August 4, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 8.17.13

RamblerGood morning, iMonks. How is your coffee? Want another sweet roll? Here, let turn the page of the newspaper for you. Comfy? Good. Now, wake up from your dream and grab a broom. It’s time for the weekly clean-up around here we call Saturday Ramblings. (And we have a great bonus video for you this week, but don’t peek ahead, ok?)

It has not been a very good week for our brothers and sisters in Egypt. Christians have been targeted in the violence that is tearing apart the African nation. My question for you: Why don’t we care?

Long ago and far away, Egypt was the home of one Moses. But I never pictured Batman as Moses. Or is it Moses as Batman? Whatever it is, Christian Bale has signed on to play Moses on the big screen. Good choice?

You haven’t peeked at the music video, have you?

Last week we mentioned a mysterious priest who stopped to pray at the scene of an auto accident in Missouri. There was speculation by some that this could have been an angel. Now, said priest has come forward, saying it was no mystery. He is, by all accounts, human, not angel.

History (or, perhaps, herstory) was made this week when the ELCA elected the first female presiding bishop. Will we ever get to the point where we look beyond gender and just select the best woman or man for a specific job?

Speaking of gender, Russell Moore addresses the “T” in LGBT in this well-crafted essay for the Washington Post. He quotes Wendell Berry. I like this guy.

Wait. We will get to the really groovy music video in due time. Be patient.

So, there was this family in Arizona who said they are Christians and didn’t want to live in a country with abortion, homosexuality and a state-controlled church. Amazingly, that country is the US of A. So they set sail for some tiny island nation none of you have ever heard of. Didn’t make it. Had to be rescued. Flown back to said US of A. Guess who paid for their return trip? Right. You did. Stand by for a thank you note in your government-subsidized mailbox any day now …

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has two words for the Christians in the Western world who think they are persecuted: grow up. See the previous story for a prime-time example.

If you are really fed up with things around here, now is your chance to apply for a change of venue. One way. BYOO (Bring Your Own Oxygen).

Declassified documents now reveal that Area 51 actually exists in Nevada. In other breaking news, cherry pie is yummy.

Finally, I really thought (thegreatcrossalliance.com) this was a joke. You know, not real. Something you would read in The Onion. But it is real. Really. And now it really does make me laugh. Oh my, I have to laugh to keep from crying. I would rather be stuffed in a Hefty bag and put out for the trash collectors than be buried in this thing. “The Great Cross is a massive columbarium and mausoleum that will be a physical memorial to Jesus Christ. This Christian monument will be much larger than the Great Pyramids at Giza and Cholula, making it the largest religious edifice ever built. The Great Cross is designed to show worldwide unity and commitment to Christ. It is designed to last more than ten thousand years, and to pass Christian scripture forward to hundreds of future generations.”  I cannot make up stuff like this.

Sigh …

Happy birthday greetings went out this last week to Herbert Hoover; Jack Haley; Leo Fender; Jimmy Dean; Ian Anderson; Patti Austin; Jerry Falwell; Steve Wozniak; Joe Jackson; Chris Hemsworth; Cecil B. DeMille; Buck Owens; Skip Carey; Mark Knopfler; Pat Methany; Alfred Hitchcock; and Don Ho.

So, looking for a good video featuring Mark Knopfler I instead found this great video. Knopfler. Sting. Clapton. Collins. Crank it and enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D6cw8Ob2sk’]

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > the violence that is tearing apart the African nation.
    > My question for you: Why don’t we care?

    The same question could be asked about innumerable situations, But I will say I don’t care anymore about “Christians” being persecuted than I do about Muslims, women, the poor, ethnic/racial minorities, or workers/laborers being persecuted.

    And I’d go to Mars; sounds exciting, maybe dangerous, but compared to doddering out my last decades in near-poverty…. Let’s send a bunch of fifty and sixty year olds to build and test the colony before we sent younger reproductively viable colonists. Odds are nearly certain I’ll get prostate cancer either way. I’d rather do that on another planet.

  2. Re: Russell Moore’s essay, transgender and transsexual are not necessarily the same thing, nor are gender and sex the same thing.

    For some in-depth and at times fascinating historical reading on the subject, get Patrick Califia SEX CHANGES: Transgender Politics (Second Edition, 2003). The paperback is out of print and therefore quite expensive (unless you’re lucky to find a cheap copy in a used bookstore like I did), but the Kindle version is only $9.99:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Changes-Transgender-Politics-ebook/dp/B007NJPCEK/

    Someone should send Russell Moore a copy to read.

    (Note: Get the 2003 Second Edition, not the original 1997 Edition with the slightly different subtitle, SEX CHANGES: The Politics of Transgenderism. Between the two editions the author underwent sex-reassignment surgery and describes how that impacted his former lesbian friendships and relationships.)

    • Yea it’s “interesting” how he can tell someone’s gender better than they can. Who are you going to trust? Yourself or some random dude who believes in John Calvin’s bible fan-fiction? What a hard descision.

      • How about medical science- ya know, the flippin’ DNA?

        • Re: Medical Science and DNA

          From SEX CHANGES: Transgender Politics (Second Edition, 2003), by Patrick Califia:

          Harry Benjamin, M.D., was a pioneer in working with transgenders/transsexuals. He was “one of the first medical authorities who advocated sex reassignment as the only appropriate and effective treatment for transsexuality.” (p. 52)

          Based on his clinical practice and research and observations:

          “[Benjamin] delineated several kinds of sex: chromosomal, genetic, anatomical, legal, gonadal, germinal, endocrine (hormonal), psychological, and social.”14 (p. 55)

          14 Harry Benjamin, The Transsexual Phenomenon, New York: The Julian Press, Inc., 1966, p. 5

          I.e., it’s not a simple or simplistic topic or situation, and it’s not simply defined by one’s DNA.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          +1

    • I have to confess personally to a lassitude of compassion exhaustion on some of these sexual questions. A lot of them are First World problems.

      We are becoming a society of all outliers and no core.

      Until my store is graciously expanded, I’ll spend my limited compassion praying for Egypt’s Copts.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > I have to confess personally to a lassitude of compassion exhaustion on some of these
        > sexual questions. A lot of them are First World problems.

        Yea. If there is really that much energy available to burn on these issues; my first thought is – lets burn it elsewhere.

      • I am surprised, Mule – because LGBT issues are very much a part of life in Africa, South America, Asia… they are certainly not confined to the so-called “first world.”

      • Also… you are aware that LGBT issues are a major thing in Brazil, right? and that the human rights aspects of LGBT issues are very much front and center for those who are not part of the Haves there? (Such a very small number of Haves compared to Have Nots, in most of the world, and certainly in Brazil.)

        Ever seen the film “Madame Sata” (for some reason i can’t put the accent over the final “a” – grr!), about the famous/infamous transvestite who was a dedicated sambista and someone who was revered by many in the samba world? (He wasn’t exactly what I’d call a nice guy, necessarily, but he was intensely creative, against great odds.)

        • Forgot to say that Madame Sata was black; his parents were slaves (until abolition in 1888, that is).

    • To the point! It appears that Mr. Moore has confused transsexual with transgender. Very few transgendered people desire to be surgically “changed”, they just want to be accepted as they are.

      As for that despicable “used car salesman” governor and his enablers in the legislature I have nothing but contempt (I’m allowed because I live there). This law was a naked sop to a very minor constituency in order to appear “compassionate”. Individual school districts were already dealing with the extremely small minority who suffer with this condition (less than 1% of students!) and it could have been managed by the state education establishment without legislative tampering.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But then the Kyle’s Mom Activists couldn’t get all those doublepluswarmfeelies for their Concern and Compassion. (All genuflect…)

        And the politicians couldn’t Show Everyone How They Were DOING SOMETHING About It.

      • Less than 1%, eh? I suppose if Jesus had to leave more than 99 sheep in the fold to rescue one, he wouldn’t bother.

        It’s true that there are more pressing concerns than the needs of people who feel deeply that they are the wrong gender. But some of these responses sound too dismissive, like these concerns shouldn’t be addressed at all. I’m not sure what should be done regarding sex change surgery, etc. but I am sure we need to try to understand people who experience these struggles.

        Oscar, my first paragraph may be a bit unfair to you; it’s aimed more at some other commenters even if it’s based on something you said. Looks like you are in favour of showing compassion, you just don’t think the politicians are handling it well.

        • But I would admit I haven’t done nearly as much as I could for people who need a lot of compassion.

        • It’s nice how you automatically ASSUME that I have no compassion, no questions asked. What I ACTUALLY said was that the problem was ALREADY being dealt with, and could more EFFECTIVELY be dealt with by the state education officials issuing guidelines for local school districts. What was NOT needed was a grandstanding legislative action, to great fanfare and chest thumping, that does almost nothing more than is already being done. And yes, even though the transgendered KINDERGARTENERS THRU 12th GRADERS are less than 1% of the school population we should STILL act with compassion. I never stated otherwise.

        • Oops! Sorry. After reading the first paragraph I was too quick on the trigger and responded negatively. I guess I’m just too used to getting flamed and reacted without thinking. You were being fair to my sentiments and I was unfair to you. My apologies…

          • No worries Oscar. I was kind of in a rush and writing using my phone when I wrote that, so I probably could’ve written that first part more respectfully.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And to me (grew up along California hotrod culture), a “tranny” will always be what fits between the mill and driveshaft of a muscle car.

  3. “Now, said priest has come forward, saying it was no mystery.”

    It is fascinating how we seem to crave the mysterious. Perhaps it is no surprise, in light of G.K. Chesterton’s statements in his book “Orthodoxy” that mystery keeps us sane. There seems to be no place for the mysterious or sacramental within pragmatic, big-box mega-church evangelicalism, so its patrons look for mystery elsewhere, such as in stories like the one about the angel/priest, in strange manifestations like the Brownsville or Toronto revivals of yesteryear, the head-kicking of Todd Bentley, the supernatural powers of snake handlers, or even the health-and-wealth of the faith-prosperity hucksters. Mystery without sacrament tends to be a degenerate path toward manipulation, superstition, and abuse.

    “You can’t tell me there is no mystery
    Mystery
    Mystery
    You can’t tell me there is no mystery
    It’s everywhere I turn”
    – Bruce Cockburn

  4. Marcus Johnson says

    I’m trying to decide what about this Moses movie should offend me most: a) the Hollywood treatment of yet another Biblical narrative marketed for entertainment purposes; b) the White-washing of a story set in ancient Mesopotamia, yet somehow featuring a cast of White English actors; c) the inevitable endorsement of the movie from mainstream Christian institutions, and its eventual home in Family Christian Bookstores everywhere.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Slight correction: Bale is British, Edgerton is Australian.

    • I’m of the opinion that Bible movies should only have Jewish actors in them. I would cast the following:

      Abraham & Sarah: Billy Crystal and Fran Drescher
      Moses: Carl Reiner
      Apostle Paul: Mel Brooks

      Feel free to add your own.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        That’s a compromise I can make, although that would guarantee some backlash from Christian institutions who would claim that a film about Biblical characters is “too Jewish.”

      • Jesus Christ: Bob Dylan. I know he’s a musician, but he did have a role in that stupid Western in the early 70’s, and he’s always had messianic pretensions, so I think he would be good.

        • I don’t think I could handle Dylan as Jesus. Let’s just leave him as bard and prophet.

          I still haven’t gotten over Donovan as Alexander the Great in an old movie.

    • And then there is the twist that Gloria Steinem is Christian Bales’ step-mother, thus striking fear into evangelicals everywhere.

  5. Hope the family from Arizona realise that God did not plan for them to leave, takes a storm to get the message through. The USA and every country in the world needs every person of Christ to live and be a shining light to others around them.

    • Not so much. At this point, they are planning another way out of here.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        And bye bye, I wish them well. I hope they make it this time. But they will be just as unhappy where they are going. Better, for us, somewhere else though.

      • Maybe they could follow in the tracks of Snowden and get asylum in Russia; but they’d have to be Orthodox or one of the other government favored denominations or religions to practice their faith freely: evangelicals are neither wanted nor appreciated by the Russian government, and Russian law does not treat them equally.

        • You’d think they would be happy in Russia, where homosexuality is criminalized. How about Iran? It just seems odd that the pursuit of a “moral” nation makes us more like our enemies, who revile freedom and liberty.

    • I just love it when someone who loudly proclaims their disdain of government quietly accepts government help. Does not give me great hope for the future on humankind.

  6. The Great Cross… some american ‘christians’ love building idols and trying to get attention – the lord with a small L is pleased with such diversions…

    • If they really wanted this as a witness to Christ, shouldn’t all those tombs be empty?

    • I think it could be inspiration for the next Mel Brooks movie; instead of “The Producers”, it would be “The Undertakers”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Because people are people, and the world is filled with tricks and twistiness yet undreamed of.”
      — one of The Whole Earth Catalogs

  7. Wow… Knopfler. Sting. Clapton. Collins. Better than the Beatles! 🙂

  8. Marcus: “the inevitable endorsement of the movie from mainstream Christian institutions, and its eventual home in Family Christian Bookstores everywhere” — You mean like The Last Temptation of Christ? 🙂

  9. My antivirus program warned that TheGreatCrossAlliance.com is infected with a trojan.

  10. I want my MTV.

  11. “Mystery Priest”? The mystery is why Fr. Dowling, an Irishman, is posted to Jefferson City, MO.
    But, maybe it’s no real mystery seeing as how the Irish saved civilization.

    • Heck, our new parish priest in Montana is from Rwanda.

    • Father Dowling? Really? Like on the TV series from a few years back?

      Cool.

    • Christiane says

      well, if you look at all the pieces of the story that come together, it IS strange that a priest shows up right at that time and place . . .

      think about it: a young brave girl in pain patiently waiting to be extricated from her smashed car HOWEVER the car is an old well-built metal that has compacted by the crash and the workers’s tools aren’t doing the job, so the girl’s vital signs begin to fail . . . and she asks everyone to pray . . . and Father Dowling shows up at the scene at that very moment . . .

      so many ‘details’ come together to make this story . . . coincidences? . . . . God leaves it open to us to sort this out but for those of us who aren’t so sure about the existence of ‘coincidences’ in this world, this story shines with the Presence of God’s mercy . . .

      the clincher for me was that Father Dowling doesn’t ususally take that road . . . he was substituting for another priest and serving masses in the area and traveling between Churches . . .
      I know, I know . . . just ANOTHER coincidence (?)

      but then there were those two first responders who said that they ‘distinctly heard a voice say to keep calm, that tools would work soon to get the girl freed’ . . . but Father Dowling says he didn’t say those words . . .
      I know, I know . . . a collective auditory hallucination in a moment of stress (?)

      so everything was ‘explained’ and we can go back to ‘normal’ and go on with our everyday lives where things make sense and we understand what is going on and why it happens . . . or maybe this time, something of mystery came through to us, at least just for a while, and we were thankful for the blessing of it 🙂

      • Adam Tauno William says

        >. God leaves it open to us to sort this out but for those of us who aren’t so sure about the
        > existence of ‘coincidences’ in this world, this story shines

        And what secret is God hiding in the accident where a piece of metal coincidentally pierces the hard of the single father of three, killing him instantly? And when nobody got a vision concerning the child in the car seat in the rear of the car as the flames consumed it?

        This kind of God-in-the-coincidence thinking is total and complete bull.

        • Someone once told me about something that happened to him in Vietnam when he was at the mercy of an enemy combatant and thought he would surely die. He had an experience just then of seeing a being he took to be supernatural suddenly appear out of nowhere. The enemy at that point simply walked away, leaving him alone and alive.

          When my acquaintance told that story to a group of us in a prayer meeting, the others said that God must surely have had big plans for him and that he had been spared for a very big and important reason, even though he apparently had no idea what it might be even decades after the fact. When I suggested that God might just as likely been communicating with the VC enemy, who may have been the objective of the appearance rather than our friend, I was roundly ignored.

          We like to believe that we are at the centers of any dramas that unfold around us; we think too much of ourselves. I don’t know if my friend had a bona fide supernatural experience or not, but I do know that we tend to see what we want to see, whether in communications from God or our closest kin.

          • Josh in FW says

            “I suggested that God might just as likely been communicating with the VC enemy, who may have been the objective of the appearance rather than our friend”

            good suggestion

        • Christiane says

          Hi ADAM, I don’t want to diminish or belittle your concern in anyway, because it is an ancient human cry for understanding of why good people suffer, and your concern demands respect from all of humankind because we have all asked the ‘why’ and have sought some understanding where there may be none to be had on our side of the vale.
          Your comment reminds me of the great encounter between the faithful Job who suffers terribly and questions God’s reasons for these terrible sufferings;
          and FINALLY God answers, and what an answer is given. Take a look:

          ” . . . Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
          ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
          Gird up your loins like a man,
          I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

          ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
          Tell me, if you have understanding.
          Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
          Or who stretched the line upon it?
          On what were its bases sunk,
          or who laid its cornerstone
          when the morning stars sang together
          and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? . . . ” (from Job 38)

          you may know this Chapter of Job and its context,
          and you may know also of the story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers and this famous scripture in Genesis 50:
          “…19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20″As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21″So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

          And I myself have sought to try, without success, to comprehend the vast presence of evil during the Holocaust . . . the closest I ever came was from a story by Elie Wiesel, this excerpt from ‘Night’:
          “Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…
          For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was red, his eyes were not yet glazed.
          Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
          “Where is God now?”
          And I heard a voice within me answer him:
          “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”

          I myself have no answer about the suffering in this world or the presence of great evil, but I know from Our Lord that ALL who hunger and thirst after righteousness will someday be ‘filled’, and are already ‘blessed’.
          So you are blessed, ADAM, if this is true about you, as I suspect it may be.

          There is a saying in my Church: ” Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it.
          He came to fill it with His Presence.”

          And there is St. Birgitta’s very old prayer, this: “O Lord, make haste and illumine the night.
          Say to my soul that nothing happens without Your permitting it,
          and that nothing of what You permit is without comfort.
          O Jesus, Son of God, You Who were silent in the presence of Your accusers,
          restrain my tongue until I find what should say and how to say it.
          Show me the way and make me ready to follow it. It is dangerous to delay, yet perilous to go forward.
          Answer my petition and show me the way.
          I come to You as the wounded go to the physician in search of aid.
          Give peace, O Lord, to my heart. ”

          ADAM, thank you for reminding me of the pain in the darkness, but I ask you to consider Our Lord Himself when you think of the ‘why’ of the terrible suffering of the innocent . . . I do this myself as I have a Down Syndrome son with serious medical issues who only shows love in response to those around him, so you can believe I, too, have asked ‘why?’ . . . maybe my son’s gentle love for people is somehow a part of the answer . . . ?

      • It would have been cool is the pries had remained anonymous. Most folk would rather have God work through super-natural means rather than natural means. For me… that a priest happened to be available at all, and that he approached the accident scene, was noticed and prayed with her, that is God acting through the natural and mundane.

  12. I for one care about the horrible plight of Christians and Muslims and everyone else in Egypt. But when our own government, for purely political reasons, refuses to acknowledge that a coup d’etat has taken place; and when it plans to continue to sell weapons and give financial support to an oppressive “interim” regime that has taken control from a democratically elected government (however the West might disagree with the results of that democratic process) (does anybody remember the names Allende and Pinochet?); and when that “interim” regime is smashing its own citizens to death by the hundreds with an iron fist, and arresting arresting and likely torturing thousands more: what exactly are “we” (whoever “we” are) to do to assist those Christians who have unfairly been targeted as somehow culpable or responsible by their Egyptian countrymen?

    I care. When I see the images and hear the reports from Egypt, its makes me want to cry. The age old strife of humanity, Cain slaying Abel again and again; fratricide, civil war, gestures of heroism swallowed up in wholesale horror, thugs wearing uniforms, unarmed women facing down military tractors in the street. We are all part of it, conservative, progressive, Christian, Muslim, Egyptian, American…..all of us….

    The Bible tells us that the blood of the innocent calls out to the Lord; I take small comfort in this because I know that not many of us are innocent.

    How long, Lord, how long?

    • It breaks my heart too. I think what we can do is stand by our brothers and sisters in persecuted countries in prayer and cry out alongside them.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > I think what we can do is stand by our brothers and sisters

        Bull. There is a whole lot more we can do. We can tell our representatives that we no longer play this game, or fund the playing of game.

        All-we-can-do-is-pray is a cop out.

        • I’m all for telling them that, and have and will. But I’m afraid the Republicans and Democrats are in bed together, along with their apathy, on this one. They ain’t listening, but of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak.

      • Absolutely true.

        We have to do what we can. Defunding Egypt’s military would be a good place to start

    • Robert F – thank you for this beautifully articulate comment! It sums up my feelings quite well.

    • Adam Tauno William says

      >The Bible tells us that the blood of the innocent calls out to the Lord; I take small comfort in
      > this because I know that not many of us are innocent.

      +1, we are far from innocent.

      And it makes we angry that I forced to help pay for this selfish short-sighted non-sense [well, it is sensible in that it is a convenient way for the PTBs to pay each other off and thus facilitate their own status of as PTB].

      Seem like it would be a nice way to reduce rancor and make everyone happy; when I fill out my taxes [which I have no problem with, either in method or amount] I just want couple of boxes: (a) I can give my money to the military or (b) I can give my money to social services like roads, schools, health care. That’s what I want, more than anything; to not be forced to pay the salaries of gangsters with flags.

    • I share your feelings Robert F… well lamented.

  13. Re Area 51: How wonderful it would be to have definitive proof that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, since there doesn’t seem to be any here on Earth.

  14. Although I might not appreciate the esthetics or pretensions of the Great Cross, I consider it less ethically objectionable than the Great Pyramids since they were built by slave labor.

    • That Other Jean says

      No, despite what the movies show, they weren’t. They were public works projects–over a period of 900 years–for which workers were paid; not slaves, not Jews. Cecil B. De Mille got it wrong. There’s lots of information on-line about how archaeologists figured that out. This is one article, from Harvard:

      http://harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/who-built-the-pyramids-html

      • Now wait a second: what this evidence shows is that the process was a complicated one requiring skilled laborers who were well treated enough to do there jobs well; it doesn’t undermine the idea that an enormous amount of raw brawn would be needed to do the work that our machinery does today. It doesn’t explain how the enormous stones got to the remote regions or were lifted once they got there.

        In addition, just as the corpus of textual evidence for the lifestyles of slaves is very sparse in the history records, because slaves were not considered important enough for scribes to write about, so the evidence of their presence at work sites would be sparse because they were likely not given permanent dwellings to reside in but were quartered in massive camps with few amenities. The treatment of a perhaps sizable group of expert builders would have been different from that of their “machinery,” the slaves.

        Also, what this article suggests is that all of Egyptian society was held captive for generations, and made to play the slaves part, by the enormously costly and draining effort of building a tomb for a glorified human being. I can’t think of a better definition of slavery. Considering the fact that most ancient civilizations had a populous with perhaps 50% slaves, they didn’t have far to go to make the entire society a corporate slave.

        This has nothing to do with movies, but with the historical evidence and common knowledge that ancient civilizations were systemically dependent on slave labor.

        Btw, that someone is well trained and treated and even receives some payment does not mean that they are not a slave.

      • And the article expressly says that the pyramids were not a 1930’s style WPA works project.

        • One of my comments, a rather longish one, has gone missing at this spot.

        • And now it’s found!

          • That Other Jean says

            Since the Pharaoh of Egypt was a god-king, I suppose it’s possible to say that all Egyptians, as his subjects, were slaves. That’s certainly what the Bible seems to say, but I don’t regard the Bible as a history book. The pyramid builders, though, ate a diet with a considerable amount of meat, were paid for their labor, lived in a separate village near where they were working, and were buried near the pyramids–near the kingdom’s highest nobles and the god-king. That doesn’t look to me anything like slavery in either other ancient societies or more recently.

            Here’s more info:

            http://news.discovery.com/history/ancient-egypt/pyramids-tombs-giza-egypt.htm

            Zahi Hawass has been studying these problems for most of his life–he’s a bit of a glory hound, but his judgement is generally sound. I’m going with what the archaeologists say on the subject. The men who built the pyramids were as free as anyone was in Egypt, not slaves. Your mileage may vary.

          • Is this the consensus among archaeologists, or one interpretation among a number?

          • That Other Jean says

            Robert F, it seems to be the consensus among archaeologists who study this stuff, especially since the discovery of the pyramid builders’ village and tombs, that the builders were free people. There were slaves in Egypt when the pyramids were built, but they don’t seem to have been the primary builders.

        • Adam Tauno William says

          But my junior high gymnasium was. And it kinda looked like a pyramid… and smelled like a tomb. 🙂

  15. The problem with the Copts is that, in order to survive, they cozied up to the dictatorship of the previous pre-Morsi tyrant. This may not be what is at the root of the MB hatred of Christians, but it as an important factor in a lot of ordinary Egyptian’s enmity toward them. So there is persecution for their religion going on from the MB, but at the same time there is simple reprisal violence going on against the Christian community and it can be hard to figure out how much of it is religious persecution (which should be condemned) and how much is just inter-communal violence based in the political factors (which is an internal Egyptian matter until it results in widescale genocide or other crimes against humanity). It’s a tough moral calculus.

    • +1, cermak_rd!

      Our media is – unfortunately – prone to oversimplifying these conflicts to the point of idiocy, fitting an Us vs. Them scenario. It drives me crazy.

    • err… should have been “fitting,” not filling.

      Oh well.

  16. Dave K eh? says

    As long as Christian Bale doesn’t bust out his Batman voice for the part of Moses, I think he’s a decent choice for the part. 🙂

    • Christiane says

      I heard that Bale once rejected an offer to portray the part of ‘Noah’ in a film, so that he would be free to work for Terrence Malick, the great director who only makes about one film every ten years or so.
      I have to admit that I never saw Bale in his Batman role, but I did see him in Malick’s hauntingly beautiful film ‘The New World’, and his portrayal of John Rolfe who married the princess Pocahontas was memorable . . . he did the historical part great credit I think. So as one who doesn’t have to live with the memory of Batman-Bale, I CAN see him portraying a great historical and religious figure credibly. It’s something I would look forward to seeing.

      That movie? ‘The New World’ ?
      . . . if you haven’t seen it, take a look at this segment:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiWjxVwA0Yw

      • I saw “The New World” and thought it a great movie, although underappreciated. Excellent representation of the Pocahontas story and the clash of cultures.

  17. RE: the Great Cross – crass as the idea is, at least they’re operating on a longer time frame than “the Rapture will occur week after next”…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Week after next” is ‘too long a time frame for the Rapture Ready types.

      Think more like “any minute now… any minute now… any minute now…”

      (Can anyone tell I’m a veteran of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay?)

      • HUG,
        I’ve seen your comments in other threads concerning your ongoing cancer scare, and want you to know you have my prayers and best wishes. God bless….

  18. You weren’t kidding about that video! Knopfler and Sting sound pretty awesome together. I just realized that actually IS Sting on the original recording (singing the same melody as “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”). This was totally an aha moment for me, like when I realized that the guitar solo on MJ’s “Beat It” actually was recorded by Eddie Van Halen. Suddenly, everything makes sense! The one thing that could have made that video more awesome would be if Sting did the bass guitar too. I think he’s the greatest musician ever. It’s probably his versatility that appeals to me so much. What other rock star gets invited to Durham Cathedral to do a lessons and carols service? Totally worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwg2cBBDn3o&list=PL0D63501A327E48D6

    • I want my
      I want my
      I want my MTV…..

      I don’t really want my MTV, but love the song, and the Knopfler and Sting playing performing together.

    • Regarding Sting: I have to admire the literary acumen of a rock singer (albeit former English teacher) who can plausibly allude to Nabokov in a song that manages, against the ethical odds and against the listener’s instincts, to somehow make a sorely tempted “young teacher”‘s plight sympathetic while never denying its creepiness. Sting is a rare breed: a truly literate pop icon, and a first class musician to boot.

      • Damn skippy! He is my one true celebrity hero. I’d gladly swap lives with him. The Nabokov rhyme is truly unique among the history of pop. But so is a new wave rock star who makes his money, goes in a much jazzier direction, experiments with renaissance lute, and even ventures into sacred music. All while still producing outstanding and high selling records. I believe motion picture soundtrack is also in his catalogue.

        We have a drummer in our church who has the uncanny ability to make every hymn sound like a Police cover. We once sang “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” to the tune of “Can’t Stand Loosing You.” You might say I enjoy the music of Sting.

    • And I had no idea Phil Collins was a drummer.

      I’m doubly shocked, in fact, since by his own admission he can’t dance.

      • … or that he played with what was once a very progressive rock band with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hacket (Return of the Giant Hogweed, Lamb lies down on Broadway)…..

  19. I wouldn’t be so quick to say we don’t care about the Copts in Egypt.

    It seems that many Evangelical traditions teach that they are they only true Christians, Catholics just barely, maybe, and Eastern forms of Christianity are variations of Hinduism. How many Evangelicals can even tell you what a Coptic Christian is?

    But older forms of Christianity, rooted in the unifying traditions of the church, look at the Copts and see brothers and sisters in Christ. We care about their suffering, greatly. And in many of our churches, you will find us praying for them, along with the rest of our persecuted brethren the world round, nearly every Sunday.

    • Adam Tauno William says

      > How many Evangelicals can even tell you what a Coptic Christian is?

      How many Americans can tell you what a Coptic Christian is? To be fair this kind of information never makes it front-and-center in the media – so the difference between a Suffi, Shiite, and a Sunni is…. one of the reasons people can treat religion and the religious so tritely is the freedom to just toss around labels without being challenged.

      Wouldn’t it be very cool, and I think actually constructive, if some churches actually hosted religions-of-the-world classes? Including not their own. I think it would actually be constructive, people would learn their own distinctives along the way – and it might help some people see it as something other than some type of play.

      • Adam, it would be instructive, but every time I’ve been at a church that even remotely attempted to do this, it was always from the perspective of why those other religions are wrong and why our religion is right. Always.

        • Well, to a certain extent, it kind of has to be. You can’t be a religious institution dedicated to the promotion of all different faiths and still maintain adherence to one. There would have to be an apologetic angle to that if it were to remain a Christian endeavor. However, there are good and bad ways of doing this. On one extreme, I knew a Sunday school teacher whose philosophy of world religions was “Let’s examine and see how horribly wrong and pitifully lost the rest of the world is, and thereby confirm our own personal brilliance and blessedness.” On the other hand, I had a college philosophy prof (a small, private, fundagelical college, mind you) who taught world religious by genuinely trying to convert you to each, one at a time. He actually succeeded on numerous occasions. The saying was, if you survived his class with your faith intact, it must therefore be genuine. I’ll give you this: the latter approach was sure a hell of a lot more fun. But there needs to be at least a bit more of an apologetic angle to balance if it were to be done in the context of Christian religious education.

          • Oh, I think a religious institution certainly *can* educate about social/cultural things (like world religions) and do their daggonedest to dispel prejudices about said religions and their adherents.

            Actually, I think social/cultural/historical aspects of world religions should be required in school curricula. Stephen Prothero has written about this, and very eloquently.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says

      There are pretty close ties between the Copts and Anglicans in Egypt. The Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Egypt and North Africa is also the Archbishop of the province of Jerusalem & the Middle East. He’s especially tight with the Coptic Pope, and our bishops are pretty tight with him.

      As such, we’ve had our bishops and clergy bringing the plight of the Egyptian Christians to us for prayer and financial support even before this round of violence. When this violence erupted, we were definitely all called to renew our prayer and other efforts.

      All that is to say, I was surprised when Jeff asked “Why don’t we care?” I just assumed everyone did!

    • Unfortunately, in the recent history of Egypt, the Copts get the short end of the stick no matter who’s in power.

  20. Joseph (the original) says

    Re: The Music Video…

    I was a solid Dire Straits fan from their 1985 album Brothers in Arms. My younger brother was the one that introduced me to the group. When my firstborn son was maybe 5-6, we were driving along the freeway when I popped the cassette into the player, told him this how we rock out to music while on a road trip, cranked up Money for Nothing to what my little Toyota Camry speakers could handle & started to, well, ‘rock out!’ He thought for a moment I must of been crazy since he was a serious sort in his younger years, but soon a rare smile emerged & he started his best rockin’-and-a-rollin’ within the confines of the seat belts holding him in the front seat. He nodded & shimmied to the music which I followed up with the song So Far Away. Ah yes…he told me he remembered that very day as it left quite the impression on him at that time. Mark Knopfler still one of my favorite musicians. Saw him in concert back in 2005. Amazing performance.

  21. Katharina von Bora says

    I am really glad that someone has the courage to comment on the “T” with both astute criticism and genuine compassion. Both are sorely needed.

    I have compassion for people who believe they were born into the “wrong body” or who believe that they have a “male brain” or “female brain” trapped in the opposite type of body. I have compassion in the exact same way I feel for a young woman who is thin but who firmly believes that she is fat and must starve herself. Both are delusional beliefs. Both are perfectly understandable delusional beliefs to have in our cultural climate. Both SHOULD be treated in the same way–therapy for the mind that attempts to reconcile the person with her or his natural body and refrain from self-harm. Unfortunately, in the case of the “T” the medical industry has decided to aid and abet the delusion instead of treating the mental illness. Chemical castration and sexually mutilating plastic surgery are no more ethical than giving amphetamines to an anorexic. Just because some doctors do it, doesn’t mean it’s right (see: lobotomies, etc). A few courageous doctors have spoken out, but not many. (Look up Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins psychiatry, for one.)

    It says a lot about how little we value our sexual bodies and the image of God as reflected in maleness and femaleness in this society that we treat “trans” with mutilation, believing that a visual simulacrum of male or female is good enough to be “real,” but would never attempt the same kind of “treatment” to make someone another race, another height, another species. Delusions of that nature exist too but are recognized as delusions, not aggressively pushed forth as legitimate “identities.”

    I wouldn’t give much thought or care to this issue, affecting a small group of unfortunate people as it does, were it not for a few things. One, it has been increasingly thrust into the spotlight as “the next big thing,” and it is impossible not to notice in my trendy coastal town that it is becoming something that more and more young people get sucked into by peer pressure of a sort that is hard to understand from a distance, hurt, and spit out of again. The stories of young folks who experiment with gender “therapies” and then quit are buried, and I have seen with my own two eyes how they are abused and silenced by the “community.” Two, increasingly women (and to a lesser extent, men) are being asked to make accommodations for this purpose that are upsetting and threatening to our sense of modesty, privacy, and safety. Little girls should not be asked to share a changing room with people who have penises, no matter how they “identify.” But this is what is happening. And yes, it has already been abused by troubled men for whom crossdressing is just the least of their sexual fetishes, and for whom exhibitionism and aggressive behavior are related complexes.

    Finally, I am very concerned to see how some social activists are increasingly “finding” and then “treating” the “trans” phenomenon among very young children. The claims they make are harmful to women and men and especially to the little kids they push forth as poster children. There is no such thing as a “female brain in a male body.” That is both a sexist and homophobic assertion, and it is NOT scientifically validated (see the work of Dr. Cordeila Fine for details.) Liking pink doesn’t make you a girl, liking trucks doesn’t make you a boy. Hating your flesh does not mean you need to have it cut up and resized. We are supposed to believe, for one recent example, that a 6 year old boy started declaring himself as a girl by grabbing for his sister’s blanket at 5 months of age. This is horrifying, destructive reasoning. And lest you think it will leave only psychological scars, take a look at how early and radically the physical interventions are being piled on, ostensibly in the name of preventing suicide (although again, this is not evidence-based at all, but fear based. The research indicates that most kids who have gender confusion grow out of it.)

    http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/category/children/

    Usually when we talk about gnosticism and its problems, it is in a more abstract sense. But here we see gnosticism actually taking the health and fertility of a generation of children. This belief that your brain can be other than your body is not just a harmless misunderstanding, it is destroying lives, and it is poised to destroy many more, the lives of children who are being used as pawns for activists and parents–some well-meaning, some disasterously and destructively confused–before they are able to make sense of it all for themselves.

    • Aside from the arguments concerning transgender issues, isn’t it interesting that post-modern humanity is so heavily invested in the project of using science and technology to free itself from the constraints of human physiology? Even as reductionist scientists tell us that our mind is merely an epiphenomena produced by our somatic chemistry, we as a society increasingly use the technologies of applied science to alter our bodies like so much plastic into the shapes that our minds wish them to have. The ascendency of such practices of the dominance of the mind over the body betrays the essentially gnostic “ghost in the machine” belief that really underlies all the superficial and facile language of materialism.

      • From the German magazine Spiegel:

        Germany is set to become the first country in Europe to introduce a third, “indeterminate” gender designation on birth certificates. The European Union, which is attempting to coordinate anti-discrimination efforts across member states, is lagging behind on the issue.

        The option of selecting “blank”, in addition to the standard choices of “male” or female” on birth certificates will become available in Germany from November 1. The legislative change allows parents to opt out of determining their baby’s gender, thereby allowing those born with characteristics of both sexes to choose whether to become male or female in later life. Under the new law, individuals can also opt to remain outside the gender binary altogether.

        • I think that is likely for people who are intersex, and there are lots of them – for some, it really is difficult to “pick” a gender.

          As for transgender being a mental illness, sorry, no. It’s not the same thing as body dysmorphism.

          • Katharina von Bora says

            Actually it’s exactly the same thing, only focused narrowly on the sexual characteristics of the body. Medical doctors “treat” it on the basis that it’s a mental illness. There is no physical evidence for any of the claims of transgenderism. No hormonal test, no brain scan. It’s all about looking in the mirror and not seeing what they imagine should be there.

            What would you say to someone who sincerely believes that although he was born Asian, he is meant to be of African descent, and will kill himself if his race is not “reassigned” and validated?

    • One question: what if it was you who felt like you had been born into the wrong body?

      Changes thigns, doesn’t it?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        No. Transgender is a mental illness.

      • Katharina von Bora says

        How do you know it hasn’t affected me? You’re making quite a presumption about a stranger.

        Anyhow, on the contrary, I would hope all the more that my friends and family would protect me if I were overwhelmed with such feelings. I would hope they were not such quivering moral cowards as to eagerly humor my delusion and offer my body up to be mutilated in the name of seeming more tolerant. Same as if I were anorexic, I hope they’d sooner admit me and have me tube fed than shrug and let me die.

        • I think perhaps you misunderstand what trans people experience, but I might well be wrong.

          However, it’s hard to know what to make of it all unless one hears people out – i.e., trans people. I know that has helped me to come to grips with it, though i can’t say that I truly understand how trans people feel. but I do sympathize, and do NOT believe that it has much, if anything, with a desire to self-mutilate. There are pretty stringent criteria for the diagnosis of gender identity disorder, and one of the things those criteria are meant to do is to help weed out people who *do* wish to harm themselves, physically and emotionally (i.e., actual self-mutilation).

          • Katharina von Bora says

            You assume that I have not “heard it out” many times already. And you assume that you know more about the diagnostic process than I do. Both of those are incorrect assumptions. You have the typical attitude of the well-meaning outsider who assumes that all is as the Huffington Post tells you. Let me assure you: that is not the case.

            Have you talked to, for instance, a young lesbian woman who is facing tremendous pressure within her peer group to start taking “T” because of how she dresses? Who is told, when she demurs, that she must have “internalized transphobia”? Who is further told that if she does not want to sleep with a “transwoman” with intact male body she is a bigot on par with violent abusers? I’ve talked to women like that. Dozens of them, in fact.

            Have you checked out the websites or offices of the legal and licensed “gender clinics” popping up in many urban centers now, and seen how they boast that they do not “gatekeep”? Have you talked to someone who was able to walk into one of these places and obtain hormones within days or weeks, practically no questions asked? Have you talked to two or three dozen of them? I have.

            Hacking off healthy breasts and penises, uteruses and testicles, IS mutilation. It doesn’t matter why someone wants it done, it’s mutilation. Injecting healthy bodies with heavy doses of cancer-causing hormones IS mutilation. It’s poisoning. It is no more therapeutic than a bulimic inducing vomiting or a paranoiac jumping out a window to escape an imagined assailant.

          • with respect, you are coming on pretty strong.

            I would rather drop out of the discussion than get into an argument – that was not my intention. Sorry if anything I said came across in that way. fwiw, my “education” does not come from sources like the Hiffington Post, and I think it’s unfair for you to have made that assumption in the first place.

            And yeah, people make bad decisions. There’s no guarantee against that, is there? (In any area of life.)

          • I am curious, though – have you not ever met anyone who has made a successful transition, who is mentally and emotionally healthy?

            The examples you cite are horrifying, but they do not describe *everyone* out there. (Including those who have wrestled for decades with choices regarding whether to transition or not.)

            Again, please don’t assume that disagreement = ignorance. I am not disputing what you have seen; only that your views are yours, and not mine, and not those of many others. (fwiw, I’m a straight woman, not that it matters one way or the other…)

          • Katharina von Bora says

            By definition, someone who has made “transition” is living in denial, at best. The best they could do was get their healthy body altered, sign up for a life-long prescription of strong hormone injections, change their name, and live in daily denial of their natural body and their history. I’ve known a few who seemed relatively better off, including some who were painfully self-aware. But none I would categorize as mentally healthy.

            How callous to write off a decision someone makes under the duress of severe mental illness and, increasingly, crushing peer pressure, at a vulnerable age, as “bad decisions.” ho hum, we all screw up. Well who screwed up more? The person who thought cutting their body up was a great idea, of the medical doctor who took the money to do it to them? Or the crowd of cowardly “progressives” cheering on from the sidelines, patting themselves on the back for being so “inclusive”?

          • I think we’ve hit a brick wall, and I wish that wasn’t the case.

            but…

    • A few courageous doctors have spoken out, but not many. (Look up Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins psychiatry, for one.)

      Dr. Paul McHugh?

      This guy? http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-trans-community-hates-dr-paul.html

  22. Also – again, just curious – are you an MD? Nurse? Mental health professional?

    • Katharina von Bora says

      I’m the first lady of the Reformation.

      • I wish I understood how – and why – you have the pov on this topic that you do, but I guess it’s not possible to have a discussion with someone who’s been dead for 500+ years… (j/k, but not really.)

        all the best,
        numo