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This man is one of my heroes. For the last 14-15 years, John Wojnowski has protested outside the Vatican’s US embassy, seeking reparations for sexual abuse victims like himself. His signs have been vandalized by priests and he’s been spit upon by an aide to the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States. Still, sunny days, cold days, nearly every day he’s there on the corner with his banners.

“Wojnowski sees himself as a David: a righteous nobody at war with a colossus. He described himself to me variously as a cripple, a failure, a weakling, a naif. The forces in league against him, by contrast, were malevolent, arrogant, cowardly, parasitic.

“I’m a poor, ignorant peasant fighting this global institution,” he says. “If a person has a drop of honor, he cannot give up.””

via The Passion of John Wojnowski – Washingtonian.com

Further reading:
Christian Priests Convicted for Sexual Abuse
Database of Publicly Accused Priests in the United States

LA Church Files Show How Cardinal Roger Mahony Shielded Pedophile Priest, Failed Child Victims

Thousands of pages of confidential records from the files of 14 priests accused of sex abuse were made public Monday that show retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top church officials worked to shield priests who sexually abused children and protect the archdiocese from scandal.

Oh, you’re not so surprised?

I don’t know how I managed to stumble across this review page on GoodReads.com, but I found it hilarious and accurate, so I wanted to share.
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Keely rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the inconsolably confused
Shelves: contemporary-fiction, fantasy, religion, reviewed

“I usually like historical fiction, but this particular example has been so mitigated by the poorly-hidden didactic tautology of its too-many-cooks legion of anonymous authors and editors that it was rather difficult to enjoy. It also fell into a similar trap to the somewhat similar ‘Da Vinci Code’, in that it utilized a lot of poorly-researched materials and claimed them as fact.

A lot of the data matched up poorly with other historical accounts, especially when it came to numerical data. It seems that the authors of this book had a need for an epic beyond epics, and several bodycounts beyond the capability of a pre-modern war.

There was also a problem with the moral and ethical position presented by the book. Normally, I’m not one to nit-pick about such things, since the exploration of ethicism is an important and interesting philosophical task; but, again, this book went in so many different directions with it that it was difficult to keep up. Though the intermittent noir-ish first-person narrative made a lot of moral claims about peace and justice and acceptance, the actual actions depicted by the self-same ‘protagonist’ were often in complete contrast, such as when he killed all the people in the world except one family.

In fact, the entire book seemed to be filled with sensationalist violence, sex, and incest. It’s surprising that I haven’t heard more crimes blamed on this book, which often orders the reader to kill people by throwing stones at them (I’ve heard the sequel, the Qur’an, is even worse).

Eventually, I began to suspect that the book was some sort of in-joke. I think that when all of the editors and writers saw what the other ones were writing, they decided to take their names off the book. Eventually, I guess they just decided to pull a sort of ultimate ‘Alan Smithee'; but of course, once all culpability is gone, I think a lot of the authors lost their will to make this into a good book, and so it just got published ‘as is’.

I know there are a lot of fans of this book, which makes sense, I guess, since it is really a lot like that Da Vinci Code book, which was also a bestseller. It is pretty fantastical and has a lot of really strong characters, like Jesus (though he’s a bit of a Mary-Sue, isn’t he?) and Onan. One of the main reasons I read it was because there’s this really awesome Fanfic this guy Milton wrote about it, and apparently a lot of other authors were inspired by it, but I have to admit, this is one case where the Fanfic is a lot better than the original.

I guess it’s like how sometimes, the first example of a genre ends up not really fitting because it feels so unsophisticated and erratic. I know that it can take a long time to try to get these ideas down pat. Maybe someone will rewrite it someday and try to get it to make some sense. Then again, it wasn’t that great in the first place.

There was some really great writing in the book, though. Some of the poetic statements were really cool, like ‘do unto others’ or ‘through a glass darkly’, but I heard that those parts were stolen from Shakespeare, who stole them from Kyd, so I’m not really sure what to believe.

I think this is one of those cases where the controversy surrounding the book really trumps the book itself, like ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ or ‘Gigli’. In fact, the Bible is a lot like Gigli.”

First, some background etymology from Wikipedia:

Sodomy (/ˈsɒdəmi/) is any non-penile/vaginal copulation-like act, such as oral or anal sex, or sex between a person and an animal. The word is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in chapters 18 and 19 of the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

The term comes from the Ecclesiastical Latin: peccatum Sodomiticum, or “sin of Sodom” and derives from the Greek word Σόδομα Sódoma.[2] The Book of Genesis (chapters 18-20) tells how God wished to destroy the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels (literally “messengers”) are invited by Lot to take refuge with his family for the night. The men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that he bring the messengers out, so that they can “know” them. Lot protests that the “messengers” are his guests, and offers them his virgin daughters instead, but the Sodomites threaten to “do worse” with Lot than with his guests; whereupon the angels strike the Sodomites blind, “so that they wearied themselves to find the door.” (Genesis 19:4-11, KJV)

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The next time someone tries to tell me that the Bible is the inerrant and true word of God and that it could never lose it’s meaning over it’s many translations and updates, I’m going to ask them this question: Why doesn’t the word sodomite appear anywhere in the NIV translation? I stumbled upon this when I tried to do a keyword search for the term “sodomite” over at Bible Gateway, first in the NIV, which returned nothing, and then in the The Authorized King James Version:

Deuteronomy 23:17
KJV – There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

NIV – No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.
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1 Kings 14:24
KJV – And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

NIV – There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
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1 Kings 15:12
KJV – And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

NIV – He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made.
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1 Kings 22:46
KJV – And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.

NIV – He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa.
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2 Kings 23:7
KJV – And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.

NIV – He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women did weaving for Asherah.
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What do you think? Does the act of replacing the word sodomites with the words “male shrine prostitutes” change the message? Why would they take such pains to remove this word and it’s ties to the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah (the destruction of unrighteous men AND women)? In my opinion, it’s a good way to prove that no one should rely too heavily on their personal interpretation of specific verses because at this point, the modern English of the NIV (as one given example) really doesn’t translate well back to the Old English of the KJV, and certainly falls several degrees from the original Hebrew and Greek. This is just one noteworthy example.

Contradictions in the Bible

Click the image to see it larger in a PDF. Thanks to contemplatingstardust for the links. Though I’ve posted about this among other networks, I don’t think I’ve ever linked to it here at SDID. Perfect opportunity, since it’s been the topic of discussion lately.

People ask, “you were raised a Christian, how did you become an atheist?”
I reply, “I studied my Bible.”

What types of things does the Bible command that we no longer find morally acceptable or applicable to our modern lives, you might ask?

I have comprised a brief list of verses. The first set are from the Old Testament, most dealing with those individuals God deems worthy of being put to death:

  • Deut 17:12 says to kill anyone who rejects the verdict of a judge or priest.
  • Ex 22:17 says you should not allow a witch to live.
  • Lev 20:13 orders death for all gays.
  • Lev 20:27 says fortunetellers and spiritual mediums are to be stoned to death.
  • Ex 21:15 commands the execution of anyone who hits their mother or father.
  • Prov 20:20 and Lev 20:9 say anyone who curses their mother or father deserves the death penalty.
  • Lev 20:10 says adulterers are to be put to death.
  • Deut 13:1-5, Deut 18:20-22, and Zech 13:3 say to kill false prophets.
  • 2 Chron 15:12-13, Deut 13:7-12, Deut 13:13-19 and Deut 17:2-5 order death to nonbelievers and followers of other faiths.
  • Deut 22:20-21 says to kill women who are not virgins on their wedding night.
  • Ex 31:12-15 says to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath.
  • Ex 21 outlines the laws for ownership and trading of slaves.

And here are a few examples taken from among the 613 commandments AKA, the Law of Moses. Some of them might seem ridiculous, but it is wise to remember that some Orthodox Jews and devout Christians still recognize some of these as the Lord’s commands, even in the modern era, while other laws have been completely done away with.

  • Lev 3:17 – The eating of fat is prohibited forever.
  • Lev 19:27 – Men must not shave their beards with a razor.
  • Lev 19:28 – No tattoos and/or surgery.
  • Deut 16:2 – Don’t erect a pillar in a public place of worship.
  • Deut 22:29 – The rapist must marry his victim if she is unwed and may not divorce her.
  • Ex 21:2 – Do not benefit from an ox condemned to be stoned.
  • Lev 22:15 – Not to eat untithed fruits.
  • Deut 15:2 and Deut 24:10 – Debtors are not to pressure or claim from the borrower nor forcibly take collateral.
  • Lev 2:13 – Salt all sacrifices.
  • Lev 19:19 – Don’t wear clothing made of mixed fibers.
  • Lev 11:7-8 – The pig is unclean and not to be eaten nor are their carcasses to be touched.
  • Lev. 14:2-52 – To cleanse a leper, kill a bird, then dip a live bird in the blood of the dead one, sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly free. Next, kill a lamb, wipe some of its blood on the leper’s right ear, thumb, and big toe then sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on their right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Then find another pair of birds, kill one, dip the live bird in the dead bird’s blood again. Wipe some blood on the patient’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. And finally, sprinkle the house with blood seven times. (Nah, that doesn’t sound at all like modern-day black-magic-voodoo-sorcery.)

Onward now to seldom practiced commandments from the New Testament:

  • Matt 6:5-6 (also repeated in other gospels) says not to pray in public like the hypocrites but in private, and in Matt 6:16-18, Jesus likewise says to fast in secret as well.
  • 1 Cor 11:2-16 says a woman is not to pray or prophesy without covering her head because of the angels and because she is not equal to man.
  • Col 3:5, Eph 5:3-4 and 5:5 stress that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, nor impurity of any kind, nor of greed.
  • Matt 5:44 here Jesus instructs, love your enemies.
  • Matt 6:19-21 says not to lay up treasures for yourself, and in verse 19:21, Jesus instructs, “sell everything you have and give it to the poor.”
  • Matt 23:9 Jesus warns not to call any earthly man Rabbi, Father or Master.
  • Luke 6:30 commands, give to every man that asketh of thee.
  • 1 Pet 3:3-4 and 1 Tim 2:9 say women are to be modest and should not beautify themselves on the outside, forbidding gold jewelry, fancy or expensive clothing, hair braids and the like.
  • Eph 5:18 says do not get drunk.
  • Rom 1:24-32 says gays and sinners deserve the death penalty (or eternal damnation, depending on your interpretation).
  • Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 5:9-13, 2 Cor 6:14-17, Eph 5:5-7, 2 Thess 3:6 and 14, 2 Tim 2:16, Tit 3:10-11, 2 John 10, all say not to marry, eat, associate with or even greet non-Christians, fornicators, heretics, drunkards, idolaters, or those who disagree with your religious views.
  • 1 Cor 7:10-11 says the Lord commands a married wife to stay with her husband, but if she does depart, she is not to remarry or reconcile with her ex.
  • 1 Cor 14:34 says women are to be silent in the churches, they are not permitted to speak. Note also, they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
  • Rom 13:8 commands, owe no man anything.
  • 1 Pet 2:13-16 says to submit to your rulers and governments.

Which ones do your religion ask you to adhere to and which are acceptable to disregard?

It’s interesting to note that all of the 10 commandments are echoed numerous times throughout the New Testament with the exception of one, that being to keep the Sabbath holy. What’s more, the New Testament refers to old laws often and with high regard, for instance, laws regarding charity, the love and fear of God, justice, mercy and so on. Jesus studied these laws, lived by them and quoted them often, instructing his followers to keep the old commandments (Matthew 15:4 and 19:17-19, also repeated in other gospels).

Also noteworthy, there are plenty of OT commandments that were not reiterated in the New Testament, which modern day Judeo-Christian society still adhere to, for instance, swearing in God’s name to confirm the truth when deemed necessary by court (Deut. 10:20), or deciding by majority when there is a disagreement (Ex. 23:2). When speaking of what pleases and displeases God, the books and letters of the New Testament often refer to what was known of God from the Old Testament scripture. Though surely not the only text, the Septuagint was a major source for Jesus and the Apostles. History reminds us that early Christians did not believe the old law was to be done away with entirely, and used it up until the 1800s to justify burning witches and heretics, decimating entire communities of Jews and non-believers, slavery, and war, just to mention a few. It’s easy to see how today’s Christians can still point to both Old and New Testaments to justify their ongoing hatred for homosexuality, even though it could be argued that Jesus was silent on the issue, and even though they themselves fall short of the commandments directly given by Jesus (and by Paul to the members of the early church). There have always been differences of opinion among Christians and Jews alike as to which Old Testament laws, if any, still apply. Therein lies the punchline to the joke. We, as a society, define what is morally acceptable. Not God.

A few more verses, then I’ll wrap things up, promise…

Lev 19:37 “And ye shall observe all My statutes, and all Mine ordinances, and do them: I am the LORD.”

John 15:9-11 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Look here, Jesus says he has obeyed his father’s commands. Would he even bother if he found them unworthy of practicing? Perhaps the better question would be, would God do the very things he disliked and commanded others not to do just because he took the form of flesh and blood? Certainly not if he/they were perfect, and certainly not if he/they were trying to set an example for others.

1 John 2:3-11 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Did you catch that? It says that whoever does not do as he commands is a liar. But if they claim to live in him, they must walk as Jesus did. How did Jesus live? By his father’s commandments. When Satan tested Jesus, did Jesus quote his own mantra or did he rebuke him with OT scripture?

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Further, in Matt 5:17-18 Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Did Jesus come to abolish the old law? No. He came as a replacement for the yearly animal sacrifice so that it would no longer be a requirement for salvation. Period. To believe otherwise is to admit in believing in an imperfect god who grows and learns from his mistakes.

Now tell me, can you answer the question posed in the image above? Because if Yahweh had his way now like he did back then, most of your friends, most of your family members, and probably even you and I deserve to die by the hands of those who faithfully serve him. And if the fellas who wrote the New Testament, founders of the early church, are to be taken literally, and if their letters are to be considered the inspired word of God, I know an awful lot of Christians who are going to burn in eternal flame.

Take a moment to think about it. Where do your morals come from? Mine certainly don’t come from an incredulous book in which 3/4ths of the rules don’t apply because a supposed all-knowing, perfect god made the mistake of giving people too many ridiculous rules and so changed his mind, and even though he is all-powerful, the only way to fix things was to come to earth as his own son and sacrifice himself to redeem a single species on a tiny planet in a little galaxy in an ever expanding universe, one of possibly many, in order to give them the “free” choice of serving him forever or eternal torture in a hell he created but wouldn’t have had need for if he never created evil. Or gays. Oops. I’ve examined too closely again, haven’t I? Sorry, but there’s no way I’m buying it. In case you haven’t already guessed, I don’t believe the Bible is to be taken literally. The Old Testament is a bunch of stories that were passed down through generations and the New Testament was mostly written by one man several decades after Jesus supposedly lived.

Morality is difficult to define and what we deem acceptable social behavior differs from one group of folks to another. Morality continues to change as we continue to grow. We have created an incredibly complex justice system and though it’s far from perfect, we have adapted laws that largely reflect what we presently understand to be right/wrong, humane/inhumane, equality/inequality, and protect us from abuse of power. But progress cannot occur so long as we’re referring to ancient texts written by misogynistic, superstitious, uneducated men to govern our actions and modern laws. I don’t, and deep down, you know that you don’t either. We know better. We are better. We’ve evolved.