Monthly Archives: October 2007

The women at the cross

It is sometimes said that the women followers of Jesus showed more resolution and loyalty than the male disciples of Jesus. One scene often pointed to as a demonstration of this claim is the women staying within range of Jesus on the cross while the other disciples had either betrayed him, fled for their lives or denied him.

There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Younger and of Joses (widely understood to be Jesus’ mother – c.f. Mark 6:5), and Salome (Mark 15:40)

This claim that the women were in some way “more worthy” than their male counterparts, at least as it applies to the Gospel of Mark, misreads Mark’s narrative completely. The correct understanding of Mark’s sources here also has major implications for how we understand the most fundamental things about the gospel story itself. read more »

Do politicians deserve to go to heaven?

Loved the spin on this sad survey by the Australia Institute to see what the public thought of Australian politicians:

Download (PDF, 38KB)

read more »

Exodus dreaming: turning the literary into the literal

Mario Liverani in his Israel’s history and the history of Israel explains that the idiom of people “going out” and “going in” to a land was used to describe a change in political dependence without any literal movement of the people from one place to another. read more »

mr military “what’s a judge?” vs ms civilian “swiss bank account”

An Asian perspective on Bhutto’s return to Pakistan: Bhutto bombing kicks off war on US plan

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The anti-marcionite, catholicizing Peter-Paul equivalence in Galatians

The passage in Galatians (2:7-8) that civilly explains how Paul and Peter were each separate but equal apostles, the former preaching the gospel to the gentiles and the latter to the Jews, is evidently a second century catholicizing attempt to re-write history and bring the two apostles into the same “orthodox” fold. The idea of separate apostleships and gospels for the Jewish and Gentile worlds was unknown till the second century. It is certainly foreign to the thought of Paul found in the rest of his correspondence. read more »

Dysfunctional fundamentalist families (11): Family Health Versus Dysfunction

Final in this series on dysfunctional fundamentalist families: the rest are archived here.

Some of the dynamics of fundamentalist families are similar to those of other dysfunctional families. For example, in both fundamentalist and alcoholic families

  • denial is strong
  • prohibitions against perceiving, feeling and expressing are common

To recover from the experience of growing up in a dysfunctional family it is important to understand difficulties that may be experienced in such areas as those listed above. Understanding difficulties with denial and expressing feelings is important, but it is just as necessary to understand their positive counterparts. read more »

Millenarians and Nationalists

As a past student of American history and society I relished catching up with more recent publications a couple of years ago and one of the more interesting was America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (2004) by Anatol Lieven. Sharing some notes from one section of this book — a discussion of the link between millenarian religious beliefs and American nationalism — with anyone else interested. read more »

The Meaning of Biblical Chronology

From Genesis through to 2 Kings and the prophet Ezekiel are many nice round numbers tying together the world’s and Israel’s major events. And when they are added up they point to the rededication of the Temple under Judas Maccabeus.

They therefore imply a prophecy that this event, from which the Jewish nation could be said to be reborn, was ordained from the beginning of time. Creation itself could be inferred to have had its fulfilment in this rebirth of Israel.

The figures also mean that the editing (if not composition) of some of the biblical books happened as late as 164 b.c.e. read more »

Dysfunctional fundamentalist families (10): physical and sexual abuse

Continuing notes from Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell, with added comments and discussion. Other posts in the series are archived here.

I see an awful lot of suppressed anger in fundamentalists — which is expressed politically. It’s also expressed toward children, who are treated in ferocious ways “You will behave. You will do these kinds of behaviors . . . . You’ll be punished . . . I think that anger is submerged and appears in family behaviors that are really destructive. And the kids suffer the most, I think, from that twisting and guilt tripping — an awful lot of fear. Instead of getting security, you get guilt and fear laid on you. (pp.125-6)

The above extract with which Marlene opens this section is the testimony of a child brought up in a god-fearing fundamentalist home. Marlene does not say that religious beliefs cause this sort of treatment of children but they do help cement the relationships of control that make it possible and often likely.

Child rearing

The fundamentalist views much of child rearing in terms of questions of control and appropriate punishments. And since the fundamentalist worldview fosters personal insecurity and interpersonal suspicions (discussed in previous posts), parents are rarely well equipped to be the most effective of parents to begin with. It is easy to imagine how leaders in any other institution or position of power who evidence such character flaws will cause so much grief, best intentions notwithstanding. read more »

“Suffering is suffering” — for both human and nonhuman animals

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) makes up for its sometimes offensive tactics by it’s huge financial support from the Hollywood rich. There’s an interesting and largely persuasive (to me who is already persuaded) interview with PETA vice president Dan Mathews now available online.

But I was converted to the cause by Peter Singer. Apparently as was Richard Dawkins. Links are to online articles of an interview with Singer and a review of Singer by Dawkins.

The complex lives of earliest humans

What can be deduced from a bit of ochre and a whale barnacle . . . .

News story of a recent publication in Nature, with related audio file:

Earliest humans lived complex lives, scientists find by Sarah Clarke

Eggheads need more clowns and theatre

A year or so ago a friend and I had a little stall at an International Women’s Day function in a park with the usual literature and a nice quota of friends and few newbies taking a look. But nothing beat the results we got when we decided to hold up silly masks in front of our faces and walk through the streets and shopping malls handing out our little pieces of paper spiel. read more »

The (World) Social Forum (WSF)

Election is under way again in Australia hence adding a few more resource links for associates and interested persons over next few weeks.

Costello labels the Social Forum as an “extreme left wing group” consisting in “very large part of former-communists”.

This is part of his attempt to smear Julia Gillard for being a former organizer of Social Forum.

Facts about Social Forum: read more »

Would it be too much to ask ?

Dear conservative affluents,

Would it be too much to ask the right people (those in flash Chevron business suits and expensive cars) very nicely if they would mind withdrawing, very politely of course, their financial support from the Burmese regime — at least until relatives of the missing and arrested have a chance to check on their welfare or arrange for timely funerals as the case may be, and even allow for social workers to assist those with signs of post-traumatic stress resulting from events in recent weeks?

I fully understand that these right oil CEO people do have a priority by law to put their shareholders’ interests first, and they might grumble a bit if there was a dip in the prices of their assets. But with a bit of good-will I am sure at least a few could be persuaded at special meetings to go along with this — and the rest could surely come to some arrangement with certain legislators and executives to perhaps allow any losses to be offset by special tax benefits.

With arrangements like this it would spare me the discomfort of having to read articles like Cindy Sheehan’s here and the Amy Goodman one that she refers to here.

Hoping something can be done to make life a little more comfortable for us all.


P.S. It might also help end my constant dreams that I am living among French aristocracy in July 13, 1789 and France is the whole world this time.