Monday, August 30, 2004


Why can't everyone just get along and agree with me? seemed to be the attitude of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. He seems to be distressed over the homosexuality debate splitting his church
Speaking during a question and answer session at the Greenbelt Christian festival, attended by more than 15,000 people at Cheltenham race course over the bank holiday weekend, the archbishop spoke of the rawness of the anger of the factions in the church.

Some evangelicals, particularly in England and the US, have threatened in effect to split the communion over their opposition to the promotion of homosexuals in the priesthood.

Dr Williams, who came under immediate fire on his appointment two years ago because of his previous liberalism on the issue and his admission that he had himself ordained a gay priest, told his audience: "It is not so much that we have disagreements in the church - that happens - it is more to do with how those disagreements are conducted ... while we may disagree, we need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace."

Oh, one usually finds that folks could handle things with more grace in situations like that, but one suspects which side he thinks has the bigger problem.

In the same article was this reference:
Jeffrey John, the gay but celibate theologian appointed last year as suffragan bishop of Reading before a row which culminated in the archbishop forcing him to stand down, was another speaker at the festival.

Now it seems to me that if one is "gay" and yet seeks to be pleasing to God that celibacy is the way to handle the issue. Just as someone who was "straight" was unmarried and sought to be pleasing to God. This is where the world has infected our understanding of homosexuality. Homosexuality from a Biblical standpoint is not a state of being, but rather a behavior. If Jeffrey John is celibate, that is not engaging in immoral behavior, then I don't see what the issue is unless he's advocating homosexual behavior in others. Of course that's a different issue. The problem really is that he seems to feel the need to identify himself as "gay", which ultimately is his (and other's) agenda setting. And I guess that is a problem after all.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Hidden for 2500 years, the ancient fleet of Persian King Darius has been discovered:
A team from Greece, Canada and the United States has just completed a second expedition to retrieve artefacts from 300 ships of the Persian King Darius that were wrecked in a storm off the Mt Athos Peninsula, northern Greece, in 492BC or 493BC....

In two trips so far, last October and in June, the archaeologists have found evidence of seven ships that went down off the steep coast of the peninsula where local fishing families found two ancient bronze helmets in 1999....

Expedition director Dr Shelley Wachsmann said the expedition was "high-risk", but with huge potential benefits if remnants were found of a trireme, the classic fighting ship which eventually gave Athens maritime supremacy after the Battle of Salamis in 480BC.

"Nobody has ever found a trireme," he said.

"This is a ship that wrote history, but there are a lot of questions about it."

Amazing stuff, of course. This dates to the years just after the Judean exile in Babylon and the writings of Daniel. The temple would have been rebuilt under the direction of Zerubbabel, but Jerusalem was still in ruins with no city walls. Esther was probably just being born, although probably not quite yet. Her future husband Xerxes would not rise to power until six years later. He would be responsible for the Battle of Salamis. It was recorded by Herodotus that Xerxes' defeat by the Greeks led him to retire to the "intriques of the harem", which would have been about the time of Esther's elevation to queen.

Now, isn't that fun?

[Link via LRC]

Friday, August 27, 2004


The Catholic Church is finding fewer young men are interested in becoming priests, and critics within their own ranks are complaining that the Catholic Church is out of touch:
YOUNG people are being turned off the priesthood by an increasingly autocratic and doctrinaire Catholic Church that is out of touch with the 21st century, according to a leading Jesuit.

Director of the Jesuit Social Justice Centre, Father Frank Brennan, said the push by Catholic conservatives for greater Vatican control was driving people away from the church.

"All of us need to accept that the revolution in sexuality has left many people, especially young people, completely uninterested in the views of an all-male, unmarried clergy," he said.

Of course, I have all sorts of Biblical problems with the Catholic Church and its priesthood, but I find internal struggles within it an odd thing. It seems to me if you sign up for the Catholic Church then you are ipso facto signing up for its tradition, rules and authority structure. If you don't like those things, then, well, don't be a Catholic. For example, as someone who doesn't agree with them, I'm not a Catholic.

Brennan, it seems, is leading a charge for letting the conscience be one's guide. That's one of those modern concepts that always sounds good, but basically boils down to "I will do whatever I want to do and call it my conscience":
Describing his battle with Archbishop George Pell over the issue of the primacy of conscience as a "war at arm's length", Father Brennan said the clergy needed to consider their consciences ahead of church law....

The theologi cal debate over the primacy of conscience -- the idea that a person must follow the dictates of conscience rather than being mechanically obedient to the church -- has opened a deep fissure in the church, with sections of the Jesuit community openly critical of Dr Pell.

The Archbishop did not respond to The Australian yesterday, but earlier this year he delivered a broadside against a "neo-pagan or secular" reading of primacy of conscience.

He said the church had to clearly differentiate between conscience and a mere wish, and should dump the doctrine.

"It is interesting that few argue that if your conscience instructs you to be racist or weak on social issues, it is acceptable to be so," Dr Pell said.

To illustrate the point, he said a parishioner -- who had asked whether it was wrong to take Holy Communion if a person had been regularly sleeping with his girlfriend -- was told by a theologian to follow his conscience.

Pell hits the nail on the head, of course. "Conscience" isn't the guide when it disagrees with the liberal agenda, but when it does, by all means have at it!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Just as the GOP guns for the conservative Christian vote, Democrats have become the party of the secularists:

"Seculars have become an increasing portion of the Democratic electoral coalition and especially of the party's activist base," says Geoffrey Layman of the University of Maryland, who dates the trend from 1972 and considered it obvious by 1992.

A religiously linked values clash is redefining U.S. politics, Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio of City University of New York say. If Republicans are labeled the party of religious traditionalists, they assert, "the Democrats with equal validity can be called the secularist party."

A spring University of Akron poll of 4,000 adults showed Americans without religious affiliation are 17 percent of self-identified Democrats, rivaling the party's traditional blocs of white Catholics (18 percent) and black Protestants (16 percent). Secularists favored John Kerry (news - web sites) over George W. Bush by 57.4 percent to 27.2 percent, with the rest backing others or undecided. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.

I have my problems with the Republicans, but it's clear the Democrats continue to run from God as hard as they can.

Doug Mendenhall wonders what if Biblical figures had to get votes:
Peter. With his "Fish in every pot" stump speeches, he was a fire-eater on the campaign trail, the most popular populist outside of Louisiana. He roared through the primary, mercilessly exposing every skeleton in his opponents' closets.

Then, just before the big vote, cruising with a 20-point lead, he self-destructed, saying something so stupid that his campaign manager wept. Peter dropped out of politics after that, vowing he'd never again make a speech that wasn't written by the Holy Spirit.

David. How can you defeat a war hero who decapitated the biggest bully in the Middle East? Your only chance is to contend that David is bloody - too much spending for defense and not enough for education and infrastructure. You splash red paint across his yard signs. When he speaks, you plant people in the audience to singsong the old ditty about how "David has killed his tens of thousands."

But even this can't stop him once the women voters see him dance, shirtless. David is the king.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


In an effort to block a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers has refused to let the issue on the November ballot. Ted Olsen at Christianity Today explores their reasoning:
No one denies that Citizens for the Protection of Marriage has enough signatures to put a state constitutional amendment on Michigan's November 2 ballot. The organization needed around 317,700 signatures, but got 480,000 of them.

But yesterday, the four-member Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked, thus blocking the amendment from appearing on the ballot.

"Democratic Canvasser Doyle O'Connor said the board should not place an amendment before voters that would be 'patently unlawful' and certain to be struck down by the courts if approved," the Detroit Free Press reports. "O'Connor sided with opponents of the marriage proposal who claim it would nullify existing benefits for unmarried partners offered by universities, local governments and private corporations, in addition to restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. To do so, he said, would violate other constitutional protections and 'could never be enforced. We know the courts would set it aside.'"

Huh. A constitutional amendment would be unlawful? That's odd.

Odd, indeed.

The New York Times (the newspaper of *cough* *cough* record) covers the ad campaign for the DVD release of Mel Gibson's "The Passion", and this time, Hollywood's on board:
By rewriting the rules of movie marketing - bypassing the Hollywood sales machinery in favor of direct appeals to churchgoing Christians - Mel Gibson turned "The Passion of the Christ" into this year's most unlikely movie blockbuster. Now, with DVD's and videos of the film going on sale next week, Hollywood is courting the faithful, hoping to turn "The Passion" into one of the industry's biggest sellers.

Twentieth Century Fox, which passed on a chance to release the controversial movie in theaters, has been wooing pastors at 260,000 churches to buy the movie in bulk and targeting more than six million Christian households with e-mail messages. The studio's home-entertainment unit describes the campaign - which is emphasizing sales in the South and Midwest, where the movie was most popular - as its most exhaustive Christian marketing effort ever.

I wonder how hard Mel will have to sell his next movie to that bunch of naysayers. Will he even give 'em a chance?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


It's interesting to see who chooses to link you. As you may notice, I did add a Blogroll, but it's a rather small selection. The truth is, I really don't read people's blogs very often. There's no daily list I check or anything. I don't ask people to link me, but figure when they do it's a sign of good taste (joke, it's a joke!).

I found that the weblog semicolon has a link to the humble theosebes site; a thank you is extended and readers are urged to drop by. Through her site I found the Thinklings Weblog, which hasn't linked me (they must not have visited yet--joke, again [no, really]) but it seems like an interesting place to visit.

A rebel yell to y'all across the "blogosphere" (wow, I hate that word).

The University of Georgia has fired its cheerleading coach over discrimination claims filed by a Jewish cheerleading candidate:
The cheerleader, 22-year-old Jaclyn Steele, claimed her chances of making the football cheerleading team were hurt because she didn't participate in Bible studies and pregame prayers encouraged by Braswell.

"It created an atmosphere where if you were not Christian or didn't want to participate, you weren't treated as well as the other girls," said Deborah Lauter, southeast region director for the Anti-Defamation League, which helped Steele with her complaint to the university.

UGA officials didn't return repeated phone calls seeking comment. Steele declined to comment.

Steele was on the football cheering team her freshman year, but then was moved to the men's basketball squad and the women's basketball squad, seen as a demotion at the football-crazy school.

The UGA athletic department promoted Steele back to the football squad for this season without having to go through tryouts. Athletic officials took this action to try and avoid a possible lawsuit from Steele, Braswell said.

"I've had each religion and race you can imagine, and I love each of them," Braswell told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It's reverse discrimination against me. ... I've done nothing unfair to Jackie or any of the other cheerleaders."

Braswell said she did allow students to pray but said the prayers were nonsectarian. She said once prayers were even said in Hebrew.

Braswell, a twelve year veteran to the job, was fired only after she informed the squad of the situation.

Those ha ha ha ha Hollywood jokesters ha ha just ha ha crack me up! Ha ha Ellen Degeneres ha ha ha is going to ha ha ha ha play God in ha ha a reprise of the George ha ha ha Burns role in "Oh God" ha ha. But you see ha ha ha she's a lesbian ha ha ha and that'll ha ha ha really show those ha ha ha uptight Christians. They sure are funny.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Theosebes tries to keep you up on the latest trends (we're all about trends here), and as we pointed out in an earlier post, the younguns are starting to cover up their bellies and backsides again. The good folks at FoxNews confirm it for fall:
Parents of America rejoice: Skin is not in this fall.

The body-baring "prostitot" and XXL hip hop looks that kids coveted last year for school are being ousted and replaced with more sophisticated looks like tweed blazers, flowery brooches and argyle sweater vests.

Dodai Stewart, senior editor of J-14, a magazine for 'tweens and teens, said the biggest look this fall will be a return to more dignified fashion — ladylike looks for girls and more tailored styles for boys.

Think less Britney Spears and more Norah Jones; less Nelly and more Kanye West.

The fashion industry is slowly hearing the public’s cry for more dignified clothing, according to Judith Rasband, director of The Conselle Institute of Image Management.

“With the extremes of the Britney look and J-Lo down-to-the-navel dress, there’s been slight consumer response, " she said. "They’ve had enough, they’re disgusted and they’ve asked the fashion industry to start supplying decent clothes again.”

I think anytime we can get people to wear argyle things are good!

Recently I wrote of the secession of two southern California Episcopal churches from their Bishop and placing themselves under the control of an African bishop. Mark D. Roberts finds a number of lessons from the action, not the least that orthodoxy in religion is moving to the southern hemisphere. From my conversations with those who have sought to spread the gospel overseas, I think there is much truth to that observation.

Mark also points us to a "pastoral letter" by J. Jon Bruno, the bishop snubbed by the secession. He ain't real happy about it. It shows that the Episcopal Church isn't at all interested in addressing the issues that are leading to this split. I think they're really bound from doing so by the extreme liberal positions of their leadership. The continued split of the Episcopal Church is inevitable--lessons to be learned, indeed!

Friday, August 20, 2004


Theosebes reader, relative and commenter Mitch alerts us to a couple of different views on the F/X series "Nip/Tuck" about plastic surgeons who make lots of money doing breast implants. First, the view of Brent Bozell, conservative media watchdog:
The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, has declared that it is his goal in life to remove every barrier to depiction of explicit sex on over-the-air TV. He was quoted earlier this year saying, "It's tough to get that sexual point of view across on television. Hopefully I have made it possible for somebody on broadcast television to do a rear-entry scene in three years. Maybe that will be my legacy."

"Nip/Tuck" arrived on the cable scene last year with a sickening bang. Critics might call it a melodrama. But it's never mellow. It's a hyper-drama. It revolves around graphic sex, a surfeit of nudity and screaming-orgasm acting. It features routine obscene language, with no bleeps. In addition to beatings, killing and torture, it favors gut-churning, graphic operation scenes that make the most graphic "CSI" look like a calm episode of "Mr. Wizard."

The good folks at AP, however, has a slightly different view of the show:
But, in its second season, this FX series continues to do much more, using cosmetic surgery as a gateway to the soul.

With sly agility it puts its characters under the knife to expose hidden truths about love, sex, beauty, aging, heartache, manhood and the vagaries of male friendship.

It remains TV's most fearless series — and not just because of those all-too-graphic, music-accompanied surgery scenes. In the hands of creator Ryan Murphy, "Nip/Tuck" remains outrageous yet assured as it bridges the gap between outward appearances and private verities, continuing to startle its audience in the process.

When a breast implant passes for spirituality in our society we're in a heap of trouble.

[Thanks again to Mitch for the links and the headline, too!]
I ONLY COVER IT BECAUSE I KNOW YOU CARE, Esther is planning a Rosh Hashanah trip to Israel to absorb "Kabbalah energy":
Pop singer Madonna (a.k.a. Esther) and her husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie, will spend the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in Israel, it was confirmed by Rabbi Yehuda Berg, co-director of the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles.

The couple will spend two days in the Holy Land, primarily at the associated Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv, Berg said. However, he denied Israeli press reports that Madonna and Ritchie would meet with Israeli-based Kabbalah sage Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri to seek spiritual guidance.

Madonna has said she intends to embark on the spiritual journey to Israel to rejuvenate her spirits and absorb "positive Kabbalah energy" from the "upper world."

Her spiritual journey just warms the heart...

I ran across this quote while reading Ben Witherington's new book The New Testament Story :
First, it may be observed that Old Testament stories affect how Luke tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and John in Luke 1. We are meant to hear echoes of the story of Samuel and Hannah of course. This sort of storytelling has as its underlying assumption that there is a pattern to God's dealings with people, as well as a pattern as how they can and should respond." (p. 134, emphasis mine)

Now that is fundamental to understanding what the Bible is all about, and how to establish a relationship with God. "For the promise is to you and your children and for all who are far off...". (Acts 2:39)

Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has issued a study demonstrating in teenagers a link between sexual activity and drugs and alchohol:
The words of an old proverb - "Tell me who you walk with, and I'll tell you who you are" - gained new meaning on Thursday with the release of a national study showing that teenagers whose friends were sexually active were more likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs.

Teenagers who reported that at least half of their friends were sexually active were 31 times likelier to get drunk, 51/2 times likelier to smoke and 221/2 times likelier to have tried marijuana, according to the study, released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

"It's a clear message for parents," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., the center's chairman and president. "The thunder of teen sexual activity and dating behavior may signal the lightning of substance abuse."

Ding ding ding ding ding--I think we have a winner!

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Among "enlightened" Western nations speaking out against homosexuality is becoming more taboo. The latest blow against freedom of speech and religion is from Sweden:
A Swedish court sentenced a Pentecostal pastor to one month in prison after finding him guilty of offending homosexuals in a sermon. The case was the first trial test of the national law against incitement as applied to speech about homosexuals.

Last year during a sermon delivered in the east coast town of Borgholm, Ake Green described homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society." He called homosexuals "perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil has used as his strongest weapon against God."

During proceedings, the public prosecutor, Kjell Yngvesson, played a tape recording from the sermon. According to the church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning, he justified the arrest by saying, "One may have whatever religion one wishes, but [the sermon] is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting Bible [verses] on this topic as he does makes this hate speech." [Emphasis mine, AC]

In his defense, the pastor said he merely wanted to make clear the biblical view on homosexuality, not to express disrespect.

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


The slow motion break-up of the American Episcopal Church continues as St. James Episcopal Church has seceded from the Los Angeles Diocese
As of Tuesday, St. James Episcopal Church on Via Lido removed "Episcopal" from its name and will become part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said Father Praveen Bunyan, pastor of St. James. All Saints' Episcopal Church in Long Beach joined St. James in the secession, diocese officials said.

Church administrators and members overwhelmingly voted Monday to sever their association with the Episcopal Church, Bunyan said.

"The Episcopalian Church has moved away from the message that is at the core of our faith," he said.

The church is ambiguous on whether Jesus Christ is the only Lord and Savior who offers salvation, Bunyan said.

"If we don't believe in uniqueness and centrality of Jesus Christ, are we even a church?" he asked.

Wow. We could see all sorts of trouble across the religious landscape if people start asking that question.

Archaeologists have found a 1,300 year old city deep in the Peruvian jungle:
The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet (2,800 meters) above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles (100 square kilometers) and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.

"It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-meter (33-foot) high walls," said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on Aug. 15.

Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.

Replete with stone agricultural terraces and water canals, the city complex is thought to have been home to the little-known Chachapoyas culture.

According to early accounts by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in Peru in the early 1500s, the Chachapoyas were a fair-skinned warrior tribe famous for their tall stature. Today they are known for the giant burial coffins sculpted into human figures found in the northern jungle region.

With all those canals it's highly likely John the Baptist used that city...oh, wait, wrong story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


The search engine site Google has banned an ad from a religious group questioning homosexual "marriage":
Google has banned a Christian organization's advertisements promoting its stance against homosexuality, saying the group promotes "hate."

Stand to Reason, a nonprofit apologetics organization, says its "AdWord" advertisement on Google recently was pulled down. ...

[Director of Operations for Stand to Reason Melinda] Penner countered via e-mail [to Google]: "Your suspension of our advertisement illegitimately excludes one side of the [same-sex marriage] debate. If you deem the issue itself off limits, then consistency would require you to suspend all searches of the issue. Instead, your search criteria return links to sites strongly advocating same-sex marriage. …"

You will pretty much always find it the case that when a company (or government) seeks to be "neutral" on an issue that will pretty much automatically be defined as excluding a Christian or moral viewpoint. Now that's evil.

In response to Muslim women who were skipping doctor's appointments because of those peekaboo hospital gowns, Maine Medical Center designed a modest one:
When officials at Maine Medical Center discovered many Muslim women were so ashamed they were canceling doctor visits, the hospital took action, redesigning the standard gown to provide extra coverage for patients who want it. The new hospital gowns have been available for several weeks.

"I have witnessed their misery and how bad they feel about it. They don't like it. They feel ashamed. It's very embarrassing," said Asha Abdulleh, a native of Kenya and a medical interpreter.

"This is a great example of a challenge raised by a specific community that can ultimately benefit all patients," said Dana Farris Gaya, the hospital's manager of interpreter and cross-cultural services.

I think it's great, but it raises the question: Why did it take Muslim modesty to get this done?

We stopped off at the (relatively) local video store today to use the free rental we have. While standing in line a girl behind me exclaimed to her friend, "Oh my G-d! The Passion of the Christ is out!"

Although she was wrong by a couple of weeks, something struck me about the irony of that statement.

On the way out I picked up the free Shelby Trader, which on the front had a $50 off coupon for your divorce or Chapter 7 filing.


Jews for Jesus, an evangelical group composed, well, of Jews is seeking to proclaim Jesus to their fellows. Their latest effort focuses on Washington, D.C. Jewish spokesman, however, aren't pleased:
The campaign is scheduled to end Sept. 18, a few days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year -- and the timing has infuriated Jewish leaders. They have planned town hall meetings this week to warn the Jewish community about what they call the coming "threat," and they said they will dispatch counter-missionary teams, which will seek to discredit the group and its conversion effort.

"It's offensive because Judaism is a long-established faith. Nobody wants to be annoyed by people challenging it," said Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. "The Jewish community is not opposed to Christians being able to spread their beliefs. But Jews cannot embrace Jesus and remain Jews. We settled that question 2,000 years ago. . . . I mean, can you be a vegetarian and eat meat?"...

"Just because Jews are involved in an enterprise doesn't make it Jewish. Jews worshiped the golden calf -- that didn't make [idolatry] Jewish. It was condemned."

So can a Jew embrace Jesus and remain a Jew? Halber compares such to a vegetarian eating meat or a Jew worshiping the golden calf. The problem is that the Old Testament is full of prophecy about a coming Messiah. Had one conducted a poll in the 1st Century among Jews it would have been practically universal that the Messiah was expected. I don't really think anyone could/would argue with that.

Jesus Himself pointed out that He was the fulfillment of the Law, an argument the former Pharisee Paul makes as well. Jews such as Halber are showing either an ignorance of their own faith or a refusal to acknowledge obvious elements of it.

That really raises another issue, however. Most modern Jews aren't really a people of faith so much as a people with a traditional ethnic identity. They have transformed the Pharisaism that became Orthodox Judaism after the destrucion of Jerusalem in 70 AD into a practical Saduceeism. That is, they have secularized themselves with their only rallying cry being that they are Jews, not Christians.

Are they truly looking for the Messiah that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob promised? If they honestly are doing so, perhaps Jesus is God's Anointed One after all. Or can we ask if a Jewish people who reject even the idea of a Messiah are Jewish at all?

Monday, August 16, 2004


There's a new "biography" (read: "fantasy") about Mary the mother of Jesus out, and we learn a lot of interesting things about Joseph's wife:
But psychologist and political and cultural journalist Lesley Hazleton takes a daring approach in this "speculative" biography, basing her assumptions of the real-life, everyday Mary on her own experiences living in Jerusalem for 13 years, as well as on traditional and Gnostic texts. She says it's high time we get a clearer understanding of the life of that peasant girl and grown woman in first century A.D. Palestine.

"This is what I want:"she writes, "To repair the world of Mary and weave it anew into whole cloth. To give her back to herself, starting with her real name (Maryam). To restore her strength and her intelligence, and see her as the multifaceted human being she was before she became an icon: a peasant, a healer, a nationalist, a mother, a teacher, a leader -- and yes, a virgin, though in a sense we have long forgotten."

The book weaves an amazing tapestry of the threads of Maryam's skills, experiences and actions, all plausible as representative of a typical Galilean female in that drought-stricken, politically ravaged society.

Dividing the book into three sections -- Her World, Her Womb and Her Women -- Hazleton provides fascinating details of Galilean women's common knowledge of herbs, healing and midwifery/abortion.

Yes, how could we have "forgotten" all of that? Thankfully, she gives us a portrait to whom "her flesh-and-blood worshippers finally can relate." Yeah, if you're a man-hating feminist, I suppose.

You know those healing miracles of Jesus? Learned it all from Mary. And that whole "virgin" thing? It really means "rape" in Greek, you see. And the bondslave of the Lord (Luke 1:38, pardon my reference to such a patriarchal text) really also worshiped the Lady Wisdom, the maternal goddess.

This is great! I didn't know any of this stuff!

Where did the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness live? In a cave, of course:
A British archaeologist is set to reveal what he believes to be the location of John the Baptist's cave to the west of Jerusalem, the Times reported on Monday.

Shimon Gibson, 45, has found a cave with a ritual baptism pool, rock carvings and pottery, which he linked to John the Baptist and his followers, the newspaper said.

According to the New Testament, John baptised Jesus in the Jordan River.

The Times said Gibson would reveal details at a press conference on Tuesday to be held at the cave, near the village of Ain Karim, which Christian tradition regards as John the Baptist's birthplace.

Gibson said a figure holding a staff reminiscent of representations of John the Baptist in early Byzantine art was among images incised into the rock during the 4th and 5th centuries, by which time the cave had become a shrine to the Baptist.

"I am now certain that this cave was connected with the ancient cult of John the Baptist. Indeed, this may very well be the cave of the early years of John's life, the place where he sought his first solitude in the wilderness and the place where he practised his baptisms," Gibson told the Times.

Uh, yeah, sure. I think what gave it away was the mailbox out front with "John the Baptist" on it.

UPDATE: A more detailed AP article is now out. If anything it's even less convincing. Don't these people actually read the Biblical narrative? [Link via Drudge]

Recognizing that church attendance is the most significant indicator of voting preference, Melinda Henneberger ponders whether people instead are choosing churches based on politics:
The fact that die-hard conservatives are not going to vote for Kerry in any event is not news to me, of course. But the people at Advent Lutheran did leave me wondering whether it's the way we vote that influences the way we pray—and with whom—rather than the other way around.

In America in 2004 there are very definitely Red State churches, like theirs, and Blue State churches, like my Roman Catholic parish in Georgetown, where John Kerry, who lives in the neighborhood, received communion not long ago.

A priest there who announced at a later mass that Kerry had been given communion at the church received a hearty ovation, amid the controversy over whether pro-choice lawmakers are entitled to receive the sacraments. (I would like to believe the applause was not for the candidate, but for the principle that no one should be turned away from the communion rail.)

Yet I have to concede that we do tend to worship with people we agree with politically. (If we instead voted for those we pray with, Kerry would have the Catholic vote sewn up. He doesn’t.)

Yes, there is a cultural divide in this country between believers and nonbelievers. The other night at a dinner, my jaw dropped when a man I had just met said of the religious right, “Those people scare me more than the terrorists do.” (Not me; I’ll take the roomful of Biblical literalists every single time.)

As Russell Kirk has pointed out--endorsing Cardinal Manning--political questions are at root religious and moral questions. I doubt there are many conservatives who chose a church based on the overall party registration of a church. I wouldn't be too surprised if some liberals had, however. When you have a particular view of God, the Bible and religion you almost certainly will tend toward certain political views. But you will rarely find someone who became a Christian because they were already, say, anti-abortion or opposed to the welfare state.

Quite frankly, even if Ms. Henneberger had not revealed that the church she attends is the one where people cheer and hoot about John Kerry taking communion (in clear violation of their church's teaching, by the way) I think we could have figured out where she stands. Those who take God and religion seriously simply don't make any sense to her and those like her.

(Hmmm, I wonder if the IRS is investigating that Catholic priest....)

Continuing the Academy's war against God those cuddle Tar Heels in Chapel Hill have revoked recognition of a Christian fraternity:
For the second time in two years the University of North Carolina finds itself embroiled in a First Amendment dispute with Christian groups on campus.

The Chapel Hill school has removed official recognition of Alpha Iota Omega, a Christian fraternity, because its officers have refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application that would have required the group to accept any student as a member, regardless of religion....

[UNC-CH Chancellor James] Moeser and the university, however, have refused to back down, insisting that all student groups must have open memberships.

Chip chip chipping away.

(I will admit the town of Chapel Hill has some very good bookstores.)

Churches have received official warning from the Canadian government not to address issues some view as political:
According to LifeSiteNews, churches are not only admonished against recommending certain candidates or political parties, but they also face crackdowns for speaking out on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

"The best thing for a charity to do, especially during an election, is to stay away from those issues," Dawna Lynn Labonté, a spokeswoman for the minister of national revenue, told the news agency. "There are certain issues, especially during election times, that are very political."

The gag order on religions is said to cover all moral issues, even poverty.

"Taking out a full page ad before Christmas on homelessness might not be considered political, but doing the same thing the week of an election might be considered political," Labonté said.

Of course, in a secular ideological society where all issues are political no moral or societal issue a church might address would be "non-political". Without question we find a flagrant attack on the freedom on religion.

South of the border, in Arkansas, a similar assault is underway:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, headed by Barry Lynn, filed a complaint with the IRS against Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., accusing him of preaching a sermon promoting President Bush's re-election July 4.

The complaint challenges the church's tax-exempt status as a religious organization.

The local Democratic Party is supporting the IRS probe, saying the sermon should be "investigated thoroughly."

I'm not one to endorse candidates from the pulpit (although I'll speak on any moral issue I see fit), but there used to be freedom of speech, but I guess that only applies to Internet porn these days.

By the way, when was the last time the IRS investigated one of the black churches John Kerry likes to quote Scripture in?

Friday, August 13, 2004


Beth W. at church gave me a photocopy on Wednesday of a page 28 of the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing (huh?) from the article "Homophobia: A Challenge for Psychosocial Nursing". The good author defines "homophobia" for us:
Homophobia results in the belief that GLBT [that's Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender for you unsophisticates] individuals are sick, immoral, or inferior to heterosexuals.

Interestingly, these people might go beyond simply shying away from the GLBTs and actually initiate "name-calling, harrasment, discrimination...hate crimes, or murder." Now personally, I would think that any murder is a "hate crime" (1 John 3:15) but that's not my focus here. Would it be considered "name calling" or "harrasment" to call someone a "homophobe" simply based on a religious belief that homosexuality is immoral? I'm sure not, of course.

We are also told that it is a "myth" that "homosexuality is a 'preference' which can be altered, as opposed to an 'orientation,' which is no more or less fixed than heterosexuality...." According to our author, "attempting to make someone who is homosexual become heterosexual is...unethical...."

Now the question we have ask is, who gets to set the moral standards here? Is the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing the guide on morality and behavior? Are they allowed to "name call" (ie, "homophobe") but I am not? And why do they get to decide.

In the end we also must ask, what immoral behavior has "science" not sought to excuse, and since when was ethics the purview of science?

Archaeologists have discovered a big--a really big--seated statue of Egyptian pharoah Ramsees II:
The remains of a colossal seated statue of Ramses II, thought to be about 13 metres tall and weighing 700 tons, have been discovered in a shanty area of the Upper Egyptian city of Akhmim, adjacent to the open-air museum. The lower part of the limestone statue is seated on a throne, to the right and left of which are figures of two of the pharaoh's daughters and princess- queens, Merit-Amun and Bint-Anath. The statue and the throne are carved from a single block and stand on a huge limestone base covered with carved hieroglyphic texts. The base also carries a register of captured enemies surmounting rings that bear the name of their home cities. Remains of colours are still visible. A colossal face that matches the base of the statue, showing the pharaoh wearing a false beard, has also been found. A splendid colossus of Queen Merit-Amun found here is already on display in the open-air museum.

Ah, I should have been an archaeologist! Great stuff.

[Link via WorldNetDaily]

California's Supreme Court has dotted the i's and crossed the t's by saying what everyone already knew, the homosexual 'marriages' in San Francisco are illegitimate:
The California Supreme Court on Thursday voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The court said the city illegally issued the certificates and performed the ceremonies, since state law defines marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Of course, this issue isn't settled. The wind is blowing in the favor of depravity in our time and place.

High profile evangelicals such as Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are still standing by the mailbox awaiting their invitations to the GOP convention:
The Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a one-time Republican presidential candidate, said, "I've had no request from anybody to be there." Unlike Falwell, Robertson believes the GOP is deliberately keeping him and other evangelicals away.

"In the last convention, the thought was to keep all the conservatives out of sight," said Robertson, who has attended every Republican convention since 1988, but said he won't go this year. "The general thrust will be to entice the so-called independent moderates and I am not sure that there would be much reason for a conservative to be there."

The weasely GOP strategist Ralph Reed--we have Robertson to thank for him--claimed all was well:
"There is a specific program under way to invite social conservatives and religious leaders of a very broad or diverse representations and that is even under way as we speak," Reed said.

Translation: We're not inviting any of those guys who anyone might recognize on tv.

Although, on a brighter note, Falwell and Robertson don't have the clout they used to:
Also, many evangelicals no longer look to Robertson or Falwell as their top representatives. A survey conducted last spring for PBS'"Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" and U.S. News & World Report found that less than half of evangelicals have a favorable view of Falwell, while only a slight majority view Robertson favorably.

Is the GOP pulling back from evangelical headliners? I think without question. Is that a bad thing? Well, I'm no fan of Fallwell and Robertson, but I suspect the GOP lost the invitations for all the wrong reason. In the end, Robertson is right: it's simply another appeal to the moderate independent. And the harder the GOP goes after them, the less likely they'll be to find my vote.

[Link via WorldNetDaily]

Thursday, August 12, 2004


The Amish are an easy target in our modern world. They reject modernity as another outgrowth of modernity, and, well, the clothes are a bit drab. UPN has a new "reality" series centered on a group of Amish teens going to the big city. I had dismissed the show out of hand, but Chris Armstrong thinks there's something we can learn:
Those who keep watching this show can expect a far more interesting dynamic than the "let's-see-if-we-can-make-the-innocents-sin" project. That is, we'll continue, as we did in the premiere episode, to see the "city kids" squirm. And we, if we're honest, will likely do a little squirming ourselves. We are challenged by the very presence of the "plain people's" way of life, even in the diluted, transplanted form of searching, conflicted Amish young adults trying to come to grips with what being Amish means and whether they want to "own" that identity.

In the Amish, in other words, we have a highly visible witness of a different way of living.

Quoting Don Kraybill, he sums up core beliefs of the Amish, beliefs that strike me as highly valuable and sensible:
Specifically, the Amish and similar groups critique three aspects of the modern gospel of progress:

"First, they question the power of human reason as a basis for knowledge. The claims of tradition and the Bible ring truer to them than those of science and higher education.

"Second, they doubt that personal autonomy brings greater freedom or happiness. Rather, they argue that only within the web of stable communities will individuals find security and satisfaction.

"Finally, they dispute the claim of the multicultural canon that all values and beliefs are equally valid. Such tolerance, they believe, denies the very possibility of truth."

The full discussion of their mindset is worth your time. And I might even give the tv show a try.
MAMA DON'T PREACH, Esther (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) continues her obsession with the Jewish mystic movement, Kabbalah, and Kabbalah water:
Madonna stunned concert organizers in Ireland with her backstage demands which, according to sources, which included a request for 25 cases of Kabbalah water. The one-time Material Girl refuses to drink anything but the water sold by the trendy religious movement, which some have called a cult.

Not everyone is thrilled about her interests, however:
“Madonna has taken to pushing Kabbalah on anyone within shouting distance,” says Ross. “She’s been trying to convert everyone who works on the concert [there are more than 100], and that includes making them pray, giving Kabbalah courses as presents, and no doubt, pumping Kabbalah water down their throats. People working on concerts go through a lot of water, and it’s the only drink that she’ll touch.”

Well, apparently almost the only drink she'll touch:

Madonna’s list of backstage demands also includes vodka, but insiders say that’s to remove stains from her outfits.

(wink, wink, nudge, nudge)


Bill Barnwell thinks his hate mail gives him insight:
First of all, they think religion is silly and stupid and should not be embraced by intelligent people. They are typically very smug in their supposed intelligence and consider religious people to be a bunch of morons. But I will congratulate the hardened atheists on this: they have much more faith than I could ever have. To have such an unflinching and unquestioning faith in naturalistic Darwinism to explain life and societal development as we know it takes quite a bit more faith than believing in the supernatural. So good job, guys. You’re an inspiration for people of faith everywhere.

Barnwell has fun getting in a few more jabs, but sees the fundamental problem as
The point is that nobody is forcing you to believe in anything. Religion haters assume they have an inherent right never to be annoyed by Christianity or exposed to it. Since the mere presence of Christianity annoys them, they feel their rights are being violated and that others are trying to "impose" their values on them. The truth is that the only thing that would make them happy is not just Christians leaving them alone and being silent, but Christianity and religion disappearing from the face of the earth.

It's hard to argue with that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


While searching for a DVD at the video store to bring home for evening wife time, I ran across Paul the Apostle, which listed itself as part of The Bible Collection. My curiosity was raised, but not enough to get it then. I'm usually skeptical of screen adaptations of Scripture (remember Lot's pirate ship attackin Noah's ark?), so I decided to find out the details. As it so happened, a regular visit to Christianity Today turned up a link to a review of the movie. It sounds like the bells of suspicion that went off in my head were well warranted:
Unfortunately, Paul the Apostle is one of the weakest entries in the series. Directed by Roger Young (who also directed Joseph and Jesus) from a script by Gareth Jones (Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace) and Gianmario Pagano (The Apocalypse), the film dilutes its biblical source material with much more fictitious material than any of the films that came before it.

For example, the film spends an incredible amount of time on a completely made-up Sadducee character named Reuben (Thomas Lockyer), who turns against Paul (Johannes Brandrup) when Paul becomes a Christian, and whose giggly wife Dinah (Barbora Bobulova) converts to Christianity....

But the life and mission of Paul himself are given very short shrift. Indeed, the film has a very odd structure overall; it stretches the early chapters of Acts and pads them with plenty of unnecessary material, while the actual travels of Paul are compressed to a few slight montages. Paul does not appear in the Scriptures until the end of Acts 7, and Part One of this two-part film ends with Paul's escape from Damascus, as described in the middle of Acts 9. By the time we are two-and-a-half-hours into this three-hour film, we have still gotten no further than the break-up of Paul and Barnabas (G.W. Bailey) in Acts 15. But when the film ends just half an hour later, Paul is arriving in Rome, as per Acts 28.

Now why, oh why, do people do this? Apparently the quite good movie "Joseph" from about a decade ago is part of this series. They got that right. And I understand that when you dramatize Scripture one will need at times to fill-in with dialogue and scenes that make the narrative cohesive. But most of the time we find people who imagine they can somehow improve on the Biblical account. I understand some reworking might make a more Hollywood appealing movie, but that's not what this is supposed to be about. If you don't like the story you've decided to adapt, then go write Ben-Hur. At least don't pretend it's Scripture.

Of course, we've seen the wonderful example of what can be done on screen with Mel Gibson's "The Passion". And a good friend of mine highly recommends "The Gospel of John", released to much less fanfare.

Maybe, just maybe, filmmakers can learn from their success.

Seeking a new way to present one of the newer translations on the market (well, I use translation loosely--sorry couldn't resist) Tyndale House Publishers commissioned a new font for the New Living Translation:
For Brian Sooy, the way letters appear on a page is divine.

So the self-described font fanatic and owner of a graphic design firm was happy to get the call from the publishers of New Living Translation Bible to create a font for the nation's third most popular Bible, which is expected to sell up to 1.5 million copies this year....

They were looking for a new font that would make their Bible more compact and easier to read. A company art director, Tim Botts, knew Sooy and suggested him for the job.

Eighteen months later, Sooy finished the new font, which followed the style of the Bible's previous type, but incorporated more rounded letters, narrower lines and shorter stems.

Sooy called it "Lucerna," which means "lamp" in Latin. He said he was influenced by a Psalm that reads, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

Regrettably, I can find no illustration of the font itself.

Why, you ask, am I reading about fonts. Well, your humble servant has a fairly extensive library of books on typefaces, their history and design. I've even read D.B. Updike's two-volume history of typefaces, Printing Types. Pretty sad, I know. But I for one am quite jealous of Brian Sooy!

Monday, August 09, 2004


Just received from Bill are these wise words, and the pictures below:
...we need to remember that American churches are not the model for how local churches are to conduct their work – the New Testament is....Why should we, who preach, try to make American churches out of those churches in India, Philippines, South America, etc., when we do foreign evangelism? They are capable of reading the Bible and figuring out how they want to run their worship and how they want to do their work.

Monkey god on the road to Vijayawada:

Centuries old Muslim fort:

Preaching in Ballinagar:


My good friend Bill Robinson who works with the University Heights congregation in Lexington, Kentucky is on the tail end of a three and a half week evangelism trip to Hyderabad, India organized by Ed Harrell. He's been sending out journal reports and pictures, and he has given me permission to post some here. It's wonderful to know about Christians literally on the other side of the world.

(Click on the thumbnails for full size viewing.)
Here is Ed Harrell introducing Bill:

Christians praying (little boys playing):

A baptism in an irrigation well at a rice field in Nagareddygudam. The man performing the baptism is 80 years old:

Some road obstacles:

The church in Naga. Guess which one Bill is:


Leilah Nadir doesn't think her Christian relatives in Iraq are any safer:
Refugee officials in Damascus now estimate that Iraqi Christians, about 3 per cent of the country's total population, make up 20 per cent of Iraqi refugees in Syria.

If you think about how hard life was under Saddam Hussein's regime, to have made it so much worse seems particularly horrendous and irresponsible.

It's worth your time to read it.

[Link via Christianity Today's weblog.]

Well, of course it is, but you'd better not say it in Norwich, England:
POLICE today launched an investigation into comments by a Norwich religious leader branding Islam "an evil religion".

The Rev Dr Alan Clifford, pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, yesterday told the Evening News he backed the views of BNP leader Nick Griffin, who was shown in a TV documentary telling party members Islam was a "vicious, wicked faith."

His comments sparked outrage among fellow religious leaders and anti-racist groups.

The Evening News was today contacted by the Race Crime Unit of Norfolk police to provide further information about Dr Clifford's comments, after saying they were concerned his remarks could damage "community cohesiveness".

Abraham Eshetu, diversity officer at Norfolk police, said: "We will be investigating the comments made by Mr Clifford."

Memo to diversity officers: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Like so many others for thousands of years, the myth of Atlantis has always fascinated me. It's one of those things that I've always wanted to be true. I tend to believe most ancient myth contains truth that is all too readily dismissed in our "enlightened" society. Geographer Ulf Erlingsson also believes that Atlantis was real, and in a new book argues that Atlantis was actually Ireland
Geographer Ulf Erlingsson, whose book explaining his theory will be published next month, says the measurements, geography and landscape of Atlantis as described by Plato match Ireland almost exactly.

“I am amazed no one has come up with this before, it’s incredible,” he told Reuters. “Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest across the middle. They both have a central plain surrounded by mountains. I’ve looked at geographical data from the rest of the world and of the 50 largest islands there is only one that has a plain in the middle — Ireland.”

It's a fascinating theory, and he makes a convincing case. Somehow I sense the debate won't end here, though.

Friday, August 06, 2004


A church trustee dropped by the Bethel Moravian Church in North Dakota and found the unexpected:
A trustee of the Bethel Moravian Church near the town of Leonard, about 40 miles southwest of Fargo, came by at about 6 p.m. to drop off some towels.

Thinking it strange that the church was locked, he began rattling the doors, and then, through a crack, saw a man inside running out another door.

The trustee called sheriff's deputies, who soon caught a suspect fleeing on foot.

"I'd prefer that our kitchen be used for bake sales, but in addition to being pastor, I'm also the fire chief," said Pastor Dave Sobek.

Well, I guess that's what you get for having a kitchen at the church building...

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Jordana offers excellent advice to various non-parenting relatives. What a sensible lady.

The usually sensible Harold O.J. Brown tells us what ought to be obvious: our nation is pagan:
All this in itself is not yet a disaster, because as many rightly point out, there are many vestiges of authentic Christianity still to be found in our nation. But it would be a disaster for Christians and other God-fearers not to recognize that we've reached a turning point in our cultural history, and to go on dreaming that we can gradually change this formerly more or less Christian country for the better.

Those of us who are Christians and take our commitment seriously are slow to recognize it, but ultimately it will be easier for Christians to live in a country that we know is pagan than to live in one that we think is still sufficiently Christian to listen to us and to change in accordance with Christian values.

I commend his words to you.

Showing great prescience, theosebes recently discussed the specter of Christian persecution in Iraq. This past week saw the bombings of several churches, but radical Islamists deny they did it:
Islamists have posted a message online denying that Iraqi militant groups bombed five churches on Sunday, and accusing an Iraqi politician of responsibility.

"If the mujahedeen (Islamic holy warriors) had wanted to target those churches, they would have made them disappear from the face of earth and nobody would have come out alive," said the message, which was posted late Wednesday on an Islamic website known to be a clearing house for the statements of militant groups.

Regardless of who did it, Iraqis who seek to follow Christ are likely going to find it only gets worse in the coming months.

Well, no, not in the Biblical way that we all should, but Chris Weinkopf finds how deeply uncomfortable the elite media is with conservative Christianity:
"Do most Americans realize just how fervent the President's evangelical faith is?"

So asks the New York Times' Alessandra Stanley, in her review of the PBS "Frontline" documentary, "The Jesus Factor," which examines the role of faith in George W. Bush's life and Presidency. Stanley believes that Americans would be distressed to know that Bush engages in such outlandish behavior as daily Bible-reading, prayer, and allowing his spiritual life to inform his political one. After all, she is.
Other reviews are along the same vein Weinkopf finds:
As with an inkblot test, reactions to "The Jesus Factor" say more about the viewer than the documentary itself. People with religious faith, and those who bear no animus toward them, found the program's depiction of Bush inspiring. Diehard secularists found it frightening. And while the American public might straddle that cultural divide, the media elite almost uniformly fall on the anti-religion side.

Those good tax-funded folks at PBS are pretty clear about their perspective:
Even PBS can't avoid a certain sense of bemusement in its descriptions of these earnest Bible-thumpers. At times, its documentary takes on the same curiously detached tone of a National Geographic special on African bushmen, describing in fascinated detail the strange, alien beliefs that, to much of the American public, are simply part of everyday life.

The announcer explains, in that serious, public-broadcasting voice: "Conservative evangelicals consider the Bible to be the word of God, and without error…. To evangelicals, it is not their Christian denomination that connects them but a series of beliefs. One of the most important is committing yourself to Jesus Christ, or being 'born again.'"

You almost expect him to continue: "While the men are out hunting lions, the women fashion nose rings from the bones of small rodents."
Oh, those wacky folks who commit themselves to Jesus Christ--how very, very quaint. Nothing beats a good Jonathan Edwards sermon to be sure.

If I ever do go small rodent hunting, I'll know where I can find some.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Builders have discovered a intact tomb while working on a mosque outside of Cairo:
Builders laying the foundations for a mosque in northeast Cairo found a tomb dating from the Pharaonic period intact but submerged in ground water up to the ceiling of the tomb, official sources said Sunday.

The tomb contains an unopened basalt sarcophagus, slivers of gold dedicated to the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Horus, and inscriptions showing the tomb belonged to a man called Ankh Khansu Derat Hor, the official news agency MENA said.

Their dating, "New Kingdom, which lasted from the 16th to the 11th century B.C", would place it at it roughly during the time of the Exodus to just before David's reign. Another fascinating find.

Monday, August 02, 2004


The standard Dead Sea Scrolls story holds that a strict sect of Jews called Essenes lived in a place called Qumran. The scrolls were their library, which they hid to protect them from marauding Romans. Some archaelogists now claim the accepted version is bunk:
Located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, Qumran is famous throughout the world as the place where the Essenes, who have been widely described in studies, conferences and exhibitions as a type of Jewish "monk," are said to have lived and written the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, based on findings soon to be published, Israeli archaeologists now argue that Qumran "lacks any uniqueness."...

"It's impossible to say that the people who lived at Qumran were poor," said Peleg. "It is also impossible that de Vaux did not see the finds we saw. He simply ignored what didn't suit him."...

According to Hirschfeld, the finds at Qumran are "revolutionary and contradict everything we know about every aspect of the Essenes."

If the new theory is credible, it will be revolutionary. The Qumran Essene story has been taught in various classes by your humble servant.

Not everyone is biting, however:
But among the supporters of the traditional theory, there are those who remain unmoved. Dr. Magen Broshi, former chief curator of the Shrine of the Book and the one who coined the description of Qumran as "the oldest monastery in the Western world," said that he does not believe the reports of finds of jewelry and cosmetics vessels at Qumran. "If these items were found, they are not from the site itself, but rather belonged to the Roman garrison stationed there after its destruction," he said. According to Broshi, "even today, 98 or 99 percent of scholars still believe that Qumran was an Essene monastery."

Of course, it's easy to see how an establishment position would remain entrenched in the face of new evidence, especially in the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They're not exactly a bunch eager to embrace outsiders as evidenced by the decades long restriction of simple access to the scroll texts, access that was broken several years ago against the will of the Scroll establishment.

Some have even suggested that the Dead Sea Scrolls represent, at least in part, the library of the Jerusalem Temple itself. It's a story to watch.

[Link via Christianity Today.]