Jewish date: 15 Marḥeshwan 5770 (Parashath Wayyera’).
Today’s holidays: Yerov‘am ben Nevaṭ Day, All Souls Day (Western Christianity), the Days of the Dead (Hispanic Roman Catholicism).
Topic 1: Today is a holiday instituted by Yerov‘am ben Nevaṭ, the first king of the ten northern tribes after the split of Israel away from Judah. His story is told in 1 Kings 11:26-14:20, with today’s holiday mentioned in 1 Kings 12:25-33, where he set up two golden calves for people to worship, thereby syncretizing Judaism with Canaanite paganism. Considering that YHWH shows nothing but disgust for Canaanite paganism in the Hebrew Bible, this is a monstrously illogical and stupid thing to do on Yerov‘am’s part. Yerov‘am is not remembered fondly.
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Topic 2: Chapters 10-12 of The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman. Dr. Mary Malone, physicist and former nun, has followed Lyra’s suggestion and rigged her device which detects dark matter/Dust to be able to communicate with it. The results are surprising. Dark matter/Dust is actually rebellious angels (as in the Fall of Satan) who intervened in human evolution for the sake of vengeance. And they want Mary to help them by finding Lyra and Will and “play the Serpent”. Consider also that Dust also makes the alethiometer work, Lyra and by extension Will are also working for rebel angels. All the good characters in play (including witches and the shaman John Parry) are lining up on the side against God, and all the evil characters are lining up on the side for God. The major exception to this rule seems to be Lord Asriel, who does not seem to be particularly good, but he has not allied himself with the Church/Magisterium either. For a trilogy which is supposed to be atheistic, there is an anomalously large amount of religion-related stuff going on. Considering the symbolism, perhaps it is better to treat His Dark Materials as being not as atheistic but rather in the spirit of LaVeyan Satanism. LaVeyan Satanism is a form of Christianity-hating atheism which in its basic literature, e.g., The Satanic Bible, revels in speaking as if Satan and other supernatural beings associated with evil really exist and are triumphant over God. Intuition suggests that Pullman may be working along these lines in fiction. We will see whether the rest of the trilogy is consistent with this hypothesis…
Topic 3: “Internet believers: Pastors open online churches”. Nothing wrong here. I just think this is an interesting approach. One of the things Christians are supposed to do is spread the Gospel, and it makes plenty of sense for pastors to try all sorts of approaches.