The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
18th of September, 2014

Syncretism, Within Reformed Christianity

The reason I use the Septuagint, even though I am Reformed, is because I am doctrinally (and traditionally, and by baptism) Reformed, but spiritually Eastern Orthodox. I use Koine Greek as my primary “liturgical” language. It is a very hard thing to live with, and even harder to explain. I actually incorporate as much of non-Latin Christianity as I can, as God enables me.

I do not agree with the spartan liturgy of the Protestants. I also believe in the validity of sacred tradition. I don’t believe that the Reformation was a stopping point—leave alone a starting point—but rather, a turning point. Hey, I even believe in icons! (No jokes. And any Prots who want a fight, come!)

I respect the Protestant approach as part of the journey on which Christ has taken Latin-descended communions, for His own purposes, and I will not anathematise them over it, but I have serious problems with the ridiculousness of what has unjustifiably calcified among the Protestants. The main benefit, I think, is the distinction of the confessional Christianity (which I call “Pauline”) from the traditional (“Petrine”). However, the distinction made, maintained, and respected, I see no reason to spurn a Spirit-led syncretism. There is much scriptural justification for it!

… There are problems with Eastern Orthodoxy—we are on Earth, after all—but any Prots who still think in Prot-only terms are deserving of a weighty slap. I am certainly a syncretistic Christian Prot, and I am not apologetic about it.

-- From a blog comment

18th of September, 2014

The Septuagintal Protestant: A BlogFight

I just had this compilation of posts at a blog, where the issue was scripture. Nothing to work up a Reformed Christian like the standard Roman Catholic ridiculousness regarding scripture. They don’t even try to make sense, because they think the pope already made sense for them. —Except he didn’t, and doesn’t. These are the fruits of off-loading faith onto a(nother) man.

So here goes. I will just dump what happened from my side, expecting that the quotes of my interlocutors will provide enough context. The first of them is actually a repeat of what I sent in here earlier, because now I am putting everything, both that and all the other substantial ones that came after. I have collated several responses to several sub-threads, into what should be roughly-chronological. If something I raise doesn’t show up again later, it is because it was not responded to, which often happens to hard questions in such fora.
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I am Reformed, and I use the Septuagint. (In particular, I use Brenton for English.)

I only count 66 canonical books in the Bible, because that is what our creeds count. Scripture is not all the books that could be included. There is a criterion, and it is not simply “valid prophecy” or the like.

Just because prophecy can be established in a book doesn’t imply that it is canon; after all, prophecy is the word of God, and not necessarily the stuff found in the canon. Paul, for instance, refers to the prophecies spoken over Timothy. They are not in the canon. There is no co-relation between valid prophecy and what is canon.

Furthermore, I see that this whole blog post is entirely confused about “scripture” on the one hand and “the Bible.” Clear up the misunderstanding, and you can have a discussion that approaches usefulness. Otherwise this is just an attempt at scandalising and provoking undue debate and argument. This is one of the things undoing the body of Christ since 1 Timothy was written.
… here we have a single verse in which it clearly states that it was “the Son of God” who will be tortured and killed.
You clearly haven’t had to countenance with what calls itself “higher criticism.” Some scoffers will say it is a later inclusion, in light of Christianity; and what will you say then? (Have you checked the original-language artifacts in Wisdom?)

You should understand that Wisdom quote correctly, and see that it is not about Christ, since those who killed Christ never called Him “the just one.” The words in that reference could never have occurred from the mouths of those who thought Jesus was transgressing Deuteronomy 13.

You will reap many bitter fruits if you so lightly treat these matters.
What I first found was that Protestants call the “extra” 7 books “apocryphal” meaning “doubtful”, “not genuine”, or even “not inspired”.
No; we call them that because in the Greek it means “hidden”. And they are.
Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue in the following manner
Sproul is not the Protestant pope. That is his opinion, not the opinion of Protestants. We don’t have an authoritative figure.

But have you, at the very least, checked to see what the *canonical* confessions say about this? I mean the Three Forms of Unity? Did you honestly, or even fairly, take Sproul’s to be *the* Protestant position?

Did I mention that I use the Septuagint for my Old Testament? LXX for life.
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Its not the Prophecy only that I made my points regarding criterion, but Church Authority on the canonization. It doesn't matter what you count or what your creed is.
The Church doesn’t decide on what Scripture is; Scripture decides on what the Church is.
(Cue … Haha.)
These things are of faith, not pronouncements. Read our Belgic Confession; it will do your soul much good.

The creeds are codifications of what is true to believe, and they say 66 books. They are right, because it is right. The creeds don’t “canonise” it; they merely recognise it. Do you have a good reason to disagree, especially since your Wisdom quote is clearly not a reference to Christ?
… St. Athanasius came up with a list of 73 books for the Bible that he believed to be divinely inspired.
And was St. Athanasius being arbitrary? Stop digging!

It is even funny how you have this one-eyed view, entirely ignorant of, say, the process by which the Ethiopian Tewahedo arrived at their canon.

And, again, stop confusing “scripture” and “Bible”, because until you distinguish these two, you are not making much sense. Do you think Prots like me would say that Jesus’ references to “scripture” were wrong because, necessarily, they didn’t include the New Testament?

Most people stop digging when they get to this point.
The Council of Trent, in 1546, in response to the Reformation removing 7 books from the canon (canon is a Greek word meaning “standard”), reaffirmed the original St. Athanasius list of 73 books.

You don’t even know the history! The RCC was the first to have a canon that distinguished the Apocrypha from the 39, because Jerome’s preference was for the Masoretic. Jerome was not a Protestant. (As I said, I am a Septuagintal Reformed Christian myself.)
If you had something to help us clear up, explain it, but to sit here and just give an opinion is meaningless.
The Bible is a specific subset of scripture. It is fixed in time—66 books—but scripture has had to evolve through time. There is even an instance of Jesus debating with the Sadducees out of the scriptures (“… even Moses says it …”), and then He upbraids them for their not knowing the scriptures (because they didn’t have the other parts of the scriptures—the Prophets—which most-clearly taught the doctrine of resurrection). Comment boxes, alas, are not the place for this kind of thing.
I look at things very very simply, the book says and I obey.
Yes, but your book is wrong, and you still obey. You would know it is wrong if you bothered with higher criticism.

Anyway, what book are you talking about; the Bible? Roman Catholics—I take it that you are one—are forbidden from doing that, except for magisterial documents (like bulls and the like).
————

NT writers follow the LXX versions rather than the Hebrew versions.
They use both the Vorlage/Masoretic and the LXX. Neither is lesser.
… here we see deuterocanonicals referenced in the NT.

Except they aren’t.

Edit:
(References are not established merely by similarity of theme. Otherwise, even Greek myths can honestly claim representation. I am putting this here because [interlocutor] has said I didn’t explain enough, and I agree. I hope this small clarification suffices.)

—————
The Catholic Church compiled the Canon and declared it inspired.

Except it didn’t.

Is this the level of debate in these comments?
You even say that the RCC *compiled the canon*?

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Comrade, one of your comments said "I beg to differ" and the rest of your comments historically have this "begging to differ" theme.
I can’t be blamed for disagreeing with wrong, can I?
(I have just added a little bit more information for disagreeing, on the other comment to which your refer.)
While no book of the Bible claims itself to be divinely inspired.
Are you serious, [interlocutor]? Even after we recently discussed Psalm 45 (for a single instance)? Do you remember when Jesus told the Pharisees “… and scripture cannot be broken …”; was He speaking of the opinions of men, or the testimony of God Almighty?
… and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired." …
So, for instance, you see no such claim in all of Moses, because he doesn’t have that particular sentence?

See, reflexive Papism has this danger, in that it commits one to faith in mere men, even to the point of requiring learnt blindness (which is indispensable if you will have to put your faith in man). No wonder you never saw any other OT quote calling Jesus Christ the Son of God. Hah. Job has whole chapters as direct quotes of God, you know.
Out of the many forgeries – the current 27 book New Testament appeared.
[Interlocutor], my NT never rose out of forgeries. The pure oracles of God were not merely selected out of competing forgeries! Are you serious? The very existence of forgeries implies the *prior* existence of genuines. I detect that you are way out of your depth on this topic.
… and YES the list was compiled by the bishops of the Catholic Church.
By “Catholic” do you mean “Roman Catholic”? I know that the reflexively-Papist learn to confound those two, but they are not the same.

And, no, the Church cannot possibly compile the Scriptures which not only *predict* it, but also on the foundation of which it stands.

If by “Catholic” you mean “Roman Catholic”, and, for instance, you go on to claim “the keys of heaven” as the basis of the RCC, would you say base that on the scriptures, or would the scriptures be valid because you already have the RCC selecting the scriptures in which the keys reference is found?
They checked to see how much the book was being used by other bishops and priests in their Masses
And why would they have been using books in their masses which were not canon? Could they have run gnostic masses, before the tally and score was done? Do you even realise how confused and upside-down this is?

By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that.
They looked to see if the books were written by an apostle or someone who was reporting the words of an apostle.
Hah; and how would they even know that these apostles wrote scripture, leave alone what it is that the apostles wrote?

(And the outright confusion in this false approach is shown by the multiplicity of pseudepigrapha, both old and new, in certain communions.)
Only those books which “scored” favorably on all three of these criteria made it into their canons.
So could the list being rated have been arbitrary; and if not, why not?

Canon is not about scores and the opinions of men, no matter how pious. We don’t accept the Bible because others do; the word of God doesn’t need anybody’s approval.

You people go astray because you have more faith in man than in God, and you reap very bitter fruits from this.

Canon is not about scores. You are gravely—and dangerously—mistaken.
——————
Luther removed the 7 books he declared uninspired.

At the very least, respect Jerome’s decision, even if you get the history wrong. It was not a mistake on Jerome’s part, and Luther merely followed Jerome.

——————
We Orthodox say that if any writing that contradicts the Liturgy it is to be discarded.

We, Reformed, say otherwise. And how do you choose? Simple tribalism or preference? —So why not do this with your canon?

Besides, now we are supposed to fight over liturgy, as, for instance, the liturgy you base on can be corrupt.

All this is because faith is repulsive?
———————
and say WOW [interlocutor] doesn't believe that the Bible was inspired?
I am saying “Wow, [interlocutor] doesn’t even see the claim, in the Bible, that it contains the very literal words of God!” And you said you don’t, which is embarrassing.
and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired."
But that occurs several times!
In other words, we do not have a verse that says "The Bible is divinely inspired: man's word God breathed. Period. End of story. Stop your spinning.
Hey, even “the Bible” is not in the Bible. —Well? And would the absence Peter’s letter—from when we get “God-breathed”—have rendered the Bible prior to that point *not* God-breathed, since, until Peter, that sentence was not there?
And it is me you pile with words like “sophist”, “first-class spin artist”, and the like? Let me tell you that the reason I don’t call everybody here that is because it would be wrong. However, I call some—like you—reflexively-Papist, because they are; they are reflexively taking a position without realising that it can’t compute on their part. (Don’t worry; you could always call me reflexively-Prot, since I actually am.)
1-Which church was it? 2-Where is this Church today?
No church chose the canon. There was one church then, and there is one church now. Tribalism is for desert wanderers.
This assumes that the Bible is self-authenticating.
It is. Any proof contrary? Do you not have the Holy Spirit, or do you merely think that the claims in our Confession of Faith are wrong? (If so, why not say that, so we can have a useful, grown-up discussion—even in a comment box)? I did refer you to it earlier.
By the way, I ask questions expecting answers in responses. I respond to yours, you may have noticed.
how come then Protestant reformers could not authenticate these books w hile Catholics did?
Nobody ever needed to authenticate the books. I don’t know what Romanists say they did, when they don’t even know what the Bible is. They officially don’t establish a number; did you even know that?
The usage “self-authenticating” could be deceptive; anyone can have a different view and claim a book to be self-authenticated.
And why would that have any bearing on the faith that we have in our scriptures? Do you think the existence of the Qur’anic claims, or the Mormon canon, impinges on anybody’s faith in the scriptures?
This instruction is clear by Paul who warns to “Test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21), and in 1 John 4:1 says, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
So you tested the scriptural injunction to test all things (scripture itself presumably included). Hmm … So you say that you accepted that scripture, accepted its directions, and then put it on the pile together with the gnostic gospels from which your canon was chosen.

Heh.
Only four out of scores of gospels were chosen while all the others were rejected.
This is exactly your problem. You assume that there were more than four. Are you a gnostic?
You even have, I believe it is Justin Martyr (or a near-contemporary) relying on 1 Enoch to insist that there could not have been more than 4 gospels (because 1 Enoch uses 4 as a crucial foundational number in some places).
Even respected Protestant scripture scholar F. F Bruce in fact admits …
I have long been aware of such wrong-headed positions. Bruce never chose our canon for us (much less your anonymous “Fathers”—and do not call anyone on Earth “Church Father”, you near-heretics, when we have only one Father!; but that is in scripture, which may not have survived your Fathers).
Also, I must warn you that my position is not too simplistic. It is far harder—impossible, I say—to assault than these things you have encountered.
I notice the resort to canned responses from the fact that nobody has dealt with the weirdness of a Septuagintal Protestant. Do you even assume that I agree with this man, after I made clear that I am Septuagintal? Man … I know it is a comment box, but still.
[The early Fathers] had recourse to the criterion of orthodoxy...
You stop at the Church Fathers, but they are where I start. Do you see the problem now? Do they have recourse to … yet more Church Fathers? Do you see the problem?
"By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that."

Changing subjects will not help you.
You made a ghastly mistake in your claim about how the scripture came about, and hence that correction from me.
You know that is just a pious trick trying to show that you are a man of God and I am a follower of men. If you purely trust God Alone, than stop reading some of these crappy books you trust that is written by men.
But my books were not written by men; that is why men cannot decide on whether or not they are canon. Canon is recognised, not chosen. For you, however, absent a declaration from men, you really don’t know what the Bible is.

But now I will help you: why don’t you take me to task for having 66 books, since I have told you that the reason I use the LXX, but without the Apocrypha, is because of Jerome’s decision? Right there, a lot of rope for you to get lots of pro-Romanist apology out of me, a fierce Prot. You could get me to defend why I use the LXX, not the Masoretic, yet, as a Prot, I am from a Masoretic background. Then you could get a much more refined view of what—as I would insist—a sound Christian scripturology looks like. The reason you have stopped just short of wanting to prove your axioms (such as saying you test scripture because that same scripture says “test all things”) is because you treat scripture the same way many have been wrongly taught to. You have to understand that, because this is really far out of your league, you may have to stop the reflexive positions and perhaps listen to a more-nuanced position. Clearly a Prot of this type would have more to say than the canned responses.
——————

By the way, [interlocutor], I refrain from calling anyone names, even when I disagree. You are not a “spin artist” or “sophist”; just wrong.

Find a justification for those labels you gave me, and I will wear them before you with pride (for they will be my position).
You say that I am, because I don’t expect to prove my axioms. Is that the reason?
17th of September, 2014

BlogFight: Reformed and Septuagintal

I am Reformed, and I use the Septuagint. (In particular, I use Brenton for English.) I only count 66 canonical books in the Bible, because that is what our creeds count. Scripture is not all the books that could be included. There is a criterion, and it is not simply “valid prophecy” or the like.

Just because prophecy can be established in a book doesn’t imply that it is canon; after all, prophecy is the word of God, and not necessarily the stuff found in the canon. Paul, for instance, refers to the prophecies spoken over Timothy. They are not in the canon. There is no co-relation between valid prophecy and what is canon.

Furthermore, I see that this whole blog post is entirely confused about “scripture” on the one hand and “the Bible.” Clear up the misunderstanding, and you can have a discussion that approaches usefulness. Otherwise this is just an attempt at scandalising and provoking undue debate and argument. This is one of the things undoing the body of Christ since 1 Timothy was written.

“… here we have a single verse in which it clearly states that it was “the Son of God” who will be tortured and killed.”

You clearly haven’t had to countenance with what calls itself “higher criticism.” Some scoffers will say it is a later inclusion, in light of Christianity; and what will you say then? (Have you checked the original-language artifacts in Wisdom?) You should understand that Wisdow quote correctly, and see that it is not about Christ, since those who killed Christ never called Him “the just one.” The words in that reference could never have occurred from the mouths of those who thought Jesus was transgressing Deuteronomy 13.

You will reap many bitter fruits if you so lightly treat these matters.

“What I first found was that Protestants call the “extra” 7 books “apocryphal” meaning “doubtful”, “not genuine”, or even “not inspired”.”

No; we call them that because in the Greek it means “hidden”. And they are.

“Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue in the following manner”

Sproul is not the Protestant pope. That is his opinion, not the opinion of Protestants. We don’t have an authoritative figure. But have you, at the very least, checked to see what the canonical confessions say about this? I mean the Three Forms of Unity? Did you honestly, or even fairly, take Sproul’s to be the Protestant position?

Did I mention that I use the Septuagint for my Old Testament? LXX for life.

16th of September, 2014

The Problem is not Fanaticism

(From an online debate of mine …)

But even Muslim Brotherhood is not the problem, because what is wrong with wanting to implement the precepts of your religion? For this reason, even the Egyptian FM is being stupid, because, had he been a good man (that is, a good follower of his religion), he would support the MB and all its equivalents.

The problem is Islam—and the Egpytian FM will, of course, fail to see this, since he is a Muslim. There is nothing wrong with the piousness that is expressed as Islamic fanaticism. The problem is not the fanaticism; the problem is that the fanaticism is for Islam.

16th of September, 2014

Summa Contra Judaism

I just wrote this in response to a ridiculous thing written by some guy online, attacking Christian missionary activity, as directed towards Jews.
Do you agree that when your people were sent into exile, they were practicing Judaism? They were punished for their rebellion, in spite of having the Judaism, because even Judaism is still rebellion.

The Law—this thing that is central to Judaism—was never the point, because Abraham never had it (and, indeed, was not even circumcised) when he had this righteousness which the Jews never had (and, indeed, were exiled for not having). Faith in the self-revealing God was the point. Abraham had it, and it was credited to him as righteousness. The Christians have it, and it is credited to them as righteousness. The Jews (in general) don’t have it, and their exile is one of the proofs thereof.

Judaism is also bad for Jews, as it is not the religion of Christ. I get that Jews in general are blinded about Christianity, but that just means that they are generally lost. Judaism isn’t an alternative-correct. Jews are not less-deserving of Christianity, just because they have Judaism. They, just like Muslims, are without truth, because they are without Christ.

Christ is the point of the Law, that there may be righteousness for all who believe.

“Again, after three thousand years of skin-of-our-teeth survival, to lose more Jews who are now leaving by choice is a shame, whether it be to Christianity or secular assimilation.”

“Again, after three thousand years of skin-of-our-teeth survival, to lose more Jews who are now leaving by choice is a shame, whether it be to Christianity or secular assimilation.”

Lose more Jews? Are you saying Christianity is not Jewish?
Does it occur to you, at all, that your ancient forefathers could have been wrong, not just when they killed the prophets (and then decorated their tombs), but also to have rebelled against Christianity? Do you really say that what your fathers did is necessarily right, because they did it way back then, and for so long?

—And I can’t believe you are comparing Christianity to secularism!
May you be anathema.
14th of September, 2014

On Christians Fighting (for) the State

This is a comment I just threw on a blog somewhere.
I hate to be the bearer of this news, but it has been given to me to say it.

These Syriac brothers are still making the same old mistake which even their Assyrian cousins are making all over the place.
They organise on the basis of nation (“Syriac”, “Assyrian”, “Chaldean”, “Arab”, “Kurd”, it makes no difference), and that is a mistake.
Or they organise for the sake of other principles (“peace”, “love”, “democracy”, “coexistence”, “liberty”, “socialism”, “freedom”, or whatever, it makes no difference), and that is also a mistake.

The age of the blood-nation has come and gone. The age of the wishy-washy ideal has come and gone; faith starts and ends everything.
We are all going to fight and die under the banners of religion, whether we realise it or not. For as long as they continue organising on the basis of ethny, or some principle other than their faith, God will not fight for them. God doesn’t favour any nation over another; but He certainly favours our Christian faith over every other ideology, and over everything else.

And so, with great sadness, I tell you now that these people are certainly going to be defeated and humiliated. Their young men will be killed and their women taken. In all honesty, I don’t even support them, because I am not interested in any of their organising principles. Freedom is worth nothing, unless it is subjected to Christianity. Do you think atheists can’t fight even better and harder for freedom? If they are fighting for a secular state, may they lose. I don’t support the triumph of secularism. Doesn’t that young man complain about how the secular Ba’ath treated him?

There is only one organising principle I will support, because it is the only principle that is perfectly right. Freedom is a lie. Democracy is a lie. Socialism, liberty, whatever it may be, it is a lie. If they are not fighting for a Christian state—whatever other principles may come after that—I not only don’t support them, I actually hope for their speedy and humiliating defeat.
This is how more Assyrians died in blood-feuds between Muslims (Sunni Iraq versus Shia Persia) than had died under the flag of Agha Petros. Why did Christians ever give such an ultimate allegiance to heretical systems? May they be carrion!

I see them now fighting alongside Hezbollah (and justifying it, especially after the recent Ted Cruz incident that exposed the deep stupidity of Middle Eastern Christians), as though only Muslims can organise an army under the name of their faith. And, for that matter, even the Falangist Kataeb is in a state of secularist compromise, so it is no more worthy than Hezbollah. Repent!

To hell with Christians who are too shy to fight for a Christian state, but brave enough to fight for a quasi-hedonist state, and think there is much merit in making incessant noise about “brotherhood between Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs …” which is clearly a fiction. Do you not know what the Yezidis, the Kurds, and the Arabs—in league with the Turks—did to the Assyrians because of the faith distinction? There is no brotherhood outside of Christ. There is no liberty outside of Christ. There is no peace outside of Christ. How can I support that a Christian man bear arms to set up a system which accords Christ no higher a place than it gives the that accursed heretic Muhammad, or, for that matter, the opinions of voters? How can I not wish for the defeat of those who pretend that it is good to kill and die for a state that permits—even protects—anti-Christian activity? What do you think got us to where we are?

“For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile.” And only by this token can genuine and peaceful pluralism be built. We have to agree on Christ, or we should fight until one of us dies. Until I see them raising the cross—as Agha Petros of venerable memory did—I will pray that they die quickly before they soil the name of our Lord.

And of a surety they will die, all of them, since they have no hope for as long as they are not explicitly fighting for a Christian state. I am only transmitting a reliable message; do with it what you like.
14th of September, 2014

Towards an Orthodox Nudism

The only thing that is assured of being constant about a human is his weakness in regard to the righteous law. They continually fail to live up to it, and this is why the way to maintain Adam in good conscience before God (“they were both naked, and were not ashamed”) was to keep the knowledge of good and evil from him.

For as long as man knows good and evil, he also knows that he himself is not good as he is. Humans show their acceptance of this standard by dressing up; because God created us with nakedness which, if you know good and evil, is clearly something to be ashamed of. And yet that is how God made us. The nakedness was there, and its badness was also there, but it should not be a problem if we had obeyed and abstained from knowledge of good and evil. If you say that God did wrong by creating nakedness (or evil, or whatever), you are standing on your rebellion—the knowledge of good and evil—and presuming to judge His Perfect Wisdom.

The rebellion even started when, in our limited animal wisdom, we thought we had the capacity to evaluate the pros and cons of eating of the tree. “She saw that it looked good, and was good to make one wise.” Yeah, but that is based on human evaluation which is less-perfect than that of God, who said not to eat of it. The problem is that increased wisdom on Man’s part—acquiring knowledge of good and evil—gives him a standard which he has not been created for; it includes forbidding nakedness to Man, the image of God, and yet he, as an animal on the Earth, is fittingly created naked.
Even when human wisdom is convinced of the rightness of something, the thing is still wrong if the perfect wisdom of God says it is wrong.

So, God did no wrong to create us naked—animals are supposed to be naked—but we did wrong to find out that nakedness was not good for us. The relationship between Perfect God and us, His creation, who are necessarily less-than-God, would never have suffered, had we abstained from acquiring knowledge of good and evil, as we had been commanded.

Nevertheless, here we stand: created naked, and aware that it is not good. What then?
For everybody, in every religion, this is a problem to overcome. They set up laws to war against their evident imperfection. The first rule is that they enjoin clothes and forbid nakedness; this is true of every human and every society. The one thing that is constant from human to sane human is this: cover up your gonads! As a result, we are the only animal that is never as it was created, but always covering up its natural state.

The continuing dependence on clothing bears witness to the continuing imperfection of man. —For if they were in the state of innocence, they would not be ashamed of their nakedness. Babies, who are innocent, don’t care. But humans continue in the rebellion that they fell into by knowing good and evil, and they cover their gonads as acknowledgement of it.
And for as long as they continue to cover up, they continue to need a cure for the state in which they find themselves.

Enter Jesus.
At Calvary, Jesus was not dressed. Even though the gospels point out very clearly that Jesus was stripped naked—as was normal for convicts—all the artists are too ashamed to put Him up there with His circumcised dick visible, limp with pain, flaccid with shame, and shrunken from hæmorrhage. I understand that; I understand that fallen man even has trouble speaking of Jesus and penises in the same sentence (as though we confess in vain or pretence that He was truly and fully man). In spite of all that, it is simply a fact that Jesus was fully God and fully Man; that He had a dick like all of us; that He was stripped naked on the cross. So while the first Adam shed the innocence of nakedness and covered himself up in vain, the second Adam shed the honour of the seamless robe and hang up there doubly-undressed: circumcised and naked. (Haha!)

But this nakedness of Jesus on the cross bought for us an exit from the original nakedness. Faith in Christ is the solution to not just the shame of nakedness—which is merely a symptom—but rather the solution for knowledge of good and evil itself.
This continuing need for covering our nakedness bears witness to our continuing knowledge of good and evil; and this continuing knowledge of good and evil bears witness to our continuing need for the salvation that comes by Jesus Christ; such that if we ever have no shame before God—if we stand before God as though we are perfect, aware of good and evil, but unaware of our imperfection, even in spite of the continuing witness of our need to cover up our nakedness, this testimony to our rebellion—it is because we are aware of the complete perfection of our restoration, by faith, in Christ Jesus.

And so our weakness, our imperfection, our nakedness, which is the witness to our rebellion—for we would not even be able to discuss it, if we were not rebels in the first place—makes the salvation relevant.
You can always be sure that, if a man is sane, then he is aware of his need to cover up, his need for salvation. You can always be sure that a man will need Jesus Christ if he understands that his need for underwear, at the very least, is witness to his need for Christ. Men will always need clothing, therefore they will always need the grace of God in Christ; because the problem is not even nakedness itself—the cats and dogs, for instance, don’t mind it—but rather the rebellion that makes nakedness a problem to us in the first place.

Christ doesn’t just give us a pair of jeans; He puts us under grace.
We can’t deny our rebellion, because we cannot deny our need to dress up. We therefore can’t deny our need for Christ. This continuing awareness of nakedness is not a problem, because we have clothes; and also the continuing awareness of our rebellion is not a problem because we are in Christ.
Christianity—the true, Reformed Christian faith—does not pretend that the Christian is perfect and lacking in weaknesses. It doesn’t deny the awareness of nakedness. It merely affirms that there is no shame, since we are dressed; it affirms that there is no condemnation, since we are in Christ Jesus.

It is very central to our faith that we confess the reality of our nakedness, and our continuing awareness of the nakedness, and not deny that this—unambiguously, and on the authority the scriptures—is testimony to our rebellion. If we acknowledge nakedness, we acknowledge rebellion against God. And we all acknowledge nakedness—because we dress up—so we continually admit that we are rebels. If we were not rebels, we would be naked and unashamed, like the babies and the cows. But we are rebels, so we dress up, every day and every moment.

Similarly, we freely admit that we are sinners, so we cling to the grace of God in Christ. It is a real and continuing grace, because so is the weakness. There are those who downplay the imperfection of man, and so they downplay the centrality of grace in the life of the believer. In reality, it all begins at the grace of God. And if the grace of God is real and continuing—as indeed it is—so is the need for it. Those who are ashamed of admitting that they are continuing sinners, in the sense of simul justus et peccatore, are also the ones who are ashamed of the grace of God. (Here I include Roman Catholics, and all other legalists.)

And for this reason I am not fully dressed unless I have some Christian symbolism somewhere in the dressing, even if as a necklace or a bangle. This is my solemn tradition, and I hold to it firmly. Dresses are a placeholder, a prophecy, and a witness to the real fix for nakedness: Christianity. They only make sense if they bear witness to the real fix for nakedness; otherwise the dressing up is in fact mere superstition which cannot successfully contend with a nudist heresy, for instance. I actually prefer nakedness; but if I can’t have it, I should have clothing that makes sense. And if I can’t get the clothes to speak the truth, I don’t bother with them (much to the loud chagrin of my prudish neighbours).
13th of September, 2014

The State(s) of the Jews and Christians of the Old Ottoman

By now many have heard things like this:
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/09/ted-cruz-booed-off-stage-at-middle-east-christians-group/
Apparently an American senator gets booed off the stage at a meeting of Middle Eastern Christians, because he expressed support for Israel, and refused to recant.
What this senator did was good, and what these Christians did is wrong.

In fact, the suffering of Middle Eastern Christians is not independent of their attitude to Israel. I want to discuss that for a while.

In the Middle-East, both Christians and Jews have suffered massacre after massacre, and often directly as cleansing of an ethno-religious nature. The Ottoman Empire was built on a foundation of Christian skulls, and the new Turkish nation also trained for brutality with Christian victims.

The Armenian and Assyrian genocides were witness together with the Jewish Holocaust in making the modern word “genocide”, but the Assyrians are still running before Islamic State (Iraq-Syria), and the Israelis are digging in against the Arabs. The Armenians got a state, but the Assyrians were left in the hands of the Arabs and the Kurds. There is an even-more-interesting side to this, when you consider Lebanon and its Christian Falangists (“Kataeb”), who were in open military alliance with the Israelis; but that is for discussing further down.

I have noted that Christian communities that have had a political spat with Israel feel justified in being anti-Zionist, even pro-Palestinian. Lebanon was still majority-Christian when the Middle East had to deal with a returned Israel. The border tension made nationalists anti-Israel, even when they were Christians. The same happens with Iraq, where Assyrians were fierce nationalists, and so they found themselves fighting as Iraqis against Israel (and Iran).

In all these cases, the problem is exactly the same: you have Christians giving ultimate loyalty to non-Christian political systems, which mires them in unholy alliances against other nations, necessarily including against Israel.
No Christian should ever fight for a non-Christian system; if he does, he should not be surprised if he finds himself fighting against a Christian system—or, for that matter, against the Jewish state. And if you fight for heresy, die with the heretics.

In the Middle East, in particular, this has meant that Christians find themselves fighting against the Jewish state, and—in league with the secularist states, or Arab states, or whatever other non-Christian states—adopting this anti-Israel position which is in express opposition to truth and justice.
Having accepted the Arab state, and its consequent Arab nationalism—and, necessarily, the Ishmaelite’s requisite anti-Israelism—they cannot also champion the Christian state or its consequent “graft theology” which ties the Christian and the Jew together. It is either one or the other.

Some of these Christian nations have a state now; like the Armenians. But even the Armenians have a secular state, which merely recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church. The correct thing—“for there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ Jesus”—is to have a Christian state, for this Christian “nation of kings and priests”, which just happens to have a (probably majority) Armenian component in it.
So the danger is still there that even the Armenians could (and, if this continues, will) turn their backs on the Jews, and oppose the Jewish state.

The Christian state, on the other hand, doesn’t have the wherewithal to deny and oppose the state of the olive branch into which it was grafted. Furthermore, it is incumbent on the Christians to accept the Jews, because the Jews are (still) too blind to know the whole picture. The Christians, whose eyes are opened, are the ones who have to endure the ridiculousness that the continuing blindness of the Jews provokes in the Jews, either as suspicion of the Christians, or as an unwillingness to ally the Jewish state with the/a Christian state.
What the Jews cannot do anything about is support. —And this is incumbent on the Christians, unconditionally, whether as individuals or as state. Those nations that will be destroyed are first non-Christian (or post-Christian), so that they may either be anti-Christian or anti-Israeli, that they may be cursed destroyed. The nation that will be saved is first of all Christian, and therefore pro-Christian and pro-Israeli, that it may not be cursed and destroyed. All that it takes is that they not be either secularised, or Arabised, or social(ist-)ised, or anything else other than Christian.

For this and other reasons, it is important that Christians have a Christian state. They are often willing to fight and die for a democratic state, but this is wrong, because the democratic state can just as easily turn on the Christian as it does on the Jew. The Christian may only identify with—and fight for—the Christian state, so that he never be found fighting against his brothers, be they brothers in faith (Christians) or brothers in the graft (Jews).

And for as long as the Christians maintain this fornication with other systems, they will reap the fruits thereof: being sent to die in Islamist or ethnic wars, for instance, as was the case with the Assyrians in the war between Arab Sunnis under Saddam Hussein against the Arab-Persian Shiites under the Islamic Republic of Iran. This story is particularly painful, because the 10,000 Assyrian Christians who died under the banners of Arabism and Islam on either side were neither Arabs nor Musilms. But they didn’t prefer to die fighting for the Christian state—which, a few short decades before, Agha Petros had been leading a fight for, under a cruciform flag—so they died like chicken on both sides.

This catastrophic mistake has still not been corrected. Assyrians are still fighting either for Iraq, or for Assyria, or whatever. As long as they continue, they will keep dying out for no reason, and I will not feel sorry at all. I do not mind the mass-deaths of people who fight to establish vanities. I see them on their marches, and the flag of Agha Petros is conspicuously absent. Instead, they wave the stupid and pathetic flag of Assyria in one hand, and that of Iraq (or, for fuck’s sake, the flag of the Islamic Republic) in the other. Why should I mourn the death of people who fought that an Islamist—anti-Christian—government might hold sway? Why should I mourn the death of people who fought that an Arabist—anti-Israeli—government might hold sway? Do they not even see how stupid they are, to die in defence of those who hate our creed and our (still-blind) brothers-in-graft?

So: may all the Assyrians stupid enough to fight in a manner different from that of Agha Petros die, and they deserve it. May they be cleared speedily, and may nobody mourn them. May their wives be widowed, and their children orphaned. May their mothers die waiting, and may their fathers wail with despair, as their sons are cut down faster than they can have an orgasm. This is the curse of all who fight wars in defence of heresy; may they die in retreat, and may the carrion-eaters start with their eyes.

If you are a Christian nation—though you are proud of your ethny—you are first of all Christian. Not socialist; not democratic, not Assyrian, not whatever. The same bond that binds Jew and Gentile together binds Assyrian and Arab together: Christ. Not democracy, not communism, not liberty, not egalitarianism, not civilisation, not ethny, not history, nothing. Either “Christ is all in all,” or you don’t bother with Christ. —For I am determined to respect no bonds that are not Christianity, or not subjected entirely to Christianity.

Now, with the Jews it is different. They are (still) blind. They have no alliance beyond nation; it is understandable, in their case. They fight and die for nation, because they know no higher principle. “Where there is no law, sin is not imputed.” And also “Do not eat … of knowledge of good and evil … [or] you shall die.” The Christians, on the other hand, have no excuse for privileging any principle or nation above Christianity, the “nation of kings and priests.” After all, if “in Christ is … neither male nor female, Jew no Gentile, slave nor free” how could there be “Iraqi or Iranian”? But the Jews, being ignorant of Christ, can be permitted to continue on the lower level of “Jew and Gentile.”

So the mistake multiplies, for as long as Christians acquiesce to the non-Christian state. I could even excuse them if they never picked arms; but if you get to picking up arms, and you kill a man as your opponent, what is it that you, the Christian, are enforcing with such finality? “The Arab Republic?” Are you insane? You cannot kill for the establishment of a state for the Christians—that they may have an alternative on Earth, where they can run to when the Islamists come killing, where they can practice the true faith under the protection of a state that is subjugated to the Christian standard—but will willingly slay for some heresy, be it democracy, or socialism, or republicanism, or whatever?
May the curses be multiplied on their heads, and even more on the heads of their children.

This problem is fast-approaching even those Christian nations that refuse to ashame the secularists by declaring openly, firmly, and with finality—with the sword, if necessary—that their state shall be subject to Christ. Because they refuse to do this, God will turn them against the only nation of God that can legitimately privilege ethny above all else (Israel), and they will garner for themselves the curses that afflict all such nations. This is the danger facing the lax-Christian states of Europe, and the curse which the post-Christian states of Europe are enduring (primarily expressed as an invasion of Islamists).
For our part, we have declared in our Articles of Foundation that, by inalterable confession we are a Christian state, and allied on principle with all Christian states, and with the Jewish state, that we may never be legally in opposition to them. Any nationalism or any principle which would impinge on that is subjected to the Articles, and is therefore illegal (even if, because of the flesh, it may happen).
http://localhost.ug/decl.pdf

Another interesting case is Lebanon. It is an Arab state with a Christian majority, and indeed a Christian head of state. However, it is an Arab state, not a Christian state; therefore it has found itself committing the same sin which all other Arabs have committed, and it has richly earned the result, which has seen its Christians subjected to the Shiite Muslims (like Hezbollah), and that is only the beginning. At some point, there was a Christian political party, the Falangist “Kataeb” Party, which worked together with the Israelis to check the Islamist terrorists in the south of Lebanon. However, the Falangists didn’t also fight as Christians, but as nationalists of some sort. Therefore, for all the good their vigilance did, it was the wrong thing to fight for, and they richly earn the curse. They never fought for a Christian state, so they fought for the wrong reasons. May all who fight for heresy be eaten as carrion.

For as long as any nation fights for principles too different from those in the Articles of Foundation, they will be fighting against “the king of the kings of the Earth.” (Revelation 1) I think Christians have forgotten that, first of all, state authority comes from God. —And if it comes from God, subjecting our state impulse to Christ is a matter of living out our faith, for we believe that “whether thrones … all was created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1)
06th of September, 2014

Civilised Beheadings

This is the crisis that faces the non-Christian state—or, as in this the case of France, the post-Christian atheist state:
A controversial French comedian is facing charges for comparing the killing of US journalist James Foley to French Revolution beheadings and therefore an “access to civilisation” for his murderers.
Where is he wrong? Civilisation is full to the brim with be-headings. Two recent empires were literally built on “pyramids of skulls.” The French are screaming against be-heading, yet it is what got them their Republic?
http://www.france24.com/en/20140905-controversial-french-comedian-charged-jokes-foley-killing/

Since civilisation is merely humans being humans, even rape of little girls is part of it, and has been used to great effect. Humans are incapable of a holy standard apart from explicit submission of their state to Christianity. There is no alternative.
04th of September, 2014

Wilders Wilder

Geert Wilders is having fun telling the Dutch “I told you so.”
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4674/geert-wilders-speech

However, since he is not a Christian, even he—even he!—will not be able to state the solution properly:
Recognize that Islam is the problem. Start the de-Islamization of the Netherlands. Less Islam.
Correction: no Islam. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. Literally, the Muslim World doesn’t have enough room for both us and them, so they have to vacate.



04th of September, 2014

On Drugs, Dependence, and Prudery

Most humans will not eat food without salt, even though they can—even when they should. This is a good thing, as part of what it means to be a human being is that you seek to perpetuate the good things and avoid the negative ones. Whether it is choosing particular friends to hang out with, or arriving early at work, we do these things to achieve or maintain a good mood. We would certainly not die if we changed behaviour, even though we certainly would have withdrawal symptoms of all sorts. (I mean, consider the effect of forcibly parting with habitual company, say by death.)

What I hope to have outline up there is that mood-alteration is human. Opposition to it is simple prudery.
—And if the prudes simply outlawed mood-alteration, they would notice that they have outlawed a central feature of a thinking and independent man. From coffee to peppers, morphine to ephedrine, cannabis to alcohol, humans depend on drugs. There is nothing wrong with that, since there is nothing wrong with being a human. Many people are tricked into making a big deal out of a particular drug, and so they miss the big picture.

Four tangential things; first: addiction and drug-addiction are not the same things. The most-destructive addictions are not drugs. Even tobacco could never ruin a life like gambling does.

Second: not all addictive things are equally-potent. A sex addiction or a crystal meth addiction is worse than a tobacco addiction. I find drunkenness off-putting in a way tobacco just can’t manage.

Third: the substance or activity involved in the addiction is never the problem. —Since it could easily be either womanising or alcoholism, it is stupid to worry and fret about the particular thing-du-jour rather than the person. Every time I see someone pontificating about how bad a certain particular addiction is, how it can “ruin your life”, I laugh inside; but it is a very insidious mistake. For instance, entire governments are campaigning against tobacco addiction, but not against nymphomania or adrenaline rushes, both of which kill sooner. Substances don’t do anything; put them in a bottle ten years and see! But if you have a person with a problem—with an active flesh—you have the problem independent of any particular substances or activities; you will have worse in fact: the problem present, since the flesh is still there, but no awareness of it, since the addiction agents are not apparent.

Lastly: addictions are used to mask real character flaws, as people blame innocent things—alcohol, for instance, or cannabis—for their simple refusal to live up to their responsibilities. Laziness is a bigger problem than intoxication—or Internet distractions, for that matter—whenever I see a case of this type, be it with me or with others.

One or two days ago, a study came out about the withdrawal effects of cannabis. As you may know, cannabis is generally considered non-addictive, as it lacks the kind of withdrawal symptoms one associates with drugs in general. But the study came out arguing against that view; it is here.
http://scienceblog.com/74174/cannabis-withdrawal-symptoms-common-among-teens/#arIlIYTH6G0DqC7A.97
Of the 90 cannabis-using participants, 76 (84 percent) met criteria for cannabis dependence – which include increased tolerance and use of cannabis, unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop using, and persistent use in spite of medical and psychological problems made worse by cannabis. Withdrawal symptoms were reported by 36 participants (40 percent of the overall group), all of whom also met criteria for dependence. At the study’s outset, substance use was likely to be more severe and consequences – such as missing work or school, financial and relationship problems – tended to be greater in participants reporting withdrawal symptoms, who also were more likely to have mood disorders.
Now imagine for a minute that you can get a bunch of heavy tobacco-smokers to quit for a week. Or coffee-drinkers. When I am working—when I need the coffee—good luck taking me away from the drink! Anyway, imagine that you could get a bunch of smokers to quit …
But before we launch into the rest of the discussion on drugs, dependence, and prudery, let us add the paragraph that follows that:
While the presence of withdrawal symptoms is a strong indicator of cannabis dependence, the authors note, it did not significantly impact the ability of participants to reduce their use of cannabis during the 12-month follow-up period. The factor that did appear to make a difference was whether or not an individual recognized having a problem with substance use upon entering the study. Participants who both reported withdrawal symptoms and recognized having a problem had a small but steady improvement in abstinence through the entire study period. Those who reported withdrawal symptoms but did not recognize a substance use problem had a slight increase in abstinence in the first 3 months, but then had some increase in cannabis use during the subsequent 9 months, a pattern that was also seen in participants not experiencing withdrawal.
Well, interesting. Forget tobacco; imagine that you ran into some prude, myself in this case, who was sure that your habit of using Twitter and Facebook were “literally” costing you your life! —And that you should go out and do some jogging!  —And it is true that there is a serious and enumerable loss in productivity across the board, real money being lost, because of this social-networking addiction. —And this is rotting your brain!
All these things happen to be true. I put it to you now that there is more work left undone because of Twitter than because of cannabis. I know for a fact that an addiction to Twitter, Facebook, and Vines is going to cost someone his job—as in, I am going to be the one dealing with this particular case.

But since the Twitter and Facebook people of the World do not accept that they have a problem, I expect them to not only fail to quit, but to not even have a good reason to quit. And why should they? Do I have anything against the thrill of encountering long-lost friends on the Internet? Or the excitement of 140 characters (or whatever)? I can only condemn these things if I condemn mood-alteration in general. Anything else is prudery and nit-picking, the kind we do to make ourselves feel more-pious; we judge harshly what we do not do. Yet there is no denying that the World has developed a serious dependence on Twitter and Facebook. (Entire official government propaganda and communiqué channels would vanish if Twitter went down!) I don’t use these things; I have seen people become wrecks when the battery or Internet ran out; they spend too much on their Internet; they are constantly looking down and fondling their phones; they don’t even accept that they have a problem! Addicts, the lot of them. But whatever.

You see, addictions—especially the Twitter and Facebook kind—are not a bad thing; they are not automatically less-worthy than the thing they replace. The mood that precedes it, in all its serious soberness, is not more-righteous at all, since the human himself—sober or not—is the one with the problem.
The human has a problem; social networking is just a thing with which the human is relating, problems and all. Movies, for instance, are another common addiction around these parts, causing serious drainage and waste of precious time resources in a way that cannabis never could. Nobody mentions them anymore as serious time-wasters (together with novel and headphones) because now everybody indulges; you should see the comments from back then. When these social phenomena were new, their addictiveness was recognised. (And, according to someone I trust, TV with “Coming up next …!” is even worse than basically any drug out there.)

I used to read Internet news aggregation sites, and I was geniunely addicted, burning several hours a day following stupid comment threads. (I don’t regret all of it, but I am glad I recovered.) None of these things is bad to return to, especially since it is the normal thing because they feel good, but certainly humans have the flesh, which—when mixed with either social networks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, cannabis, video games, or whatever—will manage to bring forth the works of the flesh by nature.

I do not use Twitter, Facebook, Vines, or any of these Internet drugs. I know, also, that they are addictive. I have no trouble quitting them; I find them off-putting. I never got addicted to computer games; I actually hate them. But if I indulged in them, and I didn’t believe it to be a problem—regardless of what the non-using version of me would think—I would not be able to quit, and it would not even make sense to try to quit in the first place.

So, people do not smoke weed because it feels bad, but rather they smoke it because it feels good. And just because it is not classically-addictive, does not mean that quitting should be automatic. Quitting cannabis is easy enough, and I have done it more times than I remember. My only problem with quitting cannabis is that it is truly a bad idea, especially because the primary benefit I got from weed is that when I am high I can actually eat and enjoy food, a rare thing for me. (And I speak now as one who is consciously deferring my resumption of cannabis-smoking.) The only times I can actually justify not smoking is if I can convince myself that I could do better with a less-interesting mind-space, and that I do not really need to be eating at the normal levels. Essentially, unless the quitting is itself a beneficial mood-alteration strategy, I find no reason to do it. There is nothing praise-worthy about just opposing things simply because everybody else does. (Yes, even the others are opposing it with moral pretensions because everybody else is opposing it with moral pretensions. And these people are genuinely convinced of their own superior morality!)

The funny thing is that these situations show up often enough, and I have learnt that of all the things I have developed a dependence on, cannabis is the easiest to part with, but also the one I have least reason to part with. When I miss my home, for instance, I can often justify it with having to go to work, in spite of my dependence on being at home (for several reasons). But if the coffee and the sugar follow me to work, why does the cannabis not? I could never leave Vines and Twitter behind, even if I wanted to; why is it so automatic that I leave cannabis behind? Even when fats and sugars are killing you, you would have trouble quitting the stuff, because it is everywhere (but, of course try quitting an addiction to sushi or the runner’s high … easy!)

Being a fanatical Reformed Christian, I just simply don’t have much room for prudery. But this makes it hard to segregate against cannabis in a way I do not segregate against, say, sugar or news sites. I don’t say that dependence is bad, because it is not; it is what humans do with things they get a benefit out of. America’s oil and corn addiction/dependence is worse by far for humanity, the environment, and for moral integrity, than a global cannabis dependence outbreak would be, and I am not even saying anything against oil or corn. So, you see, I have no good reason to quit cannabis (even when I quit).

And since the only workable argument against cannabis is the one about social attitudes, this makes quitting cannabis in any case a simple cowardly decision to bow the head and give in to social bullying of a good thing, even as they almost enforce worse things. This has the effect, at least for me, of weighing the moral decision against quitting cannabis, because there would be a victory for the wrong things; I have to live out my activism. This may be the most-interesting thing I learnt about cannabis: that because the opposition is clearly irrational and evil-minded, smoking it becomes a simple obligation, the first duty of the resistance—if only to achieve more opportunities to oppose and weaken the ridiculous status quo.
(The other reason I’d quit is when I have developed high tolerance, and I need it to taper back down. But that doesn’t count in these cases.)

What about if the addiction was truly damaging? Interesting question. Even something as mild as cannabis can be damaging, and you can see that 800,000 arrests are made in America every year for it alone. So, you see, cannabis dependence can in fact be very damaging—even life-threatening. We are not speaking about hypothesis; people today are being caged for possessing less weed than would get a baby high. We needn’t hypothesise alcohol destroying livers, or heroin overdoses; cannabis is already dangerous enough, carrying death sentences in several Asian countries, and it is illegal everywhere in the open World. (Excluding North Korea.)

If we treat this as a general case about dangerous dependency, here is the answer: it is the flesh, not the agent. Consider porn addictions; people do not quit port because the Internet went away, but because they should (for whatever reason). And if they are not ready to quit, they should not (and they will not). Nobody makes anybody quit something; quitting is not from the outside in. When one has to quit, one does. It is really that easy; from tobacco to porn, you stop when you do not want anymore. The case for quitting should be strong enough to make itself; even when it is simple social disapproval, if it is less-preferable than the high—or, for that matter, less-bearable than the withdrawal—then people quit. It is really that simple. For many people, it takes a threat of death, then suddenly they can quit with no problems. (Usually the disease or over-dose kills them anyway, because it is too late for the quitting to be of any use.)

Interesting research was done about the prevalence of heroin use among people of certain psychological backgrounds. What seems to rise out of that research is that drug addiction, even of that kind, is a pretty predictable response to other mood-altering situations. —Essentially, that addiction problems are in fact solutions for these people. (“How surprising!”) Drug-addiction discussions would be more-useful if they knew that they are trying to replace a solution to a problem.

But perhaps the worst feature of this unthinking anti-dependence prudery is that it lumps together all mood-alteration chemicals, for instance, and says “Bad!” This has the very real possibility of confusing people who are looking to make a good choice for mood-alteration with a good conscience. We are not all hiding our alcohol or cannabis; we don’t mind being high; we just need to have a good and sober discussion of the facts concerning the substances beforehand.
I think I would label laboratory drugs “Bad!”, alright, but what about cannabis? Are you crazy? Can I ever live with myself knowing that I once sided with the unthinking idiots of sick conscience and denounced what may be the only safe way to supply the mood-alteration needs of those who may need mood-alteration? Rather, I side with the truth, and I light up one on principle. (Later, perhaps.)

What makes addiction complex is that we have managed to lie to ourselves that people can return and return to something so often because it genuinely lifts their moods, and yet it be foolishly expected that such weak and pathetic reasons as social disapproval should even suffice to justify to them the perpetuation of bad moods (or avoidance of good ones). What kind of ignorance (or wickedness) would make them buy into such unthinking hysteria, even as they leave Adderall and Ritalin on the shelves—for kids?
03rd of September, 2014

“This group has an ideology behind it and if that ideology is not tackled”

The first interesting thing, which is the opposition between tamed Islam and practical—lived-out, jihadist—Islam:

RT: What kind of threat does the rise of the Islamic State pose the Saudi regime?

MG: The biggest threat for them is the disgruntlement among the local populace with the corruption of the monarchy itself, so they offer an alternative. In addition to the lack of legitimacy that is seen now with the scholarly elite, a lot of the people in Saudi Arabia look at the scholars now as just scholars for the sultans. They facilitate fatwas for them to benefit their rulers, but when it comes to benefitting the population that’s not the common fact. Religion is used as something to oppress the population and benefit the ruling elite.
http://rt.com/op-edge/184472-saudi-arabia-isis-threat-terrorism/
But now see how the young ones, the ones who actually want to live and practice Islam (noting that al-Baghdadi has styled himself “the scholar who practices what he preaches”):

RT: What can the EU and US leaders do to prevent this threat?

MG: I think [as for] the focus on the military interventions, history will show that it is not going to be the answer. This group has an ideology behind it and if that ideology is not tackled… But a lot of people do not realize that ISIS put a lot of effort into spreading propaganda, intellectual material, that they use the Islamic tradition to basically give legitimacy to what they are, coming from an Islamic prospective. So far all that we have heard from Muslim scholars is just a condemnation but without any intellectual engagement and just a call for a military intervention. Well, it was a military intervention by the US and Western forces that went into Iraq that created the vacuum that allowed the rise of this group. So if they go in again, all of this can happen and if they try to quell them this will create another group that could be even more monstrous than this one.

Interesting. Now you see, even this person probably thinks the ideology is militancy (wrong), or religious extremism (wrong), or war tactics (wrong). The problem is Islam. The problem is heresy.

02nd of September, 2014

On Guns

This is from an exchange of mine on guns:

What you call beheading videos, I call primary sources. I only watch those because I don’t just read investigative reporting; I am an investigative reporter. Mother Jones is leftist pap, watered down with sensationalised mass hysteria.
Guns have always been here, and only now do you have mass-shootings. Why is nobody mentioning that all the mass shooters have psychotropic medications? (Well, they would know if they looked beyond Mother Jones.)
Do you know what the shoot-out capitals of your USA have in common? LA, NYC, Chicago, DC?

Contrary to popular weirdness, the most-armed places and times aren’t necessary the ones with the highest cases of such mass-homicidal madness. And, indeed, when Rwanda’s time came, just being armed was sufficient—even machetes were sufficient; it didn’t have to be guns. Most murders are not with guns; all murders, however, are by murderers. It is cowardice to focus on the weapons (even if we are speaking machetes and swords), rather than on the murderers themselves.

Haha, Mother Jones is your standard?
Have you actually looked at the stats? And have you considered more than just America (or Brazil), where the problem is violent people, not guns? In Rwanda, for instance, guns not only stopped a genocide (and continue to prevent one), but also every other guard has a gun.
 
Do you think guns are popular for murder, or defence? Most people with guns are not shooting kids. Some places are sick in the head, and the gun is just another factor. If someone is killing kids, it doesn’t matter if he used poison. The problem is not the method.

PS: Most murders are not with guns. In Rwanda, for instance, bare hands, machetes, ropes, and sticks kill more people per day than guns kill in a week. But, of course, I expect every gun murder to be over-sensationalised more than, say, drunken driving which kills more children than murder.

I could find one of the kids whose deaths have been prevented by armed men. (Mostly police officers, of course, but also family members.)
:o)


01st of September, 2014

Streett Meets McGilchrist… Or How the NPP Happens

Daniel Strett is doing it for me again:

This is rather strange. It might be helpful to realize that people do not normally approach literature this way. I did a search on Google Books the other day for the term “exegesis.” I found that every book on the first ten pages that came up was a Biblical Studies book. Literary critics don’t really talk much about exegesis, nor do classicists, surprisingly. Why is that? Those groups talk a lot about interpretation and hermeneutics and context, but not “exegesis.”

forest-for-treesI would like to propose that much of what people mean by “exegesis” is artificial, atomistic overanalysis of little bits of texts that were originally intended to be heard as wholes, not analyzed, labelled and translated. That kind of exegesis results from an approach to texts that I like to call ‘the Bible Code mentality.’
Well, as you know by now, this is what one schooled at the feet of Iain McGilchrist would call “left-brain madness” or something.

I think that some modern heresies, like the “New Perspective on Paul” are a direct result of this, and it is very embarrassing. They yack away and away about “subjective genitive” and so on, but:

So, I find that that the question, “what about exegesis?” presupposes that to interpret a text, one must be able to label, diagram and translate it into another language. I disagree with this. When I read and discuss English literature, I do not analyze syntax or diagram sentences. I also do not label each element using linguistic metalanguage. Rather I discuss meaning, themes, characterization. I summarize. I paraphrase. I make connections with other parts of the text. I tease out logical implications. I examine elements of literary artistry. All of this can be done, indeed, is best done, in the language itself.

Yeah, which is why “pistis christou” is as much “faith is Christ” as it is “Christian faith”.

http://danielstreett.com/2014/09/01/exegesis-vs-reading-or-how-to-dismantle-an-atomistic-bomb/
01st of September, 2014

Assyrian Christians: Between Simele and ISIS

The story of the Assyrian Christians is sad in remarkable ways. I have even found myself searching Revelation 1-4 for the answer to their fate. I have wondered if, instead, theirs is a case of “Judgment starts in God’s household.” I even think I remember a prophet somewhere in the Old Testament who says that, just as the Assyrians reduced the Israelites to exile and diaspora, so also God would humble their remnant.

This video is from before the rise of the Islamic State (Iraq-Syria) and its caliphate that has had a punishing effect on the Christians of the Nineveh Plains.

Notice that the MP brushes past the Kurds’ slow conquests of Assyrian land. Well, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, and in the early days of the Young Turks, the Kurds co-operated with the Turks on the basis of their shared Islamic creed, to persecute and mass-murder the Christian populations which were primarily Armenian and Assyrian Christians. The Muslims Kurds and Arabs helped in these exterminations, with religion being the uniting factor.

In that time, the Assyrian nation was truly fighting as a Christian nation. Agha Petros flew a flag very similar to one I would fly: a red flag with a white cross. (I do Latin cross, though. ✝) Notice how the Assyrian leaders, without the benefit of our hindsight, are unable to distinguish Kurdish hostility from Arab or Turkish, because it is all Muslim hostility directed against Christians, Armenian and Assyrian alike. And then the British betrayed them into the hands of the Arabs of Iraq—and, consequently, today, the Kurds of Kurdistan.

After the time of the British empire, there were things like the Simele massacre. Then there was the fall of Saddam. Then there was the invasions of the Islamic State jihadists, which expelled the Christians out of Mosul and the environs.

In light of these things, the video of the British Member of Parliament is almost sad enough to round back to funny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cD49rfFpQc Because now it does’t even make sense to protest the Kurds’ theft of Christian land, when in fact they are the lesser of two dangers. (See? We need the Christian Free State.) What ISIS did by decree, the Kurds do by other means.

26th of August, 2014

Yet More on Cannabis and Legalism

The volume should reduce from here on, as we may hope:
So you smoke dope? If so, why do you not see the cannibas in your lungs before you pick on the nicotine in your brother's?
I smoked cannabis, yes, and I am hoping to resume in about a week’s time, but I don’t think cannabis is bad at all. I don’t see a reason to remove it; I see a reason to use it and to encourage it for those who have a need for it.
However, every animal knows that nicotine is poison, even when it gives them a high. It is sensible that I counsel against nicotine, because I counsel against poison. I cannot counsel against cannabis, because there is nothing wrong with it.

I guess I should tell Ted: “why do you support nicotine, and yet oppose cannabis?” I never go around pointing legalistic finders at tobacconists, but not at cannabists either. I would never have written these if this blog had never first attacked cannabis. And why would I forbid tobacco? Am I in the place of God? Nevertheless, it is certainly a poisonous addiction, and cannabis is certainly a medicinal drug. That’s as far as I go. The rest is for those who are under the law.
26th of August, 2014

Even More on Cannabis and Legalism

My interlocutor attempted this, and I responded:
Mind altering substance (Pharmakia) is a whole different matter than Caffein or Nicotine. But if you insist on your position stop drinking coffee.
You will find that I have a very uncommon position on mind-altering activities and substances: I don’t consider them wrong. That position is simply not in line with my beliefs. I don’t treat highs as bad things; how could I?

If I did, yes, I would be against sugar, coffee, alcohol, smartphones, picnics, music, jogging, sex, red meat, Facebook, Twitter, and all these other non-essential things we engage in simply because it feels good. However, I am not shouting against any of those things. I am shouting the Gospel. I am not a legalist; I am a (Reformed) Christian.

I am also a coffee addict. I am not a cannabis addict at present, though. (It is hard to get a cannabis addiction, and easy to lose it.)
Besides, the research finds more cases of substance-induced psychosis (SIP) from alcohol and tobacco than from cannabis, by percentage. I am not forbidding alcohol, much less cannabis! —Also, ironically, the molecule CBD (cannabidiol) has been found to have a strong anti-psychotic effect; the problem is that modern strains of cannabis are bred for the molecule THC (which gives the high), and not for CBD (which is strongly-medicinal). Now high-CBD strains are increasing in availability, thank God. In typical style, Hebrew University Jerusalem developed the best strain, Avidekel. (Look it up! Amazing stuff. It’s so low in THC, you cannot even get high on it.) In Israel, the best treatment for many old-people diseases is … you guessed it: high-CBD marijuana.

Meanwhile, that pharmakia in Galatians is more of Adderall and the like. Cannabis is naturally-occurring; and unlike tobacco, which today is largely factory-assembled, cannabis is in all cases just plant material. Are you throwing your lot in with a society that declares illegal a *plant species*? How dare they call God a criminal, and declare His work illegal? May God “hasten the judgement on all who, through their wickedness, suppress the truth.” Don’t ever forget that it is just a plant, and it has no poison. Any antipathy towards it is always just because of economics and politics. Corn is more-dangerous than cannabis. HFCS has more addicts (and more consequent diabetics, anddead people) than cannabis could ever manage.

Cannabis is just a plant. It is even more-useful when taken in a form that doesn’t render a high. (Of course, personally it is the high I am after when I indulge.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZXmbEGrlRs
Watch “The Drugging of Our Children”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26e5PqrCePk
But more-importantly, “pharmakia” includes more than just those things that our (secular) society disapproves of, in its self-righteous ignorance. You had better not pass judgement on the plant that has the longest farmed pedigree. Paracetamol kills more people per day than cannabis does per decade; and I am not even campaigning against paracetamol. I could multiply these example by the thousands; I am not joking! How would I throw my lot in with a society that glorifies poison and strictly forbids medicine? Do you think there is anything holy about modern society’s attitudes towards mood-altering substance and activities?
26th of August, 2014

More on Cannabis and Legalism

Once again, from my web escapades:

I find it sad, actually, that you defend smoking of tobacco, and mark anti-tobacco stances as somehow unorthodox and in league with Nazis and Mozzies, while in fact tobacco was historically a poison. Isn’t it good to oppose the consumption of addictive poisons? I mean, the Nazis also banned gay culture; what does that say about other expressions of that normal distaste for homosexuality?

From the beginning, tobacco was known to be a poison, and was first used as an insecticide. (A teaspoon of nicotine will kill a grown man in 5 seconds.) Tobacco addiction borders on incurable, and the withdrawal symptoms are sometimes outright fatal for healthy people.

Of course, the reason one puts tobacco addiction in the wraps of “it is the opposite of the heretics” is simply because one has to justify something he/she cannot stop doing. The reason the Gospel provides Grace is so that you accept the holy and righteous law, even when you do not keep it. No need to say “heretics hate smoking … we are proud of it!” The heretics are right! Smoking is bad; it is slow suicide, and it doesn’t glorify God or honour His temple.

Two things can happen now.

The legalist will lower the standard of holiness, because (he knows that) he can’t quit smoking, or looking at women lustfully, or getting angry, or whatever. He will claim and pretend that smoking (or anger, or porn, or modern movies, or whatever) is permissible. This is the carnal mind. It is in open rebellion against the divine law.

The (Reformed) Christian will emphasise the wickedness of such behaviour, even if he can’t quit. This is the spiritual mind. It submits to the righteous law.

“What Law could not do, in so far as our earthly nature weakened its action, God did, by sending his own Son, with a nature resembling our sinful nature, to atone for sin. He condemned sin in that earthly nature, so that the requirements of the Law might be satisfied in us who live now in obedience, not to our earthly nature, but to the Spirit.” Romans 8. The Gospel of Grace permits man to “approach the throne of Grace with a clear conscience, sprinkled with the blood”. That is Hebrews 10. Is this for those who have no sin (such as smoking tobacco)? If so, why would they need to be sprinkled with Jesus’ blood, to ensure their peaceful conscience? Their conscience is not peaceful because they are not smokers, but because they are Christians, who are sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb. This is what saves them from condemnation; it is what assures their conscience, not the absence of sin. Do your people never ever read Romans 7? (Only Jesus has the right to stand before God with a good conscience without the benefit of this gospel and the sprinkling.)

Legalists always heap scorn on the gospel of Grace, saying we are only encouraging sin. On the contrary, only we are able to respect and uphold the Law. “Do we nullify the Law by this faith? μη γενοιτο! Rather, we uphold the Law.” Romans 5. And those who continue in legalism are in fact “breaking the law, and they approve of those who do.” Even the anti-smoking liberals, “the Nation who have not a Law, when they do the requirements of the Law, they condemn you … showing that the Law of God is written in their hearts.” Can you justify tobacco addiction, or delegitimise the anti-tobacco stance of those heretics? And if you did, wouldn’t you appeal ultimately to the liberty that legalists always reject? So you see, even legalism doesn’t help people keep the law; it just makes them aware of sin, and the flesh goes on to justify (even approve of) sin. The truly righteous concede that the smoking of tobacco is bad, even while they are pulling on a cigarrette. —And the truly righteous stand before God with a clear conscience not because they aren’t smoking (or getting angry or lusting), but because of the sprinkled blood of the lamb. Christianity isn’t about dos and don’ts; it is about peace, joy, and life by the Spirit. If you want dos and don’ts, go to Moses (who fell in the desert with the rebels); Jesus is all about grace. The faux-pious legalists have always rebelled against the amazing grace, even as they are steeped in desperate need for it. “The gospel is foolishness to the reprobate.” And “The foolishness and weakness of God is wiser and stronger than man’s wisdom and strength.” 1 Cor 1. Now you see how true that is.

On the other hand, this brilliant and important weblog launches unceasing attacks on the smoking of cannabis, which is not only non-addictive (or barely-addictive), but also outright cures cancer.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4

The reason most people smoke tobacco today is simply because of successful marketing (mostly by Edward Bernays) of a seriously addictive substance; not because it is good, permissible, or beneficial. I do not expect you to ever want to backtrack, or even to be able to (of your own capacity). We all have our prides and weaknesses. However, I am going to openly express my desire that you stop passing tobacco on as a good thing. It is objectively not, its acceptability notwithstanding.

25th of August, 2014

On Cannabis and Legalism

I ended up saying this to a guy on the web. Follow:
I have always found it interesting how many cults prohibit smoking …
But you, my dear beloved brother Ted, also says similar things about cannabis, which is far, far less-harmful than tobacco, and is indeed medicinal, and basically non-toxic. It is even less-addictive than alcohol (to say nil of tobacco), and is a crucial medicine for cases that literally cannot be treated any other way (because, until recent research on cannabis, doctors neither knew about the endo-cannabinoid system, or even how to fix any of the problems that affect it).

All legalists dwell on “touch not, taste not”, including you Roman Catholics. This kind of thing is not so much a feature of cults as it is a feature of all who are unaware of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals to us about the Law, the flesh, and true righteousness before God—which is by faith.
All legalists also dwell on “these things that pass away with usage,” never realising that, for instance, it is less-respectful of your body, and more-harmful, to eat McDonald’s than to smoke a joint. I could extend this to driving cars, surfing Facebook, or whatever. We (Reformed) don’t lack “bad things” to forbid; we just lack legalism. We could extend The Sermon on the Mount with millions of real examples, enjoining and forbidding everything less-than-perfect, but we prefer to preach the Gospel instead. These forbiddings and injunctions have absolutely no power to control sin in the flesh; they are only useful to make people aware that they are sinning. That’s all. They never even change behaviour; they only permit guilt or self-righteousness, depending on whether we are being pharisaical (standards of holiness other than “be perfect as your Father is perfect”) or being “zacchæcal” (as in, “like Zacchæus”, like the other tax-collector who went home justified).

The only reason I don’t lump your (uncharacteristically) poorly-researched position on cannabis with what the heretics do is because you are truly a Christian and I truly respect Romans 14. I understand that your branch of the Church almost fears to countenance with Romans 14 (or Colossians 2, or …), but then “you who are strong in faith, bear with those who are weak.” So I will not argue about cannabis with you, my beloved dear brother Theodore, even though you are wrong on it. (And, by the way, I would strongly urge against ever smoking tobacco. Nicotine is one of the most-addictive things we know of, is a very potent poison—having started out as a poisoning agent—and it is a systemic carcinogenic; as in, not just the lungs, but the entire body. It’s not the smoking that causes tobacco-related cancer; it is the nicotine.)
24th of August, 2014

It’s Taking Shape

Ah, the World after cheap oil! Imagine that these things are being written about a country from whose coast you can actually see Italy with the naked eye:
The situation in Libya is drastically degrading. At the moment this country is becoming a failed state, breaking into small domains ruled by warlords with rather murky reputations.
This situation was created due to complex political, military and social reasons. It is evident that we are dealing not with some short-term crisis, but a long-term tendency that was started by the events of 2011.

“Normal nation-building” has failed. A relatively safe country in close proximity to Europe has become a playground for radical Islamists and terrorists.
There is no progress in the national dialogue. There are no law enforcement agencies. All the government agencies that matter are paralyzed. There are more human rights violations now than under Colonel Gaddafi. Civilians are killed every day, infrastructure is being destroyed, not even a semblance of order exists, and economic development is absolutely out of the question. The latest parliamentary elections did not help to stabilize the situation. The situation in Tripoli has deteriorated so far that the first session of the new parliament had to be held far from the capital of the country.
http://rt.com/op-edge/180240-libya-terrorism-un-security/

You may remember that war that overthrew and killed Gaddafi and all his sons (perhaps save for one). And now the new state of play is taking shape. It doesn’t look good, at all.The smoke from the fighting of these jihadists at Tripoli International Airport is actually visible from Europe. Hmm …

Of course, the issue here is that Libya is one of the biggest oil exporters. Forget the resource curse; think peak oil.