Book Review #23

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

Christian Apologists insist that Atheists “rebel against God,” or “deny God,” or, “have something against God,” usually attached to a baseless claim that they do it so that they can ‘sin’.  This old Atheist – especially as I get older and older – certainly doesn’t.  My sinning days are long past.  Substitute the word unicorn, for God.  I don’t rebel against unicorns.  I don’t deny unicorns.  I don’t have something against unicorns.  I would love it if they actually existed.  I just don’t see any evidence for either.

Like most other Atheists that I know, as the specter of my imminent demise looms closer and closer, I would welcome the existence of a God, a Savior, Salvation, Heaven and Eternal Life.  In the futile hope of some proof, I sometimes seek the knowledge and opinions of experts.

The Book: Jesus Interrupted

The Author: Bart Ehrman

The review:  I start with an author whose name made me suspect that he was Jewish.  I thought that I might get a glimpse of the New Testament from the outside.  I was mistaken and disappointed.  Still, he attended three prestigious theological colleges, has degrees, and letters behind his name.  He should know something.  He has published over 20 books about different aspects of the New Testament.

He now teaches at a theological college.  He says that, almost without exception, each year’s new batch of students think they do – but really don’t – have any idea of what the Bible actually says.  He laid out a trail of over a hundred examples of Biblical errors, contradictions, misinterpretations, insertions, deletions, forgeries, books credited to Paul or the Apostles but actually written by someone else.

A couple of the forgeries made it into the Canon.  A few of the books which seem valid to researchers were left out.  The four Apostolic Gospels, and Paul’s writings, don’t agree with each other.  He admits that they were intentionally skewed (deceptive propaganda) to mislead different groups, to get them to join the movement.  Of the graduates who go on to become priests, preachers or ministers, he has never heard of one who teaches, or even mentions, any of this to their congregations.

As I was reading this book, I encountered a female Atheist blogger who was reading one of his other books.  She thought that he was, at least, an Agnostic.  In my book, he says that he is a non-denominational Christian.  He shows how modern Christian dogma and Orthodoxy came into being, just because the group centered in Rome – weren’t true and correct – just better organized and more powerful. 

After all of this, he says that he ignores all these inconvenient details, and believes in Christ as a Savior, because the underlying story is so uplifting.  He claims that he will not officially join a particular religion or Christian Denomination until he finds one which doesn’t harass or marginalize females or LGBTQ.  😯  Well, good luck with that.

Each year, when it comes time to teach why the Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, he shows them how He does not fill the requirements in Hebrew religious law.  To them, Jesus was just an itinerant, apocalyptic rabbi, who claimed to speak for God.  He uses the analogy of how foolish it would be for Christians to accept the similar claims of David Koresh, of Waco’s Branch Davidian.  Each year, at least one student complains on their professor evaluation form, “I can’t believe that Ehrman believes that David Koresh is the Lord of the Universe.”  He finds it amusing.  I find it amusing that he does not see the irony.

As always, I had hoped to learn something new.  All I learned was to choose my reading more carefully.

’20 A To Z Challenge – L


What else do I need to say??! I’m not usually tongue-tied, although some people have suggested that it should be put in handcuffs…. Tongue-cuffs??…. I’ll check with the ‘Adult Store.’ They may have something really, fucking kinky.

LALOCHEZIA everyone! Shed the stress. 😈 If you make bail on the public profanity charge, stop back in a couple of days.
***

Adventures In Non-Sequitur Land

This is a framed copy of a reproduction of a Saturday Evening Post cover. It, and a mug with his name, –CYRIL – were all I got back from the nursing home, after my Father died. I don’t know where, or when, or how, he obtained it. I never saw it hanging in my parents’ little house.

Those who know me, know that I am Psmith. Dad was always a little distant, and self-centered. It pleases me to believe that the why that he obtained it, was because of me.

A year ago, when I wanted to attach it to my ‘I’ve Never Herd Of Smith’ post, I kept getting a message from WordPress – Error. Unable to upload image. There are two copies of this image, one taken with a camera, and the other with the scanner/printer. WordPress would accept neither. Recently – JUST BECAUSE – I tried again, and it slid smoothly into the Media file.   😳

Flash Fiction #234

Negotiation

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

VROOM! VROOM!

I’m not a very good bargainer, but I really wanted that second-hand Toyota Supra!  Like cars from my youth – only better.  Something I could feel as I piloted it, not computer-ridden, and self-driving.

Not midlife-crisis-red, it had a four-speed stick-shift, and was painted Electric BlueTravis McGee would approve.*

He was asking $18,000.

I offered $12,000 – book-value.

Standard transmission is rarer – $17,000

I’m stealing from my son’s inheritance – $13,000

It’s got four brand-new tires – $16,000

My credit card is melting. – $14,000

My wife is expecting our first. – $15,000!

Radar-detectors are illegal.  I must be careful.

***

* Author John D. MacDonald invented a Miami-based character named Travis McGee. To support himself, he specialized in finding and returning items that were not precisely ‘legally’ lost, because they may not have been exactly legally owned in the first place – all for a 50% cut.  In novels written between 1964 and 1984, he drove a 1939 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, which someone had Frankensteined into a pickup truck, and painted Electric Blue.

***

Join the Friday Fictioneers.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

In my Poetry In Motion post, I groused that the poetry of some WordPress authors didn’t make a lot of sense. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!! There is a small group of posters who don’t write poetry…. but what they do write can’t be classed as prose, either. I think a couple of them have swallowed random word generators – or non-prescription medication. They may be the authors of some of those strangely-worded spam comments that you get. Here are some examples.

I was heard the sea and are like unto the leopard and made the great favour with his neck and said Figold was handsome.

At a little finger is the sky where she had given to divert the latest news who have his dead and cried but Horn stayed at sunrise.

That would not recognising him to seawhere may be preserved from his real name and as he heard a band of brotherhood we will give birth and he heard these saw her! Better thou wilt hear the guardians of some evil would sooner be the offing.

HUH?? That was actually one of the more comprehensible. Here’s another.

We have the hand when I shall rather live, we are unconscious life of April last are enigmas.

To us that I will superintend their Circulating and in a square hole in the mischief-makers in reforming and in the funny books too large results given by Christian name, which they cover.

The responsibility of Socrates.

It exploded in us.

They are the country as the medium of independence, of taking the mature age of that things unto this particular I lifted my mind.

Notwithstanding, we might after the mental, moral wound within him.

Perhaps he has furnished great degree, and cutting off his wide from her own personality, however great.

Even the tanks, you that for we read in the seen within it, the Patriarch Nerses to accomplish some old as sensibly alters their planes and artists, leisured people, whilst it can solve some observations on Allison’s Fort and butchered before we got another example of dealing out a chapter of Nerves preserve their fatherland.

Is this some kind of code?? Are we supposed to read every fourth word?? Who spends the time and effort to type out and post this kind of thing – and why?? There seems to be a group of about 6 authors, who each can publish 2 or 3 posts every day of this kind of nonsense gobbledygook. I am at a loss to find any meaning or justification. Are they Pentecostals, “Speaking In Tongues??” Anybody got any idea…. or a translation?

’19 A To Z Challenge – Y

AtoZ2019Letter Y

Yahoo, cowboy! Saddle up that magnificent steed, and…. plod off into a cloud of dust and tumbleweeds. Today’s yewsless…. uh, useless word is

Yaud

noun Scot. and North England.
a mare, especially an old, worn-out one.

1350–1400; Middle English yald < Old Norse jalda mare

Don Quixote

It is matched with another, taken from Spanish, rocinante.
Rocinante is Don Quixote’s male horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.

Perhaps, between failing mental abilities and failing eyesight, Quixote winds up tilting at windmills, thinking that they are dragons, and that he is protecting the populace. Since he is a minor noble, like the problem of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes,’ no-one tells him, or tries to stop him.

Bay

The original Spanish term was rosinante, (rosy) a red-colored horse, what in English, would be called a bay.

Abaddon's Gate

It is because of the above description, that the authors of both the books, and the TV series, The Expanse had the captain rename the “inherited” space cruiser, Rocinante. While formidably armed, it was a bit past its prime, and the small crew desperately used it for tasks that should be beyond its capabilities, tilting at interplanetary, and eventually, interstellar windmills.

Distracted

If I have been successful, most of you will have been so distracted by horses, TV space series, and classic literature, that you will not have noticed that 95% of this post is not about its stated subject. Instead, I have veered off at a strange angle – just like my favorite Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, Ohio.

Y-bridge

Book Review #21

Once upon a time, a man purchased a book. It was

A Brief History of Time

The book: A Brief History Of Time

The Author: Stephen Hawking

The Review:
Through luck, and association with a particular social group, the man who purchased the book, later got to actually meet the great man, Stephen Hawking himself. He informed him that he had bought and read the book. Largely through Hawking’s handler, the man who guided his wheelchair and who had learned to interpret his minuscule movements, he was asked what he thought of the book.

He replied that he had not understood a word of it. Well…. He got words like a, to, at, the, and, but the rest were over his head like an umbrella. Hawking was surprisingly pleased by this, because it proved that the man had actually read it, even if he didn’t get it.

I tried to get a copy of this book from the library thirty years ago, when it was first published, but it was too popular, and I finally gave up. Recently I thought I’d have another go at it. Hawking’s writing style is pleasantly clear and easy. He claimed that he wanted to provide this information for the ordinary person. Your ‘Ordinary Person’ may vary. MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters won’t be forming book clubs to discuss it, nor will it be a hot topic at truck stops.

Even though I’m retired, I’ve kept up my dues to the United Nerds International Union. I was a good halfway through this small (214 page) book before I had to start checking terms and concepts. After the body of the book, Hawking included 2-3 page bios on the likes of Einstein, Galileo, and Newton, to show how their works and discoveries have provided the foundation for modern understanding of the universe.

For a book on time, Hawking spent the first several chapters discussing/explaining matter. Matter and Time are interwoven. You can’t have time without matter. When I was born, scientists had only recently discovered that molecules were made up of atoms. The Second World War brought us the A-Bomb – the atom bomb. A few years later, the thermonuclear hydrogen H-Bomb was produced. These showed that the atoms could be torn apart, and jammed together, made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

More powerful and delicate devices, like the CERN Collider, have shown that even these tiny building blocks are made of even tinier bits. Like strange little trouble-making Gremlins, they have names like quarks, muons, pions, mesons, leptons, tachyons, baryons, gravitons, and bosons. While they are too small to reflect light, fun-loving physicists label them as red, blue and green, and insist that they have ‘spin,’ based on how they react with each other, and reality.

Hawking eventually got around to explaining time – how it (so far) only flows in one direction, from past to future. He showed how it is subjective, and is influenced by mass, and speed of travel. I’ve run into most of these terms and concepts before, but it was nice to see them laid out so completely and clearly.

Ordinarily, with a book so nicely written and presented, I’d be recommending it, but not this one. For most of you, your only concern with time is that you arrive at work before the boss gets grumpy about your ETA. If Hawking’s successors are successful at using black holes to reverse the flow of time, you’ll never have to worry about that again.

There was a young lady from Bright
Who could travel faster than light
She set off one day
In a relative way,
And returned the previous night

This book is different – a niche market. Unless the checkout clerk down at Geeks R Us knows you by name, I suggest giving it a pass. Don’t pass up the chance to read my next post. It will be available in no time at all.

The Whichness Of The Why

Rene DesCartes

Philosophers have nothing to say, but will take all day (or all of their lives) to say it.

In my ongoing attempts to get psychological explanations for why people – often Christians, but also Atheists – believe what they do, I kept running into philosophers. I thought that Philosophers were deep-thinkers, who used the power of their intellect to uncover important social revelations.

The more I read though, the more I realized that this was not so. One of them, like René Descartes (above) might make a significant claim, like; “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” then the rest of them would discuss and debate it. If only one Philosopher contended a theory, it was like mental masturbation. If a group of them worried it like a dog with a bone, it was more like a circle-jerk. It made them all feel good, without actually accomplishing anything.

Often, no-one really proved anything. They just kept arguing with one another until observed facts finally showed one of them to be the closest guesser. Then folks would congratulate him as if he’d discovered something.

Even the winner of a debate, or series of debates, did not reveal, or prove, any particular truth. The champion became the victor by looking the best, yelling the loudest, and waving his hands the most. One Philosopher had a mortal enemy, another debater. There was only one subject about which the two agreed. Mr. Ego challenged his opponent to a debate, and took the ‘anti’ side. He won the debate by disproving an opinion that he held.

Despite the fact that colleges and Universities teach Philosophy, we have no Philosophers any more. What we have today are authors, bloggers, podcasters, and Christian Apologetics. All of them are full of strongly-held opinions, but if you laid them all end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a valid conclusion.

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Case in point, a book that I recently read, titled Galileo Goes To Jail, 25 myths about Science and Religion. Seldom have I seen hairs split so finely, with no purpose other than to make the contributors appear learned and impressive. All 25 writers tiptoed through the minefield of truth and logic, but I felt the worst among them was the jackass who set out to prove that

Giordano Bruno Was Not The First Martyr Of Modern Science

Now, the first of anything is going to look different from what has gone before. This genius wanted to play the “Own The Definition” game. He started by claiming that Bruno was not a scientist, or was not teaching science. Of course not! Back then, the words, the definitions, the very concepts of “science” and “scientist” did not exist. Everything was Natural Philosophy.

‘Science’ did not exist, and Bruno wasn’t ‘teaching’ it. He did however publicly express and debate his opinions and conclusions about reality. He openly held Galileo’s position, that the Earth moved, and the sun didn’t, contrary to the Church’s dogma of a fixed and unmoving Earth. His claims were heresy to The Holy Catholic Church, which owned the definition of heresy.

Heresy they might have been, but as the equivalents of modern Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Mathematics, they were a Hell of a lot more like science than say, if the Pope might not be infallible, God did not exist in three parts, or we had to eat fish on Friday.

I try not to be hidebound in my opinions, and not get caught in confirmation bias. I invite, and delight in, discussion and debate about anything I publish. If you prove me wrong about any claim I make, I will accept defeat Philosophically. 😉

***

Oops, I left a link to a 1949 Sci-Fi story at the end of this draft.  Rather than delete it –  anybody want to access and read it??

Edmond Hamilton – Alien Earth

https://archive.org/details/Thrilling_Wonder_Stories_v34n01_1949-04/page/n51

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – E

 

Letter E

AtoZ2019

 

Canada’s entertainment has (almost) caught up to the USA’s.

First, we dumped cable TV, as content deteriorated, and prices soared. Later we ditched satellite TV, when their charges approached Cable’s. We have YouTube as part of our internet package. The wife signed up for Netflix – considerably cheaper than either of the other two. Later, she enrolled in Amazon Prime, which not only gives us advantages with the increasing number of things that we purchase online, but provides another cheap platform for videos.

I watched episodes of Babylon 5 on TVs in Detroit hotels, five years before it became available on Canadian television. About 3 years ago BrainRants made me aware of an epic series, on SyFy in the US. We couldn’t access it here, but I began reading the 7-book series about The

Leviathan Wakes

Expanse

I have read the first three books, with the 4th on order. Each book becomes a year’s series. So far, the first 3 seasons are available on Amazon Prime. Pleasantly, the wife finds that she likes it. We have watched though the first season, and into the second. They are big, 700-page books. I’d better get reading, to stay ahead of the Canadian video releases.

Are there any other sci-fi fans out there, also watching this series? What do you think of it? Many TV series, including science fiction are consecutive; what happens in this week’s episode occurs after what happened in last week’s, but usually has no direct connection. This series, like many European series, is sequential. There are some flashbacks, but you can’t miss an episode, or you don’t understand what’s happening next.

I am ecstatic that I finally get to watch The Expanse. Thanx Rants! 😀

’19 A To Z Challenge – C

Letter CAtoZ2019

 

The unusual English word for the Ides of May Ass-end of April is

COSTERMONGER

Costermonger is the quieter, poorer, green-collar, green-grocer brother of the Monger family. Their trade is

Chiefly British: a dealer in or trader of a commodity (usually used in combination with a specific material)
a person who is involved with something in a petty or contemptible way (usually used in combination)
Verb: to sell, to hawk

Our friend costermonger is; a hawker of fruits, vegetables, fish, etc., often from a cart, barrow or street stall

The Monger children are quite numerous. They include
Iron-monger, who is the roughneck of the family
Fear-monger, who works for Trump in the Immigration Department
War-monger, who flies back and forth between Washington and North Korea
Cheese-monger, the back-to-the-Earth, family Hippie
Gossip-monger, the sister who just can’t keep her mouth shut

Gossip

Almost no-one who becomes an author, can support themselves on book royalties, at least in the beginning. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of books sold, which usually means multiple titles. Not everybody can be a Dan Brown, a Lee Child, or a Tom Clancy.

I know a lovely lady author who has published three small books – with more on the way. As a pay-the-bills job, at one point she was the manager of the sea-food section of a supply warehouse. She delighted in telling people that she was a fish-monger.   😆

Fish

There’s nothing fishy about my claim that my next post will be even more interesting. C U soon.

A To Z - Survivor

’19 A To Z Challenge – A

AtoZ2019Letter A

 

Life is moving too fast! I want to get off; I’m feeling woozy.

Logrithmic Scale

Humans used bows and arrows for thousands of years, then someone invented the crossbow. We used that for a couple of centuries, and someone invented the musket. That was used for over a hundred years, till someone invented the rifle. After less than a century, someone developed the repeating, lever action rifle. About fifty years later, the automatic rifle came into being.

Don’t like the idea of killing and maiming?? Let’s talk about recorded communication.

For eons, we scratched things into pottery or soft rocks. Then, some genius carved up a goose feather and dipped it into a dark liquid, and wrote on vellum (Scraped lamb-skin). We did that for a millennium, till paper was developed. Then later, someone created the reloadable fountain pen. A half century later, technology allowed Lazlo Biro to produce the first workable ball-point pen.

The typewriter was created, and Mark Twain was the first author to compose a novel, using one. He disliked the experience so much, that he tried to give it away – 8 times. Each time, it was returned to him. 75 years later, the first word processors became available, and in half that time, they’ve become quicker, more efficient, smarter…. and almost indispensable.

Isaac Newton said that he accomplished what he did, “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.” What I’m saying – the point I’m trying to make is that, as we progress, the progress comes faster and faster. Once, we had millennia, centuries, decades to get used to the idea of our basic world changing. Now, changes come in years, months, weeks!

Author Alvin Toffler invented the term “Future Shock,” the future is the way of life. The only constant, is change. Many of us have a hard time keeping up. Not only does the constant, rapid change keep us mentally off-balance – shocked – but it produces a related condition.

Alterity-
Alterity is a noun that means otherness; specifically: the quality or state of being radically alien to the conscious self or a particular cultural orientation.

Alterity is related to the verb alter, which can mean to change something, into something other – something different. It’s also cousin to the adjective alter – as in alter-ego. Batman is Bruce Wayne’s radically different alter-ego.

The Canadian band, imaginatively named The Band, says that Life Is A Carnival. It often has me spun. Why don’t you spin back again in a couple of days??  😀