26 September 2023

Wanna feel the Holy Spirit? Crank up the bass.

Wanna feel the Holy Spirit? Crank up the bass.

I joke all the time about this with the people in my church: If you want people to really feel like the Holy Spirit is in the building, get on the soundboard and make sure the bass guitar, the bass drum, and all the lower notes on the keyboard, are cranked all the way up to 11. Conversely if you want ’em to feel like he’s missing, you do the opposite and turn all of ’em off.

It’s one of those jokes which is funny because it’s true. If you actually did this, it’s actually how people would respond. The higher the bass, the more people “felt” the Spirit move. Turn it all the way down and you’ll get, “I don’t know what was wrong this morning, but I wasn’t really feeling the Spirit today.”

’Cause bass causes stuff in the building to vibrate. Including people. Most of us know this already… but we never really think about how else it affects us.

Go to any movie theater and you know they make darned sure there are subwoofers under the floor, and they’re cranked all the way up. They want you to feel every crash, bang, gunshot, and explosion in that movie. Low sound waves shake your innards, and turn a spectacle into an experience.

Same with dance clubs. Same with concerts. People weep at concerts. Same as they’ll weep at worship services. It doesn’t always register how this is the physical effect of soundwaves, and how our brains have connected the sensation to our emotions, so it triggers us. All we know is we feel.

So when people don’t know there’s a difference between spirit and emotion (or even when we’re totally aware of this fact, but we’ve never bothered to discern which is which), we’ll assume the feelings are the Spirit at work. Especially when it feels really good.

Conversely, when “my spirit is downcast,” we’re still talking about emotions and sensations. Not anything the Spirit is actually doing—and he’s usually doing quite a lot! But because we don’t feel something positive, we presume he must be absent.

This isn’t a uniquely Christian thing. Most people don’t know the difference between spirit and emotion. Most people don’t think there is any difference. Pagans in particular, but I’ve caught even mature Christians making this mistake as well. I know better, and even I slip up sometimes. I’ve yet to meet a Christian who hasn’t.

25 September 2023

Pan-millennialists: “It’ll all pan out in the End.”

My seminary offered an End Times class in the school catalog, and I was really interested in taking it—for the obvious reason that I wanted to understand the End Times apocalypses better.

But in the three years I spent there, none of the professors ever bothered to teach it. Which I get: Years later I taught a Sunday school class on Revelation, and good Lord it was like herding cats. Nobody wanted to study the text! They just wanted to spout theories about the End—specifically their favorites, and most of ’em had grown up reading Hal Lindsey stuff, so they subscribed to his particular strand of Darbyism. I ended the class after we finally got through Jesus’s letters to the seven churches; I was so tired of listening to the small group’s members picking apart current events looking for omens.

Hey, End Times stuff provokes people! Especially fearful people, who are terrified the great tribulation is gonna be activated by their political opponents, and force ’em into hiding; they don’t all fully trust that Jesus will rapture them before tribulation starts. (Nor should they.) So they study End Times stuff so they can be prepared for every eventuality. Knowledge is power, right?

And then there are the people who don’t wanna study this stuff. Who roll their eyes every time End Times passages get quoted or referenced or alluded to. Who intentionally skip church services when they find out the preacher’s gonna talk about Revelation or the back half of Daniel. Who think Hal Lindsey’s a fearmongering charlatan, and not just because Hal Lindsey’s a fearmongering charlatan.

Ask these people whether the age is gonna end and Jesus is gonna return, and for the most part they’re gonna say yes. Because they’re not heretics; they do believe Jesus is returning for the living and the dead, exactly like the creeds say. It’s just… whenever we discuss the End Times, it just sucks. The fearful Christians take over the discussion, exactly like they took over my Revelation class, and suck all the joy and hope and grace out of it with their twisted revenge fantasies.

So what do these people believe about the End? That God’s in control. So it’ll all pan out. More than one of them have jokingly told me they’re “pan-millennialists” for this reason. It’ll happen however it happens. Till it does, they’re not gonna fret about it.

Some of ’em like to quote Jesus on the subject:

Acts 1.6-7 NASB
6 So, when they had come together, they began asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 But He said to them, “It is not for you to know periods of time or appointed times which the Father has set by His own authority

Jesus’s apostles figured Jesus had returned from the dead… so now it’s time for the End, right? Messiah would free Israel from the Romans and take over the world, and it’d be the millennium, right? And Jesus’s response was, “You don’t need to know when that’ll happen,” then get raptured. Ac 1.9 He’ll come back, Ac 1.11 but still: You don’t need to know when that’ll happen.

So these folks don’t worry about it. The End will come when God decides it’s time. The End will unfold however God decides it’ll unfold. We don’t need to panic, worry, agitate, or flinch at “signs of the times.” We just need to keep following Jesus.

13 September 2023


HEAVEN 'hɛ.vən noun. The dwelling place of God, his angels, and debatably good humans after they die. Traditionally depicted as above the sky.
2. A euphemism for God himself. [“Sin displeases heaven.”]
3. The sky, perceived as a vault containing the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
4. A place of bliss. [“This is heaven!”]
5. Short for the kingdom of heaven, i.e. God’s kingdom.
6. The state of being in God’s presence, namely after death.
[Heavenly 'hɛv.ən.li adjective.]

As you can see, there are multiple definitions of our word “heaven.” But when Christians talk about heaven, we mean the dwelling place of God. Right?

Not really. In fact not usually.

In my experience, when Christians talk about heaven, we’re actually talking about the kingdom of heaven. In other words, God’s kingdom. Which is meant to happen here on earth. We Christians are supposed to be already living like it’s here—and when Jesus returns, he’ll fully set it up and run it. But too often Christians act like this kingdom does not happen on earth, and never will: It’ll happen in heaven. In the future. After we die. When we do stuff in heaven, “heaven” is always way later. Or we describe the stuff we’ll be doing in New Jerusalem… which is actually in New Heaven, which is not even the same heaven the scriptures typically mean.

I listed six definitions of heaven. No, I’m not gonna therefore say there are six heavens, like C.S. Lewis did when he wrote about four loves. There are likely more definitions of heaven than even that.

But there are Christians who claim there are multiple heavens. Not just the current heaven, and the New Heaven of Revelation 21. There’s the seven heavens of Dante Alighieri’s Paradisio, the 10 heavens of the Pharisees, and the three heavens which you’ll hear Evangelicals talk about ’cause they’ve neither read Paradisio nor 1 Enoch.

Confused yet? Maybe a little. Hope not. Let’s start with the bible’s descriptions of the heavens.

11 September 2023

The Dives and Lazarus Story.

Luke 16.19-31.

This story is often called the Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, or Lazarus and the Rich Man, depending on who oughta come first. Since it’s actually not about Lazarus, stands to reason the rich man should come first. Traditionally this man’s been called Dives (usually pronounced 'daɪ.viz instead of like the verb) ’cause that’s what he’s called in verse 19 in the Vulgate; dives is Latin for “rich.” So I’m gonna call him Dives; it saves time.

Every once in a while some literalist insists this story is not a parable. This is the only story where Jesus refers to someone by name—so they figure this must mean something, and claim Jesus is straight-up talking about a real-life guy named Lazarus, who lived in first-century Israel. Some of ’em even claim the Lazarus of this story is Lazarus of Bethany, Jesus’s personal friend whom he later raised from the dead, Jn 11.1-44 and this is how Lazarus died. Which makes no sense, because Lazarus’s family asked Jesus to come cure him; they didn’t just dump Lazarus at Dives’s door, hoping this idle rich guy might uncharacteristically do something charitable.

On the other extreme, we have people who insist this story is pure fiction. Primarily because they have very different beliefs about afterlife. Jesus, they insist, is not accurately describing what happens when people die. We go to heaven. Or hell. Some insist we’re immediately resurrected and live in New Jerusalem from now on; others claim we live in some glorified spiritual form while we await the Resurrection. Hindus and Buddhists believe we get reincarnated, and of course pagans and Mormons believe we become angels.

In some cases, the Christians who insist Jesus isn’t accurately describing afterlife are dispensationalists who believe this used to be the way afterlife worked—maybe—but not anymore. There’s a popular Christian myth called “the harrowing of hell,” which says before Jesus died to atone for our sins, God saved nobody by his grace—therefore nobody but the most saintly people ever, like Job or Abraham (and here, Lazarus), could make it to paradise. Nobody had the karma! So they were forced to wait in hell till Jesus died. Once he died, Jesus went to hell, same as them… but with keys! He unlocked the gates, stepped on gatekeeper devil Belial’s neck, freed all the Old Testament saints, and took ’em with him to heaven. And now, nobody experiences anything like Jesus describes in this story. Christians go to heaven.

Considering that God isn’t limited by time whatsoever, it makes no sense that he can’t apply Jesus’s then-future atonement to the sins of the people who existed before Jesus. In fact there’s every indication he did: Their sins, which were many, never hindered him with instigating relationships with them!

Nah, both the literalists and the myth-believers have it wrong. This story is a parable. Lazarus isn’t a literal guy. But this is, loosely, what the afterlife looks like. Then, and now. And it’s meant as a warning to those of us who are wealthy, but don’t bother to use our wealth to further God’s kingdom. If all we care about is our own comfort, we may not experience any such comfort in the afterlife. Billionaires beware.

Luke 16.19-31 KWL
19 “Somebody is wealthy.
He’s wearing purple and white linen, partying daily, in luxury.
20 Some pauper named Lazarus was thrown out by the plutocrat’s gate,
covered in open sores,
21 desiring to be fed with whatever fell from the plutocrat’s table,
but the dogs which came are licking his sores.
22 The pauper comes to die,
to be carried off by the angels to Abraham’s fold.
The plutocrat also dies and is entombed.
23 In the afterlife, the plutocrat lifts up his eyes—
he’s getting tortured in the pit—
and sees Abraham far away,
and Lazarus in his folds.
24 Calling out, the plutocrat says, ‘Father Abraham!
Have mercy on me and send Lazarus,
so he might dip his fingertip in water, and might cool my tongue,
because I suffer great pain in these flames!’
25 Abraham says, ‘Child, remember:
You received your good things in your life,
and Lazarus likewise received evil.
Now, here, he is assisted—
and you suffer.
26 In all this space between us and you, a large gap was fixed
so those who want to come to you from here, can’t.
Nor can they pass from there to us.’
27 The plutocrat says, ‘Then I ask you, father,
might you send Lazarus to my father’s house?
28 For I have five siblings—so Lazarus might urge them,
lest they also come to this place in the pit.’
29 Abraham says, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. Heed them.’
30 The plutocrat says, ‘No, father Abraham!
But if anyone comes back from the dead to them, they’ll repent!’
31 Abraham tells him, ‘If they don’t heed Moses and the Prophets,
neither will they be convinced when someone rises from the dead.’ ”

03 September 2023

Jesus forgives, then cures, a paraplegic.

Mark 2.1-12, Matthew 9.1-8, Luke 5.17-26.

The story of Jesus curing the paraplegic lowered down through the roof, is one of the more famous stories in the gospels. Partly because the paraplegic’s companions were so eager to get him cured, so believed Jesus could cure him, they committed serious property damage. And partly because Jesus’s first act wasn’t to cure him—it was to forgive him.

That second thing is why bible scholars call this story a controversy pericope, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a story which provokes debate about who Jesus really is. Not among us Christians; we already know he’s God. Jn 1.14 But among Pharisees, Jesus’s fellow Galileans, and his new followers—who didn’t know this yet, and it’s because of these stories they figured it out. Jesus isn’t just a guru, just a prophet, just our king; he’s God-become-human.

But because people couldn’t fathom God becoming human (and a lot of people still can’t!), Jesus steps on a lot of toes. Pagans and heretics still try to explain his divinity away by claiming we Christians misunderstand him, and claim he’s God when he’s only a really enlightened human… or saying we’re all kinda God and Jesus is just better at it than average; or saying he’s a lesser god but not the God. Closed-minded folks firmly embrace any interpretation of Jesus which doesn’t offend them any, and we outrage them by showing them where the bible pokes holes in these wrong ideas. (Welcome to my world.)

Well. This story takes place in Mark and Luke right after Jesus cures a “leper,” and in Matthew after Jesus visits the Dekapolis and kicks 2,000 demons out of some guy. Various gospel synopses like to link this story up with a different paraplegic Jesus cured at a pool. But that happens in Jerusalem; this happens in Jesus’s home base of Capharnaum.

The gospels don’t say whose house it is, and a lot of Christians like to speculate it’s Simon Peter’s—for no good reason. Most likely it’s Jesus’s house. Yes, Jesus’s. People assume he had no house, ’cause he elsewhere says the Son of Man “had no place to lay his head,” Lk 9.58 but that’s because he traveled. When he wasn’t traveling, when he stayed in Capharnaum, he lived somewhere. Likely with family. James and John were Jesus’s first cousins, so likely he lived in their family home.

Who, I’m sure, were initially startled to find their home overrun with Jesus’s followers. Then horrified when a bunch of guys decided to bust through the roof and drop a paraplegic on ’em.

27 August 2023

The “leper” whom Jesus cured, then drove away.

Mark 1.40-45, Matthew 8.1-4, Luke 5.12-16.

There’s are two words in the bible usually translated “leprosy.” They’re the Hebrew word צָרָ֑עַת/chara’át and the Greek word λέπρα/lépra. In Leviticus it’s described like yea:

Leviticus 13.1-3 NASB
1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 “When someone has on the skin of his body a swelling, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes an infection of leprosy on the skin of his body, athen he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. 3 The priest shall look at the infected area on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean.”

The chapter goes into further detail about whether it’s a temporary or chronic case of “leprosy,” and whether “lepers” need to be temporarily isolated, or permanently—which includes walking around in torn clothing and shouting, “Unclean!” to anyone who approaches. Also whether clothes have “leprosy,” and what should be done with them; and chapter 14 tells of buildings which have “leprosy,” and whether they should be washed or torn down.

Now yeah, since we’re talking about something clothing and buildings can get, we’re not talking about a particular disease. More like a condition. Anything which makes your skin white and scaly, or red and raw; anything which turns your clothing or walls red or green. In the case of clothing and walls, it sounds like mold; in the case of skin ailments, it could be an infection, or even skin cancer.

Nowadays when we say “leprosy” we mean Hansen’s disease, a bacteriological infection which damages nerves and extremities. And it’s curable! Early treatment can prevent any permanent injury, but after six to 12 months of meds and therapy, you’re fine. Don’t need to wear torn clothing; don’t need to shout “Unclean!” For that matter, we’re not entirely sure Hansen’s disease is even what the LORD was talking about in Leviticus: Biblical “leprosy” sounds like skin rashes or skin cancers, and Hansen’s disease doesn’t present as skin lesions till you’ve lost feeling in your extremities—at which point, because you can’t feel pain, you injure yourself more easily.

Regardless of what the bible means by chara’át or leprós, that was the disease to avoid—and the disease ancient Israelis most feared. It made you ritually unclean, which means you couldn’t go to temple or synagogue, ’cause you were self-quarantined. Couldn’t go into town. Nobody but other “lepers” could touch you. And, thanks to Pharisee attitudes of the day, people presumed you were cursed—because why else would God let such a horrible thing happen to you?

People still develop this attitude about chronically unwell people. If you’re regularly suffering from maladies; if you’re deaf, blind, can’t walk, or are mentally ill, Christians regularly develop the attitude of “That’s your fault. ’Cause if you only trusted God enough, he’d cure you.” Which is pure a--holery on their part, ’cause it’s not like they did anything to particularly deserve health and wellness. They’re sinners too. In fact, being able-bodied, they’re quite able to sin way more than someone who’s not.

Anywho, here’s the part of the gospels where someone with “leprosy” first approaches Jesus. Dude cured everyone in Capharnaum, but what about the “lepers” who were quarantining outside Capharnaum and all the other cities? Might Jesus be able to cure them too?

This one “leper” decided to give it a shot.

20 August 2023

Ready to take on the whole of the Galilee.

Mark 1.35-39, Matthew 4.23-25, Luke 4.42-44.

Whenever preachers talk about Jesus curing everyone in Capharnaum, they tend to describe it as Jesus spending all day curing people and throwing out demons. But read the text: The people came to him at sundown, Mk 1.32, Mt 8.16, Lk 4.40 so he actually spent all night curing people. Hope he got his Sabbath rest, ’cause he sure needed it.

By the end, preachers tend to describe Jesus as exhausted. And he might’ve been really tired, ’cause he was up all night. But exhausted? That’s only because they don’t know what it’s like to supernaturally cure the sick. Faith-healers will tell you it’s just the opposite. It’s not like a medical doctor, repairing patient after patient with treatment after treatment, taxing your mind and body with thought and work. You aren’t doing the work; the Holy Spirit is. You watch him do his thing; you rejoice once he’s done it. It’s not tiring. It’s invigorating. It’s a rush.

More likely, Jesus was wired after curing person after person after person. Too jazzed to ever get to sleep.

Since translators don’t realize this, they tend to make it sound like Jesus woke up crazy-early in the morning, after maybe two or three hours of sleep. But ἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν/anastás exílthen doesn’t mean, as the KJV puts it, “rising up… he went out,” but “the one who is up [already], goes out.” Jesus didn’t wake up and figure it’s prayer time; he was still up, and didn’t wanna sleep. He wanted more.

What kind of mood did you imagine Jesus was in?

Mark 1.35-39 KWL
35 Still awake in the still-dark morning,
Jesus comes out and goes to a solitary place,
and is praying there.
36 Simon Peter and those with him
search for Jesus,
37 and find Jesus and tell him this:
“Everybody looks for you!”
38 Jesus tells them, “We should go elsewhere,
into the other towns there are,
so I can preach there also,
for this is why I’ve come!”
Luke 4.42-44 KWL
42 Once it became day,
Jesus comes out and goes to a solitary place,
and the crowds are looking for him,
and come to him.
They’re holding on to him
lest he leave them.
43 Jesus tells them this:
“In the other cities as well,
I have to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom.
For this is why I’m sent.”
44 And Jesus is preaching
in the Jewish synagogues.

“Capharnaum is cured. Who’s next? Give me more!”

See, one’s mindset makes a huge difference when it comes to interpreting bible. If we bring our own pessimism, skepticism, cynicism, negativity, and exhaustion to the text, we wind up with a negative-sounding Jesus who’s just plain done with these people. And that’s not Jesus. He loves people! He came to save people. Not ditch ’em at the first opportunity.

The idea of an exhausted Jesus, desperately trying to claw back some strength through prayer, is based on our own lack of experience, and bad attitudes. Y’ever notice how many preachers are introverts? To them, people are tiring. Ministry drains them. So they need to get away from people on a regular basis, and renew their strength in prayer… and project themselves upon Jesus, and it’s entirely wrong. He didn’t look at the Galilee and think, “Man, I have so much still to do.” He looked at it in the Holy Spirit’s might, and thought, “I’m gonna conquer the world!”

15 August 2023

The passive-aggressive prayer.

Years ago in a small group, it came time for people to take turns praying, so we did. I prayed for… something. Don’t recall what. It’s not relevant to this article.

What is relevant is I had prayed, regarding my request, that regardless of what I wanted, God’s will be done. Because, I stated in the prayer, sometimes it’s not, and I don’t want that. I want God to answer my prayers however he sees fit.

Well, this little statement of mine triggered one of the other guys in the group. Let’s call him Prakash. He believed God’s will is always done, because he believed God determines everything in the universe. (Evil too.) And he was still in the “cage-stage,” meaning he was ready, willing, and eager to argue theology with you. Especially since he was entirely sure he was right. I’m using past-tense verbs because I hope Prakash is better now. But sometimes cage-stagers never grow out of it, and turn into angry Fundamentalists whose list of mandatory fundamentals gets shorter, tighter, stricter, and less gracious with every passing year.

Anywho, Prakash had already taken a turn at praying, but he couldn’t help himself: He helped himself to another turn. And this prayer wasn’t about anything our prayer leader had asked us to pray about. Wasn’t about any personal requests he had for God. Wasn’t about any other people Prakash was interceding for.

Nope. He just wanted to remind God that he’s sovereign and therefore always gets his way. To appreciate the fact God’s will is always done, even though the rest of us human simpletons may not recognize this, and might imagine otherwise. To worship God for this particular trait of his.

To, y’know, passive-aggressively correct me by slipping a little theology lesson into prayer time.

Gotta admit, I was a little tempted to take another turn myself, and slip my own passive-aggressive prayer into the mix: “And God, we thank you for Prakash and his wisdom and humility, and pray that you water that mustard seed and make it grow into a mighty tree under which birds can perch. He’s got more than enough fertilizer; he’s ready; just make him grow, Lord. In Jesus’s name.

But not seriously tempted. I know better than to be a dick during prayer.

Thing is, if we’ve been to enough prayer groups—or simply if we grew up Christian and had to deal with annoying Christian siblings who pulled this kind of stunt (or, admittedly, pulled it ourselves) —we’ve all encountered the passive-aggressive prayer. The prayer which isn’t really a prayer; we’re talking to someone else instead of God, but for one reason or another we’ve chosen to disguise it as a prayer. Not that it’s fooling anyone.

It’s pure hypocrisy, and the proper way to deal with it is to call it out. But more often we Christians avoid our duty to rebuke bad behavior, and simply ignore it as if someone ripped a wet fart in the elevator: We all know it happened, but we’re not gonna say anything, and we’re gonna hope it dissipates as fast as possible.

Only problem is, when this behavior isn’t rebuked, the passive-aggressive petitioner is gonna think they cleverly got away with it. It wasn’t all that clever… but since nobody rebuked them, yeah they did get away with it.

So they’re totally gonna do this again.

14 August 2023

We’re all going to die, y’know.

I know, I know. “Unless the Lord tarries.” It’s a phrase preachers love to say, which reminds us there is Jesus’s second coming yet to take place—and because he can return at any time, he may very well return in our lifetimes. And if he does return in our lifetimes, we’re not gonna die: We’re getting resurrected without dying, like the apostles described.

1 Thessalonians 4.16-17 NLT
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

Although I have heard some theologians argue that having our old bodies transformed into our new bodies means our old bodies pass away—they die. But that doesn’t jibe at all with the way Paul and Sosthenes put it when they wrote, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” 1Co 15.51 KJV Sleep is a euphemism for die, so they’re saying we won’t die. The preachers are right: When Jesus returns, those who are alive aren’t gonna die.

But are we gonna be alive when Jesus returns? Statistically, no. We’re gonna die.

Yep. You and me, and our kids, and our grandkids, and our great-grandkids, and all our descendants. People die, and we’re no different. We’re gonna die. You’re gonna die. Deal with it.

Yeah, I know. I’m gonna get accused of all sorts of heresy and apostasy and unbelief for saying this. Jesus can return at any time! How dare I give people the idea he won’t?

Well, I dare because thus far he hasn’t. For thousands of generations of Christians, he hasn’t. For good reason!—he’s trying to save everyone he can. 2Pe 3.9 And if it takes him a thousand more generations of Christians to save everyone he can, I’m okay with that. We should all be okay with that. I don’t want him to let other people perish just so I can avoid the uncomfortability of dying. I may be a dick sometimes, but I’m not that big a dick.

So Jesus is trying to save everyone he can, but despite this, every generation of Christians has claimed, “He’s coming back in my lifetime.” True, there were some generations where many of ’em weren’t saying this. Postmillennialism was really popular among Evangelicals for a few centuries, and postmil Christians thought it was their job to start the millennium—and Jesus wouldn’t return till it was over. But the majority of Christians still believed Jesus can and would return at any time, and return for them, and they wouldn’t die.

So they didn’t deal with it. And, y’know, died.

And you’ve likely seen what happens when people don’t prepare for their own death: Chaos. Family members who don’t know what to do. Wealth which they squabble over. Greedy opportunists who swoop in and take as much of that wealth as they can get their grubby hands on. Things left unsaid. Tasks left undone. Hurt feelings. And Christians who never, ever expected them to die—’cause Jesus was supposed to return first!—and now they go through a big unnecessary faith crisis because they thought Jesus was gonna return on their schedule.

I’ve seen this happen way too often. It’s entirely not necessary. It’s because Christians, and our teachers, aren’t dealing with reality. “Unless the Lord tarries” is likely gonna happen. It’s happened for 20 centuries; what’s another century? You’re not getting raptured before your 90th birthday. Or before Grandma’s 90th birthday. You’re gonna die.

Deal with it. Deal with it in a much better, healthier way than one of those pagans who don’t believe in resurrection and have no hope, but deal with it. Prepare for your demise. Get your family ready.

What, you figure you’re too young? You’re not. No one is. Accidents happen. Disease happens. People too stupid to take preventative measures because they don’t believe in science, happen—and sometimes happen to those of us who do believe in science, and we catch something deadly from these selfish morons. Even if you figure Jesus is returning within the next seven years, some driver fiddling with his phone could plow into you tomorrow, and nobody will be ready for that. So get ready for that. Practice some basic common sense, wouldya?

13 August 2023

Jesus cures the crowds.

Mark 1.32-34, Matthew 8.16-17, Luke 4.40-41.

In ancient Israel there was no such thing as healthcare. If you got sick, your only recourse was either for God to miraculously heal you, or folk medicine. Science hadn’t been invented yet!

Following the standards of the day, folk medicine was largely unproven: People did what they believed oughta work, based on guesses (educated or not), hearsay, rumor, or homeopathy—if something makes you ill, why not dose yourself with more and build up resistance? You know, like shooting yourself with smaller-caliber bullets to build up your immunity to larger bullets.

Some of it did actually work—like willow bark, which we nowadays call “aspirin.” Or poppy juice, which we nowadays call “opium.” But y’notice sometimes these cures did more harm than good.

Because the “experts” didn’t know what they were doing. All of them were fumbling around in the dark. Read Hippocrates or Galen sometime: Their philosophical theories are kinda entertaining, but when you realize people were actually trying to cure desperately ill people with their “knowledge”—it gets kinda horrifying.

The King James Version translated the Greek word ιἀτρός/yatrós (plural, ιἀτροί/yatrí) as “physician”—by which they meant “one who gives you physic,” and physic means “medicine.” A physician gave you folk remedies. Or drugs; they’d dope you up till you didn’t care about pain anymore. It’s the best they knew. But don’t get the wrong idea these “physicians” in the bible were in any way doctors of medicine. A far more proper translation of yatrós is “witch doctor”—which is what I tend to use.

Among pagan yatrí, one of the tools in their iffy arsenal was δαιμόνια/demónia. We translate that word as “demons,” but to Greeks a demónion was a lesser god; kinda like a guardian angel. If you were sick, the yatrí would ask their gods Apollo or Æsculapius for help… and if those gods were busy, maybe they could call upon a demónion to help you. Maybe stick one in you, and it could root around in there and fix you right up! Maybe two or three for extra help, or expediency. Maybe more! If one tablet of aspirin is good for you, why not an entire bottle? Why not a legion’s worth of demónia?

So as I said in my article on Jesus’s first exorcism, if you’ve ever wondered why the gospels contain so many exorcisms, and how they’re connected to supernatural healing, this is why. Jesus lived in the Galilee, which wasn’t entirely Jewish: It was full of Syrian Greek villages filled with Syrian Greek pagans. And if a Jewish person was sick, and desperate, they’d try anything—including some pagan yatrós who was rumored to get results. So they’d get demonized. Way bigger problems than ever they bargained for.

As I also said in that article, when Americans get sick, and western medicine doesn’t know how to treat them, we too will get desperate, and dabble in witch doctoring. Call it “eastern medicine,” call it “alternative medicine,” call it “natural healing,” call it whatever; none of these guys went to medical schools, and some of them call upon demónia same as the ancient Greeks. Times change; human nature hasn’t.