Have some extra cash?

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Rather outside of the scope of this blog, but I just had to share: I have the privilege of being friends with some really neat people doing some really neat things, and many of those things require the contents of your wallet!

One friend is running a fundraiser for the Against Malaria Foundation, which buys nets to help people protect themselves from disease-spreading mosquitoes. The Foundation operates with zero administrative costs (due to grants and partnerships), so you get a whole lot of bang for buck when you donate, and they are ranked #1 by Givewell. Better yet, my friend is matching donations up to $20,000, so every $1 you give, through the magic of matching, turns into $2! Click here to give.

Another friend has recently started an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to write, publish, and promote about her experiences with Crohn’s and her attempts at receiving treatment from some less-than-reliable sources. The book will be called Young, Sick and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey with Chronic Illness. If she writes anything like she speaks, this book is going to be really fantastic! You can help support her work here.

I hope that you will consider giving to these worthy causes! But even if you can’t spare a few dollars, there’s still a lot that you can do! Awareness is a huge part of fundraising, and both of these very worthy efforts could use some promotion. So please let your friends know!

Thanks for bearing with me, and I promise that we’ll be back in the Bible on Monday!

On the inverted cross

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The inverted, or upside-down, cross is one of the more popular anti-Christian symbols around. It’s featured on countless metal band albums and, along with the pentagram, is a staple of the Satanic imagery used in film. Most recently, I was watching the first season of the show Supernatural (which is awesome, by the way), and the main characters deduce that an old woman is actually an evil supernatural creature because of the inverted cross on her wall.

In March 2000, Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Israel. While there, he sat on a throne decorated with the image of the inverted cross. Shortly thereafter, every Evangelical with internet access and a penchant for LaHaye-esque conspiracy theories created a website explaining that this is proof positive that the Roman Catholic Church is evil incarnate and that the now-sainted pope is actually the Anti-Christ.

But like so many commonly known facts, the anti-Christian origin of the inverted cross is pure fiction.

popes-crossThe inverted cross actually refers to Saint Peter. Though this is not mentioned in the Bible, Catholic tradition tells us that he, like Jesus, was executed by means of crucifixion, but that his cross was planted upside down. Drawing on Matthew 16:18-19, the papal line is closely aligned with him.

So when Pope John Paul II seated his holy derrière under an inverted cross, the intended symbolism was actually that he was a successor to Peter, the rock on which Christ may build his church.

Time to recycle that inverted cross necklace you bought to shock the ol’ ‘rents, I’m afraid. That, or attach a little figure onto it. The inverted crucifix is legitimate sacrilege.


This post was originally published on CFI-Ottawa’s blog.

Christ’s crucifixion nails found!

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Or perhaps not…

For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl:
He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl
That Seint Peter hadde, whan that he wente
Upon the see, til Jesu Crist hym hente.
He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.

-Chaucer, General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

There’s nothing new about selling relics. Charlatans discovered long ago that people will pay far more than is seemly to touch something that was once worn by or part of a hero. While today’s consumers might prefer to buy an air guitar once played by JFK, the saints’ knuckle-bones market has long been considered an investor’s safe bet.

These saint-oil salesmen have embraced new technological developments. Where the pardoner could only sell his pillowcase once, modern peddlers can use TV to sell the same relic to millions of viewers at the same time. This is precisely what Simcha Jacobovici is doing with the conspicuously timed announcement of his new movie, The Nails of the Cross (via Skepchick).

This isn’t a surprising move from Jacobovici, who hosts a TV show called The Naked Archeologist – a show that, according to its Wikipedia page, “reviews Biblical stories, then tries to find proof for them” (which, by the way, is the most precisely backwards way of doing archeology). In his new movie, he claims that some nails that were actually and truly used to crucify Jesus have been found in what may be (but likely isn’t) the tomb of Caiaphas.

[Caiaphas is the Jewish priest who, according to Matthew and John, organized the plot to kill Jesus. According to Jacobovici, he was also a Dexter-like collector of tokens from his victims.]

The find is bunk, of course, and XKV8R does a fairly good job explaining why. But isn’t it interesting that the scams Chaucer complained about over 600 years ago are still with us and going strong?

John Calvin once complained that there were enough pieces of the True Cross in churches across Christendom to fill a ship – and now we have the nails to go with them!


Reposted from the CFI-Ottawa blog.

Marital Problems Explained

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Days of Praise is a daily sermon put out by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). The format is pretty fairly standard – it starts with a Biblical quote, and follows with a brief discussion that often bears no relevance whatsoever to that quote.

Today’s edition is no exception, drawing the conclusion that marital problems are caused by The Fall from: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)

There are all sorts of things wrong with the sermon. We jump right in with the first sentence: “Marriage has always had a high place–a high calling.” Yes, a very high calling. Marriage is that thing you do if you are too weak to resist sexual temptation. That’s right, marriage is the same kind of “high calling” as chopping off your limbs.

So that’s the first sentence down. On to the second…

It’s absolutely true that God intended woman for man to help ease solitude. However, the idea that woman would be a suitable companion came only after Adam rejected God’s initial idea: Bestiality.

To recap, marriage is a high calling, just like self-mutilation and the sexual abuse of animals.

Skip ahead a little bit, we get the statement that: “It is safe to say that the many excesses on both sides of a marriage that we see today are the legacy of sin.” Before you think that the ICR may have something of a point here, they aren’t defining “sin” as bad behaviour and/or thought patterns. No, in this context, “sin” refers to Adam’s rebellion. In other words, if you fight with your wife, it’s because someone ate some no-no fruit six thousand years ago. Logic!

Marital problems, caused by fruit consumption and… Satan!

Oh yes, they went there. “Satan himself delights in destroying marriage.” Cheat on your husband? Satan made you do it. Don’t respect your wife as a human being and partner? Satan’s corrupting your brain (or the opposite, Christians are a bit weird on this point…).

But more specifically, Satan (or Satin, for the fashionistas) “introduced numerous practices which are detrimental to a proper marriage.” This is how the ICR explains away the craziness of polygamy not being “Biblical marriage” – I’d always wondered about that. Of course, they’re still playing fairly fast and loose with scripture, saying that it was the “ungodly lineage of Cain [that] began to practice polygamy” and neglecting to mention that most of the patriarchs also did so.

They also claim that “Noah’s son, Ham, indulged in sexual thoughts and innuendoes,” citing Genesis 9:22. Now, the Bible is clear that Ham is a baddie and Noah is a goodie, so I’m not entirely surprised that they would try to spin it this way. But read the passage! Even without the context, Ham’s crime is seeing Noah naked and telling his brothers, which is a far cry from indulging in “sexual thoughts and innuendoes.” Take it with the context, and it only gets worse. The reason Noah was naked in the first place is that he drank way too much wine and passed out – naked – in his tent. And yet the spin here is that Ham is the baddie with “sexual thoughts” for accidentally walking in on him. That, folks, is why we don’t get our morality from the Bible.

And, of course, they bring up Abraham’s “extramarital affair” (which is a really nice way of saying that he raped one of his slaves). That’s what he did wrong. Abandoning the slave he raped and their son in the desert with nothing but a skin of water and a bit of bread, however, isn’t worthy of mentioning. We also won’t mention the two times that Abraham prostituted his wife for material gain…

And then ICR lists among the crimes in the story of Dinah “marriage to unbelievers.” Just to be clear, Dinah is the girl who was kidnapped and raped. Since she was the believer, we can see just how compassionate ICR is with rape survivors…

So after all this TL;DR, we finally get to the conclusion, which is what I really wanted to draw attention to today. ICR writes: “What is the solution for this age-long attack on the family? We must heed the guidelines given in Scripture for a godly marriage. Passages such as those surrounding our text are well worth our study.”

Vyckie Garrison, former Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy adherent, has frequently remarked that, while only a small minority of Christians practice the Quiverfull lifestyle, its ideals are very mainstream. Many Christians will look at families like the Duggars as an example of what great faith in God looks like. This conclusion, with words like “godly marriage,” is a subtle promotion of the Christian Patriarchy ideal. Keep that in mind whenever you hear the Christian Right talk about “family.”


Also posted on the CFI-Ottawa blog.

Does Scripture Predict Science?

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A common claim from believers is that scripture, correctly interpreted, predicts scientific discoveries centuries (or millennia) ahead of when those discoveries are made. The implication being, of course, that if mere mortals wrote the scriptures without divine aid, they could not have possibly known these things.

This claim can be approached from several different angles, the most obvious being: Did people at that time really not know this information? Often, what we see is that modern apologists are not giving our ancestors enough credit. A perfect example is the claim that Stonehenge must have been built with the help of technologically advanced aliens because it’s just too hard to imagine that people alone could have done so without the aid of modern machinery. Huge blocks of stone, transported long distances, no forklifts – pretty convincing, right? Well, all it takes is one person actually giving it a try to prove how little faith we have in the resourcefulness of our fellow humans.

But this all involves too much research. It’s much simpler to approach the question with a little armchair reasoning! So in the interests of laziness, I’ve created the Scientific Predictions Test.

Basically, the test attempts to get at the question of whether the interpretation that sounds like a prediction of later knowledge is legitimately sola scriptura, or whether it requires knowledge of the scientific discovery to reach that interpretation. The perfect way to test this is to see when people started proposing the interpretation that lines up with the science: before the science was done or after? If that interpretation only came out post hoc, after the science was already established, we can be pretty certain that it comes from the reader and not from the text.

All this is ignoring the many instances of blatant contradiction between modern scientific understanding and the text of scripture that must then be explained away as “poetics.” It seems rather unfair to judge whether something is poetry or hypothesis based on whether it happens to be later proven correct or not!

The Whys and Wherefores

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I created this blog space a little while ago, thinking this would be a great project for my impending maternity leave. But inspiration strikes when she will, and this time she’s come in the form of Project: The King and I.

I will be covering one chapter per post, offering a little summary of the content mixed in with whatever my impressions might be from that reading. I will be reading the Bible twice simultaneously – once in the RSV translation and once in the King James. I may occasionally reference a different translation in my reading, and will cite that when I do.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

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