Thursday, October 2, 2008

3 Tishri 5769: Fast of Gedhalyah/National Custodial Workers Day/International Day of Non-Violence


Worthy causes of the day: “Will Our Next Political Leaders Help End Breast Cancer Forever?” and “End discrimination against mental illness!”

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Bill Maher vs. the "talking snake"”: This article describes Religulous, an antireligious film by Bill Maher. The description smells of bad rhetoric: attacking superficially silly aspects of religion and the nuttiest religious people he can find and being deliberately offensive while avoiding contact with those who might be able to talk with him sensibly about religion. As early as the opening lines of the article, it is clear that Maher is not even getting his subject matter right, failing to understand the difference between an extraterrestrial and a creator deity.  This movie is extremely unpromising.
  2. “US publisher of Muslim book closes office”: The Jewel of Medina is a historical novel about Muḥammad’s favorite wife, ‘A’isha. He married her when she was six or seven and consummated the marriage when she was nine. (I know: “Ew! Gross!”)  Pedophilia on Muḥammad is something Muslims would rather not have popularized, and so there is a major worry about death threats and violence; there has already been an arson.  It should go without saying that thuggish behavior never makes one right; one can beat another into submission with a baseball bat, but whoever is holding the baseball bat is not automatically right.  In order to show the forces of Islam that we will not bow to threats or fear of threats, I recommend that everyone who can afford to do so pre-order a copy of Jewel of Medina. (It has been added to the official Divine Misconceptions wish-list on
  3. “To some evangelicals, Palin's career violates biblical teachings”: This is a highly relevant question to serious Christians. The verse in question is Titus 2:5 (from the Pauline Epistles), which with the previous two verses reads (New American Bible version):
    Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
    In this entire chapter, he promotes what he considers to be good behavior for all adults: older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves. Clearly Paul is not a modern feminist, but the question is how prescriptive of details is Paul’s intention and how obligatory Paul’s advice is. I leave that great experts on Christian practice to decide, but there clearly is a source for Christians to claim Sarah Palin should not be in public office. The other citing of any specific Scriptural reference in the article is:
    Janice Hodgson, who worked in the mortgage business until recently, said Proverbs 31 offers a positive view of working women with servants -- suggesting, she said, that it is fine for Palin to hire nannies to help care for her children.
    This seems to be talking about Proverbs 31:15 (“She rose while it was still night and gave food to her house and rule to her girls”), which may or may not mention maidservants. The word in question, na‘arah, literally means “girl”, by default around 12 years old. It can also mean “maidservant”, but the context is not clear whether the woman being praised is dealing with servants or children. In either case, it never says anything about letting a non-parent raise children, so Ms. Hodgson is stretching the verse.
Today’s news and commentary:There will be no weird thing today due to the fast.

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