Actually THIS is what I have been building..

By jreighley - Last updated: Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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What I have been up to..

By jreighley - Last updated: Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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Does Christianity have an academic hearsay problem?

By jreighley - Last updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The other night at our church bible study,  the speaker made a point that I have heard many times before.  It is a very compelling point, that really seems to be one of these “Checkmate” kind of “eureka” slam dunk proofs for Christ being obviously the  messiah, so long as you believe the academic analysis.

It goes something like this:

Gen 49:10 says: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”

Then the argument  proceeds that the scepter of self rule left Judah in 6 AD, when Judah became a Roman province and lost the power to perform capital punishment.

That seems like a bit of a stretch to many.   Didn’t Judah lose its right to self rule during the exile to Babylon?  How about the many occupations?  Well, the proponents argue that no,  Judah still had some for of leadership during these periods, and was still allowed to police itself with it’s own religious law.

Really?  Okay, lets see some proof.

The slam dunk proof is cited:  “”Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come!”” Supposedly from the The Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 4, folio 37

If the Jews of the day understood the scepter to have departed in 6AD, certainly that is a correct understanding.

A couple of us had an unusual amount of skepticism regarding this quote, and the discussion of it went way longer than one would expect considering it was a rather  minor sub-point in the talk.   We agreed to research it further.

Wanting to see the context,  I searched the Babylonian Talmud for the passage, and had trouble finding it.

It is also quoted as “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them: they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us for the sceptre has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come‘” (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, 24)

The Jerusalem Talmud is a bit harder to search for us non Hebrew reading folks.  I was still unable to find it.  (Maybe one of you can)

I doubt it though –  in my search, I ran across this blog post investigating the same thing.

In the comments of that post, the author mentions that he contacted Josh McDowell asking about his use of these quotes in his book “New Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and he recieved this reply from McDowell’s staff:

“This quotation in *New Evidence that Demands a Verdict *is not correct. The quotation does not appear in the Babylonian Talmud at all, nor does it appear in other versions of the Talmud. I had a librarian at Talbot School of Theology research this for several months, and it appears to be a mistaken quotation that dates back several hundred years to a Latin commentary on the Talmud. Josh used a secondary source for his quotation, apparently a book called *Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, *a book by a Frenchman named M.M. Lemann. The English translation by Julius Magath was published in 1886. Lemann uses this quotation, and cites a Latin commentary by Raymond Martin called *Pugio fidei, *p 872. I have left this Latin quotation with a professor who knows both Hebrew and Latin to get the literal translation, but have not heard back from him.

“We deeply regret that this information in the *New Evidence *is not correct.
We apologize for the inconvenience to you. It will be corrected in future editions of *Evidence that Demands a Verdict.*”

This argument is repeated time and time again all over the internet.  Most every time, If the author is kind enough to footnote his work,  it is either citing McDowell or Lemann.

I would love some reaction from some of you who are academically capable of confirming my analysis, but I suspect that we have a problem, and I find little evidence that this particular quote isn’t a bad case of “Telephone”.  A lie that has been repeated enough to be credible.

I hope I am wrong..

This doesn’t change the fact that Christ IS the messiah.  It just means that we have been using one piece of tainted evidence to argue our case.

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Till we get this right, we will get everything else wrong.

By jreighley - Last updated: Friday, September 7, 2012

The Anti-Thesis of today’s America can be found in the 10th commandment  “Thou shall not covet”.

Coveting is the cornerstone of modern capitalism.   We have entire industries devoted to fueling our covetousness.  This same advertizing  industry pays for the production of the bulk of the media that we ingest every day.

When you disobey God, there tend to be consequences.   Not because he is a big meany in the sky, but because He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He tends to warn us against things that may seem benign to us and our limited perspective, but are actually quite perilous if one where to be able to see the full story.

Kinda like when you 4 year-old asks really nicely if he can use the razor blade to parse his play-doh.  Uhm..  “bad idea, no.”

Americans are rich.  There may be an exception here or there, but by and large, 90 percent of us are richer than 90 percent of the world.  If I compare today to 1985 for example.  Even the poorest among us are sporting a pretty wide array of  luxury items.   We don’t notice this because they aren’t classified as “luxury items” anymore.  But the function of a VCR or a cellphone still provides the same luxury it did in 85.

While we are rich, we are also financially stressed.  Why?  Because by and large our culture pushes us to live beyond our means.  “You deserve it” our television tells us.  So we buy that car for 350 dollars per month.  We continue indulging until we are the limit of our cash flow risk tolerance.  When we are at the limit of our tolerances, we are stressed.

Economies surge and wane.  This is natural.  People have different economic needs and capacities to produce at different ages, so demographics cause fluctuations.  Technologies have life-cycles as well — A new invention may be bought at first by just a few, then gradually economies of scale develop and it becomes accessible to the masses,  then eventually the market becomes saturated, and demand declines.   Investment money also surges and wanes in abundance and risk tolerance at various times depending on the landscape of options available.  These are just a couple of examples – there are probably thousands of factors that contribute to economic cycles.

The motivational speakers usually have a message that goes something like this:  “If you put your mind to something, you can get it”  And they are right..  The part that they leave out is “because you are so focused on your goal that you will fail to care about what you have to sacrifice and who you have to step on in order to achieve it”

America is obsessed with consumption and it elects representatives that reflect the same ethic.

Both political parties worship mammon (economic prosperity) .  “It’s the economy, stupid” is the central point of debate on both sides.  Every downturn in the economy suddenly requires a massive federal stimulus  to fix. Why?  Because the constituents have zero contentment.  A representative government is going to serve the idol of it’s electorate.

That means sacrificing our grandchildren’s future on the altar of today’s prosperity.

The problem I have with most of my liberal friends is that they don’t believe in the consequences of the consumptive policies that they propose.  Government spending is unsustainable.

The problem I have with my conservative friends is that they tend to see the consequences, but they still frame the debate through the lens of the same idol.  If you frame the debate around unrealistic expectations of economic prosperity, we ought not be surprised when our elected officials do whatever it takes to maintain at least the illusion of economic prosperity.

Until Americans as a whole repent of their covetousness, and find contentment, they cannot be surprised when their representative government does what it can to appease them.  The government will stay corrupt as long as the people stay corrupt.

The well designed system is such that it is self-correcting however.  Math does not lie.  When the inevitable comes, it will re-arrange our priorities and values of the people.  Unsustainable idols can be worshiped for a while, but in the end, they will let us down, and we will cease to sacrifice to them anymore.



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How facebook ‘slacktivism’ sucks time.

By jreighley - Last updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012

Okay, so one of my facebook friends commented on this photo today:

The commenter tends to be conservative, so I assume that their comment was one of 4000 or so that said something like “No Thanks!” or “This country will be broke with 4 more years” etc etc..

I am not sure because I wasn’t going to sort through 10000 comments to read one. I did scan through several of them they where probably 60 40 in the affirmative for what the photo was promoting..

In previous days I saw my liberal friends post to conservative propaganda as well, so if you commented on this photo and are reading this, I am not picking on you specifically.

But all in all, I thought what a massive waste of time this is!

Is anyone really going to read comment 7486 from George in Tennessee and think “Wow, I hadn’t looked at it that way, now I am going to vote for Romney!”

Lets do some math… The photo has been up for 5 hours. 60 minutes times 5 hours = 300 minutes. 10000 comments divided by 300 = 33.333 comments per minute. Facebook shows 6 comments per photo unless you press the more button. That means that you comment is going to be noticeable for all of 5 and a half seconds.  Of the people who open that photo during the 5.5 seconds, what percentage are going to read the comments?  Maybe 25%?  Maybe.  And how many of those folks are going to be open minded enough to read it and give it consideration?  I suspect that if they are passionate enough to open the photo to comment on it, their mind is probably already made up one way or another.

I would assume most people spent 30-60 seconds composing, typing and proofreading their comment, so lets round it to 45 seconds per comment. 45 seconds * 10000 comments means that approximately 45000 seconds where invested in the “dialog” in total by the commenter. 45000/60/60 = 125 man hours. And counting.

All in all, we are investing massive amounts of time and  ego  scuffling our thoughts into a vast pit of ones and zeros. The chances of any of this making an ounce of difference in even one voter’s mind is probably so close to nil you may as well buy a lottery ticket..  And this is just one of many, many posts just like it.

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Why political discourse is futile in America.

By jreighley - Last updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nobody listens.

Everyone builds a strawman caricature mildly similar their opponent. Assign the least appealing policies and ideas to such and opponent, and then ignore and dismiss any explanation that the real guy gives to why he is different than the made up caricature.

As a result, we rarely talk about the merits of any policy, just the demerits. And only in the echo chamber of our own camp. Because really, who wants to hear their guy slandered? Lets just change the channel to the other side — Fox tends to slander the left, while MSNBC and to a lesser degree CNN tend to slander the right.

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A widely ignored exerpt from “Fidelity”

By jreighley - Last updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012

The critics accuse Doug Wilson of teaching that men are to dominate their wives in the bedroom.

They use a quote from the chapter on RAPE and pretend like he is talking about how men should treat their wives.

This is not his teaching.  The same book dismisses such nonsense.

Update — The quote appears to be unavailable.. To summarize it was a Q &A

Q: Does my wife have to have sex with me whenever I want?
A: Don’t be a Fathead.

Q: I was serious
A: (paraphrasing here I don’t have access to the text) She does, but remember you also have to refrain when she wants to refrain. She has authority over your body too.

Those who say Doug Wilson’s “Conquest” quote is referring to a marital relationship are very mistaking. Slanderously so.. He is contending that A marriage is the only place where you can be safe from feeling that way. Based on what I have overheard from young men in locker rooms and taverns, and from what I have heard from Ladies who have been seduced, used, and left, His quote pretty accurately describes the process. It is offensively ugly, that is why we need to do it God’s way.



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By jreighley - Last updated: Friday, June 15, 2012

One of the annoyances I have been complaining about is our tendency as evangelicals to leave God as a proposition.

In this clip, Francis Chan demonstrates what the exact opposite of that looks like.


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Another example of what happens when we preach darwinism but fail to heed it.

By jreighley - Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2012

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Magic memory trick I pulled on myself today.

By jreighley - Last updated: Saturday, April 14, 2012

Somebody lifted my Debit card and placed a bunch of unauthorized charges on it.

I of course cancelled the card and the bank is sending me a new one.

Today I opened the mail and recieved a new PIN for the yet unrecieved Debit card.

I looked at it for a millisecond or ten and thought “I always change those at the bank right after I get them.”  So, I tore off the PIN for future reference and placed the remainder of the mailer in the trash.

About 8 hours later, I took the trash out.  I looked into the garbage and I saw the mailer with the missing corner torn out.

Suddenly the thought appeared in my head. “Hmm,  I think that PIN is just like my alarm code at work”

I opened my wallet, took out the inversely shaped scrap of paper, and sure enough, the first 3 digits where exactly the same, and in the same sequence.  The final one was different, but it was a mixing ups 3’s and 8’s,   Pretty darn impressive for as long as I glanced at it.

That definitely was from a part of my brain I don’t know how to use.  I was blown away.




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