Oh no! It’s a blood moon, the first of four in 18 months. We’re all gonna die. Yes, last night the moon slid into the shadow of the earth casting a reddish hue on the moon. Unusually, there will be four of these occurrences in the next 18 months. Astronomers call it a tetrad, doomsayers call it a sign signalling the imminent destruction of the earth. We haven’t had too many doomsday predictions lately. The ISON comet predicted by many to bring forth our destruction, spectacularly failed after its million year journey ended on Thanksgiving day last year, when it simply disintegrated after getting too close to the sun. The Viking prediction of Ragnarok (Armageddon) also failed to materialise on February 22nd. The new movie Thor 3: Ragnarok (End of Days) still hasn’t been released, so I guess the director was not too anxious about the date being accurate. Religious people, quick to capitalise on the series of Blood Moons, have released a number of books explaining the significance as they perceive it: “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs”, by mark Biltz; “Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons”, by pastor Mark Hitchcock; and “Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change” by pastor John Hagee. The last book is number 80 on USA Today’s best seller list! Good grief people, save yourself some time and money. Here is my prophecy for the Blood Moons and the next 18 months. Everything will be pretty normal. There will be no rapture, Armageddon or End of Days. The bible says “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord.”, Joel 2:31. In my opinion a more reliable and accurate predictor of future events, NASA, issued a statement saying there will be eight sets of tetrads before the year 2100. Expect a lot more doomsday predictions over the next hundred years. Unless they are right of course.
Can you believe that the film Noah has drawn sharp criticism because of inaccuracies? Not inaccuracies in what really happened obviously, but in how it differs from the short account in Genesis. Most criticism has come from people who have not seen the movie and are refusing to do so. Russell Crowe, who stars in the movie, has said he finds this stance “bordering on absolute stupidity”. I’m with you Russell. It seems there is a section of the movie showing how Darwinian evolution has transformed amoebas into apes. Yes, I can see where the creationists might have a problem with that. Anyhow, Ricky Gervais gives a much better treatment of Noah’s Ark. If you haven’t seen it, look it up on YouTube.
To ban or not to ban? That is the question. You would think that the artistic board of Newtownabbey council would have learnt from the ridiculous banning of The Life of Brian back in 1980, but no. Last week they banned a play of the Reduced Shakespeare Company entitled “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” on grounds of blasphemy. Some council members claimed it mocked Christianity. However they later came to their senses with other members claiming the decision made them look like a laughing stock and they reversed the decision. So if you can’t be bothered to read the Bible (and let’s face it not many can), why not catch their show tomorrow night or the night after in Newtownabbey. The show promises to address great theological questions including whether Adam and Eve had navels. Check out their website for more information.
The Bible is not an easy read and even harder if it is not in your language. In the town of Tabernacle (I kid you not), near Kingstown in Jamaica, people are hearing the Bible in their own street language, patios, for the first time. In a BBC video, a pastor reads from the Gospel of Saint Luke, or “Jiizas – di buk we Luuk rait bout im”, in order to demonstrate the difference. It covers the moment the Angel Gabriel tells Mary she is going to give birth. In English it reads “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.’” The patios version reads “De angel go to Mary and say to ‘er, me have news we going to make you well ‘appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time.” Natives, who speak Jamaican Creole as their first language, are very enthusiastic about the project and say that it really brings the Bible to life. I wonder if we could get a Dublin Inner city version going, even though it’s not another language. I can just imagine the attempted stoning of the adulteress, “Ah Here! Leave it out!”
Mark Randall Wolford, a pastor at the Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus, died in Bluefield Regional Medical Center earlier this week after being bitten by a Timber Rattle Snake during a religious service last Sunday. He chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a Serpent Handler, even though he also died following a snake bite in 1983. This rare branch of religion is derived from Mark 16:18 in the Bible:
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The website for Holiness Snake Handlers notes that the practice is not to be confused with secular snake handlers, snake charmers or Hindu snake enticers. The site goes on to explain that Jesus instructed the disciples in Serpent Handling, but this has been ignored by most Christians today, because Satan is the God of this world and controls 99% of religions. True Christians should of course handle serpents and drink poison and not use reasoning as an excuse. Well isn’t that true of most religions? Too much reasoning can damage your faith. It’s better to be apathetic towards it.
First President Obama didn’t thank God in his Thanksgiving day address, then he upset Catholic employers by forcing them to make contraception available to their employees, now he is quoting the bible to get Americans to pay more tax. It seems to be so easy to upset religious feelings in the United States. At a recent prayer breakfast, attended by about 3,000 people, Obama said that he was extraordinarily blessed and it was only right that he should give up some of the tax breaks that he enjoys. He said that is coincided with Jesus’ teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required”. So there you have it. Jesus agrees that the wealthy should pay more tax. Perhaps it’s so that the US military can do more of God’s work. The US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office had the Latin slogan “Opus Dei Cum Pecunia Alienum Efficemus” on their emblem, which I’m told means “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money”. However the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers objected to the reference to God and the slogan was changed to “Working Miracles with Other People’s Money”. Now a republican group of 35 lawmakers is fighting to have the slogan restored. No doubt all the legal battling will consume more of those tax dollars that Jesus needs the government to collect.
‘Tis the season to be offended. It seems God decided to publish another testament and choose the unlikely route of getting a comedy writer to transcribe it. David Javerbaum, former writer and producer of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has written the book “The Last Testament, A Memoir by God” as a message from God, transcribed by himself. Other books by the same author are listed as the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran. In the book, God describes Himself as “Maker of Little Green Apples; Rester of Merry Gentlemen; and Sole Knower of the Beach Boys.” The book is likely to offend people of all faiths by taking a light-hearted look at religion. Included is a message to those who are too noisy in the bedroom, “Stop shouting my name.” Verily, thou must checketh it out.
Religion can seriously damage your health. Every church should have a government health warning stamped across the front door. One of the latest victims, 46 year old Aldo Bianchini, was attending mass in a Catholic church in Viareggio near Pisa in the North West of Italy. Everything was fine until he heard voices in his head telling him to remove his eyes. To the horror of other church goers around him he proceeded to gouge out his eyeballs with his bare hands before collapsing in a pool of blood. Father Lorenzo Tanganelli, who had just begun his sermon when the commotion began realised what was happening and called the paramedics. They arrived quickly to take him to a local hospital, but they were unable to re-attach the eyeballs and he will remain blind for the rest of his life. Father Tanganelli resumed the Mass after Bianchini had been taken away, but many of the congregation had had enough for that morning and went home. What is that quotation from the bible?
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Yes, perhaps the bible should have a health warning across the cover too.
Three years ago, in response to a dream he had many years before, Johan Huibers started building a replica of Noah’s ark. Johan, a Dutch construction company owner, spent over a million euro on the project. He has now asked for permission to moor the boat in London during the Olympics next year. The ship has the same dimensions as the one in the bible measuring 750 ft x 75 ft. It is planned to have model animals on the bottom deck, real animals with a viewing gallery on the next and an aviary on the upper deck. The ark will also have living quarters for Johan and his wife. Unlike the original, there will also be two conference rooms for Johan is keeping an eye on the business side of things. Some years ago, against the advice of his wife, he built a smaller, half size ark that could fit in the Dutch canals, and made not far off a million euro profit, by charging people a modest fee for admittance. He has also been talking to business associates in Israel. He claims that they say it is a Jewish Ark, not a Christian Ark and he stole it. Isn’t religion great for causing arguments? Let’s hope he gets permission to sail and it doesn’t sink on the way over to London.
The New American Bible is being released this Wednesday. The work which started 17 years ago, replaces words like ‘virgin’ and ‘booty’ which no longer have the same meaning. The word ‘virgin’ is being replaced with ‘young woman’, but the bishops stress that Mary remains a virgin and some passages retain the word. The word ‘booty’ has been replaced with ‘spoils of war’, although often the ‘spoils of war’ included the women folk, so it probably wasn’t too far removed. The word ‘holocaust’ has been replaced with ‘burnt offerings’ as it is now associated with the genocide of Jews during WWII. Also the word ‘cereal’ is now associated with breakfast, so it will be replaced with ‘grain’. I wonder if they changed all those references to being stoned? I really hope they have not changed ‘ass’ to ‘donkey’. I must check Exodus and see if Moses still walks a mile after tying his ass to a tree.