26 February 2013

Jesus H. Christ: Does anyone know his name?

The answer to that question is "No", according to the Bible anyway. 
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. Revelation 19:12
So although we know what Jesus looks like (he has flaming red eyes and wears many crowns on this head -- you'll know him when you see him), we don't know his name. No one does.

Except for those that do, that is.

Like his foster father, Joseph, who named him Jesus. (An angel told him what to name him in a dream.)
The angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS. Matthew 1:21
And Matthew (misinterpreting Isaiah), who said he'd be named Emmanuel.
A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. Matthew 1:23 
Remember how the book of Revelation said that nobody knows Jesus' name? Well, I guess the author didn't include himself. Here are some of his favorite names for Jesus.
I am Alpha and Omega. Revelation 1:8
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:5
I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Revelation 19:11
He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. Revelation 9:13
He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:16 (What does Jesus have written on his testicles?)
I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Revelation 22:16 (How are Jesus and Satan alike?)
So Jesus, contrary to Revelation 19:12, has lots of names. And I have another contradiction to add to the SAB. (Here it is.)

(ht Stephen Weeks)

21 February 2013

Believing Bullshit

We all do it now and then to a certain degree, anyway -- believe things that are demonstrably untrue.

Now there's a book to help us stop doing that: Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law.

The entire book is a delight to read, filled with wit and wisdom on every page. But the part that I liked the best was saved for last: The Tapescrew Letters, a hilarious response to C.S. Lewis' silly set of sanctimonious letters with a similar name (The Screwtape Letters).

There are eight chapters that deal with the most common ways that we deceive ourselves.

  1. Playing the Mystery Card
  2. "But It Fits!" and The Blunderbuss
  3. Going Nuclear
  4. Moving the Semantic Goalposts
  5. "I Just Know!"
  6. Pseudoprofundity
  7. Piling Up the Anecdotes
  8. Pressing Your Buttons
They're all great, but I especially like the section "You Can't Prove A Negative" in Chapter 1, where Dr. Law explains, "If 'you can't prove a negative' means that you can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that certain things don't exist, then the claim is just false."

This is a book that everyone should read. It's time for us all to stop believing bullshit.

18 February 2013

Is it OK to use perfume?

I was watching the 1966 movie "Hawaii" last night, when I came upon this dialog:
Jerusha Hale: I felt so good after my bath that I washed my skin with oil of lilac.

Abner Hale: I smell it. (Pause) Moses forbad the use of perfume.
Jerusha: Proverbs say that ointment and perfume rejoice the heart.

Abner: Isaiah cursed the women who used perfume and abased themselves unto hell.

Jerusha: Esther perfumed herself for a whole year.

Abner: She was under compulsion.

Jerusha: Oh, I think you just like the smell of perfume on my skin.
I suppose I should provide some context for those who haven't seen the movie.

Abner Hale is a Calvinist minister sent to Hawaii in the 1820s to convert the pagans. On the sea voyage, Abner's wife, Jerusha, tries to seduce her husband by wearing perfume. The biblical argument ensues, and apparently Jerusha wins since a son is conceived during the voyage.

But who had the more biblically correct argument?

Here are the relevant verses.

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart. Proverbs 27:9

Esther was brought also unto the king's house ... Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours). Esther 2:8-12
As for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves ... it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Exodus 30:37

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty ... the LORD will discover their secret parts ... And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink. Isaiah 3:16-24
It's a tough one, isn't it? Two to two, with no verse clearly taking precedence. But maybe Abner and Jerusha left out some verses. If you know of any, let me know.

In any case, I added another contradiction to the SAB - Is it OK to use perfume?

In his comment, Daryl pointed out that Jesus had his feet washed with expensive perfume, and he didn't mind a bit. In fact, it seems like he got a kick out of it. Here's how the NIV puts it:
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
So that pretty well settles it. Jerusha was right. If perfume was good enough for Jesus' feet, it's good enough for anybody's anything.

I'll add John 12:3 to the contradiction. Thanks Daryl!

And teavee found the correct anti-perfume verse from Isaiah that Abner referred to in his dispute with Jerusha -- Isaiah 57:9.
And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes ... and didst debase thyself even unto hell.
And an anti-perfume verse from Proverbs (7:17). (See vv.5-27 for the context.)
Thanks teavee!
(I've also changed the contradiction name to "Is it OK to use perfume?", as teavee suggested.)

And thanks also to Nate for the references to Luke 7:37-38 and Mark 14:1-9.

16 February 2013

The books have arrived!

We are busy packing them up and shipping them out to everyone who pre-ordered.

You'll get an email when your signed copy goes out.

Thanks, everybody!

Steve and Phil

11 February 2013

08 February 2013

Mosiah 19: Lamanite Attack!

In the last chapter, King Noah sent his army after Alma and his people. They managed to escape the pursuing army (with the help of God, no doubt). When the king's army returned, there was a division among the people.  One strong man, Gideon, sought to slay the king.
And now there was a man among them whose name was Gideon, and he being a strong man and an enemy to the king, therefore he drew his sword, and swore in his wrath that he would slay the king19:4
Gideon and the king fought, and just as Gideon was about to slay him, King Noah ran away to his tower.  Once Gideon caught up with him, Noah saw that the Lamanites were preparing to attack the city. He saw it as the perfect opportunity to bargain for his life. He told Gideon that he shouldn't kill him now, or else his people will be killed by the Lamanites. His ploy works, and Gideon spares his life.
And Gideon pursued after him and was about to get upon the tower to slay the king, and the king cast his eyes round about towards the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land19:6
And now the king cried out in the anguish of his soul, saying: Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people. 19:7
And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life19:8
Noah commanded his people to flee into the wilderness. They do, but the Lamanites quickly catch up and start killing people.
And the king commanded the people that they should flee before the Lamanites, and he himself did go before them, and they did flee into the wilderness, with their women and their children. 19:9  
And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them. 19:10
Then Noah tells his people to abandon their wives and children, and to run for their lives. Some of them do, and the others choose to stay and try and defend their families by other means: whoring out their daughters.
Now it came to pass that the king commanded them that all the men should leave their wives and their children, and flee before the Lamanites. 19:11 
Now there were many that would not leave them, but had rather stay and perish with them. And the rest left their wives and their children and fled. 19:12
And it came to pass that those who tarried with their wives and their children caused that their fair daughters should stand forth and plead with the Lamanites that they would not slay them19:13  
And it came to pass that the Lamanites had compassion on them, for they were charmed with the beauty of their women19:14
So the Lamanites took them captive, and let them live their lives relatively unchanged, except for a 50% tax.  (Geez, I thought King Noah's tax was high!)
Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up king Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year. 19:15
Limhi, the new "King", agreed to this Draconian tax. He didn't have much choice, though. The Lamanite king drove a hard bargain.
And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites made an oath unto them, that his people should not slay them.  19:25
And also Limhi, being the son of the king, having the kingdom conferred upon him by the people, made oath unto the king of the Lamanites that his people should pay tribute unto him, even one half of all they possessed. 19:26
The Lamanite king was clever, though. He knew that Limhi's people might try running away again, so he posted guards around the city. In spite of the crippling tax that was upon them, there was continual peace in the land for two years.
And the king of the Lamanites set guards round about the land, that he might keep the people of Limhi in the land, that they might not depart into the wilderness; and he did support his guards out of the tribute which he did receive from the Nephites. 19:28  
And now king Limhi did have continual peace in his kingdom for the space of two years, that the Lamanites did not molest them nor seek to destroy them. 19:29