Author Archives: sestir

Ma镁etes describes the early Christians

OPINION In Ante-Nicene Fathers, we find this description of the early Christians from, probably, the 2nd century:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines.
But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly paradoxical method of life.
They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not cast away f艙tuses. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all.

So, the Cristians were not distinguished from other men by the customs which they observed. Why is this important? It is important because if your customs are incompatible with the customs of other men, you will not be able to communicate with them. If you can’t communicate with men who don’t belong to your group, you will not be able to see through lies about these people that someone from your own community wants to establish, or established as fact long ago. Such lies could even make you scared of these men.

Religious leaders know this, so they try to set you apart 鈥 holy in an unnecessary way 鈥 as so different from other people that you dare not talk to them lest you become contaminated by their unpious manners, and they dare not talk to you lest they get ensnared by pharisaic logic and dragged down into a black hole of cultic subjection under a god that always seems to decide according to the wishes of a group of men who also publish that god’s decrees, or perhaps interpret them.

It would seem that the best solution is to do like the early Christians did according to Mathetes 鈥 to be very much like everybody else and feel free to talk to any member of society. (Luke 5:30-32) However, what do we do when society itself embraces extreme customs?

Which is the real cause for the success of Scandinavia?

There is an immense need to set straight the record of what made the Scandinavian countries successful in the first half of the 20th century. The three most commonly voiced explanations are atheism, sexual liberty and the wellfare state. Sadly, these rather mark the end to Scandinavia’s era of success. Nima Sanandaji (a blogger with a PhD from KTH in Stockholm) who is well suited for the task, has produced an essay which tries to answer the question based on sound statstics, for example recognizing that there is a time lag between a social development (such as a reform) and its effect on work ethics and life expectancy.

“Why do Nordic societies have unusually strong emphasis on individual responsibility and strong social capital? Religion, climate and history all seem to have played a role in forming these unique cultures. Over a hundred years ago, German sociologist Max Weber observed that Protestant countries in northern Europe tended to have a higher living standard, more high-quality academic institutions and overall stronger social cohesion than Catholic and orthodox countries.”

You can read the paper here.

Australia investigates Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organizational practices

A commission has been formed by the government of Australia to investigate and prevent sexual abuse of children by institutions. Their sessions with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though crippled by deficient biblical exegesis, yielded results that should be of vital interest to active Witnesses.
Here is a youtube playlist with the hearings.


The Organization’s policies against abuse of children exist partly in a book called Shepherd the Flock, which is a handbook written for elders. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses do not even have access to it, so it is completely beyond their reach to know whether the elders follow their guidelines or flagrantly ignore them. Elders are instructed to keep the book’s content secret. However it is available at the moment from the commission’s website (search within the page for “Flock”).

Patrologia Gr忙ca online

Ken M. Penner announced on the Ibiblio Biblical Greek Forum that:

A first stab at producing OCR-generated Greek and Latin for the complete Patrologia Graeca (PG) is now available on GitHub at

This resource provide access to texts written by the so called church fathers 鈥 persons living mainly in the 1st – 6th centuries and who witnessed the developments around the early Christian eklesia. Its 161 volumes include in addition many authors up to the 15th century.

How do I recognize a true prophecy before it gets fulfilled?

It was a pretty boring lesson a warm springday but Charlotte1, the teacher, just explained the subject as well and clearly as she could so that at least those who were motivated could grasp it.

All of a sudden, Magnus1 fell off his chair and was lying on the floor unconscious. Allmost anybody gathered around him to see what had happened. Charlotte asked Jenny1 to open a window for the ventilation was quite deficient. Perhaps that was why he fell unconscious?

Magnus opened his eyes and sat up. With squeaky voice and an appalled look he said: “Fredric1, if you do not instantly cease pecking your artery and learn to respect life, you will die!”

After the initial shock, the whole room burst out in a belly laugh. Apparently, the guy was oversensitive and couldn’t endure seeing someone play with their arteries. Charlotte asked them all to refrain from that activity and, come the break, most of the children gathered around Magnus to see if they could make him swoon again by pecking their arteries, hit them with pieces of stone or sawing with rulers. It had no effect.

Dart's Gold flower

What use do we have for prophets if we cannot tell apart a real one from one who makes things up? This article aims to give you a number of criteria to help you discern which messages should be taken seriously.

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