Ireland votes on gay marriage this Friday. Many are creating a fog of war to distract from the simple question, should gay marriage be recognised in law? The bible is quite clear about heterosexual marriages in Deuteronomy 22:13-21. If a man marries and discovers his wife is not a virgin, her parents must provide proof that she was. If they do this the husband pays 100 silver shekels to his father-in-law for slander, but if they can’t she will be stoned to death. Perhaps we should change the law to only allow marriage between two virgins and preserve the sanctity of marriage.
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.
Who was first to visit the new born baby Jesus, some shepherds, the wise men or Father Christmas? Well according to a recent survey of about 1,000 adults and 1,000 children 37 opted for Santa. Scarily enough the 37 were mostly adults, not children. Some of the other misconceptions were that Mary and Joseph were married when they found out she was pregnant (60%), they were on their first date (2%), Jesus was placed in a Moses basket (5%) and Jesus was born in Beirut (1%). Other than the large number of people thinking that Mary and Joseph were married, the Nativity plays at this time of year seem to be doing their job in getting the story of Jesus across. Wouldn’t it be nice if Santa was the first visitor?
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.
Following His recent vacation in Ireland, Jesus has made a brief appearance at Longford Health Centre, Coventry, seemingly in support of Darwin’s theory of evolution. After receiving treatment, Martin Cotterill, 46, removed a blue paper towel which had been placed on his foot to dry it. He was stunned to see an image of Jesus staring back at him from the towel. The nurse too saw the image and immediately recognised Jesus. Luckily photographs were taken, as the image faded as the towel dried out. There goes ebay merchandising! However, as Mr. Cotterill continued to examine photographs of the image (posted on Facebook) he was more convinced it looked more like someone from planet of the apes, or Homer Simpson. What does it all mean? Maybe Jesus is telling us Darwin is right, or that we will eventually evolve into more ape-like beings.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the trees, out of which thou wast taken: for monkey thou art, and into monkey thou shalt return”.
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.