New Testament

#DimensionSteve (Theme Song Edition)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 16 February 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)

Notes and quotes from Steve Benen, at MaddowBlog, 20 February 2017:

#ProbablyNot: “If it makes Sweden feel any better, many Americans often have no idea what Trump is saying, either.”

#WatersEdge: “As a factual matter, the senator is a Maverick in Name Only.”

#WhatTheyVotedFor: “There’s no reason to go along with this as if it were somehow normal.”

#GettingWorseNotBetter: “Republicans may be eager to blast Democratic ‘obstruction’ and partisan delays, but the truth of the matter is simple: Democrats can’t block nominees who don’t exist.”

#McCarthysMouth: “That’s the kind of quote that could use some clarification.”

#Backfill: “The era of ‘fuzzy math’ is back with a vengeance.”

#WhyGovernmentDoesntWork: “So, the nation’s Education Secretary, even now, isn’t sure the position she now holds should exist―apparently because she’s still not on board with the idea of having a federal Department of Education, which she now leads.”

#MatthewFifteenElevenα: “The president is himself on board with the ‘Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said’ approach to foreign policy.”

#PutiPoodle: “Why Cohen would tell two very different stories to two different newspapers is unclear.”

#YesWeHave: “Have we really reached the point at which Trump World is so accustomed to pushing bogus and misleading information that even the president’s golfing is fair game?”

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A Question of Faith, and Other Notes

Detail of 'Corpus Hypercubus', by Salvador Dali, 1954.

“What we have in the Gospel of John is a biblical portal between Christianity and Islam. If we choose to walk through it in faith we will discover that our religions issue from the same divine source; we will discover that we are siblings in faith, meant to bear witness to the truth side by side (John 15:26-27) and collaborate in manifesting God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Rev. Dr. Ian Mevorach

Quite honestly, the first thing to mind reading through the Rev. Dr. Ian Mevorach’s reflection on the Gospel of John as a predictor of Islam is to recall that nobody has quite figured out how to deal with the question of pages or single-page, the difference between flipping back and forth and scrolling up and down.

And it’s true; in the end, books still have contexts that the internet simply can’t match.

As to useful commentary, though, we might simply start with the milquetoast proposition that it is a strong, albeit obscure effort; it is easy enough to say, “Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, Joseph Smith”, but actually drawing the connections that run deeper than the superficial, obvious point of “Abramism” is harder, and seemingly offers a low return on investment unless the larger community of the corpus Christi decides to pay genuine, faithful attention. That is to say, this is not the kind of discussion suited to sound bites.

And, of course, we ought not pretend that any given Muslim will agree, or even appreciate the effort.

Still, though, Mevorach’s missive is intended for Christians, and in that context it is worth suggesting that the basic term synoptic gospels, in my own experience, actually confuses many Christians who never learned what the phrase means; one wonders just how obscure the question of Christianizing the Hebrew experience post hoc actually is. It doesn’t come up much in broader discourse, but is also at the heart of a dispute among Christians regarding the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which was in turn replaced by the New Revised Standard Version, and there are plenty who claim the further revision only made the problem worse; the original complaint was that the RSV showed too much respect to the Hebrew experience. (No, really, part of this was about whether Christians should rewrite the definitions of Hebrew words in order to smooth rough spots on the long-accepted article of faith that Jesus fulfilled old prophecies.)

The sum of that critique, quite simply, is that Mevorach’s entry for the Huffington Post probably won’t find much audience among those Christians who most need reminding. To that end, we can only wish the Reverend good luck and Godspeed.

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Mevorach, Ian. “Did Jesus Predict Muhammad? A Biblical Portal Between Christianity and Islam”. The Huffington Post. 25 April 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Artful Dodger)

Donald Trump.

“Watching the video, it’s hard not to get the impression that Trump almost certainly hasn’t read the Bible; he probably doesn’t have a favorite verse; and the GOP White House hopeful has no idea what the differences are between the Old and New Testaments.”

Steve Benen

Uh … ya think?

The thing is that Donald Trump is clearly pulling a really simple sales bit; indeed, as annoying as we might find the man, we might also sympathize with the part of him that wrestles with the question of whether or not he believes they’re really gobbling it up like this.

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The Tragedy of Bigotry

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.At a time when Jesus is entirely absent from the American Christian voice, Chris Sosa wants to lend them a hand in empowering their bigotry:

Feigning respect for someone else’s sacred text as a moral guidebook doesn’t just reinforce bad ideas, it’s not even effective. Right-wing Christians already know that most liberals don’t actually care what the Bible has to say about moral values, science or even literal history. When secular liberals attempt to argue with devout believers about the actual content of sacred texts by claiming they actually mean the inverse of what’s on the page, it comes off as absurd. No one wins.

This sort of aid and comfort for bigotry is simply unwelcome. The fact is that Christ is entirely absent from Christian bigotry against homosexuals, and nothing will change that, not even Sosa’s abject hatred toward Christians:

The next time someone tells you that the Bible condemns your entire existence, consider responding: “You’re right. And I, along with millions of open and affirming people across this great country, do not care. You shouldn’t either.”

While it is true that Jesus said nothing about gays whatsoever, the alleged Savior did speak much of compassion. And as Sosa’s solution is not to appeal to the Christianity of Christians, but, rather, to demean his fellow human beings’ faith as utterly meaningless, it is pretty easy to say with absolute confidence that we do not need this manner of hatred in our lives.

Chris Sosa is a bigot. Chris Sosa is part of the problem.

There are plenty of things about Christian faith requiring some sort of reassessment in the twenty-first century, but there is already too much coldhearted indifference on the table. Then again, I suppose this is what is valuable to Chris Sosa, so it must be worth something. ‘Tis a pity in that regard, as it is worth more than he would afford his Christian neighbors.

Or maybe he is just hoping to justify his hatred. Either way, Sosa’s advice is worse than useless; it is dangerous.

But, hey, what is danger unto a Christian? No big deal, as long as your name is Chris Sosa.

I mean, hell, even Christ was gay. But that matters none to bigots, as Mr. Sosa has so coldly reminded.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.

Sosa, Chris. “Fellow Liberals, Please Stop Claiming Jesus Accepts LGBT People”. The Huffington Post. 14 April 2015.

Christian Faith and Character in Idaho

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Jesus Christ

The word from Laura Zuckerman of Reuters:

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Members of a county Republican Party in Idaho are to take up a measure on Tuesday evening that would declare the state a Christian one to bolster what the proposal calls the “Judeo-Christian bedrock of the founding of the United States.”

The resolution to be voted on by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is non-binding, meaning it does not have the effect of laws or rules.

The proposal seeks that Idaho be “formally and specifically declared a Christian state,” guided by a Judeo-Christian faith reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence where all authority and power is attributed to God, the resolution reads.

The measure argues that the Christian faith is under “strident attack” in the United States, and cites as evidence the absence of Christian traditions and symbols in public institutions such as schools.

To the one, we have yet another reminder that for many, “equality” can only mean “supremacism”.

To the other, we have yet another reminder that conservatives prefer to pretend their piety before others than actually live their faith.

Bottom line: If the Christians can’t be Christian, why should anyone else?

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Image note: Detail of Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, 1987.

Zuckerman, Laura. “Republicans propose declaring Idaho a ‘Christian state'”. Reuters. 24 February 2015.