Monday, December 10, 2018

Christian Behrend Doscher's $20,000 Promise



One of Christian Behrend Doscher’s most egregious attempts to deceive me took place in 2008 while he was posing as “spirit5er” on TheologyWeb. It took me until 2016 to find out the whole truth.

While I was engaging him in debate on TheologyWeb in 2008, Doscher challenged me to a debate in front of my church and said he would pay me $20,000 for that debate. Because of a crash, the TheologyWeb version of that thread no longer exists except for a bit of it in an archive. But Doscher preserved a version of those events on an atheist forum that same year. Here’s what he said in a message dated October 6, 2008:

I accepted Holding's $20,000 price tag for an oral debate at a location, date and time of his choosing, on a biblical subject of his choosing, in front of any audience of his choosing, then asked for the name and number of his pastor to facilitate the deal, guarantee his promise to debate and transfer the money. Nope. He refused to give the information on his pastor (like Holding really goes to church?!), unless I PM'd him with an electronic scan of my bank statement showing I had at least $20,000 in my account. When I objected that people sending bank statements to people they don't know on the internet is absurd, and they can be easily photoshopped anyway (bank statements being little more than letters, lines and numbers, how hard is that to alter?), he replied that he knows experts who can tell whether a scan that shows my name and money-amount, has been photoshopped or not. As if the prospect of meeting personally with his pastor to facilitate this deal upon his agreement to debate, was somehow more prone to deception and falsification than his ridiculous face-saving suggestions.


I had plenty of suspicions about “spirit5er” so I never told him a thing. I also strung him along about his offer of $20,000, knowing that it was likely to be false. I had no idea just how false it was until 2016, when I started collecting documents from Doscher’s old lawsuits in the midst of his libel lawsuit against me.

By way of background, in 2007, Doscher briefly worked for Swift Transportation, a leading trucking company. He resigned from that job on July 31, 2007, over an issue involving a traffic ticket and a refusal to drive his truck. In June 2009, he filed the first of a series of lawsuits related to these events. I won’t get into details on those cases here. What I want to highlight is this snippet from a document he filed in that case:




(Doscher v Swift, Motion for Summary Judgment, October 2010, p. 60)

So, let’s put the pieces together. In 2008, the same year he was often homeless and living in his car, Doscher was also offering me $20,000 to engage him in a live debate. This was in spite of the fact that he couldn’t even afford to spend the money for gas needed to turn the heat on in his vehicle in the dead of winter.

It’s kind of ironic. In 2008, he offered me $20,000 he didn’t have to pay me for a live debate. In 2016, a judge ordered him to pay me just over $20,000 to cover my attorney fees. One way or the other, he’s destined to pay me that amount someday. It just remains to be seen how.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Storage Wars Parody Contest: Answers


Here's the answer key to the Storage Wars Jerusalem contest last week. All answers left to right.

1:49 Peter Breitbart, who appeared in several vids; any of those titles are acceptable. Crazypills2 the Clown, who also appeared in several vids.

1:55 Unnamed lady robot (though I used the working name of Sephia) who appeared in four vids related to cosmology. Gilligan and the Pett Bomber, from Rescue from Pett Bomber Island. Obelix, appeared in Tacitus Says Christ Mythers Have Gaul.

2:01 Batman, appeared in Did the Bible Blunder 3. ReligionFreeDeist in his jackass costume, from Plumber Under Pressure.

2:10 Bart Ehrman, who has appeared in dozens of vids. Faith, from Paul's Angels: Faith. Cult of Dusty, from ForBibleTruth and Cultof Dusty Hammered by the Historians.

2:25 Pres. Bartlett from President Bartlett Gets Pared.

2:32 Dorothy from Penn and Teller's Bible Bull Ripped. William Lane Craig from Dawkins' Dodge.

2:38 Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins from Thunderf00t’s Strategic Assessment (Dawkins has appeared in others as well).

2:41 Ray Comfort from If Ray Comfort Were a Fundamentalist Atheist.

3:12 Dr. E from Dr. E: Jesus vs Attis (or Osiris would be acceptable).

3:18 Norman Geisler from Geisler's Christmas Carol or Rise of the Ehrmanator. ChristianRoadWarrior from WYTW Raw: ProfMTH and violently graceful Lose Their Job

3:30 Unnamed elephant from The Tale of Jephthah. DarkMatter2525 from several vids, though he has only appeared in that form in Dark Doesn't Matter.

3:35 Mike Licona from Geisler's Christmas Carol.

3:45 Unnamed Borg from Social Concepts 4: Submit to the Collective. Kittenkitoko from Jephthah in the Hot Seat or Dawkins' Ironic Hypocrisy.

3;58 Joan from Social Concept 3: Shame vs Guilt. Unnamed guy from Wah Wah World 4.

4:03 Unnamed clown from Plumber Under Pressure.

4:09 Unnamed bull from Who Authored Luke-Acts? Thessalonians 2 from The Man Who Wrote THAT!

4:50 Troi from Why is the Man's Head Shiny? or Submit to the Collective.

4:59 Penn from Penn and Teller Bible Bull Ripped. Scram Man, from several vids. Barry the atheist from Symphathizes with Wolves.

5:08 Count Blarg from Did the Bible Blunder 3. Unnamed assistant to Confucius from Be a Moron Onto Others.

5:12 Sheila from The Great Bombini.

Office from Tryouts for the Trinity.

Bartimaeus healing scene from Social Concepts 2.

Dumpster scene from Plumber Under Pressure.

Friday, July 6, 2012

PWNAGE II: The Return of the Symph-athizer






On TektonTV today, I offered a followup vid as a reply to the same emergent Christian to whom a prior vid and Forge post was addressed (link below). There was little in the way of new argument from him this time; what he did offer was mostly a sustained rant, peppered with personal accusations, vacuous slogans, and angry re-assertions of defeated premises (I spent a lot of time referring to prior arguments he ignored or was unaware of!), but this gave me a chance to make a few things clear about my use of harsh language towards certain opponents, as well as address a few other issues.

“All the Time.” The emergent made the rather vague charge that I used harsh language “all the time”. How this is rated is not explained. Obviously, since e.g., comments on YT engage me less than a total of 15-20 minutes a day, and at least 70-90% of those on any given day are not to fundy atheists, “all the time” seems hyperbolic to say the least.

In reality, most of my time these days is spent on writing projects such as an e-book on the atonement and articles for my e-zine (the current article on my docket is on Orthodoxy). It seems rather that the emergent is so obsessed with the idea that it is all he thinks about “all the time.” As I explain in the vid, though, my use of harsh language is governed by occasions brought TO me. I don't go looking to pick fights with fundy atheists in the YouTube comments. In every single case, they come to MY channel -- or to one my work is hosted on -- to pick fights with ME. 

This simple point erases a good number of complaints from the be-nice bellowers:  Those who comment know very well from watching the vids that they're not going to be given a free ride with a song and dance. Most (not all) of the vids contain sarcastic humor, so there's very little chance fundy atheist commenters do not know what they're getting into.

In contrast, a point I do not address in the vid: Although I don't go picking fights in comments, I do sometimes appear to do so when I produce vids. Of the current set of 175 vids, a fair number are directed to a position held by someone who made another vid; of that, a fair number are directed towards persons who "threw the first punch."  Some, however,   are towards persons who had nothing to do with me before -- mostly, two YT users designated ProfMTH and NonStampCollector. 

But hold for the caveat: I picked those two as targets on request of YT users who were distressed by their arrogance and the bullying. So however you look at it -- I'm almost never, if at all, the one looking for trouble. My work is almost completely reactionary.

That's how it was when I wrote articles for Tekton years ago, too. Nothing has changed. If you're an atheist who does civil discourse, and doesn't go out of your way to do poor research or to deceive, you have nothing to worry about and will get the red carpet from me. If you do get called down by me, and acknowledge your mistakes and show a willingness to dialogue and improve your effort -- as has happened with a few atheists over the years -- the same carpet comes rolling out.

But if you're a fundy atheist who doesn't care about the truth, who continues to use sources like Wikipedia or Acharya S or Robert Ingersoll; who makes excuses such as "Christian scholars are too biased so you can't use them" -- I'll roll up that carpet and knock you over the right field wall with it.

As noted in that last entry, Christians like this emergent one who enable such behavior are no better. You'll see in this vid samples of comments from such fundy atheists, who this emergent lunatic has the temerity to say are just "asking questions in the name of God." Which god, I ask? Loki? Eris? (Is there an Aztec god of discord and destruction they're following, maybe?) And I also point out a great irony: By enabling these wolves, the emergent is actually insulting honest seekers and being a “poor witness” to them.

Offensive Christianity. I allude to Christianity being profoundly offensive in its social context. This is the sum of what I call the Impossible Faith thesis. There’s a link below explaining some of the points made in the vid. This thesis formed the basis for one of the sections in my book Defending the Resurrection. It’s been criticized by a couple of atheists (including one who was paid $5000 by another atheist to write a refutation of it!), and I have replied in turn.

Personal Testimony. There’s a link below to a series on my other blog about evangelism and apologetics, and how Christians have placed themselves in a trap of sorts by making personal behavior a judging standard for the truth of the Gospel.

Reading Lists. The emergent coddled a fundy atheist who refused to do assigned reading I offered so that they could comment more intelligently. I should note that I did this specifically to this critic precisely because they were not willing to learn and be inquisitive. Most viewers will not have done the reading before commenting; but most readers will also not rail off with misplaced objections, either. There’s a difference between the way I treat willing learners and those who steadfastly remain willfully ignorant.

To address a related point: I don’t attack disagreement. I attack willfully and stubbornly unintelligent, misinformed, tendentious disagreement. And fundy atheists specialize in that (as is to be expected, since that was their mode as fundies, too).

Seeking Weak Christians. One thing the emergent fails to grasp – being too ensconced in his role as an enabler of bullies – is that the set of fundy atheists I deal with are “anti-evangelists” who are specifically seeking weak victims. Very few openly state that they are out to deconvert Christians; John Loftus is one of those who does. This set of fundy atheists has a strategy set, which includes the “guilt trip” of declaring that you sure are unloving if you don’t just accept their manipulative ways and become their doormat. They also tend to use “reason, logic and evidence” – the words, not the actual products – as a bludgeon. Used their way, this becomes an insult in itself (as it indicates to the Christian, “you are oblivious to reason, logic, and evidence”).

There’s no basis for doormat Christianity. Even acts like giving your clothes away to someone who sued you was in fact an act designed to shame your opponent – just like Gandhi shamed the British with his non-violence (which I expect escapes the emergent sorts as well). The emergent uses the Message “translation,” which, as the vid notes, offers the ridiculous rendering that you are to “gift wrap” your item of clothing and make it a present. That not only adds a great deal of words to the text, it also adds our cultural presuppositions.

As part of their anti-evangelism, I noted, these fundy atheists will even leave comments on vids that are just devotionals. Now I imagine it will be said that Christians will also evangelize on vids that have to do with eg, evolution. And that’s true. But it’s also just as inappropriate and not an excuse.

Millennial Change. In close -- as TektonTV approaches 1000 subscribers, I have decided on a solution to the problem, one that will shut down the complaints once and for all -- though not in a way you might expect. You can look for that once TektonTV passes the magic number. My final note on this is a clue – I design my riposte such that those who take themselves least seriously will have the least problem with it. That’s all I’ll say – those who have ears to hear, will hear.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

All About Pwnage: Supplement


Today on TektonTV, we've added a vid laying the law down on a species of professed Christian which is set to bury the Western church as it lays on its deathbed. We've had many occasions to answer the denizens of the emergent church (Brian McLaren, Carl Medearis, and others) but this is the first time (apart from a few comments on Amazon to Medearis) I've addressed any directly. This one objected to my use of "pwnage" against fundy atheists and those who destroy the truth. Nothing unusual there. (I'd better add here for qualification, since otherwise it will be assumed: I don't mean here reasonable atheists. I mean open, bold, deceivers and profaners.)

Since there's nothing particularly unusual about any emergent -- seen one, seen them all -- we won't bother to name them, but will present here their (typical) responses for commentary. 

"We have to made God and Jesus attractive!"

We do? That's funny. God did all he could to make Jesus UNattractive in the first century: A crucified man (the highest form of shame known, in a society where honor was highly valued and shame desperately avoided), who came from Nazareth in Galilee (from the wrong side of the tracks, and a land known for being the Afghanistan of the day), and was resurrected (when pagans thought the idea of resurrection repugnant, and Jews thought no one would be resurrected until the end of the age)...need I go on? I compiled a huge list of reasons precisely why God and Jesus were NOT attractive in the first century; and a minor league arrogant, or any emergent, is going to say we need to make Jesus "attractive"? What do they want us to do, add lipstick to the crucified Christ?

The fact is, the Gospel is not "attractive". It is not personal therapy. It is not for the purpose of making you feel good, or so you can have "experiences" in church (most of which are self-induced euphorias anyway).  It is not an "I Can Only Imagine" song where we get to dance and sing. It is erasure of sin for sinners; it is eternal service and work on behalf of the Kingdom.  The faithful servant didn't get ten cities so that he could go on vacation in them.

"We need to listen to the grievances of these fundy atheists!"

No we don't. For one thing, they're all old news. For another, they've all already been answered. Fundy atheists -- not "regular" atheists necessarily -- aren't raising these objections because they want an answer. They are raising these objections to annoy, frustrate, and anger Christians. They are raising them as a way of undermining Christians' faith and in turn undermining their support for causes they (the fundy atheists) support -- whether it be abortion, same-sex marriage, or keeping the Ten Commandments out of their offended vision.
The fact is that these “grievances” have been postulated since Ingersoll, since Paine, in some cases since Celsus. The answers have been around just as long. It does not take a great deal of effort (with most of them) to discover that they are bogus. However, fundy atheists as a whole have an aversion to reading. I have offered to buy three of them a free book – only one has taken the offer, and that was one who I’d consider right on the cusp of rational (as opposed to fundy) atheism. So we don’t need to listen to their grievances – because they’re not looking for solutions.

"These fundy atheists are people who have been hurt by the church!"

Oh really? If we allow in trivial or manufactured offense, including that willfully exacerbated by a refusal to look for answers (as above), then that might work out. As for REAL offense, well -- when I did an article on witnessing to apostates, I found a survey on a leading fundy atheist website (a forum, though the thread is now defunct), and the largest portion (28.5 percent) of atheists cited “theological/doctrinal problems” as their reason for questioning their faith. Another 27 percent claimed that their faith “no longer made sense” or that they “grew out of it.” Ten percent cited “Bible contradictions” as their reason to initially question Christianity.

Where did "hurt by the church" come in? Fourth. Way fourth. About 6 percent. Not that this is an excuse to spread crap like "Jesus didn't exist" or "the Inquisition killed 24 million people." 

"We need to show the love of Jesus!"

Ah yes. Love. Now that’s an error not unique to the emergents; like most of the church today, they define love in terms of sappy sentimentality and universal politeness to even the most despicable despot. It’s not that; and that is nothing at all like the agape understood by first century peoples, in which the greatest good was always at the fore – even if that meant having to crack a few noggins for the sake of the whole. Emergent love would send Saddam flowers and gently (so as not to offend) ask him to repent. Agape love would depose Saddam, put him on trial, and justly execute him – for the greater good of his people, and the world at large. That’s the difference between modern individualism and collectivism.

Not surprisingly, with that sort of view of love, emergents have no idea what to do with Biblical passages where God says he'll smear dung on people's faces, or where God orders the Canaanites destroyed. They wring their hands and profess to be disturbed by them and to be trying to figure it all out, but the traditional hell will freeze over before they arrive at a real solution. The only solution they have, as Medearis says, is to keep pointing at Jesus and hope no one notices. (McLaren tried some sort of incoherent approach that claimed some sort of misunderstanding, but it is awful hard to misunderstand, "these people must be evicted from the land, or die.")

"If you don't know a person, you have no right to tell them they are wrong."

Ah yes. There's another of those made up emergent rules. Last I checked, right and wrong was determined by accordance with facts and truth, not whether you "knew" a person. The emergent church is obsessively relational, insisting you need to become close to and familiar with a person and earn their “respect” to be able to have the "right" to correct them. 

The problem is that the sort of personal familiarity they describe has been unknown until the modern era; in agonistic, collectivist societies like the world of the NT, people did not "get to know" each other save in rare circumstances, and “respect” as we know it was unknown; honor was the closest analogue, and by that reckoning, an inferior could not correct a superior, but a superior was free to correct an inferior, and equals could correct each other only with caution. Which means, by the emergent view, almost no one had the right to correct anyone else until around 1867.

“You can’t judge someone’s heart. Jesus could, and that is why he was allowed to insult the Pharisees! You’re not Jesus, pal!”

By this reckoning, as Douglas Wilson has noted, we also can’t do anything else Jesus did – because who knows what’s actually going on? We can’t help people either – how do we know they’re not evil, and going to abuse us or others if we help them now?

Beyond that, if we want to appeal to Jesus, let us remember that he also said that we could know people by their fruit, and Jesus himself didn’t call on any divine knowledge to judge the Pharisees – he said that by the overflow of their hearts, their mouths spoke (Matt. 12:34). He didn’t have to dip into the divine knowledge well to get that – so why would we need to?

I’ll add a side note. It seems emergents are especially enamored of Bible “translations” like “The Message” which are actually pretty poor paraphrases, because they find in them the sort of relational or sympathetic twist they’re looking for. That’s typical of their mistakes. As John Kohlenberger sums it up, in a Christian Research Journal article on The Message:

So how are we to view The Message? It is an expansive paraphrase that is not so labeled, as is The Living Bible. Beset with inconsistencies, its idiom is not always “street language”; its terminology is often idiosyncratic to its author. Compared by noted literary figures to the groundbreaking translation of J.B.Phillips, I believe The Message often lacks Phillips’s creativity and conciseness.

In the introduction, Eugene Peterson compares his pastoral ministry to his work as a translator: “I stood at the border between two languages, biblical Greek and everyday English, acting as a translator, providing the right phrases, getting the right words so that the men and women to whom I was pastor could find their way around and get along in this world” (p.7). Much of The Message reads like a sermon: text plus interpretation and application. Unlike a sermon, however, the reader does not know where the text ends and the sermon begins.
 
Because of its interpretive and idiosyncratic nature, The Message should not be used for study. If read for enlightenment or entertainment, the reader should follow the advice of Saint Augustine, as quoted in the original preface to the KJV, “Variety of translations is profitable for finding out the sense of the Scriptures.” Acts17:11 commends the Bereans for evaluating Paul’s teaching with the Old Testament Scriptures. In the same spirit, The Message needs to be evaluated against more consistent and traditional translations, especially when its renderings evoke a response such as, “I didn’t know the Bible said that!” or, “Now I understand what it means.”

In sum: while the phrase “the Message” is Eugene Peterson’s translation of “the Gospel,” not everything in The Message should be treated as gospel.

I’ll say this in close. Emergents, with regard to fundy atheists, have a parallel in the secular world. Our school systems are enduring what some have called an epidemic of bullying, as the weak are preyed on by the strong, and the strong receive nothing but slaps on the wrist, counseling, and “understanding”. To enable a bully is far more despicable, however, than the bullying itself. 

Emergents who insist on being nice to fundy atheists and other destroyers or deceivers are enablers, and their act in so being is therefore more wicked than the first. 

Appeasement doesn't work. The emergents need to learn a lesson from Neville Chamberlain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Test Answers



We'll get to the Forge post early this week as I'm using it to post answers to a "test" I offered on TektonTV to arrogant fundy atheists who think they're hot stuff because they aced the Pew religious knowledge test. This vid is not a challenge to my Christian readers, so feel free to watch and check the answers if you're one of those.

Answers:

1) b) probatio
2) c) Jesus was a created being
3) b) Quintillian,
4) a) Ma’at
5) b) F. C. Baur
6) Philo, Josephus, Tacitus, Cassius Dio
7) b) beheading
8) d) Theodosius
9) b) John Yoder
10) d) The Wise Man, the Artisan, and the Slave
11) b) the timing of the resurrection
12) a) Robert Gundry
13) c) codex
14) d) Sejanus
15) b) musical instruments

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waaah Waaah World

Today’s entry is a companion to a YT vid I just loaded in which I highlight examples of Skeptics and fundy atheists who make absurd demands of God based on the premise that if He’s omnipotent, He ought to just go ahead and do whatever they find convenient. This post explains where each of the four real-life examples I gave came from.

Example A – the source for this is J. E. Hill, who had said, precisely:

When I read that "lack of paper" defense, I just shook my head, and wondered why Yahweh didn't give them enough writing material to eliminate all the confusion.

Fundy atheist Farrell Till added to the idiocy with this comment:

…why would an omniscient, omnipotent deity, who had performed for the Israelites such wonders as the parting of the Red Sea, the sending of manna down from heaven for a period of 40 years, the gushing forth of water from rocks, etc., etc., etc., just so that he could get his "chosen ones" from Egypt to Canaan, not have lifted a finger to make sure that "John" and the others who were recording his "plan of salvation" for all mankind throughout the rest of human history, had adequate scroll materials to tell everything about that plan that was necessary to make it credible and understandable, but he doesn't seem to be too eager to answer that question.

Example B – this one comes from a Skeptic of the Acharya S variety, J. B. McPherson, who, in her Holey Bible – Old Testament affected the part of a Mark Twain and said several things like, “Why not just zap the whole kit and kaboodle over to the land where he wanted them and save all the time and trouble involved?” throughout her book.

Example C – happened right on YT recently at the time when I was doing my responses on Elisha on the bears.

Example D – this example came to me by way of a personal email, so I will not disclose the name of the source. But you can see at this link that there are people who think this is God’s obligation.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Secular Web's Great Tinfoil Age

Someone wrote me the other day about The Jury Is in, asking if I could refute it.

Ha ha. Of course I can, I already did. TJII, formerly the showcase project of infidels.org, was my second major online refutation project back in the late 90s (the first being a comparison of Lincoln biographies), and from it grew much of the content of my books. You'll still see remnants of it here and there on the site, too.


I still check infidels.org now and then to see if there's anything worthy of attention. Uploads seem to be a lot less frequent there than I remember, though, and it seems quality control over there has gone clockwise down the loo.

A good example of this is an item by one Daniel June, a professed former Assembly of God believer -- and still one mentally, to judge by his performance -- who offers an extended rant on Revelation and the horror of dispensational end times scenarios.


I can't do much more than laugh at most of June's extended rant, for more than one reason. To start, of course, as a preterist, I don't hold to the position June is ranting about, so my own refutation could stop at, "YAWN -- what else you got?" There's a lot of argument by outrage, which as usual seems to comprise at least 50% of any presentation by your average run of the mill Skeptic who believes that there's no reason to waste time arguing rationally when there's a chance to throw blood and guts in the reader's face. I'm especially amused inasmuch as June also whiffs past me with the whole "eternal torture" in hell tango.


So, of course, June's miserific paean over allegedly wholly innocent people (eg, "elderly men and women, who have worked to put their children through college, and are enjoying their golden years spoiling their grandchildren", blah blah blah -- all we need is for Fred Rogers to waltz in and change his socks) being ransacked by Jesus on his white horse pretty much falls on deaf ears for lack of relevance. One would hope that infidels.org would someday get enough quality control to sift out people like June who still carry this kind of emotional baggage. But as I've said, a fundy atheists hasn't really changed from being fundies; it never occurs to them that their idea that Revelation preserves a doctrine of only "a few thousand Christians" being saved (!), and their absurdly literalistic reading of apocalyptic language (so backwards that it would warrant a collection of high-five noogies from the Essene community) was a joke when they believed it and is even more of a joke now that they're critiquing it. Maybe the reason infidels. org doesn't filter such people out is because it would leave them with only enough writers to count on one hand.


One might also have hoped that June would have checked out some scholarly commentaries on Revelation to set him straight, but his first source is...er...Harold Bloom. On the virtue of his being someone who "has probably read more books than any man living, and published more literary appraisals than any scholar I have heard of..." That probably speaks more to June's lack of exposure to scholarship than to any virtues Bloom may actually have, but the fact is that Bloom remains a patent ignoramus on the interpretation of first century Jewish apocalypse, and his opinion of it -- which assumes as grossly literalistic a reading as June does -- deserves little more than a laugh track.

It doesn't get much better later, as Jung and Nietzsche (!) are called in for comment; obviously neither expense nor time was spared by June in engaging the most reputable Biblical scholarship available. Harrumph. NOT.


From there it doesn't get much better in terms of content either. June engages an extended screed on end times movements and their failures; on supposed parallels between Revelation and Genesis which he apparently swallowed as a Christian (and which owe far more to homiletics than to contextualizing scholarship); and a series of frankly dumb statements like this one:

The gospel of John calls the Jews "sons of Satan," and this John calls the Jews "the synagogue of Satan," though Yahweh had put a curse on anybody who cursed the Jews...

Um....no. The Gospel of John does no such thing, actually. It calls certain Judeans (natives of the nation of Judaea), whom Jesus specifically addresses, sons of Satan; and that's the sort of riposte folks back then used without being the least bit sensitive about it (read: Jesus to Peter, “Get thee behind me, whatsyername!”). So likewise the "synagogue of Satan" reference in Revelation; the modern ignoramus like June gets into hissies over such language, but for the first century reader, this is raindrops fallin’ on their head while they take a few moments to think of a better riposte to throw back. June is walking straight into a contest of the dozens and having a cow over these guys making such offensive comments about each others’ mothers. His gross literalism, a rebound from his ignorant fundamentalist past, erupts like a geyser of pus from the overinflated pimple of his mind; and to grasp the depth of his absurdity, try to imagine him taking what I just said literally, too.


June further laments a "confused young man" he knew who "wouldn't touch anything electronic because 'Computers are the Beast.' " What he fails to grasp is that he has become no more grown up in his exegetical skills than those people have. He amuses himself with all the variations made upon 666, but had he more of a mind than to quote someone as ignorant of such matters as Thomas Jefferson (!) and Thomas Paine (!!) he might have discovered that -- golly! -- Nero does indeed fit that bill quite well, thanks. And it doesn't take the Riddler to figure it out, either.


Seriously, folks. This is meant to be the cream of the crop at infidels.org these days? This is what they allow to write for them? It's almost enough for me to demand that James Still and Jim Perry come back. Or maybe even (gulp) Stevie Carr. Stupid as they were, not even they were bozo enough to rant about Revelation as the product of a "half-wit, no-talent writer". Nor were they of such childish mind as to think that a yards-long blood and guts rant substituted for the legwork of textual analysis. (On the other hand, Stevie did sometimes think quoting someone of the level of Paine was a good idea.)


I guess the Golden Age of the Secular Web has been given over for the Tinfoil Age. It’s too bad they don’t have better hats than that.