Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ḥanukkah, “Jesus Responds to Rick Perry's "Strong" Ad”, and “Uh Oh! The Dirty Truth About Santa's Carbon Footprint”

Jewish date:  29 Kislew 5772 (Parashath Wayyiggash).

Today’s holidays:  Ḥanukkah (Judaism), Christmas (Christianity), Feast of Robert “Bob” Leroy Ripley/Festival of Fish-Fighting, Fisting and Felching (Church of the SubGenius), Feast of the Greater Mysteries (Thelema).


I have gotten very bad about posting regularly.  I still have not finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which at 1,080 pages, much of it lengthy monologues and lectures, takes quite a while to get through, though I am getting close to the end.  Due to the philosophical nature of the work—reportedly it is not a mere work of fiction, but something of a lengthy morality play—I may go on to read her (much shorter) The Virtue of Selfishness as well to get a more solid idea of what her philosophy really is before writing a review.  So please bear with me on this.  Like it or not, a number of Republican politicians—who seem intent on having a big effect on the United States and by extension the rest of the planet—are reportedly Ayn Rand fans, and as Rand’s philosophy falls into the category of “religious fallacies and misinformation”, this is something I have to tackle.  (I am thinking about going back and reading about LaVeyan Satanism, which reportedly is derived from Ayn Rand’s moral code, afterwards.  This should take less time to produce a review, as I have an unpublished review of some of the books already written and Anton Szandor LaVey is a much more fun writer once one realizes how much he is writing really is projecting an image.)

In the meantime, you are getting miscellany.

1) This is Ḥanukkah, and so I present a number of relevant articles:  “The Triumph of Chanukah”, “Hanukka, extremism and religious freedom”, Hanukkah and How War Should Be Celebrated”, “Chanukah: The Fight for What’s Right!”, and for a bit of irony, “Hanukkia lit in spot Hitler decreed Final Solution”.

2) “Jesus Responds to Rick Perry's "Strong" Ad”, submitted by Barry.

This is totally fair and gets what Jesus claims in the Gospels right.

3) And something more or less in the way of religious humor, but with a serious point, for our Christian friends:  “Uh Oh! The Dirty Truth About Santa's Carbon Footprint”.

Peace, happy Ḥannukah, merry Christmas, and happy whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An open letter of complaint to the Israeli Police

Jewish date:  19 Kislew 5772 (evening) (Parashath Wayyeshev).

Today’s holidays:  New Year for Ḥasidhuth (Judaism), Feast Day of John of the Cross (Roman Catholicism), Whiny Victimization/Co-Dependency Day (Church of the SubGenius).

NOTE:  This letter has not been sent to the police, because they do not seem to have any publicly listed E-mail address, and their complaint-submission software will not run on a Macintosh.  It is being sent, however, to the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Public Security, several political parties, and the Jerusalem Post, as well as being posted on my blog, Divine Misconceptions (

I write this letter with great sadness, but it is necessary to do so.

On Tuesday, 6 December 2011, I tried to visit the Temple Mount.  Most people were waived through with little scrutiny.  I was not.  Not only did the police object to me taking Jewish religious items up on the Temple Mount, which I expected, but they opposed to me taking a pad of paper with me to take notes on.  They did not even want me taking notes at the entrance building.  They wanted to know why I was visiting the Temple Mount.  I had to be stubborn to avoid being turned away immediately, and I was forced to wait for half an hour while they considered whether to admit me.  They ultimately refused, and they best I managed was to guilt-trip a handful of change out of them for wasting the money I spent on bus fare.

Israel has obvious security concerns.  Had the police given me reason to believe that anything I was bringing with me was dangerous or that my presence was somehow dangerous, I could accept their refusing me admission.  However, they refused to give me any reason other than “Because”.  To make things worse, one of the officers suggested I was crazy and that the Western Wall might be a more relevant site to me.  It is very difficult not to interpret this as discrimination against me for being an observant Jew.

Sadly this is not an isolated case.  The second time I visited the Temple Mount, I had to go through the same security procedure.  I was told a list of things I could and could not do on the Temple Mount, and I was followed the entire time I was up there by a police officer and a Waqf official.  Contrast this with the first time I visited the Temple Mount, when I disguised myself as a tourist; the police admitted me without scrutiny and permitted to go practically anywhere and do anything without interference or supervision.  Discrimination similar to what I have experienced has been reported by other observant Jews, too.

This may be more than just anti-Semitism or bowing to Islamic supremacism.  I am also aware of a recent incident in Me’ah She‘arim in which the Seriqriqim, a group of Ḥaredhi thugs, terrorized the owner of a bookstore into acceding to their demands.  In both cases, the police failed to stop people who were willing to use violence to get what they wanted rather than enforce tolerance.  Giving the violent what they say they want may stop the violence in the short run, but it also teaches that violence works, thus making it more likely that they will use violence again.  The policy of appeasement failed long ago; Muslims have rioted repeatedly on the Temple Mount ever since Mosheh Dayyan decided to place it in the hands of the Waqf.  Even if appeasement did work, it is inherently unjust to the victims of appeasement and thus has no place in a just society.  In most of Yerushalayim, the police do their jobs and anyone can go anywhere in safety.  Surely they can do the same on the Temple Mount (and in Me’ah She‘arim) as well.

Dr. Aaron Solomon Adelman

Further reading:

Description of my first trip to the Temple Mount:

Description of my second trip to the Temple Mount:

Description of a failed trip to the Temple Mount:

Discrimination against Jews visiting the Temple Mount: ,

The Seriqriqim incident:

Friday, December 2, 2011

The heresy of Paul in Acts and Romans 1-4

Jewish date:  6 Kislew 5772 (Parashath Wayyeṣe’).

Today’s holidays:  Nativity Fast (Christianity), Friday of the First Week of Advent (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Rodan (Church of the SubGenius).


I am still reading the New Testament in Koinē Greek, and I am not enjoying it one bit.
The Acts of the Apostles is nothing less than propaganda for Paul.  Once Paul has his famous vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, he is depicted as perfect and his Jewish opponents as nothing less than hypocritical scum.  Paul engages in preaching and faith-healing like Jesus, only with less personality.  His opponents are depicted as trying to kill him, legally or extralegally on ill-defined charges of heresy.  If there is any historical basis for this, the writer certainly glossed over what anyone found wrong with Paul and probably fabricated any attempts on his life.  Whatever was wrong with Paul, heresy is not sufficient reason for assassination.

Why Jews would hate Paul is made extremely clear in The Epistle to the Romans, in which he explains his belief system, which is nothing less than heresy and worthy of excommunication.  Here are the notes I have written on the first four chapters, which are getting increasingly detailed:

Romans 1—Paul introduces his thesis that faith is all that really matters and cites Habakuk 2:4 to rationalize it, as if any of the prophets ever preached faith without works.  Paul claims that humanity is morally corrupt.

Romans 2—Paul cites Psalms 62:13 and Proverbs 24:12, confirming that YHWH treats humans according to their actions, illogically trying to introduce Jesus into the process.  Paul then accuses Jews of hypocrisy, creating a nonexistent quote by botching Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:22—ignoring that the complaints brought in those days may no longer be relevant to those living in later times—and devalues physical circumcision in favor of “circumcision of the spirit”.  This is blatantly illogical.  Since YHWH in the Hebrew Bible puts heavy emphasis on obedience to the Torah, the “circumcision of the heart” mentioned in the Hebrew Bible is dedicating oneself to doing what YHWH commanded, including physical circumcision.

Romans 3—Paul assumes everyone is sinful and should be doomed.  That the Hebrew Bible preaches repentance and the willingness of YHWH to forgive the repentant is utterly ignored.  Psalms 51:6 is torn from context as if it were a pronouncement of doom rather than part of a prayer.  Paul also cites in quick succession, as if they were a continuous passage, a botched version of Ecclesiastes 7:20, a botched version of Psalms 14:1-3/Psalms 53:1-3, Psalms 5:10, Psalms 140:3, a botched version of Psalms 10:7, a botched version of Isaiah 59:7-8, and Psalms 36:2.  None of these passages makes any claim of universal unrighteousness, and many refer directly to the wicked.  (Do note that Psalms is poetry; it is great source material on feelings and prayers, but it is not really useful for statements of fact, as Paul is trying to use it.  Not to mention botching quotes and getting them out of context makes for invalid arguments.)  On this flimsy basis, Paul dishonestly and illogically claims that one cannot be righteous by keeping the Torah and proclaims that justification, for both Jews and non-Jews, is only through faith.

Romans 4—Paul tries to bolster his argument that salvation is only through faith by trying to work it into the case of ’Avraham.  Paul hinges this on Genesis 15:6, which he cannot even quote correctly, which says (in the original Hebrew), “And he [’Avram] believed in YHWH, and he thought it for him [as] righteousness.”  The word I have translated as “righteousness”, ṣedhaqhah, also can mean “justice”, and it is commonly used to denote something akin to charity, only with connotations that helping the needy is done not out of compassion, but because it is the right thing to do.  ’Avraham had had multiple prophetic encounters with YHWH.  Furthermore, YHWH had kept him alive on a journey across the Middle East, giving him some reason to believe that he was not hallucinating.  To believe in YHWH was the sensible thing for ’Avraham to do; it is a matter of intellectual honesty, not special piety.  The Hebrew is also  ambiguous as to who considered ’Avraham’s belief righteousness, ’Avraham or YHWH.  Nowhere does YHWH claim that ’Avraham is righteous merely due to belief.  In contradiction to Paul’s thesis, ’Avraham doubts that he will have children and later on that he will have an heir through Sarah, yet YHWH never holds his doubts against him.  Paul tries to bolster his faulty claim with Psalms 32:1-2, which deals with YHWH’s forgiveness, not belief, before returning to ’Avraham and spouting antinomianism, wrongly implying that all nations are descended from ’Avraham by misinterpreting Genesis 17:4 and Genesis 15:5, ignoring that ’Avraham was not so unwavering in his faith.  Paul still does nothing to explain the blatantly obvious problem that it makes no sense whatsoever for YHWH to give the Torah and demand adherence to it over and over again—a matter of action—if what He really is interested in is faith.

To sum up my reading of Romans so far:  Paul is grossly intellectually dishonest and engages in rhetorical fraud to try to prove his points.  Follow him and anyone like him at your own peril.

Peace and Shabbath shalom.