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The Apostle Paul Lived and Died as a Dedicated Jew


It’s widely acknowledged that Jesus was a thoroughly practicing Jew throughout his life. Anglican Priest Bruce Chilton expressed that conclusion explicitly and concisely in his book “Rabbi Jesus”: “It became clear to me that everything Jesus did was as a Jew, for Jews, and about Jews.”

But what about Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles? It’s generally accepted that Paul was the true founder of a new religion called Christianity. Biblical scholar Gerd Ludemann, author of several books about Jesus and Paul including “Paul: Founder of Christianity,” affirms that “Without Paul there would be no church and no Christianity.” Ludemann adds, “He’s the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism … but no Christianity.”

Paul converted Jews and then Gentiles to Jewish Christianity, basing these conversions on his belief in the teachings, resurrection and divinity of Jesus. But powerful evidence within “Acts of the Apostles,” the book of the New Testament that chronicles Paul’s mission, reveals that Paul, like Jesus, remained a dedicated Jew until his execution. In fact, if Paul had simply stated that he was no longer a Jew but the leader of a new religion, he would not have been imprisoned or executed.

During Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, his appearance and teachings in the Temple in Jerusalem set off a disturbance in which some Jews rioted against him (Acts 21:26-28). He was then charged with blasphemy by the Sanhedrin and would have to stand trial before the Jewish authorities — and face a possible death sentence. The Sanhedrin was able to indict Paul and put him on trial by the special privilege that the Romans gave the Jews. Judaism was a protected religion under the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus and Paul. Jews had their own King (Herod the Great, Herod Antipas and Herod Agrippa). But more important, the Jewish leadership was invested with the right to rule over Jewish affairs. They could bring charges against Jews who violated Jewish laws or who were deemed blasphemous or heretical. That power is why the Sanhedrin was able to indict Jesus. It also explains why the Sanhedrin was able to authorize Paul’s persecutory frenzy to chain and drag back to Jerusalem Jewish followers of Jesus in synagogues as distant as Damascus (Acts 8:3; Acts 9: 1, 2). Although the Sanhedrin could bring charges against Jews and even set the punishment, only the Romans could execute (although that’s not entirely clear since some violators of Jewish law were stoned to death by Jews).

The special status of Jews was first stated in an edict by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus in 1 B.C.E. and reaffirmed by Emperor Claudius Augustus in 41 C.E.:

Edict of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus on Jewish Rights, 1 BCE

Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: Since the nation of the Jews and Hyrcanus, their high priest, have been found grateful to the people of the Romans, not only in the present but also in the past, and particularly in the time of my father, Caesar, imperator, it seems good to me and to my advisory council, according to the oaths, by the will of the people of the Romans, that the Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law, just as they used to use them in the time of Hyrcanus, the high priest of their highest god; and that their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem and shall be paid to the financial officials of Jerusalem; and that they shall not give sureties for appearance in court on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation before it after the ninth hour. But if anyone is detected stealing their sacred books or their sacred monies, either from a synagogue or from a mens’ apartment, he shall be considered sacrilegious and his property shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans.

Later, during the ministry of Paul, the Emperor Claudius reconfirmed the special status of Jews:

Edict of Roman Emperor Claudius Augustus on Jewish Rights, 41 CE

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: …Therefore it is right that also the Jews, who are in all the world under us, shall maintain their ancestral customs without hindrance and to them I now also command to use this my kindness rather reasonably and not to despise the religious rites of the other nations, but to observe their own laws.

The Romans were tolerant of all religions under their rule as long as adherents obeyed Roman law and paid taxes. While Jews could rule over Jewish matters, they had no jurisdiction over people of other religions. In principle, Roman paganism was an affront to Judaism. But they could do nothing about that other than negotiate with the Romans to mitigate pagan practices in the Temple area and in some public Roman ceremonies.

After his arrest, Paul faced charges of blasphemy: “And after five days Ananias, the high priest, descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the Governor against Paul” (Acts 24:1).

Paul could only be charged if he were a Jew. After being detained for two years he was brought before the new Roman governor Porcius Festus. The Sanhedrin repeated the charge of blasphemy: “Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him [Festus] against Paul, and besought him” (Acts 25:2). Fearing a trial before the Sanhedrin, Paul invoked his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome. Festus granted Paul his choice: “Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? Unto Cæsar shalt thou go” (Acts 25:12).

At no time during Paul’s lengthy ordeal did he repudiate Judaism or declare that he represented a new religion. Had he done so, he would have been immediately released — especially since he was a privileged Roman citizen. The Sanhedrin wouldn’t have had any authority over Paul.

After a long treacherous trip that included a shipwreck that almost killed him, Paul arrived in Rome and was put under house arrest. He promptly invited the Jewish leadership of Rome to his residence to explain why he was imprisoned:

“Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” (Acts 28: 17-20)

Still, Paul said nothing about a new religion. On the contrary, he presented himself to the Roman Jewish community as a loyal Jew who was being persecuted for his revisionist views. Since the Romans had no quarrel with him, as a Roman citizen, and with the Sanhedrin a continent away, there would be no viable case against Paul — if he had denounced his affiliation to Judaism and declared a new religion. At this point in his life, facing trial and execution for blasphemy against Judaism, didn’t Paul have every reason to sever his tie to Judaism? The Sanhedrin, representing traditional Judaism, sent a clear message by their action against Paul: “We will not accept your beliefs and teachings about Jesus.” Despite this definitive rejection, Paul didn’t choose the obvious way out of the clutches of the Sanhedrin: declaration of a new religion. This strategy never even showed up for discussion. Paul chose to go to his death as a Jew. Why?

Paul’s vision was to make his brand of Judaism — with the recognition of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah — a world religion easily accessible to everyone. He never surrendered that passion. But after his death the accelerating conversion of Gentiles to a movement that began as Jewish Christianity became increasingly distanced from Judaism — and a new religion was launched.

Nevertheless, an understanding of the deep connection to Judaism held by the founders of Christianity should highlight the common ground of Judaism and Christianity and pave the way to reconciliation between the two faiths.

via OpEdNews – Article: The Apostle Paul Lived and Died as a Dedicated Jew.

Fundamentalism, Ignorance and Fear for Profit.


Isaac Asimov, wrote, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

How terribly, awfully true. And some people love it just the way it is. The fundamentalist Christian religion is a great place to find proof. For these folks, religion is an infection that causes delirious behavior, the kind that comes from a very high fever.

Now to be clear that I’m not condemning all religion or all sincere believers. I’m condemning the ignorance that comes from the delirium of those infected with fundamentalism. And I’m sorry. There is no other way to say it. Ignorance!

Ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is a choice. All it takes to cure ignorance is a desire to learn something we don’t know. But when we think God told us all we need to know, we have no need to learn anything else.

When you have grown up in an environment that demands obedience and conformity, as much as Christian fundamentalism, you might be suffering RTS, Religious Trauma Syndrome, a process identified by Dr. Marlene Winell.

From the article titled “Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems” on AlterNet.org by Valerie Tarico, “Dr. Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised.”

The Christian salvation message is difficult enough to reconcile for sincere adults who remain committed to their religion of origin. But it has even more power to create neurosis in the hands of misguided people whose purpose is to acculturate innocent children.

Think about these teachings from the point of view of a young child who still can’t distinguish fantasy from realty: Being born evil and stained by original sin is just the beginning. Then comes the lifetime of failing to achieve the perfection demanded by an angry and vengeful God. Then the knowledge that Jesus died a bloody, excruciating death because of you. Then believing your natural human thoughts and behaviors are the failings of your weak and sinful character. Finally, knowing “the wages of sin is death” and you can’t stop “sinning.”

As a child, I swallowed this mythology whole. I remember worrying about how bad I was and how much I needed to resist my natural urges to prove myself worthy. I feared I’d never   enjoy the afterlife. Instead I would suffer the fires of hell for eternity; a hell of tortures so well described, I lived in constant fear.

The fear that saturated my youth is still being marketed by fundamentalist Christian’s for big money. Here’s a few examples from Rightwingwatch.org:   Liberty Counsel Continues to Promote the Latest Fabricated Case of Christian Persecution,    Bradlee Dean: Public Schools Evil, Obama Emulating Mao,    Heritage Foundation VP Blamed Boston Bombings on ‘Multiculturalism and Diversity’ in Schools,   Religious Right Panelists: Gay Rights Activists are Christ-Hating Fascists.

Each of the headlines above is accompanied by a photo of the key people who market this fear. It’s ironic. None of them look fearful to me. In fact, they look quite self-satisfied and –rich.

They don’t show any signs of the fear, with which they quite readily infect others. So I’ll take a guess here. These folks are not the ignorant ones. They’re pretty damned smart. The ignorant are the audience of faithful believers who gobble down their venom and ask for more. It’s these people, capable or not of educating themselves out of their ignorance, who pay the bills and keep these purveyors living a comfortable lifestyle.

Eric Hoffer, the American moral and social philosopher said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

If Christianity was the great cause, fundamentalism is the racket.

Robert De Filippis

Author, columnist and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I am a certified ontological coach. I’ve studied clinical therapeutic practices in Gestalt psychology and am a Certified Birkman (more…)

via OpEdNews – Article: Fundamentalism, Ignorance and Fear for Profit..

via OpEdNews – Article: Fundamentalism, Ignorance and Fear for Profit..

Jesus and Mo


I really enjoy Jesus and Mo. It a series of funny cartoon strips featuring the two characters – Jesus and Mohamed. It’s totally irreverent and of course heretical, but at the same time it isn’t mean in any way and isn’t on any kind of soap box trying to insult these major religions. Its just a bit silly, lighthearted, and very funny

Jesus and Mo.

via Jesus and Mo.

What Religion Cares Most About the Homeless?


A homeless man “conducting a clever exercise in behavioral economics disguised as an inquiry into the levels of spontaneous generosity as determined by religious creed or lack thereof.” For the record, at last count, the atheists were winning.

via This 

Jesus and Mo


I really enjoy Jesus and Mo. It a series of funny cartoon strips featuring the two characters – Jesus and Mohamed. It’s totally irreverent and of course heretical, but at the same time it isn’t mean in any way and isn’t on any kind of soap box trying to insult these major religions. Its just a bit silly, lighthearted, and very funny

Jesus and Mo.

via Jesus and Mo.

War-Torn Middle East Seeks Solace In Religion


JERUSALEM—As an uneasy truce between Israel and Hezbollah continues, millions of average men and women in the Holy Land are turning to the one simple comfort that has always seen them through the darkest days of their troubled history: the steadfast guidance of their religious faith.

Arabs and Israelis alike are embracing their faith as a way to make sense of the violence from which there seems to be no escape.

“I take solace in knowing that my faith is a sanctuary, an escape from the bloodshed and turmoil,” said Haifa resident Yigal Taheri, who last week lost his wife and newborn daughter when a Fajr-3 long-range rocket launched by Lebanese militants struck the synagogue where his family was attending services. “YHWH, Elohim, whatever you wish to not call Him—His love comforts all those who are willing to open their hearts to Him. Praise be to G–d.”

“Religion is the one thing that has never let us down,” Taheri added over the low rumble of AK-47 fire emanating from the nearby home of a radical Israeli rabbi.

Taheri is not alone. In a time of seemingly unending conflict between Israelis and Arabs, a growing number of Middle Easterners are fervently embracing the unshakeable wisdom of Judaism and Islam.

Palestinian Omar Abdel-Malik, a resident of the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, credits his Islamic beliefs for preserving his sanity.

“The Israelis have fired missile upon missile on my neighborhood, but it has only made my trust in Allah that much stronger,” Abdel-Malik said. “I cringe to think where the people of the Middle East would be right now if it weren’t for our steadfast belief in one true, merciful, and loving Supreme Being.”

Palestinian widow and mother of three Dareen Idriss agreed, citing the healing power of prayer as a way to cope with the relentless slaughter she and her family witness every day. “When the children cannot stop crying because of the bombs, we all gather our families in the rubble of the mosque to pray for justice,” Idriss said. “During this calm meditation, we also pray for the annihilation of the Hebrew race.”

An unidentified Palestinian man seeks a renewed resolve through prayer.

West Bank settler Ari Chayat, whose neighborhood has also been ravaged by violence, echoed this profound reliance on faith. “The world is so brutal and unfair,” Chayat said. “Many days, my uncompromising belief in a vengeful creator is all that gets me out of bed in the morning.”

“If it wasn’t for my faith that the God of Abraham has given these lands to Jews and Jews alone by divine decree, I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Chayat added.

Lebanese militant Jawad Hamid, who recently lost his best friend to an Israeli helicopter attack while the two men were on their way to pick up a Katyusha rocket, said his faith in Allah was the only way he could cope with the tragedy.

“Every time I want to give up hope, I just open the Quran to my favorite passage, Surah 2:194: ‘Whoever acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him,'” Hamid said. “Whenever I read those words, I am immediately filled with inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose.”

Even political leaders have tapped into the public’s reliance on religion and used it as a way to encourage them to never give up.

“In this time of strife, the only way to endure the unending suffering is through an unwavering, uncompromising faith in one’s religious beliefs,” Israeli hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to quote from the Quran in a speech delivered to followers the same afternoon.

“It’s always frightening to be reminded of your own mortality, as we all were this past Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday,” Hezbollah commander Mahdi al-Zaidi said. “But rather than react irrationally, I looked deep within my faith, consulted the Quran, and by the mercy of Allah, I gained the resolve to oversee a massive airstrike against the enemy.”

“We will get through this, so long as we have God on our side,” he added.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/wartorn-middle-east-seeks-solace-in-religion,2027/

Apes get Religion


Controversial research published in New Scientist, demonstrating that apes suffer self-doubt, has given scientists an important clue into how religion may have originated in our early hominid ancestors.

11107-3251Ape                                                                               Gorillas have a fascination with ‘magic’ underwear

In the research, apes first watched a human researcher place food in one of two covered plastic pipes. After a delay, giving the apes time to forget which pipe the food was in, they were allowed to check the pipes before opening one and claiming the food reward. The longer the delay the more often the pipes were checked before a decision was made.

“This behaviour clearly shows they are expressing self-doubt, something we thought was a purely human trait.” remarked Joseph Call of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig where the research was carried out.

To test the hypothesis in more detail, the animals were taught a rudimentary sign language so they could communicate with researchers. The results astounded everybody by clearly showing that apes have developed a rudimentary and primitive religion.

The clearest link, not surprisingly, was found amongst bonobos, the closest evolutionary relatives of humans. After one particularly long delay a young bonobo called Baa-baa showed particularly strong signs of self-doubt by signing, “Why I here? What it all mean?”

At that point an older Bonobo known as Papa, who had until then been sitting on his own wearing a funny hat, came over. He made signs meaning, “Man feeder too clever. We not know what he want.” before mounting Baa-baa in a simulated sex act, a typical dominance display in this species.

Following this activity, baa-baa retreated into a corner where he sat playing with his favourite toy, a string of beans, whilst continuously signing “Guilt, guilt, guilt”.

Papa, unmoved by Baa-baa’s obvious distress, signed, “What man feeder want. I not responsible. You not tell.” He then set about building a large construction out of cardboard boxes before demanding that the other bonobos bring him bananas.

“Other species of ape have shown less obvious displays of ‘religious’ behaviour.” said Mr Call. “One particularly interesting example was a chimpanzee named Malik. When he opened the pipe to get hisreward he signed ‘Ugh! Bacon. Kill infidels.’ then went on a violent rampage and mercilessly attacked other chimpanzees who didn’t share his aversion to pig products.”

The much more docile Orang-utans were the most disappointing subjects according to researchers. “They simply sat cross-legged in their cages, constantly repeating, ‘Ohmmm, Ohmmmm.’ for hours on end.”

According to Mr Call, the strangest bahaviour was observed in gorillas. “They love to dress up in a type of ‘underwear’ they have fashioned from old pieces of material and which seems to have an almost ‘magical’ fascination for them. Particularly irritating is their habit of getting up early on a Sunday morning and knocking on the glass of their enclosure until they get our attention. I really hate getting dragged out of bed at the weekend.”

“We’re not quite sure where this research will end but so far the results have been unbelievable. We can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Jesus And Mo


Jesus And Mo

I really enjoy Jesus and Mo. It a series of funny cartoon strips featuring the two characters – Jesus and Mohamed. It’s totally irreverent and of course heretical, but at the same time it isn’t mean in any way and isn’t on any kind of soap box trying to insult these major religions. Its just a bit silly, lighthearted, and very funny

See again on the 8th May

via The Best Religious Satire.

via The Best Religious Satire.

Pope a Go Go!


“The first thing he said when shown the papal apartments at the Vatican was ‘There is room for three hundred people here’ – next thing we knew the place was packed with raving clergymen!” says Cardinal Hugo Strangler, describing the changes being wrought in the Vatican by the recently-elected Pope Francis. “The rave went on all night, with His Holiness himself on the decks, spinning us some wicked mixes of Pat Boone and Cliff Richard! The younger priests were putting away the communion wine and wafers like the world was about to end!” According to Cardinal Strangler, who participated in the conclave which elected Pope Francis, the impromptu rave is typical of the new Pontiff’s interest in using popular culture as a vehicle for disseminating the word of God. “He’s really down with the kids,” explains Strangler. “He’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture – even his Papal name reflects this.” Contrary to popular belief, the Cardinal claims, the new Pope isn’t named for St Francis of Assisi, but rather for Francis Rossi of Status Quo. “By honouring this titan of modern pop music, His Holiness is hoping to demonstrate to the youth of the world that the church still has relevance,” he says. “He’s planning to get down with the kids soon – bringing his Stratocaster out onto the balcony at St Peter’s Square and thrashing out a few classic Quo covers.”

The Pope’s guitar has allegedly already had at least one outing in aid of interdenominational harmony, with Rome rife with rumours of an impromptu jam session involving Pope Francis on lead guitar, his Coptic equivalent on bass and the Dalai Lama on drums. “It is said to have happened in a basement bar near the Vatican, the day after the Holy Father was appointed,” says the Cardinal. “He’d apparently gone to settle his hotel bill, then bumped into the other two spiritual leaders outside the bar and one thing led to another. It is said that they thrashed out a number of old Jimi Hendrix numbers, including Voodoo Child and Purple Haze.” Indeed, stories about the unconventional new Pope’s populist antics are rife throughout the Italian capital, including the claim that the evening after his official inauguration, Pope Francis attended a karaoke night at a local bar, belting out a number of popular hymns and Gregorian chants, to the delight of the rest of the audience. “He is clearly a Pope of the people – in touch with the common man,” comments Strangler. “He understands that we must start preaching the gospel in terms that modern ordinary people can understand, if the church is to survive.”

However, Pope Francis’ pop culture approach to the Catholic faith and, in particular, his calls for it to become the church of the poor, have not met with universal approval in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. “All this ‘Pope a Go Go’ business is all very well, but he’s riskin’ making us a laughin’ stock,” declares Brendan O’Fugh, Bishop of Skibbereen. “At a time when we need to be reassertin’ our moral authority, in the wake of all these kiddie fiddlin’ allegations and the like, the last thing we need is the Pope jitterbuggin’ round the Basilica and singin’ duets with Justin Beiber!” O’Fugh is also suspicious of Pope Francis’ commitment to use the wealth of the church to help the world’s poor. “Look, the poor are poor because it is all part of God’s feckin’ plan, alright? Who are we to question His scheme of things?” says the exasperated cleric. “He creates us all equal, doesn’t He? If some lazy bastards can’t be bothered to get off their arses and make somethin’ of themselves, that’s their problem. The Almighty gave us free will, for feck’s sake, didn’t he? It’s their choice! If we bale ‘em out we’re just goin’ against God’s will!” O’Fugh is worried at the form that Pope Francis’ attempts to help the poor might take. “If we’re not careful, he’ll be holdin’ a feckin’ car boot sale in St Peter’s Square, floggin’ off all of our art treasures at bargain basement prices and givin’ the proceeds to some feckin’ beggars or gyppos!” he declares. “Next thing, he’ll be turning our bloody cathedrals and churches into doss houses! Look, if he really wanted to help the poor, he’d start advocatin’ contraception, wouldn’t he? But that’s not goin’ to happen, is it?”

O’Fugh had favoured a more conservative candidate for the Papacy, following Pope Benedict’s resignation, most specifically Cardinal Franco Hatchet. “He’s the sort of fellah we need to bring some dignity and respect back to the church,” enthuses the bishop. “I know people are always sayin’ he’s some kind of knee-jerk reactionary, but he has some pretty progressive ideas.” O’Fugh has been particularly impressed by Hatchet’s recent theological papers in which he has attempted to show that suicide might not be a mortal sin under certain circumstances – if committed in the name of God, for instance. “There’s no doubt that it opens up some fascinatin’ possibilities,” he muses. “Like the idea of Catholic suicide bombers who could instil real fear into the infidels and sinners. I mean, it’s worked wonders for the Muslims – nobody messes with them, do they? Not that I’m actually advocatin’ sendin’ out our parishioners to blow up abortion clinics – though that would make the bitches think twice about murderin’ their babies – I’m just sayin’ that you don’t see anyone takin’ the piss out of the Muslims now, do you? You don’t get any feckin’ comedians or gobshites on the web crackin’ jokes about Imams buggerin’ kiddies, do you?”

Most leading theologians agree that Hatchet’s already slim chances of becoming Pope were dashed completely by his recent intervention in the child abuse scandals which had threatened to engulf Benedict XVI’s papacy. “All he said was that we were lookin’ at it from the wrong perspective,” says Bishop O’Fugh. “Those kiddies weren’t victims – they were blessed! The so-called abuse they suffered at the hands of priests were actually a test from God – the Bible’s full of that sort of thing: just look at the Book of Job! It was a brilliant bit of scholarship on Hatchet’s part – an attempt to reconcile this alleged abuse with the fact that its alleged perpetrators were supposedly agents of the Almighty!” Controversially, O’Fugh is convinced that the election of Pope Francis was a mistake and is calling for a re-run of the ballot. “I have it on good authority that the white smoke billowin’ out of the chimney was a mistake – they hadn’t actually elected a new Pope at that point,” he confides. “As I understand it, the Cardinals had found a stash of kiddie porn in the room – probably planted by bloody protestants or atheists – and, in order to avoid another scandal, burned the filth in the stove, inadvertently causin’ the white smoke. When they realised what had happened, they panicked and picked a new Pope by drawin’ lots! I mean, they felt that had no choice, the media were clamourin’ for a name and those bloody marchin’ bands were already stampin’ around the square!”

via Pope a Go Go! | The Sleaze | UK News Satire and Humour.

via Pope a Go Go! | The Sleaze | UK News Satire and Humour.

Celebrity Messiah


“With Big Brother having ended, we see this as the perfect replacement,” says TV executive Kevin Frooker, introducing his latest format – Celebrity Messiah – to the press. “It’s got everything – the reality TV aspect, celebrities humiliating themselves, interaction with the public, and religion!” The proposed TV series would see a group of celebrities charged with creating their own religion. Each week, the celebrity with the least followers would be kicked off the show – quite literally dragged out of the Celebrity Messiah church by devils, and cast into a fiery pit. “Obviously, the devils are actually production assistants, and the ‘fiery pit’ is an arena full of the baying followers of their rivals,” explains the producer. “But the ‘devils’ will be allowed to poke the evictees with their tridents, and the crowd will be encouraged to throw things and spit on them, just to make the experience as humiliating as possible.”
Frooker admits that the original concept of having evictees burned at the stake as heretics, was rejected after taking legal advice, as were the initial proposals for the eventual winner. “We originally wanted the new ‘Messiah’ to be carried to ‘heaven’ – a luxury penthouse suite packed with booze, drugs and prostitutes – by angels,” he says. “Instead, we’ve settled for them being whisked away in a limousine to the eponymous gay night club.” The celebrities involved would be given considerable leeway in how they go about attracting followers. “They can try and persuade people any way they like, short of beating them up or paying them, obviously, to convert,” enthuses Frooker. “Each week they’ll be set a task – performing a miracle of some sort usually, like feeding five thousand homeless derelicts with only a tin of sardines, or healing cancer patients with the laying on of hands. Of course, we wouldn’t expect them to perform real miracles, just convince people that they had. Some weeks we might skip the miracle, get them to do something humiliating like washing their disciples’ feet, or even better, wiping their arses. Just imagine the likes of Danny Dyer having to wipe the shitty backsides of a couple of dozen tramps. That’d be great television!”
According to Frooker, the participating celebrities will be free to devise any theology they choose to be the basis of their religions – barring those based on race hate, misogyny or child abuse. “We want them to be creative in their religions,” he says. “The more bizarre the belief system involved, the better the entertainment! You’d be surprised the kind of weird shit people can be persuaded to believe in!” Indeed, during the pilot shot for the proposed series, self-styled impressionist and comedian Bobby Davro succeeded in converting over two hundred people to his Church of Latter Day Naturists, which offered salvation through nudity. “Mind you, creating a religion is far more difficult than most people realise,” warns Frooker. “For every L Ron Hubbard, there are a thousand David Shaylers – sad deluded self-publicists confusing cross-dressing with spiritual epiphany.” He points to the fact that in the pilot one-time pop star Kerry Katona found it impossible to attract more than six followers to her cult devoted to the worship of the holy trinity of Father Smirnoff, Junior Cocaine and the divine Iceland giant prawn platter. “It left her an emotional wreck,” says Frooker. “Although I can’t help but feel that rather undermined her cause by continually consuming the entire trinity, leaving nothing for her acolytes.”
Similarly, after an initial surge of enthusiasm, top heavy model Jordan’s breast-worshipping mother cult quickly lost popularity. “I think her disciples were a bit disappointed that it was a huge stone effigy of her knockers they had to jerk off over as their act of worship, rather than the real thing,” the TV executive muses. He warns that the object of the show isn’t for celebrities to actually create their own religions for real. “We don’t want a repeat of Jim Davidson’s attempted Jihad against benefit cheats, illegal immigrants, feminists and lefties,” Frooker says. “That led to an instant disqualification. Really, this isn’t an exercise in egotism, just cheap entertainment.” Nevertheless, as the producer points out, Davidson’s participation in Celebrity Messiah has still boosted his career. “He’s now playing to packed houses of brainwashed acolytes,” he says. “They’re the most receptive audience for his dubious material he’s had since the National Front disbanded – they laugh and applaud all his ‘amusing’ comedy black person voices and misogynistic ‘jokes’.”
Frooker is keen to emphasise that, despite the number of apparent failures on the part of celebrities to create viable religions in the pilot for Celebrity Messiah, there were some notable successes. “Take Darren Day, for instance, who would have thought that he’d be able to persuade so many people to worship his penis,” he muses. “I mean, it isn’t the biggest, or even the most appealing looking, member that anyone’s ever seen, but nonetheless, at one point he had a queue of people over a mile long, lining up to kiss it in order to cure their mouth ulcers and cold sores – not all of them women.” Frooker believes that former gameshow host Day’s success lies in the one- time singer’s instinctive understanding of the appeal of real religions. “It’s all about promising your followers the impossible,” he opines. “With Christianity it’s the promise of salvation and eternal life, with Darren it is the promise that they too can share the power of his penis and enjoy everlasting shagging.”
So successful was the cult of Day’s penis, that he made the final of the pilot version of Celebrity Messiah, facing off against celebrity nutritionist Gillian McKeith and her church of excrement. “The final was where they faced the ultimate test – to be ‘crucified’ in a manner appropriate to their religion,” says Frooker. “Obviously, only a true Messiah would be able to rise again after such an ordeal.” However disaster nearly struck when McKeith narrowly avoided being drowned after being flushed down a giant toilet. “The idea was that she would naturally float back to the surface like a huge turd. Sadly, she got stuck in the U-bend, and had to be freed by divers,” Frooker reveals. “Thankfully, Darren Day fared better, managing to rise again, despite having been forced to masturbate continuously for twelve hours.” Despite the potential humiliations involved, Frooker is confident that there will be no shortage of minor celebrities prepared to appear on Celebrity Messiah, should it be commissioned as a series. “It’s offering them what every celebrity wants: the blind adulation of masses of unquestioning fanatics,” he says. “Just think of the merchandising they could shift with thousands of obedient followers prepared to obey their every edict?”

The Faulty Logic Behind the Defense of Divinely Inspired Biblical Massacres


The Faulty Logic Behind the Defense of Divinely Inspired Biblical Massacres

Dave E. Matson

Bible-believers obstinately argue that the divinely sanctioned massacres in the Bible were morally justified–even an example of God‘s goodness and mercy! The logic behind their reasoning is as follows:

The biblicist is working under two assumptions: 1) God is good and all-powerful; 2) God, in fact, ordered massacres as described in the Bible. Therefore, there must have been some reason for God’s actions, no matter how bad they seem, a reason on which we can only speculate. The skeptic is asked to rule out every conceivable loophole, but how can he do that if he lacks the mind of God?

What has been overlooked is that the biblicist has already assumed everything, leaving nothing for rational debate! If we begin with the biblicist’s two assumptions then, of course, the massacres were morally justified! But it’s an empty claim, a bald-faced claim by fiat, not a compelling conclusion reached by reason and evidence. Skeptics, of course, don’t begin with both of these assumptions. That would beg the question.

If we assume that God is good (and all-powerful) then the question is whether God, in fact, ordered those massacres. If this is to be a reasoned inquiry, we must begin with the idea that God may or may not have been responsible. We must begin with both possibilities on the table! The data must guide us–not preconceived doctrine. Which view best fits the data? Are these massacres of men, women and children more likely the work of a god who is morally perfect or a god who is morally defective? If Chemosh or Baal were depicted as slaughtering children in some pagan manuscript, what would you conclude? I doubt you would cite it as evidence of superior morality!

The question is not whether we can shoehorn these deeds into a god of goodness. That approach reflects an a priori assumption, without benefit of evidence, that God performed those deeds. Rather, we are weighing the two possibilities on a balance. Are those deeds what we would expect from a god of goodness or are they not? Certainty is not possible and, thus, not a requirement! We need only observe whether the balance leans predominantly in one direction or the other. From that perspective the answer is obvious. Only a defective brain could suppose that such massacres are best interpreted as acts of moral perfection.

What Bible-believer would not gladly ditch these passages, this albatross about the neck, if only an inerrant Bible could be retained! It’s not by accident that conservative theologians do backflips through flaming hoops to explain why God must act so badly! The moral stench is pretty obvious, that being the cause of mighty efforts to make it go away.

The best conclusion, by far, is that if God is good then he did not order those massacres. He did not order the taking of young women in a battle to serve sexually. That is, if God is good then biblical inerrancy goes out the window.

If we begin with the assumption that God did, in fact, order those biblical massacres, then let us ask if God is truly good. If this is to be a reasoned inquiry, then we must begin with the possibility that God may or may not be morally perfect. There is no point in asking that question if our mind is already made up! All possibilities must be on the table at the start of an objective inquiry; the evidence must decide, not preconceived doctrine. Are these massacres more likely the work of a morally perfect god or are they more likely the work of a morally defective god?

Once again certainty is not possible and, therefore, not a requirement. Once again, the question is not whether we can shoehorn such deeds into a god of goodness but, rather, which way the balance leans. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of morality knows that, all things being equal, the slaughter of women and children is immoral. It’s a no-brainer. The balance tips heavily in favor of a god lacking in moral perfection. Such deeds (without the influence of preconceived doctrine) would never be attributed to a god of moral perfection! If the slaughter of children (and the rape of young women) were seen as evidence of high moral behavior, we would not find apologetic tomes dedicated to explaining why a God of goodness must act so!

The best conclusion, by far, is that if God ordered and supported these massacres then he lacks moral perfection. That is, if the Bible is the inerrant word of God then God’s goodness goes out the window.

Once we understand the logic behind the argument over the massacres in the Bible, we may dispense with certain confusions. The skeptic need not have the mind of God or close every loophole in order to draw a sound and robust conclusion. He or she need only follow the evidence and draw the best, the most natural conclusion. If the Bible-believer were to do that, he would find himself in a serious quandary. Either he must give up God’s goodness or give up an inerrant Bible. Liberal Christians have decided that God’s goodness is the sounder theological position. Conservative Christians have never worked out the logic or, else, are in deep denial.

The Bible-believer may, of course, assume both points. No logical contradiction is entailed, though it does propel one into a kind of Alice-In-Wonderland world. Nevertheless, one should be up front about it and not pretend to be reaching a conclusion based on evidence and reason. It’s a case of burying your head in the sand and declaring that all contrary views–and evidence–are irrelevant! Obviously, there is no point in having a debate with such a person. Without appeal to evidence and reason, an honest believer can only say “Believe me, I’m right!” to a potential recruit. Fanatical believers in a flat earth, Zeus, or Cinderella are all on the same, logical plane with such a person. Once we admit that evidence and reason do not apply, then the knot that holds us to reality is slipped, and it’s off to fantasyland! For most of us, that is unacceptable.

In case you have gotten lost in all this logic, here is a synopsis. If the Bible-believer must reach deep into “creative” explanations, into the merely possible rather than the natural, to justify the divinely inspired massacres of the Bible, then it is clear that he or she is effectively operating under the assumption that a moral God, in fact, is responsible. An objective mind, bringing no such a priori baggage, would hardly go to such extremes to defend one position over the other. Once we understand that the Bible-believer actually begins with the assumption of God’s goodness and with the assumption that God wrote an inerrant Bible, we rightly wonder why there is a debate at all–the key points have already been assumed by the believer! A mountain of data will not persuade those believers as long as there is a single loophole to hide in, and there will always be loopholes to hide in.

The skeptic is saying that if the Bible-believer wants to seriously debate this point, then the debate must begin with objective neutrality. All possible outcomes must be on the table at the start! The opposing conclusions must be weighed for truth and the best one selected. In reaching for the best conclusion, the most natural conclusion, certainty is not a factor. Loopholes are not a consideration. We are not required to plumb the depths of God’s mind. When objective neutrality is enforced, the conclusion is a no-brainier and the Bible-believer has the unsavory choice of choosing between God’s goodness and an inerrant Bible. The liberal Christian has chosen to take his or her stand with God’s goodness. The conservative Christian seems to have gone into deep denial. The atheist, of course, rejects both assumptions. A nonexistent God does not contradict what we know best about our universe. Nor do we have the problem of pretending that an error-riddled Bible is somehow his word to us.

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