photo with my own cartoon character, drawn with my son's Crayola pencils. Very high-tech.

Yes, I really have that much hair. Very curly hair that I have battled all my life. Add a few gray streaks--that are sometimes dyed back to their original brown--a wrinkle that is just starting to form on my forehead--which is seriously stressing me out--and a few freckles that appear during the summer....that's me.

don't hate me because I'm beautiful

Fuzzy Thinking

"I should really get a new thesaurus."


"Well, this one is so old. I'm sure it's outdated."



"Yeah. There are probably new, exciting, more poignant words that aren't in this one."

"New, English, English words that didn't exist twenty years ago. Do you see where I'm going with this?"

"Uh....," laughing, "Doh! What was I thinking!?"

"Fo shizzle!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Family Skate Night

Tonight we relived our eighties childhood at the local skating rink. Family Skate Night. It's a lot more fun than it sounds. Watching two boys trying not to break their ankles while hysterically giggling as they slip unsteadily is great therapy.

As we walked into the seventies/eighties time warp--complete with shag rug wall coverings that were probably older than I am and showed no evidence of ever being cleaned--the kids yelped excitedly.

"It smells like rotten cheese in here," quoth The Rationalist.

This didn't seem to actually bother him, but was merely an observation. I tried not to think about the fact that thousands of sweaty feet had been in my son's rented skates before he ever used them. They bore the same distressed patina of the wall coverings. I thought they might spontaneously disintegrate as he wobbled about. They didn't.

DH and I own roller blades. The Rationalist was given skates for his birthday. Intuitive Monkey was the only one left to strap on the beige boots with faded, pock-marked, orange wheels. He didn't seem to care, but later asked how much roller skates cost and if he had enough money saved up to buy some. I think I know what to get him when Christmas rolls around.

We skated. We Hokeyed our Pokeys. We fell. We had fun.

good times....good times


Come. Squish your toes in the powdery sand.

Let the foamy waves drag your burdens out to sea.

Dance in the brightness of the burning sun, carefree and satiated for today.

And never forget to hope for treasure in unexpected places.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lost In A Crowd

I haven't blogged much about my personal faith lately. I have a list of excuses reasons. It's hard to focus with the kids home all day. Other people do it better than I could. It's personal....etc.

The truth is that my soul is still hemorrhaging from leaving our church two years ago. I bandage and duct tape the wound, stopping the bleeding long enough to get on with life, but every once in a while the bandage becomes soaked and I have to peel it off in order to slap a new one on it. It's painful and infected.

But what can I do?

I can't change the past and know that we couldn't have stayed, but the pain and the questions that flooded my heart are still here...waiting for an answer that might never come.

We have "assimilated" into a new church, one big enough to get lost in as we recovered. Two years later and I'm still lost in the thousand or so people that show up every Sunday. The church has two services and is at capacity for each one. As a result, they don't offer Sunday School. Instead, people are encouraged to join home groups that meet throughout the week in various homes for Bible Study and fellowship. There are dozens to choose from. Up until just recently, it has been impossible for us to join any of them. And now that we can even ponder such a thing, we would still have to overcome the obstacles of my husband's late work hours and child care. It's very complicated and uncertain about whether it will be tenable for us.

Every Sunday I sit in the same row and listen to the pastor, sing songs, and contribute financially, but I feel so far from church. As we drove to church on this sunny morning, I was enveloped in a cloud as I wondered when the last time was that someone had prayed with me and for me. When was the last time I could share my burdens with a fellow Christian? When was the last time that I had been able to pray for someone outside of my family? I can't remember. The size of the church, that had seemed so appealing to our weary souls, has now become an obstacle, an empty shell filled with unconnected hearts.

It's not the fault of the church. They are not purposely thwarting my spiritual life. They do some things very well, but for every advantage of a large church there is a disadvantage. Some things just can't be done by a large church.

After all, what is church anyway?

Worship and teaching are important, but in a culture where it is so readily available in hundreds of forms, it is really the fellowship of believers that is most needed. Teaching reaches the mind, connection reaches the heart. Prayer, encouragement, and genuine caring are what the body was meant for. Everything useful in Christendom is derived from these and eventually returns to them.

I bear some responsibility for where I am. I haven't tried exceptionally hard to overcome the pain that lingers just beneath the surface. Frankly, I've just been too d@#! tired to even give it an honest effort. I won't lay blame solely with others.

Choir rehearsals begin next month. I'll go and try to integrate once again into a more connected role. I am hoping to reclaim worship. I lost it when we left our old church. As part of the worship team there, I would sing each Sunday and be able to focus more on the actual act of worshipping, even more so than when I was in the congregation. When we left, each song we sang in another church--with me lost in the congregation--was just a reminder of what we had left behind. Instead of feeling worshipful, I would only feel sorrow at what was past, reminded of the people and and fellowship we had lost.

hoping for peace

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Leave Iraq?

The Iraqi PM says that we can leave Iraq any time we want. They can handle it without us. That is of course, after we give them more weapons and training. So, I guess that "any time we want" really means when we give them everything they want without requiring anything of them.

If this is what it looks like when we're there, I shudder to think what it would look like if we pull out. I also wonder how average Iraqis, who have no bodyguards or security forces to protect them, feel about his assertion.

Junior Food Critic Coins New Phrase

"My taste bugs don't like this."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Too Funny!

Surfing blogs can lead to some interesting finds. Usually the "next blog" button leads to psychotic, mundane, or pornography-laden blogs. Every once in a while I come across something that amuses me.

I came across miriam's ideas through random surfing and followed a link to ScrappleFace.

Too funny. I love it!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


*sigh*...I'm tired.

The house, that I meticulously cleaned before my brother arrived, looks as if the laundry room exploded during a battle for territorial dominance with the dirty dishes in the kitchen. Carnage lays everywhere. Now, it's time for the post-visit clean-up.

Highlights from his visit:

Two 45-pound boys can, indeed, almost bring down an adult when they work together.

Coming from behind, in an evenly matched battle of chess wits, I managed to get checkmate with what was a pawn and my king, by sneaking my pawn to the end of the board after eliminating his two rooks, leaving him with just a king. Pawn becomes queen. Brother is sufficiently crushed by my last minute coup. Of course that was the only time I beat him, but it was a spectacular way to score my only win.

In a dark movie theater, Intuitive Monkey reaches over to give his uncle a spontaneous hug....just because.

It turns out that 18 year-olds haven't mastered the fine art of manipulating bumper cars to deliver the greatest force possible on impact. Age brings wisdom! :-)

Monday, July 09, 2007


My little brother is in town visiting us, so I probably won't post for a few days as I try to figure out how to entertain an 18-year-old boy/man.

It's good to see him. The boys have already spent an enormous amount of time tackling, wrestling, and pounding on him in an effort to prove that two 45 pound boys can bring down an adult. They're still working out the kinks in their tag-team approach.

see you in a few days.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Reading "The God Delusion"--Part One

Way back, about a month or two ago, I had done a few posts about atheism. Intrigued by the new wave of atheistic media that has swelled into recent popularity, I put myself on the list for Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, at my local library. There was quite a number of people ahead of me, so I put it on the back burner of my mind and promptly forgot about it.

It arrived yesterday and I have been engrossed in it since this morning, picking it up here and there whenever I have free time. So far, I have yet to run through the streets singing REM's Losing My Religion. (Boy am I dating myself with that reference!) I'm almost through chapter 3--Arguments For God's Existence. I am not devastatingly impressed. However, I still have more chapters to read; maybe Dawkins will put aside his little bitternesses and surprise me with some new thought that I haven't previously heard.

My biggest annoyance, is with his constant reliance on the phrase,"I suspect." Although, sometimes he swaps it out for,"One feels," or "I don't think." Over and over he will use these phrases to assert that many leaders, thinkers and scientists were almost certainly as adamantly atheistic as himself. He reinterprets their own words in the light of this assumption, assuring us that if they had really spoken what they felt, they would have been more adamant and less vague in regard to religion, science, and the interaction of the two. Conveniently, most of those he refers to are dead and cannot speak for themselves. What bad timing for them!

I am not saying that Dawkins portrays devout Christians as atheists, but people with more vague and philosophical leanings, or scientists who were less idealistically opposed to religion than himself are subject to his "scientific" revisionist mind-reading.

Regarding the Founding Fathers of the United States, he writes:

"Certainly their writings on religion in their own time leave me in no doubt
that most of them would have been atheists in ours." (page 39) [emphasis mine] doubt? Dawkins, say it ain't so! How can you have no doubt about something that is unprovable? Isn't that contrary to your whole thought system, being certain of things that have no provable basis?

In regards, to T.H. Huxley, who coined the term agnostic and declared that agnostics have no creed, not even a negative one, Dawkins writes:

"But Huxley, in his concentration upon the absolute impossibility of proving or
disproving God, seems to have been ignoring the shading of probability.
The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something
does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing. I don't
Huxley would disagree, and I suspect that when he appeared
to do so he was bending over backwards to concede a point, in the interests of
securing another one."( pages 49-50) [emphasis mine]

In recounting an episode during which two astronomers turn over a deep question--which Dawkins had put to them--to a chaplain, he writes:

"I suspect that neither the Cambridge nor the Oxford astronomer really believed that theologians have any expertise that enables them
to answer questions that are too deep for science. I suspect that
both astronomers were bending over backwards to be polite...."(pages 56-57)

Concerning Stephen Gould's statements and writings, he says:

"I simply do not believe that Gould could possibly have meant much
of what he wrote in Rocks of Ages. As I say, we have all been
guilty of bending over backwards to an unworthy but powerful opponent, and I
can only think that
this is what Gould was doing."(page 57) [emphasis

On and on it goes. It's tedious and unnecessary. It's as if he is building up an army of thinkers to give his own thoughts and views more clout. Don't bore me with theories about what might have been in a different time or universe. Tell me what you think, and why, without trying to assemble a list of allies. As I said, I find it annoying.

A corresponding, though less obvious, theme permeates the book so far--that Christians are motivated by either fear, ignorance, or the desire to control others for power or money. While being able to mind-read the motivations of dead thinkers and scientists is an amazing power to have, it is not nearly as impressive as being able to mind-read what all Christians must think! I have yet to come across one sentence that implies that people might be religious because they are altruistic in their outlook on God, life, and others. Has he never come in contact with a sincere, caring, intelligent believer? He leaves the impression that everyone he has met who carries the label, Christian, is the worst sort of person. Perhaps, that can be chalked up to his own bias? Only he knows.

When discussing religious experience as a basis of belief in God, Dawkins explains how our brains are designed to makes sense of things that have no sense--referring mainly to visions and voices that people claim to have seen or heard. He assures us that our brains can be untrustworthy. I contend that he seems not to distrust his brain at all when he ventures to suppose what others really thought and currently think.

Discussing the famous "Lunatic, Liar or Lord" argument from C.S. Lewis, Dawkins insists that the three options are "ludicrously inadequate."

"A fourth possibility, almost too obvious to need mentioning, is that Jesus was honestly mistaken." (page 92)

Very interesting reasoning in that it completely contradicts his whole premise and the very title of his book! Jesus calls himself the Son of God, but is honestly mistaken? Wait a minute, didn't Dawkins earlier write in the Preface:
The dictionary supplied with Microsoft Word defines a delusion as 'a
persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence,
especially as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder'. (page5)

And on page 89, didn't he quote Sam Harris' work, The End of Faith, when discussing personal experiences?:

" 'We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational
justification. When their beliefs are extremely common we call them
'religious'; otherwise, they are likely to be called 'mad', 'psychotic' or
'delusional'.....' "

Considering that before Jesus made the claim that he was the Son of God no one else believed it, and it wasn't a commonly held belief, doesn't that fit Dawkins' and Harris' definition of mad? Of course it does, but it doesn't further Dawkins argument at this point in the book.

Well, I still have to finish the last few pages of Chapter 3 and then the rest of the book. Perhaps, I am misjudging the groundwork that Dawkins is laying. I will give him the benefit of the doubt until I reach the last page.


I started using the random tag in my posts.

It only took me thirty seconds to realize that all my posts are random.

Organization and consistency are for sissies!

A River Runs Through It

We traversed through the hot, sticky, Florida jungle until we spied the bridge, our landmark for the trail home.

Hey, isn't that Huck Finn down around the bend?

Silent, we stood, no noise to hear but the gently moving water.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Refuting "The Jesus Puzzle"--Part Two

Part1 is here. Intro is here. This is a work in progress. I will add more to these articles as I have the time.

Throughout Doherty's article, The Jesus Puzzle, he consistently quotes the Pauline Epistles as his source text and the departure point for all his observations regarding a historical Jesus and the development of Christianity from within the New Testament. Within the article itself, he does not seem to question Paul or his writings. That is not the same as saying that he believes them, as far as their theological content, but that he seems willing to accept them as generally intact, historical letters, from a person named Paul, to various churches in the region. Doherty gleans them for supposed meaning and uses them as a measurement for the dichotomy between the physical, human person of Jesus, and the spiritual, divine aspect of Jesus. In his mind the two are vastly different, and Paul's reliance on the Supernatural Jesus is evidence that the historical Jesus never existed.

This reliance on Paul, but the rejection of the gospels and Acts, presents a problem for Doherty's ideas. If he accepts Paul's writings as authentic and trustworthy in most cases--though he always tends to discount sections which most obviously disprove his points--then he has an intellectual dilemma. How do you rely on an author's texts, yet refuse to believe anything historical that he actually says?

For instance, Doherty writes in Piece No. 3 :

How do Paul and other apostles like himself know of their Son and Redeemer? Is
it through the words and deeds of Jesus on earth? Through traditions about him
going back to those who had witnessed his ministry? No, Paul has learned of the
Son through revelation and scripture. "God chose to reveal his Son through me,"
he says in Galatians 1:16.
Doherty's contention is that Paul never learned anything about Jesus from actual eyewitnesses, or through earthly knowledge. He takes Galatians 1:16 out of context, portraying it as an admission from Paul that all his knowledge of Jesus came from a vision and nothing else. Acts recounts the story of Saul/Paul on the Damascus road, but Doherty has removed that avenue of explanation. Further into his paper he claims:

Acts, too, as an historical witness to Jesus or the beginnings of the
Christian movement, cannot be relied upon. The more recent tendency is to see
Acts as a second century product, probably of Roman provenance, highly
tendentious and written for the purpose of creating a picture of Christian
origins traceable to a unified body of apostles in Jerusalem who were followers
of an historical Jesus. Much of it is sheer fabrication, and highly incompatible
with information found in the letters of Paul
.[emphasis mine]

So, we have the reason that he rejects Acts; it doesn't line up with Paul's epistles, in his opinion.

Let's take a look at that claim. Acts relates Paul's life and ministry highlights. It presents Saul/Paul as a persecutor of Christians, even being present during Stephen's stoning

Acts 7:58b
Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 8:1 and 3
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.......

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house he dragged off men and women and put them in prison

Paul writes in his epistles:

1 Corinthians 15:9
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Galatians 1:13
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

He is portrayed as seeing a vision of Jesus, being converted on the road to Damascus, and spending some time there after his conversion teaching that Jesus was the Son of God.(Acts 9:1-30)

Paul relates the same timeline for events in Galatians 1:14-2:10, detailing his interactions with Peter specifically.

Once we begin to see that there is quite a correlation between Acts and Paul's epistles, even if Doherty still views it as a "sheer fabrication," he still must explain what he thinks of Paul. Paul tells us he knew Peter and other apostles. Paul tells us that he was excelling in Judaism, which means he would have been very aware of any controversy within the religion and any events related to it. He might not have believed in Jesus, but he had surely heard about him in his studying and time in Jerusalem. Paul also reiterates throughout his epistles that he is not making up his story, but that it is true and factual

The ultimate question for Doherty is what he believes about Paul.

In order to throw out Acts and the Gospels on Paul's supposed "silence," he would have to cast Paul in the role of manipulative liar. If Paul is a manipulative liar, then you could hardly look to his works as proof that there was no historical Jesus. Instead, throwing out Paul's epistles would eliminate the so-called "problem of silence" that Doherty thinks is so damning to the historical Jesus.

So, which is it? Are Paul's letters authentic and trustworthy? If they are, then how does Doherty reconcile the historical facts within them and Paul's claims of knowing the original apostles of Jesus--eyewitnesses to Jesus' earthly life? Was Paul duped? That hardly seems believable for someone who was so heavily invested in persecuting the church before his conversion. It also seems highly unlikely that Paul would abandon all his striving in Judaism for a legend he heard passed along by, what would have to be, liars and con men if Jesus never existed.

It's late and I'm tired again. I will edit this tomorrow with a little more fleshing out of the Acts/Paul correlation. Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to add! :)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Belated Fourth Of July!

Despite nearly being rained out, we made it our local fireworks display. Excitement and fun was had by all........except for the poor dog, who stayed home alone, cringing under the bed.

Earsplitting thunder doesn't bother her, but the sudden pops of firecrackers sends her into fearful hiding.

We rewarded her with a gourmet, peanut butter, dog cookie from a pet bakery. It was gone in 2 seconds flat.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chuzzle Mindbender---you are my nemesis

One of the games that I occasionally play on our computer is Chuzzle. I have the high score in our family right now, but am duking it out with the furballs in the Mindbender section. There are 20 levels with 5 puzzles each. I breezed through the first 15, but my brain is actually starting to hurt now.

If you finish all 20 levels, you get a special trophy.

I must have it!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Refuting "The Jesus Puzzle"--Part One

Earl Doherty's The Jesus Puzzle is an attempt to disprove the existence of an historical Jesus. This, of course, presents a serious problem for Christians. If there is no actual human Jesus, the entire thing falls apart. Christianity, at its core, relies upon the facts of Jesus of Nazareth's existence and the belief that he lived, was crucified and was physically resurrected. If there is no
Jesus, there is no Christianity.

Doherty divides his puzzle into twelve pieces and then delves further into his argument after presenting his puzzle pieces. I will respond to his article in several parts in order to break up the posts and deal with things in more detail.

The first pillar of Doherty's argument is built on removing the gospels and the book of Acts as reference material. He does this, not by specifically disproving them, but through a round-about attempt to eliminate them on the basis that the non-gospel writers of the New Testament(Paul, Peter, James) are silent on the specific details of Jesus earthly life.

He writes:

In the first half century of Christian correspondence, including letters attributed to Paul and other epistles under names like Peter, James and
John, the Gospel story cannot be found.
[emphasis mine] When these writers speak of their divine Christ, echoes of Jesus of Nazareth are virtually inaudible, including details of a life and ministry, the circumstances of his death, the attribution of any teachings to him.

and later
The one clear placement of Christ in recent times, the accusation in
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 that Jews in Judea had killed the Lord Jesus, has been
rejected as an interpolation by most of today’s liberal scholars,1 while the one Gospel
episode Paul seems to allude to, Jesus’ words over the bread and wine at what he
calls "the Lord’s Supper" in 1 Corinthians 11:23f, can be interpreted as a
mythical scene Paul has himself developed through perceived revelation.
Otherwise, no non-Gospel writer of the first century makes any statement which
would link the divine spiritual Son and Christ they all worship and look to for
salvation, with a man who had recently walked the sands of Palestine, taught and prophecied and performed miracles, a man executed by Pontius Pilate on Good Friday outside Jerusalem, to rise from a nearby tomb on Easter Sunday morning. This "conspiracy of silence" is as pervasive as it is astonishing.

The silence is hardly deafening. References to Jesus abound that refer to his humanity, and occasionally appeal to eyewitness testimony.

2Peter 1:16-18

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying,"This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well-pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were on the sacred mountain. [emphasis mine]

1 Peter 2:23-24

When they hurled their insults at him he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made
no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. [emphasis mine]

1 Peter 5:1(a)

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings....

Peter mentions his eyewitness testimony about Jesus and we are to believe that this doesn't refer to an historical Jesus? Doherty quotes no refutation of the epistles of Peter on this account.

Paul refers to Pontius Pilate and The Lord's Supper, but then Doherty conveniently
declares that these are later interpolations and intrusions into the text, that were not there originally. Why? Well, because according to Doherty, the gospels are false, so if the epistles reference them, then they must have been tampered with--a nice bit of circular reasoning attested to by liberal scholars. (his own description of said scholars)

The "silence" that seems to fuel Doherty's argument on this point is very easily explained if one considers the purpose of the epistles in the New Testament. They functioned, not as a first communication to people who had never heard about Jesus, but as letters to already established communities of believers. The audience for the epistles had already heard and received the gospel story of Jesus, so why would Paul, or any other writer, devote time to retell the story? Many of the recipients had been visited by Paul previously, receiving his missionary preaching about Jesus.

We see in 1 Corinthians that Paul had previously visited them and preached while he was there. Referring to his previous visit, he writes:

1 Corinthians 2:1-2
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

And in Galatians 1 :8, concerning a previous visit to Galatia, he writes:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

And in verse 11 of the same chapter:
I want you to know brothers that the gospel I preached is not something I made up.

It goes on and on throughout Paul's writings that he has either personally visited the locations before these letters were written, or the churches which he has not visited are already flourishing Christian communities. When he had visited them, it had been for the express purpose of evangelizing them for the first time. It would have been during those times that he would have related the historical details about Jesus, not years later as he is writing to correct errors that have popped up, or provide clarification about specific issues.

Doherty asserts that the non-Christian record of the time makes no mention of Jesus. That assertion is debatable and not accepted by the majority of biblical scholars. He goes on to list non-Christian sources, but then refutes them once again by declaring that they were all corrupted by Christians and cannot be trusted, Jospehus being the most important example.

Josephus’ famous passage in Antiquities 18 is acknowledged to be, as it stands, a Christian interpolation, and arguments that an original reference
to Jesus either stood there or can be distilled from the present one,
founder on the universal silence about such a reference on the part of
Christian commentators until the 4th century.2 As for the reference
in Antiquities 20 to James as "brother of Jesus, the one called (the)
Christ", this passage also bears the marks of Christian interference.3

Christopher Price offers another perspective on Josephus, claiming that the majority of scholars agree that there exists at least partial authenticity in the Josephus references. Price writes:

Notably, the consensus for partial authenticity is held by scholars from
diverse perspectives. Liberal commentators such as Robert Funk, J. Dominic Crossan, and A.N. Wilson, accept a substantial part of the TF as originally Josephan. So do Jewish scholars, such as Geza Vermes, Louis H. Feldman, and Paul Winter
and secular scholars such as E.P. Sanders and Paula Fredrikson. Even Jeff Lowder, co-founder of the Secular Web, recognizes the merits of the partial authenticity.
Scholars go back and forth on the small tidbits of non-biblical mentions of Jesus. It is hard to sort out an honest appraisal because many of the scholars come with agendas guiding their conclusions.

I'm tired! I'll write more later.

Refuting The Jesus Puzzle--Introduction

While perusing Science Daily's articles about science, it was hard to ignore a very prominent ad with a mosaic picture of Jesus, a large question mark looming over him. Clicking the link led me to a site promoting a movie called, The God Who Wasn't There, a documentary by Brian Flemming. The title pretty much sums up what the movie is about--proving that Jesus never actually existed. Intrigued, I waded through the site and eventually, through a few google searches found this page, by Earl Doherty, who is referenced on the website for the movie.

Reading The Jesus Puzzle just inflamed my outrage, not because Doherty is an atheist, or even that he is trying to persuade others to throw off religious belief, but because many of his statements are lacking logic, circular in nature, and just plain ludicrous. It would be easy to see how someone who never actually read the Bible could be swayed by his arguments, but those who have read it can see glaring discrepancies and misrepresentations very easily.

I have much to say about it, but want to write a detailed response, something that is difficult during the day when my kids are hootin' and hollerin' in the background. I'll be presenting it in several parts. Hopefully, I'll have the first part out tonight.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Movie Review Monday

Once again the library called to let my husband know that several things he had requested had arrived. They were all movies. We spent too much time staring at the TV this weekend, but most of the movies weren't bad.

Music and Lyrics--Romantic comedies with Hugh Grant can go either way, so I wasn't sure if this would be any good. It was surprisingly cute and sweet. They so nailed the 80's pop video genre, right down to the close-up of the clapping hands.

Firewall--My husband's choice. It was an OK action flick--lots of violence, but entertaining enough to hold our attention. The only thing that bugs me about this type of movie, with plot twists and turns, is that I get distracted trying to figure out the next twist. Toward the end of the movie, we had a running commentary on whether or not Harrison Ford's secretary was in on the banking scam. Up until the movie ended, we kept flip-flopping on whether she would show up with a gun and reveal she was the mastermind behind everything, belying her simple, quirky persona.

Apocalypto--This was my choice. Great movie if you can stand the graphic violence---aka-severed heads tumbling down the temple steps. Visually amazing. My husband, who hates subtitled movies, decided he really liked it. It's so dynamic and action-packed that you forget you're reading subtitles the entire time. The development of the characters was excellent.

Well, that's it folks. My Roger Ebert impression has come to an end.