Friday, November 28, 2008

King Herod's Tomb Most Likely Found

King Herod The Great's Tomb At Herodium

For those of you who missed the special on National Geographic Channel, Herod's Lost Tomb which aired Tuesday, November 25, at 9 p.m. ET, it will air again on Sun Nov 30 at 2 P---so check your local times and listings. There's more on King Herod in the December issue of National Geographic magazine. Here's an online preview of the article:
King Herod Revealed
The Holy Land's visionary builder.
By Tom Mueller

Photograph by Michael Melford

 Eight miles south of Jerusalem, where the last stunted olive trees and stony cornfields fade into the naked badlands of the Judaean desert, a hill rises abruptly, a steep cone sliced off at the top like a small volcano. This is Herodium, one of the grand architectural creations of Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who raised a low knoll into a towering memorial of snowy stonework and surrounded it with pleasure palaces, splashing pools, and terraced gardens. An astute and generous ruler, a brilliant general, and one of the most imaginative and energetic builders of the ancient world, Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power. Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew's Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew's account. But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination.

Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer has spent the past half century searching for the real Herod, as he is portrayed not in words but in stone. He has excavated many of Herod's major building sites throughout the Holy Land, exploring the palaces where the king lived, the fortresses where he fought, the landscapes where he felt most at home. Of Herod's many imaginative building projects, Herodium was the only one that bore his name, and was perhaps the closest to his heart. It was here, at the end of his daring and bloodstained career, that he was laid to rest in a noble mausoleum.

(Read more: here).

New Finds at King Herod's Tomb: 2,000-Year-Old Frescoes

Mati Milstein in Herodium, West Bank
for National Geographic News
November 19, 2008

Archaeologists exploring King Herod's tomb complex near Jerusalem have uncovered rare Roman paintings as well as two sarcophagi, or stone coffins, that could have contained the remains of Herod's sons In May 2007, veteran Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer solved one of Israel's great archaeological mysteries when he first uncovered the remains of Herod's first century-B.C. grave at the Herodium complex, located 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of Jerusalem.

(See related: "King Herod's Tomb Unearthed Near Jerusalem, Expert Says" [May 8, 2007].)

King Herod, appointed by the Romans to rule Judea between 37 and 4 B.C., is renowned for his monumental construction projects, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Caesarea complex, and the palace atop Masada.

Herod constructed Herodium as a massive and lavish administrative, residential, and burial center.

New Findings

Netzer revealed new discoveries at a Wednesday press conference in Jerusalem.

Recent excavations uncovered an elaborate theater dating slightly earlier than Herod's burial complex that had been demolished to enable construction of the artificial mountain that served as his tomb.

The walls of the theater's loggia—a balcony that served as a VIP room and viewing box—are decorated with well-preserved Roman paintings of windows and outdoor scenes. (See full article: here).

See also: Lost for Centuries, Herod's Tomb Comes to Light and Tomb of King Herod's wife unearthed, Israeli archaeologist says.

Bernat Armangue / Associated Press---
Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer walks at the fortress of Herodium in the West Bank, where archaeologists are excavating what they believe is the tomb of King Herod.

Naming The Bird "Turkey"

For those of you who don't know, the bird turkey has a connection with the country Turkey---although there are no turkeys in Turkey. Here is a snippet of the Wikipedia article on the bird turkey:
History and Naming
When Europeans first encountered turkeys in the Americas they incorrectly identified the birds as a type of guineafowl (Numididae), also known as a turkey-cock from its importation to Central Europe through Turkey, and the name of that country stuck as the name of the bird. The confusion is also reflected in the scientific name: meleagris is Greek for guinea-fowl.

The names for M. gallopavo in other languages also frequently reflect its exotic origins, seen from an Old World viewpoint, and add to the confusion about where turkeys actually came from. The many references to India seen in common names go back to a combination of two factors: first, the genuine belief that the newly-discovered Americas were in fact a part of Asia, and second, the tendency during that time to attribute exotic animals and foods to a place that symbolized far-off, exotic lands. The latter is reflected in terms like "Muscovy Duck" (which is from South America, not Muscovy). This was a major reason why the name "turkey-cock" stuck to Meleagris rather than to the guinea fowl (Numida meleagris): the Ottoman Empire represented the exotic East.

The name given to a group of turkeys is a rafter, although they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as a gobble or flock.[1]

Several other birds which are sometimes called "turkeys" are not particularly closely related: the Australian brush-turkey is a megapode, and the bird sometimes known as the "Australian turkey" is in fact the Australian Bustard, a gruiform. The bird sometimes called a Water Turkey is actually an Anhinga (Anhinga rufa)

See also: Is turkey (the bird) named after Turkey (the country) or vice versa?, Why A Turkey Is Called A Turkey and Why Is Our Thanksgiving Bird Called a Turkey? (Answer: Because, of course, it came from Turkey).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving With Homebrewed Christianity

Here is a prayer by Paul Rauschenbusch, great-grandson of the famed Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the "social gospel"--- Walter Rauschenbusch is one of the best Baptist preachers besides Harry Emerson Fosdick--- that my friend Tripp posted on his Blog:
Rauschenbusch’s Thanksgiving Prayer
November 26, 2008

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

HT: Paul Rauschenbusch

Posted in prayer, www stuff

Here Is One Of My Musical Compositions

This is a music video that I made on 11/06/2008 of a musical composition that I created in 2003 using Cakewalk Music Creator and Autocomposer. I made the music video by converting my Midi composition to an MP3 and pasting that into Microsoft Windows Movie Maker along with some pictures as I was trying to upload it to Blogger, but couldn't get that to work or get it to upload to YouTube either---so here I am. Anyways, I named the original composition: "Zelda Suite" as it reminded me of videogame music specifically from "The Legend Of Zelda" videogame series---hence the use of pictures from: I never quite finished my suite, but this is the most complete version that I have.
Go here to view the original page. Anyways if you grew up with Nintendo like me the Legend Of Zelda was one of the must have video games for the NES. This video should be a trip down memory lane picture wise---music wise it's a fairly decent composition of mine.

Fundamentalist Wackiness In Overdrive


First, here's a post from Dr. Jonas' Blog:
Good for Decatur FBC!
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an article about FBC Decatur and its pastor, Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell. She was selected as the church's first ever female pastor last year. Furthermore, the church, with 2700 members is the largest Baptist church in the South to be headed by a female pastor.

Her presence as pastor of such a prominent Georgia Baptist church has been a thorn in the flesh to the Fundamentalists who control both the SBC and the Georgia Baptist Convention. So, it remains to be seen what action, if any both entities will take toward FBC Decatur. Knowing Fundamentalists as I do, I suspect both entities will seek some kind of "punitive" action toward the church. After all, they can't possibly be seen cooperating with a church that (in their twisted way of thinking) so violates the letter of scripture!

The article can be found at this link:

The best quote in the article is this: "If they would like to ask us to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, I think that’s fine,” Roper said. “I think our new minister is wonderful.”

Good for you Ms. Roper! And good for you all FBC Decatur! What a wonderful example to the rest of the Baptist world!

posted by glenn jonas at 1:14 pm

Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell recently became one of my Facebook friend by way of my Blog I guess as I already posted this: TheoPoetic Musings: Georgia Baptist Convention Says No To Female Pastors on the situation. Anyways, I agree with Dr. Jonas' assessment: "Knowing Fundamentalists as I do, I suspect both entities will seek some kind of "punitive" action toward the church. After all, they can't possibly be seen cooperating with a church that (in their twisted way of thinking) so violates the letter of scripture!" It's just like those who say homosexuality just can't be in the church but at the same time hypocritically welcome and accept with full fellowship military personnel who murder for a living and serve the Roman god of war, Mars---otherwise known nowadays as: "collateral damage." The God of the New Testament is not the false god of war, but Jesus Christ who is called: "the Prince of Peace." Now, don't think that I'm bagging on the military as I respect them and the Grace of God found in Jesus Christ is for both the military and homosexuals---I am just making a point about fundamentalist hypocrisy.

Anyways, all you homophobic bible literalist fundamentalists, here are ways in which homosexuality already plays an important role in church life: consider King James who was openly bisexual. Here is what one of your fellow fundamentalists, Gary Bauer, has to say about the subject:
Used too often as a controlling device and not enough as a spiritual compass, the Bible becomes a tool to promulgate moral and political agendas. For example, in 1998, the right-wing Christian groups -the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality- ordered all its members to cease using the King James Version of the Bible because historians had proven that King James I of England, who was also known as James VI of Scotland, was indisputably gay.

Should the King James Version of the Bible, which has been around since 1611 and used worldwide, be discarded solely on the bases of King James' sexual orientation?

Speaking at a press conference about this controversy, Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council said, "I feel uncomfortable that good Christians all over America, and indeed the world, are using a document commissioned by a homosexual. Anything that has been commissioned by a homosexual has obviously been tainted in some way."
See also: Queen James and North Carolina Baptists and King James' Homoerotic Letters. Also, consider the heart-wrenching and soul uplifting church music by homosexual composer, Samuel Barber:
---Mister Rogers' favorite composer. And last but not least consider: that was painted by Michelangelo who had numerous homosexual affairs it is believed. In fundamentalists' twisted theology, these things would be considered condoning "unacceptable behavior" and they have the gall to say God doesn't accept females and homosexuals into full inclusive fellowship into the church---but he does accept militarists with all the death and destruction they bring such as:---because voting straight ticket for ultra-conservative Right-Wing nutcases makes one such a "good Christian." I know though that Jesus accepts heterosexual females such as: Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell and heterosexual males such as: Dr. Jonas, Mr. Rogers and myself as well as homosexuals and soldiers and God uses all of them for His/Her purpose, so get use to it.

SBC Calls Roman Catholic Church A Cult

Check out Big Daddy Weave's post on the subject: A Southern Baptist War on the Catholic Church "Cult". Here is a snippet from that post:
Meet Jim Smyrl

Jim Smyrl is the "Executive-Pastor of Education" at the 28,000-member First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. FBC Jacksonville is the third-largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest megachurches in America. As Executive -Pastor of Education, Smyrl is no lowly staff member. He's been dubbed "Second in Command" at FBC as Pastor Mac Brunson's "right-hand man."

Over on the Official Blog of FBC Jacksonville, has announced a series of upcoming posts on the "Catholic Cult."

Fundamentalist nutcase John MacArthur would be proud---here are a few of his anti-Catholic statements: PowerBlog!: John MacArthur - Grace to Who?, A GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH DISTINCTIVE and ---go here for the rest of the video series---for example. Also, Joe Blackmon's comment on Big Daddy Weave's post is telling:
joe blackmon said...
Big Daddy Weave

I haven't got the slightest interest in "top down" organization within the SBC as you assert. I worry about only one church--the one I attend. As long as the SBC publically affirms what I believe, I am perfectly happpy to remain in the SBC. Hopefully, the natioanl convention will take a cue from the wise people in Georgia and disfellowship so-called Southern Baptist churches who have unbiblical practices like FBC Decatur.

2nd of all, anyone who associates with a church that affirms homosexuality as moral, abortion as a legal right, and women pastors as godly is NOT a conservative. Furthermore, they are either *a* not a Christian at all or *b* immature and ignorant.

I also notice that you failed to respond to my point that Catholic doctrine is completely without any biblical support. Therefore, since what they teach is unbiblical they are a cult. Their size is completely irrelevant. The Mormon church has a huge number of followers. That doesn't make them Christians.

I wonder why you failed to address that part of my comment in your diatribe. Oh, I know. It's because you can't.

5:12 AM

The only cultists I see are those that worship the false manmade paper and leather god, the bible.

Dr. Jonas And Balthasar Hübmaier

Dr. Jonas has an interesting post on Balthasar Hubmaier on his Blog---here are a few snippets:
It was my church history professor and mentor in seminary, W. R. Estep that first introduced me to Balthasar Hubmaier. The first time I saw his name in writing I thought, "how do I prounce it?" But, it didn't take too many class sessions in Dr. Estep's course on the Anabaptists before the name became so common that all of us knew how to pronounce it.

The brilliant Hubmaier was born around 1481 in a small town called Friedberg just outside of Augsburg. He attended the University of Freiburg and there came under the tutelage of the great Catholic theologian Dr. John Eck. Hubmaier completed both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees then followed Eck to the University of Ingolstadt where he received the Doctor of Theology degree. Eck once called Hubmaier the most brilliant student he'd ever been associated with. Because of his great preaching ability and keen theological mind he accepted appointment as preacher at the cathedral in Regensburg in 1516. Five years later he became a parish priest in Waldshut and there came into contact with Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation. Two years later, he became publicly identified with Zwingli’s reform in Zurich, but soon developed Anabaptist ideas.


...An eyewitness to his execution described Hubmaier’s death this way:

To the people he said, “O dear brothers, if I have injured any, in word or deed, may he forgive me for the sake of my merciful God. I forgive all those that have done me harm.”

While his clothes were being removed: “From thee also, O Lord, were the clothes stripped. My clothes will I gladly leave here, only preserve my spirit and my soul, I beseech thee!” Then he added in Latin: “O Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit,” and spoke no more in Latin.

As they rubbed sulphur and gunpowder into his beard, which he wore rather long, he said, “Oh salt me well, salt me well.” And raising his head, he called out: “O dear brothers, pray God that he will give me patience in this my suffering.”

As his beard and hair caught fire, he cried out, “O Jesus, Jesus.”

Associated Baptist Press has this story today about the original writings of Hubmaier:

It seems that in just a few months all the writings of Hubmaier are going to be accessible on the internet. Great news about this nearly forgotten Anabaptist reformer! I have told my classes for years that if Hubmaier had lived out his full lifespan his influence in the 16th century might have rivaled that of Luther and Calvin.

Read the whole post at Dr. J's Blog. Besides, Bruce Springsteen, I remember Hubmaier being one of Dr. J's most passionate subjects---well Anabaptist history and church history in general. Here are a few more thoughts on the influential Radical Reformer:
[edit] Reformer and Anabaptist
In 1522 he became acquainted with Heinrich Glarean, (Conrad Grebel's teacher) and Erasmus at Basel. In March, 1523, in Zürich, Hubmaier met with Huldrych Zwingli, and even participated in a disputation there in October of that same year. In the disputation, he set forth the principle of obedience to the Scriptures. It was evidently here that Hubmaier committed to abandoning infant baptism, a practice he could not support with Scripture.

Anabaptist Wilhelm Reublin arrived in Waldshut in 1525, having been driven out of Zürich. In April Reublin baptized Hubmaier and sixty others.

In December 1525, Hubmaier fled to Zürich to escape the Austrian army. Hoping to find refuge, Zwingli instead had him arrested. While a prisoner, Hubmaier requested a disputation on baptism, which was granted. The disputation yielded some unusual events. Ten men, four of whom Hubmaier requested, were present for the disputation. Within the discussion, Hubmaier proceeded to quote statements by Zwingli in which he asserted that children should not be baptized until they had been instructed. Zwingli responded that he had been misunderstood. The bewildered Hubmaier agreed to recant. But before the congregation the next day, he attested the mental and spiritual anguish brought on by his actions and stated "I can and I will not recant." Back in prison and under the torture of the rack, he did offer the required recantation. With this, he was allowed to leave Switzerland and journeyed to Nikolsburg in Moravia. This weakness troubled him deeply and brought forth his Short Apology in 1526, which includes the statements: "I may err—I am a man—but a heretic I cannot be... O God, pardon me my weakness".

Anyways, digitizing his works is a great way of preserving his works for future generations and introducing him to a younger audience.

Prosecutor Says Church Killings Suspect Shows No Remorse

Shooting Suspect Allegedly Confesses
posted: 3 HOURS 33 MINUTES AGOcomments: 93filed under: Crime News, National News

MONROE, Ga. (Nov. 26) - A man accused of gunning down his estranged wife and a man in a New Jersey church told authorities Tuesday in a videotaped confession that he would've killed everyone in the building if he'd had a machine gun, a Georgia prosecutor said.
Joseph Pallipurath, 27, admitted to Sunday's shooting rampage, which also seriously wounded a third person, hours after he surrendered peacefully at a Georgia motel, Walton County Assistant District Attorney Eric Crawford said.

"He was very emotional and very animated during the course of the interview," Crawford said. "The impression I got was he was waiting to talk to somebody and tell his side of the story."
Pallipurath told authorities he believed church members were blocking his attempts to contact his wife, who had left him three months ago, Crawford said. The prosecutor added that Pallipurath didn't apologize or express remorse for the shootings.
He was arrested late Monday in Monroe, about 40 miles east of Atlanta, after a motel clerk recognized his face from a photograph. During a court appearance Tuesday, he wore a blue jumpsuit and answered only "yes" and "no" when the judge asked him about his charges and extradition process. Pallipurath, who had no attorney, agreed to return to New Jersey.
The Sacramento, Calif., man is charged with shooting and killing his wife, 24-year-old Reshma James, inside the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, a suburb about 15 miles west of Manhattan. Prosecutors said James had previously taken out a restraining order against Pallipurath.
Also killed was Dennis John Mallosseril, who maintained the church's Web site. Witnesses said he tried to intervene.

Based on Pallipurath's statement to Georgia authorities, police in Clifton found his green Jeep parked in a public lot several blocks from the church, Clifton Detective Capt. Robert Rowan said. Inside the vehicle were a revolver believed to be the one used in the shootings and an automatic handgun with several clips of ammunition, Rowan said.
After learning from Georgia authorities about Pallipurath's comments regarding what he would have done with a higher-powered weapon, Rowan said: "I thought, 'It's lucky that we didn't have a mass murder on our hands.'"
The parish priest, the Rev. Thomas Abraham, said church members were thankful for Pallipurath's capture. At the church Tuesday, workers replaced bloodstained carpet where the shootings occurred.
"It's a big relief because of the fear factor," he said. "If he was still in the area, you never know if he might come back."
Police believe Pallipurath took a taxi to Manhattan and caught a bus from there to Georgia, where he has relatives, Rowan said.

Pallipurath is charged in New Jersey with the two homicides, one attempted homicide plus aggravated assault and weapons charges, Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said. Georgia authorities said they would arrange his return to New Jersey within the next 10 days.
The prosecutor also gave new details Tuesday morning about Pallipurath's path leading up to the slayings.
Pallipurath's wife had come to New Jersey to stay with her cousin three months ago to escape what relatives said was an abusive marriage to Pallipurath. The couple was married just over a year ago in India and moved to Sacramento in January.
For about two weeks before Sunday, Pallipurath stayed with an unidentified couple in Paterson, only a few miles from the church. Avigliano didn't provide details about the couple, a man and a woman, but said it did not appear that they were related to him.
The couple was questioned but were not charged in connection with the shootings.
Associated Press Writer David Porter in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-26 03:30:48

We should still pray for all those involved as God's Grace extends to all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Man Killed Outside Scientology Building

A man holds up police tape on the grounds of the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. A sword-wielding man in his 40s was shot and killed outside the building by a security guard on Sunday.

Man Killed Outside Scientology Building AP
posted: 1 DAY 2 HOURS AGOcomments: 396filed under: Crime News, National News

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 24) - Police said a man who waved a pair of Samurai swords on the grounds of a Hollywood Scientology building had a "previous relationship" to the church, but released little other information about the man shot and killed by a security guard.

The unidentified man, described as being in his 40s, approached three guards Sunday in the parking lot of the Scientology Celebrity Centre, Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara said.
The man was "close enough to hurt them" when one of the guards shot him, Hara said, and after questioning the guards and looking at surveillance tape decided the shooting was justified.
"The evidence itself, it's very, very clear," Hara said. "The security officers were defending their safety."
Police said the tape showed the man appearing at about noon in a red convertible, then approaching the guards with a sword in each hand before he was shot, Hara said.
Detective Wendi Berndt told the Los Angeles Times the man had been involved with the church in the past.

"There was a previous relationship, but it is unclear to what degree," Berndt said.
Calls to Scientology representatives on Sunday were not returned.
The Celebrity Centre includes a seven-story Norman-revival landmark that towers over the Hollywood freeway and used to be a residential hotel for movie stars.
The castle-like facility now serves as "a home for the artist, a place where he can come and learn, attend seminars, meet other artists and even perform at our many showcases and events," according to the Centre's Web site.
The Church of Scientology was established in 1945 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-24 06:12:09

More On The New Jersey Church Shooting

Cops Nab Church Shooting Suspect
posted: 6 HOURS 7 MINUTES AGOcomments: 1712filed under: Crime News, National News

NEW YORK (Nov. 24) – A California man accused of driving to New Jersey and fatally shooting his estranged wife and another man inside a church has been captured in Georgia.
Joseph M. Pallipurath was arrested around midnight Monday in Monroe, east of Atlanta, said New Jersey district U.S. Marshal James Plousis.

Pallipurath, of Sacramento, is suspected of shooting and killing 24-year-old Reshma James inside the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, a suburb about 15 miles west of Manhattan.
Also killed was Dennis John Mallosseril, who maintained the church's Web site. Witnesses said had tried to intervene and break up the church rampage.
A third person, James' cousin, Silvy Perincheril, was shot in the head and was hospitalized in critical condition. James had taken out a restraining order against Pallipurath, prosecutors said.
In California, the suspect's father had called on him to surrender, as did relatives of one of the victims in New Jersey.
All three victims were shot once in the head and didn't regain consciousness, depriving investigators of the opportunity to interview them. James died at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and Mallosseril died three hours later.

The search for Pallipurath, who fled in a vehicle with California license plates, had centered on Georgia, where he has relatives, prosecutors said.
Pallipurath is accused of opening fire Sunday just as the congregation was finishing its prayers for the dead, a staple of weekly worship service. Authorities say he fired more than three times but only three people were hit. No one else was injured.
After fleeing three months ago from what relatives said was an abusive, arranged marriage in California, James moved to New Jersey and stayed with Perincheril, who lives in Hawthorne.
The couple were married just over a year ago in India and moved to Sacramento in January.
Reshma's aunt Maria Joseph, of Hartford, Conn., said she warned her niece, who was studying to become a nurse, not to marry him. Other relatives told her the man had a history of "behavioral problems," Joseph said.

Mathai Pallipurath, the suspect's father, said he thought his son and daughter-in-law were happy together, and he described his son as "handsome" and "a nice guy."
According to a published report, however, the elder Pallipurath was granted a restraining order against his son in May. The father said Joseph was abusive to family members and had threatened his life.
In the story posted on its Web site Monday, The Sacramento Bee, citing family court records, said the restraining order was dropped at Mathai Pallipurath's request on June 17. Mathai Pallipurath was not available later Monday to comment on the report. A man who answered the phone at the family's Sacramento home Monday evening said he did not wish to speak further.

The shootings have reverberated throughout the Knanaya faith, a close-knit Christian minority in India who are even closer-knit in the United States.
The parish priest, Rev. Thomas Abraham, said he heard a loud noise and thought something had fallen in the church. He got up to go toward the noise, only to be hit with a wave of parishioners pushing him backward, saying someone was shooting inside the sanctuary.
He said church members were in shock.
"They're all scared; they're all really upset," he said. "We have to hold together in this time of adversity."
Associated Press writers Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, Bonny Ghosh and Victor Epstein in Clifton and Judy Lin in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this story.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-23 16:58:36

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bruce Springsteen And Songs Of Hope And Redemption

First things first if you didn't see the Larry Norman videos in this post:TheoPoetic Musings: It's Time: Week 9---Hope---here they are:

Larry Norman - 1985 - Medley---Letter to the Church, Come Away, If the Bombs Fall

Larry Norman - 1980 - Why Can't You be Good & Pardon Me

Anyways, here are 4 other Bruce Springsteen songs, which are full of hope, lost hope and redemption: Thunder Road, Born to Run, Badlands and The River. Here are the videos with relevant sections of the lyrics:

Here is a good section:
...Don't run back inside
darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me

You can hide 'neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now I'm no hero
That's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl
Is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window
And let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back
Heaven's waiting on down the tracks
Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it's late we can make it if we run
Oh Thunder Road, sit tight take hold
Thunder Road

(Read the full lyrics: Here).

Here is a relevant section of the lyrics:
In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims
and strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
We'll run till we drop, baby we'll never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
'Cause baby I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild
girl I want to know if love is real

(Read the rest: Here).

Here is the best section:
...Workin' in the fields
till you get your back burned
Workin' 'neath the wheel
till you get your facts learned
Baby I got my facts
learned real good right now
You better get it straight darling
Poor man wanna be rich,
rich man wanna be king
And a king ain't satisfied
till he rules everything
I wanna go out tonight,
I wanna find out what I got
Well I believe in the love that you gave me

I believe in the love that you gave me
I believe in the faith that could save me
I believe in the hope
and I pray that some day
It may raise me above these

Badlands, you gotta live it everyday
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you've gotta pay
We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good

(Read the rest: Here).

Here is the section to watch out for:
I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

But I remember us riding in my brother's car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight...

(Read the full lyrics: Here).

I'll let you draw your own conclusions this time around.

Faith and Theology: Iron & Wine and Augustine: on grace and mothers

Faith and Theology: Iron & Wine and Augustine: on grace and mothers

These type posts are always interesting to me as the connection between theology, spirituality and music are my forte.

Here is snippet of Faith And Theology's new post:


Iron & Wine and Augustine: on grace and mothers
One of Augustine’s favourite biblical texts was Paul’s question to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:7): “What do you have that you did not receive?” – Quid enim habebat quod non acceperat? Against Pelagian conceptions of grace, Augustine insists on the absolute priority of God’s action towards us in Christ. Even when God rewards us for good works, God is merely “crowning his own gifts.” There is, in other words, a sheer incommensurability between God’s gift to us and the gifts that we return to God. Even the best of our gifts are always derivative and dependent on the grace that we have already received.
Read more at the above link.

It's Time: Week 9---Hope

So this Sunday was the end of our church-wide series, It's Time and our last lesson was on hope, which I think is appropriate for these troubling times. In Sunday School, we discussed how hope has changed for us from when we were children till now. First, while we're on the subject of hope, I just want to say that I hope to start writing poetry and lyrics again next year as this year has been a dry period for me. You'd think with all that's been going on this year, I could find plenty of inspiration, but no such luck. Anyway, I've mainly been writing theological articles this year, but here is the only thing poetical/lyrical I've written all year: It's Larry Norman influenced:

Baby, you look so lonely
I’ve seen you in all those magazines
You’ve been living for fashion
Traveling all those party scenes
But you look so empty…you don’t know what to do
I think it’s about time that you look into the Truth

I’ve got the answer…right here on my lips
Have a little bit of Jesus…He’s sealed with a kiss

Now, you once were in Vegas
You played a Full House in your deck
And you once were one of Degas’ dancers
So graceful in your dress and steps
But now you look such a wreck…you don’t know what to do
I think it’s about time that you look into the Truth

I’ve got the answer…right here on my lips
Have a little bit of Jesus…He’s sealed with a kiss

Well, Baby…what are you doing
Doing with yourself
You can’t keep running back to the same ole things
With your heart upon the shelf
Baby, you really need to change

Because Baby, you look so lonely
I’ve seen you in all those magazines
You’ve been living for fashion
Traveling all those party scenes
But you look so empty…you don’t know what to do
I think it’s about time that you look into the Truth

I’ve got the answer…right here on my lips
Have a little bit of Jesus…He’s sealed with a kiss

Yes, I said: “I’ve got the answer…right here on my lips
Have a little bit of Jesus…He’s sealed with a kiss

©2008 T/H Songs, INC. & GB Lyrics, CO

Also, I'd like to direct you readers to my cyber friend, Bruce Reyes-Chow's excellent Podcast from January of this year on the subject of hope---specifically about hope within the PCUSA as he is the Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but the Podcast ties in well with our lesson. Here is the description of Bruce's Podcast off his Podcast Blog: "Hope---Bruce talks a bit about Hope plus the Song by David LaMotte." Oh by the way, thanks for stopping by this post: TheoPoetic Musings: It's Time: Weeks 5 And 6, Bruce!

From one Bruce to another---here's a Bruce Springsteen song that gets to the heart of our discussion in Sunday School and speaks to these times of economic difficulties: Here are the full lyrics with my commentary on the relevant parts:
The Promised Land
(Bruce Springsteen)

On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert
I pick up my money and head back into town
Driving cross the Waynesboro county line
I got the radio on and I'm just killing time
Working all day in my daddy's garage
Driving all night chasing some mirage
Pretty soon little girl I'm gonna take charge

The dogs on Main Street howl
'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land (The chorus particularly speaks to hope in the midst of desperate times.)

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this whole town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start (Here the call to a new start is the key to putting hope in action.)


There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted (Here the hopeful action takes place.)

I believe in a promised land... (The refrain ties the narrator to the Ancient Israelites and their search for the Promise Land though sometimes our own "Promise Lands" are right before our eyes but we wander blindly and aimlessly pass them.)

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Speaking of the Promise Land, here's a song by Rich Mullins (one of the most prolific songwriters to come out of the Contempory Christian Music/Jesus Movement, in my humble opinion) off his last album, The Jesus Record which captures the hope the Ancient Israelites had:

The original version on Disc One: The Jesus Demos is better, but I couldn't find a video for that. Here are the full lyrics to the above song:
My Deliverer

(Rich Mullins and Mitch McVicker)

Exodus 2:23, Exodus 3:8, Second Samuel 22:1-7
Psalm 40:16-17, Psalm 70, Isaiah 53:5
Matthew 2:13-21, Luke 4:18-19, Revelation 6:13

Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa
To escape the rage of a deadly king
There along the banks of the Nile, Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing
They were singin'

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

Through a dry and thirsty land, water from the Kenyon heights
Pours itself out of Lake Sangra's broken heart
There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry
For the healing that would flow from His own scars
The world was singing

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
He will never break His promise - He has written it upon the sky
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
I will never doubt His promise though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
He will never break His promise though the stars should break faith with the sky
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

My Deliverer is coming

The Jesus Record is a great album so if you don't have a copy---get one. Anyways, hope was a great theme to end our series with as we are approaching Advent season.

Malaysian Council Bans Yoga for Muslims

John MacArthur surely would agree with this---after all he said that 'all Christians need for meditation is the bible,' so why not the Koran for Muslims. Here is a clip of John MacArthur telling Doug Pagitt that some aspects are dangerous for Christians as they may welcome demons into their life:

John also said why borrow a term from a false pagan religion. Well there goes the idol and false god of John MacArthur, the manmade pages of the bible---after all, the Greek word "biblos" from which the word bible derives was invented by Zeus-worshiping Greeks. The pagan Egyptians invented paper and not to mention the pagan and imperialistic terms which the Gospels themselves are comprised of. What do you expect from people who worship manmade paper and 'golden' calfskin leather instead of the One True Risen and Living God, Jesus Christ. Anyways, sorry for getting sidetracked---here is the full article on the Muslim ban on Yoga:
Malaysian Council Bans Yoga for MuslimsBy VIJAY JOSHI, AP
posted: 1 DAY 22 HOURS AGOcomments: 169filed under: World News

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Nov. 22) — Malaysia's top Islamic body, fresh from banning tomboys, issued an edict Saturday that prohibits Muslims from practicing yoga, saying that elements of Hinduism in the ancient Indian exercise could corrupt them.
The National Fatwa Council's chairman, Abdul Shukor Husin, said many Muslims fail to understand that yoga's ultimate aim is to be one with a god of a different religion — an explanation disputed by many practitioners who say yoga need not have a religious element.

"We are of the view that yoga, which originates from Hinduism, combines physical exercise, religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to be one with god," Abdul Shukor said.
News of the yoga ban prompted activist Marina Mahathir to wonder what the council will ban next: "What next? Gyms? Most gyms have men and women together. Will that not be allowed any more?"
The edict reflects the growing influence of conservative Islam in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic country of 27 million people where the majority Muslim Malays lost seats in March elections and where minority ethnic Chinese and mostly Hindu ethnic Indians have been clamoring for more rights.
Recently, the council said girls who act like boys violate Islam's tenets. The government has also occasionally made similar conservative moves, banning the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims earlier this year, saying it would confuse Muslims.
Analysts say the fatwa could be the result of insecurity among Malay Muslims after their party — in power since 1957 — saw its parliamentary majority greatly reduced in elections because of gains by multiracial opposition parties.
Malay Muslims make up about two-thirds of the country's 27 million people. About 25 percent of the population is ethnic Chinese and 8 percent is ethnic Indian, most of whom are Hindu.

"They are making a stand. They are saying 'we will not give way,'" said Ooi Kee Beng, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
Decisions by Malaysia's Fatwa Council are not legally binding on the country's Muslims, however, unless they also become enshrined in national or Shariah laws. But many Muslims abide by the edicts out of deference, but some, like Putri Rahim, plan not to follow the latest fatwa.
"I am mad! Maybe they have it in mind that Islam is under threat. To come out with a fatwa is an insult to intelligent Muslims. It's an insult to my belief," said Putri, a Muslim who has practiced yoga for 10 years.
In recent years, yoga — a collection of spiritual and physical practices, aimed at integrating mind, body and spirit — has been increasingly practiced in gyms and dedicated yoga centers around the world.
There are no figures for how many Muslims practice yoga in Malaysia, but many yoga classes have Muslims attending.
In the United States, where it has become so popular that many public schools began offering it in gym classes, yoga has also come under fire.
Some Christian fundamentalists and even secular parents have argued that yoga's Hindu roots conflict with Christian teachings and that using it in school might violate the separation of church and state. Egypt's highest theological body also banned yoga for Muslims in 2004.

Yoga drew the attention of the Fatwa Council last month when an Islamic scholar said that it was un-Islamic.
A top yoga practitioner in India, Mani Chaitanya, said the Malaysian clerics seem to have "misunderstood the whole thing." Chanting during yoga is to calm the mind and "elevate our consciousness," said Chaitanya, the director of the Sivananda Ashram in New Delhi.
"It is not worship. It's not religious at all. Yoga is universal. All religions can practice yoga. You can practice yoga and still be a good Christian or a good Muslim," he said.
Malaysian yoga teacher Suleiha Merican, 56, who has been practicing yoga for 40 years, also denied there is any Hindu spiritual element to it. "It's a great health science that is scientifically proven and many countries have accepted it" as alternative therapy, said Merican, a Muslim.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur and Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-22 14:33:54

Obama Skips Church for Gym

I'm a firm believer that the church is a group of people and wherever the work of Christ is being done and not specifically a building or ritualistic services---but even-so this doesn't bode well for a Christian President Elect. I understand that there are pressures from both sides of the fence, but anyways here is the full article---let me know what you think:
Obama Skips Church for Gym
posted: 3 HOURS 58 MINUTES AGOcomments: 3783filed under: Political News, The Obama Presidency

(Nov. 23) - Since the election, future President Barack Obama has traded Sunday morning pews for some quality time at the gym.
The Obamas have refrained from public prayer for fear their large retinue would disturb the church service, according to an anonymous aide who spoke with

"They do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw," said the aide, according to Politico.
Since the election, Obama has been focusing on building his administration team. Monday, he introduced members of his economic team, and urged the incoming Congress to act quickly on a stimulus plan.

The Obamas haven't belonged to a church since the spring, notes ABC News, after Barack Obama split with Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ because of controversial sermons by the pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. A videotape from one of Wright's sermons showed him damning America.

Churches, especially African-American houses of prayer, played an important role in Obama's candidacy, notes the Associated Press and Politico. Obama made campaign stops in churches. Congregations prayed for him on Election Day, and celebrated his victory, the Associated Press reported.

Now, churches in Washington, D.C., are scrambling to lure the Obamas to their pews, reports the Associated Press -- even if Obama hasn't attended church in weeks.
2008 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
2008-11-24 09:51:28

Teen 'Buddha' Returns to Jungle

Teen 'Buddha' Returns to Jungle By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, AP
posted: 1 DAY 23 HOURS AGOcomments: 437filed under: World NewsWith HP wireless printers, you could have printed this from any room in the house. Live wirelessly. Print wirelessly.
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KATMANDU, Nepal (Nov. 22) - A Nepalese teenager revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha has returned to the jungle to meditate after emerging for less than two weeks, officials said Saturday.
Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, reappeared on Nov. 10 after several months of meditation to bless thousands of his followers, speaking to them on at least two occasions.
He made his last appearance on Friday and then returned to the jungle to meditate, said Biswo Prakash Newpane, a government administrator in the area. It was not clear when he would return again.
His followers lined up near the jungle of Ratanpur, about 100 miles south of Katmandu, to be blessed by Bamjan. He tapped the believers on their forehead but did not speak to them individually.
The followers believe he has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Believers say he spent months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.
Buddhism, which has about 325 million followers, teaches that every soul is reincarnated after death in another bodily form.
But several Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims that Bamjan is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha, or Enlightened One.
Rakesh, a Buddhist scholar, told The Associated Press last week that being Buddha means the last birth and the highest level that can be achieved and there can be no reincarnation of Buddha, even though Buddhists believe in life after death.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-22 16:40:35

1,800-Year-Old Chariot Unearthed

1,800-Year-Old Chariot Unearthed
posted: 2 DAYS 18 HOURS AGOcomments: 387filed under: Science News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

SOFIA, Bulgaria (Nov. 21) - Archaeologists have unearthed an elaborately decorated 1,800-year-old chariot sheathed in bronze at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Friday.
"The lavishly ornamented four-wheel chariot dates back to the end of the second century A.D.," Veselin Ignatov told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the site, near the southeastern village of Karanovo.
But he said archaeologists were struggling to keep up with looters, who often ransack ancient sites before the experts can get to them.
The bronze-plated wooden chariot is decorated with scenes from Thracian mythology, including figures of a jumping panther and the carving of a mythological animal with the body of a panther and the tail of a dolphin, Ignatov said.
He said the chariot, with wheels measuring four feet across, was found during excavations in a funerary mound that archaeologists believe was the grave of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat, as he was buried along with his belongings.
The team also unearthed well-preserved wooden and leather objects, some of which the archaeologists believe were horse harnesses. The remains of horses were uncovered nearby.
In August, excavations at another ancient Thracian tomb in the same region revealed another four-wheel chariot. Daniela Agre, a senior archaeologist at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, had said at the time that it was the first time a completely preserved chariot had been found in Bulgaria. She said previous excavations had only unearthed single parts of chariots — often because ancient sites had been looted.
Some 10,000 Thracian mounds — part of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across the country.Ignatov said up to 90 percent of the tombs in the region have been completely or partially destroyed by treasure hunters who smuggle the most precious objects abroad.
He said the country's Culture Ministry granted $12,500 for the excavation.
"The money is badly needed because we are in an uneven race with looters who are often better equipped than our teams," he said.
First mentioned in Homer's "Iliad" as allies of Troy, the Thracians were an Indo-European nomadic people who settled in the central Balkans around 5,000 years ago. They were conquered by Rome in the 1st century, and were assimilated by invading Slav peoples in the 6th century. They had no written language, and so left no records.
Fierce warriors and horse-breeders, the Thracians were also skilled goldsmiths. They established a powerful kingdom in the 5th century B.C. Its capital was thought to be Seutopolis, whose ancient ruins lie under a large artificial lake near Shipka, in an area dubbed "the Bulgarian Valley of Kings" for its many rich tombs.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-21 17:43:51

Genesis And Theistic Evolution: Part 3

Sorry for the wait, but here's the conclusion to my post series on Genesis and Theistic Evolution. Here are the other two posts on the subject for those catching up:

TheoPoetic Musings: Genesis And Theistic Evolution: Part 1

TheoPoetic Musings: Genesis And Theistic Evolution: Part 2

Anyways, here is one interesting interpretation of Genesis that comes from the Jewish Midrash---Genesis Rabbah 8.1 and Rashi:

IV. “The First Human was Created Androgynous”: Two Creations or One Creation?

Shortly before the verse discussed in our earlier study (HY VIII: Bereshit), in which a man leaves his parents to cleave to his wife and to become one flesh, we read of the creation of the first woman from man. After God brings all of the various animals and beasts before Adam as potential companions, without success (although Adam does give each one a suitable name), God casts a deep sleep upon him:

Gen 2:21. “And the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon the man, and he slept, and he took one of his tzela’ot (ribs? limbs? sides?) and closed the flesh beneath it.” Rashi: “One of his tzela’ot.” From his side, as in the verse, “And on the side (tzela’) of the Tabernacle” [Exod 26:20]. This is what we have said: They were created with two faces/sides.
This verse is often thought of in modern times as the height of male chauvinism, establishing the inferiority of woman by the fact that she was fashioned from man. But Rashi—who is very brief here, if not cryptic—clearly states that this is not so: the word צלע, often translated in the Christian tradition as “rib,” in fact means “side” or “half” of the body; a proof-text is invoked from the description of the construction of the Sanctuary in the wilderness. The original human had two sides; one became man, the other woman. Hence, there is no inherent inferiority to woman; man and woman were created as equal in stature.

To understand this motif more clearly, let us examine Rashi’s sources. This is based a midrashic motif that appears in several different places—Genesis Rabbah 8.1; Lev. Rab. 14.1; Midrash Shohar Tov (Tehillim) 139.5; b. Berakhot 61a; b. Eruvin 18a; and, in truncated form in a halakhic discussion, at Ketubot 8a—each with certain variations.

Genesis Rabbah 8.1. “Fore and aft You have created me” [Ps 139:5]… R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: When God created the first man, he created him androgynous. Of this it is written, “Male and female he created them… and he called their name Adam” [Gen 5:2]. R. Shmuel b. Nahman said: When God created the first man, He created him diprisophon (i.e., with two faces), and severed him and made him two backs—one back facing this way, and one back the other. They challenged him: But is it not written, “And he took one of his tzela’ot” [Gen 2:21]? He replied: [One] of his two sides (sitrohi), as one says, “And the side (tzela’) of the Sanctuary” [Exod 26:20], and its [Aramaic] translation is, velistar mishkena.
How are we to imagine this first human being? Like Siamese twins, with two heads, four arms and four legs, and two torsos, who simply needed to be separated into two individuals? And were they, perhaps, in sexual embrace (“the beast with the two backs”), whom could reasonably be described as Siamese twins joined at the genitals? According to one midrash, particularly beloved by some of our latter-day prophets of a re-eroticized Judaism, the Roman invaders were scandalized upon breaking into the Holy of Holies to discover that the cherubs that crowned the Holy Ark were representations of a male and female figure in intimate embrace. Or was he/she, as the word androgynous is used today, a single individual, with a dual sexual nature?

It seems significant that, in the versions from the great midrashic collections, such as that quoted above, the sexually androgynous nature of the human being is but one of many dualities mentioned, alongside moral, existential and philosophic dualities, all of them inferred from the verse “fore and aft You have formed me.” (For a fuller discussion of this passage see HY III: Bereshit, or Bereshit (Midrash) in the blog archives for October 2005)

I will begin my discussion by reiterating a point I have often made in the past: midrash is to be read, not as a literal account of events, but as myth, in the positive sense: as an image, a paradigm, used to convey some universal, eternal truth about human beings or the world. To say that something is myth is not to dismiss it as untrue, but to acknowledge that it expresses a depth-insight that cannot be expressed as well in conceptual language. The question then, as Levinas would say, is what issue is being discussed by the rabbis in the guise of this seemingly mythical language?

What, precisely, is the point of the distinction between “androgynous” (or “hermaphrodite”) and diprosaphon or du-partzufi (i.e., Janus faced?) in the Talmudic reading of this midrash? I read the idea of the first human being as androgynous as suggesting that the archetypal human being transcends sexuality, so that each of the two sexes represents only a part of the full range of human capacities. The primal androgynous represents an ideal image of humanity, combining the ideal characteristics of both sexes (bracketing the contemporary issues as to whether these are innate or “cultural constructs,” and certainly whether they are “politically correct”): initiative, abstract intellectual qualities, creativity, physical strength, leadership qualities, “conquering worlds,” of the male; and the more nurturing, intuitive, tender, intimate, home-building qualities, connected to the stuff of life itself, and typically more readily sacrificing self for others, of the female. (These spiritual qualities seem to be symbolized by the Kabbalistic identification of male and female with the qualities of mind known as hokhmah and binah, “Wisdom” and “Understanding/Intuition”; sexual union, known as da’at, “knowledge, is simultaneously a merger or synthesis of the two. See Chapter 1 of Pseudo-Ramban’s Iggeret ha-Kodesh.) Of course, no individual embodies all of these qualities. Their presence in the paradigmatic Adam suggests that neither sex is sufficient unto itself. The fully human is a synthesis of the two, that doesn’t exist in realty, but only in the archetypal world of the Golden Age, of Creation itself.

The du-partzufi image, on the other hand, suggests two fully-formed individuals, man and woman, who were originally joined and then, as part of their creation, severed in two. Here the emphasis is on man/woman as an incomplete creature, who seeks completion through mating with a partner, who is so-to-speak a lost part of himself. Or shall we say, rather, that human life is a constant two-step dance of uniting and parting, autonomy and togetherness, the relationship/community of man and woman being a basic, elemental part of world. (An interesting Jerusalemite strictly-Orthodox female Kabbalah teacher and scholar, Sarah Yehudit Schneider, has written at length about these issues in her Kabbalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine and Feminine)

I see at least three basic ideas implied by these midrashim:

1. The basic common humanity of man and woman. The differences between the sexes, insofar as based on status or power, are temporary imperfections (even if long-standing in terms of historical time), and not innate. The curse of Eve, as the origin of male supremacy, is a fault in the world as we know it.

2. Sexual attraction as a search for a lost part of oneself. Elsewhere (at the end of b. Kiddushin) Hazal compare a man’s quest for a mate to that of one seeking a lost article. Marriage, and its sexual consummation, is a restoration of the primordial state of oneness. That is why various firms of solipsistic sexual gratification—i.e., those oriented toward self-pleasure alone—are seen as contradicting this verse (see Sanhedrin 58a-b, where the entire Noachide teaching on sexuality is learned from Gen 2:24).

3. Male and female are present in the psyche of each person (as in the Jungian notion of the animus and the anima, a part within the psyche representing the opposite sex within the individual’s own identity). Hence male and female, man and woman, are not exclusively, or even primarily, biological, physical concepts, but spiritual definitions. Each is a component of the “full stature” of humanity. Therefore, a person must seek wholeness not only through personal integration, but through his relationship with a partner.

In the Talmudic discussion, two further elements are introduced: were man and woman created in one act of creation, or in two separate acts? (Some say that the third and fourth of the seven nuptial blessings allude to these two aspects of human creation.) And was the “side” or “rib” from which Eve was created a face or a tail? At first blush, the latter view sounds like an insult to woman. But Emmanuel Levinas, in his Nine Talmudic Readings (Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana U. Pr., 1990, pp. 161-177), suggests that the issue here is whether the essence of sexuality has to do with a spiritual difference between man and woman, something about the human essence of each, or whether the difference between them is in fact a strictly biological, functional difference, relating to the “lower” functions of the body—what is referred to in the Talmudic versions as “the tail.” That is, the point is not that woman is “tail-like,” but that she shares in the full, singular humanity of man, and it is only their relatively marginal biological functioning that makes the sexes different.

An Interesting Postscript:

Just over six months ago, I was present at a wedding at which Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat recited the fourth of the seven blessings. He made a small but significant departure change from the usual version of this blessing, printed in all the Siddurim and “benchers.” Rather than the traditional:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם, אשר יצר את האדם בצלמו, בצלם דמות תבניתו, והתקין לו ממנו בנין עדי עד. ברוך אתה ה' יוצר האדם. Blessed are You, O Lord God King of the universe, who has formed man in His image, in the image and likeness of His pattern, and created for him an eternal building. Blessed are You, who forms man.
He read:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם, אשר יצר את האדם בצלמו, ובצלם דמות תבניתו התקין לו ממנו בנין עדי עד. ברוך אתה ה' יוצר האדם. Blessed are You, O Lord God King of the universe, who has formed man in His image, and in the image and likeness of his pattern created for him an eternal building. Blessed are You, who forms man.
By moving the conjunctive letter vav, and thus grouping the phrases together differently, the whole syntax of this sentence changes. It is clear in the latter version that woman is not merely an appendage of man created to provide as a “eternal building”—in vulgar terms, a breeding machine, a source of ongoing offspring and thus eternal continuity—but herself made in the Divine image and likeness just as is man. This change is highly significant—far more egalitarian, and portraying the relationship between the sexes in far more complementary terms.

Though I had heard about this alternative reading, I had until then never heard it recited publicly nor seen it in print. I approached Rav Riskin afterwards to ask him about this, and he explained that he had learned this reading from Rav Soloveitchik, and that other students of Rav Soloveitchik (including Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, who was also present at this wedding) also used it. It seems clear that this reading is as ancient and legitimate as the more familiar one. Later, I consulted the article in Encyclopaedia Talmudica (IV.646) on Birkat Hatanim, where I found the sources for this alternative reading given as Semag, Aseh §48, citing R. Saadia Gaon.

(Read more: Here).

See also: "Androgyne
Androgyne derives from two Greek words, but makes its first appearance as a compound word in Rabbinic Judaism (see, e.g., Genesis Rabba 8.1; Leviticus Rabba 14.1), most probably as an alternative to the Greek Pagan-related usage of hermaphrodite." And: Some thoughts on gender and Judaism. Last but not least I defer you to an earlier post of mine for an evolutionary reading of Genesis: TheoPoetic Musings: Fundie Nuts Vs. Harry Emerson Fosdick.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Deadly Shooting At Church Service

200 People Were Inside
Gunman Opens Fire in New Jersey Church AP
posted: 54 MINUTES AGOcomments: 425filed under: Crime News, National NewsPrintShareText SizeAAACLIFTON, N.J. (Nov. 23) – A gunman entered a northern New Jersey church during Sunday services and shot three people in the vestibule, killing his estranged wife and injuring the other two before fleeing, authorities said.
'I Came to Take My Wife'

Police were searching for 27-year-old Joseph M. Pallipurath of Sacramento, Calif., after the shooting at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton. He was last seen driving a green Jeep Wrangler, police said.
Detective Capt. Robert Rowan told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the victim, 24-year-old Reshma James, had recently moved from California to escape an abusive marriage and had filed a restraining order against Pallipurath.
When he came to into the church, Pallipurath said "I came to take my wife," a witness told The Star-Ledger. Authorities believe he acted alone.
About 200 people were attending services in the sanctuary of the church, whose members are mostly first-generation Indian immigrants and their children.
All three victims were shot in the head, Rowan said. The other two victims, a 47-year-old woman and 23-year-old man, were in critical condition, he told the newspaper.
A spokeswoman for St. Joseph's Medical in Paterson, where the victims were being treated, declined to comment on their conditions.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-11-23 16:58:36

Lets pray for the victim, the felon and their families after such a tragic loss.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

FBC-Wilmington's Statement Of Faith...

Fundamentalism Free...

See for yourself here:

Our Mission and Vision

“Heritage & Hope”

Standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us, and believing that the best is yet to be for our congregation, we the members of First Baptist Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, commit to living out the following:

Our Mission: To honor God by becoming and helping others to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Our Vision: To become a community of believers that is open and welcoming to
anyone, no matter where they are on their faith journey, and is intentionally joining with Christ in his redemptive work and purposes in the world.

Our Core Values: We are intentional in our efforts to be …

* BIBLICAL - We believe the Bible is true and that its teaching is the catalyst for life-change in an individual's life and in the church. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:22-25; Hebrews 4:12; Acts 20:32)

* EVANGELISTIC - We believe unchurched people matter to God, and therefore ought to matter to the church. (Luke 5:30-32; Luke 15; Matthew 18:14)

* RELEVANT - We believe the church should be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally sound. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

* TRANSFORMATIONAL - We believe followers of Jesus should live authentic Christian lives and strive for continuous spiritual growth. (Ephesians 4:25-26 & 32; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 12:1)

* PURPOSEFUL - We believe the church is a unified community of servants, each one exercising their unique spiritual gifts, and structured according to the nature and mission of the church. (Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12 & 14; I Peter 4:10, I Peter 5; Acts 6:2-5)

* LOVING - We believe loving relationships should permeate every aspect of church life. (1 Corinthians 13)

* RELATIONAL - We believe life-change happens best through relationships. (Acts 2:44-47)

* EXCELLENT - We believe excellence honors God and inspires people. (Philippians 3:12-16; Colossians 3:17; Proverbs 27:17)

* SPIRITUAL - We believe the pursuit of full devotion to Christ and His cause is expected of every believer. (Philippians 2:1-11)

* FREE – We believe in religious liberty for all people, the separation of church and state, and the autonomy of the local church. (Galatians 5:1; Matthew 22:21)

FBC-Wilmington Changes Website Design

After a long time of non-existent updates, FBC-Wilmington decides to overhaul it's web design. I can't help but wonder whether the decision was made to draw back the youth and young adults that we lost to a local popular church, Port City Community Church . The feeling of competition between the two churches seems to have been long-standing since when Port City began building it's multi-million dollar "compound," our church decided to renovate our Activity Center---this adds to the feeling of competition, when there doesn't need to be.

Our church is a free church that leaves room for dissent on any topic we as a whole profess other than the confession that Jesus is Lord, whereas Port City is a subtly Fundamentalist church. On the surface, one may not notice any presence of fundamentalism at Port City---what with it's contemporary worship services and pop praise choruses, but when one digs deeper beyond all the glitz and glam---we get to the hidden fundamentalism. From the What We Believe section:
Our mission is not to get people to believe a certain way, but to help you walk with God. But it is important to nail down some of the core beliefs that keep us centered and focused. What you will read in our statement of faith is just an affirmation of Historical Christianity and we understand that we are just a continuation of what God has already been doing.

Notice how almost all fundamentalists believe that the man-made beliefs that were invented in the 19th century have always been professed by Christians through the centuries. In the Our Beliefs subsection the bible like in all fundamentalist statements of faith comes before the Triune God. Here is what is written about the bible:
The sole basis of our belief is the Bible, composed of 66 books of the Old and New Testament. We believe that Scripture in its entirety originated with God and that it was given through the instrumentality of chosen men. Scripture, thus at one and the same time, speaks with the authority of God and reflects the backgrounds, styles, and vocabularies of the human authors. We hold that the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts. They are the unique, full, and final authority on all matters of faith and practice, and there are no other writings similarly inspired by God.

Notice that instead of Christ the Risen Lord being the sole basis of belief---the bible, a human object, takes Christ's place. Also, we see the absurd man-made belief in inerrancy in the above section. In the section on Jesus, the substitutionary theory of the Atonement is subtly professed in this statement: Jesus..."voluntarily atoned for the sins of all by dying on the cross as their substitute, thus satisfying divine justice..." without mentioning other valid theories such as the much older and scripturally based Christus Victor theory of the Atonement. Finally in the Faith and Practice section, one notices scripture again takes Jesus' place:
Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. This church recognizes that it cannot bind the conscience of individual members in areas where Scripture is silent. Rather, each believer is to be led in those areas by the Lord, to whom he or she is ultimately responsible. We believe the Statement of Faith to be an accurate summary of what Scripture teaches. All members shall refrain from advocating doctrines that are not included in the Statement of Faith in such a way as to cause dissension.

Scripture states that Jesus has "all authority"---nowhere in the bible do we find that the scriptures have any authority much-less the "final authority" on anything. Any authority the scriptures are afforded are accorded to them by Christ via the Holy Spirit. The last sentence says it all---no dissent allowed or as Harry Emerson Fosdick might say: “Come, and we will feed you opinions from a spoon. No thinking is allowed here except such as brings you to certain specified, predetermined conclusions (our personal opinions of what Christianity looks like). These prescribed opinions we will give you in advance of your thinking; now think, but only so as to reach these results.” Not only is the last sentence fundamentalistic in nature but it borders on the cultic. Dissent is not only a Baptist belief but every Christians' right. But competition aside, I didn't mean this post to be a critique of Port City Church's beliefs just as an example of why we don't need to compete. Competition or not, both churches are willing to work with each-other and other local churches in our community and that's all that matters in the end. Anyways, view our new site: here.

Celebrate Billy Graham's 90th Birthday

Send him a message: here.

Send a Message| Read Messages| Video| Media Coverage

“On November 7, my father celebrated his 90th birthday. If you or someone in your family came to know Jesus Christ through his ministry, please share that with him. We want to continue to bless and encourage him in his 90th year.”
– Franklin Graham

“Dear Billy, I first heard you preach in San Diego in 1958. I went forward that day and began my walk with Jesus Christ. I actually ran down from the bleachers because I didn’t want to get there too late! Best decision I’ve ever made in my lifetime. Today, I would like to wish you a blessed birthday with the presence of our God being with you.”


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Genesis And Theistic Evolution: Part 2

Continuing from the previous post: TheoPoetic Musings: Genesis And Theistic Evolution: Part 1---the second issue to look at is the contradictory creation accounts in Genesis. The first account is:
First Account (Genesis 1:1-2:3)
Genesis 1:25-27
(Humans were created after the other animals.)

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image.... So God created man in his own image.

Genesis 1:27
(The first man and woman were created simultaneously.)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In technical terms, the first account is considered to be the general universal creation account, whereas the second account is considered to be a local account. Here is the second account:
Second Account (Genesis 2:4-25)

Genesis 2:18-19
(Humans were created before the other animals.)

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 2:18-22
(The man was created first, then the animals, then the woman from the man's rib.)

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them.... And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Notice all the differences in both accounts. Here is a good summary of questions for bible literalists:
Rev. James W. Watkins
Creationists call us to believe the Biblical creation story as a literal account of historical events. However, Genesis contains two distinctly different creation accounts. Which creation story are they calling us to "literally" believe? For generations, serious students of Scripture have noted stark divisions and variations in the age of the Hebrew, its style and language within Genesis. As we have it now, Genesis is actually a composite of three written primary sources, each with its own character, favorite words and distinctly different names for God. Such differences all but evaporate when translated into English, but they are clear in the ancient Hebrew text.

The first creation account, Genesis. 1:1 to Genesis. 2:4a, was written during or after the Jews' Babylonian captivity. This fully developed story explains creation in terms of the ancient near eastern world view of its time. A watery chaos is divided by the dome (firmament) of the sky. The waters under the dome are gathered and land appears. Lights are affixed in the dome. All living things are created. The story pictures God building the cosmos as a supporting ecosystem for humanity. Finally, humanity, both male and female, is created, and God rests.

The second Creation story, Genesis 2:4b to 2:25, found its written form several centuries before the Genesis. 1:1 story. This text is a less developed and much older story. It was probably passed down for generations around the camp fires of desert dwellers before being written. It begins by describing a desert landscape, no plants or herbs, no rain; only a mist arises out of the earth. Then the Lord God forms man of the dust of the ground, creates an oasis-like Garden of Eden to support the "man whom he had formed." In this story, God creates animal life while trying to provide the man "a helper fit for him." None being found, God takes a rib from the man's side and creates the first woman. These two creation stories clearly arise out of different histories and reflect different concerns with different sequences of events. Can they either or both be literal history? Obviously not.

(Read more: Here).

As a Moderate Progressive theologian who'd be labeled a theological liberal by inerrantists because I do not believe in the absurdity of biblical inerrancy, I'm a firm believer in progressive revelation of which the above is consistent with. Tying this post back to the Phillip Johnson book, here are a few more thoughts:
Yet according to fundamentalists like Phillip E. Johnson in his book Reason in the Balance, the case against Naturalism in science, law, and education, and other Christian fundamentalists, the child roasters and cat killers were correct after all and science has everything all wrong. Everything we know of modern science is wrong, as he hints at some evil atheist conspiracy to lock out God in the science community. His proof is simply the fact everything that happens isn't contributed to some supernatural theme as opposed to it just happened.

As fundamentalist religion and New Age mysticism consume millions, our nation is falling into a bottomless pit of mediocrity and irrational thought that dominated the Europe for over 1000 years. The fact is that many people just don't have the knowledge to understand what separates issues of faith and humanity from the natural world. What is worse, they don't want to know because they have withdrawn from reality.
Debunking Myth

Most people would be shocked to know that the ancient Greeks invented concepts of reason, modern science, modern history, and democracy 2500 years ago. They knew the world wasn't flat and even touched on evolution knowing the world wasn't 6000 years old. Even the church fathers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas figured out the earth was not only very old, but life also sprang from a common source.

Even more shocking to many people in America today is the gifts the Arabs would transmit to the modern world. They would not only preserve the great discoveries of the Greeks, but would greatly expand them. They would invent algebra (an Arabic word), and transmitted from India the base 10 number system (the concept of zero did away with the cumbersome Roman system), and expand science and math far beyond even Greece. Greek philosophy, destroyed or lost by the Catholic Church, would be brought back to light by contacts with Arabs in Spain. Arab writers in the 10th century even knew that mountains were formed by rain, wind, and land upheavals over a long period of time and figured out what Christian Europe rejected until the age of Charles Darwin.

The Christian churches knew of all of this, but rejected them for political reasons and mindless dogma.
So what is the problem with Johnson and other fundamentalists? To quote Johnson himself, "Rational beliefs are those that are consonant with reality." (P, 10) Because science doesn't attribute everything to supernatural micro-management of God and leaves some elements to chance, he feels it undermines the Bible. Sorry, science works on reason and verifiable proof, not revelation. The other fact is science/reason actually produces results, something the claims of magic have always failed to do. Science at the same time doesn't address the matter of God at all. It comes down to a literal Genesis and the Adam/Eve story and original sin, which Jesus never mentioned, but was created by the Apostle Paul.

How revealed religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam derive truth is by divine revelation. That is direct communication either directly from God via voices visions, etc. or by angels and other divine massager. All we have is the word of the founder, because Christians (as an example) claim angels can't be seen. This revealed "truth" can't be disputed and all other ideas must be derived from it. So anything "observed" must be seen in the light of revelation. To quote Tertullian of Carthage: (150-225) "Divine revelation, not reason, is the source of all truth."

Phillip Johnson is a law professor and lawyer and knows little about the workings of science. Science is based on naturalism and thus deals only with what can be observed. Johnson considers naturalism a religion. (He uses other terms such as modernism and liberal rationalism, etc.) As a lawyer he plays a deceptive game of words mixing liberalism, rationalism, etc. then claims they have no relation to nature. (Which he says is God) What he really object to is a marginal treatment of Christianity; "the establishment of a particular religious philosophy does not imply competing philosophies are outlawed, but rather they are relegated to a marginal position in private life"

On a California textbook policy change, "this policy encouraged textbook publishers and teachers to give much greater emphasis to accepted scientific doctrines and to relegate any consideration of nonscientific subjects such as divine creation, ultimate purpose, and the ultimate cause of the physical universe to literature and social studies classes." (P. 40-43)

Science does not deal in questions of God or ultimate purpose to begin with. Even he admits these are nonscientific subjects, thus they don't have any place in the science classroom. The facts are only 5% of the population is atheist, 95% believe in God. Over half believe in evolution as fact, but over 80% of those believe in theistic evolution or evolution as the work of God. What they don't buy is his particular Protestant Evangelical religion. To Johnson and other fundamentalists, he is in a cosmic battle of good and evil. There is no in between and he means literal six-day Creationism and a historical Adam.
What is more important is Darwin never invented any "Theory of Evolution." He promoted the hypothesis (oh, that word again!) that species evolved by random mutation and random chance. Modern science provided the proof he was basically right and thus it accepted by many as fact today. The "fit" would survive by some natural advantage and the least fit wouldn't. Does that mean if the bubonic plaque wiped out the human race that the decease was more intelligent (fit) than man? Of coarse not, that is an element of chance.

Today most scientists know evolution works within known parameters but there is also an element of chance as well. Darwin did not use fossils or radioisotope dating (radioactivity would be discovered in the 1890's after his death) nor did Darwin ever apply natural selection to civilized human beings. To quote Darwin himself: "Under civilized conditions the social and cooperative virtues were useful characteristics assisting in survival, so that we may expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger, perhaps becoming fixed by inheritance."

And evolution doesn't deal any deathblow to Christianity because most reasonable Christians (excludes fundamentalists) see the Old Testament as symbolic and reject Mosaic Law as done away with Jesus. I know several very strong church-going Christians who have no problem with evolution. Many fundamentalists today follow a cult known as Christian Reconstructionism that does away with Jesus (they refer to Jesus/Jews and their God as Satan) and prefer the Old Testament as the Law and themselves as the new chosen people. Followers of Jesus who actually believe in Him have no problem with evolution.

What really upsets many people is uncertainty, that the universe isn't really an orderly, predictable thing. Yes it is orderly within certain points; such as gravity will make a bowling ball dropped on one's foot painful. One could simply never bowl again or go near a bowling alley and be fairly assured that a bowling ball won't fall on their foot. If a meteor the size of a bowling ball hits you in the head, you are dead; there was no way to prevent it. That is random chance.

Life in reality is both, 50% random chance beyond our control, and 50% what we make it. Genetics plays the biggest part of all in cancer, so those who eat only brown, organically grown rice may die of cancer as easily as anyone may. One knows that not smoking tobacco lessons the chance one may get lung cancer, but sometimes we still can. Our choices in life only change the odds, but in the end we all die, nobody knows for sure beyond that.

I don't believe in modernism which says everything is relative and there is no right or wrong. Humans have intelligence and are not animals vulnerable completely to the whims of nature. To quote Einstein himself, "I shall never believe God plays dice with the world." We can make choices if we can separate what is certainly and stop wasting our time chasing phantoms. God gave us the ability to make choices for good or evil.

Life is uncertain as social, technical, and economic changes are a fact in today's world. Many people refuse to, or just can't handle the world around them, so they turn inward. In America this is made worse by an appalling education system that leaves millions in confusion unable to separate science from science fiction and religious faith from blind superstition and mysticism. All of this confusion limits many choices one could make.

Mr. Johnson's entire 245-page book never mentioned anything Jesus ever said, just his own frustration with the world. He wants his version of a spiritual world to be physical reality. Jesus clearly separates the spiritual from the physical world and is right on this matter as are many church fathers. I don't think these people believe what they preach, because if they did they wouldn't care what others think, and would be happy with life. The happy Christians, the ones who actually follow Jesus, who live as He says to live, aren't screaming at the world from the pulpit. I salute them.

The problem with fundamentalists like Mr. Johnson is we live in a technical and diverse world and they just can't handle it. Nobody tells any Christian in this country how to pray, when and where to go church, or what to believe. Nobody! They preach politics, power, and money, not God. If they want to remain ignorant and uneducated, that is their choice. If they refuse to read the Bible and substitute their own self-revelations and political nonsense over the words of even conservative Christian scholars, they are free to do so. If Mr. Johnson wants to write a book claiming some unfounded garbage that the science community is conspiring to destroy Jesus, he is free to do so. (I bought his book, which I'm certainly free to do.)

If these fundamentalists want to attack even their fellow Christians because they don't see the same flat, 6000-year-old earth they see, that's fine. If they choose to be beyond reason and live in some fantasy world, it is their choice.

But they can't force the rest of us to follow them or meddle in the personal lives of other people. I've been in the scientific and technical fields for over 25 years and the fundamentalists leave us only two choices: believe in their flat-earth world or atheism. They drive millions out of the Christian community and often into irrational New Age religion. There is a third choice.

Get an education and read the Bible for yourself. I'm glad I did or I'd be an atheist! Stops adding in things that are not there! The recent Y2K fiasco was the work of fundamentalists Christians (along with New Age technophobes) who thought they knew more than the Bible did. These people are preaching politics, not Jesus. The Bible is not a science book or was not meant as a history book.

The earth is not 6000 years old, evolution is accepted scientific fact, and the Bible isn't threatened by it at all if properly studied and considered. Most of all allow an element of reason into these discussions and stop hunting for Satan under every rock. Finally, if being a Christian produces only anger and resentment of others, go find a new church. There are plenty of good Christian churches around that don't act like cults or endlessly attack everything they don't understand or refuse to deal with. It is up to you!

(Read more: Here).