Jewish date: 30 Tishri 5770.
Today’s holidays: Ro’sh Ḥodhesh (Judaism), Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Padwa & Govardhan Puja (day 5 of Diwali; Hinduism).
Worthy cause of the day: “Take Action: No Lobbyists for War Criminals”.
Topic 1: There is a joke about a church lady who held by the King James Version (KJV), reasoning that if “Bible English” was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for her. This is funny because, as is well known, the Hebrew Bible was composed originally in Hebrew with a little Aramaic and the New Testament was composed probably in in Koine Greek. The KJV, published in 1611, is merely a translation. Rabbi David Radinsky (formerly of Brith Shalom Beth Israel in Charleston, SC) claimed it is an excellent translation—except where it is wrong—but it is a translation nevertheless. And as such, it perforce suffers from the major problem of all translations: that it does not mean quite the same thing as the original text. As such, reason demands that original texts, being better sources of information, must always be given primacy, i.e., if one wants to really know the word of God, what really counts are the actual words of God. Irrationally, nevertheless there is still a King James Only movement which at its best prefers the KJV and at the worst considers the KJV a new revelation, despite no claim thereto or the total lack of evidence thereof. On Friday I heard about probably the worst case of KJV Onlyism ever: “Amazing Grace Baptist Church to Burn Bibles, Other Books for Halloween”. Pastor Marc Grizzard of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina, plans this Halloween to burn non-KJV Bibles, as well as various Christian literature and music of which he does not approve. Grizzard reportedly is not only a KJV Onlyist, but considers all other versions to be “perversions” and “Satanic”. I really have no idea what he is thinking.
Topic 2: “99 Red Balloons singer Nena in Damanhur naked time travel sect”. Oberto Airaudi, the founder of the Italian group Damanhur claims he has invented a time machine which can only transport naked people. Putting aside the fact that this time machine has not been reliably demonstrated yet—science publications would be crowing about the breakthrough if it were—is not the nakedness-only limitation of the device something right out of the Terminator franchise? If one is going to make an outrageous claim, then one should at least have the audacity to make an original claim, rather than plagiarizing science-fiction.
Topic 3: It was suggested out to me that I ought to be watching FlashForward, as the show purportedly deals with prophecy. I therefore watched the four episodes available so far on Hulu. Despite what was purported, the show deals with anything but prophecy. Prophecy is receiving messages from divine beings, such as YHWH or angels, and seeing the future (prescience) is not a requirement for prophecy at all. FlashForward, on the other hand, is centered around (almost) everyone on Earth blacking out for 137 seconds on October 6, 2009 at 11:00:00 AM (Pacific Time) and having a vision of what will happen to them on April 29, 2010 at 10:00 PM. Though there is speculation that this may be prophecy—along with lots of other rampant speculation—there is no proof any divine being being the cause (direct or indirect) of the visions. What this show is really about is the question of free will versus predestination. There is much speculation on whether the prescient visions are truly necessarily the future or whether what is seen can be prevented. Though some of the characters have pleasant visions, others are troubled by what they see. E.g., a happily married woman foresees evidence that she will commit adultery. Her husband, an FBI agent, foresees that there will be people coming after him. Another FBI agent sees nothing, and he receives a phone call from someone telling him she foresaw reading an intelligence briefing claiming that he will be murdered on March 15. Already the plot has crept towards fulfillment of many of the visions, with the characters seeking ways to avoid unwanted destinies. Considering how the show is structured, we can only expect them to get increasingly desperate as April 29 approaches.
Topic 4: I have now read chapters 4-10 of The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1). It must be noted that I cannot always predict in advance what parts of the story will prove theologically relevant. Even before chapter 4 someone was kidnapping children for some mysterious purpose. Since then the reader is told that it is purported that a department of the Church known as the General Oblation Board is behind this dastardly deed. I am crying fowl over this, because this use of “oblation” is in violation of the accepted meaning; an oblation is something offered, while these children are not offered, but taken under false pretenses. Furthermore, I am not aware of the Roman Catholic Church ever practicing or condoning the kidnapping of poor children, and it certainly does not do so today. Yes, I am aware that His Dark Materials is fiction, but so far as this fiction reflects reality, the General Oblation Board does a wretched job. If one is going to write fiction to criticize religion, it makes no sense and is not legitimate to criticize a practice which does not exist.
Peace, and have a happy new month.