Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Ah Thanksgiving.

What a pretentious way to start a blogpost, "Ah." Like you're walking in on my study while I in a bath robe smoke an old pipe with a glass of Cognac. "Nice of you to drop by."

Anyway, it's Thanksgiving, so be thankful. In everything. I hate the phrase "We don't have much to be thankful for" or "Sometimes it's hard to find stuff to be thankful for." Really? Is it stuck behind your T.V.? Or maybe it's hiding under your 3 square meals a day, or the closet where you keep your extra food, or the big deep freezer in the garage where all the food you bought but don't feel like eating is.

Hard to be thankful, bah. It still blows my mind that the water that we use in our toilets is cleaner than most of the world's drinking water. (Thank you dinosaur comics).

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving. A celebration designed by Native Americans, taken over by legalists, redesigned by greeting cards, and gluttonous by popular demand. Mmm Mmm Turkey subsidies.

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Hating Harry Potter

So, I tell a lot of people that I hate Harry Potter. This being Harry Potter Series Finale Part 1 season, I have to say it that much more often.

But here's the thing, it's not that I hate it. I just really don't care. I could care as much about Harry Potter as I do about other things that a lot of people like that I'm just not moved to care about: Twilight, Hannah Montanna, Sex And the City, The YaYa Sisterhood of the Travelling pants. It's all completely inconsequential to me. I don't care. But here's the main difference between those other pop-cults and Harry Potter, no one let's you just not care about Harry Potter.

If I said I don't much care about it, people expect that I just haven't read it. False, I've read the first book, the first 50 or so pages of the second book, and the last 3 pages of the last one which I read the day it came out to lord over a friend's head while he read all 700 pages in a day. At the time, he was about 23 and I was 18. I didn't actually spoil it for him, but it was nice to have that power over someone else even for 24 hours.

I digress. So not caring and then people attempting to make me a convert didn't work, so my frustration with the whole thing developed into what I call my hate for Harry Potter.

The way I have to explain it to people I actually want to talk to after they mention Harry Potter or anything else from the above list is this, I hate Harry Potter in the same way you may hate something I like(d), like Star Trek, Lost, Pushing Daisies, V for Vendetta, 300, Star Wars, Phillip K. Dick stories (notice a trend?). The point is we can each like different things and not have to like every little thing in common and still be friends. That's why being human is awesome.

When I want to be disappointed by something that lasts past the point that I'm really okay sinking my life into it, I'll stick to T.V. (LOST). Or movie renditions of graphic novels (The Watchmen). Or politicians.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"What the Bible Says"

I recently heard a common argument for atheism that for lack of knowledge of its actual title I will call "Bad things that happen in the Bible." The gist of the argument is that things that the atheist finds "evil" are committed by or in the name of God and therefore all morality is just a scam to make me feel guilty about seeking my own selfish pleasure. There is a leap of faith, or anti faith, in this argument and while various atheists have used various events as the nail in the coffin for their faith, I've yet to find one that I'm really swayed by.

One that I've heard most is this event (actually two events) in which a man, accosted by lustful brutes in the dead of night, brutes that want to rape a male visitor/male visitors, who instead offers his virgin daughter/daughters/the visitor's wife. The argument is that this act is calloused and how can anyone considered religious believing and faithfully following a God of love be inclined to act so indecently as to offer his own daughters.

BUT: let's look at these events. The first one (in Genesis) is Lot. Lot is visited, shortly before the destruction of his famously sinful homeland of Sodom and Gomorrah, by two angellic figures. The two angels bore a message, as angels means messenger, of the destruction of the town and said they would spend the night in the village square. Lot, presumably knowing the kinds of things that go on at night (man-rape) insists they stay with him. Too late, apparently, the men of the town had already seen the figures and went ahead to accosting. Knowing these men were angels, Lot thought the worst thing that could happen was them getting manhandled so he offered his daughters. Compassionate to his daughters? maybe not, but it is shown later that he did love them, but acted in urgency and not under the instruction of God or the angels (who moments later blinded all the men so no tragedy would befall Lot, the angels, or his daughters). So, bad stuff happens in the square, lot protects angels, in an urgent time surrounded by a town full of men so vile that God destroyed them offers his daughters to keep them from raping angels. Seems more reasonable in that light, and God still protected the daughters rather than this tragedy befalling them.

The second case, Judges 19-21, a very parallel event happens in a time when "There was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes." A Levite man and his concubine are traveling through this city, another man sees them as they're about to crash in the village square and says "maybe you shouldn't stay out here" so he let's them into his house. Nasty man-villagers come a-callin but this time the people inside are not holy angels but a Levite who is not living up to the holy calling of his tribe. So what happens when the men ask the homeowner to rape his Levite guest? "Please, take my virgin daughter and his concubine" virgins were practically commodities in sinful times, it's unfortunate but not of God. This story definitely fits the "bad things happening" moniker, as the lawless Levite lets his lady out there then goes to bed while, well, bad things happen to her. It's not clear whether or not she's dead in the morning, but he treats her very coldly and when they get back to his home he cuts her up and sends her to the 12 tribes and says "look what the tribe of Benjamin did, this is awful." A war breaks out, the tribe of Benjamin is almost wiped out of extinction, more bad things happen.

At this point the atheist may be saying "this is why I don't believe in God," but when I read this story this morning I must admit I was shaken thinking "how did all this happen in the name of God?" But for Christians who may be thinking as I did, it is made clear by the last verse of the book of Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25, ESV).

None of these events are condoned or warranted by the teachings of Jesus Christ, by the law, or by general human decency. These events happened as a result of idle hearts and idol worship (Judges 17-18), and the religious falling down on the job (the Levites were the priests).