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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Letter to President Obama Concerning the American Stockpile of Weapons in Israel


President Barack Obama, 

I read today that the United States of American maintains a stockpile of munitions and armaments in the nation of Israel – the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel (WRSA-I).   

And while Israel has not yet requested permission to access this stockpile in the course of their recent hostile actions against Hamas in Gaza, they have in the past – in 2006, for example, in their conflict with Hezbollah – there may come a time when the leaders of Israel do ask for permission to use these weapons.

I am asking you, Mr. President, to refuse. You should not allow the United States of America to become more complicit than we already are in the aggressions perpetrated by the nation of Israel.  Human rights organizations have been critical of Israeli attacks in Gaza for their disproportional violence, and for the number of civilians being killed.  

The United States is already embroiled in this conflict.  Please do not further exacerbate our role by supplying even more weapons for Israel to use against the Palestinians.

Please, Mr. President, do not make the United States a party to more deaths.

Jeff Carter
Newton, Iowa

There Is No Flag Large Enough


Biblical Limericks: Quid Pro Quo


Joshua sent spies to Jericho,
gave the mission to them even though
their plan did constitute
of seeing prostitutes
for a bit of the old quid pro quo.

Joshua 2: 1 - 2

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Get the Weirdest Spam Mail, Sometimes

I get the weirdest spam mail, sometimes:

Good day, sir.

I am contacting you with a good faith and believing that you are going to assist me in a very important alchemical transaction. Please, do not think this email as one of the scam mails, for your assistance in this transaction could save the world.

There is a restive $85million dollars fund belonging to my late client, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Former president of Libya is unable to move forward.  The money is not, sadly, in currency cash. It remains in unconverted lead sheeting. 
And after his death all of his family members was arrested. I have shifted the sheeting to an escrow storage facility so that nobody will have access to them again. I want very much to fulfill my client’s final wishes: to convert the sheets into gold and invest the fund in your country. 
All I need from you is these two things.  First, your honesty and sincerity for you to tell me that you are not going to expose the fund and Second, your skill in such alchemical transformations.  My late client, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Former president of Libya, left detailed instructions, but I am unschooled and unable to make sense of them. 

For your kind assistance (and secrecy) in this matter I will give you 30% of the total plus expenses for your assistance in this transaction, please kindly get back to me and let me know the line of business where we can invest this money in your country send me your full name address and call phone number Reply me on this Email: XXXXXXXXXX@XXXX.com

Also. It appears that you have not paid for driving on a toll road.  The invoice has been sent repeatedly.  To view a copy of the court notice *click here*.  Please read it thoroughly.  If you cannot attend the hearing, the judge may hear the case in your absence.  I could be pleased to service your debt in this matter in the shortest time possible.  Opportunities like this NEVER arise, but observe for yourself this one isn't too good to be true!


Best Regards,
Mr. Mames Jambo

NOTE>This message will be automatically deleted in 3 days molecular.



Does that Make Him a Time Lord?


Biblical Limericks: Won’t That Be Neat!


The Israelites complained, “We want meat.”
God was annoyed, so he said, “Fine! Eat!
To your groans I’ll submit;
I’ll feed you meat till it
leaks out your nostrils.  Won’t that be neat!”

Numbers 11: 18 -20

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where Did Cain Get His Wife- Some Literalist Problems


A strict adherence to an overly literal interpretation of the Bible often causes more interpretive problems than it solves.  Take for example the age old question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” (Genesis 4:7) The Young-Earth-Ken Ham-Creationist types insist that Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece.) 

“We’re not told when Cain married or many of the details of other marriages and children, but we can say for certain that Cain’s wife was either his sister or a close relative.” Ken Ham

This may answer the question, but it creates more problems than it solves; now we have to deal with a couple of biological and moral conundrums.

This overly literal reading of the Genesis story is problematic biologically because incestuous marriages often produce children with genetic defects.  But of course, our literalists have an answer for this.  They claim that “There were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race…Genetic defects resulted from the Fall and only occurred gradually over long periods of time (Geisler, Howe, 38).”[i]

How can they know this? Were they there?  There’s nothing in the literal text to say that genetic imperfections appeared only very gradually after the Fall.  They’re just making stuff up as they go along.

But the more problematic area is moral.  If we allow that Cain married his “sister or a close relative” (and what would you like to bet that the literalists will NOT allow that this close relative could have been his mother?)  then we have the moral problem of incest.  This is a no-no in God’s law (and is taboo in most cultures around the world).  Again the literalists have an answer – though not a very good one.

They claim that “there was no command in Cain’s day not to marry a close relative.  This command (Lev. 18) came thousands of years later in Moses’ day (c. 1500 B.C.) (Geisler, Howe, 38).”

But (and this is a big but) there was no command against murder in Cain’s day either.  How can he have been held guilty for that but not incest? 

An overly literalist interpretation creates more problems than it solves. For every question they answer with their twisted reading, another three problems are created.






[i] Geisler, Norman & Howe, Tomas When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL 1992.

Biblical Limericks: God Doesn’t Like Vegetarians


Cain brought an off’ring agrarian
while Abel came with fresh carrion.
God chose Abe’s, of the two,
so I think that it’s true:
God’s biased ‘gainst vegetarians.


Genesis 4: 3 - 4

Monday, July 28, 2014

I Have Two Words For You: Predator Drones (You Think I'm Joking)





I don't think it's funny that he's not joking - and making a joke of it at the same time.

You can download it here.

Created in Ableton Live (8) using a few sounds from the Freesound Project: 

Totalwreckmix
Military Helicopter
Norwegian F-16 Passing Overhead
Whistling Firework
Police Siren
Distant Tank Shots
Ghost Carnival
Glitch Speech Beep

He Can’t Hear Me



He has been told for so long that God hates him that he believes it.  Now he tells himself, over and over again, that God hates him.  That he is cursed. That God has cursed him from birth. 

And so he hates himself.  He’s tried suicide before.  Shot himself in the gut with a handgun.  Now he just drinks. 

And he hates God.  “F**k you, God!” he shouts. And then he hates himself even more because he knows he shouldn’t hate God.

He believes that his sins are unforgivable. “It’s in the Bible! I’ve read it!” He says this, but because he’s drunk he can’t remember where he read it, but he knows it’s in there.

What can I say to him except, “God loves you.  You are not cursed.”  Over and over again, I say it. “You are not cursed. God loves you.  Nothing you have done is unforgivable.  And again and again, “God loves you.”

But he can’t hear me.  Partly because he’s so drunk.  And partly because this message is so contrary to everything he’s ever been told, and everything that he continues to tell himself.

But I say it again, “God loves you.”

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #11


Aries – There will be a doll on the doorstep.  There will be a doll left on the doorstep that looks like you.  The doll on the doorstep has a message for you.  Do not allow the police to become involved.

Taurus – A tunnel, a river, a door.  Cross them. But beware of oxygen deprivation and hallucinogenic trance.

Gemini – A swarm of newly hatched mayflies is heading your way – a swarm large enough to be visible from space.  But be calm.  This is healthy.

Cancer – You have many small white pearls growing inside your mouth: Odontoma. 

Leo
– Even if there have been no “legitimate sightings” there are snakes in the playground and in the lake.  Trust me. I’ve seen them.

Virgo – The crater was opened in secret 40 years ago.  What they found was fiery doorway to hell.  It is burning still.

Libra – You may have been hearing voices all these years, but self-mutilation will not help. 
Scorpio – Alive he went into the well, ignorant of blood and death, but the king is betrayed and disrobed in the kitchen.

Sagittarius – The old man is an idiot; his children are frustrated.  But only for a time. Only for a time…

Capricorn – Have you located the missing eight prisoners yet? The warden will be calling soon!

Aquarius – Volcano day at Pompeii came too early.  The entire chronology was thrown off.  Events must be rescheduled in order to prevent further catastrophe.  


Pisces – It was a brilliant piece of politics to cover the city with quicklime, but will it achieve the desired results?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Wife or Ween, Which Is It?


This next verse is something quite special-
Paul says “keep control of your vessel,”
but by this does he mean
rule my wife or my ween?
Figuring this out could prove stressful.

1 Thessalonians 4: 4





Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 32

Here is this week's free background image.  I make a new one each week and share them here.  You can use them in Powerpoint slides (or in similar presentation programs) or for any other project you may have at home, work, school, or church.  Use them how you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

I went canoeing on this lake with my father a week or so ago. It was a pleasant afternoon.  Though he says I dumped him out of the canoe on purpose, I say it's his own fault for not sitting still.

Week 32 photo Week32_zps1f69bdd2.jpg

Saturday, July 26, 2014

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: Try Keeping Your Mouth Shut, Ray Comfort


Someone should put you back in your place,
mister Comfort, ‘cause you’re way off base;
try keeping your mouth shut.
You won’t believe me, but
it’s true, there is gravity in space.





*His original, unedited post, declared there is no gravity in space - though I'm not sure how this edited update is any better. Gravity functions in space exactly the same way that it does on earth.

What I’m Reading: The Call of the Green Bird


The problem with melodrama is that it’s all too convenient to take seriously.  Plausibility can only be stretched so far.  The Call of the Green Bird [i] by Alberta Hawse stretches it too far, and the whole bird comes crashing down.

The story follows a young Bedouin boy, Mi’kal –the prince of his tribe.  But he’s not just prince of one little tribe of tent dwelling Bedouins, he’s really the grandson of King Aretas of the Nabateans.   (And though it’s not specified in the novel, based on the story’s timeline, it must be Aretas IV Philopatris.) 

Coincidence follows coincidence.  Convenience follows convenience.  If Mi’kal is ever in danger, there is always another character conveniently located just a page or two away to rescue him from the river, or the bandits, or the soldiers….  He is welcomed and acclaimed as a prince (twice) and loaded with fortune and finds a beautiful, though impetuous, woman to fall in love with. And she with him, of course. 

Of course.

This is how a melodrama works. 

And not only that, but one of his friends is the secretly-not-dead son of Mark Antony, Alexander Helios.  The twists of fortune force Mi’kal to flee from Syria to Israel where he meets up with Judas Iscariot and Barabbas (both members of the Zealots), Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the Centurion whose servant Jesus healed.

Everyone that Mi’kal meets as he stumbles through the story knows Jesus or knows about him.  He strikes out at random hoping to meet up with Jesus and – of course – he does.  Never mind the odds of finding a single individual at random out of the population of the entire country; it’s a melodrama.

Everything is convenient.  And everything ends happily.

The shortcomings of a melodrama could be forgiven if the book had better reflected the world of Jesus.  The book is described as “historical fiction” but it’s more fiction than history. The Call of the Green Bird is not much more than a naïve evangelical impression of what Israel in the first century was like based on Sunday school lessons, and the smallest modicum of historical research. 






[i] Hawse, Alberta The Call of the Green Bird, Multnomah Books, Sisters OR, 1995.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grandmother’s Unpublishable Poetry


I write poetry.  Some of it, occasionally, is decent – at least I think so.  And, apparently, a few others do as well; I have a book of poems set to be published later this year.  But I’m not the only poet in my family.  My grandmother Irene (my father’s mother) wrote a large number of poems during her life.  After she died last week, my dad and I sorted through the few belongings she had with her at the nursing home.  Among them was a three-ring binder of her poetry – going back as far as 1969, which my father asked me to look over, to see if it would be worth trying to have them published. 

But they’re not.  Really.  Even if she’s family, I have to say that they’re not very good.  There is a lack of rhythm.  The rhymes are awkward and strained variations of say / way, need / indeed, et cetera.  There are few instances of assonance or alliteration.  Few metaphors, similes, or analogies. There are frequent problems with grammar. And her spelling – well, I really shouldn’t criticize; without spell check, I’d have trouble there too.

Grandma Irene was a simple woman with a simple faith.  There are no deep thoughts or profound insights in her poetry.  It’s mostly Christian clichés strung together.  They’re not publishable.  But I’ve appreciated having the chance to read through them and to learn more about her.

Seek Ye First

Seek ye first My Kingdom
And this I will do
All that I have said
Will be given to you

Seek ye first My Voice to hear
And this I speak to you
The best part of communion with Me
is to stand still and do
                    all I tell you to

Seek ye first to Speak always of Me
And this I say
Tell other of My Love
I will repay

Seek ye first to help others
And this indeed
All that I send to you
Will meet all your need!

- Irene Carter
Monday, October 9, 1972

 

Biblical Limericks: Fish Gastric Juices


Your literal reading produces
many interpretive abuses,
but still you will contrive
to show Jonah survive
three full days in fish gastric juices.

Jonah 1: 17

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Enslaved


If I have a rocket, I must launch it,
and artillery I must fire.
If I build a warplane, the bombs will fall
or else, what’s the point?

A life measured out in megatons,
defined, and circumscribed.
I am enslaved by freedom’s firepower.

Biblical Limericks: The First Socialist


Evangelical apologists
must be well confirmed capitalists
for there are very few
who will admit to you
that Joseph was the first socialist. 

Genesis 41

You should also read this article (though it’s a few years old) by my friend, Thom Stark - Joseph: The First Socialist Dictator


Frontier Chess

A chessboard from the 1820s (or a recreation of one) found at Ft. Snelling in Minnesota.

Frontier Chess by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Frontier Chess by Jeff Carter on 500px

There Is Something in the Wind

The patterns have shifted, the circuits have changed.
We cannot trust the forecasts;
our predictions are skewed.
There is something in the wind.









I created this musical piece in Ableton Live (8) and used a couple of sounds from the Freesound Project:
Dull Metal Wind Chimes
Start Beeps

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Baoding Reflections

Photograph Baoding Reflctions by Jeff Carter on 500px

With the Family at Ft. Snelling




The family and I spent part of the day touring historic Ft. Snelling in Minnesota - an interesting place, especially for its connection to the Dred Scott case. The historical society provides guides in period costumes and does periodic displays throughout the day.






























I would have taken some of my son and daughter as well, but they were teenagers of the eye-rolling type today. Here's a picture of my wife, instead.






And here is the sutler who sold us some "authentic" cream soda.

Magenta in the Setting Sun

These flowers are growing my neighbor's yard.  I'm not a trained horticulturalist, so I have no idea what they are.

EDIT - I have been told, by my friend AJF, that it is most probably a Monarda didyma, otherwise known as Crimson Beebalm.  Hooray!  I have another photo of these flowers, here.



(Not So) Biblical Limericks: Ken Ham Says No Salvation for Aliens


There’s no sense in our exploring space,
says that great theological ace,
Ken Ham, who has told us
that our savior, Jesus,
died expressly for the human race.


Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.  God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior.  In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word).  To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong. – Ken Ham


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ken Ham, Get Ready for the Anal Probes

IF it is true, as Ken Ham has suggested, that Adam’s sin has damned the entire universe,

“You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin…”

and IF it is further true, as Ken Ham has suggested, that there is no salvation possible for aliens,

…but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation…Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.

THEN those little green men are going to be pissed when they find out it’s our fault.  Ken Ham, get ready for the anal probes. I think they're coming for you.


Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #10


Aries- There are electricity consuming bacteria living in your brain.  They feed on the electrical discharges of your neurons and produce a complex system of bio-chemical feedback loops.  This is the cause of your recent hallucinations and visions.  Stimulate these bacteria with more focused thinking for an enhanced visionary experience.

 Taurus – The Tarsus club has rejected your application for membership.  However, you may refile in six   months.

Gemini – A 262 foot crater has opened in Siberia.  This is where the alien ships responsible for the Tunguska blast of 1909 were held for over a hundred years.  They have been moved to another, more remote location.  A similar cross dimensional cross rip cannot be more than a few weeks away.  Be prepared.

Cancer - You are causing a disturbance.  Remember your place.  Do not get out of line again.

 Leo- You must perform the ancient rituals.  Hunt and kill the bear before the market collapses.  Mithras is waiting, but even the unconquered sun has limited patience.  A handshake will not save you this time.

Virgo – Sixty-seven giant snails will seize control of LAX later this month.  Adjust your travel plans accordingly. 

Libra – The masters are controlling you.  The pattern is there; the dots have been connected. This cannot be disproved.

Scorpio- Where will you be when the clock strikes twelve midnight?  Still wandering in the dark of abandoned churchyards?  Alone except for the moonlight?  Or will you step through the curtains?  If you are nervous perhaps you should go home.

Sagittarius – The Council of Eight working in secret with the European Academy of Alchemists in Society and the British East India Company, are the true authors of the New World Order.  They have many secrets to protect and little treasure that they are willing to share.

Capricorn-   The Ravens have gathered as one family.  They have sworn an oath. They have been welcomed by the Elders.  But you were not invited.  They will strike at you should you try to infiltrate their secret meetings.

Aquarius – I have identified the type of Chemtrail being sprayed over your neighborhood.  It is a rare, and strange variety, one that I have not seen used elsewhere.  Though I have read reports of its use in Belgium, I was unaware that the USAF had begun using it here.  The chemtrails sprayed above your neighborhood are composed of Wöhler processed Aluminum ions and psioni-phosphates.  Both of these chemicals are used in chemical mind control programs.  You should remain indoors until the contrails are discontinued.  If you absolutely must go out of the house, cover your cranium with thin aluminum sheeting.  This will minimize the deleterious effects of the chemtrails.

Pisces – The conclave is dissolved like cocaine in the rain.  The Black Death has purged us all.  Phillip IV is lying undone in his own blood, but there was no one to hear his confession.  

Lead On, Oh Kinky Turtle

Some friends and I have been amusing ourselves by sharing our favorite awful hymns, misheard lines, and other oddities.  Some of them are just weird ("heaven meets Earth like a wet sloppy kiss"), some of them are unintentional puns ("though Satan should buffet" -from It Is Well With My Soul - which is fine if he uses a clean plate for each trip...),some are the result of a slip of the tongue (accidentally singing "let everything that has breasts praise the Lord" instead of "breath"....), some are the result of bad grammar,

And some of theme, like my all time favorite are mondegreens :

"Lead on, oh kinky turtle..."




(that would be, "Lead on, oh King Eternal", but you probably figured that out already.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jacob – Ignoring the Dream, Going to a Parched Land


I know that we’re supposed to like Jacob – he’s the hero of these stories (Genesis chapters 27 -36); he’s one of the great patriarchs of the faith.  He’s Israel, for crying out loud; we’re just supposed to like him.  But I don’t.  Not really.  He’s a jerk.  He’s a trickster and a thief. 

But there are some great stories about him.

Like this one as he’s fleeing from his family.  And fleeing with good reason – he’s just fleeced his dying father and his brother of the patriarchal blessing.  Mother Rebekah told him that he should get out of town for a few days – until things blow over.

So in chapter 28 Jacob is a fugitive.  He’s alone, on the run, fearing for his life, an alienated from his family.  He’s left Beer-Sheba in the Negev and is making his way toward Harran (in modern day Turkey) where his grandfather Abram (Abraham) once lived. 

The lectionary reading from the Psalm (Psalm 68) that accompanies this narrative makes an amusing connection here.  “God restores the lonely to their homes, sets free the imprisoned, safe and sound, while the rebellious must live in a parched land.”  The place name “Harran” (not to be confused with the personal name Haran) means “parched”.

This describes Jacob pretty well.

He stops for the night in the middle of somewhere – he doesn’t seem to recognize the cultic significance of the place – and pulls up a stone to use as a pillow.  And there, he has a dream.

He dreams of a “ladder” – that famous “Jacob’s ladder” which is more accurately a “ramp” or a “staircase”  think of the long sloping staircases of the middle  eastern ziggurats – with one end planted firmly upon the ground and the other reaching into heaven.  And going up and down upon this stairway / ramp / ladder are the angels of God.

And God is there too standing either upon the ladder or directly upon Jacob (the Hebrew is a bit ambiguous – and I think it funny to picture Yahweh standing on top of Jacob’s head.)  In this visionary dream, God promises to be with and to protect this fugitive trickster thief.  God promises to bring him home safely and to greatly bless his many descendants. 

Jacob, the trickster thief, has only ever taken from people.  By hook or by crook, he’d wheedle and connive, and deceive if he thought you might have something he wanted.  But here is God, giving it all to Jacob.  Freely.  Without lecture. Without correction. Without stern discipline.  Without conditions. God promise to protect, defend, and bless this miserable Jacob.

This is, I should point out, the first time that God has spoken directly to Jacob.  God has spoken to his grandfather, Abraham, and to his father, Isaac.  But this is the first time that Yahweh God has spoken to Jacob.  When he does, it is to promise – unconditionally and unreservedly – to protect and bless this man and his descendants.

And when Jacob wakes up he is overwhelmed by fear.  This is not altogether surprising.  It is a dreadful and terrible and frightening thing to come into the presence of the Living God. But in Jacob, I think this fear was something more.  He was always fearful.  He was fearful of his brother Esau.  He was fearful of his uncle Laban.  He is here fearful of the God who has promised to protect and defend him. 

Yet he does what comes natural. He makes that place as a sacred place. This is a natural response to such a numinous experience.  When Jesus went up on the mountain with Peter, James and John and they saw him there speaking to Moses and Elijah, Peter’s first response is to build a series of shrines to make the place as a holy and sacred site. 

Jacob sets up the stone that he’d used as a pillow, now as a pillar, and anoints it with oil.  “Surely God is in this place and I didn’t even know it.  And this is the house of God!” 

Now if the story had ended there – I might have a bit more respect for our supposed hero, Jacob.  If, having experienced the overwhelming presence of God he’d come away a changed man – even ever so slightly changed – then I could find something in him to appreciate.

But the story does not end there.  No.  Jacob opens his mouth and proves that he’s still very much the trickster thief Jacob.  After God has already given him this unconditional and unreserved promise, Jacob insists upon trying to manipulate the deal.  He lays out a number of conditional statements:  IF God will go with me and keep me safe, IF he will bring me home, IF he will give me bread and clothes (those items given to slaves, though Jacob seems to expect much, much more than bread and clothes) THEN and only then will I declare Yahweh to be my God.

Jacob was not changed by the spiritual encounter during the night.  He was not transformed by the vision.  He’s still that fearful, conniving trickster thief, trying to work one over on God himself.  

And – though this is only my opinion – I think this is why for the next twenty years God does not speak to Jacob again.  Nothing.  Jacob wasn’t ready.  Instead he spent those 20 years in Harran – the parched land – without a word from God.  This isn’t to say that God had left him.  Indeed not.  God had promised to stay with him until he’d completed all that he said that he would do.  (And it’s not until Jacob finally returns to that stone pillar at Bethel, does God finally “part from” Jacob.  – Genesis 35: 13) But he wasn’t ready to change yet.  He still had a lot to go through before he’d be changed from Jacob – trickster thief – to Israel – he who wrestles with God.

And God was silent during that time.  Jacob prospered during those years, no doubt.  He acquired wives and cattle and sheep and money.  But it was twenty years without a word from God – and then (perhaps God was getting tired of waiting for Jacob to catch on) God spoke to him in another dream telling him that it was time to finally go home.

Twenty years in that parched land without a word from God. 




Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 31

Here it is. Here it is.  This week's free background image. You can use it in Powerpoint slides (or in similar presentation programs) or not. Use it where and how you will.  I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

The barn in the photo is part of the Japser County Historical Museum in Newton, Iowa.

week 31 photo Week31_zpsf9f9a461.jpg

Saturday, July 19, 2014

(Not So) Biblical Limericks: Benny Hinn, Heal Thyself


Benny Hinn claims power to redress
the pains caused by most forms of illness,
yet when I hear him sing
I can’t help wondering,
can’t God cure him of his tone deafness?


Grandfather Orville

My grandfather (my father's father) Orville.

 photo GrandpaOrville_zpsd4b2b9a9.jpg

Another Letter from Doctor Tarrec


I have received another letter from my strange friend, Dr. Tarrec.  I’d been a little concerned since I hadn’t heard from him in so long.




Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for your recent letters.  You cannot know how much your continued friendship means to a lonely old man like myself. 

I am well, thank you, though I have not left the basement of my house for several weeks.  I have subsisted on canned tuna, dried fruit and my emergency stores of deionized water.  I have been collecting and fermenting my urine in large vats.  I can extract goldfrom it.  My solid waste, however, has been more difficult to deal with.

I retreated to the basement because of the attacks being waged against me by the USAF. They have been spraying my house for years with their chemtrails – but recently they shifted away from using electrically conductive particles (as part of their HAARP – High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program – one of their electromagnetic super weapons).  They are now spraying Wöhler processed aluminum ions and psioni-phosphates.  Both of these chemicals are used in bio-chemical mind control programs, particularly in Belgium.  (The Council of Eight has more freedom and can act with impunity there.) 

But never fear, my boy.  I have devised a way to minimize the deleterious effects.  I simply cover my cranium with a thin sheeting of aluminum.  This effectively blocks the dangerous substances from reaching my brain.  I can now return to my work without fear of being brainwashed (again) by the USAF.

However, I am somewhat frustrated in my work.  My research into the Christological themes presented in the Toxic Avengers movies has stalled.  Perhaps I can revise my thesis by expanding it to include more of the Troma Films such as Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. and Surf Nazis Must Die.  I will keep you informed as my work continues.

Again, I must thank you for the items that you sent me.  The automatistic writing motor was a special treat. Thank you.

Dr. Tarrec

Biblical Limericks: Advice to Young Women


Virgin women, hear and heed me well:
If you are raped, remember to yell.
You must be loud and clear
for if the men don’t hear
you’ll have to be stoned to death as well.

Deuteronomy 22: 23 - 24

Eva

While visiting recently I found this sculpture at my grandfather's house.


Photograph Eva by Jeff Carter on 500px

Friday, July 18, 2014

David Barton Is a Doofus about Israel



I know.  David Barton’s a doofus.  It’s hardly worth mentioning him – except that he gets so much attention from many of the Christians I know, and that he expresses many of the opinions that I hear coming out of their mouths or sharing on the Facebook.   He’s a doofus who says dumb things.  But let me interact with him for a moment.



“The way that you treat the Jews shows the degree of civilization that you have.  Any time you go after the Jews, God comes after you. And by the way, the deal that we’re fighting now with Israel – they need to give up land or this, we’re told in Acts, God says I am the one that establishes the boundaries of nations. God told us in the Bible exactly what the boundaries of Israel are to be.  And whenever a politician gets involved and says well you need to give up this land or that land you better get God’s permission first ‘cause he’s one who drew the lines.  He’s the one that made the covenant for those boundaries, you start messin’ with that, you’re messin’ directly with God.  This is not like other nations.  This is a covenant nation.

“…and so you look at what’s going with Israel. If you side Israel, God can bless that.   If you don’t side Israel, God’s going to have trouble with that.  And how does he express that?  Well, one of the things he often did in the bible was weather phenomenon.  Other things that he did was that productivity would go down. Or agricultural crisis. Or drought. Or…  And suddenly you’re not as prosperous as you were…there are things that have happened….”


“Any time you go after Israel…”  I hear this one a lot from some of my friends.  They assume that any criticism of Israel is an attack on Israel.  By this standard, all of the prophets (save Jonah, who was an Anti-Prophet) must have hated Israel.   The promise (which was given to Abraham, and not the modern nation of Israel by the way) to bless those who bless and to curse those who curse – cannot be understood as a get out of jail free card.  Israel is not exempt from criticism.  Israel is not allowed to act with impunity.

“We’re told in Acts, God says I am the one that establishes the boundaries…” Okay, David, but that statement (found in Acts 17: 26) includes both boundaries in geographical space – and – time. So if you want to appeal to that verse, then you might have to allow that the removal of the Jews from Israel was part of that Divine establishment.

Whenever a politician gets involved…” Pretty sure that this one cuts against your argument as well since there were numerous politicians involved in the creation of the modern state of Israel and its borders.

“This is not like other nations. This is a covenant nation.”  And this is the granddaddy of errors here.  The mistaken idea that the modern nation-state of Israel has any equivalence to the biblical nation of Israel.  It doesn’t.  It’s not. 

One can love Israel, and the Jewish people and still call them to act with justice.  One can love the people of Palestine without hating the people of Israel.  Criticism of Israel’s cruelties and criminal acts is not an automatic endorsement and justification of the cruelty and criminal acts of groups like Hamas. 

and, one last time… David Barton is a doofus.

Biblical Limericks: No Illeagles Here! No Undocumented!


There is a clear and present danger
from the immigration rearrangers;
scripture, they try to say,
calls on us to obey
the words: “You shan’t oppress a stranger.”

Deuteronomy 23: 9



Cold War Spies and Templar Treasures

In putting up my post earlier this morning about the book The Templar Legacy, I realized that I never got around to posting one of my favorite bits of writing about the Knights Templar.

Cold War Spies and Templar Treasures

Cold war spies and Templar treasures
are buried in my basement,
and I have scuttled through the secret tunnels
of mystic Agarttha to find them.

There is no sun to illuminate
the chasms and caverns beneath the surface
where rebellious angels are bound in chains
until the day when Jacques de Molay
returns, riding upon a haycart.

I have made the necessary preparations
as outlined by the John Birch Society.
Communists and Socialists have
conspired with Fascists and Jews
but I won’t be fooled;
            I won’t be seduced
by the lure of Russian mail-ordered brides
and Turkish coffee.


The moon landing was a fake,
the Lucifarians at NASA (Order of Phosphorus)
used left-handed magick to hide their real intent:
summoning Asmodeus and his reptilian hordes
in order to form a New World Ordo Templi Orientis.

Aleister Crowley was a spy for British Intelligence
but he was a double agent;
he never betrayed the Old Ones who live below.

(2009)

What I’m Reading: The Templar Legacy


I’ve written about the Templars before in this blog; they’re a very useful multipurpose set of characters. Need a villainNeed mystery?  Need treasure and secretsThrow in some Templars.  They’ve got all that.  

And as in Ivanhoe, and The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure – the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon appear in Steve Berry’s book The Templar Legacy[i].   It is the first of his Cotton Malone series of international thrillers. (side note – throughout the whole novel I continued to misread his name as Cotton Mather  which made the whole thing more amusing, to me...)

The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.” – Umberto Eco – Foucault’s Pendulum

The Templar Legacy is a lot like the more popular Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  It has ancient secrets, pursuit across international lines, puzzles and cryptograms, and potentially earth shattering revelations that must be kept secret (or must be brought to light, depending on who you’re rooting for…)  I won’t say anything about those revelations in this book until the end of this review, in case you’re one who doesn’t like spoilers.  Though – it shouldn’t be difficult to figure them out well before the half way point of the novel.  It’s not a particularly new or shocking revelation.

Like The Da Vinci Code Berry’s Templar Legacy also has a number of things to say about the New Testament and early Church history.  Most of it bogus. 

When one of his characters describes the process by which the New Testament gospels were developed she says this concerning the Gospel of Mark:   “It contains six hundred sixty-five verses, yet only eight are devoted to the resurrection.  This most remarkable of events only rated a brief mention.  Why?  The answer is simple.  When Mark’s Gospel was written, the story of the resurrection had yet to develop… (Berry, 337)

First the number of verses:  It’s difficult to say how many verses the gospel of Mark has because the answer depends on which translation you’re using, and whether or not you stop at the short (original?) ending at 16:8 or if you go on to one of the longer endings at 16: 9- 20.  And the usual short answer says that the count is six hundred and sixty six verses.  Berry is inaccurate. 

And then the more substantial snafu:  The story of the resurrection had yet to develop before the writing of Mark’s gospel?  What historical crack is Berry smoking?  He puts the writing of Mark at around AD 70 (Berry, 337) but the story of the resurrection was around long before that. Even if one is critical and suspicious of the early Christians and believes the story of the resurrection of Jesus to be a deliberately contrived fiction – one cannot get around the fact that the story was spreading much earlier than the written gospels.  Paul was writing about it in his letters in the 50s.  Berry is very inaccurate. 

“Elevating Christ to deity status was simply a way of elevating the importance of the message,’ Thorvaldsen said. ‘After organized religion took over in the third and fourth centuries so much was added to the tale that it’s impossible any longer to know its core. (Berry, 344)” 

Wow. So few words, so much wrong – but I’ll leave it alone except to say that Bart D. Ehrman (an historian critical of the Christian story) was somewhat surprised by his research, discovering that the elevation of Jesus to divine status happened much earlier than he was willing to admit. Certainly long before the third century.  See his book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. 

“Unfortunately for you, there exists not one mention of Jesus Christ in any secular Greek, Roman, or Jewish historical account.  Not one reference in any piece of surviving literature.  Just the New Testament.  That’s the whole sum of his existence. (Berry, 405)”

Uh. ... Berry has certainly overstated his case here.  It is true that there is precious little about Jesus outside of the New Testament but Berry goes too far.  The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus wrote about Jesus and his followers.  There is also a reference to him in the writing of Tacitus, the Roman historian.  And there are other, more debated, references to Jesus or his followers in Pliny the Elder, Lucian, Suetonius and etc…  Berry is very, very inaccurate.

I know that you don’t read international thriller novels about the Knights Templar and ancient secrets for accurate information; you read them for the whiz-bang golly gee!  Still, I would like them to be more accurate than this. 

And for that super-secret revelation that must be revealed to the world / kept hidden from prying eyes… (stop here if you don't want spoilers...) the shocking secret is that the Templar treasure is nothing less than the bones of Jesus and a letter from Simon Peter (yes, that Simon Peter) describing how he, along with James and John, collected Jesus’ remains and kept them.  The bones were later discovered by the Knights Templar in the caverns beneath the remains of the temple (how the remains got there is not explained).  The Templars recovered the bones and kept them as their powerful secret to manipulate the Catholic Church and gain a vast fortune of gold and estates across Europe.  -  But - how is it both a secret and a powerful way to manipulate the Church?  You can't have it both ways, Berry.

And, in the end, it’s hard to see why Berry thinks this a secret powerful enough to propel his story. The characters of the novel are untroubled by this supposed revelation.  They accept that one can still have faith and hope and do good for the world even if the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was not a historical-physical event.  There are many Christians who believe this.  Indeed, in the ‘Writer’s Note’ at the conclusion of the novel, Berry credits John Shelby Spong for the inspiration.  You’re going to have to do better than that, Berry.

Even if (and that's a big IF) Berry's scenario were to be played out - convincing the world that bones found in a cave in southern France, are the bones of Jesus of Nazareth would be problematic.










[i] Berry, Steve The Templar Legacy, Ballantine Books, New York, 2006 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Central Iowa Wind Farms - Selective Focus

I posted earlier today another of the photos I took of these wind turbines.  For this one I used a selective focus lens.

central Iowa wind farms by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph central Iowa wind farms by Jeff Carter on 500px

Biblical Limericks: Well, That’s One Way to Do It…


Listen close – here is what we must do
if to the Bible we would be true,
here’s what it has to say
and what we must obey:
There shall be no needy among you.

Though the Lib’rals will object and bray,
we should pass a law, even today,
to give cit’zenship to
just the propertied few
and make the poor people go away.

Deuteronomy 15:24

The Soldiers of Christ / Allah / Israel


But the Soldiers of [Christ / Allah / Israel] may safely fight their battles …, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die for [Chris / Allah / Israel] it is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for [Christ / Allah / Israel], and in the second one gains [Christ / Allah / Israel] himself. …

The soldier of [Christ / Allah /Israel], I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently, for he serves [Christ / Allah / Israel] when he strikes, and serves himself when he falls. Neither does he bear the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer it is not homicide, but, if I may so put it, malicide. He is evidently the avenger of [Christ / Allah / Israel] towards evildoers and he is rightly considered a defender of [Christians / Muslims / Israel]. Should he be killed himself, we know that he has not perished, but has come safely into port. When he inflicts death it is to [Christ's / Allah’s / Israel’s] profit, and when he suffers death, it is for his own gain. The [Christian / Muslim / Israeli] glories in the death of the pagan, because [Christ / Allah / Israel] is glorified; while the death of the [Christian / Muslim / Israeli] gives occasion for the King to show his liberality in the rewarding of his soldier. In the one case the just shall rejoice when he sees justice done, and in the other man shall say, truly there is a reward for the just; truly it is God who judges the earth.

If you find any one of these more acceptable – or more loathsome than the other two variations, you are a hypocrite.



The words come from Bernard of Clairveaux’s work Liber ad Milites Templi: De Laude Novae Militae (Book to the Knights of the Temple: In Praise of the New Knighthood) written sometime between 1120 and 1136 CE in defense of the newly formed Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (the Knights Templar). I added the variations for comparison You can read most of the original (in English translation) here.

Central Iowa Wind Farms

We grow 'em big here.

Central Iowa Wind Farms by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Central Iowa Wind Farms by Jeff Carter on 500px

Casinos - Don't Be Fooled



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Goodbye, Grandma

My grandmother - Irene - my father's mother - died yesterday. She was 81 and a day. Goodbye, grandma; we'll see you on the other side.  If you've got an extra prayer to say, you might say it for my father and his brother.






Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #9


Aries – These fiery lights you see at night streaking through your dark heavens are not meteors.  Even so, they are quite ill.  Nurse them devotedly in their sickness.

Taurus – The children are escaping through a tunnel under the wall.  What will be required now by home office is a general confession of your sins.  Be accurate and thorough.

Gemini – This is an emergency broadcast announcement.  All business establishments will close in thirty-seven (37) minutes.  Return to your homes; you’ll have to shop for batteries another day.

Cancer – Now is not the time to attempt a new romantic relationship.  I know this.  You know this.  Stop making things complicated.  Return the calculator I loaned you and we’ll call it even.

Leo- If you have been assigned court supervision on two (2) occasions within twelve (12) months preceding your date of arrest you cannot blame this on UFO activity.  Take some responsibility for your actions.

Virgo – These are the most perilous times on Earth – at least since last week.

Libra – The High Priest of Shangri-La is not amused by your puerile practical jokes.  And he knows that it was you.  He can see and hear your giggling.

Scorpio – The sign clearly says 15 items or less. What’s wrong with you?

Sagittarius  - The calculations of Saint Helveticus have been proven correct.  Even without modern computer technology he was able to predict the coming of the Ottoman Empire.  Will you still disregard the words he wrote concerning you and your military adventures?

Capricorn- That man will be executed as soon as the paperwork is processed.  (Of course, this means no sooner than six (6) months from now.)

Aquarius – If the woman does attend the event this may be the bait we need to lure the fish out of hiding.  Give him a pair of boots and set him free.

Pieces- I am not a fool, but I am willing to make a deal.  You steal the painting.  I’ll meet with the buyer. 

Biblical Limericks: From the Ostrich Anti-Defamation League


Though its message is splendid and rich,
the Bible’s unfair to the ostrich.
It describes them as cruel,
as no better than fools,
and that’s libel, you son-of-a-bitch!

Job 39: 13 – 18 / Lamentations 4:3


Seriously though, the ostrich is not the careless and inattentive parent described in Job.  They are, in fact, careful about their eggs and their young; the female incubates the eggs during the day, and the male during the night.  After they've hatched the mother ostrich cares for the chicks and shades them beneath her wings.  The chicks are defended from predators by the father (even lions!).  

Ostrich photo Ostrich_zps1bea1b44.jpg


Hope Is a Wet Dog


Hope is a wet dog following me home through the rain;
it won’t go away, though I yell and throw stones at it.
It barks at the door through the night,
scratching incessantly.
I could live contentedly cynical and bitter
if this vain hope would just leave me alone.

Stupid pointless hope,
‘cause nothing ever changes
waiting for the dawn,
and that damned dog
is barking at the door.
Though I know I will regret it
I let him in.

Moon Photos

I went out Saturday evening to take some pictures of the "supermoon,"  but I was thwarted by thunderclouds rolling across the sky, obscuring the moon.  So I took pictures of the highway instead.

I went back out tonight to try again - even though I missed the "supermoon" I still captured some quality photos.  I took several in quick succession and have looped them in an animated .gif.  You can see the motion of the moon - and of the few wispy clouds that were in the sky this evening.

Full Moon, July 13, 2014 by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Full Moon, July 13, 2014 by Jeff Carter on 500px




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 30

Once a week I do this - I create a background image that can be used in powerpoint (or similar presentation programs) and I share it here with you.  Of course, you are not bound to use these free images in powerpoint - you can use them in any of your projects at home, work, school, or at church.  Use them as wallpaper for your laptop or smartphone.  Print them out and use them as wallpaper for your kitchen.  whatever.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found then here.

This particular photo was take a couple of weeks ago at the Salvation Army's summer camp south of Omaha, Nebraska.

 photo Week30_zps2f0a1ef3.jpg

Biblical Limericks: Giorgio A. Tsoukalos Has an Explanation for Everything


I love how that Hist’ry channel show
explains how Ezek’el couldn’t know
that what heaven reveals
in those wheels within wheels
was actually a U.F.O.

Ezekiel 1: 4 - 12


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Exit 164 - This Is Not the Supermoon

I went out this evening to take pictures of the "supermoon" - a full moon at the closest point of its orbit.  I'd checked the almanac to determine what time it would rise in all its lunar luminescence, determined what direction I would need to face, packed up my camera equipment - including a steady tripod - and walked several blocks from my house.

Alas, no moon - super or otherwise.  Storm-clouds rolling across the sky obscured the moon. No worries, however.  There will be two more of them this year.  I'll try again.

But rather than calling it a wasted evening's effort, I decided to try something else.  I set up my tripod on the overpass (carefully watching for traffic) and took several pictures of the cars and trucks going by below me on Interstate 80.

It's a 15 second exposure with my favorite lens (a super-takumar 50mm).

Exit 164 by Jeff Carter on 500px

Photograph Exit 164 by Jeff Carter on 500px

4,2,1, 5 and 54 Red

4,2,1,5 photo 54321_zpsaed4292f.jpg
Here are a couple of collages I made a few years back. Going through some old stuff I very nearly threw them away.  But I rescued them from the trash pile and here they are.  Not that they're anything super substantial.  I just like them.

made with: old books, magazine clippings, tissue paper, newspaper, and acrylic paint,




54 Red photo 54Red_zpsf7c49ae5.jpg

Biblical Limericks: Bill O’Reilly Reacts to the Feeding of the Five Thousand


Bill was there with Jesus by the sea;
he watched Jesus give away food – free!
Said Bill, “It should be clear
what you’re creating here
is a culture of dependency.”

Matthew 14: 13 - 21

Friday, July 11, 2014

Civilian Deaths during Military Conflict



Much has been said in the past couple of days about the morality and ethics (or lack of) of firing missiles into residential areas, and civilian deaths and casualties caused by military conflict.  And much more needs to be said.  Both Israel and Hamas should be condemned by for firing missiles into residential areas (though to this point, only Israel’s missiles have caused any civilian deaths.)

 But

The United States of America also has a rather tainted history in this area.  During the Second World War, US forces purposefully bombed civilian targets – with conventional explosives and firebombing in Germany as well as the two atomic blasts directed at the largely civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Morality is thrown out the window during military conflict.  Ethics are ignored. All that matters is killing the enemy. 


Biblical Limericks: Bill O’Reilly Reacts to Isaiah 55


God, you know that I am most devout,
but come on… giving people handouts?
Buy food without money?
Giving it away free?
You and I have some things to sort out!

Isaiah 55: 1

Biblical Limericks: Sorry Lance Armstrong


Though it might make some feel insecure,
if you’ve had cancer testicular
and your testes were cut
the chapel doors are shut.
On this scripture’s quite particular.

Leviticus 21: 20, Deuteronomy 23: 1

Unguarded

My daughter, in a rare unguarded moment.  She didn't realize that I had the camera out; if she had then she wouldn't have let me take this picture of her.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Biblical Limericks: It’s a "Touchy" Subject


While we were together in bed, he
put his left arm under my head, see,
and my love, with his right,
did caress me all night.
Wake up, lover, I am so ready!

Song of Songs 8: 3 - 4

Psalm 137 – I Don’t Care if it’s Scripture; it’s Abominable


I have written about Psalm 137 a number of times before.(Here, here, and here)  I would rather leave it alone, but it has come up in our church’s weekly bible study through the psalms, so I am drawn to it again – though it repulses me. 

It is a horrible psalm, a powerful psalm. It is a curse disguised as a blessing wrapped up in a lament. 

And I am thinking about this brutal psalm as I’m watching the news reports come in from Gaza, where Israeli rockets are destroying homes and killing civilians (including many children.)

The Psalm begins in beauty; few passages of scripture are as lyric as the first six verses.  Written by one of the exiles recently returned from captivity in Babylon, it describes the emotional state of the Jewish people during their time in that foreign land.

By the rivers of Babylon,
there we sat,
sat and wept,
as we thought of Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung up our lyres,
for our captors asked us there for songs,
our tormentors, for amusement:
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How can we sing a song of the LORD
on alien soil?

(Psalm 137: 1 – 4 JPS version [i])

They hung their harps and lyres upon the branches of the willows and poplars because they had no more use for them. They could not sing hymns and songs of praise.  For the dead cannot praise God.

For there is no praise of You among the dead;
in Sheol, who can acclaim You?

(Psalm 6: 6 JPS version)

For it is not Sheol that praises you,
not [the Land of ]Death that extols you;
nor do they who descend into the Pit
hope for Your grace.
The living, only the living
can give thanks to you…

(Isaiah 38: 18 – 19a JPS version)

They were dead – inwardly.  With no hope. No praise.  How could they sing?

And if the psalm were to end at verse 6, with the expression of the psalmist’s desire to never forget his homeland, I would consider psalm 137 to be just about the greatest psalm in the book.  But it doesn’t.  Good God! It doesn’t.

Verses 7 – 9 take turn this beautiful psalm into an expression of hate and brutal revenge. 

I recognize that I am reading it with modern eyes and evaluating it by contemporary standards.  This is somewhat inevitable.  I may appreciate in the abstract that in the ancient world this was the norm, but I cannot (and will not) accept it as the normative prescription for today.

The Psalmist calls upon God to remember the Edomites (perpetual enemies and feuding relatives to the Jewish people) and their participation in Jerusalem’s destruction.  Remember how they treated us.   And, though it’s left unspoken, the implication is – “do the same to them, God.”  Strip them bare and humiliate them.

Mitchell Dahood, in the Anchor Bible translation, suggests that because Jerusalem is addressed directly in verse 5, and Babylon is addressed directly in verse 8, that Edom should be addressed directly in verse 7.  Making this a warning to the sons of Edom (“Remember Yahweh, O sons of Edom…” (Dahood, 272) [ii] rather than a plea for God to exact revenge against them.

But the final two verses are clearly a curse against Babylon – a curse disguised as a blessing. 

Fair Babylon, you predator,
a blessing on him who repays you in kind
what you have inflicted on us;
a blessing on him who seizes your babies
and dashes them against the rocks!
(Psalm 137: 8 – 9 JPS version)

If verses 1 – 6 are among the greatest lines of scripture, these are among the worst- the ugliest, the most disgusting.  I don’t care that it’s scripture; it’s abominable. I understand the emotion. I understand the bitterness one may have toward someone who has wronged them.  I understand the need to express that emotion.  But I will not accept this as a valid prescription for modern living.

If we continue to pray for the children of our enemies to be killed, we will continue to live in a brutal hate filled world of violence.  Let us move beyond the psalms of hate into the words of Jesus: “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.”  (Matthew 5:44)

Bombing the homes and houses of your enemies is not love.  It is disgusting and abominable.








[i] The New JPS Translation – The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1999.
[ii] Dahood, Mitchell, Psalms III 101 – 150: Introduction, Translation and Notes, Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY, 1970.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Biblical Limericks: No Spontaneous Orgasms for Soldier Boys


When your soldiers go out on missions
they should be quick with their admissions,
lest a failure result
from that critical fault
of having nocturnal emissions.

Deuteronomy 23: 10 - 11

Take Me to the River

These images were pulled up from the icy waters of Rapid Creek, in South Dakota.

Photograph River Flow (4) by Jeff Carter on 500px



Photograph River Flow (3) by Jeff Carter on 500px



Photograph River Flow (2) by Jeff Carter on 500px



Photograph River Flow (1) by Jeff Carter on 500px



Biblical Limericks: Scriptural Spin Control


Forget all about inerrancy;
the Chronicler changed the story
he received from Samuel
to avoid a scandal
and save the naked king’s dignity.

2 Samuel 6:14 -16 (no robe) / 1 Chronicles 15: 27 – 29 (robe)

with thanks to Jim West for the prompt.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I Could Never Be Elected


It’s a good thing that I have no political ambition because I could never be elected.  Given the highly polarized and emotionally charged atmosphere of our political landscape there is no way I could be voted into public office – and, if by some magnificent fluke, I were, there would be no way I’d be allowed to get anything done.  I would be blocked, and attacked at every turn. 

I could never be elected because:

I embrace the term socialist.  I have no problem with that label. I wear it with pride.  (I suppose I could be elected mayor of Milwaukee.  They’ve had three socialist mayors…) I believe in a “redistribution of wealth” – but so do capitalists, they just prefer to see it moving in the other direction.

I don’t do patriotism.  I don’t wear a flag pin.  I don’t sing the national anthem.  I don’t salute the flag.  I don’t say the pledge of allegiance.

I’m a pacifist.  I would refuse to endorse military solutions to political problems. I would seek to defund the military as much as possible. I would completely curtail the use of attack drones. I would seek to eliminate our stockpile of nuclear weapons. And what is more, I would permit American military war leaders to be investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

I would hobble the CIA and the NSA. (The FBI is slightly more legitimate, but they’d face scrutiny and restrictions too.)

My sympathies lie with the Palestinians and not with Israel.  I have been known to wear a keffiyeh. 


I would push for a stronger EPA, more use of solar and wind power over coal and oil, and would refuse to consider drilling for oil in federally protected lands.

Gun control? You bet.  Assault weapons would be in my sights.  In fact I’d call into question anything more than legitimate hunting rifles and small caliber hand guns.

This list could go on, but it should already be clear: I could never be elected to public office. If President Obama is a “radical” then FOXNews would have to create a whole new category and a whole new vocabulary to castigate me.


A Limerick for Victoria Jackson


Oh Victoria, Victoria,
your crazy grows ever morea;
you once had a sharp wit
now you’re just full of shit;
I fear you have mental chorea.

She once performed comedic satire - now she's just a joke and can't recognize satire.

Biblical Limericks: But… Other than that… Perfect!


Asa, King of Judah, was perfect
says First Kings, but let’s have that fact checked:
he made treaties with kings
without Yahweh’s blessing,
jailed prophets, and oppressed his subjects.

1 Kings 15:14, 2 Chronicles 15: 17, 2 Chronicles 16: 1 - 10

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #8


Aries – The mushrooms you purchased last week from that woman at the side of the road have altered your DNA.  I think you should be okay, but you should consult a mycologist for further details.

Taurus - If you listen closely, you’ll hear it, the hum.  It’s down around 50 – 56 Hz so it’s difficult to hear.  But if you do, you’ll receive a series of instructions. Follow them. They will lead to great treasure.

Gemini – The Red Zone City has been enveloped by superfluid fog.  Quantum gravity is in flux. Put your travel plans on hold until this phenomenon is understood.

Cancer – It took me several weeks to figure it out, but the reason that your spellcraft has failed in recent months is that you are using an inauthentic copy of the Simon Necromicon.  The smiley face and rainbows on the cover probably should have been your first clue.

Leo – The mermaids are calling again. If you have completed your SCUBA instruction you may proceed.  If you have not yet completed your certification, you should under no circumstances listen to their song.

Virgo – Your grandmother (the dead one) has been trying to contact you.  She has some hard candy and a quarter for you.

Libra – The Vatican is now taking applications for exorcists.  I’ll be sure to pass along your name and give you a positive reference.

Scorpio – The next reappearance of Halley’s Comet in 1986 will presage great changes in your personal finances.

Sagittarius – Abscesses make the heart grow fungus.  Consult your mycologist immediately. Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

Capricorn - The eagle playing the cymbals in your backyard is named Fernando.  Approach him with caution.  If you can speak to him, ask him what he did with my manuscript

Aquarius – The bacteria on your skin is of a very specific type.  It is keeping many parasites and diseases from bothering you. Stop using anti-bacterial cleansers. 

Pisces – Watch for the movement of wandering Bedouin stars.  They may soon cross the seas and raise an army in the mountains.  If they do they’ll elect one of their own as the Prince.




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