Thursday, July 31, 2008

Son of Hamas Leader Coverts to Christianity

From WorldNet Daily:
The son of one of the most popular leaders in the Hamas terrorist organization has moved to the U.S. and converted to Christianity, it has emerged.

In an
exclusive interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Masab Yousuf, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, slammed Hamas, praised Israel and said he hoped his terrorist father will open his eyes to Jesus and to Christianity.

"I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God," Masab said.

Masab said he previously aided his father with Hamas activities, but he now has affection for Israel and laments Hamas.

"Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country," he says.

"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Muhammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."

Masab slammed Palestinian society as "an entire society [that] sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheiks tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'"

Masab's father is considered the most popular Hamas figure in the West Bank. He is serving a sentence in Israel for planning or involvement in multiple terror attacks, including an infamous 2002 suicide bombing in the school cafeteria of Jerusalem's Hebrew University in which nine students and staff members were killed.

According to rumor, Masab's insurance agent has been fired, and all policies cancelled. Congratulations to him; it takes a lot of guts. I have known a couple of converts from Islam, and it is not an easy road to walk, even when no one particularly wants to kill you.

We Won't Cure You, But We'll Be Glad To Kill You!

From Fox News :
Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics.

Since the spread of his prostate cancer, 53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon's state-run health plan for help.

Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup's request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup's pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide.

"It dropped my chin to the floor," Stroup told FOX News. "[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?"

The letter, which has been sent to other terminal patients throughout Oregon, follows guidelines established by the state legislature.

Oregon doesn't cover life-prolonging treatment unless there is better than a 5 percent chance it will help the patients live for five more years — but it covers doctor-assisted suicide, defining it as a means of providing comfort, no different from hospice care or pain medication.

"It's chilling when you think about it," said Dr. William Toffler, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. "It absolutely conveys to the patient that continued living isn't worthwhile."

In issuing their latest Prioritized List of Health Services, state officials reported a new emphasis on preventive care and cost effectiveness. Dr. John Sattenspiel, LIPA's senior medical director, defended the measures.

"I have had patients who would consider knowing that this is part of that range of comfort care or palliative care services that are still available to them, they would be comforted by that," Sattenspiel said. "It really depends on the individual patient."

Toffler called it a callous practice that went against medical convention. "It corrupts the consistent medical ethic that has been in place for 2,000 years," he said. "It's absolutely breathtaking."

Oregon is the only state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, which came into effect in 1997. Since that time, there have been 341 reported cases where doctors provided lethal doses of medicine to patients to end their lives.

Oregon voters have upheld the "Death with Dignity" law three times, and Sattenspiel says it is the state's duty to inform patients of all their legal options.

For Stroup, however, suicide was never an option. He fought back, and the Oregon Health Plan eventually reversed its decision and is now paying for his chemotherapy, giving him hope he'll be around a little longer for his 80-year-old mother and five grandchildren.

Nothing to be surprised at here. When the state takes over medical care, and the state allows euthanasia, the simple forces of economics and expedience will drive the path towards death. First it was permitted. Now it is encouraged. Ultimately, it will be required.

The first to go were the unborn. Now it is the terminally ill. Eventually, it will be the crippled, the mentally infirm, and the elderly - anyone who requires care. Once the right to live is redefined as the right to a meaningful life, every one of us lives at the whim of those who arrogate to themselves the privilege of defining "meaningful." In the final analysis, "meaningful" gets defined as "not requiring me to spend time or money to take care of you." The complete devaluation of human life that Satan couldn't pull off in the griminess and stench of the death camps of the Third Reich, he is pulling off quite nicely with shiny, smiling, happy people and cheery wallpaper. And the victims are expected to volunteer.

It is ironic that I first saw this story in the form of an ad for Fox's America's Future series on July 25th, the 40th anniversery of the release of Humanae Vitae. I remember 1968, and everyone claiming the Church was out of touch with modern society and mocking the Pope's "Contraception Comix." I confess, I was one of the crowd. I plead youth, an arrogant if not well thought-out atheism, and stupidity. The one word that comes to mind today is "prophecy."

At Fatima, Our Lady said that souls were falling into hell like snowflakes. That was 91 years ago. In that time, we've turned the snowstorm into a blizzard. For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on me and on the whole world.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Man Drowns During Baptism

From (San Joaquin):

Rescuers have called off the search for a 22-year-old man feared drowned during a baptism in the San Joaquin Delta.

The Hispanic man disappeared under the water late Sunday afternoon near the Brannan Island State Recreation Area, northeast of the San Francisco Bay, according to Coast Guard officials.

A Sacramento County Drowning Accident Rescue Team (DART) joined the
underwater search for the missing man, whose identity has not been released.

Officials called off the search Sunday night.

I always knew there was a reason why Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches conducted baptisms - be it by sprinlking or immersion - in a controlled fashion. Although there are certain definite eternal advantages to proceeding directly from baptism to judgment, it really impacts both the popularity of the sacrament and Sunday church attendance.

"I baptize thee in the name of <burble>the Father</burble> and <burble>the Son</burble> and <burble>the Holy Spirit. (missing end-burble tag)

"Wow! Hi, Jesus! I didn't really expect to see You during the baptism! Wait until I tell my friends!"

"Umm...well, I have some really Good News, and just a touch of bad news..."

Some attorney is going to sell his soul for the bloody fortune he can make out of this. There is, however, a marketing opportunity. Some enterprising soul should start manufacturing life vests in the shape of angel wings, or baptismal gowns with internal flotation devices.

Not quite the right Angels, I guess, but it might be appropriate in San Joaquin.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mozilla Thunderbird is Smarter Than I Am

On my office laptop, I use Mozilla Thundebird as an email client for my personal email as well as my usenet newsreader - reserving MS Outlook for the official purposes of The Firm. On my personal email, I receive a subscription to the Daily Email Bulletin from Ekklesia, a wildly liberal Anglican organization in the UK, so I can keep an eye on what the pseudo-Christian Bolsheviks and Leftover Hippies are thinking.

Today, the sidebar had a link to an article, " Cautious welcome for agreement on illicit small arms trade." As someone who regularly trades in small arms and doesn't consider himself particularly illicit, I wondered what the heck this was about and clicked the link.

Up popped an warning box saying "Thunderbird thinks this message is a scam ... Are you sure you want to visit"

I asked myself whether I could, in good Christian conscience, claim that anything from Ekklesia was not a scam. Upon reflection, I just couldn't do it. Clicked "No," closed the email, and went on to something else. Mozilla Thunderbird probably saved me from an explosive rise in blood pressure and a possible stroke.

It's not every day that software saves your life. I've gotta recommend Mozilla Thunderbird - what a perceptive little piece of artificial intelligence! Way to go, developers!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dissing the Host

From The Catholic League:

University of Minnesota professor Paul Z. Myers made good on his pledge to desecrate the Eucharist today. According to his statement on the subject, "I pierced it [the Host] with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash."

Saying he did not want to "single out just the cracker," Myers also tore pages from the Koran along with a few pages from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and nailed them to the Host. He then said, "They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. (His emphasis.) Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet."

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

"A formal complaint against Myers has already been made. What he did - in both word and deed - constitutes a bias incident, as defined by the University of Minnesota. The policy says that ‘Expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, harassment or hostility against an individual, group or their property because of the individual or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion…can be forms of discrimination. Expressions vary, and can be in the form of language, words, signs, symbols, threats, or actions that could potentially cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others…even when presented as a joke.’

"The University must now take action and apply the appropriate sanction. We are contacting the president, Board of Regents and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office at the school, as well as Minnesota’s governor and both houses of the state legislature; the Catholic community in Minnesota is also being contacted. Moreover, we are also contacting Muslim groups nationwide.

"It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not
tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist."

Although I'm not advocating that anyone do this, I can't help wondering what Prof. Myers reaction would be if someone dug up, say, his mother's corpse and used it for a hatstand? The man seems to have a serious problem in understanding basic Catholic theology (and that of many Anglicans) that the host is treated with the same deference one would treat the incarnate Christ, because - once consecrated - it is the incarnate Christ. We might be incorrect in that belief, but to tell us we are not disciples of someone we are clearly disciples of is not merely silly - it is an attempt to require others to toe his party line.

I actually feel sorry for this guy. I just reread C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strengh; the last time I read it was over 40 years ago. One of the characters, Mark Studock, falls under the sway of a rabidly (and satanically) materialistic group called NICE (National Institute for Cooperative Experimentation). As one of his last steps in becoming "objective," he is required to desecrate a crucifix. He rebels, though himself an unbeliever, because he recognizes the simple dehumanizing wrongness of it. Spitting in other people's faces is selom an act that produces a beneficial result. It is nastiness for its own sake.

Apparently Prof. Myrs has already chosen his side. I doubt that he truly realizes it; I pray that his decision is not irrevocable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Perils of Pagan Religions

From the Lebanon (Indiana) Reporter:
A Lebanon woman suffered an accidental stab wound when performing a Wiccan rite at Oak Hill Cemetery, Lebanon, Saturday.

Katherine Gunther, 36, 500 block of South East Street, pierced her left foot with a three-feet-long sword, Lebanon Police said.

Friends took her to Witham Hospital emergency room around 2 a.m. Saturday. Hospital personnel are required by law to report stab wounds to police.

Gunther told police she and several friends were practicing a ritual that requires the use of candles, incense and driving swords into the earth during the full moon.

Police said Gunther admitted to having consumed alcohol earlier in the evening.

No charges were filed, police said. The Wiccans were warned that being in the cemetery after posted visiting hours constitutes trespassing..
It's a lucky thing she wasn't born in Old Testament times. Can you imagine her as a Levite at the Temple? Wouldn't have made it past the first sin offering without cutting her hand off. I'm glad most neopagans are liberals and don't carry guns - might be dangerous.

The Bushes Are Homophobic!

No, not those bushes (from The Telegraph (UK)):
A council has been accused of discriminating against homosexuals over plans to clear undergrowth from a notorious gay cruising spot.

Bristol City Council wants to prune bushes and remove cover from an area known as the Downs to improve the landscape and encourage rare wildlife.

But its own gay rights group has opposed the move, claiming that cutting back the bushes was "discriminating" to homosexual men who used the area for late night outdoor sex known as dogging.

Work on the beauty spot has been temporarily delayed while talks with gay rights groups take place to try and break the deadlock.

The area of the Downs sits at the top of the Avon Gorge, in the upmarket Clifton suburb of Bristol and is home to various species of rare plants and wildlife.

[...] The area hit the headlines last year when four firemen who disturbed an outdoor gay sex session were reprimanded and fined after they shone torches into the undergrowth.

The Downs Committee commissioned a report as part of ongoing improvements to the shrubland and have proposed cutting back a lot of the undergrowth.

The move was strongly backed by local residents who complained about "inappropriate sexual activity" and safety concerns in the area.

But during the consultation period last year "equality" concerns were raised by the council's Rainbow Group - an action group of lesbian, gay and bisexual council employees - about the threat to gay rights.

[...] A row blew up last October when it was revealed that four fire fighters had been disciplined for allegedly disturbing a gay sex session on the Downs by shining their torches into the bushes.

After complaints that their actions were homophobic, the four senior officers from Avon Fire Service were fined £1,000 and transferred to other fire stations.
Dogging? No, thanks, I don't think I really want to know. Where have you gone, Rudyard Kipling?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lambeth Reflections

As an Anglican blogger, I know I'm supposed to have thoughts, comments, and reflections on the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communoin, held every 10 years in Lambeth Palace in Merrie Olde England. I'm fraid I've reached the point where I really don't give the rear end of a naked-tailed Asian rodent what the bishes do at Lambeth, or whom they do it with or do it to. One of the nice things about Continuing Anglicanism is not being in Communion with these bozos!

One thing I have noticed, however, is that during the course of the conference, the minions of Antichrist bishops will meet for theological atrocities bible studies in "indaba groups" where liberals can browbeat their orthodox opponents and trash the Africans as savages participants can participate in listening and conversation.

According to Episcopal Life Online:
Indaba is a Zulu word meaning purposeful discussion "and is both a process and method of engagement, and offers a way of listening to one another concerning challenges that face the Anglican Communion."
Sinner that I am, however, I fully believe that if I were walking through a Zulu village, some kind-hearted local soul would, sooner or later, grab me by the shoulder, point to a moist pile on the cow path, and say, "Careful, man - you almost stepped in the indaba!"

To heck with it all. I've read the Revelation of John. I know who wins in the end.

Back, but On the Run!

Well, my lovely wife's mom has been interred, her family is on their back to their far-flung domiciles, and we have returned from a few days with Beloved-but-Expensive Daughter in Babylon Boston. I have to return to work tomorrow and am looking forward to the rest.

Lovely Wife's mom's graveside service was lovely. Her mom's absence is going to leave a big hole in LW's life, so I would appreciate any prayers both for the repose of Henrietta and for my wife's peace of mind.

My vacation in Boston dang near killed me. I managed to take out my left knee, and - on the way back - got detained in Logan Airport and thrown out of Massachusetts. I need to get one of those Spring Break tee shirts that read Left on vacation - Came back on probation.

Being a good boy, I left all firearms at home, left my pocket knife at home, and left the titanium credit card knife I carry in my wallet at home. I carry (carried) a little aluminum kubotan on my keychain, which is basically an aluminum rod with rounded "point" on one end, about 5.5 inches by 0.5 inches in size.

In the hands of a kung fu master, a kubotan can quite successfully be used to subdue an opponent by applying it to pressure points and using the pain to force him into positions where he can be controlled.

I am NOT a kung fu master.

The only things I know with "fu" are tofu and fubar. I'm not fond of either.

I bought the thing because my current project is at a Federal facility, and I am forced to walk around as unarmed as a newborn gerbil. In my not-fu hands, a kubotan is a last-ditch, no-escape, I'm-gonna-die-but-maybe-I-can-leave-a-bruise-on-you sort of weapon that also helps keep me from losing my car keys. I've flown all over the bloody country with the thing in my pocket and nobody ever said boo. Until, of course, I got to Massachusetts. Apparently, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a kubotan counts as a "prohibited weapon" under their criminal code. I got pulled out of line at security, had my carry-on searched to find the offending item (which was confiscated), and had to wait for a state trooper to show up to make copies of my driver's license and my carry permit, and fill out a police report. In the meantime, my pants were falling down because I had thrown my belt buckle in the same carry-on to go through security.

While I was joking around with the TSA guy and the cop, I mentioned that I thought a kubotan was legal anywhere, being about as dangerous in a crowd as bubble gum or a roll of wet toilet paper. The trooper's comment? "Remember - this is a Democrat state. They vote for Kennedy every damn time."

When the TSA agent asked me what Federal facility worked at, I told him I was a consultant on a project at Internal Revenue and apologized. I wasn't sure how one could sink any lower than that. He pointed out that I could have his job. Apparently, according to a recent survey, TSA is more despised by the American public than IRS, Congress, or the Mafia.

I plan on writing to the Mass. state police for a copy of the police report. I want to have it framed. It did, however lead to a song (to the tune of Oklahoma).

Maaaaaasachusetts, where the constitution's just a rag,
And the Kennedy's win
Though their girls can't swim,
And the bishops all dress up in drag.

Maaaaaasachusetts, the bluest state you'll ever see,
Where the proles are tricked
By the Bolsheviks
Into giving up their rights for free!

Thank God I still live in a free state!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Prayer Request

My wife's mom died yesterday. It wasn't unexpected, but in my experience that doesn't make much difference. Prayers for the repose of Henrietta will be appreciated, as well as prayers for my wife's (Charlotte's) peace of mind.

I'll be offline the rest of the week. I'm sure the Anglican Communion can continue to crumble quite successfully in my absence.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Roman Commentary on the COE Synod Decision

Diogenes on the Church of England synod's decision to (attempt to) ordain women bishops:
In a display of spirited independence comparable to the Soviet Agricultural Congress of 1951, the Church of England has voted to approve women bishops. This decision, much like that of the Society of Jesus in 1995 to embrace gender-inclusive language, is expected to send shock-waves throughout the world of aromatherapy and to have consequences extending into the August issues of The Tablet and beyond.
I almost said "decision to embrace women bishops." Fortunately, being the sensitive, new-age, post-modern guy person that I am, I caught myself before employing such sexist, misogynistic imagery. Besides, have you seen any of those babes persons? I mean embrace? Fuggedaboudit.

COE Approves Female "Bishops"

From SkyNews (UK):

Members of its General Synod threw out compromise proposals on females in senior ranks.

All safeguards demanded by traditionalists were rejected.

[...] Sky News correspondent Mike McCarthy said it was a historic and significant moment for the church."The real test now is how many people will leave (the Church). There are certainly going to be many wrestling with their consciences," he said.

The Synod members voted to approve work on a national statutory code to accommodate those within the Church who object to women bishops.

But the Synod rejected compromise plans for new "super bishops" to cater for objectors - and also their preferred option of creating new dioceses.

The decision to go ahead with work on the code came after more than six hours of debate by the General Synod, which saw extraordinary scenes, with one bishop in tears as he spoke of being "ashamed" of the Church of England.

The Rt Rev Stephen Venner, Bishop of Dover, who is in favour of women bishops, said: "I have to say, Synod, for the first time in my life, I feel ashamed.

"We have talked for hours about wanting to give an honourable place to those who disagree."We have been given opportunities for both views to flourish. We have turned down every, almost realistic opportunity for those who are opposed to flourish."

A total of 1,333 clergy have threatened to leave the Church of England if they are not given legal safeguards to set up a network of parishes that would remain under male leadership.

The fat lady has sung. The shark has been jumped. The curtain has fallen. The lights have been turned off. The shootin' match is over. The paperwork is finished. The cleanup is ended. Somebody drape the flag over it and bury it.

From this day forward, any notion of maintaining Anglican orthodoxy in communion with Canterbury - no matter how strained - is finished. Any meaningful dialog with Rome or the East is the stuff of pipe dreams. The Anglican experiment has gone the way of any number of heretical sects and splinter groups since the Church began. Like a rat that has eaten the bait, it is still walking and squeaking, but the Flavored Death it has so eagerly chewed and so greedily swallowed is already at work devouring its innards. Sic transit gloria mundi.

For a Serious Analysis...

...try another article. This one is from the Port Clinton (Ohio) News Herald

RICE TOWNSHIP -- When responding to a complaint of cows on the road Saturday, a sheriff's deputy accidentally struck one of the cows.

According to a report from the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office, a deputy was sent out to the area of Sandusky County Road 109 around 10:30 p.m. As the deputy was traveling in the 2200 block of Sandusky County Road 128, they struck a cow that ran onto the road.

The cow's owner came to the scene and the family gathered the rest of the other cows that had become loose.

The deputy was not hurt in the crash. But the cow that was struck was taken away because of its injuries.

"The cow ... was taken away because of its injuries." Okay - WHERE? To the barn to recuperate in the loving arms of her family? To the vet for emergency medical treatment? To the barbecue pit for, umm... emergency medical treatment? (Nurse - scalpel! That rib has to come off STAT!) Real people want to KNOW!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rock of Sages?

From WorldNet Daily:

A stone tablet written in Hebrew is generating debate as some scholars are saying its words point to a suffering messiah who was killed and rose again three days later decades before Jesus of Nazareth.

Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley told The International Herald Tribune, "Some Christians will find it shocking – a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology – while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism."

The tablet itself, about three feet tall and containing 87 lines of Hebrew in two neat columns, is a rare find because its words are written in ink, rather than engraved. Experts who have analyzed the writing date the stone from the late first century B.C., and a chemical examination conducted by a professor at Tel Aviv University showed no reason to doubt the date.

The content of the writing, however, remains much in doubt, as evidenced by a handful of articles on the stone and several due to be published in coming months.

The tablet was discovered roughly ten years ago, purchased from a Jordanian antiquities dealer and stored until recently in a private collection in Zurich. According to the Tribune, news of the tablet excited scholars last year when Ada Yardeni, an Israeli scholar of Hebrew scripts, published a long analysis of the stone in Cathedra, a Hebrew-language history and archaeology quarterly.

David Jeselsohn, the tablet's owner, told the Tribune, "I didn't realize how significant it was until I showed it to Ada Yardeni, who specializes in Hebrew writing, a few years ago. She was overwhelmed. 'You have got a Dead Sea Scroll on stone,' she told me."

The tablet, called "Gabriel's Revelation," is broken and faded, making much of its content debatable. The words tell of a vision, supposedly given by the angel Gabriel, of the apocalypse.

Lines 19 through 21 of the tablet contain words, which translated read: "In three days you will know that evil will be defeated by justice."

Line 80 of the tablet begins with the words "L'shloshet yamin," meaning "in three days," but then fades. Some scholars see the next word as illegible, but Israel Knohl, a professor of Bible studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says the word is Hebrew for "live," followed by even more difficult-to-read words that he claims complete a command meaning, "In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you."

Knohl told the Tribune that he interprets the tablet to tell of a messianic figure named Simon, whose death was recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus. The tablet, Knohl contends, was likely written by Simon's followers and demonstrates that messianic followers even before Jesus looked to their leaders rising again, thus nullifying the frequent claim that Jesus' resurrection was a uniquely developed story.

If Knohl's interpretation of "Gabriel's Revelation" is correct, it would lend evidence to his previous theories, published in his 2002 book, "The Messiah before Jesus." Knohl is one of several scholars who suggest Jesus may not have been unique in his claim to face suffering, death and resurrection, but that sources, like this tablet, suggest a common messianic story that New Testament writers may have merely been copying.

"This should shake our basic view of Christianity," Knohl told the Tribune. "Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship. What happens in the New Testament was adopted by Jesus and his followers based on an earlier messiah story."

Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Israeli Academy of Hebrew Language and emeritus professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at the Hebrew University, however,
remains skeptical of Knohl's interpretation of the tablet.

"There is one problem," he told the Tribune. "In crucial places of the text there is a lack of text. I understand Knohl's tendency to find there keys to the pre-Christian period, but in two to three crucial lines of the text there are a lot of missing words." Bar-Asher plans to publish his own paper on the tablet in coming months.

If the stone tablet does represent a "Dead Sea Scroll on stone," the debate over its meaning will likely continue for many years. The Dead Sea Scrolls, originally discovered in 1947 in caves near the Dead Sea, contain pre Christian-era copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, the oldest known copies at the time.

The Scrolls continue to be studied and debated, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Scrolls' discovery, begins a three-day "The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture" conference today. Israel Knohl is scheduled to speak at the conference about the "Gabriel's Revelation" stone.

Big whoop.
There is a lot of uncertainty about what the stone really says. Dr. Knohl is probably just engaging in wishful translating. Maybe it says "Three-day sale! Gabriel's Goats!" and is an ad for the sponsor of the rock.

Making the (large) assumption that Dr. Knohl's interpretation is correct, so what? Resurrection after three days is a "preexisting motif." No kidding. Christians have always interpreted the story of Jonah as a "preexisting motif" for the resurrection, not to mention the anastasis of Eliazar (Lazarus). It's not the motif that matters; it's the event.

People always go on about Jesus representing all sorts of new stuff in Judaism. Nonsense. Jesus's teachings were not "new;" if anything, they were a revival of the Law and the Prophets. The only new teaching he gave was self-referential - "Love one another as I have loved you." Inclusion of the Gentiles wasn't new. Israel was always intended to be the light for the Gentiles, according to the prophets. Back in the OT, who was it that got cured of Leprosy? A Syrian. Who was fed through the famine. The Shunnamite woman. Who got raised fro the dead? Her son. Who was in the lineage of Jesus himself? Rahab, a Canaanite hooker, and Ruth, from Moab. The suffering Messiah wasn't new - that came from Isaiah.

For heaven's sake, the whole idea of Israel's history was to set the stage for the Messiah in Jewish culture, not to pop Him out of the woodwork like an unexpected colony of termites. The big complaints that Jesus had about the Jewish elites were (a) that they had missed the point of the Law and the Prophets, and (b) that they had failed to recognize Him, even though He had come in complete harmony with the cultural and historical context that they were embedded in. I.e. they had failed to pay attention to their own bloody books!

The uniqueness of Christ lies not in what He did as a man, but in forever uniting the material, created world with the Divine Life of God. His resurrection wasn't a command from an angel; it was simply impossible for Him to stay dead.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Man Sells Soul on Internet

From Yahoo News:

A New Zealand man has put his soul up for auction to the highest bidder, noting that it is "a merry old soul" rather than a "funk soul brother" but that he would "would like to think there is a bit of funk in there somewhere."

Walter Scott, 24, put his soul up for sale on New Zealand Internet auction site TradeMe, and so far has received more than 100 expressions of interest.

Bids in the auction, which was to close Thursday, had reached $189 late Wednesday.

Scott said he had been thinking about selling his soul for ages.

"I can't see it, touch it or feel it, but I can sell it, so I'm going to palm it off to the highest bidder," he said.

It was in "pretty good nick" except for a rough patch six years ago when he reached the legal drinking age, he said.

Advice from a lawyer was that the winning bidder would not be entitled to anything but Scott's soul and would not be able to own or control him in any way, he said.

The successful bidder will receive a framed deed of "soul ownership," Scott said.

TradeMe business manager Michael O'Donnell said the auction complied with the site's rules because a physical object — the deed of ownership — would change

"I think he has entered into the spirit of the (online) community (and) he's also responded to our request to have a physical thing for sale and he's put together a nice looking deed for ownership," O'Donnell said.

I can't help suspecting that, if the young man regards his soul in such a cavalier manner, he may find that he has already sold it and is therefore committing fraud by attempting to sell it again. Since the current owner would be the Lowest Bidder of all, however, I also suspect that the commission of fraud merely adds to the item's flavor.

As to whether the New Owner can or cannot "own or control him in any way," the results may turn out to be an unpleasant surprise for Mr. Scott, whatever his attorney claims. The New Owner is. after all, the Fatherof Lawyers.

This Would Never Work in Texas

From (somewhere in Wisconsin, I presume.)

APPLETON, Wisc. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A couple telephoned police in the middle of the night after finding a man in their basement covered head to toe in barbecue sauce.

"He told the officers that it was urban camouflage," said the homeowner.

This happened in Wisconsin.

The homeowners say they woke up to whistling sounds.

The husband grabbed his shotgun and headed toward the basement where he found the sauced-up intruder. He held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

The guy told officers he covered himself in barbecue sauce because he wanted to hide from the government.

He now faces burglary charges.

No wonder they were able to spot him. The bloody fool forgot the pickle!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Human-pig hybrid embryos given go ahead

From The Telegraph (UK):

A licence to create human-pig embryos to study heart disease has been issued by the fertility watchdog.

This marks the third animal-human hybrid embryo licence to be issued by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the first since the Commons voted in favour of this controversial research last month.

An HFEA spokesman said it had approved an application from the Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, for the creation of hybrid embryos. The centre has been offered a 12 month licence with effect from today, July 1.

The effort at the University of Warwick is led by Professor Justin St John. "This new license allows us to attempt to make human pig clones to produce embryonic stem cells," he said, where embryonic stem cells are able to turn into the 200 plus types in the body.

"Ultimately they will help us to understand where some of the problems associated with these diseases arise and they could also provide models for the pharmaceutical industry to test new drugs. We will effectively be creating and studying these diseases in a dish.

"But it's important to say that we're at the very early stages of this research and it will take a considerable amount of time. There is still a great deal to learn about these techniques and much of our early work will involve understanding how we can make the hybrid cloning process as efficient as possible."

The study is aimed at understanding the way power-producing structures in cells, called mitochondria, are passed from egg to embryo. In the hybrid, the mitochondria mostly come from the egg, initially making up around half of the DNA by weight, and the team will do experiments in order to ensure that the trace of human mitochondrial DNA takes over, not least because it is designed to work with human nuclear DNA.

"The key thing we are doing is trying to create stem cells without any animal DNA in them. So even though these hybrid embryos normally have a small percentage of animal DNA , we are hoping to create cells that would have human chromosomes and human mitochondrial DNA."

The reason is that, as the team puts it, "mixing of these two diverse populations of
mitochondria can be detrimental to cellular function." Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat science spokesman, commenting on the HFEA decision to issue a license to the University of Warwick to create hybrid embryos combining human skin cells with enucleated pig eggs, said: "This application is a further indication of the interest in this sort of research by UK scientists, the decision of the HFEA to issue a license following stringent checks demonstrates that it is considered both necessary and ethical."

"While this approval comes under the existing 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, both houses of Parliament have recently voted by large majorities to allow it into the future," said Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, of the MRC National Institute For Medical Research. [...]

Teams in Newcastle and London are already creating hybrids. The former have already created hybrids with cow eggs to study the basics of how the use of genes changes in early development, the latter a range of species to generate stem cells from people with neurodegenerative disorders.

This may come as a surprise to some, but I currently have no strong objections to these particular experiments. The original tissue is not derived by creating a new human being, and the result is not a new human being. I suppose the claim could be made that the hoped-for result is a cloned human cell with all pig DNA removed, but I'm not sure that's a problem either. You could say the same thing about any cultured tissue line. Parts is parts,even if those parts be chromosomes. I reserve the right to change my mind, however, if somebody can give me a convincing argument.

The situation changes, though if such a reconstructed stem cell line were somehow to be converted to an embryo. I'm not sure anyone can do that, but it would at that point constitute a new human being, even with the original cytoplasm derived from a porker. The moral consequences are severe; I don't have an intrinsic moral problem with human clones - a cloned human is simply human individual with the same God given attributes as any other human being. The problem is extrinsic and based on original sin. We are what we are - human cloning will lead inevitably to either engineered slaves or "parts people." I have a pretty low view of the human response to grace; we may have the capacity for goodness, but we have little history of showing any interest.

Human-pig hybrids are, of course, only the first step in creating what we all know is the ultimate biotechnological horror, ManBearPig - compared to whom the Antichrist is Shirley Temple. That breakthrough would allow the Democratic party to grow their future voters by the factory load.