Or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

Strip search!

Oh yeah.

Oh?

You mean it’s not THAT kind?

Oh.

You mean nasty women in sensible shoes making me do what?

Oh no, no, no, no.

It seems our illustrious banc of increasingly, how shall I say this delicately, CRAZY MF’ing NUTS, have decided that the most minor of offenses (and only being charged) subjects the lucky recipient to a lovely and sexless full body search. Strip it ma’am!

Now, once upon a time, in a universe invented by me, a remember sitting in a classroom at MSU listening to a professor tell me all about his computerized model for predicting the outcome of cases before the supremest of Supremes. He had something like a 93% level of accuracy, so there was something to his madness.

I do very much recall that he suggested that one idea that played heavily on their collective minds in determining these “individual rights” cases, was the degree to which they could envision themselves or others of “their kind” being subjected to the objected of action. Most could see themselves, for instance, stopped in a store by mistake by a security officer who thought they saw something funny. So they were protective of people’s sense of personal privacy when confronted by rent-a-cops.

Well, apparently, five of ‘em no longer see the possibility that they might be *gasp* arrested for some minor offense, even by mistake. So they have no problem with all your privaty parts swaying in the wind before strangers as they poke and probe parts unseen since your mommy wiped your butt.

I personally don’t know whether to be offended or excited. I’m still pondering. Denise finds it all odious.

I’m a fan of Andrew Sullivan. Which is not to say that I agree with him on a whole host of issues. But sometimes he is just simply right. If you didn’t see the piece he did on Christianity, then do please follow the link and read it. It’s really good. I’ve been kicking around a post about religion and organized religion for a bit, and this certainly helped to gel some ideas I’ve been bubbling up. The organized Church is to a real extent, merely the vehicle we choose to express our faith. When we start defending the institution, we are probably heading in the wrong direction.

Those of you who hang out here regularly, know that I loves me some quantum mechanics. I get all squishy doe-eyed when quarks are mentioned and singularities, and oh, be still my beating heart–dark energy. Well, here’s one that purely had me giggling. A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney, well, it does explain a lot. It does. Really. Think multiple universes and Romnealities. Think Romneverse. Delicious.

Bless her heart, Ann Romney is doin’ her best to stand by her man. He’s human! He’s funny! He’s a prankster! Ann assures us that he is no stiffy. Just “unzip” him and you’ll see. Well, gosh, I bet she didn’t mean it THAT way. But that’s the way we all took it.

We know that Willard is amusing.

We  expect they are a fun family.

But I am concerned about one thing.

They name their kids weird too. Like Tragg.

What is a Tragg? Is it like a Trig or a Bristol or one of those Alaskan things?

Is there something we don’t know here?

Or did Sarah pick it up from Willard?

Wanna use an etch-a-sketch now Ann?

I probably should read more Susan Sontag. I definitely should read more Peter Abelard. I need more lives in order to read all the things I need to read. Which doesn’t even begin to account for all the things I want to read.

Ya know, the Supreme Court. I’ve been reading lots of opinions about what they will do. And why. Mostly about why. I mean lets start out with the fact that they have no enforcement tool. They depend on a sense of legitimacy which will encourage the active arms of government to do as they say. How precarious is that?

So far, it’s not been.

But plenty of folks were disturbed by Bush v Gore, and thought it was partisan.

Plenty of folks are disturbed by Citizens United. Plenty figure the Court is overly supportive of big business interests.

When something like 96% of all legal experts say that the constitutionality of the AHCA is clear, you have to wonder.

Do these black-robes actually care how history views them? Do enough of them care? Does Roberts care?

Kevin Drum at MotherEarthJones has a good article. Would a defeat of the health care act mobilize the Left?

I just read, (without citation) that Willard has said that an economy is simply the sum total of businesses. Has he been reading Rand? I guess workers, consumers, teachers, police, firemen, doctors, and on and on and on, don’t have a thing to do with it. Just fodder. If ever there was a man consumed with the idea that what he does has done, is the only thing that matters, it’s Willard.

There has been comment on the fact that Newty and Ragin’ have failed to correct or to respond to ugly remarks made by supporters of theirs who ask questions. Things that have to do with the President being a “Muslim” and so forth. It turns out that Willard is cut of the same piece of cheap cloth, more than willing to allow slurs to go unanswered, and even willing to have his picture taken with them. Witness:

 And there you have it.

 

Historian is the New Hedge Fund Career?

Listen up you college types. Are you looking for a major that is sure to lead to big beautiful bucks? Are you going to need a high income to pay off those pesky student loans? Is money your objective in life?

Well, we have the major for you. Race on down to your college counselor and switch that major to HISTORY. Yes indeed, history. No particular type necessary. American, European, Asia, World, State, National, specializing in war, politics, economics, ethnicity, or whatever else. It don’t matter. Just make it H I S T O R Y.

With a history PH.D. under your belt or bra, you too can enter the ranks of the one percenters, as in TOP 1%.

Corporations are waiting for your applications. Bankers, oil firms, pharmaceuticals, NRA, you name it, they are looking for historians to “consult” about consultable things. Just look up their history, and the history of their interest, and write them a paper or two, and they will shower you will dollars the likes of which you never expected.

Those who are especially adept at this historian consulting can make upwards of 1.6 MILLION dollars a crack.

Be the first in your dorm to sign up for this mega opportunity. Offer good while supplies last. (Or the gig is up, which ever comes first.)

Go Newt. Grift on.

We have a TeaNutz® here in Iowa. We know this, because he advertises.

He owns property that abuts the I-380 freeway. He puts up signs for those heading north out of Cedar Rapids.

He informs us on how he feels.

In the run up to 2008, he put up a big old sign that said “Vote McCain-Palin”.

After that didn’t work, he put up. “How’s that Hope and Change coming along”.

Then he went to “Obummer”. He left that up a long time.

Then he went to “VOTE CAIN”. That lasted about three weeks.

Now he says, “Worst Ever”.

It’s unclear if he means Obama or the clown convention that is the GOP field.

Stay tuned.

I’d be the first to tell ya. I don’t have much truck with the King James Bible. As a semi-serious student of the “bible”,  whatever that means exactly, I find it not a reliable translation of what was originally said.

That being said, it is a rich and fragrant bounty when it comes to beautiful language and catchy phrasing. In fact, the average person has little idea just how many of the common idioms of the day are taken directly from its pages.

Ever use the words: “bite the dust” or “blind leading the blind” or “scum of the earth” or “by the skin of one’s teeth”? Well you were quoting the KJV.

National Geographic has a great article all about the book that remains the most favored over-all to the average Christian.

 

Newty has more than just Fannie & Freddie to explain of course. There are plenty more “historical consultations” he has been paid for. And as they dig, so they uncover. Jim Rutenberg, writing for the NYTimes, has interesting information about Newt’s activities with the Gundersen Lutheran Health System and Pharma. Hint: he takes the money, says what they want, and them publicly gets on the side of which way the wind is blowing in the GOP.

Seems that Newty and old Mittens have much in common.

Ya gotta laugh at Herm. He’s rockin’ on as best he can as the absent a brain. He tried to smooze with Cubans in Florida. He was heard to turn aside to one of his handlers, and whisper, “how do you say delicious in Cuban?”

Herm, there is no “Cuban” language. That would be Spanish. Hermie, “bless his heart”, Cain (as Sarah refers to him), has taken a play from her book it seems, in basically knowin’ nothin’ ’bout nothin’.

Oh, and this just released by the Cain campaign: There will no longer be any electronics allowed in any room where the Cainster is speakin’. There will forthwith be no further questions accepted by anybody. Mr. Cain has concluded that every question is now a “gotcha question.”  (Not really, but heck, close enough to be accurate, and that’s all we aim at here! )

Got all the pre-Thanksgiving shopping done.

The Menu:

 Succulent Roasted Duck
Stuff that Bird Italian Style Dressing
Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole
Caramelized Pearl Onions
Cherry Ice-Cream Jello Salad
Relish tray
Fresh French Baguettes
Holiday Spice Bread
Pecan-Apple Upside Down Pie
 
 

 

 

He Deserves to be in Hell, Just Not on the Same Floor as Hitler

I apologize to Jon Stewart, but his line last night was priceless. He was paraphrasing good old Pastor Jeffers who said of Romney’s faith something like this:

“He’s a good moral man, but Mormonism is a cult. That is what evangelicals believe.”

Mitty (I am so trying to be just your average Joe) Romney cannot catch a break. No matter what he does, his poll numbers don’t move one millimeter. Not one. The crazy Right flirts with candidate after candidate, boosting them upon their shoulders in some increasingly desperate attempt to infuse each one with some modicum of sense and electability, only to find each one gorging on every donut in town, and eventually weighing them down until they are squashed to the ground.

It seems that they have plumb run out of people willing to walk the plank. (Wait, I can mix a few more metaphors if you are patient!) So, now it’s either Cain, who is seriously just awful, or Mitt.

And Mitt will continue to be dragged through the swamp with pictures like the above, showing him glorying in his “corporate raider” glee, as he and his buddies do everything but roll naked in thousand dollar bills. This will not be playing well in the shredded landscape that is referred to as “Middle America”.

Mitt will continue to be plagued by the provable and “film at 11:00″ clips of saying the exact opposite thing on a whole host of subjects. Can it be made any more clear that Mitt is the malleable Ken doll who can be programmed in repeat the latest poll results as “his belief.”

What is his belief? I can see only one. He believes that he should be President. Beyond that, he has no principles on anything. A week ago he considered the OWS people as “dangerous” and “promoting class warfare.” Now of course, he “understand their frustration”.  You see, it didn’t play well to be backing up the 1% against the 99%.

As the OWS phenomenon has grown and prospered, the GOP tune in general has had to change. Oh not with the diehards such as Glenn (is anybody out there?) Beck and Blush Limpaw, and Sean (I still get mail!) Hannity. They continue their demented sewage even though only the rabid wrecks of rusting trailer park renters still tune in. But the silly Cantors and McConnells and Orange slushies, well, they have sought to tame the rhetoric.

I think it’s starting to sink in. There are no more bible-clutching “white” knights on the horizon. The GOPers are stuck with Herm (I love the Koch brothers and they love me) Cain, Ricky (if I could only run a campaign without speaking) Perry, or the ever-morphing Mitty (I can catch the nomination) Romney.

And that is some very lousy reality to live with I bet.

I think backing Obama is starting to be a very comfortable place to be.

 Herm is having more than enough trouble with his stunningly silly 9-9-9 plan. And so he figures it’s a good thing to introduce more stupid remarks. His latest is to suggest that we build a big old fence across the lower border and electrify it, with signs warning that death may attend any attempt to climb over.

Now Herm says that was a joke. Sort of. I’m sure Latinos across the country are splitting their sides in roars of laughter.

And he suggests that immigration should be a state’s right thing. In other words, each state should make up its own immigration rules and enforce them. Does Herm have any clue? Next he will be in favor of each state having its own DOD.

I’m seriously thinking that running a pizza empire must be a pretty brain-lite job.

But simple plays well to the simple-minded.

This banner was flown over a golf course where Speaker of Orange was playing in California. Cute ain’t it?

Thanks to Joe.My.God

Meanwhile, Newt (send my dinner bill to one of my donors) Gingrich, continues to amaze the world with his brand of “I can say something more stupid than you” antics.

Only this is not an antic. It’s deadly serious and is but one example of what happens when grifters get into the game of politics and turn serious legislation aside in pursuit of “points” on the campaign trail.

Read this please, and know what a thoroughly wretched individual Newt Gingrich really is. It is called Newt’s Personal Hypocrisy on “Death Panels“. And just so ya know, my “own” Chucky Grassley took the same approach.

Proof that too much pizza addles the brain:

Herm is only a conservative because the big guy, as in J E S U S, was one. Yep.

Now, I’ve read a boatload of books about Jesus Christ. I’ve read many of the most respected theologians and biblical experts on the subject. A few make a reasonable case that our Lord was a radical zealot, but very few. Most see him as someone apart from the “political” field, even though his teachings certainly impacted on both political and social mores.

But I don’t know a single one who would argue that he was a conservative. That is, unless you define conservatism in exactly the opposite fashion than it has traditionally been defined. And I don’t know a single one who would argue that the Roman Empire nor the Sanhedrin were the “liberal” forces who destroyed him.

But Herm does.

The liberal court found Him guilty of false offenses and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12…..Never before and not since has there ever been such a perfect conservative.……For over 2,000 years the world has tried hard to erase the memory of the perfect conservative, and His principles of compassion, caring and common sense.

And Herm has more to tell you about Jesus. How he was unemployed but never asked for an unemployment check, and how he healed the sick without any government health care plan, and how he answered his detractors without benefit of being “Mirandized.”

Go read it. This stuff is priceless, and Herm is crazy as the perverbial loon.

See, you’re not selfish, your just a good Christian. Yeah right.

 

Who is Christian? (repost from WITS)

Following the horrific events in Oslo, Norway, and the ensuing rhetoric about it, this question came to me. Who indeed is Christian?

As you will recall, long before much in the way of facts were uncovered, a shocking number of pundits and “journalists” speculated freely that Al Qaeda had struck innocents once again. Once the alleged perpetrator began to talk, all this changed, and we learned that the actor was a self-proclaimed Christian and fundamentalist. His written screed backed this up, with illusions to the Crusades.

As we have now come to expect, the Right was furious. How dare this madman do his evil deeds in the name of Christianity? In fact, some of these misguided folks claimed that they were the “true victims” since the Left now would use this crime to attack the far-right cause. Indeed the terrorist named several anti-Muslim activists in this country as being an inspiration to him. So the extreme right had reason to be concerned.

Other’s unbelievably, still wanting to put a Muslim face on this tragedy, said that the actor “had a point” in suggesting that multiculturalism was a disaster for Europe, and by inference for America as well. This tactic was rather soundly condemned: how can you uphold anything that comes from a crazed killer?

But perhaps the most profound result was people like Bill O’Reilly, pundit for Fox “News” who proclaimed that the Norwegian killer was “no Christian”. He claimed that one was not entitled to that title merely by saying it, especially when one’s actions belied any real understanding of the teachings of Jesus.

Of course, Mr. O’Reilly has never had any problem with calling Middle Eastern terrorists, “Islamic Terrorists” simply because they were of the Muslim faith or claimed to be. One begins to smell a lack a rat here.

But the question remains. What constitutes a Christian? The question of course can equally be asked of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and any other faith tradition.

Who gets to decide when one is acting or talking or thinking within the acceptable parameters of one’s tradition?

I, for instance, would argue that The Westboro “Christians” aren’t Christians at all, or one’s whose understanding of Christianity is deeply flawed. I and many others sometimes refer to fundamentalist Christians as Christianists, to signify that they use and distort biblical passages in order to serve their personal views of the way the world “ought to be.”

Other’s argue that Mormons are not “true” Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The point is, that the majority of Muslims throughout the world might well argue that those who engage in terrorism are misguided and self-serving in their interpretation of the Qur’an, and are not “true” Muslims. Perhaps that is said by some portions of the Jewish community. There are Buddhists who engage or have engaged in violence. Are there Buddhists who would argue that they are not “true” Buddhists?

So the question remains, who decides?

There is no human answer here of course. The ultimately satisfying answer can only be, that God will and does determine this issue, if it is of any importance at all. We, individually or in community cannot know the mind and spirit of any other person. We cannot judge what faith means to them, or how they interpret it.

Is the man who killed Dr. Tiller a Christian? He would certainly, and does claim that he acted to defend God’s word. Were the Inquisitionists Christians? Were the Crusaders? The KKK? White Militias? All have killed in the name of God.

Again, we mere mortals do best to leave that alone. Nothing is served by trying to “protect” one’s sect of Christianity by claiming that this or that one “doesn’t belong to us.” The truth is that fundamentalism is not a Christian thing, nor a Muslim thing, nor even necessarily a religious thing. It is a state of being, in which the believer thinks that he/she has the answers to whatever issues matter to them. They have interpreted correctly and those that disagree must be defeated. The manner of their defeat can be many things, but for a fringe it can and will include violence.

It is this that is opposed, and not the thinking itself. I am well able to accept your self-serving interpretations as long as they remain yours and not ones you seek to impose upon me by force.

If the Norway shooter believes he is Christian, then he is entitled to do so. He’s not my vision of one, but I am not the decider. And neither is anybody else.

Amen.

In the Name of All That is Holy

In order to protect my last shred of sanity, we are going to chat about just about anything OTHER than the debt ceiling and the children who claim to be governing us. Indeed the foxes are in charge of the hen-house.

So take a moment, relax, grab a cuppa joe and let’s see if we can find any remnant of a world we can still hang on to.

There is a really good post (most all of them are) over at we are respectable negroes about the backlash the right is giving to the notion that a Christian fundamentalist reeked the horror in Norway. From Beck’s claiming that the children murdered were attending a Hitler Youth-like camp to O’Reilly’s silly claim that he can be “defined” out of being Christian by his unChristian acts, we see a desperation on the part of the right not to be associated with terrorist acts. Chauncey DeVega weighs in.

I was looking at a neat little recipe site the other day, and was reminded of a simple way to make “pizza” when you don’t have much time or are feeling lazy. While not as good as “real” pizza, it’s a nice substitute and heck, it’s down right perfect for those lazy football afternoons coming soon. It’s as simple as using flour tortillas as the “crust” and then adding your favorite toppings. Take a look at the recipe at JustaPinch and take it from there. The cook there calls her simple version, Pizzatillas.

Joe “Hey Chris” Walsh, the blowheart that takes to YouTube to lecture the President and call him a liar, is a bit of a douche. Well a lot of a douche. The man who dares to claim he has all the answers of fiscal responsibility, and who is a loud-mouth TeaNutz® idiot, is a dead-beat dad. In Illinois, Joey owes his kids something over $117 THOUSAND bucks. Didn’t stop him from loaning his own campaign $35,000, but hey, that was important. Taking care of the kids? Not so much.

Political Irony has a delicious piece entitled “To be a Republican You Need to Believe.” It is true, and funny, and sick, and ironic and well, it’s what a GOPer is, nuttier than a fruitcake. Don’t miss it.

Like to make homemade ice cream? Not many people bother, mostly because left over ice cream becomes hard as a rock. This recipe is quick and promises that that will not happen. All you need is an inexpensive ice cream maker (usually under $40). It’s a rich recipe but only takes about 15 minutes to prepare + the machine time. I’m sure gonna try it.

Just because it was cute!

And because it’s true:

(h/t to Political Irony)

Well, frankly there ain’t a lot going on in the blog world except debt ceiling blah blah blah, and so that’s it today!

Illusions of Significance?

One of the side effects of being sentient or self-aware, at least at human levels, is our propensity to try to get inside the heads of other people.

We ponder why Sally did this and why Don did that. We find certain behavior curious, ridiculous, courageous, all by our own standards as we have come to believe them.

Even more curious, we tend to project intention onto objects. We kick the car, and scream at malfunctioning vacuum cleaners.

Do we create God as well? In our minds? Of course every atheist would say yes. Science gives no definitive answer, and perhaps will never have such a capacity.

Still, the mulling of such ideas is useful. Read Slate’s article and also take a gander at the book it’s based on: The Belief Instinct.

***

The Atlantic has an interesting one on “foodies”, those gourmet nuts who gush about food as if it were sex. Which it is for them no doubt. It is pure gluttony at some level. Are you the type who reads breathlessly a description of some dish? Or do you skip to the chase? Are you the type who scours the Internet looking for odd ingredients not to be found in even the most up scale Piggly Wiggly? Or do you think good old domestic cheddar is just fine? The author points out that Livy said that when we glorify the chef, we are heading for the end. What do you think?

***

Here’s one for ya. Remember Christine O’Donnell? Witchy poo? Well she’s another one that missed the trolley. Ms. abstinence is trying to keep her little political life afloat, by going after George Soros, and all the groups he funds. She’s operating out of her house, with her tiny little PAC. She’s soliciting funds–nice to pay the rent and heat as a “business expense” isn’t it. She also claims that Barack Obama considers her his biggest threat. If you want more, please go the SciFi Channel.

***

Most of the world could ignore the blatherings of Glenn Beck except for the fact that his nearly insane followers become Rottweilers with the theories he gives them. Frances Fox Pivens has been one of his targets. Based upon an article she co-wrote in 1966 about helping welfare recipients receive their due, she has been raised to the level of a founder of the marxist/socialist/destruction of America “tree” that arises out of Beckian mental illness. Vilified in the most ugly terms (I’ve read the comments) in The Blaze, and else where, Dr. Pivens has been subjected to e-mail harassment and many a death threat. She responds with some commentary on the rise of the crazies.

***

It does seem to me, in the last couple of years, that the claims of the extreme right have become more and more outlandish. Especially so of Beck and perhaps Limbaugh as well. They seem more and more emboldened to spew invective at whole groups, call the President any creature this side of Arcturus, and to generally make fun of anything non-white and educated beyond the 10th grade.

At the same time, there is a definite change in the numbers. As to Beck, his TV watchers are down 50%, and radio stations are dropping him. Limbaugh has been losing ground as has Hannity on his radio show.

How to explain? I think it’s an attempt to shore up the shrinking numbers. But the people who are leaving are precisely those who are tired of the “Muslim President” cry, and are searching for something a bit less biased. The hard core will never depart and don’t need the increasingly wacky theories. They generate enough of their own!

***

In a major “oops” House Rethugs failed to pass an extension of the Patriot Act. It seems that House Tea Partiers joined forces with House Dems to deny the leadership its  passage and leaving them somewhat embarrassed. It will undoubtedly pass under different House procedures, but still, it goes to show that the GOP has a snarly tiger by the tail.

***

One of our favorite wackadoodles is Bryan Fischer, head of the AFA. He is obsessed, as you know, with homosexuality (which explains ever so much). He has a new target: Native Americans. Incensed by the invocation,  he tells Native Peoples that it is high time they got with Christianity and gave up their filthy pagan ways. Oh Bryan, you eat, drink, and sleep hate. I bet you could collect all the people in the world that you like in your very own living room.

***

Oh, what? Oops! Doin’ a bit of the happy dance. (Whispering) they are eating their own again. Come watch! Beck looks into his crystal ball and sees that the precious Right is now agin’ the Tea Party and all of them REAL patriots. They are trying to assassinate us! “Or maybe it’s just a coincidence,” he ponders, “but I don’t believe in coincidences,” his insane brain says. “Talkin’ about freedom” he spittles, and “wildcards” who must be suppressed. Oh gosh, I should feel sympathy for one who is but a step from the rubber room, but dang if I can feel THAT emotion. Glee would be more like it.

Well, enough.

What’s on the stove? Fried chicken, mashed taters and gravy. (Which means I don’t have to do dishes!)

The Human Faces of God

Seldom have I anticipated a book more than Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When it Gets God wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It) . I can tell you, that the book does not disappoint.

Stark takes on the biblical inerrantists and simply demolishes them. Inerrantists, (fundamentalists) insist that “the Bible is inspired by God, without error in everything it affirms historically, scientifically and theologically.” Stark begins with their own founding document: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, formulated in 1978. In it is found its hermeneutic tool: the historical-grammatical method. Stark shows how this method is used, except when it is not used. In other words, inerrantists profess it, and use it, until it doesn’t accomplish their result: an inerrant text. Stark calls their actual practice one of the “hermeneutics of convenience.”

A series of methodologies are alternated, all directed to reach the result that the bible does not err. This at times involves plain meaning, literalism, scripture defining scripture, fuller meaning, and in the end a resort to throwing up one’s hands and declaring that “God has not as yet seen fit to reveal the meaning to us.”

Stark moves through the troubling passages that allude to a belief in a pantheon of gods. Anyone familiar with the Hebrew scriptures knows that there are odd pieces here and there that seem to suggest that there were other gods than Yahweh. The Psalms are replete with such sayings such as God being mightier than the other gods. Exodus and Genesis make such references as well, as well as mention of the “council of the gods.”

Indeed, Stark’s claim that polytheism was the order of the day in ancient Israel, is nothing new. Yet he explains it to the lay reader perhaps better than anywhere else I have seen. The same can be said of his hard-hitting analysis of the  God of genocide, found in and throughout Deuteronomy, and the God who at least condones and accepts human sacrifice. These difficult and troubling texts are explained, carefully, and patiently with excellent reference to archaeology, other relevant texts of the time, and good literary critical exegesis.

Perhaps the area that will cause the most concern is his claim that Jesus, while many things, was most certainly an apocalyptic prophet. Stark points out that his prophecies regarding the end times were accurate, until the last one, the imminent return of himself, ushering in the full kingdom of God. In this Stark claims that Jesus was simply wrong.

This is hard to swallow, but Mr. Stark makes a very convincing argument, one well worth the time to read carefully and seriously. I suspect that if you get to that point in the book, you are trusting of  Stark’s careful analysis and will listen with an open ear and heart.

What is accomplished here, in this book, is more than just showing the errors and contradictions of the bible. There have surely been dozens that have done that already. Rather, Stark, explains how the “book” we call the bible, came into existence. Understanding it as a collection of documents written over more than 1000 years, and containing within disparate, and contradictory voices, helps us to see it for what it is: a people’s walk with God.

It is most singularly a human document, written over a long period and containing oral traditions that span even greater times. There are voices within it that argue for opposite things. In some cases, even some of the Hebrew writers attempted to reconcile difficult passages that were at odds. (The stories of David and Goliath are instructional here, and Stark lays out a wonderful explanation for the two different explanations for Goliath’s death, and why another writer, the Chronicler, tried to cover up the contradiction.)

Stark convinces, I think, that having to face up to the difficult and ugly passages in the bible is worthwhile and has much to teach us on their own. Rather than shrug, as inerrantists often do, or try to twist and warp them into some apparent sense, it is much better to accept them as human failings in living and in understanding of their God.

Better to allow God to speak through the hateful and unacceptable passages to us today and allow them to inform us as to our own shortcomings and roads to growth.

Stark is a believing Christian, one who has struggled with scripture and found that facing the unpleasant realities allows one to grow into a mature faith. In fact, he claims, and I tend to agree, that fundamentalism is an adolescent and immature view,  clinging to a world that one would prefer, but which simple does not exist.

We would all like certainty. But certainty doesn’t exist. The Bible cannot give us that, no matter how much we might wish it. We can pretend otherwise, but that leaves us mired in a fantasy world and helps us not at all in addressing the troubles of our world.

The last chapter is delightful, giving Mr. Stark’s own reflections on what these hard passages can offer us today.

Speaking of the problematic stories of Abraham and Isaac, of Jephthah and his daughter, and King Mesha and his son, Thom Stark reflects:

Today we denounce such practices as inhuman and reject as irrational the belief that the spilling of innocent blood literally affected the outcome of harvests and military battles. Yet we continue to offer our own children on the altar of homeland security, sending them off to die in ambiguous wars, based on the irrational belief that by being violent we can protect ourselves from violence. We refer to our children’s deaths as “sacrifices” which are necessary for the preservation of democracy and free trade. The market is our temple and it must be protected at all costs. Thus, like King Mesha, we make “sacrifices” in order to ensure the victory of capitalism over socialism, the victory of consumerism over terrorism.

If you would learn to understand the bible, and actually get the most out of it, then do read this book. It is about the best I’ve seen at showing us the dangers of inerrancy, and how we can grow in our faith through a truthful, honest and courageous examination of our sacred books.

* I am indebted to WIPF & Stock Publishers for sending this book free of charge for review. The only agreement is an implicit promise on my part to read, review and publish the results.