Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Archive for May, 2008

I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good

Posted by NT Wrong on May 31, 2008

I like this song. From 1987, Steve Taylor, ‘I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good’.

“A very incendiary song indeed. Reasonable people on both sides of the abortion debate could argue that this was not a song that needed to be written, but it was the unreasonable ones who made the most noise: The director of an abortion clinic in San Diego threatened a lawsuit against a video show that aired the “Clinic” clip, and when I called her at the show’s request to explain that it was satire, she was so whining and obnoxious that I ended up giving her an earful of what I thought of her profession, then begged her to sue me. Australian TV’s version of Geraldo Rivera did a story on me prior to a national tour there, claiming I was advocating blowing up abortion clinics–the story got picked up by all the major newspapers and eventually forced cancellation of most of the tour (forever dispelling the show biz dictum “all press is good press”). I even spent an hour on the phone with an elderly bookstore owner in Arizona–he’d pulled the album because he thought it was wrong to blow up abortion clinics, and I congratulated him on his integrity in choosing principle over commerce before gently explaining to him the song’s satirical intent. So what happened? It all seemed obvious to me–the flashing neon lyric in the middle of the song that says, “the end don’t justify the means anytime.” What better example to use than a clinic bomber (except perhaps the nutcases that are now shooting abortionists?)”
– Steve Taylor, Now The Truth Can Be Told Insert Booklet, August 23rd, 1994

Posted in Humour, Music, Religion & Society | Comments Off on I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good

From a Stage One Exegetical Essay …

Posted by NT Wrong on May 30, 2008

This appeared in a stage one exegesis of Genesis 3:

“The fact that the serpent is referred to as a wild animal, allows one to presume that God is referring to a snake. This proposes the question; could animals and humans once communicate with one another? In Genesis 11: 1 it says that ‘the whole world had one language and a common speech’. Perhaps this included animals too.” (sic)

Posted in Humour, The Bible | 3 Comments »

Real Men Piss Standing Up, Just as the Bible Says

Posted by NT Wrong on May 29, 2008

Pastor Steven L. Anderson explains that “any that pisseth against the wall” is a biblical injunction for men to be men. Pastor Anderson is pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. This is not a piss-take.

“That’s where we’re heading in this country, my friend. We’ve got a bunch of passers who pee sitting down … We’ve got the President of the United States probably pees sitting down. We’ve got a bunch of preachers, we’ve got a bunch of leaders, who don’t stand up and piss against the wall like a man.”
– Pastor Steven L. Anderson

Posted in Fundamentalism, Humour, Video | 5 Comments »

Archaeologists claim to have identified fort as Tharu, Sinai (Biblical Succoth?)

Posted by NT Wrong on May 28, 2008

According to the news reports, Egyptian archaeologists have firmly identified a fort at Tell Heboua (ancient Tharu / Tjaru) as the Egyptian Army Headquarters in the Sinai from ca. 1500 BC to the Ptolemaic period. It’s 500 metres (547 yards) by 250 metres, with towers four metres high.

The identification follows last year’s announcement of the finding of the site.

“The fortress and adjoining town, which they identify with the ancient place name Tharu, lies in the Sinai peninsula about 3 km (2 miles) northeast of the modern town of Qantara, Egyptian archaeologist Mohamed Abdel Maksoud told Reuters. The town sat at the start of a military road joining the Nile Valley to the Levant, parts of which were under Egyptian control for much of the period”
Reuters Africa

“The ancient military road, known as “Way of Horus,” once connected Egypt to Palestine and is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.”
Associated Press

According to the statement from the Egyptian government’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, the identification has been secured on the basis of various inscriptions found this year at Tharu. The inscriptions mention three Pharaohs—Tuthmosis II, who ruled from about 1512 BC and who built one of the military installations along the route, Seti I and Ramses II, who between them ruled Egypt from 1318 to 1237 BC. The photo is of one of these newly released inscriptions, and another photo is included below.

“”The archaeological features of this fort confirm the inscriptions on ancient Egyptian temples showing the shape of the city of Tharu, which lay at the start of the Horus military road,” the statement added. The statement said the site contains the first New Kingdom temple ever found in northern Sinai, and warehouses where the ancient Egyptian army stored grain and weapons, as well as ovens, seals and earthenware vessels.”
Reuters Africa

“A collection of reliefs belonging to King Ramses II and King Seti I (1314-1304 B.C.) were also unearthed with rows of warehouses used by the ancient Egyptian army during the New Kingdom era to store wheat and weapons, he [Archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, chief of the excavation team] said. Abdel-Maqsoud said the new discoveries corresponded to the inscriptions of the Way of Horus found on the walls of the Karnak Temple in Luxor which illustrated the features of 11 military fortresses that protected Egypt’s eastern borders. Only five of them have been discovered to date.”
Associated Press

Apparently the inscriptions mention Tharu. See:

Tharu has sometimes been identified with biblical Succoth (the setting for the legendary first stop by the ‘Children of Israel’ after leaving Rameses). This depends on the particular reconstruction of the route from the books of Exodus and Numbers. The news stories haven’t got onto this angle, yet. They will, though …

“Over a century ago, Max Müller recognized the importance of Tjaru [Tharu] in ancient Egypt and realized that it must have played a role in the movement of the Israelites; he declared that “no town of the eastern Delta frontier has a greater importance than Tharu [i.e. Tjaru], which was not only its largest town, but also the principle point for the defense of the entrance to Egypt, therefore also for the military and mercantile roads to the East.” He also felt that the route of the exodus could not be fixed with any certainty until Tjaru was positively located.”
– James K. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition, 1997: 184.

Posted in Archaeology, Historiography | Comments Off on Archaeologists claim to have identified fort as Tharu, Sinai (Biblical Succoth?)

Žižek on the Exclusivity of the ‘Universal’ Christian Message

Posted by NT Wrong on May 27, 2008

In Violence (2008), Slavoj Žižek wonders if every universalising system of ethics relies on a ‘fetishist disavowal’ of certain events, necessarily excluding them from consideration in the system’s very universalising system of ethics. So, Žižek asks, “Is even the most universal ethics not obliged to draw a line and ignore some sort of suffering?”

“To wonder at this fact is not a proper philosophical attitude. That is to say, what if that which appears as an inconsistency, as the failure to draw all the consequences from one’s ethical attitude, is, on the contrary, its positive condition of possibility? What if such an exclusion of some form of otherness from the scope of our ethical concerns is consubstantial with the very founding gesture of ethical universality, so that the more universal our explicit ethics is, the more brutal the underlying exclusion is?

What the Christian all-inclusive attitude (recall St Paul’s famous ‘there are no men or women, no Jews and Greeks’) involves is a thorough exclusion of those who do not accept inclusion into the Christian community. In other ‘particularistic’ religions (and even in Islam, in spite of its global expansionism), there is a place for others: they are tolerated, even if they are looked upon with condescension. The Christian motto ‘all men are brothers’, however, also means that those who do not accept brotherhood are not men. In the early years of the Iranian revolution, Khomeini played on the same paradox when he claimed, in an interview for the Western press, that the Iranian revolution was the most humane in all of history: not a single person was killed by the revolutionaries. When the surprised journalist asked about the death penalties publicised in the media, Khomeini calmly replied: ‘Those that we killed were not men, but criminal dogs!’

Christians usually praise themselves for overcoming the Jewish exclusivist notion of the Chosen People and encompassing the entirety of humanity. The catch is that, in their very insistence that they are the Chosen People with a privileged direct link to God, Jews accept the humanity of the other people who celebrate their false gods, while Christian universalism tendentiously excludes non-believers from the very universality of humankind.” (pp. 46-47)

Posted in Paul, Soteriology | 1 Comment »

Synaesthesia: Christian, Islamic and Jewish Mystical Sensory Experience

Posted by NT Wrong on May 27, 2008

A panel discussion was held on “Sensory Experiences in Mystical Traditions” at UC Santa Barbara, on 3 May 2007. The panel stars Bernhard McGinn, James Winston Morris, Elliot R. Wolfson, experts respectively on Jewish, Islamic, and Christian mystical traditions. The focus is on synaesthesia, the description of one of the five sensory experiences in the terminology of one of the other sensory expenses. The video has now been made available by UCTV (86:01).

As an example of synaesthesia, the followers of Pachomius are described as seeing “a great flash of light in his words. All the brethren were like men drunk on wine and saw the words coming forth from hi mouth like birds of silver, gold and precious stones, which flew over the brethren and went into the ears of those who listened well.” (Bernhard McGinn)

“Experiences in which the senses are intermingled in usual ways are a common motif in the descriptions that mystics provide of their unordinary sensory experiences. The panelists will discuss the role that such experiences have played in the thought and practice of selected figures in the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian mystical traditions.”

Posted in Judeo-Christian Practices | Comments Off on Synaesthesia: Christian, Islamic and Jewish Mystical Sensory Experience

God’s Satanic Sanction of Injustice

Posted by NT Wrong on May 26, 2008

In the book of Job, God teamed up with Satan to deliberately bring evil to Job, his family and possessions.

The partnership worked surprisingly well. One might even say that it was a raging success. The defence of divine justice was taken to a whole new level. Does God do evil? No — we just can’t understand his mysterious ways. The more satanic the actions of God, the greater the mystery of His Transcendence. Brilliant.

And the God-Satan Accord provided a blueprint for God’s future involvement with the world (at least according to the Enochic and Christian accounts). After the success of the wager over Job, God and Satan entered into a long-term partnership. God has never looked back. And Satan’s importance in the cosmos was elevated to such an extent, that it was only right that he be given an upper-case ‘S’. So ‘the satan’ became Satan, Lord of Evil, Prince of Darkness. All this might seem like a slightly difficult move for a non-dualistic God to effect. Yet, despite the risk of some angel or mokiach protesting ‘what a facade!’, God has been inseparably (and somewhat unequally) yoked to Satan from this time forth.

Now, the Divine-Satanic Accord was originally only intended to last for a few generations. But, sure enough, 70 years soon becomes 490 years; a ‘generation’ soon becomes an aeon… I don’t blame God. Being able to blame evil on Satan is a great idea, even if it necessitates that we conveniently ‘forget’ about the obvious weakness (er … the whole shallow facade thing).

But God may have overplayed his hand with the Holocaust.

Yehuda Bauer thinks so:

“For me, the existence of God after the Holocaust is impossible from a moral point of view. It makes belief in God a vast problem, quantitatively and qualitatively. One and a half million children – of the Chosen People – under the age of thirteen were murdered! This is not a question of free choice because the children didn’t have any free choice. It is the Nazis who had the free choice, not the children. So if there is a God that in one way or another controls the destiny of the world – even if that God retires and does not wish to do it, he can and he knows; otherwise he’s not a God. He’s responsible for the murder – no way out. No answer, human or divine, is satisfactory for the murder of one and a half million children – and if there is an answer from high above, then it is the answer of Satan, and rather than believe in Satan, I will not believe.”
Being a Secular/Humanistic Jew in Israel

Rebecca Lesses doesn’t think belief in God is “impossible”, but she agrees that God (if he really was in partnership with Satan over the Holocaust) has become a Satanic God.

“I don’t come to the same conclusion that Bauer does – that it is impossible to believe in God after the Holocaust – but I agree with him that if one believes that God permitted the Holocaust to occur, that one believes in a Satanic God.”
McCain repudiates Hagee – when will Jewish leaders follow?

I think it’s time to call “facade!!” on God.

Posted in Justice, Writings | 17 Comments »

Biblical Scholars Who Break into the Lucrative Children’s Book Market. Part 4: The Infamous Five

Posted by NT Wrong on May 25, 2008

Join the adventures of John, Niels Peter, Keith, Philip and Tommy the dog — a new series from the Copenhagen-Sheffield Children’s Department!

In Five Go Mad at Tel Dan, The Infamous Five are back together again, trying to stop the evil Maximalists and their positively queer exegesis — all the while eating their way through lashings of fresh home-cured bacon, freshly laid eggs and ginger beer. Simply smashing!

See the complete series:

1. Daniel B. Wallace
2. N.T. Wright
3. William Dever
4. John Van Seters, Niels Peter Lemche, Keith Whitelam, Philip Davies and Thomas Thompson
5. Gerhard Kittel

Posted in Humour | 9 Comments »

Obama: The Constitution and The Bible – Subjects that Students Think they Already Know

Posted by NT Wrong on May 25, 2008

When Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, he would often encounter students who thought they were already quite familiar with the subject. And so, they would fail to seriously consider the subject in the detail it deserves.

Barack Obama makes a worthy comparison with the teaching of biblical studies:

“Sometimes I imagined my work to be not so different from the work of the theology professors who taught across campus—for, as I suspect was true for those teaching Scripture, I found that my students often felt they knew the Constitution without having really read it. They were accustomed to plucking out phrases that they’d heard and using them to bolster their immediate arguments, or ignoring passages that seemed to contradict their views.”
– Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2008: 85.

Posted in Academia, Religion & Society, The Bible | 2 Comments »

For the Bible Tells Me So – Homosexuals and Biblical-Literalist Cultures

Posted by NT Wrong on May 24, 2008

The movie For the Bible Tells Me So (2007) deals with the experiences of “five very normal, very Christian, very American families” including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson in order to “discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child.”

“I had good kids. We had one of each sex. When my kids were growing up, I said, ‘God, please, don’t let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter to be a slut.’ And he, and he did not do that.”
– David Poteat

It seems to be available on YouTube at the moment, in 11 parts.

Posted in Fundamentalism, Gender, Justice, The Bible | Comments Off on For the Bible Tells Me So – Homosexuals and Biblical-Literalist Cultures