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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatReligion(Moderator: bhcordova) TTF "Read Da Book": The Christian Bible
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BillO
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« Reply #2880 on: Sep 08, 2017, 05:44AM »

Apologies for comparing science and the bible again.  And I know you don't consider the bible as a work of God so I don't expect you to agree with me, just hope that you will understand my PoV.  This is one case where our different WorldViews overlap but differ.
I see and understand your PoV Martin.  No worries.
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« Reply #2881 on: Sep 08, 2017, 05:52AM »

2) "In the days of Herod the king". Note that Herod, a "Roman client-king of Judaea", reigned 37-4 BC, a death date that ought to make one's eyebrows raise, given that Jesus was born during his lifetime... Due to a counting error of Dionysius Exiguus, a 6th century Scythian monk living in Rome, and the person who gave us the BC/AD year numbering system, we inadvertently base our entire calendar on a misdating. Christ was born ~4-7 years "Before Christ". Oops!
I know this is going back a bit, but I read something recently that brought this back to mind.  It seems some accept Herod Antipas or Herod Archelaus, the sons of Herod the Great, as the "King Herod" of the bible.  Antipas would have been 19-20 YO when Jesus was born.  Historically though he was never a king.
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« Reply #2882 on: Sep 08, 2017, 06:17AM »

3) No PA systems in 1st century Palestine. I guess those at the back of the crowd must have had the words relayed by those closer to the front or else just not heard them.
How large are you assuming the crowds were?  What was considered a big crowd for an itinerant preacher of that time?


Quote
5) In particular, I would charge many involved in the current US partisan synthesis of the Republican party with their Christianity of overlooking a number of these basic tenets - primarily that in no sense does the Republican party respect the poor (rather it makes wealth a virtue and seeks to deny the poor access to facilities). I have long been baffled by the attachment between some Christians and our most reactionary and wealth-exalting politicians. Jesus would I feel have been equally baffled - and a great deal hurt to have it done in his name. If he came back today, he would be derided by these people as a "socialist" and a "communist", his solidarity with the downtrodden seen as weakness.
I have mentioned this many times before - most of my life.  It usually gets completely ignored. Don't know

It's not just the US though.  The political right usually gets the support of the more religious.  Probably due the the perceived conservatism.
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« Reply #2883 on: Sep 08, 2017, 06:25AM »

I know this is going back a bit, but I read something recently that brought this back to mind.  It seems some accept Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, as the "King Herod" of the bible.  He would have been 19-20 YO when Jesus was born.  Historically though he was never a king.

Matthew 2:19-22 seems clear in specifying Herod the Great:

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

Herod Archelaus was the son and successor of Herod the Great.

How large are you assuming the crowds were?  What was considered a big crowd for an itinerant preacher of that time?

I must admit that the picture in my head at the moment is the Monty Python 'Life of Brian' "Blessed are the cheesemakers" scene...

I have mentioned this many times before - most of my life.  It usually gets completely ignored. Don't know

It's not just the US though.  The political right usually gets the support of the more religious.  Probably due the the perceived conservatism.

It's an alignment of interests thing - one establishment interest looking out for another.

But when one looks at the tenets of the religion itself, it makes little sense from the POV of the individual average religious voter - the basic aims of Christianity would be better served by voting for parties on the left. To my mind, this phenomenon revealingly points up what religion is really about for many - the desire to belong, rather than the desire to do the best thing.
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« Reply #2884 on: Sep 08, 2017, 06:34AM »

Herod Archelaus was the son and successor of Herod the Great.
Yeah, just corrected that after a discussion with my brother.
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« Reply #2885 on: Sep 08, 2017, 06:35AM »

Matthew 2:19-22 seems clear in specifying Herod the Great:

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.
I agree.  Just reporting what I read.
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« Reply #2886 on: Sep 08, 2017, 08:16PM »

[
But when one looks at the tenets of the religion itself, it makes little sense from the POV of the individual average religious voter - the basic aims of Christianity would be better served by voting for parties on the left. To my mind, this phenomenon revealingly points up what religion is really about for many - the desire to belong, rather than the desire to do the best thing.

Of course there are a few assumptions-- presuppositions :)-- behind your idea that left wing parties fit with Christianity the best.

Those assumptions include assuming that government best meets the needs of those who are poor and unfortunate, etc. and that Jesus is recommending government action here.  Both of those are somewhat suspect to many of us.  There clearly is a role for government in the Bible, but it is mostly stated in terms of keeping civil order, etc, such as found in Romans 13.  Certainly it would not be wrong biblically for the government to provide a very foundational safety net, but a full-blown welfare state is not only beyond the biblical texts but runs into a buzz saw with the texts that speak about personal responsibility such as 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and 1 Timothy 5:8.

What is even more interesting is that, at least here in the U.S. Christians who are political conservatives donate the highest amount per capita to charities.  Unbelieving political conservatives donate the least.  Political liberals are sandwiched between them. The Christian faith obviously makes a big difference in the attitudes toward private charitable giving.  Yes, a significant amount of the charitable work work goes to religious organizations, but those organizations do a massive amount of charitible work, such as those who are doing hurricane relief right now.  Reports from the field consistently praise Christian organizations.

Here are a couple of links:

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Religious-Americans-Give-More/153973

https://www.rt.com/usa/193952-charity-conservatives-religion-utah/

https://www.americamagazine.org/content/unconventional-wisdom/blue-states-get-dinged-almanac-american-philanthropy
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« Reply #2887 on: Sep 08, 2017, 08:48PM »

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3) No PA systems in 1st century Palestine. I guess those at the back of the crowd must have had the words relayed by those closer to the front or else just not heard them.

I've always wondered about the circumstances of ancient oratory. Politicians spoke to large crowds, generals gave pep talks to large armies, Jesus preached to 5000... and typically they spoke outdoors. How did that work at all?

The accounts we have present it as if it is a perfectly normal thing that needs no explanation.

The relay notion seems unlikely.  Is there any evidence for it? Aside from wandering town crier situations where a prepared statement is being distributed over a large area.

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« Reply #2888 on: Sep 09, 2017, 12:08AM »

Of course there are a few assumptions-- presuppositions :)-- behind your idea that left wing parties fit with Christianity the best.

Those assumptions include assuming that government best meets the needs of those who are poor and unfortunate, etc. and that Jesus is recommending government action here.  Both of those are somewhat suspect to many of us.  There clearly is a role for government in the Bible, but it is mostly stated in terms of keeping civil order, etc, such as found in Romans 13.  Certainly it would not be wrong biblically for the government to provide a very foundational safety net, but a full-blown welfare state is not only beyond the biblical texts but runs into a buzz saw with the texts that speak about personal responsibility such as 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and 1 Timothy 5:8.

What is even more interesting is that, at least here in the U.S. Christians who are political conservatives donate the highest amount per capita to charities.  Unbelieving political conservatives donate the least.  Political liberals are sandwiched between them. The Christian faith obviously makes a big difference in the attitudes toward private charitable giving.  Yes, a significant amount of the charitable work work goes to religious organizations, but those organizations do a massive amount of charitible work, such as those who are doing hurricane relief right now.  Reports from the field consistently praise Christian organizations.

Here are a couple of links:

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Religious-Americans-Give-More/153973

https://www.rt.com/usa/193952-charity-conservatives-religion-utah/

https://www.americamagazine.org/content/unconventional-wisdom/blue-states-get-dinged-almanac-american-philanthropy

I've seen the link with charitable giving before; it's interesting.

I am not saying that Jesus is commending national welfare schemes here. Rather, I was comparing the motivations of the parties with the motivations of the voters - Jesus prescribes social justice, treating your fellow humans supportively - parties of the Left prescribe the same (and note that in the US there is no mainstream party that sits on the Left - to the rest of the western world partisan needling of the Democrats as "socialists" and even "communists" looks mind-bogglingly off-beam). Where Jesus doesn't prescribe a method, simply urging individuals to care, Leftward thought bands us all together to care for needy people in a co-ordinated fashion; what could be a more powerful financial force than the combined institution of the whole population that is the state? In comparison, individual donations are a haphazard thing. But both have a role to play, reality shows us.

I see no contradiction between the verses you cite and a commitment to a welfare state.
2 Thessalonians 3:10: For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
The welfare state is a safety net for those caught in situations where work is unavailable (NB most of these in the UK were seemingly deliberately generated under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative administration of the 1980s in its desire to wean Britain off heavy manufacturing, which had proven earlier a fertile recruiting ground for the Left) or they are not able to perform it. There are strenuous tests designed to weed out people who'd just prefer not to work, at the combined expense; indeed, our own UK political Right has made a rod for their own back by beefing these up in response to generic well-fed Rightwing concerns about "lazy spongers" - resulting in thousands of people with unsuitable conditions being wrongly declared fit to work (*). To divert for a moment into politics, I fear greatly that our Conservative party is deliberately running these systems down in order to make them appear bad, so that they can sell them off. It's a tactic they've used time and again with other services, and is morally a dreadful wrong in my eyes.
The precept in Thessalonians is sensibly phrased, but that in Timothy rather vexes me in its crudity; it is explicitly phrased in a way designed to make those that cannot work feel bad about themselves, which is distinctly unhelpful.

Leftward parties offer a natural fit in this way with Jesus's instructions here. Rightward parties prefer to leave the responsibility to the individual - hence the increased level of charitable giving among responsible people on the Right. We live in an era in the West in which Rightward parties grow ever more extreme and Overton windows are migrating Rightwards - the naturally sensible thing today in maintaining one's position is for one's party allegiance to apparently migrate Leftwards as one maintains one's position. In different eras, things will be different. I could use my father as an example - born in 1952, the son of some discernible privilege (with ancestry including a couple of 19th century Conservative MPs), his first political instincts in the era of the post-war consensus were to the Right; he was a member of the Young Conservatives, seeing continuity as a virtue as the overarching important point. As our parties have drifted (and sometimes dashed) Rightwards, he hasn't moved, and today finds his views much more closely represented by parties that he would once have seen as a long way Left of him.

And, speaking of different eras, what is coming? Ever-increasing automation will likely create a never-seen-before situation where large numbers of able people will greatly struggle to locate paid work. I see no help in this era but for there to be a general acceptance that many will need subsidies to exist - else most will be dirt-poor while a handful are exorbitantly wealthy - even more so than the current situation, which is already the least fair in decades. Such is a recipe for even more social instability than things like the election of Trump or Brexit, early warning signs in the process. It is incumbent on our Rightwing people to get over their aversion to welfare, else we are heading back to pre-industrial wealth divisions.

(*) Some examples:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/22/fitness-to-work-assessments-are-brutal-says-daughter-of-man-who-killed-himself
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-6m-a-year-taken-away-from-ms-sufferers-since-introduction-of-pip-figures-show-a7920206.html
http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News/Benefits-form-did-not-care-about-poor-mental-health-25082017.htm
http://www.bicesteradvertiser.net/news/bicester/15518422.Mum_of_one_calls_for_changes_to_disability_assessment/
https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/news/article/236/response_to_news_on_personal_independent_payments_pip_for_people_with_dementia
These go on and on and on - thousands of them. A toxic Rightwing current of fear that someone somewhere is getting something that they shouldn't for free has blighted the lives of thousands of the UK's most vulnerable people in the last few years.
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« Reply #2889 on: Sep 09, 2017, 08:02AM »

Matthew 6 text

Highlights

 - "The Sermon on the Mount", part 2

Summary

 - Jesus also says:
 - Don't give in order to be seen to give
 - Don't pray in order to be seen to pray
 - Use the "Lord's Prayer" (given here)
 - Look joyful when you fast rather than grimace in order to show that you are fasting
 - Earthly wealth is hollow compared to spiritual riches
 - Don't be anxious about what is coming - today is enough on its own

Questions and Observations

1) Is this the original source for the "Lord's Prayer"?
2) Again, I like the message of this chapter - 'Do things because they are right, not because you want to be seen doing right things'. Substance over style please.
3) And the coda of the chapter is good too - 'don't stress'. A wise chap, Jesus.
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« Reply #2890 on: Sep 10, 2017, 06:28AM »

It's too late now, but it would have been interesting, if a little intensive, to run Matthew, Mark and Luke together.
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« Reply #2891 on: Sep 10, 2017, 09:42AM »

We'll do it incrementally as we go through Mark and Luke.
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« Reply #2892 on: Sep 10, 2017, 09:56AM »

Matthew 7 text

Highlights

 - "The Sermon on the Mount", part 3

Summary

 - Jesus also says:
 - Don't be a hypocrite
 - Be generous, and don't be shy to ask when you are in need
 - Do as you would be done by
 - People saying harmful things are harmful people
 - Paying lip service to his religion is not enough
 - Found your positions on solidity
 - The crowds were much taken with all this

Questions and Observations

1) I hadn't realised that the Golden Rule shows up here. This (I have averred here before) is in my view the most basically helpful formalism of how to rub along; a one-sentence summary of how not to be a problem.
2) I don't recall it in the OT, but it is cited here as "for this is the Law and the Prophets". What's the reference?
3) "Beware of false prophets" is the phrase here, but this is a more generally applicable precept; treating it as a metaphor also alerts us to those that trickle poison into our ears on other subjects.
4) The famous 'build upon rock, not sand' precept reads as literal, but I choose to read more usefully as metaphorical - as it is usually read.
5) What does the contrast mean between "one who had authority" and "their scribes"?
6) All in all, in the "Sermon on the Mount", Jesus is playing a very strong game. From a secular viewpoint, I overlook the specifically Yahwist stuff (of which there is not much anyhow, and none that overdoes things in a good taste sense), and find all the general life stuff very sound.
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« Reply #2893 on: Sep 10, 2017, 11:03AM »

5) What does the contrast mean between "one who had authority" and "their scribes"?
They heard it directly from God's (the Son) mouth, rather than what they get from the Pharisees or others that merely read from the contemporary scripture.

Quote
6) All in all, in the "Sermon on the Mount", Jesus is playing a very strong game. From a secular viewpoint, I overlook the specifically Yahwist stuff (of which there is not much anyhow, and none that overdoes things in a good taste sense), and find all the general life stuff very sound.
I have to agree.  The sermon on the mount, with small exceptions, is all the 'good stuff'.  I honestly don't know what we need of the rest of either the NT or the OT, except that most of the 10 commandments were pretty good too.  Most of that is covered in the sermon though.
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« Reply #2894 on: Sep 10, 2017, 09:03PM »

They heard it directly from God's (the Son) mouth, rather than what they get from the Pharisees or others that merely read from the contemporary scripture.
I have to agree.  The sermon on the mount, with small exceptions, is all the 'good stuff'.  I honestly don't know what we need of the rest of either the NT or the OT, except that most of the 10 commandments were pretty good too.  Most of that is covered in the sermon though.

The ethical sections of the Sermon on the Mount that many of you seem to appreciate so much can't be severed from Jesus' exclusive claims to be Lord in chapter 7.  These include the call to take the narrow road instead of broad path that leads to destruction, the warnings about false prophets, and the dangers of professing faith in Christ but showing no fruit.  Jesus says very clearly that He is the rock;  any other foundation is sinking sand.

Cherry picking what you consider attractive and harmless is dishonest.  In reality the whole Sermon makes deep and ultimate claims on our lives.

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« Reply #2895 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:14AM »

An interesting viewpoint, and one that must make sense if one is on the inside. But place your head outside of your specific belief system for a moment; consider how best to approach these texts if one is fundamentally unconvinced by the non-natural stuff.

Would you deny us the clear pearls of wisdom found in these books, and in particular in this section? I will very willingly state that the raising of these ideas from Christian sources early in my life I consider to have been a major shaping force in my moral development. The fact that I went on to conclude that the non-natural stuff is an unnecessary distortion with nothing remotely compelling to suggest its validity does not change the fact that I owe this material a lot of credit.

For me (us?) to take on board the mystical aspects without a convincing demonstration would be the true dishonesty, a betrayal of consistency. Extracting the parts that aren't laden down by Yahwist baggage allows the genius to shine through to a wider audience.
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« Reply #2896 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:27AM »

An interesting viewpoint, and one that must make sense if one is on the inside. But place your head outside of your specific belief system for a moment; consider how best to approach these texts if one is fundamentally unconvinced by the non-natural stuff.

Would you deny us the clear pearls of wisdom found in these books, and in particular in this section? I will very willingly state that the raising of these ideas from Christian sources early in my life I consider to have been a major shaping force in my moral development. The fact that I went on to conclude that the non-natural stuff is an unnecessary distortion with nothing remotely compelling to suggest its validity does not change the fact that I owe this material a lot of credit.

For me (us?) to take on board the mystical aspects without a convincing demonstration would be the true dishonesty, a betrayal of consistency. Extracting the parts that aren't laden down by Yahwist baggage allows the genius to shine through to a wider audience.

The biggest reason that most people reject Faith is Pride, trust in their own understanding.

From Proverbs 3, we get a promise from God that there are fruits from our belief. Why settle for just a tiny bit?

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.
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« Reply #2897 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:34AM »

The biggest reason that most people reject Faith is Pride, trust in their own understanding.
In my case Dusty, I can state you are categorically wrong.  I have confidence in my understanding, sure ... but this is not why I reject religion and I'll be willing to bet I'm not in the minority.  Your statement sounds like something you heard and evangelist or preacher say.  Not that you will provide one, but do you have any independent source that supports you making this claim?
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« Reply #2898 on: Sep 11, 2017, 05:46AM »

I don't know that he is so wrong, if we extend him a bit of charity. One reasons oneself out of faith (though a fair number simply lose interest), and trust in one's reasoning abilities is necessary in that. One could reason to oneself how faith makes little sense, and then simply say "Oh, but I must be missing something, the Bible says so", and return unperturbed to the fold. This is how I read Dusty's thought.

But really... Casting that as a sin? The effort to intellectually improve one's reasoning abilities? That isn't usually regarded as such in Christianity's various forms... In fact it's usually regarded as a positive. It's the applying of it to this topic material with this conclusion that is being disparaged here.
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« Reply #2899 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:26AM »

Matthew 8 text

Highlights

 - Diuerse miracles

Summary

 - After the sermon, Jesus heals the following:
 - A leper; a centurion's servant of paralysis, in absentia; Peter's MIL, of fever; Diverse persons possessed by daemons
 - Jesus grows weary of being constantly pestered
 - He also forbids a disciple from burying his father, telling him to leave the body for others to deal with
 - He and companions get into a boat, which gets into difficulties in storm conditions
 - Jesus tells the weather to stop it, and it does; people are impressed
 - They disembark on the SE shore, in the territory of the Gadarenes, and meet two men possessed by daemons; the daemons plead for mercy, asking to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs; Jesus does this, and the herd rushes into the water and drowns itself
 - Impressed and fearful, the city people come out to meet him, and ask him to depart from their territory

Questions and Observations

1) The forbidding of the disciple (which one, incidentally? At this point the father of a disciple can be one of only two people) from burying their father does not seem of a piece with the wise and graceful precepts that we've been reading. This seems unnecessary and hurtful.
2) The Gadarenes were the citizens of Gadara, SE of the Sea of Galilee, one of the cities of the Decapolis.
3) Here we have a whole chapter of physically implausible happenings, collected into one place to impress us with. There are various possible reasons for this chapter: i) It's a factual report; ii) It's an honestly meant report of real events that's undergone substantial inflation and elaboration from reality; iii) It's an honestly meant report of previously falsified events; iv) It's a deliberate inflation and elaboration of real events; v) It's a deliberate falsification. I withhold speculation on what sequence of events led to us reading this passage as it is, other than to note that the contents conflict heavily with any obvious naturalistic reading, and that it was written down decades after the events.
4) Though there seems little point in applying normal standards of logic to these episodes, the episode with the pigs is odd. The daemons begged for clemency, which he granted - but then their pig bodies were destroyed. I can't imagine that the pigs were very pleased about this either.
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