More almighty tradition

After having written a post about how revisers and translators have sneaked glosses into two texts to make God out as almighty, I thought I would leave that subject as I am not really interested in challenging the idea that he is. A Catechism of The Roman Catholic Church was delivered to me and I opened it on page 100 in order to learn as much as possible about Roman catholicism within a short time. The subject, beginning on page 99, was: “The Almighty”…

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The Almighty Pantokrator Trick

It is a well known rhetoric tactic to either pretend that you are bad at convincing people or to pretend that your opponent in a discussion would be very good at convincing people. It sounds like a honest acknowledgement of his or her skill, but is really intended to make the audience suspicious towards their arguments and premises.

This tactic applies on a large scale as well, except in war-time when people, organizations and empires want to appear powerful in order to get a psychological advantage. Holy scripture has survived many wars. It is perhaps more difficult for it to survive peace. In this article, let us look at two examples of when God has been described as “almighty” in the scripture of the Christians.

A fence prevents travelers in Gothenburg from moving freely

A fence prevents travelers from moving freely near a railway stop south of Gothenburg. If someone chases you in that direction you will be caught and perhaps shot dead.

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Bread of affliction

I read in the news today that at least 43 of the dead in covid-19, the Wuhan Virus in Sweden so far (when official figures were a total 225 dead) were Suryoyo/Assyrians. Another two ethnicities with disproportionately large number of dead were Somalis and Jews. Probably the official numbers miss a digit or so, but still. It happens to be Påsk/Pesach/Pascha, and the triage used by the medical complex cannot avoid reminding us of the eugenics programmes which Pharao ran, according to Lysimachos as quoted by Flavius Josephus:

The people of the Jews being leprous and scabby, and subject to certain other kinds of distempers, in the days of Bocchoris, king of Egypt, they fled to the temples, and got their food there by begging: and as the numbers were very great that were fallen under these diseases, there arose a scarcity in Egypt.

Hereupon Bocehoris, the king of Egypt, sent some to consult the oracle of Hammon about his scarcity. The god’s answer was this, that he must purge his temples of impure and impious men, by expelling them out of those temples into desert places; but as to the scabby and leprous people, he must drown them, and purge his temples, the sun having an indignation at these men being suffered to live; and by this means the land will bring forth its fruits.

Upon Bocchoris’s having received these oracles, he called for their priests, and the attendants upon their altars, and ordered them to make a collection of the impure people, and to deliver them to the soldiers, to carry them away into the desert; but to take the leprous people, and wrap them in sheets of lead, and let them down into the sea. Hereupon the scabby and leprous people were drowned, and the rest were gotten together, and sent into desert places, in order to be exposed to destruction.

In this case they assembled themselves together, and took counsel what they should do, and determined that, as the night was coming on, they should kindle fires and lamps, and keep watch; that they also should fast the next night, and propitiate the gods, in order to obtain deliverance from them. (the story continues in Josephus’ book) — Against Apion I.34

The only thing I know about liturgy, and I learnt it from an East Orthodox author, is it is supposed to be a symbol of real life. Ironically, if I say that about the bread and wine served at Pascha, whereas a Jehovah’s Witness would agree, most high-church people would emphasize that the bread becomes Christ’s body literally. Well yes. This should not prevent it from functioning as a symbol, but maybe that’s what has happened. Who cares about real life when churches are so beautiful?

Deuteronomy 16:3a
ἑπτα ἡμερας φαγῃ επ αυτου αζυμα αρτον κακωσεως, ὁτι εν σπουδῃ εξηλθετε εξ Αιγυπτου
seven days eat with it unleavened bread of affliction, for in a haste did you exit Egypt

Verse 6 in this same chapter is a bit funny. In Josua chapter 8 we learn that Josua built an altar on the mountain Ebal. The Samaritan Pentateuch uses the verb בחר bachar ‘elect’ in a form which can refer to past or present time, while the Jewish Pentateuch uses יבחר jibchar ‘will elect’ in a form which suggest future or something on-going. This enables Samaritans to claim that the mountains Ebal and Gerissim were elected to be the place where the passover sacrifice should be made. And it enabled the Israelites to claim that later Jerusalem was elected to be that place.

The septuagint is then an unbiased arbitrator. It uses subjunctive with the little word “an” which is also used in Scandinavian languages. It is always difficult to know if Koine Greek works the same way as a Germanic language which happens to have the same construction, but if it does in this case, then ὁν αν εκλεξηται would translate to ‘which ever [he] may elect’, yelding:

αλλ η εις τον τοπον ὁν αν εκλεξηται Κυριος ὁ Θεος σου,
But in the place, whichever the Lord your God may elect,
επικληθηναι το ονομα αυτου εκει,
to have his name called [upon] there,
θυσεις το πασχα ἑσπερας προς δυσμας ἡλιου
you will sacrifice passover in [the] evening at sunset
εν τῳ καιρῳ ᾡ εξηλθες εξ Αιγυπτου
at the time when you exited from Egypt.

So both the Israelites and the Samaritans were right, except when they accused each other of being wrong. Nowadays, however … gospel of John 4:19-21.

Was the Wuhan Virus nCoV2019 sent by God?

This will be a short post to let you know that I’m not dead yet. :}

The first thing to note is that the persons who suggest that this virus would have been “sent from God” or a “gift from God” are mostly atheists who scorn the Christians and their God. The second thing to note is that the same people often advocate the virus, claiming that it is not dangerous for young persons (which it is) and criticizing the attempts that most people do to avoid getting infected.

Amos 3:7 reads:

Will a trumpet sound in a city, and the people not be terrified?
Will there be evil in a city, which the Lord did not do?

For the Lord God will not do a thing unless he reveals instruction to his slaves the prophets. (NETS)

Maybe it was just me who missed the prophecy in this case, but as far as I know there was none. This text in Amos also hints that “Lord God” sometimes is blamed for things that other persons do.

Our divine Lord rarely if ever targets the whole world at once, but only some areas where his actions can make a positive difference. I’d like to point out that this also holds true for the Deluge, because what is translated as “the whole world” in many bibles is Hebrew “kol ha arets” which could just as well mean “the whole land”. COVID-19 as the Wuhan Virus sickness is officially called, has now been recognized as a pandemic, that is to say a globally spread disease. That is almost like an official recognition that it wasn’t sent by the god of the Christians.

However, this expression “the Christians” can be a bit ambiguous. There exists a tendency for people who are born to Christian parents to assume that they themselves are Christian without really having researched their own faith, history or holy scriptures. Perhaps they do know a few things their parents have taught them, and so when life becomes tough, they turn to their culture and try to find concepts that will help them manage and deal with various problems.

Some might find a connexion between the divine and light and begin to think that this has something to do with skin colour. But it isn’t so simple.
Some persons will read about how the Roman emperor Constantin introduced Christianity to the Roman Empire and might think that God is just people with a lot of power. But it isn’t so simple.
Some will note that God comes across as very intelligent throughout the whole Old Testament, and so does Jesus in the NT, and conclude that God is the person with the most IQ. But it isn’t so simple.

People who adhere to such heresies could be behind the Wuhan Virus, but I see no particular reason to think so.

Swedish government taxes plastic bags from 1 March

I guess I should write something about this as a former dustman, and as a service to English speakers living (or whatever you do) in the country of the fiery coloured donkey of the Apocalypse.

It will be possible to import up to 40 plastic bags “per occasion”, so every 40:th time you wish to dispose of your refuse, you are supposed to pay a visit to Denmark or Finland.
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Progress and the Progressive

Progress means a ‘moving forward’, something ‘getting better or worse (!)’ as opposed to remaining in a state.

An illustration of the word progressive could be progressive algorithms, for example Bubble sort is progressive whereas Insertion sort isn’t. Bubble sort iterates through a list comparing the current item with the next item and swapping them if they are in the wrong order. After a half run, we have a list which is almost correctly sorted. Insertion sort removes all items to a temporary storage, picks one item and inserts it in its proper place. After a half run, we have a list with only half of its entries in it. That is, a half run of Insertion sort creates more corruption and of a more serious kind, than Bubble sort, when it is interrupted midway. For this reason many engineers and hackers like progressive algorithms because of their progressiveness, which is a good quality because an engineer, it is assumed, would produce code that accomplished constructive things for a user, a product or a project.
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The “Christian country”

With this article, the older article 16 causes of Sweden’s migration crisis will drop out from the front page. A 17th cause would be: an attempt by Atheists, Humanists and Socialists to provoke a war between Christians and Muslims. If successful, they would be able to say “Look how much trouble religion causes! Let’s do away with it.” I am happy to observe that so far, neither Christians or Muslims have swallowed the bait, in Sweden.

An article by a Lawrence W Reed in the Washington Examiner, arguing that Jesus was not a socialist generated some debate. Socialism has many definitions. Reed focuses on the distribution and ownership of property.

I would like to add that another characteristic is Socialists are social. They have what they call “social competence” which makes them able to benefit from the presence of people around them. To the contrary, many Christians become ascetics, because if they are together with other people, it is usually the other people who benefit whereas the Christian him-/herself gets exhausted.

Men, of whom the world was not worthy, became as wanderers in the desert, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caverns of the earth. — Hebrews 11:38, Etheridge.

So then, given the undisputable subjective opinion that Christianity is almost diametrically opposite to Socialism, which some people claim is a “leftist” ideology, does that mean Christianity is right? Sure. Is it rightist? Not so sure.

Truth is holy. If you try to approach it you might become holey, because our adversaries often arrange ideological trenches on either side of truth, shooting at everyone who comes near. One arrangement of trenches is the division of people into leftists and rightists. It is very important for them that you learn and appreciate the fact that this division came about in the French parliament in 1789 because persons with the one extreme view were seated to the left and persons with the other extreme view were seated to the right. Otherwise, you might get weird ideas when you read Ecclesiastes 10:2:

A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

Actually “hand” is supplied by the translator, whether from Hebrew, Syriac or Greek. If the left-right political dimension existed back then, then perhaps this is about it. However, we also have Jonah 4:11…

and shall not I spare Nineve, the great city, in which dwell more than twelve times 10,000 human beings, who don’t know their right hand or their left hand; and also much cattle?

They don’t know their hands. Um’kay. But if Nineve didn’t have the left-right division in its political establishment, that would actually be a pretty good reason for God to send a prophet and to protect the city for yet a little while. (It is reasonable to supply the word hand in these two passages, however compare the Greek text of Luke 6:6 where a hand is explicitly involved.)

Coincidentally, where I live, the left-right split is most vehementally defended by people who absolutely hate the Christian god. Why? It might be unsettling to a socialist if there are a lot of honest workers moving around in society who think for them selves and draw their own conclusions. The solution then, is to provide these people with a leader and with spiritual guides so that they act in predictable ways. Give them a little victory here and a little victory there, but maintain a society where the selfish liars will always come out on top.

But thou, when thou art doing thy alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee in openness. — Matthew 6:3 .. again ‘hand’ is supplied.

In Socialist societies alms are handled by the state and the people cannot afford to give anything beyond what they pay in taxes.