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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

fifi History 6: Everybody Should Love Each Other and Live in Peace and Harmony

NOTE: Citing my notoriously faulty memory and my tendency toward “mendacious untruth” (not my words), various fifi alumni and supporters have graciously added corrections and additions where necessary throughout this series. If there are no corrections in the article below, that must indicate that my recollections are without error.

Sensing the Approach of Nightfall,
fifi Places All Cards on the Table

hes_annette008

Turn! Turn! Turn!

After completing “Captain Kangaroo,” I got married, and so did Eric. In 1990, my son Max was born. Eric joined the military. Eric and I seemed to be drifting apart as our adult lives took shape. It was becoming more and more difficult to find time for collaboration on our silly little fifi project. In fact, after the completion of “Captain Kangaroo,” there was at least a year-long stretch during which we didn’t speak to each other at all. He moved, I moved, and we lost track of each other.

Sometime in 1990 or 1991, Eric wrote to me from Germany, where he was currently stationed. He had purchased a beautiful new guitar, he said. He had some great ideas for a new album, he said. As it happened, I had some ideas of my own. Tentatively, via hand-written letters (this was 1990; nobody had a personal computer yet) we began work on our final album.

Of course, each album we recorded had to be chosen from the list of albums we had already cited on the “Does its Duty” greatest-hits album. We chose “Everybody Should Love Each Other and Live in Peace and Harmony,” which meant that we would have to re-record “African Disequilibrium.” Since this was to be, by mutual agreement, our final album, we knew we would need to include the long-awaited Part I of “Evil Dairy Products.” We quickly decided that the rest of the album would be our “concept album.” After tossing around some not-very-interesting ideas for this proposed concept album, I pulled out a box that I had been saving for five years. This box was packed with scraps of smudged and wrinkled notebook paper, each sheet covered with the sophomoric abstract poetry we had written in high school. We read those aloud to each other, laughed ourselves sick, and picked out the “best” stanzas as the lyrics for our concept album.

Our grandiose vision necessitated additional musicians, so Eric recruited long-time friend and fifi supporter Dan Carnahan, making fifi a power trio, just like Triumph. “I’m young, I’m wild, and I’m FREE!”

In search of a new studio, closer to home and sympathetic to our unique “vision,” I walked into London Studio, right on “The Ave” in Seattle’s University District. The studio manager, Clark (“The Branimal”) Branum, seemed like a cool guy with a sense of humor… PLUS the studio was downstairs from a music store. According to Clark, we could use any equipment or instrument in the store, as long as we were recording after hours and didn’t break anything! This turned out to be completely untrue, but it sure sounded good at the time, so I scheduled a meeting with Clark to outline our recording plans.

When I came in for my meeting with Clark, I brought with me my “Recording Notebook,” which contained all of the lyrics, chord changes, hand-drawn drum patterns, lists of sound effects that were required for each song, amateurish sketches, lists of songs to use as production references, etcetera.

“This song will be a recreation of the F.A.R.T.S. concert performance at Mountlake Terrace High School, with audience members shrieking in pain as the lunch tables collapse, and the principal will be screaming through a bullhorn in the background!” I informed Clark, excitedly.

“This song starts with a radio dramatization of the Evil Dairy Products’ spaceflight and crash-landing on Earth and in the middle there’s a battle scene with laser sounds and explosions, while Captain Gouda announces their plans to mate with Earth women!” I continued, rapidly flipping through the pages of my notebook.

After a few minutes of this, Clark stopped me. “This all sounds great, Jason, but we’re not really set up to do that kind of elaborate, uh… pre-production work here. I’m gonna hook you up with a guy I know…”

Digital Pre-Production with Jay Kenney: 11/91-5/92

Thus began six months of pre-production work with Jay Kenney, in his Wallingford home. Every other week, or whenever I could afford it, I went to Jay Kenney’s house and followed him downstairs, to the back corner of his dark basement, behind the Hammond organ and Leslie tower, through a fringe curtain, to the Kenney Pre-Production Facility. I brought stacks of sound effect CDs and LPs, hand tools, easily-breakable pieces of wood, squeaky camera tripods, cassettes of fifi’s previous albums, various percussion instruments, and anything else that might help us to create the elaborate backing tracks and multitudinous sound effects we needed for the album. I programmed most of the drum tracks on a crummy old Yamaha drum machine which luckily had MIDI out capability. Once we had transferred my drum tracks into Jay’s computer, we would substitute more “professional” drum sounds, and Jay would fix any mistakes arising from my complete ignorance of music theory.

“Why is this snare on the 3?” he would ask, calmly, and I had no answer. Without comment, he would turn back to his computer screen and set about shifting the entire song one beat to the right. Or whatever. Half the time, I didn’t know exactly what he was doing. I just kept saying “no” until it sounded right, at which point I would say “oh holy shit that’s perfect!” and we would move on to the next item in my notebook.

Not only did Jay help me create and record all of the backing tracks and sound effects; he gradually became a co-writer and de facto fourth member of fifi.

“It should go like ‘DUH-duh-duh-DUH-duh-duh’ and then the church bell rings on the last iteration, and underneath that should be a military marching band snare drum like ‘ba-da-rrrap-bap-ba-da-rrrap-bap'” I would say, and Jay would do exactly that.

In May 1992, Jay and I had done all we could do in his basement. Jay off-loaded all of the digital info onto eighty (yes: EIGHTY) floppy discs, which we carefully numbered, boxed, and drove over to London Studios. While Clark monitored the process at $25 per hour, Jay loaded the floppies one by one into the studio computer, and then we played the audio out of the studio computer, in real time, and recorded it to half-inch analog tape.

Pre-Production was complete.

Well, almost. Of course, somehow the most current version of one of the songs had been lost in the transfer, which meant a return to Jay’s studio, another evening of work, and another transfer session at London. But, yeah, Pre-Production was essentially complete.

Analog Recording in London Studios with Clark Branum: 7/92-11/92

Sometime during the analog recording process, Eric and I realized that, inexplicably, this album was turning out to be really… you know: “good.” (Or at least “good” within the context of albums by fifi.) For the first time, we weren’t cutting corners or settling for “good enough” – we were actually producing the kind of album we had always envisioned. It began to dawn on us that our songs were actually funnier when they sounded more professional, when we weren’t relying simply on the cheap laughs of inept musicianship and production.

Unfortunately, this insight and newfound pride prompted us to completely toss out the work we had done on a couple songs and start from scratch. It was as if we had a child; a child that we had always loved, while also assuming that the child was mildly retarded. One day, we realized that – far from being a lovable idiot – our child might actually be a gifted sculptor (or whatever: you get the idea). Suddenly, we wanted to give that child every opportunity to shine. We deeply regretted our past inattention, vowing to become better parents.

All of which cost a lot of money, and longer hours in the studio, and only served to deepen the resentment in my little family:

Jen: No really, I did try for as long as I could to be supportive. I thought it would probably run its course, like a bad virus, and leave me with a shiny clean, new husband person, rid of his creative demons, and who would not address himself as a woman (Annette) or borrow any more of my lingerie. I was wrong.

Gamely trying to make it “fun” I joined on a few studio sessions… let me tell you – horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. The routine was this:

Get into a huge dither for days in advance, gathering tapes, lyrics, etc. Just panicking over nothing, as far as I can recall.
Get to studio, be mildly excited to be “doing something” with fifi.
Be bored for 17 hours while Eric and Jason laugh themselves silly over rotted dairy products or something.
Be pissed at all the girls who thought Jason was cute, smart, or amusing.
Beg to go home and Stop. The. fifi. Madness.

Not to be a stick in the mud, but shoot. We had a baby, we had a serious religion that I barely understood and was trying my best to believe in, and I was not yet 22. I wanted some attention from this “husband” of mine, and it was a dark day when I realized… his heart was forever to be shared with the sickly pink spectre of a poodle with blood coursing down its fangs… fifi. The bane of my marriage. The bane of my attempts to grow up. The evil temptress of my young husband’s soul.

You know what? The hell with fifi.

(insert awkward silence here)

Besides prompting us to shitcan some of our sub-par work, this dawning belief that we had an obligation to produce the BEST FIFI ALBUM EVER also led us to add more and more flavoring to the stew: I tried my hand at turntable “scratching.” Eric learned to play mandolin. We played the sound of a toy cellphone through an electric guitar pickup. We even convinced some members of the Mountlake Terrace High School Glee Club to come in and sing harmony parts.

Summer turned to Fall, and then to Winter, and the recording continued. Then Clark got in a dispute with London Studios management, and we were without a studio again. Which was actually fine, because I had gotten into a dispute with my own employers, and I now found myself out of work, living with my parents-in-law. Also, Eric was in Germany (or Panama; now I can’t remember).

Analog Recording and Mixing in Audio Logic Studios with Clark Branum and Jay Kenney: 11/92-5/93

Eventually, the situation righted itself; Clark and Jay went into business together and opened their own studio in North Seattle, named Audio Logic. I had completely lost contact with Eric, so I finished the album as my finances allowed. As Summer approached, we completed the analog mixing of “Everybody…”

Digital Mastering in 55th St Studio with Clark Branum and Guy Staley: Late 1993

But, alas… each of the separate “movements” of our epic “concept album” had been mixed separately. For the whole thing to work as envisioned, those movements had to cross-fade into each other. This necessitated a $350 night of “digital mastering” at 55th St. Studios, just off Broadway in North Seattle.

“So, did you bring the DAT for the final mix?” asked Guy, as we sat down to work.

Arrgh. A quick trip to Tower Records resolved that problem, and we continued.

When I stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of 55th St. Studios early the following morning, the album was complete. Total cost to yours truly: $4000.

Stations of the Cross

Above, I’ve given an overview of the production of fifi’s “Everybody Should Love Each Other and Live in Peace and Harmony.” Reading the above, however, may give you a distorted perspective, since I’ve intentionally skipped over a whole laundry list of bizarre occurrences and seemingly insurmountable roadblocks that plagued the project. Looking back through my notes from the time, I am quite honestly amazed; the fact that you can even listen to this album today is either a straight-up case of divine intervention, or else a staggering testament to dumb tenacity. Take your pick, though I’m leaning toward #2.

If you get an unhealthy charge out of other people’s misfortune, here’s an abbreviated list of some of the events that would have crushed the dreams of lesser men:

  • Eric was in the military, stationed in Germany, with no idea when he might return to Washington. Just when it looked like he might be coming home, Gulf War I flared up, and he was detained.
  • Although Eric was overseas, he had left his guitar at home. During his absence, Eric’s brother’s delinquent friends stole Eric’s guitar, bass, and amp… and pawned them for drug money.
  • Things began to look up when Eric bought himself a beautiful new guitar and amp in Germany. Upon his return to the States, however, he realized that the amp would only work in Europe. He finally got someone on the military base to replace the Germanic transformer with a good, old-fashioned Made-In-The-USA model, which solved the problem, as long as you could ignore the constant buzzing and occasional squealing sounds.
  • I got fired for “insubordination.” Around the same time, my car broke down. We ran up enormous credit card debt that took years to pay down. Jen and Max and I ended up living with Jen’s parents.
  • I developed a double hernia and had to undergo an operation, followed by the most painful week I have ever experienced in my life.
  • On the first day that I felt I might actually recover from the nightmarish hernia episode, I fell out of a tree and broke my back.
  • After returning to the States, Eric was living an hour away from me, in Tacoma. This not only limited the times we could write or practice together, but when Eric’s car inevitably died, it meant that Eric was stuck in Tacoma, unable to come to the studio, for several months.
  • Between paying for his car repair and other expenses, Eric was unable to pay his phone bill, which meant that I was not able to contact him for months at a time.
  • Dan’s phone was also shut off, so I couldn’t contact him, either. That didn’t matter so much, though, after…
  • Dan got thrown in jail.
  • Dan got evicted, thus completing the phone shut off/thrown in jail/evicted trifecta.
  • Eventually, Dan found a place to live, but had to pawn his only good guitar to pay his still-outstanding phone bill.
  • Eric’s wife was afflicted with a mystery ailment, forcing her to quit her job and confining her to bed for weeks at a time. Between the decreased income and the astronomical medical bills, Eric’s ability to contribute to our studio bill was understandably diminished.
  • I got a great new job… and then got fired again.
  • Eric, um… disappeared. I found out later that he had been posted to Panama, but he had not contacted me or left a forwarding address, so I’m like, um, Eric? WTF?
  • While Eric was posted to Panama, his wife moved to Alaska and divorced him.
  • Eric’s parents separated.
  • Just when it seemed that the cosmic tally of Eric’s bad luck could not possibly tolerate one more entry… Eric was involved in a horrible car accident in Panama, which left him with a totaled car, chronic back pain, and occasional seizures.

There was more, but those are the highlights.

Everybody Should Love Each Other and Live in Peace and Harmony: A Listening Guide

Evil Dairy Products, Part I – Almost certainly the most accomplished thing fifi ever recorded. The music at the beginning was dictated by me, then arranged and performed by Jay Kenney. During the opening “radio dramatization,” you can hear me and Creery and Jen, plus the voices of several friends who will no longer speak to me, offering further proof of Christopher Hitchens’ dictum that “Religion Poisons Everything.” The sound of the spaceship crashing is actually the sound of a semi truck crashing from “Terminator 2.” Much of the dialog during the battle scene was based on a scene from “The Mysterians” (if you have not seen it, do so immediately). My favorite line in the song, “Smell our stinky madness,” was courtesy of long-suffering fifi widow Jen. Eric’s guitar in this song is so good, it’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who played on “Sorry ‘Bout That.” I had to do the vocal track in two separate takes; I couldn’t switch between the two “voices” without coughing. This is one of the very few fifi songs on which I’m not embarrassed of my vocals. Every time I listen to this song, I’m flabbergasted that we pulled it off.

African Disequilibrium – I’ve already offered my apologia for this song, so I won’t do that again. I like this version of the song very much. We put an extraordinary amount of effort into all the background animal sounds; listen for the cow. While the primary drum tracks are all programmed, you can also hear some appropriate percussion that I added, and two nice samples from African field recordings that you will hear layered in at the end; they didn’t really match the timing of the other drum tracks, so we had to “play” the samples in time with the main tracks. We spent a lot of time on this song, and I think it sounds swell.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 1 (The Complete, Total, Absolute, Utter Obliteration and Destruction of Everything That Is, Was, or Ever Will Be, or Ever Won’t Be, Either) – Over the spooky wind effects, you will hear sampled excerpts from earlier fifi recordings and, as a bonus, Eric speaking in German. He’s saying something like: “I am the scary pink dog” etc. The part where Eric and Dan begin singing “Up in the mountains, there is no sound…” always makes me laugh. Sublime.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 2 (Woman) – The drum pattern and ambient synth sound were loosely inspired by David Sylvian’s “Backwaters” and Peter Gabriel’s “Birdy” soundtrack. The disembodied voice speaking in tongues (“Korah basandah boto botonday sateeyah”) is Robert Tilton. Pretty cool how the last snare hit kicks off Movement 3, don’t you think? That’s the digital mastering work of Guy Staley, right there.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 3 (Stanley the Cat’s Colonic Phantasm) – Eric had come into possession of an electric mandolin, so we wrote a song to feature it. London Studios had some congas and one of those “vibra-slap” things which I desperately wanted to play, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to throw in all of that. This is one of the songs that we “rebooted” when we realized that it had the potential to be one of the best songs on the album. Clark Branum played the rhythm and lead guitar in the last two minutes of the song. I’m particularly happy with my percussion on this song, and Clark’s solo, and Eric’s vocals. The final backwards effect is another taste of the Staley magic.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 4 (To Cudgel [One’s Brains]) – On this song, you can hear Tamara Zagurski, Traci Sheehan, and Danny Higdon, of the Mountlake Terrace High School Glee Club, gamely providing the backup vocals. I had a long-standing unrequited crush on Tamara. Sigh. Plus, she did a fantastic job on our stupid songs, and acted like she was having fun. Thanks for that, Tamara. On this song, you can also hear my lame attempts at turntablism. At approximately 1:20 into the song, there is a spot for Eric’s guitar solo, but he doesn’t appear, so we call him at home, and he plays his solo over the phone. In reality, of course, Eric’s guitar solo is simply played in the studio, but his vocals are actually recorded over the phone, calling the studio from the music store upstairs.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 5 (And Now… Annette’s Anti-Anathematizational Analysis) – This song is intended to be an exaggerated recreation of the disastrous F.A.R.T.S. Benefit Concert at Mountlake Terrace. To this end, we brought our 20 closest friends into the studio to record several tracks of crowd noise, which we layered on top of some crowd sounds from a sound effects CD. Historically interesting note: As the song opens, He’s shouts “I’m Not Neil Diamond!” – a song that we played at the F.A.R.T.S. concert, but never recorded. Eric plays He’s, as well as Jerry Karnofski, the MLT principal. Throughout the song, you can hear “Jerry” chastising various honor roll members and football players for their anarchic behavior. Listen closely, and you can hear automatic weapons fire in the audience. Jay provides the faux sitar sounds and other keyboards, and Clark did an excellent job of making me sound as much as possible like Robert Plant. When the tables begin to collapse, that’s the sound of me breaking kindling and throwing 2x4s on the cement floor in Jay’s basement. “Thanks for all the toys – they’re gonna make some starving kids really happy!”

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 6 (Blind Man in a Revolving Door) – The background department store ambiance is from a sound effects CD, and the sound of the revolving door is from a squeaky camera tripod. Eric’s final wail of despair always makes me laugh. “Fire Sale in the Prosthetic Limbs department!”

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 7 (Slumbering Somnolence While Sleeping) – The delicate guitar in this song was written and played by Dan Carnahan. The melancholy fake cello is Jay. The storm sounds and thunder are from my sound effects CD (inspired by “The Song is Over”). The final “rain does seep” harmony is Jen (nice job, pal). One of my top ten favorite fifi songs.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 8 (Cozy Malevolence; “Distended” Geese) – More of the “Department Store Ambiance” track from the sound effects CD, plus a Muzak track from the Capitol “Production Music” set.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 9 (Soliloquy for Two People) – Does anyone else remember that “They call these cookies ‘squirrels’?” commercial? No? Just Eric and me?

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 10 (Bob Barker’s Infamous Cannibalistic Rodential Veterinarianism) – Another one of the songs that we started, then dumped and re-started, because it deserved better than our initial amateurish attempt. One of my favorite fifi tracks. The audio samples are all from a series of stereo test records I bought at stores in the University District. The “Stereophonic Sound Spectacular!” sample was later used by the trip-hop group Hooverphonic; they even named an album “Stereophonic Sound Spectacular.” Jay provided the propulsive phased synth sound, I wrote the drum track and played the socket wrench, and Eric provided the multiple guitar tracks and the “Zooropa”-inspired vocals. During the “Track the Groove” chorus, you can hear a toy cell phone held against the pickups of Eric’s guitar. Hard to believe this is the same fifi that recorded “Death Poodle.”

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 11 (An Important Message from He’s) – In my opinion, this and EDP Part I have the most excellent guitar work of the entire fifi oeuvre. This song is almost entirely the creation of Eric and Dan. I especially like the reverse reverb, which leads me to the following digression:

Linguists divide the mechanisms by which cultures develop a written language into two broad categories: Blueprint Copying and Idea Diffusion. In the case of Blueprint Copying, members of one culture receive the building blocks of a written language directly from a more linguistically-advanced culture. In the case of Idea Diffusion, the recipient culture may be aware of the fact that surrounding cultures possess written languages – may even recognize the advantages of a written language – but nobody has yet handed over a goddamn dictionary or anything useful like that, so the recipient culture is eventually forced to invent a written language of their own, from scratch.

The reverse reverb effect here is an excellent example of Idea Diffusion: This is an effect we had heard on other artists’ albums, and we were definitely aware of how fucking METAL that effect was… but we had no direct information on how to recreate it, so we had to make something up.

After much trial and error, we hit upon the following: record the guitar track, play the recorded track backward while adding a reverb effect to the output, record the result to a separate track, and then play the whole mess forward again. Which may not have been the same way Judas Priest did it, but our Mickey Mouse method sounded so perfect coming over the studio monitors that we laughed until tears streamed down our faces.

The “…and after death, the judgment” sample is from a Jerry Falwell LP I picked up in a thrift store. Dan is singing/growling the lead vocals, and Eric is doubling the vocals in the background. A perfect example of one of our songs being funnier because it almost sounds… you know, professional.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Movement 12 (O Heed the Exhortations of fifi, the Prescient Pooch) – The opening is inspired by the beginning of Supertramp’s “Even in the Quietest Moments.” Eric is playing the sweet lead guitar, and Dan is providing the gnarly rhythm guitar; an improvised addition that kicks the song up a notch. Jay is playing the (fake) flute, triumphant (fake) brass section, and other keyboards. Members of the much-lauded Mountlake Terrace High School Glee Club are providing the harmony vocals. On the original recording, Eric said “Come on, now!” one stanza later. When Clark and I were mixing, we both felt that this should come just before the introduction of the triumphant horns, as if Eric was summoning them into existence. Clark sampled that vocal outburst, placed it one stanza earlier, erased the original, and all was well.

VIDEO

  1. “Sorry ‘Bout That” Documentary, Part 6A
  2. “Sorry ‘Bout That” Documentary, Part 6B

AUDIO

To download any of the songs individually, just right-click on the desired track in the playlist above and select “Save link as…”

To download the entire set (including the fifi-approved, cross-faded album version of TSoOHC) in a .zip file, click here.

LYRICS

In case you’re interested (and also because Robin says she can’t understand what the hell we’re singing), the lyrics for this album can be found here.

Proceed to the next chapter in the spellbinding fifi saga.

336 Comments

  1. Jamie, I understand you were making a joke when you lifted the SNL bit and called me an ignorant slut. So you get to make a joke that calls me stupid and of low morals, implying, as dan akroyd does to jane curtain that my opinions are unworthy because of who I am (ad hominem) . you also get to put me in the submissive female role as dan does by bullying jane. You get to do all of this under the guise of a joke so it’s not like you meant it only you really did.
    If you think I wouldn’t catch the reason you made that joke and the subtext of it then you are not as clever as you think you are. If the subtext and misogyny didn’t even occur to you then you are not as clever as I think you are.
    Perhaps you can explain when the bible is using metaphor and when it is literally true? I assume that since there is no evidence for a world wide flood and noah couldn’t have fit every single animal on his boat and people mysteriously turn up after the flood even though they have been wiped out (the whole point of the endeavor, which was questionable to begin with) is that the story of noah is not to be taken literally. And where the heck do these people keep showing up from? Adam and Eve have a couple of boys and then they go out into a fully populated world? Same with noah? so since the makes zero sense it must be just a story to prove a point or teach a lesson? what lesson? that god is a dick that slaughters every living thing because people are pissing him off? (or should I avoid using that term of patriarchal hegemony in upholding the bibles long tradition of treating women as equals?

    in genesis 19:8 all the men in sodom go to lot’s house because they want to ‘know’ the two new boys that have stopped by. now “know” is generally means rape in this part of the bible but I suppose it could mean they just want to hang out and shoot the sh*t. Except of course in a similar story a women gets “known” to death so i think the rape interpratation is probably the right one.
    so rather than send his guest out lot offers up his two virgin daughters to the crowd so the can all get to know each other. fortunately for lot the new guys are some ass kicking angels that tear that town a new a**hole (ironic isn’t it?)
    judges 19:16-30. like the story of lot the townsfolk want to rape a visiting levite. again the term they use is “know” but rather than send out the levite they send out hosts daughter and a concubine rather than the men. shame there were no angels to do a little ass kicking!. The concubine gets “known” to death. we know this because the next day they stumble over her body.
    there are two lessons here. one is the bible is really repetitious and a complete drag to read all the way through. jamie, when I read the bible i did it from front to back like one would read a work of fiction or a biography. That is when it became apparent that many of the stories are very similar. the often use the same language, like lifted directly the same language. this happens in the NT as well.
    The story of abraham sacrificing isaac (or ishmael) ends up alright although if I were abraham i might be a little pissed that god scared the crap out of me telling me to sacrifice my son. and if i was isaac or ishmael i might think twice about going out for a walk with my dad.
    for more repetition and lady killin’ you can enjoy Judges 11:29-40 where jephthah ends up sacrificing his DAUGHTER because he promised god he would sacrifice the first living thing he saw for god’s help with whole bunch of other killing. soo, he lets his daughter hang out for a couple of months to bemoan her virginity and the he kills her and cuts her up into 12 pieces. I guess isaac/ishmael was worth saving because they were guys and were actually going to be worth something but chicks are a dime a dozen. I guess he could have had the town rape, i mean know, her so she wouldn’t have to spend a couple of months in the mountains complaining about being a virgin.
    what is the point of all this? What parts of the bible are allegory and what parts are literal? what is god trying to say other than he isn’t all that keen on the dames? doesn’t the repetition of themes and stories suggest rather strongly that the bible was written by a lot of people over a long period of time and that it borrows liberally from other myths and legends?
    Jamie, as a self professed scholar of the bible you must already know all of this right?

    Look, arguing for god doesn’t pass the logic test as the debate between eric and jason pointed out. the bible doesn’t pass as an accurate historical document in it’s current form. It is clearly the work of many authors that has been edited, transcribed and fudged to make the points that the writers want to make. It is not divinely inspired. we could go back and forth about this for a thousand years i doubt that any amount of evidence is going to change your mind.
    That brings us back to the main point jason was making. that religion poisons everything. And so far, it looks like he was more right than wrong.

  2. i can’t believe i typed ‘burnt’.
    i must be tired.
    i apologize for all the typos and grammatical errors.
    i swear jason. satan totally is making me spell that way.

  3. Jaime: you write..
    “Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to avoid the death of their son. Let me ask you this logical question: Why would Herod be killing kids under 2 years old? Because it had been nearly 2 years since the first appearance of the star. As for Elisabeth and her son John, leaving out where they fled, if they fled, etc is not a contradiction. It wasn’t relevant. The New Testament is about Messiah, Jesus, not about John.”
    Does the bible mention them fleeing? Do you just assume they did or did the slaughter not happen.
    Matthew is the only gospel that mentions the “slaughter of the innocents”. It seems that the earliest account other than matthew is the protoevangelium of james, which is an apocryphal gospel. I guess that means it was too blatantly BS to be included in the bible so not sure it is a good source of evidence for this actually occurring. However it does explain how john the baptist avoided getting slaughtered. god cleft a mountain so john and his mom could hide and them some angels hung out with them. yeah,,probably best to leave that bit out.
    Josephus, who wrote about Herod doesn’t mention it even though he does talk about many of the other atrocities Herod committed. Apologists claim that in Herod’s reign of terror it wasn’t worth mentioning since the number of infants killed was, depending on the source, thousands, dozens or just a few. Still, it is just a guess as to why it wasn’t mentioned. Below I will put forth a more likely reason (hint..it didn’t happen)
    More likely matthew was trying to get the birth of jesus to line better with old testament prophecy. It was very important for him to have “jesus fulfill the scriptural references to the new Davidic king”(1)(callahan p381).
    There are also a number of mythic themes in this story. The slaughter of innocents is one as well as a reference back to moses’ birth. The gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold are the same thing given to solomon by the queen of sheba.
    The star over bethlehem is a problem as well. Naturalistic explanations don’t cut it. No one else records a new star shining in the sky. The romans and the chinese were avid watchers of the sky and they make no mention of planetary conjunctions or new stars being spotted in the sky. Seems if it was a natural event and not supernatural they would have mentioned it. No other gospel mentions this star so it would seem to have been a supernatural event.
    The magi are following the star but for some reason have to stop and ask herod “where the new king is being born” (2) (Callahan p.379).
    Why can’t the keep following the star? Did it wink out? who knows? Why does herod trust the magi to come back and tell him when they find jesus? why doesn’t he have his troops follow the star? or the magi? The stopping off at herod’s and the fleeing to egypt by joseph are all in the service of getting the birth of jesus to fulfill OT prophecy. None of the actions make a lick of sense otherwise.
    So,, herod dies. joseph has a dream telling him it is safe to to return from egypt but not to go to bethlehem because it is ruled by one of herod’s sons. It is however safe to go to galilee and settle in nazereth because it is ruled by one of herod’s sons. oh wait. that doesn’t make sense.
    Luke has a few problems as well. Like the census. I am going to do a lot of summing up so if you want all the names and dates send my your phone number and I will read the text for you in any voice you like.
    the idea of a census that requires you to return to your place of orgin for tax purposes means that if you were born in seattle but had moved to boston you would have to go back to seattle to be counted. That seems like a really impractical way to conduct a census. There is no record of that ever happening in rome. Even if the policy were enacted it shouldn’t have affected judea which was a protectorate but not administered by rome directly. There was a census mentioned in Lk.2:2 when quirinius was legate in syria but in Lk 1:5 the birth of john and jesus takes place when “herod the great” was king of judea. He died in 4 bce. the census was in 6 ce. ten years later. the bogus census was a way to get the nativity to take place in bethlehem and fulfill micah’s prophecy and still account for jesus coming from nazareth. It is all to create an origin that follows mythic traditions and lines up with OT prophecy.

    jaime, the bible is full of literary allusions, myths, and metaphors. It is full of implausibilities and propaganda. In fact I would like to quote one of the people posting here…”I THINK YOU SAID IT ALL WHEN YOU SAID IT WAS A WORK OF FICTION. You could have stopped there…”””
    I really could have stopped when I said the bible is a work of fiction because, clearly, it is.
    since you sometimes like sources and sometimes don’t much of the this comes from “secret origins of the bible” by tim callahan.
    as far as there being some sort of atheist manual to regurgitate contradictions there aren’t any that I know of. I provided some links a while ago you didn’t want to look at. go back and find them. better still read a few books of criticism. Hopefully the above meets your standards for framing an argument.
    jaime, how about addressing some of the questions I ask in 280? Or are those not framed to your satisfaction or just not the softballs you were hoping for?

  4. ooops…. hit the submit button and wasn’t done…

    Occasionally being the key word. More than not, his followers are doing amazing acts of charity and kindness. You keep leaving that stuff out. Why? Are you really that morbid and into dark, twisted, sick perversions? (kidding, but trying to prove a point…. please forgive because I don’t think you are any of the above.) Quote and cite some good stuff God and/or his people do/did in the bible. Pretty please???

    C’mon, rock my world with some of that snappy banter and lay some good, good loving on us…. straight outta God’s word!

    Hugs!

    JE

  5. Jason,

    My first question to you is…. “How do you know it isn’t God talking to you urging you to do the right thing?” Your lack of belief doesn’t keep God silent. It certainly didn’t with Saul, The Christian Killer. He didn’t believe and wasn’t listening to God until he met him on the road to Damascus. A murdering, lying, deceitful, vengeful guy giving orders to kill people of “The Way”…. and God chose to use him in spite of himself. Are you sure God isn’t speaking to you or is that your own human understanding and explanation?

    “and the proper rules for selling people into slavery, and…” Where, pray tell, does God do that? Just curious since you keep bringing it up…

    “Slaughter every man, woman, child, and animal in an unbelieving city or nation (which everyone except Jamie would call genocide)…

    Offer up slaughtered animals to atone for their sins…

    Murder their own children (though, of course, that was just a psych-out, because he rescinded the order at the last minute)…

    Judging by the Prophetic books of the Bible, God is kind of a murderous and vengeful warlord. Of course, there are other scriptures where he is portrayed as a loving and caring parent. Unless I’m completely misunderstanding the Bible, God has done, and has ordered his followers to do, things that we in the modern world find morally abhorrent.” I find it chilling that you continually only give half the story. Do you have some ulterior motive? You only show the “bad”, as you see, and not the reasons behind why God ordered or allowed things to happen. Not to mention the fact you RARELY EVER talk about the good things God did in the bible, ordered, allowed, etc or that believers do/did. Isn’t that a bit slanted? Which is of course another argument for the authenticity of the bible. The fact that they put it all in… not just the good stuff that makes God and His followers look saintly, but also their foibles and shortcomings. King David is a man after God’s own heart, yet then he goes and has Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba for his own wife. Man, I’ll tell you what. If I were trying to “create” a religion, I’d do it by making it look so good you couldn’t say no. No plagues, disasters, death, sin… I’d have ’em singing in the aisles and signing up to give me their money! Yee Haw!

    You said it best…. “God has occasionally ordered his followers to do things like…” Yep, I agree… OCCASIONALLY.

  6. okay, jaime before I go through the contradictions let me sort out a few things.
    1. yes, I have been in a house on fire. have you? what is your point? Actually I have been in at least two burning buildings. One was a barn on our property that was being burnt down and as it was on fire we walked through it. Visibility was fine. We walked around and looked at the flames and the glowing wood.
    The other was a much smaller single room building that was a small house. It was much smokier and hard to see.
    2. ad hominem. I said very clearly that my points about deepak could be interpreted as ad hominem attacks. Then I provided evidence for the what I was saying. Referring to Ted Bundy as a murder and a rapist isn’t ad hominen anymore than what I said about deepak is ad hominem. It is verifiable by evidence.
    3. When referring to Patrick O’Brian I was pointing out certain religious viewpoints and mores that existed at the time. It was a work of fiction that contained factual information. You know, a work of fiction with a few facts thrown in. Like the bible. Well, except O’Brian’s books describe events that actually happened.
    If your reading of the bible is as lazy and facile as your responses of these posts then I am not sure I should take you very seriously.
    More later.

  7. Korin, I also appreciate your heartfelt and honest answer. I hope you know that I am proud to call you a friend, even if we disagree. I want to tread lightly here, because you shared something that is clearly personal and important to you, and it would be crass to be snide or sarcastic in response. On the other hand, I’m sure you must know that, to those of us who are not believers… well, it’s a bit hard to swallow, this “god-talks-to-me-personally” business.

    Here are some of the questions that your comments bring up for me.

    First, you must know that even those of us without a belief in god have consciences, and these consciences – which can sometimes seem like a voice in the back of our minds – sometimes push us to do the “right thing” instead of the thing that our old lizard brain wants to do. Sometimes, I so badly want to do A, but my conscience stops me and nags me into doing B. How is this different from the experience you are describing?

    Secondly, when you say that you know it’s God talking when he urges you to do “THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF MY CHARACTER BUT WITHIN HIS”… that seems very frightening to me, because, while I know you are a thoughtful and deeply moral person, God has occasionally ordered his followers to do things like…

    Slaughter every man, woman, child, and animal in an unbelieving city or nation (which everyone except Jamie would call genocide)…

    Offer up slaughtered animals to atone for their sins…

    Murder their own children (though, of course, that was just a psych-out, because he rescinded the order at the last minute)…

    Judging by the Prophetic books of the Bible, God is kind of a murderous and vengeful warlord. Of course, there are other scriptures where he is portrayed as a loving and caring parent. Unless I’m completely misunderstanding the Bible, God has done, and has ordered his followers to do, things that we in the modern world find morally abhorrent. Not to mention all of that stuff he left in the Bible about women not being allowed to speak, and the proper rules for selling people into slavery, and…

    So, when you hear this voice, telling you to do things… how do you make the judgment that those commands/suggestions are within god’s character? And can you really argue, based on the Bible, that god’s character is something to emulate?

    Bottom line for me: what you’re describing sounds very simply like the voice of your “better nature,” the voice of your human conscience, which was shaped by all of your experiences in this world.

    Also: Our last president claimed that god spoke to him, told him personally that we had to wage war against the evildoers. Given what I’ve read in the Bible, that wouldn’t actually surprise me; it’s totally in keeping with the kind of crap god would say. But, given the massive bloodshed that followed (just like in similar stories in the Bible), don’t you wonder if perhaps our leader was… mistaken?

    In fact, lots of crazy and unpleasant people throughout history have claimed that god spoke to them personally, and have done crazy and unpleasant things as a result. Were they lying? How would we know? How does God choose who to talk to, since he clearly doesn’t talk to everyone? What about folks who are suffering and begging for a sign or a word of comfort from god, but receive nada? What’s up with that? Why would god speak to you, but remain silent to millions of others, including Mother Teresa?

  8. Good post, Korin. Well thought out and nicely articulated from your heart. Best of luck with school, mommy duty, etc. We all hope to hear from you soon. Keep us posted! Anatomy,,,, geez…. My ankle bone’s connected to my… oh never mind! 🙂

    JE

  9. Re: Robin’s post #204. Because I trust that it is an honest question, I have taken my time and tried to be very thoughtful about my response. I think Robin, you have already made up your mind about this, but perhaps you are curious enough to try to understand if from another perspective (or perhaps not, and you’ll just think I’m a crackpot). Either way, I really appreciate you posting a challenging question. I have taken some time to really think about my answer – and I am still thinking about it. I find it is difficult to explain to someone with a different frame of reference, which makes is a great exercise. I’ll start by responding to your questions and statements- my responses are in all caps (not because I’m yelling) just so you can easily see them, apart from the questions:
    But then do you actually hear his voice in your head, talking back to you? SOMETIMES Is it a real voice, separate from yours? YES- OF THIS I AM SURE Is it male? NOT NECESSARILY. Deep? NOT IN TONE, BUT IN WISDOM Or is it that you pray, and then you have some thoughts – in other words you decide what to do – i.e “I need to let go” or “I need to make a call”, and then you say,”god told me to let go or god told me to make a call.” I DON’T GIVE MYSELF THE CREDIT FOR THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF MY CHARACTER BUT WITHIN HIS. I AM USUALLY (NOT ALWAYS) QUITE CERTAIN WHAT IS COMING FROM MY MIND AND WHAT IS NOT. I RARELY SAY “GOD TOLD ME…”If you don’t actually hear him talking to you in a separate male voice, then “I talk to god” means I think things and decide things and attribute them to god. If the things I think and decide turn out well, I say “Thank god!” or “God guided me to do this…”If they don’t, I say, “I guess god didn’t have that in store for me” THAT MAY BE HOW YOU DEFINE SOMETHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SO THAT YOU ARE NOT LEFT WITH AN UNCOMFORTABLE UNANSWERED QUESTION, BUT IT IS NOT MY EXPERIENCE. I AM QUITE CLEAR ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHEN I THINK THINGS AND DECIDE THINGS, AND WHEN GOD IS SPEAKING. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU WILL HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT THIS IS MY TRUTH, BECAUSE I’M NOT SURE HOW TO SHARE THIS WITH YOU IN WORDS. or “I asked god but in the end only my daughter can decide …” If only your daughter can decide, than why do you ask god inside your head? I DON’T ASK GOD TO MAKE HER DO THINGS.
    And when you suggest that perhaps god has been talking to Jason, but perhaps Jason wasn’t listening, do you really mean that Jason wasn’t attributing his thoughts and decisions to god? NO THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT. IT WAS AN HONEST QUESTION, NOT A SUGGESTION. Because if he was listening, then he would believe that what he thought and felt came from god? NO – I BELIEVE JASON WOULD LIKELY KNOW IF HE WAS HEARING FROM GOD. Is that what listening to god is? Believing that everything you think and feel is from god and not yourself? NO – I DON’T THINK SO. THERE IS A DISTINCT DIFFERENCE FOR ME. Or should he have heard the separate male voice? SEPARATE? YES, MALE? CAN’T SAY, AUDIBLE, MORE OFTEN NOT I’D SAY.
    I respectfully disagree with you (and John). I am however, glad that you are sharing what you think. When I first gave my heart to Jesus, and all the times that I have laid more of myself down for his purposes, it honestly hasn’t been from a motivation to deal with the uncontrollable suffering of life or the terror of death (although I too think this may be how/why some people come to Him.) I haven’t had uncontrollable suffering in life, sure I’ve suffered heartbreak, but I’ve always had the ability to cope, or people around who could help me cope, encouraging me with their stories and love (I am remembering a time that you did that for me, not so long ago). Personally for me, it’s been more about wanting more – more love and ability to love, more wisdom, more understanding, more compassion, more joy, more purpose. More of all those things than what life without God has been able to offer.
    I honestly don’t think I am afraid of death. I am perfectly comfortable being in the presence of the dying, and I really try to be wide open to what is happening during that process. Maybe because I think this is where many of my questions will be answered, in death. I was very closely connected to my mother-in-law when she was dying, it was an amazing journey. I am also oddly comfortable with unanswered questions – I think the learning process is rich and incredible and we miss a lot when we rush to the answer.
    I guess that above part was an extra – not really related…but felt important to add at the time. You won’t be hearing much from me (if at all) for the next 10 weeks as school’s back in session and working full time, being a mom, and getting a 4.0 in anatomy is going to take all I have 🙂 Thanks to each of you – I’ve learned much in this thread so far! I have a new appreciation for each of you – all amazing minds and I would be/am honored to call you friends.

  10. A PS to John and comments made in 267:

    John,

    Have you ever been in a house fire? The smoke is very thick and black. It is encapsulated by the house in much the same way the fire is contained in a furnace. Even though there are flames, it is extremely hard to see through them as it is very dark. Ask a fireman, he’ll tell you…

    Either way, it’s still a metaphor.

    Man, I have way too much time on my hands today!

    JE

  11. John,

    Comment 279: Again, to equate something as insignificant as television just says to me that religion or faith just isn’t that important or meaningful.
    As a side note I am currently reading a series of historical fictions by Patrick O’Brian about a captain in the british navy in the early 1800’s. My understanding is that many of the events in the book are based on things that really happened and they are fairly accurate in their portrayal of life than. One of the more interesting and relevant bits are about the role faith and religion played. For example. Catholics had to renounce their faith to be promoted to Admiral. (i may have the rank wrong). The reasoning was that if you were loyal to the pope you couldn’t be loyal to your country since it was run by a protestant king. Now, If you can find an incident of someone not being promoted to high military rank because they watch “Rock Of Love” or that people are being killed because they prefer Showtime to HBO I will entertain the argument. I don’t mean to sound snotty but I just don’t think the things are equal.

    I THINK YOU SAID IT ALL WHEN YOU SAID IT WAS A WORK OF FICTION. You could have stopped there…

  12. Comment 277: I love full-strength Jason! I can have a discussion, debate, argument, beer…. with someone who has some gonads and a backbone!

  13. Matt,

    Comment 275. Wow! Now that was really awesome! As Tommy Smothers would say, “Touchy, touchy.” (He meant to say “touche, touche… You had to be there, I guess!)

    JE

  14. Jason,

    Comment 274: I would argue: That conservative, judgmental, divisive baloney is the price she pays for that false solace. I would say the same about my father. His religion gives him solace, and it also closes his mind and destroys his family.

    Judgmental… seems the bible warns us about that. If I point our your error or “sin” and am attempting to help you turn from it, I’m not judging you. If I tell you, “You shouldn’t be doing that because that’s just stupid!” Now, that’s judging. Telling someone that I have a close, personal relationship with, “You are committing adultery with your secretary and you need to stop. How can I help you?” is not judgmental (provided I know FOR SURE he is…). People fall too hard on the whole judgmental issue. Jason, if you see your kid doing something wrong, do you tell him or do you let him slide because you don’t want to be “judgmental”?….

    Your dad’s religion may give him solace, but he is responsible for his actions, not the bible or his religion. He is wrong and so are you in this analogy.

    I LOVE BOOKS! As long as one reads the entire thing before making a decision on it’s merits….

    JE

  15. Matt,

    Comment 273:

    We’re not talking about people “thinking” or “maybe God said”, but about the actual personage of God himself appearing to and talking to people in the OT (and Jesus/God in the NT). If something popped up on my computer telling me it was God, I’d assume Jason was playing an April Fool’s Day prank on me!

    As for dancing and alcohol…. the bible is clear not to be a drunkard. It does NOT say we can’t drink alcohol. And for dancing, they used to celebrate God by dancing, playing instruments, etc. This is nothing more than different “denomonations” setting down rules to “curb” what they believe leads to immoral behaviour. Good? Bad? I don’t know, but it is bad theology.

    Matt, in my opinion, it doesn’t all come down to where we are at and that’s how or why we believe. The bible is clear. People twist it, yes, on both sides of the belief aisle. But that doesn’t make IT (the bible) vague or fuzzy. People attempt to make it vague or fuzzy to suit their whim. Unfortunately, that is the human condition.

    Keith hates cats. You love cats. It doesn’t matter what either of you believe. THE CAT STILL EXISTS! That’s the point of God and the example you’ve made, even if you didn’t realize it.

    Matt, I love your heart and your passion. You have alot of good stuff. Keep on typing, dude! We all gain from what you post on here!

    JE

  16. Matt,

    Comment 273:

    We’re not talking about people “thinking” or “maybe God said”, but about the actual personage of God himself appearing to and talking to people in the OT (and Jesus/God in the NT). If something popped up on my computer telling me it was God, I’d assume Jason was playing an April Fool’s Day prank on me!

    As for dancing and alcohol…. the bible is clear not to be a drunkard. It does NOT say we can’t drink alcohol. And for dancing, they used to celebrate God by dancing, playing instruments, etc. This is nothing more than different “denomonations” setting down rules to “curb” what they believe leads to immoral behaviour. Good? Bad? I don’t know, but it is bad theology.

    Matt, in my opinion, it doesn’t all come down to where we are at and that’s how or why we believe. The bible is clear. People twist it, yes, on both sides of the belief aisle. But that doesn’t make IT (the bible) vague or fuzzy. People attempt to make it vague or fuzzy to suit their whim. Unfortunately, that is the human condition.

    Keith hates cats. You love cats. It doesn’t matter what either of you believe. THE CAT STILL EXISTS! That’s the point of God and the example you’ve made, even if you didn’t realize it.

    Matt, I love your heart and your passion. You have alot of good stuff. Keep on typing, dude! We all gain from what you post on here!

    JE

  17. PS…. I am a bible scholar, not a half-witted blind follower. You need to do a better job in framing any arguments centered around bible contradiction.

    JE

  18. John,

    Comment 267…. Not ad hominem attack. I was making a poor attempt at humor. However, your calling of Chopra an idiot was AH…

    Let’s dive in!

    JOHN SAID IN COMMENT 267:

    MT 2:13-16 Following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt, (where they stay until after Herod’s death) in order to avoid the murder of their firstborn by Herod. Herod slaughters all male infants two years old and under. (Note: John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, though under two is somehow spared without fleeing to Egypt.)
    LK 2:22-40 Following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary remain in the area of Jerusalem for the Presentation (about forty days) and then return to Nazareth without ever going to Egypt. There is no slaughter of the infants.

    MT 2:23 “And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: He will be called a Nazarene.’” (This prophecy is not found in the OT and while Jesus is often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”, he is seldom referred to as “Jesus the Nazarene.”)

    Jesus was between one and two years old when the Magi came to him. They first came to Herod who had inquired of the star and sent for them. They knew his intent was to kill the child, so they did not return to him as he wanted. They went home via another route. The timeline totally follows the correct and logical path. At 40 days old, the Magi had still not yet visited Jesus. Like I said, not until he was at the very least one year old.
    Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to avoid the death of their son. Let me ask you this logical question: Why would Herod be killing kids under 2 years old? Because it had been nearly 2 years since the first appearance of the star. As for Elisabeth and her son John, leaving out where they fled, if they fled, etc is not a contradiction. It wasn’t relevant. The New Testament is about Messiah, Jesus, not about John.
    Old Testament does not have a “specific” prophecy about the Messiah being from Nazareth or being a Nazarene, however the Aramaic in Hebrews 11:1 does refer to it. The Aramaic word for “branch” has literally the same meaning as the word Nazarene and is where the prophecy comes from.

    MT 3:11-14, JN 1:31-34 John realized the true identity of Jesus (as the Messiah) either prior to the actual Baptism, or from the Baptism onward. The very purpose of John’s baptism was to reveal Jesus to Israel.
    MT 11:2-3 After the Baptism, John sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is the Messiah.

    John was in prison and was very troubled (wouldn’t you be!) and was beginning to wonder aloud if Jesus really was who he said he was. He was having doubts. Jesus sent word to him in prison in a way he would understand and take comfort in knowing he really was Messiah.

    MT 3:12, 13:42 Hell is a furnace of fire (and must therefore be light).
    MT 8:12, 22:13, 25:30 Hell is an “outer darkness” (and therefore dark).

    Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
    Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
    God is a blast furnace, no wait, he’s a big bird…. No wait! It’s called metaphor… Geez, you can do better than that, can’t you?

    MT 3:16, MK 1:10 It was Jesus who saw the Spirit descending.
    JN 1:32 It was John who saw the Spirit descending.

    Everyone there heard the voice of God and the dove (spirit) descend on Jesus. Again, no contradiction… And since the book of John is written in the first person, wouldn’t it stand to reason he would give HIS account that he saw the dove descend, not Jesus saw the dove descend. Again, the all saw it descend, but now I’m splitting hairs.

    jaime, pick it up and read it again. It never occurred to me that bible was rife with inconsistencies when I first read it. As I waded through it I noticed that there were some problems with it.
    that is got me interested in bible criticism.
    Tell you what. You tell me which of your biblical scholars books I should read and I will. If you read one of the books I recommend for you.

    Is there an “atheist manual” that has these so-called contradictions in them that they ask you to regurgitate, or do you actually do intensive study of the bible as I do? It appears you do not, as you claim, or you would not have lobbed up such giant sized softball questions…..

    Something to ponder,
    JE

  19. A while back, Korin made the claim that Christianity is not about reward or punishment. To anyone who is similarly inclined, I would ask that you first read the “prophetic” books of the Bible in their entirety, then come back and tell me that the Bible doesn’t preach a “reward/punish” message.

    Does the Bible ALSO contain other, less scary, Scriptures? Yes, indeed; the cafeteria Christian who wishes to gloss over the violent ranting of the prophets can certainly find verses to “prove” that God isn’t really the alcoholic and abusive parent that Hosea would have us believe.

    Which, again… is exactly my point.

  20. Also, RE “TV = RELIGION”: I can be choosy without repercussion. In other words, I can watch LOST every Wednesday night, but refuse to watch American Idol under any circumstances, without causing myself any cognitive dissonance or condemnation by a time-traveling ghost.

    In contrast, the Bible tells us that we must accept EVERY WORD contained within, including the icky parts. If you refuse to do so, you can’t really call yourself a Biblical Christian. Jesus himself condemns such cafeteria Christians as “lukewarm”.

    On another note, let me state unequivocally that I do NOT agree with everyone Sam Harris says. I generally agree with his conclusions vis-a-vis the irrationality and unhealthiness of religious faith, but his views diverge from mine when he starts offering half-hearted apologia for torture. Same goes for Christopher Hitchens.

    See, that’s the great thing about not being bound by the restrictions of a religion: I am free to use my wondrous human intellect to examine the available information, accept some bits after consideration, and reject others outright as rubbish. Christians, on the other hand, are ordered by their own book to accept every word within its pages.

    Including that part where god, through his prophet Hosea, says that, due to the unfaithfulness of the Northern Kingdom, pregnant women of Samaria will be torn open and their babies will be dashed against the rocks (Hosea 13:16).

    Yikes.

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