Monday, October 31, 2011

Spellcasting for Christians 101

Thanks to the new Facebook layout I get to see a lot more of what my friends and acquaintances are up to.  So then whenever I see someone commenting on or "liking" an person that actually uses "Prophet" or "Apostle" as a title, I'm compelled to check it out.  I have to say, it rarely disappoints!  For instance I was checking out the Facebook wall of "Prophet Kobus van Rensburg" and I noticed that while every one of his status updates is a Bible verse, there was this one exception:

"...Today I put on the power of heaven, The light of the sun, The radiance of the moon, The splendor of fire, The fierceness of lightning, The swiftness of wind
The depth of the sea, The firmness of the earth and The hardness of rock
Today I put on God’s strength to steer me, God’s power to uphold me
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye for my vision, God’s ear for my hearing
God’s word for my speech, God’s hand to protect me, God’s pathway before me
God’s shield for my shelter, God’s angel to guard me, From ambush of devils
From vice’s allurements, From traps of the flesh, From all who wish ill
Whether distant or close, Alone or in hosts, Christ-beside me, Christ- before me
Christ-behind me, Christ-within me, Christ-beneath me, Christ-above me
Christ-on my right hand, Christ-on my left, Christ-when I lie, Christ-when I sit
Christ-when I rise, Christ-in every heart who think of me
Christ- in the mouth of all who speak of me, Christ-in every eye that sees me
Christ-in every ear that hears me, Christ-guard me today, From poison, from burning, From drowning, from hurt, That I have my reward, Today I put on a terrible strength, Invoking the Trinity, Confessing the Three, With faith in the One, As I face my Maker."

Clearly this was no Bible verse.  In fact this looked exactly like a magical incantation.  Turns out it is (sort of) and it's rather old.  It's known as Saint Patrick's Breastplate, a prayer and hymn attributed to the patron saint of Ireland.  (Prophet van Rensburg here actually used the short version, you can check out the full version at the wiki link)  According to the Wikipedia article on it, "It is written in the style of a druidic incantation for protection on a journey".  So yes, it looks like a magical incantation because it's based on one!

You know, Charismatic Christians may buy into Jack Chick's claims that Catholics all work for the antichrist, but they sure do act pretty much exactly like medieval Catholics!

Before I forget, Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it!  Feel free to use this bit of Jesus magic to keep yourself safe from all the ghosts and ghouls out there!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Libertarian and the Antichrist

While watching this week's Daily Show interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano, I was once again reminded of why I find Libertarians so fascinating.  As you may have guessed from the title of this blog, I do enjoy a good juxtaposition and Libertarians offer a particularly interesting one in that they claim to follow both Christ and an antichrist*.  Now I realize that I'm generalizing here and that this will not apply to every Libertarian, but hear me out at least because I do think it applies to a whole lot of them.

First off, I know that not all Libertarians are Christians and therefore would not claim to follow Christ - what follows does not apply to those.  A lot of Libertarians on the other hand are Christians.  All the Libertarians that I know are certainly Christians and I don't mean the nominal kind, these are all very serious Christians.  Not sure about Judge Napolitano's exact religious beliefs but in that interview he talks about "Judeo-Christian values" being foundational.  So then a lot of Libertarians claim to follow Christ.  Which makes it extremely strange that so many (again, not all) would also be such avid followers of an antichrist like Ayn Rand.

Again, I know that not all Libertarians worship Ayn Rand and that she herself wasn't a big fan of the Libertarian movement, but it's undeniable that Rand is idolized by a significant portion of Libertarians.  She famously authored "The Virtue of Selfishness" and in that interview, Judge Napolitano explicitly mentions that "selfishness is a virtue" - that is no coincidence.  Her works and words have clearly saturated the thinking of many in the movement. 

So how exactly do so many people see no contradiction in following both Rand, who advocated individualism over collectivism and egoism over altruism as well as Jesus, who preached pretty much the exact opposite?  Judge for yourself if you think I'm being too extreme:

 Ayn Rand said:
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: "I."

Jesus said:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 Ayn Rand said:
“the first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others. His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men.”

Jesus said:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 Ayn Rand said:
The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.

Jesus said:
"whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."

 Ayn Rand said:
"The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves. The relationship produces nothing but mutual corruption. It is impossible in concept. The nearest approach to it in reality -- the man who lives to serve others -- is the slave. If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit. The conquered slave has a vestige of honor. He has the merit of having resisted and of considering his condition evil. But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man, and he degrades the conception of love. But that is the essence of altruism."

Jesus said:
And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

"The greatest among you shall be your servant. "

"Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves."

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.”

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

From Common Sense Jesus

I could go on but you get the idea, Jesus and Ayn Rand had polar opposite worldviews.  These were just the words of Jesus mind you, if I started quoting from the rest of the "Judeo Christian tradition" (aka the Bible) this would have been a very long blog post indeed.  My point is that while anyone is free to read both the Bible and Atlas Shrugged, no one can reasonably base their beliefs on both.  You can follow the teachings of Jesus or the teachings of Ayn Rand but as far as I can see it would be a complete contradiction to claim to follow both.

"Contradictions do not exist". "Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises". "You will find that one of them is wrong".  Ayn Rand

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Jesus of Nazareth

Seems like Jesus and Rand do agree on some things...


*Please not that I'm using the term "an antichrist" here and not "THE Antichrist".  The Antichrist is what fans of the Left Behind books imagine will be the leader of the coming One World Government that will resemble Christ as far as the world is concerned but who will actually be a satanic imposter.  The Bible on the other hand does not refer to one single antichrist but instead uses the word as a plural, i.e. those people who live and operate as polar opposite to the life and teachings of the Christ.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Common Sense" Jesus

Would you vote for Jesus?  In principle, a lot of people probably think they would.  In reality though, I don't think they would, not in a thousand years.  Jesus would make a terrible president.  Not that he would even make it past the campaigning stage without being re-crucified!  The fact is, Jesus had some strange ideas and tended to ruffle everyone's feathers.  Not some feathers, everyone's.  It doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you reside in, chances are pretty solid that there would be some things about Jesus you would not be willing to live with if they were government policy.  If you don't believe me, go read the Gospels.

Not that this has ever stopped opportunistic politicians from claiming Jesus' personal endorsement on their campaign.  None of them are of course willing to look at the whole package when it comes to Jesus though - both liberals and conservatives tend to only focus on the things Jesus said that they personally agree with while pretending all the other stuff He said somehow doesn't count.  For instance, recently Herman Cain made the following statement:

 "He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration. For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey.  For over 2,000 years the world has tried hard to erase the memory of the perfect conservative, and His principles of compassion, caring and common sense."

See?  Jesus was the "perfect conservative"and his approach was one of "common sense".  Oh really?  Well I guess I could answer that by quoting some Scriptures but we all know how that goes; before you know it both sides are throwing Bible verses at each other, armored with the deep conviction that they are right and that Scripture vindicates their personal beliefs with neither side listening to anyone else.  So why bother?  Instead I'm just going to link to this fantastic new site called Common Sense Jesus.  It does a beautiful job of debunking the idea of Jesus being a party line towing, modern right wing, common sense conservative.  Go there now!  You will find more gems like these: