the difference between mark driscoll and westboro baptist church

Question: What’s the difference between Mark Driscoll and Westboro Baptist Church?
Answer: Westboro makes signs.


Other than that, neofundamentalist Mark Driscoll and Westboro Baptist are theologically about the same when it comes to the sectarian nature of their soteriological claims.

Here’s what “Pastor Mark” tweeted today:

In case he deletes it, here is a screencap of the tweet:

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church tweeted the following on January 21, 2013 just before President Barack Obama's second inauguration: ""Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church tweeted the following on January 21, 2013 just before President Barack Obama’s second inauguration: “Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

And here’s a transcription of what he wrote:

“Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

Remember the difference:

Westboro Baptist Church child protestor.

Westboro Baptist Church child protestor.

Westboro Baptist says: “God hates fags!”

Mark Driscoll screaming,

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll: “God Hates YOU!

…and apparently President Obama too, but he’s “praying for him“, so it’s not disingenuous or condescending or self-righteous or otherwise dickish in any way.

(and for the record, here was Westboro Baptist’s tweet for the day. Like I said, Westboro Baptist makes signs, but it’s the same sentiment as Driscoll toward gays.)

Manti Te’o ought to date Clint Eastwood’s empty chair

Manti Te’o ought to date Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. It just makes sense.

Manti Te'o with Clint Eastwood's Empty Chair

and

Here’s Deadspin breaking the story.

Background here.

For a quick summary, watch here.

Don’t miss Seth Meyers’ line here: “These Te’o jokes are all very funny but let’s all try and remember that a person who never existed is dead.”

Even more here, with timeline and quotes from Te’o.

The “Will of God” and the Fallen Idol

What do you get when you mix magic, idolatry, and religious fundamentalism? The irony that the same crucifix that you believe “cured your wife of cancer” has now crushed and caused the loss of your leg.

I feel bad for poor David Jimenez, who first had to endure the ordeals of his wife’s ovarian cancer, and has now lost his leg. I really do. And this is a pretty standard liability/injury lawsuit involving an accident and an insurance company.

But it is interesting how many people who attribute healing to prayer to crucifixes and the “will of God”, so quickly abandon this theological position when bad things happen. When good things happen, many devoted religious fundamentalists attribute the good they experience to the “power of God” and “God’s will” brought about through the power of prayer. BUT, when something bad happens, it is no longer the “will of God” (unless you’re a Republican running for senate), but is a civil liability claim against the church because of shoddy construction.

So when you need a miracle, you pray to God, but if God doesn’t deliver a blessing, you sue him.

Such is the state of religious fundamentalism in America today.

why fundamentalist evangelical republican politicians scare me (and should scare you too)

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, standing in front of a wall of mounted animal heads, tells the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet that he does not believe in “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory”, which he defines as “lies straight from the pit of Hell”. Broun is a Republican representative on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

This is the US Congressman from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, Dr. Paul Broun. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party Caucus.

He recently gave a speech to the “Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet” (yes, THAT exists, I kid you not) on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia. (This explains the WALL OF MOUNTED ANIMAL HEADS that serves as a backdrop for the Congressman.)

Watch a clip of the speech:

Here is the transcript of what he said:

God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Now, I’ve come to accept that there are some people on this earth that will NEVER accept science, no matter how logical, rational, or intellectually compelling it is because they are not interested in facts; they are interested in maintaining the beliefs and worldview compiled thousands of years ago by desert nomads. But this is not the problem.

Every American has every right to be religious. And every American has every right to make religious speech (just not in places where others are compelled to listen to it or participate in it, like public schools). And every American has the right, if they so choose, to deny reality. You can argue that aliens created human technology, Santa Claus, whatever – you have that right.

Every American, if they so choose, can choose to deny basic science, facts, and data. That too is OK…foolish, but within one’s constitutional rights. Likewise, every American has the right to elect as their representative someone reflects their skewed, ancient, and defunct worldview – a representative who also denies facts and information that science provides. Therefore, even though such behavior is utterly foolish IMHO, Americans have the right to believe what they want, deny reality if they want, and elect someone as their representative who reflects the denial of science, facts, and reality. It’s foolish, but they have these rights as Americans. This too is not the problem.

The real problem, and what frustrates me to no end, is that the Republican Party would place someone like Paul Broun, who obviously has a disdain for science and the factual reality of the world around us, to THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY! Forget the fact that he’s been married four times. Forget the fact that he’s a Conservative Evangelical. These aren’t the problem. The problem is that, based upon his fundamentalist religious convictions, he DENIES the fundamental tenets of science. Yet, despite this, the Republicans named him the CHAIR of the SCIENCE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS AND OVERSIGHT!

The Republicans bring this upon themselves.

While I’m sure the Medical College of Georgia is embarrassed to have Dr. Broun represent them as an alum who rejects the “lies” of basic medical disciplines like “embryology” and other tenets of basic science, they can’t help what he chooses to believe and deny today. But the Republicans can! The Republicans do themselves a major disservice when they promulgate the perception – one rightly deserved – that they are anti-science, and that they are anti-science precisely because they are conservative Evangelicals.

Do you see the problem? The Republicans don’t have to promote a scientifically ignorant congressman to the Committee on Science. Yet, they do. Thus, the Republicans completely deserve to continue to be chided as the party of anti-intellectualism and anti-science, because they continue to elevate people who see no possible compatibility between their faith and the reality of the worldview that basic science has provided. For fundamentalist Evangelical Republicans, faith and science are an either-or choice. And they choose faith. And that’s OK. But that the GOP elevates them and puts them in places of authority over budgets and curriculum for science and technology, this is the problem.

I shake my head.

Pat Robertson Has Lost His Mind: Jokes About Beating Women

Seriously. Pat’s been a moronic fool for years, but his senile ass has officially lost his mind.

Seriously. Even for the fundamentalists at CBN, Pat has become an absolute legal liability. He needs to be retired from the air.

Not only is he mocking Muslims by misrepresenting them (because good fundamentalist Christians never beat their wives), but now he’s taken to joking about beating women and TELLING PEOPLE TO BEAT THEIR WIVES!!!! Really??

Here’s the transcript of what Pat Robertson said:

“I don’t think we condone wife beating THESE DAYS(!!!!!), but something’s got to be done to make her…”

These days???!!!!!!!!!!!! “But something’s got to be done????

And there’s more:

“She’s rebellious, and chances are she was rebellious with her father and mother. She’s a rebellious child and she doesn’t want to submit to any authority. And she probably had temper tantrums when she was a kid, and you know…you know the little girl, ‘I hate you. I hate you,’ and she wants to slap her father. Well that’s the same kind of thing. She’s just…she’s transferred the father, now, she might…eeh…oh, I hate to say everything’s got to be some psychological counseling, but…”

“But that’s the problem. She does not understand authority. When she was growing up nobody made her behave. And now, you’ve got a 13-year old in a 30-year old woman’s body and she is acting like a child. Now, what do you do with that? You can’t divorce her according to the Scripture, so I say ‘MOVE TO SAUDI ARABIA’.”

[Laughter]

Did Pat ever consider that her husband Michael is a douche? Did anyone even bother to check to see if there is something that the husband perhaps did wrong? Could there possibly be any fault with him? We don’t know, but it doesn’t matter: to Pat, it’s the insubordinate, non-submissive woman who is to blame. That’s it. So his solution it so “move to Saudi Arabia” so you can “beat her” legally.

OUT. OF. HIS. MIND!

The end has come. Watch for CBN to announce Pat’s retirement from on-air segments soon, because he’s destroying whatever is left of CBN. And while this is a wonderful thing, he’s advocating crime in the process.

The Disingenuous Nature of the Christian Right Summed Up on a Texas Billboard

A billboard with a biblical scripture on it has popped up on a Victoria, TX billboard, and the Secret Service has been called in to investigate.

Pray for Obama Billboard w/ Psalm 109:8

A billboard in Victoria, TX asks people to “Pray for Obama”, and then disingenuously cites Psalm 109:8, which reads, “May his days be few; may another take his office.”

The billboard asks people to “Pray for Obama”, and then disingenuously cites “Psalms [plural sic!] 109:8″, which reads:

“May his days be few; may another take his office.”

At first glance, the “speech” is not hateful. In fact, the billboard appears to be anything but – a call for all people to pray for President Obama, complete with an image of hands gently folded in prayer, a portrait of the president, and a Bible verse.

However, it is the verse that is cited (Psalm 109:8) that is causing the stir. The single verse (8) simply calls for the removal of someone (King David in the original context) from “office”.

However, the Secret Service was probably called in because the full text of Psalm 109:8-15 reads:

(8) May his days be few; may another take his office. (9) May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow. (10) May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit. (11) May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil. (12) May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children. (13) May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation. (14) May the iniquity of his father be remembered before the LORD, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out. (15) Let them be before the LORD continually, and may his memory be cut off from the earth.

(The Bible is pleasant, huh?)

The fact that the context of Psalm 109 is actually recounting the words of a righteous King David, who is complaining about the lies and threats his enemies are making against him is apparently lost on the individual who placed this ad.

The beginning of the Psalm (109:1-7) reads:

(1) Do not be silent, O God of my praise. (2) For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. (3) They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. (4) In return for my love they accuse me, even while I make prayer for them. (5) So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love. (6) They say, “Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand on his right. (7) When he is tried, let him be found guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin. (and then Psa. 109:8) May his days be few; may another take his office…

Like most fundamentalist prooftexting and exegesis, the self-indicting context is completely ignored. The fact that the one proclaiming the words “May his days be few; may another take his office” is said to be a wicked man is completely ignored. Likewise, the fact that David is appealing to God about the lies and threats his enemies are making against him is a contextual fact completely overlooked by the one who created this disingenuous billboard.

I say the billboard is “disingenuous” because Christianity does preserve a tradition that Christians should “pray for” those in authority. It is found in 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

(1) I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, (2) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (3) This is good, and pleases God our Savior…

However, despite this clear Christian command to pray for (not against) those in power, the Victoria, TX billboard prays for President Obama’s demise:

“May his days be few; may another take his office” (followed by all those pleasant verses calling for the death and demise of his family).

It is not so much that the billboard is “hate speech”, unless you want to argue (as many do) that the Bible is filled with what can be described as hate speech, like the prayer at the end of Psalm 137:9 where the author begs for revenge against his enemies and proclaims:

“Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!

(because celebrating the murder of innocent children always plays well in religious circles.)

Rather, for me this billboard exposes the sheer duplicity and disingenuous nature of many conservative Christians, who seek to pick and choose scriptures that serve their preconceived political desires, and who use the Bible to heap hate and wishes of demise upon their perceived political enemies. It looks bad for all people of faith, and only adds to the ever growing body of evidence supporting the claim that the deliberate infusion of religion into politics in this country is approaching the downright toxic levels that we find in Islamic republics around the world. Conservative Christians rightfully denounce the religious oppression of these fundamentalist Islamic regimes, but then call for the very same Christian version of sharia law in America. Go figure!

Of course, this isn’t the first time that conservative Christians have used Psalm 109 to deride their political opponents. Joel Watts has chronicled several instances of the abuse of this particular scripture in politics.

But given that Christians are commanded to pray for their leaders, this billboard is nothing more than disingenuous religious prooftexting.

Then again, what more should we expect from the Christian right these days?

the ’tilapia tomb’

TilapiaQuestion:

Now that Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor are claiming that an ossuary discovered in Jerusalem has a ‘fish’ on it, can we begin referring to the Talpiot Tomb the “Tilapia Tomb“?

#St. Peter’s Fish

on ‘absalom’s tomb’ in jerusalem and nephesh monument iconography

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into a burial ossuary.

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796 (http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/brian796/2/1264692913/the-tomb-of-absalom.jpg/tpod.html). Center: MSNBC Cosmic Log (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10521007-new-find-revives-jesus-tomb-flap) Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG).

Here’s a thought:

In response to Simcha Jacobovici’s sensational claims of a “Jonah’s Great Fish” icon on a burial ossuary in Jerusalem, Duke University’s Dr. Eric Meyers states the following:

In fact, the image in the book is so poorly reproduced in my copy that one suspects it has been intentionally altered so that no one could see what the the image really is. Indeed, the image actually seems to resemble a nephesh, or tomb monument, like those found in many places in Jerusalem in the first century CE and depicted on ossuaries of this very period (so for example in fig. 13 or 30 of Rahmani’s A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, 1994). A nephesh is the above-ground monument of a tomb that marks the tomb below and the one(s) buried there.

Chris Rollston adds:

I must emphasize that I am confident the engraving  is simply a standard “nephesh tower motif,” an ornamental motif that is fairly widely attested on the corpus of ossuaries.  In fact, in Rahmani’s discussion of the ornamental motifs of ossuaries, the first ornamental motif he mentions is that which has the appearance of a tomb façade or nephesh tower. (Rahmani, L. Y., 1994. A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, p. 28).

By the way, the features of  this ossuary’s ornamentation that Jacobovici and Tabor contend are the “fins of a fish,” are actually a standard feature of a roof, namely, the eaves (which, of course, are important for directing the water away from a building).  Note also that eaves are visible in multiple of Rahmani’s drawings of ossuary ornamentation.  In short, this is not a fish.  It is a nephesh tower or tomb façade.

The initial thought that came to my mind was the so-called Tomb of Absalom (that we coincidentally discussed today in my “Jerusalem from the Bronze to Digital Age” class at Iowa). The shape of the figure resembles the shape of the Tomb of Absalom, which is dated to the 1st C. CE in Jerusalem. I suggest that the “round” figure at the top of the ossuary image may be an attempted representation of a lotus flower that Kloner and Zissu state is carved into the top of the Absalom monument. (Kloner A. and Zissu B., 2003. The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and The Israel Exploration Society. Jerusalem (in Hebrew), pp. 141-43.) It certainly could be interpreted as an attempt at the petals of a flower.

Likewise the lower panels of the image could be an attempt at a representation of the tomb’s pillars.

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into a burial ossuary.

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796. Center: MSNBC Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia.

Note also that the sections of the “tail” of the “fish” correspond to the attempted representations of the stacked Greek architectural segments on the tomb’s (frieze, architrave, etc.):

'The Tomb of Absalom.' Peter Bergheim, a Jerusalem resident of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, took this photo, which shows how the rock rubble piled up even inside the tomb. The Bergheim family had a bank just inside Jaffa Gate. Photo by Peter Bergheim, courtesy of Joe Zias. (Available at: http://tfba.co/content/index.php/projects/34-tomb-of-absalom/46-the-tomb-of-absalom-reconsidered?start=9)

'The Tomb of Absalom.' Peter Bergheim, a Jerusalem resident of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, took this photo, which shows how the rock rubble piled up even inside the tomb. The Bergheim family had a bank just inside Jaffa Gate. Photo by Peter Bergheim, courtesy of Joe Zias. (Available at: http://tfba.co/content/index.php/projects/34-tomb-of-absalom/46-the-tomb-of-absalom-reconsidered?start=9)

This may not be the inspiration for the image on the ossuary, but it certainly seems more likely than a “fish” spitting out a “human head.”

maximize the money, archaeology be damned: simcha jacobovici claims ‘new’ evidence of jesus

See? Once you have this inscription, we know Jesus was buried here. Simple, no? I shake my head...

See? Once you have this inscription, we *know* Jesus was buried here. Simple, no? I shake my head...

On December 8, 2012, in response to learning that Simcha Jacobovici had sued one of his more vocal critics, Joe Zias, I left the following comment on Jim West’s blog:

How much do you want to bet that this law suit was filed a couple of months before the release of Simcha’s ‘next big thing’? Wouldn’t it be something if this lawsuit was simply part of a media strategy to intimidate critical scholars by suing someone just prior to the release of some crazy new claim. The cherry on top would be another ossuary claim, because the world doesn’t have enough sensational ossuary controversies. Just watch. Let’s see if this is what happens. If so, Simcha will have proved me correct, and the world will know precisely what this is all about.

Well, what do you know? I hate to say it, but…I told you so.

And now, the press is beginning to be polluted with this: ‘Naked Archaeologist’ finds signs Jerusalem cave was used to bury Jesus’ disciples (Haaretz)

And this: New find revives ‘Jesus Tomb’ flap (MSNBC)

And this: Tomb exploration reveals first archaeological evidence of Christianity from the time of Jesus (eurekalert.org)

And this: The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity [Hardcover]

Fascinating how these stories all hit the wires the same day – Feb 28, 2012 – precisely the same day that Jacobovici’s new book gets released?? And, is it coincidence that said media marketing campaign gets kicked off during the Lenten season just before Easter?

This is nothing more than a coordinated press release to sell a book and promote a forthcoming documentary. There is no new discovery here; this has been known for years.

REMEMBER: don’t watch what Simcha says – you know he’s going to try and sell the public on his latest speculation. Rather, watch what the scholars say – or better yet, watch what the scholars don’t say, and you’ll have your answer.

As for the ‘substance’ of the argument? Witherington got it right: “one speculation upon another speculation.”

Am I shocked? Absolutely not. This is the kind of nonsense we’ve come to expect from Simcha Jacobovici: maximize the money, archaeology be damned.

no, no the dead sea scrolls do not ‘confirm’ the discoveries of the hubble telescope

Contrary to the claims of the above author, the Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with the Hubble Telescope.

Dilly Award Nominee!

In what is nothing more than cheap, sensationalistic, and deliberately misleading press designed to promote a ridiculous, pseudoscientific, Intelligent Design theory about the relationship between the Hubble Telescope and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Newswire (“the nation’s leading distributor of religious press releases”) released this tripe.

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14, 2012 – An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope, according to a new book being released at New York City’s BookExpo America this summer.

My head is about to explode.

First, amateur wannabe stargazer theologian archaeologist “entrepreneur” J. Paul Hutchins has written a book in which he claims, “Hubble Reveals Creation by an Awe-Inspiring Power.” No, no it doesn’t. The Hubble telescope reveals to us how incredibly old the universe actually is. But that doesn’t stop Hutchins from asking deep, probing questions like, “How did Isaiah know about this unimaginable power without the aid of a space telescope thousands of years before Hubble revealed it?”

You see how this works? Hubble must confirm Isaiah because Hutchins asked the question! Case closed.

Of course, this kind of ‘discovery’ cannot remain unannounced to the world, for there is money to be made. Thus, Hutchins makes statements like:

After researching the images and data from the Hubble and Spritzer space telescopes, collected since their launch, Hutchins was compelled to write about the universe as a product of intelligent design, fueled by superior imagination.

And what are his theological, archaeological, palaeographical, or astronomy credentials you might ask?

A patented inventor and amateur astronomer, he began to notice the role imagination played in every major discovery in man’s history…Hutchins has been a businessman and entrepreneur for more than three decades, and has owned five companies. He is a recipient of the Lee County Community Development Award and has been a disaster relief volunteer. The parents of three adult daughters, Hutchins and his wife currently reside in Orlando, FL.

Then, to compound the stupidity and add to the ‘scientific credibility’ of his ‘discovery,’ Hutchins invokes the Dead Sea Scrolls. How does he do this you ask? Here‘s how:

An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope.

And the verse is question?

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” – Isaiah 40:25, 26

That’s right. Why simply claim that the Hubble telescope ‘confirms’ a biblical verse of prophecy in Isaiah when you can invoke that same text of Isaiah 40:25-26 found in 1QIsaa and 4Q56 f26:4 (4QIsab) among the Dead Sea Scrolls? See, now it’s not the Bible that ‘confirms’ Hutchins’ theory, it’s the Scrolls.

This is how to abuse science for the sake of selling a pseudoscientific book. (And it reminds me of someone. I can’t quite place it, but it reminds me of someone…)

This is nothing more than yet another example of a guy with a stupid idea, who writes it on paper in an attempt to sell it to someone, and surrounds it with talk about unrelated scientific discoveries (the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hubble Telescope) in the desperate hope that people will not realize the non sequitur and think that his idea has been ‘confirmed’ by science.

I shake my head…

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