Culture: June 2004 Archives

GetReligion has a nice piece on a new Bible translation called Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures. Here's an example of what it does to I Cor 7:1-2. First, the King James Versionfor comparison:

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

Now the Good as New:

"Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner."

Then if you really want to give in to the culture around us, you can go with the GetReligion satire version, based on the NIV with alterations:

Hmm. Madonna's Esther's new fascination with Kabbalah has some striking similarities with certain segments of evangelicalism.

1. the form without the content (well, the mysticism is kept and exaggerated, but nothing else is)
2. "a superstitious attempt to manipulate the cosmos by a sort of divination with the sacred text"
3. violations of God's law despite some general approval of the things of God
4. money-making as a means to spread spirituality (or it is the other way around?)
5. merging a sense of piety with blasphemy

Incidentally, isn't it interesting that Madonna chose Esther out of all the biblical names she could have picked? One was a girl who was chosen out of obscurity to be queen, whose trust in God allowed her to have an impact on the Persian emperor for the good of God's people. The other is a self-glorifying celebrity who manifests a casual or hostile attitude toward anything really representing God but wanting all the spiritual benefits anyway, thus leading astray many in her influence.

Another Roundup

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I've got too many things to blog about again, so here we go.

Jonathan Ichikawa has a nice post at Fake Barn Country about obesity and determinism. I think I agree with everything he says. (It's also at his own blog, but there aren't any comments there yet. If you're interested in looking at all possible comments, it's worth checking both.)

Tiger! Tiger! has a great post on arguments for atheism. The author is an atheist but is acknowleding the insufficiency of the best arguments for atheism. I think I agree with every word up to a certain point. At the end, there's an appeal to a hermeneutic of suspicion as a final method of arguing for atheism, but I wonder if again this is at best at argument for agnosticism, since of course you can apply a hermeneutic of suspicion to the atheistic framework as well (and the atheistic explanations of evidence and experiences pointing to theism) by explaining the atheistic worldview in terms of Romans 1 and the fall of humanity.

Saddam's doctor gives some inside dirt. (via The Limitless)

Stuart Buck puts Brian Leiter in his place with a careful examination of a new poll that shows the overall increasing mistrust of the media from both political parties. Leiter was trying to use it to show that Republicans are stupid for not trusting C-SPAN and that Republicans are simply mad at the press for questioning Bush and no longer groveling to him (as if they ever did). Stuart points out that the poll shows that Democrats are growing distrustful of all the media sources, that the Wall Street Journal is the biggest drop in trustworthiness according to Republicans, that Democrats and Republicans trust both Fox News at nearly statistically equivalent rates to each other, and Democrats are distrusting enough of C-SPAN that they fall prey to his charge of stupidity if Republicans do (not that the charge applies anyway if you understand what they are distrusting, on which see his argument).

Eugene Volokh, as far as I can tell, is a standard pro-choice libertarian, but he's willing to acknowledge that, even though both sides of the abortion debate are guilty of euphemistic and dysphemistic language, the mainstream media really do show a bias toward the euphemisms and dysphemisms of the pro-choice side of the debate.

Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping notices how Bush's order in 'women and men' sends a strong signal to Muslim practices that marginalize women. It's little things like this that show that Bush really isn't like a lot of Republicans of the past (or at least of the era since the 60s when Republicans were the civil rights party). The Bush Administration consciously thinks about things like this.

Joanne Jacobs connects talking to kids (including to babies), grades/test scores, class, and the racial achievement gap. I don't think everything she says follows from the data, but it's fascinating stuff. My comment there is sufficient to show where I disagree.

Jollyblogger has an excellent post on metaphor and whether Harry Potter can be morally redeeming for a Christian who believes the occult is evil. It's one of the best defenses of popular fiction with elements hyper-fundamentalists would reject that I've seen in a long time, using the examples of Hosea's marriage to a practicing prostitute and Isaiah's walking around "naked" (both commands from God) for an interesting point. He didn't say what I thought was the most obvious thing to say, which is that magic in Harry Potter isn't what's condemned in the Bible, since it's a natural ability of the characters in that fictional world rather than a supernatural ability not of one's own but sought out through practices involving demonic beings.

My list of favorite posts is getting fairly long, and I've decided to remove some of the earlier ones. I still want to have a link to them, so I'm linking to them in this post, and then I'll put this post in the list of favorite posts. That way the list will be shorter, but I'll be able to find them fairly easily without having to search the whole site.

New low for racist left looks at a poster making fun of National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that I believe to be racist. I explain why in the post, and somehow some slack-jawed yokels found the post, completely ignored my reasoning and everything about me that a quick look around my site would reveal, and proceeded to call me a racist. It was probably the most commented-on entry in the history of my blog, and the comments are quite characteristic of the average response to the kind of point I was making, which is simply to ignore it and change the subject, to charge me with things I never said and don't believe, and to take everything I said in the most uncharitable way possible.

Pacifism links to my fairly comprehensive teaching notes on arguments for and against pacifism, including both philosophical and biblical arguments.

Personhood and Abortion summarizes some of my views on abortion, in response to some statements by Senator Sam Brownback (R, KS). Careful-thinking people realize that personhood is the central issue in the debate (not life or humanity), but personhood by itself itself doesn't decide the issue one way or the other, giving pro-life and pro-choice reasons for thinking that. I offer two considerations that should also come into play, one having to do with violence and the other from the fact that we view very early miscarriages as unfortunate but not as bad as losing a child at a later developmental stage.

Update: I've removed some of the posts originally in this entry and put them into a topical one on apologetics, because they belong there. This one's a little haphazard themewise.

Update 2: I've moved more into Christian Ethics Posts. This post is getting smaller and smaller.

Circumcision

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I am bewildered by the fairly common practice of American Evangelical parents of circumcising their sons. Given that most American Evangelicals are not Jewish, why is this practice so widespread? The book of Galatians makes it abundantly clear that this is not necessary for salvation. In theory, circumcision by Gentiles should only be done in an effort to convert to Judaism, but that hardly seems to be the motivation here.

If you are a Covenantal (i.e. you think that the Church has inherited the promises of Israel), then I might see how you might think that circumcision is a good thing except for the fact that Covenantals believe that the rite of baptism has replaced the rite of circumcision. And thus I remain bewildered by those who practice both infant baptism and circumcision.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

Weekend Roundup II

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Here's some more stuff I've been catching up on from the weekend away:

The universe has been expanding faster than the speed of light (via Volokh).

Poliblogger links to a story about three washed-up action hero actors playing three washed-up action hero actors who open up a private investigtor firm. The actors? William Shatner, Robert Wagner, and Lee Majors. I'd watch that.

King of Fools points out that John Kerry is now advocating unilateral engagement with North Korea. He's also got a good post on lust and objectification that picks up on themes I blogged about recently.

Bill Hobbs gives a mini-roundup of connections between Saddam and al Qaeda (link from One Hand Clapping).

Rebecca Writes gives some helpful reflections on the moral implications of Philippians 2:1-8, including just what it is about Jesus' giving of himself that Paul is telling the Philippians to imitate. This post got a mention on Blogs4God.

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